Commanders Diary

3-9 July 68

Diary 3-9 July 1968   

3 July: [Field strength] 588  Quiet nite. B Co. dismtd sweep of Ba Que village. Neg. results. 2  troops swiped radios but returned same. Moderate rain. No mail - wrote  ML & Pop.
  Load gravel
  [?] reports  Bull dozer for A
  Claymores  2d echelon parts for A Co.   

4 July: Quiet nite. B Co. mtd/dismtd on swamp sweep between 945-957. Neg. finds. Received word to move [to TNBC].  A Co. moved 1430. OPCON to 1st BDE. Buckup troops appearance msg. Mailed slides. Rec'd 17 July. Rec'd Ltr ML.  

 Butch Sincock, B. Co. Plat Leader has a vivid remembrance of the day's celebration not reflected in the diary. 

"The battalion was laagered on the West side of  Highway #1, opposite Gate 51 of Tan Son Nhut Airbase (TSNAB) on the  northern edges of Saigon. I can no longer recall what we did for most of  that day, but we were likely out on patrol to the Northwest trying to  disrupt what had been called the "Rocket Belt" from which the NVA  launched rockets on metropolitan Saigon most nights through June and into July. 

      That evening we left one of the officers in charge  of the company and the rest of us crossed the road and were given a ride  from Gate #51 to the TSNAB Officer's Club. There we had a steak dinner  and a few drinks. Toward the end of the evening the Korean band stuck up  "American the Beautiful," followed in short order by "Anchors Aweigh",  "Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder," the Marine Corps hymn, "The Caissons go Rolling  Along," and finally, "The Star Spangled Banner." Besides a salute to  Independence Day, it was the cue that they were closing for the night.         We walked out and four of us promptly requisitioned a  jeep (Officers, as is well known, don't steal things) and drove it to  Gate#51 where the USAF Air Police assured us with a wink that they were  thankful that we had found the lost vehicle and would see that it was  returned to its rightful owner. This was only a few months post-Tet '68  and the USAF recalled vividly the 25th Division rescue of TSNAB the 25th ID 3/4 Cav. Consequently, was very  difficult for a 25th ID Soldier to do any harm or get into trouble. It  took a few more months for that welcome to wear out, but on 4 July 4  1968, it was a still fresh in the memory of the Air Police at Gate #51.         We walked across the road to our NDP and I recall  heading for the latrine. One of the other guys was met by his platoon  sergeant who had apparently been doing some celebrating of his own. He  announced that they had something they had to do and he took his  Lieutenant by the arm and headed to one of their tracks. As I exited the  latrine I saw the two of them a few yards away. The sergeant promptly struck the bottom of a Star Cluster sending several  green streams of light into the sky The Lieutenant followed with a red  Star Cluster and before long several others joined in lighting the sky  with our military fireworks.         Suddenly the horizon lit up with similar displays of  green, white and red light. Every American position within miles began  to fire off  Star Clusters. Those red, white and green domes of  fireworks dotted the horizon north and west of Saigon for miles. Soon  someone from Battalion came running out shouting to stop firing off the  Star Clusters. By then we had expended our supply of Star Clusters (something that we rarely had occasion to use in  the course of normal operations anyway.)         I have seen many impressive displays of fireworks  over the years but I will never experience as moving a display of 4th of  July spirit as I did that evening thirty-six years ago when the  Soldiers of the American Army showed their spirit and pride in an  American tradition." 

  James "Farmer" Mallard, Recon remembers: 

"Recon was down Highway 1 as always. What I  remember was a big ring of star clusters around what appeared to be  Saigon. Which was one heck of a big ring. When our star clusters were  gone some of the guys threw smoke and trip flares. July. Also the ARVN  Compound down the road got in on the fun by shooting off Red Parachute  flares That was the biggest fireworks display I have ever seen. I think about it ever year on the 4th." 

Jeff recalls; 

"It came down from higher, that a display of  pyrotechnics on any holiday was strictly forbidden. Col. Hodson [1st BDE  CO] forbid any display. Of course each holiday, radio transmissions  were always garbled but then you and I were only Lieutenants, so what  did we know. I might add never was there a display that had such a  lasting impression."

A 1/5 Bobcat, Roger Hayes was close by: 

"Thirty-six years ago, on the Fourth of July, my  company, Charlie 1/5 (Mech), was also performing security for TSNAB. At  midnight on the evening of the Fourth (or was that the morning of the  fifth?) I was a member of a platoon-sized ambush patrol (about a dozen  soldiers) crossing a huge dried-up rice paddy en route to our ambush  position. Suddenly, from probably six or eight perimeters all around us, red and green star clusters and handheld  flares shot into the air, casting long shadows of our small patrol on  the surrounding rice paddy. We dove to the ground, and were pinned down  by the illumination for probably around fifteen minutes, although it  seemed like forty-five.

The next day we laughed about it. Now, thirty-six  years later, it's nice to hear from someone on the other end of that  incident. Thanks for the memory!" 

 From Donn McMahon of B. Co.: 

"That was a glorious night I don't remember looking  for red, white or blue just wanted something to lift the spirits of our  quiet 4th. TSNAB raised hell because their approach was looking  confused and a cease and desist order came to the perimeter. It started  off slow because we used the heel of our hand (ouch)at first but then  started popping them on the top of the PC's."

My  involvement in that insubordination was to soon be transferred to the  Mortar team as a driver. GOD bless LT Sincock for punishing me so  EXTREMELY. The intoxicated SGT. was George Lovins, he knew how to make a  dismal face become a smiley face.

5 July: Moved to TN. Left 0830, arrived 1430 (30 min Maint.) No enemy. Maj Tuten [BN XO] hit by track [he was evacuated with a badly broken leg which never healed properly. He walked with a limp the rest of his life.] Given mission by Viking 6 [call sign of 1st BDE Commander]. Made VR [visual reconnaissance] new area. Buckup appearance. Wrote ML.   

For the remainder of July-November 1968, the 4/23 was home-based at TNBC.   

6 July: Depart TN at 1030. Closed FSB [do not know name of FSB] vic 3944 at 1430 w/ B, C Co's, B-588 Engr, B-7/11 Arty. A Co. on road. C Co. conducted RIF.
  Tomahawk - all 4 sides crappy letters off.[refers to battalion sign in TNBC]
Uniform for operations & within perimeter.
  Safety - fire & explosives - Flame unit, kitchen, generators.
  TK Plat SRCHLTS [M48A1 tanks were equipped with a turret mounted  Xenon 1 million  candle power searchlight and an infrared searchlight that some believed  would be useful in defensive positions]
  [tank no.]  65 - ½ & ½
     66 - doesn't   no IR
     63 - ok.
  S-4 - wire steel mat, planking.   

7 July: Quiet  nite. Conducted B & C Co. RIF in rubber plantation - B Co. found  1000+ lbs rice. A Co. blocked road. 2 WIA by short mortar round. Rec'd  ltr ML, L C Hightower [Army friend of mine].
  Overhead cover - 1 bunker/line track 2 layers ???
  Claymores - separation [between detonators and mines when not employed]
Uniform & shaves - helmet short
  Today's results
  Field sanitation   

8 July: 49th malaria [Field strength] 526  Partly quiet nite - C Co. spotted 5 men vic. wire - took under fire w/  SA & mortars. Neg. results. B & C Co's swept northeast. B Co.  hit large mine., destroying track & wounding 4. Minor signs of enemy  activity. A Co. moved to NDP.
Head count report
  Boom-Boom girls
  wire - cover
  Starlight scopes
  B Co. - .50 cal.
  Water, beer, and soda.   

9 July: [Field strength] 528  Partly quiet nite - several volleys of unidentified ordnance flew over.  No damage - later identified 107 mm found 6 craters. A, B, C Co's, R  swept. 20 bunkers destroyed. Found 3 100 kilo bags fertilizer & 1,  55 gal drum sulphur. Extremely heavy rain - estimate 6" between 1600-1800.
Reduce cost of beer & soda
  Report by CP [check point] not PO
  R, B & C Co's get 292
  6X capability
  Radio security
  Entrenching tools
  Camouflage bands w/brush [on helmets]
Drinking - ammo & billets  


Cliff Neilson  

Mohawk 6  

May -Nov 1968  



Illegitimi nil carborundum