Commanders Diary

31 July - 6 Aug 68


(For photo's please refer to LTC Neilson's Photo Album)

Diary 31 Jul - 6 Aug 1968  

31 July  Start 12 week. Inspect ditches. Quiet nite - A & B Co’s RIF’d Rubber.  [nickname for one of two rubber plantations whose southern boundaries  abutted Rte 22 from CC to TNBC. To further distinguish them, the  northernmost and the larger of the two, was called “Big Rubber.” Naturally the other was “Little Rubber.” Diary  entries are not always clear as to which of the two was being RIF’d.]  C Co. open road to Bao Cao (large mine on road). R OPCON D. [probably Dreadnaught, 2/34 Arm] Neg. results. Insp. BN. area. Very little progress. Set up insp. for Sunday. Heavy rain. Letter ML.
[List of items, each checked and entire list crossed out as if all items were corrected.]
Unit Fund
Athletic equip
Promotions A 2, B 2
Outside wire
.50 cal -B34
[note] Boatwright B, Reno - C Btry

Command briefing at FSB Rawlins TOC. LTC Neilson, MG Long, COL Hodson
(note: TOC consisted of two APCs back to back with tarp)

Command briefing. LTC Neilson, BG Long, COL Hodson  


1 Aug        Quiet nite - A Co. RIF then rotate with C Co. B Co. RIF N of Rubber. C Co. sweep road then come to field. R OPCON [not stated but presumably to D.]. Andy Parks, Westinghouse Radio visited. No mail [List of items]
Trailers - B52
Lube levels
Mil Courtesy

View of rubber plantation in foreground.   

2 Aug  Quiet nite - C Co. swept rubber on foot east of airfield - engage 3 VC - killed 1 (nurse). B Co. stand down - A Co. opened road to Bao Cao. R OPCON D-A.
A 116
B 107
C 122
Post card Vickie
[List of items]
Steam jenny
Traversing - elev mech - 50 cal turn in
Unload weapons in NDP
Engr - cokes
.50 cal grnd mts
De LA HO Y A [No idea of significance.]      

3 Aug  Quiet  nite - C Co. stand down & insp. B Co. sweep rubber to SE. A Co.  open road. 2 men KIA while chasing boy who stole camera. R OPCON D-A. 2  ltrs ML - wrote ML. Xtremely heavy & prolonged rain 5-6"[lined out] Kilgore - 2d Plat C
[Major General Ellis W. Williamson assumed command 25th ID. This was his 2nd RVN tour, his first having been as the CG, 173rd Infantry Brigade (Airborne.)]

Gone But Always Remembered
(From the 4/23 KIA list)
CPL Frank A. Harah, A Co.
CPL Larry La Vern Elzinga, A Co.

Special Edition          TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS          August 3, 1968



Major General Ellis W. Williamson

Page 2-3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           August 3, 1968

25th's General Commands: 


The Finest Division Going!

Page 4                          TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           August 3, 1968, 1968


   Major General Ellis W. Williamson, new 25th Infantry Division  Commander, assumed command during ceremonies held at Cu Chi Saturday  morning, August 3, 1968.
   He replaces Major General F. K. Mearns, who moves to Saigon to become Deputy Commander, II Field Force and Commanding General, Capital Military Assistance Command.
    General Williamson was born in Raeford, North Carolina on June 2,  1918.  Through high school and college, he was a member of the 120th  Infantry Regiment, North Carolina National Guard.
   Upon graduation from Atlantic Christian College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1940, he entered the Federal Service with his unit.
   General Williamson remained  with the 120th Infantry Regiment throughout World War II serving in rank  from Private to Colonel.  Following commissioning as a Second  Lieutenant of Infantry in March, 1941, he served as a commander at  platoon, company, battalion and regimental level and as a battalion and  regimental staff officer.  He  was regimental Commander at the time of the unit's return to state control  in January, 1946.
   The same year, he was integrated into the  Regular Army.  For three years he was an instructor of tactics at the  Infantry School. He graduated from the Command and General Staff College  in 1950 and was assigned to Headquarter X Corps in Korea.  He  participated in the amphibious landing at Inchon as Assistant Operations Officer, X Corps, later becoming Operations  Officer.
   General Williamson was assigned in 1952, to the Office of  the Army Chief of Staff, next attended the Armed Forces Staff College,  and then returned to Washington for duty in the Office of the Secretary  of Defense.
   He assumed command of the 13th Infantry Regiment at  Fort Carson, Colorado, in 1956 and took this unit to Germany on Operation Gyroscope.  After 27 months as  Regimental Commander, he became Chief of the Training Division,  Headquarters, 7th U.S. Army.  He returned home to qualify as a  parachutist and attend the National War College.
   Following three  years in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel at  Department of the Army, General Williamson assumed command of the 173d Airborne Brigade (Separate) upon its activation in  Okinawa in July 1963.  He organized and trained this unit for its  mission as Pacific Theatre Reserve Force during the next two years.
    After extensive training on the Pacific islands of Okinawa, Taiwan,  Irimote, and the Philippines as well as in Korea and Thailand, General  Williamson's brigade, in May, 1965, became the first U.S. Army ground combat unit to enter the conflict in Vietnam.
    Under his command, the 173d Airborne Brigade (Separate) participated in  actions designed to protect friendly installations and to destroy enemy  forces in the Bien Hoa-Vung Tau-Ben Cat areas and into the mountain  plateau areas of Pleiku and Kontum.
   In addition to the 173d Airborne Brigade (Separate), General Williamson's command in Vietnam included all Australian and New Zealand combat elements, plus some Vietnamese units.
   He served in five campaigns in Europe during World War II and seven during the Korean conflict.
    General Williamson assumed command of the U.S. Army Training Center,  Fort Polk, Louisiana, November 1, 1966, and comes to the 25th Infantry  Division from that post.

Major General Williamson has received the:
Distinguished Service Cross 
Distinguished Service Medal 
Silver Star with five Clusters 
Legion of Merit with Cluster 
Bronze Star Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Medal with nine Clusters 
Army Commendation Medal 
Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf Clusters
American D e f e n s e Service Medal
American Campaign Medal 
European, African, Middle Eastern Campaign Medal 
World War II Victory Medal 
Army Occupation Medal (Germany)
National Defense Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster 
Korean Service Medal
United Nations Service Medal 
Vietnamese Service Medal 
Distinguished Unit Emblem 
Department of Defense Identification Badge
Army General Staff Identification Badge
Combat Infantryman's Badge 
Master Parachutist's Badge 
British Distinguished Service Order 
French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star
National Medal of Vietnam Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, with Palm 
Vietnamese Army Distinguished Service Medal, First Class
Belgian Fourragere
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation Badge  

MG Williamson Is Div's 22d CG 


Maj. Gen. Maxwell Murray
Maj. Gen. James L. Collins 
Maj. Gen. Charles L. Mullins 
Brig. Gen. Everett E. Brown 
Maj. Gen. William B. Kean 
Maj. Gen. Joseph S. Bradley 
Maj. Gen. Ira P. Swift
Maj. Gen. Samuel T. Williams 
Maj. Gen. Halley G. Maddox 
Maj. Gen. Leslie D. Carter 
Maj. Gen. Herbert B. Powell 
Maj. Gen. Edwin J. Messinger 
Maj. Gen. Archbald W. Stuart 
Maj. Gen. John E. Theimer 
Maj. Gen. J. O. Seaman
Maj. Gen. James L. Richardson 
Maj. Gen. E. F. Easterbrook 
Maj. Gen. Andrew J. Boyle 
Maj. Gen. Fred C. Weyand
Maj. Gen. John C. F. Tillson III 
Maj. Gen. F. K. Mearns 
Maj. Gen. Ellis W. Williamson

October 1941.
May 1942
December 1943
May 1948
August 1948
February 1951
July 1951
July 1952
August 1953
May 1954
November 1954
December 1955
September 1957
October 1958
June 1960
September 1960
April 1962
March 1963
August 1964
March 1967
August 1967
August 1968     

   MAJOR GENERAL F. K. Mearns, who has led the  25th Infantry Division since last August, has left for Saigon, where he  will assume duties as Deputy Commander, 11 Field Force, and Commanding  General, Capital Military Assistance Command.     

The TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS is an authorized publication of the 25th Infantry Division. It is published weekly for all division units in the Republic of Vietnam by the Information Office, 25th Infantry Division, APO San Francisco 96225. Army News Features, Army  Photo Features, Armed Forces Press Service and Armed Forces News Bureau  material are used. Views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Department of the Army.  Printed in Tokyo, Japan, by Pacific Stars and Stripes.

MG Ellis W. Williamson  . . . Commanding General
MAJ Andrew J. Sullivan  . .  Information Officer
2LT Don A. Eriksson  . . . . .  Officer-in-Charge
SP4 Stephen Lochen   . . . . .  Editor
SP4 Bill Berger . . . . . . . . . . .  Editorial Assistant

If you have complete issues to add to the online collection, please send me a note

Tropic Lightning News is an authorized publication of the 25th Infantry Division.
Special  thanks to Allan Azary, 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry  Regiment for making available this issue of Tropic Lightning News.
Tales of a War Far Away / 2nd Battalion 14th Infantry Regiment - Vietnam web sites copyright © 2003 Kirk S. Ramsey
Page Last modified: 09/09/2010 

4 Aug  Inspect MP - A 1000 [probably motor pool at 1000] Billets A 1330.
Quiet nite - B Co. (-1 plat) & C Co. swept N of road in rubber to the east. A Co. opened road. R OPCON D-A. B Co. assumes Bao Cao mission tonite. Switched to new call signs (Noble Corner) [This was the demise of Mohawk as the 4/23 call sign; hereafter at  random intervals, a new two word call sign would go into effect for  OPSEC reasons.]. MG Williamson made brief visit.
From Gen. Williamson’s Journal for 4 Aug 1968; 4/23-Emphasis placed on (1) importance of proper vehicle maintenance and (2) problems with fuel cells.
Had good inspection of base camp.
3 ltrs ML.
$215 Aug will include ded [deduction] for meals for June-July $40.92/mo. $33 + $40.   

5 Aug  53rd malaria pill. Quiet nite - B Co. road sweep to  Bao Cao. R OPCON D-A. A & Co’s RIF’d rubber. C Co. found _100 lbs  bag rice, 1 100 lb rock salt, 4 bicycles, VC flags. Col Hodson - LTC  Wolf change of command.
[LTC Wolf was a USMA Graduate Class 1946 and an Armor officer selected for, but not yet  promoted to, COL. In 1963-64 he commanded an Armor battalion in the “spit and polish” US 7th Army in Germany. Many  of his initial policy directives (see below) stemmed from that era.  After a short time, he came to recognize their non-applicability to  RVN.]

MG Richardson visited. [MG Richardson was a former 3rd Armored Division BDE CO of mine in Germany in 1957-58. At the time, he was a COL and I a LT company commander The troops nicknamed  him “Big R” and he had a reputation of dealing quickly and severely  with officers who he deemed not up to his standards.]. No mail.

LTC Wolf Policy:
1. Safety - riding on tracks. Clear off top. [This meant, no one rode on top and everyone rode inside, the way mechanized infantry doctrine called for in Europe.]
2. Security - LPs & NOD’s - 1900
3. Stowage plan, basic load list. [A 7th Army requirement.]
4. Green tabs for leaders - ldrs must have shirt. [A then-current US Army-wide requirement virtually ignored throughout RVN.]
5. All weapons fired each day - 1900
6. .50 cal - TC - have HS & T [head space & timing] gauge on shirt
7. No deal [dealings] w/ VN (Vietnamese nationals)
8. Weapons in the perimeter
9. No APC in jungle. [Another European battlefield holdover where doctrine decreed that tanks & APC stay out of woods.]   

6 Aug  Quiet nite - C Co. OPCON 3/22 for seal & search of village. R OPCON D-A. A Co. stood down. B Co. road security mission. (1 man minor injury when .50 cal blew up.) [See Item 6 above; the BDE CO did know something about what happens to .50 cal mg when the H & T is not properly gauged.]) Contact team rep [representative] visited.
Ltr ML, Molino - wrote ML & Molino
Condition of weapons - Art 15.
Knocking down trees 

(note: photos courtesy Cliff Neilson unless otherwise noted) 

Cliff Neilson
Mohawk 6
May-Nov 1968    

Illegitimi nil carborundum