(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.]
Promotions A 2, B 2
.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
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.
Post card Vickie
[List of items]
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
NEW DIVISION COMMANDER
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
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
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
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)
Illegitimi nil carborundum