Commanders Diary

7-13 August 68

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

Diary 7 -13 Aug 1968  

7 Aug - Start  13 week. Quiet nite - B Co. on road mission. A & C Co’s RIF big  rubber to SE. R OPCON D-A. Neg. results. 2100 - C spotted 2 persons 200 m  from wire on NW side of perimeter. A & C Co’s fired M79. A Co.  fired 1 81 mm, short rd, wounded 1 [from] Flame (Died 9 Aug). 2200 - A Co spotted 3-5 men SE of perimeter. Fired M79, Killer Jr. [  Nickname for a type of artillery direct fire technique used by towed  105 mm and mechanized 155 mm howitzers; the suffix Junior or Senior was  applied to 105 or 155 projectiles, respectively.. The crew set  mechanical time-fused high explosive (HE) projectiles to burst  approximately 30 feet off the ground at ranges of 200 to 1,000 meters. The explosion pattern spread  shrapnel in a cone shape. Since firing a fuse setting less than what  corresponded to a range of 650  meters placed both the firing crew and other friendly troops in close  proximity in danger, Killer was used only in combat emergency  situations. (The name Killer came from the radio call sign of the 1st Bn (105 mm), 8th Arty Regt, 25th ID Artillery that perfected the technique.)] All quiet after 2200. No mail, wrote ML.

Control of firing
Everyone shave 

8 Aug - Quiet nite - Super contact team began arriving 0730. Maj Dendtler OIC [Officer-in-Charge. The 25th ID sent the team to help restore a unit to greater combat readiness. It  was composed of skilled repair & maintenance personnel capable of  fixing the entire spectrum of battalion equipment from radios to stoves.] All Co’s stood down. Contact team did not bring needed parts. LTC Wolf visited. Very unhappy about B Co. stowage. [Neat and orderly storage of APC equipment and supplies was a 7th Army measuring “yardstick” to gauge combat readiness. LTC Wolf had not  been in RVN long enough to conclude there were more effective measures.  The soon-to-come Battle for Tay Ninh city would disabuse him of this “Old  Army” “yardstick.” Consequently he] Threaten [me] relief from command. No mail. Wrote ML.  

PVT Dunn [or Dinn] Medic driver

Gone But Always Remembered
 From the 4/23 KIA list
 19. SGT Dwight Edgar Mooney, HHC.

9 Aug - Check parts van. Quiet nite - A & B Co’s RIF’d area to east of big rubber - found base camp XT343373.

4th/23rd moving through clearing east of Tay Ninh  
Examining captured VC documents from small base camp deep in jungle  
Entrance to VC bunker complex  
Burning VC base camp
VC Claymores, Bangalore Torpedoes, mortar and RPG rounds discovered in Crescent Forest  
Cliff Neilson and cache of VC weapons and ammunition found by Alpha Company     
Cliff Neilson holding the remains of an enemy 107MM rocket  

C Co. on road. One man shot himself playing Russian Roulette. R relieved OPCON D. B Co. moved out 1830 to establish FSB OPCON to D. R arrived 1845. Started small malaria pill. No mail.   

No personal weapons or foreign.   


Gone But Always Remembered
From the 4/23 KIA list
20. PFC Statue Mosby, Jr. C Co.    

10 Aug - Quiet night - A Co. spotted movement - 2-3 personnel. Neg. results. A Co. & R RIF’d W of Rubber. A Co. found 3 -100 lbs [sacks of] rice. BDE CO found B Co. Short 85 flak vests & 75 steel helmets. B Co. OPCON D. No mail.

                   LP-do not come in on sighting; [go out] well-armed; [use] Claymores
Minesweeper - early start
Return from AP - weapons and police
Notebooks for leaders
Test fire - mortar conc   

11 Aug - Unquiet  nite - A Co. LP spotted 3 personnel. Sprang ambush, fire mortars, &  arty. Neg results. RIF’d in Rubber w A Co. - R searched village by ford  - neg. results. B Co. OPCON D.

Names, number, signs on track
No standing on tracks when moving or riding on front slope
Everyone put on steel pots when combat starts.  

      Hel   ARM Prot
                                                Vests Mask
                    A    +1 22 28
                    B 19  19  30
                    C  0   0    0
    HHC  0  0  0  

Letter from & to ML    

12 Aug - 54th malaria pill. Quiet nite - R stand down. A Co. RIF’d rubber east of  airstrip. B Co. OPCON D. C Co. opened road, arrived NDP 1710.

Machetes, pioneer tools
Cracked fuel cells - excess speed
No mail   

13 Aug Quiet nite. C Co. dismounted sweep alongside rubber SE then circle back through Rubber. R block. B Co. OPCON D. A Co. on road. Neg results. B Co. has 6 wounded by command det claymore vic. Base of Nui Ba Din. Letter from & to ML

Here is a remembrance of the claymore incident posted 8 December 2003 by “Butch” Sincock, the on-site commander: 

“My  one "up close and personal" encounter with Nui Ba Den was in mid-August  '68. We were ordered to dismount, move up to the mountain and start  climbing. We moved through a banana grove along a trail that led to the  base. Right at the base we found a clearing with a small campfire still  burning and a pot of boiling water propped up on a couple of rocks above it. Bad sign!   

Another  platoon moved up into the clearing. I went up with my RTO just to look  around. Got a bad feeling and thought we ought to return to the platoon.  As we got back to the platoon (on the right flank) I could look up and  see part of the clearing above us. At that instant they blew a huge  Claymore on the platoon searching the clearing and then opened up with AKs. The other  platoon pulled back, but left one of their guys up there. I took part of  my platoon back up and got him out, but he died en route to TNBC. A  number of the guys in the other platoon got peppered with pieces of the  Claymore. The platoon leader, Dave Blanchard, had a pocket bible in his  pants pocket that stopped a huge piece of metal that might have otherwise done a lot of damage.
One  of the wounded was the soldier we went back up to pull out after the  Claymore went off. We couldn't get a Dust off, so, as I recall, you  landed in your LOH, the Arty FO got out, we put the WIA in the back and  you flew him to TNBC. I was told later that he died en route. He was  from West Virginia and the guys all called him "Pappy" because he was about the oldest guy in the company at  26.”   

                 Gone But Always Remembered
         From the 4/23 KIA list
              CPL James Arnold Lisenby, B Co.

Vol 2 No. 34            TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS            August 28, 1967  

Wounded Priest Found Praying For War’s End

1st  BDE - The Viet Cong showed no respect for the sanctuary of a temple  when they shot a Buddhist priest praying for an end to the fighting.
    The 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Clifford C.  Neilson of Mobile, Ala., was pushing the enemy out of a village 14 miles  southwest of Tay Ninh near Go Dau Ha.  The Tomahawks cautiously  approached a Buddhist temple which miraculously seemed unmarked by the  scourge of battle.
   Specialist 4 Engle B. Smith, a senior medic  from Pensacola, Fla., entered the temple and noticed a priest poised in the position of prayer.  “His snow white  habit was smeared with blood, but yet he continued to pray,” stated  Smith.
   Through an interpreter it was discovered that the priest  was shot twice in the arm while he was kneeling and praying for an end  to the bloody battle raging outside.
   The 1st Brigade medic applied  first aid to the priest’s wounds and carefully carried him off to a helicopter landing zone where  he was evacuated to a military hospital for further treatment. 

Cliff Neilson
Mohawk 6
May-Nov 1968
Illegitimi nil carborundum