A Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry 25th ID - Vietnam

Timeline: Vietnam Counteroffensive  Phase III, 
1 Jun 1967 - 29 Jan 1968

     We are building timelines for the Troop's service in Vietnam. If you have award citations, SITREP's, AAR's or other documents, they can provide dates that can add to the timelines.  David Olsen, A18 Oct 68 to Oct 69, is our volunteer coordinator for the Winter-Spring 1970 timeline. 
     Note 1: Entries that include an exact time or grid coordinates have been extracted from offical documents.  If no time is provided it is a recollection from a unit member.

Note 2: Email David Olsen or the website to provide additions or corrections for this timeline.

Jun 6
- PFC Thomas Hunt WIA.

Jul 29
(provided by Larry Smith)
- 0530 hrs in NDP 30 to 40 miles west of Cu Chi in Hau Nghia Province.  Conducted "mad minute" to start the day.
- 0600 hrs troop moves out on search and destroy mission.  Tanks remain in NDP due to soft ground from "monsoon" season.
- 0800 hrs troop nears the village Trung-Lap and Rong Hamlet.  The 2 lead vehicles report trouble over radio net.  1st PLT's dismounted infantry move up to investigate and report seeing what appears to be unarmed civilians in black pajamas.
- 0830 hrs 1st PLT dismounted infantry reaches village and reports heavy black smoke on other side of village.
0845 hrs. vehicles pick up dismounted infantry and moves to smoke & fire.  Vehicles stop 100 yds from the burning vehicles.  Helicopter gunships on location reporting on the enemy.
0900 hrs Centaur 21 requests to engage enemy.  Troop cdr denies request and indicates troop will engage.
0915 hrs as troop assaults fighting becomes fierce.  At the edge of the village the troop starts taking fire from the rear and is surrounded by the enemy. Enemy force is a VC Heavy Weapons Co reinforced with NVA regulars.  Troop forms a laager returning fire with all weapons systems forcing the helicopters to leave the area.  SGT Bobby Weldon's vehicle takes RPG.  SGT Weldon loses arms from wounds.  Medics treat until he can be medevaced.
- Late afternoon all basic loads expended.  Troop Cdr calls artillery on troop position.  No friendly casualties from arty fire.
- 1600 hrs tanks finally reach troop.  Took them all day because of the soft ground they had to maneuver around.  Estimated 90 enemy killed in the battle.  Villagers who hid in bunkers rounded up and interogated to see if any were enemy.  Inspite of the tense atmosphere resulting from the troop's casualties, none of the villagers were harmed.
- PFC Ervil T Bray (Photo/Shadowbox), SSG Charles E Roland (Photo/Shadowbox), SGT Ronald D McIlravy (Photo/Shadowbox) KIA

Aug 6
- Troop departs Cu Chi.  CPT Drake halts his M113 at side of road to view the convoy.  While CPT was standing on top of the M113, the driver moved the steering laterals causing the M113 to move.  CPT Drake lost balance and fell in front of a passing tank.
- CPT Earle A Drake (Photo/Shadowbox) KIA

Cav ‘Dustoff’ Saves VN Woman (Tropic Lightning 30 Oct 67)
- The 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav was conducting its usual MEDCAP in An Duc. Teeth were pulled, infections were washed and dressed, the Bac Si (doctor) performed his usual “miracles.”
- 11 a.m. two Armored Personnel Carriers (APC’s) from Alpha Troop rushed into town escorting a three-wheeled Lambretta carrying a seriously ill Vietnamese woman. The two APCs had been set up to provide road security further north on the road.  The crews had been alerted to the woman’s condition by civilians.  They called squadron headquarters, receiving instructions to transport the ill woman to the MEDCAP in An Duc.
- CPT Robert Pruner, squadron surgeon from Lebanon, Va., diagnosed her condition - an overdose of an unknown drug.
Her pulse and breathing were barely noticeable.  CPT Robert Kesler, squadron civil affairs officer from Minneapolis, called for a Medavac helicopter from the 25th Div’s 12th Evac Hospital.
- Minutes later the chopper landed on the main street of An Duc.  The woman, her husband and daughter were all taken to Cu Chi. Hospital officials listed the woman’s condition as fair.
- The seriously ill Vietnamese woman is carried by MEDCAP officials from the 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav to the waiting dustoff helicopter.  (Photo by SP4 David Cushman)         
Sep 3
- CPL Francis B Amoroso KIA
Sep 12  (Tropic Lightning 13 Nov 67)
- Progress Being Made In Securing Highway 1. Quick and highly visible progress is very gratifying.
In September and through October the 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav, was making frequent contact with the enemy on Highway 1 north of Cu Chi.  During the earlier part of September an incident occurred almost every other night.  The road is far more secure now. The 25th Inf Div’s Cav unit’s mission is to secure the road.  It is not an easy task. The actions, scattered over the past two months, netted 11 Viet Cong by actual body count.  The squadron estimated that another 31 Viet Cong had been killed.
Two RPG-7 rocket launchers were captured the night of Sept. 12.  An RPG-2 was also captured during that action.  Several carbines and much small arms ammunition has been captured by the squadron.

Oct 22

- The frequency of the contacts dropped.  In an effort to secure the road and the surrounding areas during the Oct. 22 elections, the entire squadron went to the field for five days. The headquarters’ elements established a forward command point near Go Dau Ha, 44 kms northwest of Saigon.  The squadron’s four troops were dispatched in around-the-clock security vigilance. Delta Troop (Air) maintained aerial security.  Its Aerorifle Platoon was active in “roundups.”  Working with the National Police the platoon checked ID cards in various areas near Cu Chi. The other three troops were on the road, holding various sectors of responsibility.  There was only one casualty during the election vigil.  The man was returned to duty the same day. The election went by without mishap.  Record crowds went to the polls, ignoring Viet Cong threats.  Progress has been made.
Oct 24
- PFC Freddie J Keeley KIA

Nov 67
Read Rick Avant's story (A Troop Harvests What The VC Sowed)

Dec 25
(Tropic Lightning 22 Jan 68)
- Truce Violations Delay GI’s Meal: CU CHI - Viet Cong in the Boi Loi Woods broke the Christmas truce and delayed Christmas Dinner three hours for cavalrymen of the 25th Div operating 45 kms northwest of Saigon.
- Alpha Troop, 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav, had been operating on Highway 19 southwest of Tay Ninh City before and during the Christmas Truce.  There had been several incidents prior to the truce and a large amount of rice and assorted building materials had been discovered. CPT Louis J. Sturbois of Cheyenne, Wyo., the troop commander, instructed his men not to recon by fire during the truce in accordance with policy. Tank 26 was outposting a sector of the small road on Christmas morning when it was hit by a RPG-2 antitank rocket.  After elements of the troop returned fire the area was thoroughly searched with negative results.
- 11:30 a.m., the troop’s first sergeant sent a truck to the various platoons with Christmas presents from the American Red Cross.  The troop commander in one armored personnel carrier (APC) and the executive officer, 1LT Dean Guynes of Hazelhurst, Miss., in another APC, escorted the truck.
- 12:10 a.m. the Viet Cong fired another rocket from the side of the road hitting Sturbois’ right number 4 road wheel.  The rocket passed under the personnel carrier and knocked out road wheels on the left side of the machine.  No one was hurt.
Sturbois’ machine gunner, SP4 Nery J. Brennis of Baysmoni, P.R., returned fire immediately. “I am convinced that Brennis got the man,” Sturbois said. “He sprayed the area from which we could still see smoke from the rocket launcher.”
Before the area could be reconned, the troop’s command post in position up the road, came under RPG-2 and small arms fire.  Gunships and rocket ships from the Sgdn’s Delta Trp (Air) were called in.  They received fire. The firelight continued for another hour and a half.  A troop spokesman estimated the enemy force to be in excess of 30. After the fireworks, Sturbois directed an extensive search of the entire area.  The cavalrymen found one VC KIA, one CHICOM AK-50 with four magazines, and several documents.
- The squadron intelligence officer, CPT William Coomer of Fort Thomas, Ky., identified the force as elements from the 93rd Rear Service Group from the captured documents.  He has been in the field with the troop the entire week.
- During the attacks and the firelight, Christmas dinner was delayed.  “The mess sergeant and his men had been up until 4:30 a.m. Christmas morning preparing it,” Sturbois said.  The troop’s mess had been moved to the field during the operation.
- 1500 hrs, after an exciting Christmas day, the men of Alpha Trp set down to a meal of turkey, cranberry jelly, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. “It was a fantastically good meal,” said Sturbois, “and well earned,” he added.

Jan 68
(Tropic Lightning 5 Feb 68)
- Squad Surprises Cong In Attempted Ambush: CU CHI - SGT Vince Iacono, 20, of Brooklyn, N.Y., knew his patrol had to stop the Viet Cong at all costs before they reached Highway 1, where they would probably hit the 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav’s Armored column. PFC Ed Weik of Bantam, Conn., was the first man in the Alpha Trp patrol to spot the approaching Viet Cong in the darkness.  Passing the night vision Starlite Scope to Iacono, the squad prepared for a fight. When the lead VC was within 15 meters of the hidden cavalrymen, Iacono gave the signal to open fire.  The sergeant was to comment later, “We must have really surprised them . . . they didn’t put up much of a fight.”
- After the enemy apparently withdrew, Iancono, with Weik and SP4 Andy Garnica from Richmond, Calif., moved forward to check for enemy casualties, leaving the rest of the patrol in position. They found one body with an automatic rifle lying next to it.  As they started to move forward again, small arms fire erupted from a dirt berm to their front.  A bullet slammed into Iacono’s shoulder. Disregarding his wound, the sergeant with Weik and Garnica, started moving toward the VC position.
Two more bullets slammed into Iacono.  Both Weik and Garnica pulled the wounded man to cover and bandaged his wounds as bullets snapped over their heads. With Iacono’s bleeding stopped, Garnica moved forward a few yards and hurled a grenade over the berm into the middle of the Viet Cong.
- PFC David Kipple of Daggett, Mich., had moved up from the rear when the firing started, and arrived in position in time to kill three more VC that had been flushed out by Garnica’s grenade. A radio call by SP4 Frank Rompel of Allen Park, Mich., brought in the 1st Plt’s reaction team to back up the patrol.  With the team in position, the cavalrymen moved forward.  A sudden noise to the front of PFC Steve Alvardo of San Antonio, Tex., caused him to fire an M-79 grenade into the brush, killing another VC.
- Minutes later a helicopter arrived and took Iacono to the 25th Div’s 12th Evac Hosp. The enemy’s attempt at an ambush cost them dearly.  Five dead and the capture of six weapons.
“We really did surprise them,” said Iacono later in the hospital, “because one of my men told me that the first VC we killed had an empty weapon.”
- Lt Guilford Ide Medevac
Jan 68 (Operation Saratoga)
- In the middle of January, the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Tomahawks came upon an unknown number of entrenched Viet Cong in the lower Ho Bo Woods. In a two day operation 49 Viet Cong were killed.
- Then came Tet. In the first major action of the Tet Offensive for the 25th Division troops, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry, sent its columns steaming down Highway 1 toward the heavily besieged Tan Son Nhut Air Base. In brutal fighting the cavalrymen, aided by air strikes and artillery, pried the enemy away from the vital base. More than 300 enemy bodies were counted.
Meanwhile, the 2nd Brigade was drawn into the cauldron of fire near Hoc Mon as the enemy approached Saigon. There the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry White Warriors killed 22 Viet Cong in a short, sharp fight. The same day the 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry killed 30 enemies near Ap Cho. The Third Regulars also figured in a 10-day battle to prevent Charlie from cutting Highway 1. The Regulars won and Charlie lost, among other things, 219 of his best fighters.
Contact continued almost daily with well armed and disciplined Viet Cong and NVA soldiers. But when the operation ended, Tropic Lightning soldiers had claimed more than 3,000 enemy soldiers.
- In the course of Operation Saratoga, Tropic Lightning also captured a quarter of a million rounds of small arms ammunition, identified huge enemy tunnel complexes and generally destroyed much of the enemy's combat effectiveness.
A new enemy, the NVA, had appeared on the scene, but the courage and the professional skills of the Tropic Lightning soldiers had again won the day.
Jan 12
- SGT Donald C Brown (Photo/Shadowbox) KIA.
Jan 19
- Troop in Cu Chi base camp for maintenance, rest, and relaxation.
Jan 20
(account by Rick Avant)  Read Rick Avant's story (Remembering January 20, 1968).
- 2nd platoon sent to react to an ARVN outpost that was under attack by a VC force.  About 20 minutes later, all hell broke loose outside the front gate. Tracers could be seen flying everywhere just beyond the Cu Chi base camp front gate. The 2nd platoon had been ambushed just a few 100 yards outside of the Base Camp.
- 1st & 3rd PLTs sent as a reaction force. They came out the gate in short order but the ambush was over. The second platoon column was in the roadway and every personnel carrier was on fire.
- 1st & 3rd PLTs took positions with our tanks and tracks on both flanks of the second platoon to secure the area.
- The personnel carriers in A Troop were gasoline driven rather than the diesel of the newer M113A1. The ambush was carried out by RPG teams who knew that the personnel carriers were gasoline and exactly where that gas tank was located in the track. They were also set up at just the right intervals on the flanks of the road to hit every track in the column. Every track was hit by RPGs in the exact spot of the armor where the gas tank was. The gasoline was volatile and it went up like a napalm bomb. All together 9 men were killed in the second platoon that night in the course of just a few short minutes. It had to be a NVA unit, it was so quick and precise.
- SP4 Gene M Kosel (Photo/Shadowbox), SP4 Robert E Swalley (Photo/Shadowbox), PFC James W Parham (Photo/Shadowbox), CPL Gary L Elia (Photo/Shadowbox), PFC John E Esten (Photo/Shadowbox), PFC Leo E Michaud (Photo/Shadowbox), SP4 John J Moore (Photo/Shadowbox), SGT Andy Garnica (Photo/Shadowbox), SGT David J Klippel (Photo/Shadowbox) KIA.
21-29 January
- The Squadron conducted road march to vic Trung Lap.  CP was maintained near same area.  The Squadron conducted reconnaissance in force utilizing three ground troops with the air troop screening to their flanks.
Jan 23
- SGT David J Klippel DOW received on Jan 20. (Photo/Shadowbox)
- SGT Nery Jacinto Benes, commo section, died in a vehicle accident. (Photo/Shadowbox)
Jan 24
  Troop A tripped a booby trap 105mm round resulting in 3 US WHA and one VC PW with web gear.
Jan 25
- A tank from Troop C hit a mine resulting in 2 US WHA.  The Troop later was ambushed receiving 3 RPG-2, 300 small arms rounds.  Return fire with organic weapons resulting in 2 US WHA.
Jan 26
- Troop C picked up 1 VC PW and 1 detainee with carbine, 1 RPG-2 round, notebook and paper, 1 H60 machine gun and 1 aircraft radio.  Troop A engaged 1 VC, XT572264, with three hand grenades and 5-10 rounds small arms, resulting in 1 VC KIA (BC) and capturing 1 AK-47 with magazine, 2 batteries and 1 reel of wire, 6 ea 2-1/2 lb bags of rice, 4 cans of condensed milk, 2 pair brown and 1 pair of black trousers.  3 VC jumped out of spider holes XT567262 and threw grenades at C Troop.  The troop took under fire resulting in 4 US WHA, 7 VC KIA (BC), 5 VC PW, and 3 detainees.  On 29 January Troop D received fire from 4 VC, XT595304, returned fire resulting in 4 VC KIA (BC), then inserted Aerorifles which made heavy contact with unknown number VC.  The 2nd Bn, 27 Inf reacted to them.  Results of action 5 US KHA, 6 US WHA, 46 VC KIA (BC), 4 VC KIA (POSS), 8 VC PW and 6 detainees.  There was 15 pounds of food, condensed milk, numerous documents and clothing captured.

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