'ALWAYS FIRST' KILLS 18 VC FROM THE SOUTHERN CROSS FOR NOVEMBER 10, 1968.
Electronic copy of article provided by Leslie Hines
Eighteen Viet Cong were killed by two companies of the 11th Bde.'s 3rd Bn., 1st Inf. recently during fighting in a heavily wooded area 10 miles south of Quang Ngai City.
The "Always First" battalion had been receiving intelligence reports of enemy activity in the area and, recalling the numerous attacks on Quang Ngai earlier in the year, they launched a combat assault.
D Co., led by CPT Frank W. Koleszar, landed in the woods just north of the suspected VC hideout, while A Co., commanded by CPT Paul C. Place, waited along the Ve River to the south, acting as a blocking force.
Kill Two, Uncover Cache
As D Co.'s lead element began forming a cordon, two VC were surprised and killed while walking along a trail. A search of the vicinity uncovered a tunnel complex containing nine Chicom 60mm mortar rounds and a collection of dynamite blasting caps, and other explosives.
Meanwhile another element of the company's 2nd Plt. had set up a blocking force on the east side fo the woods when LTC Henry I. Lowder, Bn. CO, spotted some VC from his helicopter. The enemy was quickly routed leaving behind an AK-47, field pack, camouflaged poncho containing medical supplies and other equipment and ordnance.
LTC Lowder then saw a number of VC moving around the west end of D Co.'s 3rd Plt. He called Co. A across the river and they sent their 1st and 2nd Plts. to meet the enemy.
Zap Sapper Commander
SGT David S. Orndorff, acting 1st Plt. leader, spotted two VC in the tall grass and called for them to stop. They began to run, and then nine other VC suddenly joined them in flight. "They didn't have a chance to shoot at us," Orndorff noted, "we killed six of them."
A search of the bodies revealed an RPG-7 rocket launcher, an AK-47, an SKS rifle and a Chicom pistol. Numerous maps and documents were found on the body of one VC, which identified him as the 506th Sapper Company (A) Commander. According to an entry in the dead CO's notebook, his company contained 41 personnel.
While elements of the "Always First" battalion were battling the enemy on the ground, "Shark" gunships from the 174th Avn. Co. were flying air support, guarding open areas from evading VC and helping where they could in the fighting. "Shark" gunners accounted for six of the enemy kills.
RTO Finds One More
When the action slowed down, D Co.'s 1st Plt. settled down to eat lunch. But the RTO was not quite satisfied and continued to search the area. Suddenly he noticed a foot sticking out of the bushes. He checked it out and found another dead VC with two AK-47 magazines on him.
After three hours of fighting, 3rd of the 1st soldiers counted 18 Viet Cong bodies in the area. The list of captured weapons included two AK-47's, two SKS rifles, an M-2 carbine, a pistol, and a rocket launcher with rockets.
An original copy of this document was donated to the Americal Division Veterans Association (ADVA) by LTC Paul Parham who served as Information Officer for the Americal Division.