OBLITERATE NVA TROOPS IN BUFF TRIANGLE AREA FROM THE SOUTHERN CROSS FOR FEBRUARY 16, 1969.
Electronic copy of article provided by Leslie Hines
DUC PHO — Supported by devastating air, artillery, gunship, and APC barrages, 11th Inf. Bde. soldiers smashed an NVA battalion–sized force seven miles northwest of Quang Ngai City, killing 45 NVA and destroying mammoth tunnel complexes.
Executing a village cordon tabbed "Buff Triangle," elements of the 4th Bn., 21st Inf. and 3rd Bn., 1st. Inf. swept through the region after a week of fighting enemy troops concentrated in the area.
NVA Open Up
Action began when the "Jungle Warriors," moving close to the village, received intense small arms, mortar and RPG fire from the enemy, "We weren't in the village two minutes before they opened up on us," said PSG Jose J. Fernandez (Bridgeport, Conn.), acting platoon leader of the 1st Plt., A Co, 4/21. "We called in gunships and pulled back so that air strikes could come in."
In a matter of minutes, the tactical jet fighters were on the scene dropping their explosive cargo with pinpoint accuracy–so close that the infantrymen could hear shrapnel whizzing overhead.
"You could hardly get your head out of your foxhole for all the air strikes, artillery, and 50-caliber fire from the tracks, (H Trp., 17th Cav., 198th Bde.)" remarked SGT Rick Snoderly (Pocatello, Idaho), platoon sergeant of 2nd Plt., B Co., 3/1. "They really knocked the hell out of the place."
As the 11th Bde. soldiers set up a cordon which sealed the fate of the trapped enemy force, artillery and air strikes continued to pulverize the area throughout the day.
During the night, continuous flares illuminated the area to preserve the integrity of the cordon.
Pitted Like Moon
The next morning, after artillery fire from the 6th Bn., 11th Arty. prepared the area and ACAVs of B Trp., 1st Sqdn., 1st Cav. swept through the Jungle Warriors" moved in.
They discovered a landscape so covered with craters that it resembled the surface of the moon.
The infantrymen found huge interconnected spider holes in each of the hedgerows, some extending 40 feet deep.
1LT Thomas L. Smith (Hicksville, N.Y.), commander of A Co., 4/21, described it as "the biggest set of tunnels I've ever seen. According to the engineers, they are even bigger than the tunnels found on the Batangan Peninsula."
"They were really dug in," said SP4 Dean Bonde (Portland, Oregon), an RTO with B Co, 4/21. "Some of their bunkers had steel doors on them that even a direct hit with a 106mm recoilless rifle wouldn't blow."
In addition to the 45 confirmed kills, it is suspected that as many as 200 enemy dead are in the collapsed bunkers.
Intelligence reports indicated that the decimated NVA battalion was a forward fighting element in position for an attack on Quang Ngai City.
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.