ON THE FIRING LINE FROM THE LEGIONNAIRES' LEDGER FOR FRIDAY, DECEMBER 25, 1970.
Copy of publication provided by Dave Eckberg
Action in the 3d Bn, 1st Inf AO for the period 6-16 December:
Two months earlier while working southwest of FSB 4-11, Alpha Company had discovered a cave complex containing weapons and rice. Returning to search the same area, the company found that the split level caverns had not been entirely abandoned by the enemy.
Uncovering a few more subterranean vaults, the spelunking Legionnaires captured 7 SKS rifles, 3 AK-44's, 2 M-1 carbines, a Browning Automatic rifle, 90 rounds of ammunition, 6 hand grenades and over 500 lbs. of rice. The company also found 2 VC KIA, a hand frag booby trapped with a wire, a booby trapped pressure device loaded with 10 lbs. of petnum and a 500 lb. bomb which was later destroyed by an EOD team.
Patrolling west of the Da Son Valley, Bravo Company found a bunker with overhead cover, a booby trapped 60 mm mortar round, 20 lbs. of polished rice and various medical supplies.
The 2nd platoon of Delta Company began working with a Regional Forces Company to establish an RF outpost west of Nghia Hanh. Elements of the 3rd Battalion will continue to lend support to the development of such defensive positions.
Medical Personnel on the Move
On 11 December, the battalion surgeon CPT Michael H. Dang with the assistance of clinical specialist SP6 Arthur Foxworth (Lillington, N.C.), medical aidmen SP5 Joseph Baron (Chandler, Ariz.) and PFC Mark Mackie (Philadelphia, Pa.) treated 28 children at the Catholic orphanage in Quang Ngai. That afternoon, the team treated over 60 people at Tu Nghia.
Three days later, CPT Dang, 1LT David Eckberg (San Antonio, Texas) , SSG Nelson Boicourt (Indianapolis, Ind.) and SP4 Kyle Baker (Richmond, Va.) treated over 65 villagers at Tu My.
On 16 December, SP6 Foxworth, SP5 Baron, PFC Howard Harding (Mt. Vernon, Ky.) and PFC Gary Kuckenbrod (Johnstown, Pa.) treated 60 women and children at the Catholic orphanage in Duc Pho.
During the final MEDCAP for the week, CPT Dang, 1LT Eckberg, SSG Boicourt, and SP4 Baker treated 93 inhabitants of a ville located west of Quang Ngai. The team's treatment of ailing villagers was a positive follow up to a cordon and search operation which had been conducted earlier by Alpha Company working in conjunction with a platoon of Popular Forces.
Viet/US Raid Enemy Base Camp
It was an unusual force consisting of three former VC nurses, a district recon platoon from Quang Ngai and a rifle squad from Alpha Company which, under the cover of darkness, pushed into the mountains south of FSB 4-11 in order to launch the initial raid of an enemy base camp.
"Led by three Hoi Chanhs, we had moved about 1 1/2 miles into the valley before finding a suitable ambush site which would also serve as a rallying point for the raid," recalled the squad leader SGT Chester Roney (Flint, Mich.). "At this point, the Vietnamese platoon leader divided his unit into two 8 man teams. While he and one RTO remained with my squad, the two teams along with the three nurses continued working their way toward the base camp."
Reaching their objective just before daybreak, the two assault elements hit the camp, killed at least three of the defenders and captured 3 automatic weapons and 2 M-1 carbines before the enemy could react. After the initial attack, however, the fighting intensified as the teams found themselves being out maneuvered by a larger force of VC.
"The platoon leader informed me that his people were in heavy contact with over 30 personnel and were in danger of being cut off," related SGT Roney. "Since a heavy overcast prevented the use of gunships, I decided to call in artillery and adjust the fire along the mountainside, hoping that such a diversion would allow his men an opportunity to disengage."
Later that morning, after the two elements had made their way back, SGT Roney's position was transformed from an ambush site into a command post. With two platoons of Bravo Company nearby, the remainder of Alpha Company prepared to sweep into the contact area.
The 1st and 2nd platoons found 3 VC KIA and 1 WIA (see following story). In addition, they captured 1 AK-44, assorted ammo, 4 hand frags, approximately 1000 lbs. of polished rice and other food stuff, clothing for 50 people, 1 3x5 Russian flag, 15-20 lbs of medical supplies and various documents.
The VC That Got Carried Away
While the 1st platoon of Alpha Company was sweeping an area of recent contact, SGT Bobbie Lewis (Yasoo City, Miss.) spotted a VC hiding in a cave. Little did SGT Lewis or his squad leader SGT Andres Vega (Caguas, P.R.) realize that they would have that enemy soldier on their backs for much of the afternoon.
SGT Vega said that he attempted to talk the VC into surrendering since a prisoner might be able to provide valuable intelligence. When it appeared that he was either unwilling or unable to come out, Vega and Lewis went in to get him.
"As I approached him, I could see that he was lying wounded on a bed. Even so I wasn't going to take any chances. When he rolled off the bed and reached for something underneath, I grabbed him and pulled him back. Looking under the bed, I found 2 Chicom grenades."
Since the terrain made it impossible for a helicopter to land, the prisoner had to be carried down the mountainside to a suitable location for evacuation. Vega and Lewis carried the enemy casualty nearly 1/2 mile over rocks and through the brush. Finally, they reached a place where they were able to cut a LZ.