IVY LEAF Newspaper Articles - March 2, 1969 Issue
"Ivy Units Slay 83 In Battle"
By 1LT Jim Hughes
Captain Garret Cowsert from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, tired, dirty and hot pauses for a moment to relax after leading his men on missions in the Chu Pa Mountains. [USA Photo by 124th Sig Bn]
OASIS - Battling down the side of rugged Chu Pa mountain 14 miles north northeast of Plei-Djereng, the 4th Division's 3rd Brigade has accounted for 83 NVA and VC killed in action.
Bearing the brunt of the battle during the six day sweep, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, commanded by Captain Garret T. Cowsert of Amsterdam, N.Y., has accounted for 58 of the total NVA killed.
The difficult sweep operation began Feb 8, after a five-hour air and artillery prep, during which time 52 tons of artillery and 29 tons of Air Force ordnance were expended on the side of Mount Chu Pa.
"Chu Pa mountain has been the base area of the 24th NVA Regiment," commented 3rd Brigade Commander, Colonel Richard L. Gruenther, "and they have been fighting since Jan. 3 to defend it."
Elements of the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry and the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry occupied the 4,800 foot peak of Chu Pa while a screening force was sent from south to west to north at the base of the mountain.
PLANNING STRATEGY - Lieutenant Colonel
Robert D. Lander and Captain Garret T. Cowsert
inspect the scene of initial contact for the captain's
company on Chu Pa Mountain. Bravo Company,
1st Battalion, 14th Infantry killed 53 enemy soldiers
during a four-day period on the jungled mountain.
Colonel Lander is the Golden Dragons commander.
The sweep began from the summit to the north and west through the triple canopied teak and mahogany forest covering the steep slopes of Chu Pa.
Sporadic small arms fire and scattered NVA equipment found during the first day of the sweep provided evidence of a battalion-size NVA force defending the area.
Also on the first day, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry found 24 shallow graves containing 24 NVA killed by Division forces approximately one week before.
Sporadic action continued during the second and third days of the sweep. Literally gouging their way through the forest the elements of the two battalions found numerous bunkers and foxholes with evidence of recent use.
Speculation arose that the NVA, fighting doggedly from the well dug-in positions, were holding on to protect "something big" they had in the side of the mountain.
Bitter fighting marked the fourth day of the sweep as Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, encountered an NVA ambush late in the afternoon.
During the darkness following the ambush, the 105mm Howitzers of Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 9th Artillery poured 534 rounds into the side of the mountain in support of the embattled Bravo Company. Air strikes and "Spooky" also were employed. When the smoke cleared, 43 NVA had been added to the Bravo Company tally.
Speculation as to the presence of an arms cache proved correct the fifth day as Alpha and Charlie Companies of the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry uncovered two separate finds.
Included in the caches were two 122mm rockets, 23,500 AK47 rounds, 11,100 rounds of SKS ammo, 23 75mm recoilless rifle rounds, 1,535 rounds of 12.7 ammo, seven B40 rockets, 40 rifle grenades, 20 mines, 60 rounds of explosive and one box of blasting caps.
Throughout the fifth and sixth days of the sweep, Bravo Company continued to call in artillery and mortar strikes on the beleaguered NVA.
"They (Bravo Company) have taken the brunt of the battle," commented Colonel Gruenther, "but they are in a good position and are doing an outstanding job. Their leadership is strong and their morale is high."
"Shutter Bug Hits Live Nest"
By SSG Frank Madison as told to SP5 Bill Gibbons
OASIS - Quick thinking, courage, and decisive action on the part of three Ivy Division soldiers and supporting fire in two different contacts led to a large number of enemy killed and American Lives Saved.
Staff Sergeant Frank H. Madison of Fort Worth, a combat photographer with the 4th Infantry Division, was working on a mission with Company B, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry when the point element came under heavy enemy automatic fire.
"I was the third man in line when we came under fire," Sergeant Madison said. "The first two men were injured by small arms fire and the three of us hit the dirt. But the enemy had sprung the ambush too early and those behind us were able to find cover. I and the first two men were pinned down in the open.
"Our men immediately returned fire and I was able to scramble behind a rock about eight meters away."
Sergeant Grady Wallis of Winnsboro, Tex., a squad leader with Delta Company, was already behind the rock.
"The rock didn't offer an awful lot of protection because the enemy was firing from high ground and could almost shoot down on top of us," Sergeant Madison went on.
As the Americans continued firing, Sergeant Madison raced out into the open and pulled one of the injured men behind the rock. Then he and Sergeant Wallis went out together to bring in the second wounded man. Artillery was then called in on the entrenched enemy position and the NVA ambush was aborted.
Two days later, Sergeant Madison was again caught in the open during an enemy ambush.
"I tried to signal and let the guys know I was all right, but I couldn't risk a lot of noticeable movement. I wasn't more than 20 meters from the enemy position and I could hear them talking. Just as I heard them reloading their machine gun, an M79 round hit near their position forcing them to take cover. That's when I made my move."
Makes Wild Dive
Sergeant Madison jumped up, ran about three steps, and dived through the air, somersaulting to the bottom of the hill. "It put me a little closer to their position," he said, "but under cover and at a hard angle for them to fire at me."
Behind the rock with Sergeant Madison was First Lieutenant Gilbert L. Atha of Anderson, Ind., the company's forward observer, his radio operator and a medic.
With everyone now under cover, Lieutenant Atha began calling in artillery fire. While he was on the radio a single enemy soldier circled around the four Americans and charged down the hill firing his AK47. Lieutenant Atha turned on the NVA, killing him with a single shot from his M16.
By "walking" the artillery fire to within 15 meters of his own position, Lieutenant Atha was able to negate the effectiveness of the enemy force. He was responsible for directing fire on two machine gun positions which were destroyed, one by a direct hit.
During the evening Lieutenant Atha continued to call in accurate fire, sometimes handling four different fire missions at once. More than 300 rounds of artillery were fired that night in support of Bravo Company.
Knowing they could not stay in their position indefinitely, Lieutenant Atha led the men to the regrouped company location under cover of darkness. With their hands on each other's shoulders or belts, the four Americans crawled 75 meters through heavy brush and treacherous rocks to the high ground and safety.
The actions resulted in 58 enemy killed.
After Action Report: 11-15 FEBRUARY 1969
MAP: LZ CHU PA