From the 1/14th Daily Journals for JANUARY, 1966
3 JANUARY 1966 was a busy day around Quad "E" Schofield Barracks. Members of 1st Battalion 14th Infantry "Golden Dragons" were making last minute preparations for the big move, which was only a few hours away.
Under the Command of Lt. Col. G. Procter Jr., elements of the 1st Battalion 14th Infantry (GOLDEN DRAGONS) and necessary equipment to be hand carried aboard ship for immediate use, departed Schofield Barracks and closed into Pier 39 Honolulu Hawaii 3 January 1966 at 1100 hours. The MAIN BODY of the 1st Battalion 14th Infantry GOLDEN DRAGONS departed Quad "E" Schofield Barracks by buses and closed into Pier 39 Honolulu Hawaii along with elements of the 2nd Brigade Task Force at 2145 hours. The loading of troops onto the USNS General Walker was accomplished in a very orderly and expeditious manner. The morale and ESPRIT DE CORP of the unit seemed to be at its highest even though each member of the unit was well aware of the journey, which lay ahead.
High-ranking officers were on hand to observe loading of troops and equipment at Pier 39:
GENERAL WATERS – Commanding General USARPAC
MAJ GENERAL WEYLAND – Commanding General 25th Infantry Division
COL JOHNSON – 2nd Brigade Commander 25th Infantry Division
LT COL PROCTER – 1st Battalion 14th Infantry Commander 25th Infantry Division
4 JANUARY 1966, 0600 hours the USNS General Walker departed Pier 39 from Honolulu, Hawaii on a non-stop course for Vietnam. Most of the troops were sleeping during the departure and when they arose reality was faced and the questions were asked. "Hey man maybe this HOLAKI 12 is for real. Hell no dad we will be turning around and going back. You know Uncle Sam, he tries to be realistic as hell with these big alerts".
5 JANUARY 1966 one day, five hours 42 minutes at sea. Weather mostly cloudy, sea was moderate rough today, but the GOLDEN DRAGONS were in high spirits and seemed to be enjoying the ride. The troops received their first Ship’s Paper today.
6 JANUARY 1966 USNS General Walker crossed International Date Line, and we lost Friday 7 January 1966. The troops were getting accustomed to the ship and all its "off limits to troops" signs. That called for a skilled map reader to get to the mess hall and back.
8 JANUARY 1966 the General Walker was running a few hours ahead of schedule, the sea was calm.
Staff Sergeant Ricardo Morales of Company B, 1st Battalion 14th Infantry GOLDEN DRAGONS re-enlisted today for three years. He was sworn in by Lt. Col. Procter Jr., his Battalion Commander aboard USNS General Nelson Walker.
"Hey man, when is this tub turning around." "I thought you said this was just going to be a training mission." "No sweat dad you know Uncle Sam just trying to shake us, you know like ---------- think!"
9 JANUARY 1966 the troops spent a quiet day at sea. Sunday services were held in the Main Recreation Hall. Many of the troops started the letter writing to their loved ones, this is a sequence which would continue for 12 months.
The feeling of being a little cramped up was quite evidence but the troops were making the best of it. The guardrail on the ship was lined with questioning eyes. "I wonder what Vietnam is going to be like?" "Wonder what Charlie looks like."
Meanwhile, the troops started to feel the rocking of the ship and the rocking of their stomachs. There were the "bed riders" and the Captain Ahab" type but both types got sick during a portion of their voyage.
During the afternoon, many of the NCO’s and Officers in the Battalion gave classes to their troops. A very helpful class attended by many were classes given on forward observer techniques given by the artillery forward observers attached to the rifle companies. This type of last minute instruction was absorbed readily by the Golden Dragons.
10 JANUARY 1966 Rumors have begun to circulate among the troops as to when our destination will be reached.
During the evening hours, an unfortunate accident took place aboard ship. PFC Robert E. Hardin was accidentally shot with a Cal. 25 Pistol. The operation was performed by Captain Clark, 1st Battalion 14th Infantry and ship’s doctor, assisted by Army and Naval medical personnel. Dr. Clark did an excellent job, and his surgical skill saved the life of PFC Hardin. The ships course changed to Guam so the patient could be transported to a hospital on the island.
11 JANUARY 1966 the Special Service aboard the ship was well appreciated as we find the troops enjoying movies and bingo.
The patient was in fair condition and the weather was cloudy with rough to moderate seas.
12 JANUARY 1966 at 0500 hours USNS General Walker arrived in the harbor at Guam and PFC Hardin was evacuated from the ship. The ship departed and continued on course to Vietnam with a moderate sea ahead.
13 JANUARY 1966 the USNS General Walker back on course for Vietnam, making good time at an average speed of 21.36 knots. The weather was partly cloudy with a rough to moderate sea. The morale of the troops was at its highest.
14 JANUARY 1966 Sergeant Emlick E. Goff of Company C, 1st Battalion 14th Infantry GOLDEN DRAGONS re-enlisted today for six years. He was sworn in by Lt. Col. G. Procter Jr., his Battalion Commander aboard the USNS General Nelson Walker.
At 1200 hours today the decks of the USNS General Walker were filled with troops with watchful eyes as we entered the San Bernadine Straits. Land was visible the remainder of the day.
The Battalion Commander assembled all officers and NCOs at 1300 hours in the ship’s recreation room and briefed them on the situation as presently known to the Commanding Officer and Staff Captain Richard Beal, the S2 Officer, presented a briefing on the objective area.
15 JANUARY 1966 with 429 miles to go, the troops were busy packing and getting their baggage on deck in preparation for debarking the 16th of January 1966. Company First Sergeants and Platoon Sergeants were busy checking their men under the supervision of the Battalion Sgt. Major.
"Hey man you know, the Uncle Sam he ain’t kidding." "No sweat dad we got 429 miles to go and you know what’s there, its Hawaii man." "We are going in on the back side." "They can’t fool me."
16 JANUARY 1966 the USNS General Walker dropped anchor in Cam Rahn Bay on 0950 hours. USNS General Walker moved in along side of pier and docked at 1830 hours. Troops spent another quiet night on the ship. Tomorrow was the big day, "Charlie here we come".
17 JANUARY 1966 the troops ate early chow on the USNS General Walker and prepared for debarkation. At 0600 hours the first elements of the 1st Battalion 14th Infantry off-loaded the ship and loaded the trucks to move to Cam Rahn AFB. The troops were loaded on C-130’s and were flown to operation Blue Light at New Pleiku Airstrip where they were again loaded on trucks and moved into position at coordinates BR793524. Here they began to set up Base Camp. Col. Procter and his Staff were met and briefed by Col. Stoutner, the Brigade Commander. The remainder of the day was spent digging foxholes, gun emplacements, and improving their positions.
18-19 JANUARY 1966 the Battalion continued preparation of the Base Camp Area. On the 19th at 1730 hours, the Battalion received a warning order from Brigade Headquarters to conduct a platoon size ambush patrol in vic of coordinates BR77525100.
A daily Staff and Commanders meeting was conducted at the Battalion CP at 1800 hours.
Each Company began manning the defensive perimeter in their sector at dark. No activity was reported during the evening hours.
20 JANUARY 1966 preparations were made for the In-Country Briefing Team to conduct classes beginning tomorrow morning. The Battalion was required to furnish a ¾ ten Truck for the use of the team. The team was to be furnished by the 1st Air Cav Div from AN KHE.
Major Meyer, Bde S3, notified Major Evrard, Bn S3, to send an LnO for details on a patrol mission.
The Staff and Commanders conducted a meeting at the Bn CP at 1745 hours. After the meeting, the Recon Platoon (-) departed Base Camp for its ambush site vic BR764522. Company B then reported machine gun fire to their front in vic of BR773526 and BR790502. Major Evrard notified Bde TOC and it was determined that this the ARVN celebrating TET.
The Recon Ambush Patrol picked up a civilian that stumbled into the rear of their column approximately 200 meters from the ambush site. The civilian was taken to MACV Compound and turned over to LCC at II Corps Hqs.
B Company’s radar spotted approximately 540 meters and followed to within 200 meters of wire. The villagers continued shooting fireworks throughout the evening in celebration of TET.
1st Battalion 35th Infantry moved out on a mission and Company A of the 1st Battalion 14th Infantry assumed the responsibility of defending their portion of the perimeter. At 2120 hours Company A reported all clear in their sector.
Brigade S3 ordered that the boundary for patrols would exceed 200 meters from crest of the draw on either side and requested that the Battalion S2 coordinate with Brigade S2 as to departure and re-entry time of each patrol.
21 JANUARY 1966 at 0730 hours the Recon Ambush Patrol returned to Base Camp. Bde TOC was given a negative contact report.
The In-Country briefings commenced today. One hundred men from each company were to attend.
At 1500 hours a Battalion Officers Call was conducted by the Battalion Commander, Col. Procter.
At 1600 hours plans and operations were made for 25th January and 4.2 Mortar training. On the 26th of January the 170th Avn will take Lt. Mathews, Recon Platoon leader on an aerial recon of a possible Landing Zone site.
At 1745 hours Recon Platoon departed for Ambush site and reported that they were in discussed position at 1830 hours.
A Commanders and Staff meeting was called at 1830
hours and future plans were discussed by Lt. Col. G. Procter, Jr., the
22 JANUARY 1966 there was no activity during the night on the Ambush Patrol or the Perimeter Defense.
At 0800 hours the Battalion S3 received a message from the Bde Commander for Col. Procter to report to the Bde briefing tent as soon as possible.
Battalion training was conducted today on helicopter lift and In-Country Orientation.
GENERAL W.C. WESTMORELAND, Commander in Chief, US Army Vietnam addressed the Men of the 1st Battalion 14th Infantry today at 1700 hours in Company B’s company area.
GENERAL WESTMORELAND’S SPEECH TO THE GOLDEN DRAGONS
Men of the 1st Battalion 14th Infantry it is good to have you here and I welcome you to Vietnam. I see many of my friends here, your Battalion Commander is one of my closest friends. Lt. Col. Procter served with me in the 101st Airborne Division years ago. Having been in the Army about thirty years you make a lot of friends, and I consider the Army one big happy family.
I asked for the 25th Division to come to Vietnam. I have been trying to get the 25th Division to Vietnam for a long time and you are here because I asked for you. I know the 25th is well trained and ready for combat. This Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division is needed to guard this strategic spot. Your movement to Vietnam was an unprecedented one. In that the short notice of your deployment was handled very well.
I talked to the 2nd Brigade of the 25th Division Monday and I gather from them the chow on the ship was lousy. There will be many days of B and C rations and there will be days that you will get A rations. Remember we are here to do a tough job. This is a very strategic spot (the highlands). The people are very primitive, like the American Indians. The people are semi-nomadic people who like Americans.
Our primary duty is to support the people of Vietnam and all its people. Help them bring peace, freedom, and self-government to this land. It will be a long war. We are here for a year so work like hell for that time and fight like tigers. When our supplies are all caught up, we will start to put pressure on the Viet Cong. Individual conduct is most important toward the people. It is as important as killing Viet Cong.
The past year (the year of the Snake) was a very rough year. If it had not been for the deployment of American ground forces in Vietnam, this land would have been lost. The ground soldier shows the Vietnamese people that we are really taking interest is their cause. This coming year (the year of the Horse) with our support will be successful for Vietnam.
I feel secure that the 1st Battalion 14th Infantry is here and I know that you will live up to your reputation. The American soldier in Vietnam has been outstanding and I know that you will do well. I am damned glad that you are here. Good luck men.
END OF SPEECH
Effective 241700 Jan 1966 the 1st Battalion 14th Infantry will assume responsibility for the security of the Bde water point for approximately one week. Direct coordination with Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion 35th Infantry is authorized to effect his relief.
Company B radar detected movement once again of ten to fifteen men during the night and reported this to Battalion S3. Battalion S3 notified Brigade S3. Illumination was requested based on the radar detection and 2nd platoon personnel of Company B observed fifteen to twenty people near the wood line, three or four of them ran into the woods toward the village.
1st Cav Dir (Air) has extended an invitation for two officers per company of the 1st Battalion 14th Infantry to participate in an operation.
23 JANUARY 1966 Company C had the mission of the Ambush Patrol. They returned to Base Camp at 0715 hours and reported negative contact.
During the morning hours helilift training was conducted. Selected officers of the Battalion departed at 1400 ours for the 1st Cav Division area on a classified mission.
Commander and Staff meeting was held at 1500 hours, and the Company Commanders were briefed on the coming events by the Staff. The Battalion had no mission for the 23rd of January 1966.
24 JANUARY 1966 there were no incidents or activity during the night. Helilift training was conducted during the morning hours for Company B and make up elements of Company C.
Priority of work during the day was directed toward preparation of defensive wire on the battalion perimeter.
No Commander and Staff meeting was conducted today. The Battalion assumed responsibility for security of the Bde water point, the mission was given to the Recon Platoon, on reinforced squad will go into position at 1800 hours.
25 JANUARY 1966 the squad from Recon Platoon returned from Bde water point. They reported negative activity during the night.
Helilift training was conducted for the Battalion Mortar Platoon during the morning hours.
Work on the Battalion defensive wire system was continued under the supervision of Captain Cacioppe.
Brigade S3 gave the 1st Battalion 14th Infantry the mission of sending out a security patrol tonight. Captain Cacioppe was sent to Bde S3 to coordinate details. Company B was given the mission and the Patrol Leader was briefed by Captain Cacioppe. The patrol apprehended two soldiers who had missed the pass truck. They were identified as members of the 385th Quartermaster. The patrol was ordered to hold them and bring them to the CP on their return in the morning. Bde was notified and the 385th QM said all their people were present.
26 JANUARY 1966 Company B outpost and water point security detail returned to Base Camp. The two men picked up by the patrol had been ordered to remain, but slipped away during the night. There were no significant incidents reported by either unit.
Sequence of events for the day consisted of continuing preparation of defensive wire and bunkers on the battalion perimeter and helilift training for the Battalion Mortar Platoon, to commence at 0930 hours. Plans also were being drafted or an Airlift of Company C, reinforced by Mortar Platoon minus into an operational area for training on 27 and 28 January.
Effective today, the 1st Battalion 14th Infantry assumes responsibility for security of Holloway Air Field for approximately one week. Direct coordination with Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry was authorized.
Lt. Col. Procter and Officers of the 1st Battalion 14th Infantry returned from the 1st Cal Div (Air) operation. The invitation from the 1st Cav Div was well worth the time and hardship that was encountered by the officers of the Golden Dragons.
27 JANUARY 1966 the outpost patrol and water point security returned and reported negative contact during the hours of darkness.
The battalion was directed to assumed responsibility of security of Camp Holloway Air Strip beginning today. The mission was assigned to Company C. Coordination was made with 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry.
The battalion was notified by Bde S2 that two ARVN Interpreters would be assigned today and possibly one more after the 1st of the month. The Bn S2 Sgt, was informed of this.
It was reported by Bde S2 that a VC unit of undetermined size was being engaged by a regional force platoon in the vic of coordinates BR957375 at 1040 hours. The Bn S2 then posted this information on the situation map.
Lt. Col. Procter conducted a briefing for the Officers of the 3rd Bde Task Force in the Bde Briefing Tent. The briefing covered situations encountered on the recent 1st Air Cal Div operation in which Lt. Col. Procter and selected officers participated as observers. The following battalion officers were present at this briefing: The S3, S2, Arty LNO, and Company Commanders.
28 JANUARY 1966 Company B patrol reported crossing Check Point #4 on their return to Base Camp. Soon after, the water point security guard returned to Base Camp at 0700 hours. Company B patrol reported crossing Check Point #5 and all was secure at 0720 hours.
At 1000 hours a call was received from Bde reference In-Country Orientation – Support Battalion will be responsible for a make-up class in their battalion area at 1300 hours on 29 January. A roster of personnel to attend is to be submitted to Bde S3.
At 1500 hours, Bde called and stated that two suspected mortar rounds had landed in vicinity AR795535. Company A was given a commitment to send a reinforced rifle squad with an FO and a man capable of making a crater analysis to check this location.
At 1525 hours, Battalion was directed by Bde to send a platoon size Combat Patrol to search the village of PLEI RONG DUP (AR830539) and surrounding area for suspected VC mortar positions. Company A was given this commitment.
At 1600 hours, Lt. Col. Procter notified Capt. Chavis that the patrol was not to enter the village but to contact the Village Chief and attempt to determine if any VC have been in the area.
At 1621 Bde notified Bn that a patrol from 2nd Bn 35th Infantry was moving out to the northwest from the perimeter and they were aware of the route that the 1st Bn 14th Infantry patrol was taking. Platoon patrol from Company A departed at 1615 hours.
At 1620 hours Captain Rice informed Lt. Col. Procter of a mortar round going off in vic AR795535. Captain Rice was 300 meters from this location, training, when the 1st round went off at 1325 hours, he ignored it. Two more rounds went off at 1345 hours and a few minutes later he noted red smoke in the area. He returned to Base Camp with his unit at 1410 hours. He reported this to Bde and took his S2, Recon Officer and Forward Observer back to the vic of where he said the rounds went off and found nothing. However, in an area nearby he came across a location with two or three holes and a big hole next to a fallen jet engine from an aircraft. Nearby were a box of 60 mm Mortar duds nearby and a box of grenade primers. This material was located next to the rifle range that ran east and west between the 200 and 300 meter line about 40 meters north. While there, Captain Rice noted ARVN troops firing on the range just forward of the 100meter line. They were from the ARVN camp just above our contonement position. At about 1600 hours he noted these people walking back to the ARVN camp. This information was called to Bde by Major Evrard requesting that II Corps contact the ARVN element to determine whether or not they knew anything about the explosions and the box of mortar ammunition. Further, this information has been passed to the patrol dispatched by 1st Battalion 14th Inf. to search out this area. At 1730 hours the squad patrol from Company A returned and reported no evidence of mortar ammunition of shell craters.
At 1745 hours, water point security and Holloway security elements departed Base Camp. There was no outpost patrol being sent out tonight.
At approximately 1845 hours Company A platoon patrol returned safely and found no evidence of VC Mortars or any enemy activity. They did find a lean to type hootch vic coordinate AR805540 and beside it they found 250 to 300 bamboo punji stakes about 4 feet long in a pile. They burned the bamboo punji stakes. They also found some unidentified shell cases, pistol or carbine type, which will be sent to Bde for information purposes.
At 2305 hours Company C requested illumination based on a radar report that people were inside the wire. Illumination revealed nothing. A patrol was sent to investigate. The patrol from Company C reported area clear up to wire and nothing was detected.
29 JANUARY 1966 Bde S2 notified battalion to pick up OPORD 8-66 (KAMEHAMEHA II), document was picked up by S/Sgt. Gormely the Artillery LnO Sergeant.
Company B assumed perimeter security in the 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry sector at 0540 hours. Recon Platoon gave a negative report on the water point during the hours of darkness.
Security element, two platoons from Company C, returned from Camp Holloway at 0835 hours. At approximately 1800 hours two individuals were observed on the right flank of the positions near the highway apparently marking the defensive positions. Security element shifted positions after this was observed. At approximately 2230 hours a hand flare was fired and twenty people were observed crossing in front of the position, probably villagers.
Range coordinations were made with Bde FSE (Arty LO) for Company B to fire their Col. .50 Machine Guns.
Battalion S3 submitted a Defense Overlay to the 3rd Bde at 1650 hours. Company A had the responsibility of providing the Security for Camp Holloway. At approximately 1830 hours the Security Element received 3 to 5 rounds of sniper fire. The fire was not returned, there were no casualties.
Battalion was notified to provide two gun jeeps with crew to the Class III Supply Point at 0815 hours, 30 January. The gun jeeps will be part of an escort for 29 vehicles to QUIN NHON, returning on 31 January.
30 JANUARY 1966 The water point security detail submitted a negative report at 0744 hours, this was reported to Bde.
Brigade S3 requested a representative from our unit come to Brigade to plot position of tactical wire in our sector on an aerial photo of the contonement area. Major Evrard was informed and he went to make the plot.
31 JANUARY 1966 at
0200 hours a report was received from Company A, 2nd Battalion,
35th Infantry that Company A, 1st Battalion, 35th
Infantry was under attack. All units of 1st Battalion 14th
Infantry were notified. It was then determined through Bde TOC that the
action was taking place on Highway 19 and not at Bde Base Camp. All units
were informed of this at 0315 hours. There were no incidents during the
night in the Base Camp Area.
** Indicates Photo was received from Alan Quale's 3rd
Brigade Task Force (66-67) Yearbook