1/14th Daily Journal for MARCH 1966.
1 MARCH 1966 Company B initially moved into LZ "Bunny" followed immediately by Charlie Co. After securing the LZ, which was about 2 inches under water, both companies moved out toward their initial objectives. B Company moved to Objective "Kate" in a search and destroy pattern, while C Company similarly marched to Objective "Pat". "Pat" was a rather large Montagnard village, and no contact was made with any enemy troops. The finding of fatigues, enemy grenades and the like, however, indicated that enemy troops had recently been in the village. Meanwhile, Company A conducted a combat assault to LZ "Shirley", where no opposing forces were encountered. Co. B found and reported 100,000 lbs of rice at Objective "Kate". After attaining their objectives, Co. B and C moved to LZ "Alice", while Co. A moved into LZ "Gloria". There was no contact with enemy forces during the day, but the area looked like a rich hunting ground.
2 MARCH 1966 Co. B and C proceeded with their search and destroy patterns west toward LZ "Shirley", while Co. A moved in similar formation toward the southwest. With no contact, all units reached Checkpoint "Shirley" by noon. At 1345 hours, all three units through the large Mewal rubber plantation. Co. C four and searched a small village inside the plantation. The village was poverty stricken and disease ridden. A medical team accompanied by our own Vietnamese interpreters gave aid to the sick and candy to the children. All units then moved to the plantation’s old and unused airstrip. Every moving unit saw signs of enemy propaganda efforts.
During the night, our mortars fired their H and I fires, and were detected by our own artillery’s counter mortar radar screen. Acting rapidly and efficiently, the artillery returned the fire, hitting our Battalion C.P. The matter was, fortunately, quickly rectified, and luckily, no casualties were taken on either side.
3 MARCH 1966 the Command Group of Co. C, accompanied by C Company’s 2nd platoon, conducted a combat assault into an area 1200 meters north of LZ 6. From this area, they moved into LZ 6 by foot and secured it for the remainder of C Company, which was escorting A Battery, 2nd Bn, 9th Artillery, and one battalion C.P. group. Co. A and B soon followed by chopper into LZ 6. After all units had closed, the FAC conducted an air strike on an area north of the LZ, killing 5 NVA troops. The Battalion S-3, Maj. James Evrard, and the artillery LNO, Capt. Charles Jackson, landed at the kill site. Maj. Evrard killed one PAVN, wounded another, and captured a third.
A squad of C Company then came in to pick up the wounded men. Maj. Evrard received credit for the first enemy kill in the battalion. The troops of the Golden Dragon saw that the enemy, elusive and cunning as he is, could be found and killed. Maj. Evrard brought the POW to the Mewal and the troops saw a scared, skinny little PAVN.
4 MARCH 1966 Company A conducted a combat assault into LZ 3. Company C followed by conducting a combat assault into LZ 10. After both companies searched their area with no contact, they were both simultaneously extracted back to LZ 6. A concentrated effort was put in preparing bunkers and good fields of fire.
The day ended with the crashing noise from our artillery firing its H and I fires.
5 MARCH 1966 early that morning Company A conducted a combat assault in LZ 1 with no contact. Company B conducted a motor move to the southern portion of its AOR also with no immediate sign of our elusive enemy. Company A minus conducted a combat assault into LZ "Green" to check on a reported enemy hospital site. Remnants of medical supplies and definite evidence that a hospital had been recently evacuated were found. After this discovery, all units were extracted to LZ 6. The night was quiet.
6 MARCH 1966 Company C started the Battalion movement with a combat assault into LZ "Weed" and a smaller portion of the company landed in LZ "Denver". Company A also made a combat assault simultaneously back into the Mewal Rubber Plantation. The 2nd Platoon of Company C cleared a small well-camouflaged village. Immediately after clearing the village they heard voiced coming toward their location. They sprung a hasty ambush capturing four POWs and killing one confirmed VC officer who was in the area establishing a food depot for his troop movements. That night they kept the four prisoners with them and set up an ambush. The rest of Company C was extracted to LZ 6. The H23 C&C helicopter crashed and the pilot and Maj. Evrard walked back to the CP.
7 MARCH 1966 the 2nd Platoon Company C and Company A in the early hours of the day were extracted back to LZ 6. The four VC suspects were returned to the LZ for further questioning by Captain Beal, the Battalion S2. Little was obtained in the order of information. The suspects were then evacuated to the rear for further questioning. That night proved to be quiet with no harassment by the enemy.
8 MARCH 1966 Company B escorted the battery of artillery and the Battalion CP group to a Montagnard village called Ban Brieng. The movement was made by helicopter, with the mighty Chinooks lifting the artillery and blowing down tents. Co. A and C executed a combat assault onto the highway just north of Ban Brieng. After the assault, both units moved south to establish ambush sites on the closer side of the Ea Drang river. The two companies divided their forces among sites "green", "red", "white" and "blue". The weapons platoons of both companies, and part of the battalion CP group moved into a mutually supporting position at LZ "Orange", located on high ground between the two companies. No enemy contact during the night was reported.
The men on line had little trouble staying awake, however. A couple of cats doubtlessly oriented and trained by the VC prowled around the front, keeping everyone on edge.
According to a POW picked up several days after this, the combat assault for this day had a large, appreciative and interested audience…of VC. The POW said that the VC were located north of the highway. The whole story is doubtful.
9 MARCH 1966 early in the morning, both A and C Companies, plus the battalion CP group moved on a search and destroy operation toward Ban Brieng. The trek provided a challenge and a memory for all concerned. Col. Procter, one of the highest ranking point men in military history, led the column. Small abandoned villages were found on the way, containing stores of small arms ammunition and small quantities of rice. As both units closed in on Ban Brieng, several Montagnard prisoners were picked up, and questioned, with little results. By 1630 hours, both units had arrived and a perimeter was set up around an airstrip near an abandoned Special Forces camp. Exhausted by their hard push, the troops dug in and spent a quiet night.
10 MARCH 1966 Company B executed a combat assault into LZ 21. After clearing the LZ, they sent out small screening patrols with no contact. Meanwhile back at Ban Brieng, both A and C Companies sent out short range patrols, also with negative contact. Also during the day the medical team went into the village to treat the sick. Some of the tribes prize rice wine was given in gratitude for the efforts of those troops who administered aid to the sick.
11 MARCH 1966 during the predawn darkness C Company started receiving effective mortar fire from the enemy. About 60 rounds of 82 mm swept the company’s left flank and the weapon Platoons position. Co. C had 14 of its men wounded, some quite severely. Little effective fire was put on the enemy’s mortar positions due to the rapidity of the fire and the enemy’s cunning locations. With the wounded evacuated, C Company moved into LZ 23, northwest of Ban Brieng. Company A moved into LZ 24 followed by the battalion and the first platoon of Company B. During the latter half of the day, the Recon Platoon captured one NVA soldier who proved of little value as a source of information. There was no immediate contact with the enemy. The night proved to be a quiet one.
12 MARCH 1966 in the early hours of the day, one of B Company’s platoons made a combat assault to the west. Upon clearing the LZ and moving out, the platoon came into contact with about seven NVA troops. With the initial fire the enemy fled leaving none of their own behind. Co. A, during a sweep from their own LZ 24, killed one NVA soldier and policed up his body with equipment and weapon. During the latter half of the afternoon Co. C made contact with about 10-12 NVA soldiers. The 3rd Platoon of Co. C hit the enemy in a dry creek bed. The 3rd Platoon’s leader, Lt. R. E. Smith called in air strikes and artillery but to no avail – the enemy had once again escaped.
With all three companies having made contact, all troops dug their bunkers just a little deeper and extended their fields of fire. All three companies had set in well placed ambush sites located relatively near their LZs. The supplies came in, H&I fires echoed throughout the night.
13 MARCH 1966 the
morning revealed clear skies and all the troops were ready for another day
of seeking an evasive and scattered enemy. The terrain in which the LZs 22,
23, and 24 were located had sparse vegetation, dry creek beds, and a very
rocky type surface. To the east was located the famous Chu Amung mountain
complex which would prove significant terrain feature in future operations.
Water was a severe problem in this extremely dry and hot area. Most of the
troops learned a hard lesson in water conservation since they rarely had
available more than 1 canteen of water per day. In the early hours of the
day Company B captured one NVA and followed this action by establishing a
nearby ambush. C Company and Company A had no contact with their search and
destroy patrols and they also put out ambushes under cover of darkness.
14 MARCH 1966 at 0115 in the morning, one of the tragic happenings of war struck the Golden Dragons. Lt. Robert Taylor of Company B, while checking his ambush site, was shot and killed by one of his own men. Lt. Taylor, being a very conscientious officer wanted to make sure everything was ready if the enemy came through his kill zone. One of the men shot Lt. Taylor mistaking him for "Charlie". All the men in the Battalion regretted this mishap but realized the danger that accompanies their work.
Company B sprung another ambush that morning and killed one NVA soldier. Meanwhile early in the light of morning Company A moved to the south of its TAOR to screen the river which bordered its southern back into their LZs and once again put out their ambush groups in the cover of darkness.
15 MARCH 1966 in the early hours of morning the 3rd platoon of Company C sprung an ambush killing one NVA and severely wounded another how was later discovered by friendly elements and had died previous to their arrival. Company A and Battalion Command Group in the noon hours moved in a heliborne assault t LZ 41 northwest of their prior LZ. Company B followed by moving in a similar direction to LZ 42. Company C with the 4.2 mortar platoon moved into LZ 43.
However, at about 1300, the southeast of Chu Amung mountains, the Cacti got into a hot LZ, calling for reinforcements from their own units at Ban Brieng. Then Company C, minus one platoon left for security of the 4.2 platoon, moved back to Ban Brieng to secure the perimeter of the reinforcing troops who moved out. Also 1st platoon of Company A moved to LZ 43 to help the forces remaining.
16 MARCH 1966 in order to begin a new mission, that was to intercept the enemy force that hit the Cacti at LZ 35, the Dragons rested and spent most of the day cleaning their equipment. Activity was limited to short range screening patrols. During the day there was no contact reported by any of the Dragon units. Aerial and ground surveillance was under way by the Colonel and the S3 to determine the most conducive area to move to with respect to the enemy’s last reported position.
17 MARCH 1966 Company C in the early hours moved out from Ban Brieng by foot to screen a small village southwest where some pilots reported they were receiving small arms fire. The village was checked out with no contact. During the day the Battalion CP moved into LZ BLUEJAY. The colonel was preparing to move all his forces to LZ BLUEJAY and from there at night proceed south-southeast toward the Chu Amung mountain complex where the enemy force had reportedly fled. Companies A, B and C put out operation orders referring to this tactical concept and prepared for the march. The night was quite with no contact.
18 MARCH 1966 all the units were lifted into LZ BLUEJAY by noon and the Battalion Commander made final coordination with all his company commanders. He then sent part of his CP back to Ban Brieng. The troops would carry enough rations for two days since they were not to be resupplied until the 20th to avoid detection by the enemy. At 1800 hours all units moved out on foot by way of their preplanned routes. The Battalion Commander and S3 moved with Company B. All three units moved abreast of one another and all were to rally on the near bank of the YA LOP river.
19 MARCH 1966 at 0200 hours Company C had to medevac the Weapons Platoon Sergeant (Sgt. Kenneth Smith) who was overcome by chest pains. The night was extremely black and the LZ was quite small. The medevac pilot showed extreme courage and skill coming into such a hazardous area. At about the same time Sgt. George Peters of Company B was wounded by fragments from an enemy grenade and was evacuated on the same "Dust-Off" ship. B Company’s contact brought no results since the small enemy force gave only harassment and immediately fled. At daylight all three units had reached their initial phase line and then rested during the light of day. The march proved a challenge and all units did an extremely fine job covering the rugged terrain in their first night movement mission. The night march continued at 1830 hours.
20 MARCH 1966 at 0745 hours, Company C was working their way toward Objective LARK and contacted about a platoon of NVA troops camping in the bed of a river. They killed 19 of the enemy and captured one. Only one friendly casualty was sustained; Sgt. Morris received a slight wound. After the contact, the Brigade Commander (Col. Stoutner) accompanied by the Battalion Commander (Lt. Col. Procter) helilifted into the area to congratulate the company. The Company Commander, Capt. Charles H. Armstrong, was later decorated with the Silver Star for gallantry in action. At about noon all three units were resupplied and by then all had established their defensive perimeters for daylight resting. Col. Procter then told his unit commanders that they would not move during the night but go into a search and destroy pattern from this present posture. The night was quiet. The troops would never forget those last two days of marching. It was a challenge and they had met it.
21 MARCH 1966 early in the morning, Company A sent out two patrols, one of which found an NVA who had been wounded in a prior ambush by Company C. The soldier was dead when he was discovered. The ambush had taken place on March 15. Company B and the Command Group were preparing to move east to LZ 45. The helilift took place in the early afternoon. An artillery battery from the 2nd of the 9th followed. Both A and C Companies found unoccupied enemy base camps. Both returned all of their elements to their respective LZs and once again under cover of darkness sent out their ambush parties. "Spooky" and "Puff, the Magic Dragon", CH-47 Flare and Gun Ships, flew over their area during the night, and no contact was reported.
22 MARCH 1966 at 0615 hours, 1st Platoon, Company B, commanded by Sergeant Naoni sprung one of its ambushes and netted 8 NVA soldiers killed. The ambush was well planned and B Company took no casualties. During its screening patrol Company A located and killed 4 NVA soldiers and received no friendly casualties. Later in the day, Company B put out two of its platoons on an Eagle Flight. Neither unit made contact on hitting the LZ nor did they make contact during their patrol. Company C sent out patrols in the early morning and found few recent signs of the enemy. The night was filled with H & I fires and flares from the supporting artillery.
23 MARCH 1966 at about 1730 hours, Company C moved out following a creek bed through the Chy Amung Mountain complex. They intended to link up with a platoon from Company B located in the complex as a blocking force. At about 1045 hours, before they proposed linkup, C Company came in contact with about a 20-man enemy force located partly in the creek and partly on the high ground to the south. The men killed 8 NVA soldiers and lost one killed in action (SP4 Ronald Sapp, RTO for the 3rd Platoon). PFC Antonio Sanchez was severely wounded. The S3 (Major Evrard) found a small clearing for a medevac ship and guided the carrying party with the wounded man directly to it. Because of this the wounded man lived and was shipped stateside for further medical treatment. Six enemy weapons plus communication gear was policed up and turned in to the Battalion S2. Company C set up in the LZ (medevac site) and night ambushes were positions. Meanwhile, Company A captured one NVA soldier while working their way north of the mountain complex. SSgt. Daniel Martinez policed up the prisoner. A Company under the command of Captain Bobbie Chavis pushed hard and by evening closed in with battalion at LZ 45. The night proved quiet for all of the Dragon units.
24 MARCH 1966 with operation "Garfield" now in full swing all units had not only encountered the enemy, but engaged them in many types of operations. They were becoming proficient in heliborne assaults, search and destroy, and search and clear operations, as well as road clearing, opening and securing procedures. The only type of mission not yet executed was that of surveillance which would be used quite extensively in the near future.
Company C closed into LZ 45 at about 1245 in the afternoon. After all the combat stories were told, the resupply ships came in with the mail, hot chow, and the beloved gratuitous issues. Each unit secured its portion of the perimeter. The night brought the load crashes from the artillery and 81mm mortar H&I fires, but the LPs continuously reported no contact. The night also brought a close to operation "Garfield". The Golden Dragons were now veterans, combat ready, effective, confident of their ability to engage the enemy and destroy him.
25 MARCH 1966 a new area of operation was given to the Golden Dragons. The troops would become quite familiar with the new area in the future – Ea Drang valley and the river leading into it from the south. 1st Platoon, Company A started the initial move and made a combat assault north next to the Ea Drang river. After searching the area, the platoon set up in a preplanned ambush site for the night. Meanwhile, the rest of the units prepared to move their designated areas of operation in the morning.
26 MARCH 1966 in the early morning Company A, Company C and the battalion command group along the A Battery, 2nd of the 9th artillery conducted a combat assault into LZ 61 to the southwest. Simultaneously Company B conducted a combat assault into LZ 62, with no contact. Company C, after securing and clearing a small village to the south (inhabited by montagnard) found one elephant and little evidence of recent activity. The montagnards met Company C wearing lipstick and their Sunday-goin’-to-meetin’ clothes. They also showed their prize possession (elephants). Meanwhile, Company B searched and cleared a small vacated village to the north of LZ 61 with negative contact. After both areas had been thoroughly cleared all units pulled the major portion of their troops into the LZ except for C Company and B Company ambush parties. The night proved to have no contact with any enemy forces.
27 MARCH 1966 the terrain of this new TACR was not new to the troops. It was relatively clear and flat and inhabited mostly by the montagnards. The area had plenty of water and banana groves were found everywhere. During the latter half of the day all units closed into LZ 61 carrying on a search and destroy pattern on the way in. There had been no contact when they finally closed in by 1530 hours. Once again each unit secured its portion of the perimeter with no contact during the hours of darkness.
28 MARCH 1966 about 1000 hours in the morning Company A once again conducted a combat assault into Ban Brieng to help man the thinning defense perimeter around the camp. Meanwhile, C Company and B Company conducted search and destroy operations in the vicinity of their LZs. During their extended patrols they had negative contact. The standard LP and ambush procedure was put into effect at night with no harassment from the enemy.
29 MARCH 1966 we started with Company B conducting a combat assault into LZ 93 with no contact. Company C followed by conducting its assault into LZ 93 accompanied by the battalion command group and one platoon from B Company along with B Battery, 2nd of the 9th Artillery with negative contact. The recon platoon moved into LZ 91 also with negative contact. After the units’ numerous moves and after each LZ was cleared and screened the troops started once again preparing their perimeters. Friendly artillery was the only noise to be heard during the evening.
30 MARCH 1966 the
skies once again were clear. Company B and the recon platoon were n the
process of preparing themselves for Eagle Flights. Company B with the recon
platoon attached jumped northwest by chopper to search and clear back
towards its LZ. During the afternoon the platoon from Charlie Company was
extracted and flown back to its LZ. Company B and Recon closed in by evening
with negative contact. Colonel Procter received word that his men would be
helilifted to the Due Co. Special Forces camp northwest of their present
31 MARCH 1966 the
entire Battalion moved by helicopter to Due Co. while the battalion command
group in the morning moved by road to Due Co. Some of the troops were amazed
at the height the birds flew. Many of the pilots brought their ships up to 5
and 6000 feet flying into Duc Co. The camp itself was inhabited by the
CIDG troops with a Special Forces A team. The camp was triangular in shape
with many parallels of protective wire separated by thick beds of punji
stacks forming the perimeter. An airstrip able to serve C-130s and
Caribou aircraft was located along the northern side of the camp. The
rolling terrain near the camp supported heavy vegetation.