1/14th Daily Journal for MAY 1966.
17 APRIL 1966-5 MAY the road mission continued through these above dates. We had two special visitors Ė the first being Col. Hal Moore of the 3rd Bde, 1st Cav. Col. Procter and Col. Moore discussed the enemy situation of the area and the probable areas of future deployment. The following day Lt. Cmdr. William E. Evrard, of the 2nd Coastal District (Advisory Team 35), Nha Trang paid his brother Major James A. Evrard a visit.
Also during this period, our civil affairs program was put into high gear. The several villages that lines our sector were give a regular sick call by our Battalion Surgeon, Dr. Clark, and a great quantity of soap and other necessities were donated by the Golden Dragons. We used interpreters extensively and Captain Beal found himself extremely busy with the many tasks these areas required. The program was extremely successful in one of three Leper villages in the area.
Another highlight during this period was the "Red Berets" of the 23 Ranger Battalion of Pleiku that sent patrols throughout our sector. Some of the Dragons accompanied their patrols and considered them extremely proficient.
Guarding Route 19 had its dangerous aspects. Besides the ever-present possibility of enemy action, the driving habits of our Vietnamese allies were a hazard to life and limb.
On 24 APRIL 1966 at 1900 hours, Captain Charles Jackson, the Artillery LNO attached to the Golden Dragons, had a significant contact. While driving on Route 19, Captain Jackson and his driver, heading west met two water buffalo heading east. Both Captain Jackson and his driver, PFC Fink were injured and their jeep was demolished. One water buffalo was KIA, dying of its wounds some time later. Both water buffalo were eaten by the Montagnards in the area. Captain Jackson and PFC Fink, however, escaped to the hospital. The jeep was a total wreck.
In the late hours of May 5, the Dragons move back to base camp after 25 days of a clearing, securing, and guarding mission on route 19.
A constant stream of little stray Lambrettas bearing the feminine charms of Vietnam caused traffic problems, distractions, and VD along the route. The problem of "clearing the highway" was neatly solved by Capt. C. L. Ross of Alpha Army, who simply shot the tire of the "Command Controll" Lambretta. Exit the VD problem, stage right.
Guarding route 19 was an experience for the Golden Dragons. Route 19 west of An Khe was stuffed with the fragments of old equipment and the cars of old battles. The thought of the ill-fated march of the French G.M. 100 is a sobering one, and that road, serene and calm by day, is haunted by the ghosts of gallant men who gave their lives along its way. Yet the echoed thunder of old battles, and the remembrance of brave men how died did not affect the men of the Golden Dragons badly. Instead, they were inspired by the gallantry of those who had gone before, and many a man swore a private vow to continue to fight.
5 Ė 10 MAY 1966 with the battalion back at base camp, work was immediately started on construction and renovation of the forward bunker system. Fields of fire were cleared and improved, and concertina wire was laid.
Another major project was the preparation of the base camp area for the rainy season, which was rapidly approaching. Each unit prepared a complex of drainage ditches and water sumps in their area. Most units also put the finishing touches on their mess halls and other facilities, and devoted much work and effort toward making their areas a little more comfortable and livable.
Security of the base camp was not forgotten. Each unit was required to send out patrols, and base camp protection and security was stressed.
During this period, the "word" came down from Brigade that a new operation, Operation "Paul Revere", would begin on the 10th of May. This was regarded by many as the "big one". The mission of the Golden Dragons was to operate near the border of Cambodia, and attempt to check infiltration into the Republic of Vietnam during the rainy season. The mission of Paul Revere was to warn or block off any infiltration by NVA units, large or small. It was felt that this operation was the major reason for the presence of the 3rd Brigade task Force in the central highlands of Vietnam. The enemy was expected to attempt a monsoon offensive, and the Golden Dragons would be there to crush them as they had previously done.
The following time period was one of getting the men ready both materially and mentally. Their spirits were high and a great deal of professionalism as well as pride could be noticed by all as they strode toward the pickup point. However, due to the bad weather, the movement was delayed for a twenty-four hour period. Hence, the tension broke and the men moved back to their living quarters only to go through the preparations again tomorrow.
11 MAY 1966 the Battalion Trains, having departed on the 10th of May, closed into the Oasis in the late afternoon hours. The ground fog lifted on the morning of the 11th and the first lift of Company C was airborne on its way to make an assault into LZ 29A. Having soon closed the LZ with negative contact, Company C sent out short search and clear patrols in an extremely dense and rugged terrain. Soon Company B and Company A had closed into LZ 29C and 29F respectively with negative contact.
The greater part of the day was spent preparing bunkers and clearing fields of fire. All three companies put out their ambush teams and the night was quiet.
12 MAY 1966 with the ceiling extremely low, Company Aís 2nd platoon moved from its LZ in a northwest direction where they soon came across a well used trail. Along the trail, the found fourteen bundles of punji stakes. Throughout their patrol route, the entire area was loaded with punji stakes in the ground and even in the trees to puncture the GIís in the stomach and legs.
At 1035 hours, 1st Platoon of Company A, under the leadership of Lt. Mel Godbee, which had been patrolling to the west, spotted about ten enemy soldiers digging positions about 800 meters to their front. Immediately Lt. Godbee called in extremely accurate 4.2 mortar fire. After the fire was called in, 1st Platoon immediately engaged the enemy, wounded three and capturing one. After pursuing the other six fleeing enemy, the 1st Platoon managed to wound one more makes a total of four enemy wounded and one POW.
After evacuating the wounded, 1st Platoon continued to search the area finding a vast tunnel complex which took nearly the rest of the day to destroy.
All maneuvering elements of the Golden Dragons operating in AO 29 reported fresh signs of enemy activity. With fresh signs, the Dragons became somewhat eager to enter a new day. Each unit put a minimum of one ambush out on the many trails that crisscrossed the area.
13 MAY 1966 Company Aís 1st Platoon departed its LZ at 0800 hours and patrolled to the southwest. About 2000 meters after its departure, they located ten bundles of punji stakes, two whip like booby traps, and one full magazine for a "Grease Gun". Soon after this action took place Company Cís 2nd Platoon found three lean-to type hooches and a large cache of rice. Both these reports reconfirmed the fact that the enemy had recently been in the area.
Towards the hours of darkness, Company Cís 2nd Platoon set up an ambush at the location of the rice cache paralleling a trail. Companies A and B also each put out an ambush patrol with negative results.
14 MAY 1966 was a quiet day for the Dragons, nothing of significance was reported during the 24-hour period.
15 MAY 1966 the early hours of the day were characterized by heavy ground fog that completely eliminated any chance for resupply or the use of the Command and Control ship. The fog lifted in the early hours of the afternoon and the Golden Dragons moved to AO 28.
The 2nd Platoon of Company B sprung a
hasty ambush to the south of LZ 29C. The ambush netted two Viet Cong along
with three "Chicom" type weapons. The weapons were immediately extracted
from the side and the patrol continued its search of the area. With negative
further results, 2nd Platoon closed into LZ 29C about 1600 hours.
Bn. Command Group just prior to helicopter
Lt. Col. Procter, Major Evrard, and Captain Jackson soon landed in LZ ___ after coordinating with the artillery unit located at Plei Me. Our defensive concentrations were called in from Plei Me and needed little adjustment. The night was cloudy, but proved to be a quiet one.
16 MAY 1966 the ceiling lifted at about 0900 hours and all maneuvering elements of the Dragons were well on their way to their assigned areas of responsibility. Company Cís 3rd Platoon spotted five suspicious individuals in a clearing southwest of LZ 29A. In trying to approach these personnel, they fled and the 3rd Platoon opened fire, however, with negative results.
This previous action was the second time in three days the Dragons had encountered the Montagnard personnel. This created a little confusion on the minds of the men since they had never realized that the Montagnard would ever be hostile. Captain Beal, the Battalion S2 explained to the Commanders that these Montagnard people were being forced to work for the NVA soldiers. They were ordered to dig positions and store rice for his troop movements in the future. Thus, in most cases the Montagnard personnel in the area should be treated as the enemy.
With the Dragons still operating in AO 28, more signs of recent activity were reported when 2nd Platoon of Company A found VC clothing and numerous NVA packs to the west of LZ 29F. Soon after this report was received, Company Cís 3rd Platoon received sniper fire from their front. After returning the fire, the sniper fled and was no longer able to be detected. However, in following his trail, 3rd Platoon found two recently evacuated huts, one of which stored rice and cotton. After they destroyed the findings they moved out to continue with their mission.
All elements reported finding well used trails running northwest and southeast, which seemed to plot the major avenues of approach into and out of the Dragonsí area of responsibility. Each unit had its ambush teams sit out as darkness set in.
17 MAY 1966 the days actions started about 1515 hours when Company Aís 1st Platoon received automatic fire to their front while moving to the northwest of AO 29. After maneuvering to the left, 1st Platoon immediately killed one enemy soldier and continued a hot pursuit after the others. 81 mm fire was called in to block their route of escape.
Unable to keep contact with the enemy, the men returned to the point of initial contact and discovered the enemy soldier had been armed with an M-16 and also was wearing a steel helmet. Also close by was located an M-2 carbine that had been dropped by one of the fleeing enemy.
Company Cís 3rd Platoon, soon after the above incident, was being extracted to their LZ when one of the helicopters crashed during its take off. The rotor blade crashed through the cockpit and immediately killed the copilot and one of the passengers, Staff Sergeant Billy Snipes of Company C. The loss of Sergeant Snipes became quite a blow to the men of "Chargin Charlie". Captain Armstrong had said many times that Sgt. Snipes was one of the finest NCOs he had known, as well as a wonderful person. After all personnel had been evacuated from the site, the day proved to be one "Chargin Charlie" wanted to forget.
18 MAY 1966 the 2nd Platoon of Company A, while screening the southwest corner of AO 28, discovered several newly built huts and four to five recently constructed bunkers. After destroying these artifacts, they immediately came into contact with a small enemy force totally about ten NVA soldiers. 2nd Platoon poured extremely effective suppressive fire on the well-concealed enemy causing them to immediately flee the area. The 2nd Platoon picked up their blood soaked trail but was unable to pick up physical contact again with the small force. However, at the point of initial contact, they found two automatic weapons that had been left behind by the enemy troops. Also, nearby the site, they found one of the enemy troops who had crawled about twenty meters and then succumbed to severe stomach wounds.
With the evening coming on, all units put out their ambush groups in selected sites. The evening showed negative contact.
19 MAY 1966 while Company Cís 3rd Platoon was patrolling to the north, it located a Montagnard who had been severely wounded in the leg. Also near this location was discovered a recent bunker complex and some scattered NVA clothing. The area also was littered with punji stakes so the search was hampered considerably. After they thoroughly searched the area, the wounded Montagnard was evacuated for questioning and medical attention.
Continuing their mission, 3rd Platoon also located several spider holes and OP type huts located in the trees. After destroying these huts, they set in an ambush waiting for the recently evacuated inhabitants.
20 MAY 1966 there was no contact with the scattered enemy forces in the area. Both 2nd Platoons of Companies A and C reported finding several huts and rather large rice caches. Since the men had observed so many starving children in many of the villages on prior missions, they felt that destroying these rice caches was not only inhuman but such a waste. However, they also realized that the enemy existed on such caches, hence, they knew the destruction policy much be followed.
Major Evrard received word that his wife had entered the hospital about to give birth to a new child. Major Levergood immediately cut orders for Major Evrardís return to Oahu to be there if any complications arose. The officers and men of the battalion were happy to hear everything was fine and Mrs. Evrard gave birth to a healthy bouncing baby girl.
21 thru 30 MAY 1966 the Battalion moved in a westerly direction from AO 29 and 28 to AO 27. AO 27 was located south-southwest of the Special Forces Camp at Duc Co. and also near the notorious Ia Drang River Valley.
The rainy season was now upon the Dragons. Each night and at least once during the day the rains came. The ground was many times under water making both ground and air mobility severely restricted. The Dragons were now operating in the Malaria Center of the World Ė the Ia Drang River Valley. With the rain, mosquitoes swarmed over the entire valley carrying its infectious agents of malaria. With all out preventive actions, the Dragons started losing victims to malaria. The men knew the great danger and became readily aware of its presence. The men were also aware of the fact that this area required them to practice extensive personal hygiene. Water in the area became polluted and potable water became increasingly limited. The Dragons began to realize that not just the enemy could cause them to leave the battlefield.
During this crucial week there were no heavy contacts with the enemy. However, the men patrolling the area began to realize that this area had recently been vacated by larger units and that sooner or later they would face him on his own terms.