Operation Resolve To Win
This was a major operation, encompassing Saigon and the five provinces around Saigon. Muliple American and Vietnamese units were involved, most operating independently. The goal was to irradicate the enemy and his supply bases that existed after TET.
The operation commenced on March 11, 1968 and lasted for 26 days.
Bravo Company's Involvement:
On 11 March, 1968, Bravo Company was sent about 20 miles northwest of Lai Khe just into Binh Duong Province, approximately 10 clicks (about 6 miles) west of where the Battle of Ong Thanh took place (a "click" equals 1,000 meters). This placed us close to the Cambodian border, very near suspected VC and NVA supply lines that lead from Cambodia into the areas along HWY 13 from An Loc to Lai Khe, but especially into the hot bed near the town of Chon Thon. This entire area was part of the First Division's Area of Operation (AO). At first we were loosely operating with the "Battalion Minus." (Called minus because Charlie Company was not with us on this operation.) Charlie Company most likely was securing an artillery Fire Support Base from which the Battalion would call for artillery support. Alpha, Bravo, Delta and Headquarters Companies were together on this operation, although if my memory is correct, Bravo Company operated independently in the same general areas for several days to a week or so early in the operation. The first day that I recall we operated together (where Alpha, Bravo, Delta and elements of Headquarters Company were together) was sometime between March 27 and March 30th. Prior to this, I believe we operated out of a company-size NDP and operated with platoon-sized daily patrols, and squad-size night time ambush patrols. I do remember that we were flown to the LZ in slicks, but I don't remember how far we walked from the LZ to get to our NDP. Our NDP was set up on the edge of an area that had been hit by B-52's. I remember some really big craters, all of them filled with water. Many of us went swimming in some of these craters - big enough to set a small house in. For the first several days we had negative contact and negative sign of the VC. It is possible one or two of the night time ambush patrols might have had some activity. The one ambush patrol that I remember being on with my squad from third platoon during this period was uneventful.
On March 26th, Second Platoon went out on an S & D (Search and Destroy) patrol. They were only a couple hundred meters from the NDP when they came in contact with a lone VC. The point man fired at the VC but missed. The VC returned fire, missing the point man and the next man in line, but hitting SP4 Ralph Sibley in the chest. The bullet traveled through Sibley, exiting his body and hitting the platoon leader, Lt. Blank, in the foot. Ralph died before the Dustoff chopper arrived. Lt. Blank was dusted off and never returned to Bravo Company for duty while I remained with the company (two more months). His foot wound must have been serious.
31 March, 1968
0100 - 0700 - Situation Negative. No hostile activity during this time frame.
0710 - Alpha Company ambush patrol enters the NDP perimeter.
0718 - Bravo Company ambush patrol enters the NDP perimeter.
0800 - Bravo Company to stay and secure NDP perimeter. Bravo Company Listening Posts (LP's) in place outside the perimeter.
0803 - The "Battalion minus" (consisting of Alpha Company, Delta Company, and elements of Headquarters Company) departed the NDP perimeter for a Reconnisance in Force patrol. Delta leads, Alpha and HQ element follow.
0910 - Battalion patrol located at Check Point One (coordinates XT574395), approximately 400 meters from the NDP.
0942 - Shackle changed to fourth spare (I have no clue what this means)
1015 - Battalion started moving north from CP#1 in less than 50 yards came across some VC commo wire, so cloverleaf patrols were sent out.
1050 - Battalion at Check Point #2, about 800 yards north of Check Point #1.
1103 - Point man from Delta Company leads out from Check Point #2, and almost immediately spots a VC in black and opens fire on the VC with unknown results.
1145 - Battalion patrol nearing the vicinity of Check Point #3 (about 1,000 meters generally north of Check Point #2). Point man finds trail leading to a nearby village. The trail has been heavily traveled with ox carts, Ho Chi Minh sandals, and bicycles. Lead elements also found commo wire in the area that lead off to the village.
1210 - Third platoon from Bravo company had been sent out as a reinforceing element for the patrol.
Bravo 36 arrives location of patrol at this time.
1245 - 200 metersnorth of where Bravo 36 married up with the Battalion, the patrol found an east - west trench line, punji pits, and spider holes.
1300 - Dauntless 30 reported finding an east - west road that has been very heavily used by bicycles, ox-carts, and Ho Chi Minh sandals. At this location one VC was spotted and taken under fire. The VC ran into the woods and and contact was lost.
1420 - Cloverleaf patrols sent out from the location of the east - west road. A small hooch, claymore wire, and two bicycles were found, along with fourteen 100 pound bags of rice.
1440 - Approximately 600 yards southeast of the previous location, the battalion located five more bicycles, some caned milk, a 100 pound bag of peanuts. These items were liberated.
1453 - Patrol is again on the move.
1525 - Alpha Company cloverleaf patrol finds a reel with about 100 meters of commo wire on it. The reel and commo wire were liberated.
1540 - Delta Company cloverleaf patrol locates two bunkers and a well used trail running east - west.
1635 - Patrol headed back towards NDP, which is approximately 400 meters south of patrol's present location.
1640 - Dauntless 6, overhead in a Light Observation Helicopter (LOH), is directing artillery fire into an area of suspected VC activity some 800 meters north of the NDP. While directing the artillery fire, the LOH was hit by shrapnel and had to make an emergency landing. The LOH pilot was able to make it to within 200 meters of the battalion NDP. Bravo 36 broke away from the patrol and secured the area around the helicopter until it could be extracted. The LOH suffered a hole in its rotor blade. Dauntless 6 and the pilot were O.K.
1650 - A man from Delta third platoon was dusted off due to heat exhaustion and possible bleeding ulcers.
1655 - Battalion patrol, with Delta Company leading is within 150 meters of the NDP and closing.
1717 - Delta and Alpha Companies enter the NDP perimeter. Hot food from Lai Khe is waiting.
1750 - Bravo Company sends out an ambush patrol.
1815 - Alpha Company sends out an ambush patrol.
1845 - LOH extracted, Bravo 36 enters NDP Perimeter.
1900 - Both ambush patrols are in location.
On the night of March 31 - April 1st, Alpha Company's ambush patrol made contact with five to six VC. They had one confirmed kill (the body was still there in the morning) with a possible three VC KIA (members of the ambush patrol saw three VC drop as if dead when ambush was initiated). Bravo Company's ambush patrol had movement around them, but no in front of them. They threw a hand grenade and the movement ceased. The next morning, a heavy blood trail was found where the hand grenade had gone off. Alpha company called for an LFT to come to their location. Once the LFT was on location, Alpha Company's ambush patrol relocated some 200 meters to an alternative ambush location. Besides the one confirmed VC body found at the original Alpha Company ambush site, documents, a medicine booklet, a booklet on some kind of sighting device, and personal letters were found. I had last bunker guard, from four to six A.M. I woke the squad up and we had a hot breakfast, flown in from our company base in Lai Khe.
1 April, 1968
0802 - Alpha Company to secure NDP and place obersvation posts (OP's) outside of the perimeter.
0815 - the battalion minus moved out on a Reconnisance In Force patrol. Bravo Company lead, Delta Company followed, along with command elements of Headquarters Company. We were joined by elements of a mechanized unit, possibly 2/2 Mech. The mech unit consisted of Armored Personnel Carriers ("APCs" or "tracks"). One APC took the lead, followed by Bravo Company, then the rest of the battalion and possibly other APC's.
0830 - we reached our first check point, about 800 to 900 meters from our NDP. A cloverleaf patrol was sent out, and the rest of us took a break. Cloverleaf patrols were sent out at this point. During this break, I cornered our medic, "Doc" Randy Knowles, and asked him to check me out. I wasn't feeling good and hoped Doc would give me an "APC" (All Purpose Capsule, probably aspirin). Randy checked me and said I had a 104 degree temperature. Randy arranged for me to ride on the closest track, which happened to be the lead track. There were three other men on the back of the track besides me, two to my left and the machine gunner (M-60) to my right. There was a gunner on a 50 caliber at the front of the track.
0840 - one of B Company's cloverleaf patrols found five or six bunkers and some medical supplies. The medical supplies had been somewhat damaged by napalm. We also heard what sounded like an M-14 firing about 6 rounds off to our southeast. We were traveling along on an old oxcart trail when we came into a small clearing about 9:00 A.M. Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement in the tree line on the right. I thought it was our right flank column. Then I heard a loud hissing sound, saw an explosion and a flash, and I was laying on the ground. The movement I had seen was a VC with an RPG launcher. He hit the track on the right side. At first I thought no one was hurt, but looking around I saw everyone else from the back of the track had pepper sprinkled on their faces. Then, from every piece of pepper, blood started trickling down. The "pepper" was shrapnel from the RPG. One man was so seriously wounded a dust off was called in for him. Doc Knowles came over and started rendering aid. I climbed back up on the track and started operating the M-60. I sprayed the tree line in the area where I had seen movement, but I am sure the VC was long gone. After the wounded were tended to, we started to move out. We didn't go ten feet when we were hit by sniper fire. I believe one of the NCO's, possibly Sergeant Moon, from Bravo 3rd platoon, was wounded in the leg or ankle at this time. The column stopped movement. We fired into the trees where we thought the sniper was. After a minute or two, we tried to move again, with the same results: Sniper fire. Lt. Colonel Menetrey, our battalion commander (call sign "Dauntless 6"), called in an air strike on the suspected trees housing the sniper. The jet jockeys did a remarkable job of pinpointing and hitting the area near the suspect trees. Yet, every time we tried to move, we received sniper fire. Dauntless 6 called for a tank. I think we waited for close to an hour for the tank to arrive.
When the tank arrived, Dauntless 6 pointed out the tree, and the tank crew fired one cannister round into the tree. It worked. No more sniper fire. We moved out, with the tank taking the lead, blazing a new trail through the trees and off the oxcart trail.
1030 - we reached checkpoint #3. Cloverleaf patrols were again sent out.
1100 - one of Bravo Company's patrols found fresh Ho Chi Minh Sandal prints, fresh tree cuttings, and commo wire criss-crossing the trails. The tank moved on, blazing a trail straight into what turned out to be a large VC base camp. We recieved small arms fire and RPG's. The gunner manning the 50 caliber and I started laying down a field of surpressing fire that would make the VC keep their heads down, or so we hoped. I remember watching in awe as the 50 caliber literally mowed down trees. I decided he was doing a good job with the targets that were 20 to 30 yards or farther away, so I focused on bunkers and likely targets in the immediate vicinity.
1128 - Delta Company had a claymore popped on them, and one of their men was dusted off with face and leg wounds.
1130 - Bravo Company found 200 pounds of rice, one hooch, one bunker with overhead cammoflage, a 50 gallon drum of grain and fresh commo wire. Other bunkers were also found in the area. A claymore or handgrenade was popped on them off to their right, but no damage was done to any Bravo Company personnel.
1204 - Bravo Company found a bicycle, some books, 25 gallons of fresh polished rice, some smoke grenades and a Mauser rifle.
1220 - Bravo company received automatic weapons fire and received two M-79 rounds. One man was directly hit with one of the M-79 rounds, but it did not explode, and he suffered only some bruises.
1300 - Bravo Company moved into the area from where the automatic weapons fire and M-79's had been fired from. They found one bunker, two burlap bags full of cooking utensils, many tunnels, and many strong hooches that had been built within the last three months and used very recently.
1310 - we were still in the middle of the VC basecamp area, and had only moved about 200 meters since our initial contact at 9:00 A.M. when the RPG was fired at the APC. We again came under fire. We have confirmed two VC killed and five wounded at this time. Oscar 29 [Sgt. Gary B. Harris, Forward Observer for the Heavy Mortar Platoon] was wounded in this exchange, as were three others from the battalion. Oscar 29 died later that day (his death was reported at 1455).
1533 - hours we were still in a sporadic fire-fight with the VC. Sometime during the exchange of fire at this time, the tank was hit in the motor by an RPG. The tank started burning. One tanker inside was KIA and one, a very large NCO, was wounded. Small arms and machine gun ammunition inside the tank was starting to "cook off" - that is explode and ricochete around the inside of the tank. The large wounded NCO was still inside. Doc Knowles and some others ran over to the tank, and climbed on top. Randy Knowles went down into that inferno and got that large man out. I don't know how skinny Randy did that, but he did. The crewman was severely wounded, but made the comment that he wasn't going to die because he had "...a wife and four girls back home." I don't know what happened to that crewman. I hope he made it. I know that there is an entry in the battalion log that I think may refer to this tank crewman: "1656 - Big Boy on Fire Crew out O.K." Doc Knowles was awarded the Silver Star for his valorous actions.
1605 - one claymore mine was detonated against the battalion command group. Two men were wounded. Dauntless 6 (LTC Menetrey) charged the bunker from which the claymore was detonated. No entry is made in the battalion log about this incident, or how many VC Dauntless 6 put out of action for good, but he single handedly ended the fighting that day. Shortly after the tanker had been treated, somebody brought a wounded black soldier over to the APC I was on. I was instructed to get inside and put pressure on the chest wound of the soldier. When I climbed in and was applying pressure to the wound, they buttoned up the hatches of the track, and we moved out, and moved out fast. The wounded soldier groaned every time we hit a bump, and we hit a lot of bumps. I was burning up and pouring sweat. I kept telling the soldier to hang in there, we were going to make it. After what seemed like an eternity, the track came to a halt. We were in a large clearing. The hatches opened up and a medic rushed in and got the wounded soldier. Doc Knowles came over, took my vitals and put a tag on me and told me to go lay in the shade with the wounded. I protested, but Doc said I was seriously sick, and if my temperature got any higher, I could go into convulsions or worse. I went over and laid down in the shade. After a few minutes, Lt. Colonel Menetrey walked over and talked to me for a minute or two. He read the tag on my shirt. I was embarrassed and told him I wanted to go back to my unit. He told me to stay right where I was.
1625 - four wounded men were dusted off, and at 1635 I was dusted off to some Field Artillery fire base, packed in ice for the night, and flown to the Lai Khe hospital the next morning.
1645 - two American KIA were dusted off. Back at the burning tank, the rest of the mechanized unit had secured the area to await a rescue for the tank. At 1740 the rescue unit arrived and determined the tank to be a combat loss.
1820 - 1900 - The rest of the battalion made it back to the NDP.
1840, Alpha company sent its ambush patrol out and it was in position by 1910. Bravo Company sent its ambush patrol out as soon as the company got back to the NDP (about 1820). No contact or movement was detected that night. Score for the day: Five Americans WIA, two KIA (not counting casualties taken by the mech unit). On the VC side, there were possibly seven VC KIA, undetermined number WIA.
2 April, 1968
0710 - Bravo company's ambush patrol arrived back at the NDP after a quiet night.
0737 - Delta Company will stay back and secure NDP. Delta Company's OP's are in place at this time.
0750 - Alpha Company's ambush patrol is back inside the perimeter after an uneventful night.
0800 - The battalion Recon In Force patrol cleared the perimeter. Alpha Company lead, Bravo follows.
0835 - The battalion had reached a point about 800 meters from the NDP when they found an old VC basecamp. Nothing found.
0900 - Battalion had moved another 200 meters when they found "25 meters of bunkers," still usable, one machine gun position, one old well with a shelf in the bottom, and candy wrappers "showing recent use."
0907 - One man from Bravo Company fainted (due to the heat). Bravo Company will take him back towards the NDP. At the same time, a patrol from Delta Company will leave the NDP and head toward Bravo Company in an effort to meet up and escort the sick man safely back to the NDP. Bravo Company will then rejoin the battalion.
0915 - The battalion had moved 200 meters and found an unknown type of fuse or grenade, and had it evacuated for evaluation.
0933 - The Alpha Company found a hooch with some Chinese Communist ("Chicom") type claymore mines, wax paper off of some ammo, and a tunnel, which they checked out with negative results.
0935 - Bravo Company had a claymore blown on them on their right flank. About the same time, Alpha Company reported finding three rectangular shaped claymores, each about the size of a cigar box, and an aiming device. They reported that the place appeared to be a claymore factory.
0940 - The battalion found 20 claymores, three hooches. Dauntless 6 decided to call in artillery on this location.
0955 - Bravo company linked up with the Delta Company patrol sent out from the NDP to pick up the sick man.
1034 - Air Observer (AO) sighted a bunker complex 600 to 700 meters long, in the same area the battalion found the unknown type of grenade or fuse.
1045 - Alpha Company located an anti-personnel mine or claymore on the ground, measuring 12 inches by 5 inches. Artillery is going to be called into this area.
1100 - The battalion will move south out of this area and bring back one of the mines. Artillery strike commences in the vicinity.
1115 - Battalion had a claymore blown on them, resulting in three casualties - initially three WIA, but within 10 minutes, SP4 Kenneth F. Schondorf of Alpha Company succombed to his wounds. The claymore was command detonated (set off by a VC); Dustoff and Air Strikes requested.
1200 - Delta 26 is departing the NDP to link up with the battalion in order to bring the casualties to the NDP where the Dustoff is waiting.
1220 - First air strike is on its way at this time.
1245 - D-26 is back at NDP and loading casualties on dustoff chopper.
1250 - Dustoff chopper departed for Lai Khe. First air strike is on location and commences its run.
1254 - 1340 - First airstrike complete. Second air strike going in. Third air strike commences at 1315 and completed at 1324, fourth air strike commences at 1325 and completed at 1340.
1400 - Dauntless 6 and Dauntless 3 - in an LOH overhead, return to Lai Khe for 90 minutes to have LOH inspected.
1437 - Alpha Company finds one tunnel and one hooch, destroying both.
1445 - Alpha Company located a hooch not hit by the air strike. The hooch has a tunnel in the rear and has two cases of grenades or booby traps. Bravo Company will blow up.
1450 - Alpha Company appears to be in the center of the VC basecamp now. Numerous trenches, tunnels and one bunker not hit by the air strike. Two VC bodies found burnt by Napalm from the air strike.
1500 - Battalion found eight large bunkers four feet under ground with over head camoflauge, tunnels leading out of the bunkers. Appears to be a grenade factory of some sort.
1515 - Battalion found four cases of beer can grenades and several RPG rounds in one of the bunkers. Bravo Company will blow up as much as possible.
1525 - The battalion found 400 pounds of rice, a box of blasting caps and two boxes of batteries. Minutes later two more one-hundred pound bags of rice were found along with two claymore minds. All were destroyed by Bravo Company.
1635 - The battalion has moved about 200 meters out of the VC basecamp enroute back to NDP. At this location, Alpha Company found some fuse assemblies for grenades and Bravo Company found two anti-tank mines. Bravo Company destroyed all of it.
1645 - Alpha Company arrived back at the NDP.
1653 - Bravo Company and the other elements of the patrol enter the NDP.
1800 - 1812 - Alpha and Bravo Company ambush patrols leave the NDP.
1937 - 1945 - Ambush patrols arrive at their positions.
2130 - Dustoff for one man (SP/4 Watson) in Bravo Company requested.
2221 - Dustoff completed.
2225 - Claymore accidently discharged by Alpha Company personnel. Three wounded, one seriously.
2334 - Dustoff completed for personnel in claymore accident. Names of personnel dusted off were Martin, Smith (serious), and O'Malley.
2348 - 2359 - no more activity, NDP settles down for the night.
On 3 April, 1968, PFC Willie J. Smith died from wounds received in the accidental claymore discharge the evening before. The other two WIA's - O'Malley and Martin - survived. No further incidents of note took place on this operation, and on 6 April, 1968, Operation Resolve to Win came to an end and Alpha, Bravo, Delta and Headquarters Companies were flown back to Lai Khe.
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