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Every plan of campaign ought to have several branches and to have been so well thought out that one or other of the said branches cannot fail of success.-- Bourchet
On April 19, the 164th Infantry Regiment from the Infantry Division arrived in New Caledonia to reinforce the 132nd and 182nd Infantry Regiments of Task Force 6812. Additional field artillery units also arrived about that time.
Task Force 6814 was reorganized and constituted as the Americal Division on May 24, 1942, to become the only Army division not designated by number. The Americal derived its name from the phrase, "Americans in New Caledonia."
Having carried out its original mission, the Americal left New Caledonia in the fall of 1942, turning over the garrisoning of the island to other immobile units of Task Force 6814 which remained there under the island command.
The 164th Infantry Regiment of the Americal Division went into action on Guadacanal on October 13, 1942, as the first United States Army unit to conduct an offensive operation against the enemy in any theater.
Units of the Americal Division saw their first fullscale battle with the enemy on October 26, when waves of enemy soldiers assaulted the positions of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, 164th Infantry, in an attempt to break through to Henderson Field. After two days of fierce fighting in the Battle of Henderson Field, over 1,000 enemy dead were found in front of the positions of the Americal Division soldiers.
The second echelon of the Americal Division arrived on Guadacanal on November 12, to participate in the offensive to the west across Matanikau River.
On December 9, the Americal Division, under Major General Alexander M. Patch, assumed control of all combat operations on Guadacanal, relieving the 1st Marine Division.
On December 17, units of the Americal began the assault up Mount Austen, the enemy stronghold on Guadacanal. With fierce fighting, the Americans took the mountain one hill at a time.
Rows of wooden crosses on Guadacanal marked the first United States military cemetery in the Solomon Islands. There, on December 31, 1942, memorial services were held for the Americal soldiers who had given their lives on that island.
On January 1, 1943, General Patch relinquished command of the Americal Division to Brigadier General Edmund B. Sebree. General Patch assumed command of the XIV Corps, which placed him in charge of all forces on the island.
In the headquarters of XIV Corps, plans were laid for an all-out drive to secure the island. Army and Marine units began a drive westward to seize the Kokumbona area.
Elements of the 132nd Infantry moved by sea to Verahue to advance on the enemy from the rear. The drive around Cape Esperance was successful, and on February 9, the American units joined at the Tenamba River, signaling the end of organized enemy resistance on Guadacanal.
On March 1, 1943, the first echelon of the Americal Division sailed from Guadacanal, bound for Viti Levu Island in the Fiji group.
The Americal was given the mission of defending the Fiji Islands, a vital communications link between the United States and the Pacific theater. The division used the time to train its replacements for the fighting ahead.
The remainder of 1943 was spent manning observation posts, running continuous reconnaissance patrols, and training. By the end of the year, the Americal had been alerted for movement to Bougainville Island. Although the rugged days of Guadacanal were gone, the year ahead would offer combat under some of the most difficult conditions yet encountered in the Pacific. The Americal Division was now stepping back into the fight.
By early January 1944, all combat troops on the Americal were on Bougainville Island relieving the 3rd Marine Division. The unit secured a command post on the beachhead of Empress Augusta Bay, with the mission of holding the position at all costs. Veteran reconnaissance teams began running extensive long range patrols outside the perimeter. The Americal sent patrols out across the Torokina River and along the East-West Trail, aggressively searching for signs of enemy activity.
The patrols met heavy enemy resistance near the mouth of the Torokina River, and on January 29, plans were made for an all-out attack eastward across the Torokina's mouth.
Riflemen of the 132nd Infantry, supported by tanks, were moving toward the Torokina when they came under intense enemy rifle, light and heavy machine gun and mortar fire. The tanks were buttoned up for protection and were unable to locate the enemy positions. Staff Sergeant Jessie R. Drowley, with total disregard for his own safety, directed the tanks to within twenty feet of the pillbox emplacements, and inspired the remainder of the unit to victory. For his extraordinary actions Sergeant Drowley was subsequently awarded the Medal of Honor.
As January gave way to February, patrols from all three of the Americal's regiments probed ever deeper into enemy held territory outside the perimeter, aggressively engaging large and small groups of enemy in fire fights. Reconnaissance units ranged far to the east of Torokina River, scouting enemy positions, gathering vitally needed bits of information concerning strength and disposition.
In the early morning of March 8, the enemy began shelling the Americal defensive perimeter with artillery fire. This was the opening of a battle that lasted nearly a month. The heaviest fighting centered around a small observation outpost on Hill 260.
Hill 260 is a piece of strategically located high ground near the Torokina River. After a heavy siege, the small American force was unable to stand fast, and a grim battle was underway to regain the high ground.
The intensity of the fighting was shown on March 10, when Company F beat off the advancing enemy in a close-in-bayonet attack. After about two hours of hand-to-hand combat, the enemy withdrew, and Company F's perimeter was still intact.
While the fury of the battle for Hill 260 continued in the jungle, the enemy artillery continued to pound at targets within the main division perimeter. Wave upon wave of enemy soldiers advanced on the perimeter, only to be driven back. The intense fighting lasted for several days.
Hill 260 was recaptured on March 28, after a long period of bitter fighting. All three regiments participated in the battle. Intense shelling and close-in fighting left the hill almost barren, with the remaining trees bullet-riddled and charred.
Reconnaissance patrols continued their intensive scouring of the jungles around the Torokina River. By May, control was extended as far inland as Mount Bagana, the island's active volcano. A strong outpost line of resistance was formed in the hills near Mount Bagana.
With this area secure, units began moving up the Numa Numa Trail. Combat operations entered a new phase with the establishing of blocking positions along the trail. The object was to funnel the enemy toward the sea. Gaining confidence in themselves in this unusual type of warfare, the infantrymen of the Americal were fast becoming men to be feared in the dense, dark jungles.
In early January, 1945, the first units of the Americal Division left Bougainville, heading for the Philippine Islands. Americans had already established strong points in the Philippines in the campaign to recapture the islands, and the Americal Division was now being attached to X Corps on the island of Leyte.
On January 21, the first echelon of the Americal Division-the 164th Infantry Regimental Combat Team-arrived on Leyte. The soldiers, seasoned in combat on Bougainville, would now continue the thankless mission of locating and destroying elements of the once-potent enemy forces remaining in the islands.
The mission assigned to the Americal was to relieve units of XXIV Corps of tactical missions on Leyte northwest of a line from Jaro through Valencia to Palompon and to conduct extensive mopping-up operations throughout the area. A plan of action was established for the Americal to clean out western Leyte. Driving up from the south, the 1st and 2nd Battalion of the 164th Infantry eventually to join in Abijao, were to roll the enemy northward ahead of them in the direction of Billaba.
In the meantime exerting pressure from the east, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 182nd, with Filipino units attached were to keep the enemy boxed in. In the north, the 3rd Battalion of the 164th and the 2nd Battalion of the 132nd were to add pressure from that sector.
The planned joining of all forces driving against the enemy would result in a tight ring being formed. To the west of Valencia, along Leyte's northwest coast, a rugged chain of hills thrust up from the fringes of the Ormoc-Valencia valley. It was among these rockfilled hills and valleys that the enemy had established their strongest positions. And it was in these hills that the Americal's plan of action for mopping up the enemy would culminate, with planned joining of forces at the village of Villaba.
Operations of all three battalions began in earnest on February 12 as the 1st and 2nd Battalions began sweeping their sectors and the 3rd Battalion dispatched intensive patrols. In sharp clashes throughout the entire zone up to the evening of February 14, a total of 288 enemy killed was reported.
By the end of February, after a rash of heavy fighting in all corners of the Americal Division's sector, the top pocket around the enemy had been closed.
During operations in northwestern Leyte units of the Americal Division killed an estimated 3,500 enemy and captured 68 others. A new type of fighting developed during the campaign when the battalions were reported attacking in may different directions throughout the sector. This, however, was necessary in order to overcome the many large and small pockets of resistance discovered.
During this same period, the 182nd Infantry had moved into Catbalogan on Samar Island. It was assigned a two fold mission. First, in order to permit safe passage of naval forces and transports through San Bernardino Strait in support of the Luzon campaign, the unit was to clear the Balicuatro Islands, the northwestern tip of Samar, Capul Island and the Naranjo Islands. Subsequently the force was to clear northern Samar of all organized enemy resistance.
From February 12 to March 6, the Division cleared the Balicuatro Islands including Biri, Capul, and Nornajo Islands, and secured those areas to permit passage of naval forces through the San Bernardino Strait. The southern exists [sic] of the strait were further secured by the clearing of Ticao and Burias Islands.
The Camotes Islands were cleared of stragglers by March 4. The combat actions had varied from intense, bitter fire fights to boring, uneventful patrols. Hot sticky weather and heavy tropical rains plagued the men as they strove to complete their assignments quickly and efficiently.
While the majority of the units of the Americal fought on Cebu, the 3rd Battalion, 164 Infantry moved to Bhol Island to complete phase two of Operation Victor II. By April 28, the Americal soldiers had secured the island beyond all doubt.
The final phase of Victor II was to secure the island of Negros Oriental. The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 164th Infantry were chosen for the job. This arduous phase of the operation lasted 60 days and resulted in over 500 enemy killed. By June 24th the 164th Infantry had completed its mission on Negros Island and returned to the island of Cebu to join the other units of the Americal.
The period from the end of June until mid-August was spent maintaining the security of Cebu Island and in training exercises.
On August 14 word spread over the island that the was over, and on August 15 all offensive operations against the enemy were halted.
By the end of August some 7200 enemy prisoners were collected and disarmed.
On September 1 the Americal Division left the island of Cebu, heading for Japan and occupation duty.
The Americal Division landed in Japan on September 10, 1945, and took part in the occupation of the Yokohama-Kawasaki-Yokosuka area. The division occupied the area until the end of October when the unit was relieved by the 1st Cavalry Division, and the Americal began preparing for the long-awaited trip home.
The first echelon of the Americal arrived at Seattle, Washington on November 19, and received a hero's welcome. The fourth and final echelon of Americal troops arrived by the end of the first week in December, and on December 12, 1945, the war-born Americal was officially inactivated.
April 20, 1967
Task Force Oregon: malheur, hood
In February of 1967, general William C. Westmoreland, commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, formed a planning group to organize an Army task force to send to the I Corps area.
This planning group, commanded by Major General William B. Rosson, organized a multi-brigade force composed of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade; the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division; and the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Later redesignated the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division).
Task Force Oregon became operational on April 20, 1967, when troops from the 196th landed at the Chu Lai airstrip and immediately began search operations around the base camp. Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, 4th Division started conducting search and destroy operations in Southern Quang Ngai Province, and in May the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne paratroopers arrived at Duc Pho and operations in the jungles west of there.
Early operations conducted by Task Force Oregon included Malheur I and Malheur II, Hood River, Benton and Cook. On September 11, 1967, Operation Wheeler was launched against elements of the 2nd North Vietnamese Army Division working in the area northwest of Chu Lai.
Operation Wheeler continued and on October 4, 1967, the 3rd Brigade 1st Air Cavalry Division joined Americal and immediately launched Operation Wallowa in the norther sector of the division's area of operations. Operations Wheeler and Wallowa were combined on November 11, and Operation Wheeler/Wallowa was conducted by the 196th Brigade (which replaced the 101st Airborne's 1st Brigade in Operation Wheeler after that organization departed for the II Corps tactical zone) and the 3rd Brigade, 1st Air Cavalry.
On October 22, the 198th LIght Infantry Brigade arrived in Vietnam from Ft. Hood, Texas and deployed to Duc Pho where it received combat training from the battle hardened soldiers of the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry. The 198th currently is in charge of the defense of Chu Lai base camp and airstrip.
Operation Wheeler/Wallowa became the responsibility of the 196th Infantry Brigade and the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry. The 1/1 had been operating in the general area since September 1967, and officially became part of the Americal Division on January 10, 1968. The 198th Infantry Brigade remained responsible for securing the immediate area around Chu Lai.
The 11th Light Infantry Brigade joined Americal on December 20, and moved to Duc (Duc Pho) for training. The "Jungle Warriors" later conducted combat operations in the Duc Pho area.
Battalions of the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division were deployed in the Duc Pho area of operations throughout 1967 and in 1968 controlled Operation Muscatine. Maneuver battalions of the brigade were also deployed in the northern provinces, and took part in continuing Operation Wheeler/Wallowa. The 3rd Brigade conducted combat operations in the mountains west of Duc Pho, and assisted in the combat orientation of the 11th Light Infantry Brigade.
Operation Muscatine, a multi-battalion operation in the northern districts of Quang Ngai Province, was launched in early December by the 198th Brigade and units of the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry. The 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry assumed control of the operation on January 2, 1968, but it was released from the operational control of the division later and moved south into II Corps. The "Jungle Warriors" of the 11th Infantry Brigade deployed initially to Duc Pho. Combat operations were begun in the Duc Pho area of operations when the Brigade took over Operation Muscatine.
Task Force Barker pacification
Task Force Barker was formed in February by elements of the 11th Infantry Brigade to rout the Viet Cong from an area considered an enemy strong-hold for 20 years. It was concluded successfully in April, 1968.
Another task force, Task Force Miracle, was formed in February during the enemy's Tet offensive when the city of Da Nang was threatened by the 60th Main Force Viet Cong Battalion. The division's 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry and 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry assisted the Marines in the fighting. After four days of fierce fighting, the threat to Da Nang was obliterated and the task force was deactivated and returned to the Americal area of operation.
The Americal Division participates with the government of Vietnam in the Pacification program to win the hearts and minds of the people. It is a coordinated effort to gain the full support of the Vietnamese people by helping them meet their own needs and at the same time depriving the enemy of his claim to popular backing. MEDCAP missions to the hamlets and villages of the southern I Corps provide the Vietnamese people with much needed medical services.
One of the main objectives of the pacification program is the economic growth of the nation as a whole. And the greatest appeal to the people lies in the promise of increased prosperity.
Operation Norfolk Victory
Operation Norfolk Victory was begun by elements of the 11th Brigade on April 8, 1968, in the mountainous terrain southwest of Quang Ngai City. By its conclusion major enemy base of operations had been destroyed, and weapons cache uncovered (126 individual and crew-served weapons, plus numerous enemy munitions and supplies).
Operation Burlington Trail
On the same day that Operation Norfolk Victory began, another operations was begun by the 198th Infantry Brigade north of Chu Lai. Operation Burlington Trail had the goal of opening the road from Tam Ky to Tien Phuoc, a Special Forces outpost and district headquarters in Quang Tin Province. The mission of constructing the road was given to elements of the 39th Engineer Battalion who were provided security by units of the 198th.
April 20 marked the first anniversary of Task Force Oregon, and General William C. Westmoreland spoke at ceremonies in Chu Lai.
On the same day the 198th Brigade assumed control of Operation Wheeler/Wallowa from the 196th Brigade, which was temporarily placed under the operational control of the 1st Air Cavalry Division.
Under the operational control of the III Amphibious Force in Da Nang, the Americal Division has been summoned to distant areas outside the division's area of operation on several occasions.
During April, the 196th Infantry Brigade was sent to the northern portion of Quang Tri Province and participated in fighting near the de-militarized zone.
Shortly after the Brigade was released from the 3rd Marine Division, one battalion (2nd Battalion - 1st Brigade) was deployed to the aid of the besieged Special Forces camp at Kham Duc. One company from the 198th Infantry Brigade (A Company 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry) also was sent to Kham Duc, where a successful extraction was later performed.
tam ky/quang ngai
After a midsummer "lull", activity picked up when the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry teamed up with elements of the 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry, 11th Brigade, and 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, 196th to engage regulars of the 2nd NVA Division seven kilometers west of Tam Ky, August 25-27. 548 NVA soldiers were killed.
Action again flared in the second week of September when a combined effort of the 2nd ARVN Division and the 11th Brigade spoiled enemy plans to attack Quang Ngai City. The operation accounted for 442 enemy killed.
Operation Champaign Grove
Operation Champaign Grove was formed on September 4 to relieve pressure on the Ha Thanh Civilian Irregular Defense Group Camp and to prevent a possible attack against Quang Ngai City. Units of the 11th Brigade, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry, and the 2nd ARVN Division combined together to account for 323 NVA killed.
In a battle five miles southwest of Quang Ngai City, C Troop felled 42 of the enemy and captured a large weapons cache.
On September 14 infantrymen and cavalrymen of Task Force Galloway reported 40 NVA and three VC killed and six crew-served and eight individual weapons captured in Operation Champaign Grove.
On September 21, the heaviest contact was in Operation Burlington Trail, as units of the 1st Cavalry, F Troop, 8th Cavalry, and a company of the 11th Brigade's 4th Brigade, 21st Infantry killed 92 NVA.
Operation Golden Fleece in which the 196th Brigade helped Vietnamese harvest more than one million pounds of rice in the Que Son Valley, also began during September, ending two months later.
October brought more rice as the "Chargers" of the 196th killed 22 VC and captured 12,425 pounds of rice on the 26th. "Guardians" of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry gathered 6,800 pounds of rice in three separate caches 24 miles west of Tam Ky.
In November, the two longest running Americal Operations, Wheeler/Wallowa and Burlington Trail, ended. The former, which was primarily conducted by the 196th Brigade, accounted for 10,020 enemy dead and 2,053 captured weapons in its one year existence. Burlington Trail, in which the 198th Brigade with help from the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry; 26th and 39th Engineer Battalions, succeeded in opening the road from Tam Ky to Tien Phuoc, recorded 1,948 enemy dead and 545 weapons captured. Both operations ended on November 11.
On November 16, units of the 198th Brigade accounted for 41 VC killed in the Chu Lai area. A recon patrol member LRP observed VC moving down a trail 10 miles north of Quang Ngai City. The 1st/82nd Artillery placed eight inch shells right on target.
On November 17, a 1st/14th Artillery battery along with the 198th Brigade killed 32 VC when the enemy launched a mortar, recoilless rifle, and ground attack against the Binh Son District headquarters.
I action west of Tam Ky and north of the Tien Phuoc Civilian Irregular Defense Group camp, 196th Brigade soldiers netted 44 of the enemy on November 21.
Vernon Lake II, Hardin Falls, Fayette Vanyon
Also in November, Operation Vernon Lake II began in the mountainous region southwest of Quang Ngai City. During its four month existence, 11th Brigade. "Jungle Warriors" uncovered 81 NVA base camps and three surgical hospitals. The 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry and the 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry soldiers also killed 455 enemy soldiers. The operation was terminated on February 28, 1969.
The battleship New Jersey was in the division area of operation from November 24 to November 27. During this time, the Navy's only active battleship destroyed 122 enemy structures, 55 bunkers and 32 fighting positions.
On December 2, a major pacification effort was begun by the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry, 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry. 198th Brigade; and the 26th Engineer Battalion in Thang Binh District. Operation Hardin Falls had as its main purpose providing assistance to Government of Vietnam forces so they could pacify six hamlets in the district. It also ended on February 28, 1969
In mid-December, Operation Fayette Canyon was started in the mountains 25 miles northwest of Tam Ky. Conducted by the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry , and the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry, of the 196th Brigade, and by the 198th Brigade's 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry, 327 enemy were killed, bunker and other complexes were destroyed, and 65 weapons were captured by the time the operation ended on February 28.
frederick hill/geneva park
Members of the 4th Battalion, 3rd Infantry (Old Guard) of the 11th Infantry Brigade and 5th Battalion, 46th Infantry, 198th Infantry Brigade designated Task Force Cooksey (after the Assistant Division Commander, Brigadeer General Howard W. Cooksey) set up a cordon which isolated the peninsula from the mainland. The combat phase of Russell Beach officially ended February 9 accounting for more than 210 VC killed, 15.5 tons of salt, two tons of corn, 13 tons of rice, 59 individual weapons, and six crew served weapons. Twenty-three sampans were destroyed as they tried to evade through Navy Swift Boats off the Batangan Peninsula.
By late February the pacification end of Russell Beach showed nearly 12,000 civilians had been moved to the Combined Holding and Interregation Center (CHIC) near Quang Ngai City.
A lull in fighting was observed during the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tet) but heavy contact broke out in February when VC/NVA elements launched a series of well coordinated mortar and rocket attacks on all US fire support bases and installations throughout the Americal Division.
In March, a series of operations started, with each brigade area given a separate name for its operational zone.
On March 18 Oeration Frederick Hill was initiated in the northern sector of the division by the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry, and 196th Infantry Brigade, and the 5th ARVN Regiment. In the center of the division, Operation Geneva Park was embarked upon by the 'Brave and the Bold' of the 198th Infantry Brigade and the 6th ARVN Regiment. Rounding out action in the southern regions of the Americal was Operation Iron Mountain started by the 'Jungle Warriors' of the 11th Infantry Brigade and the 4th ARVN Regiment.
In the month of May Brigadier General Edwin L. Powell became assistant division commander; a 1st/6th Infantry visit to Ky Sanh village marked the unit's 10,000th MEDCAP; and machinegunner SP4 Stanley Goff received the Distinguished Service Cross after single-handedly routing 100 heavily-armed NVA regulars in a trench line.
In the middle of May in the triple canopy jungles west of Tam Ky, the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, under the operational control of the Americal Division, joined the 196th Brigade to alleviate Communist pressures in the area.
The operation, named Lamar Plain, stared on May 15 as the 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry, was placed under the operational control of the 101st. By the second week in June, the operation had accounted for more than 130 enemy dead and Landing Zone Professional west of Tam Ky was released from enemy pressures. Three months later the Communists backed off from the area and Operation Lamar Plain was concluded.
Communist sappers continued to harass Americal firebases during June, and infantryman [sic] repelled a heavy attack on Landing Zone East, 11 miles west of Tam Ky in early June, killing 55 NVA and seven Viet Cong.
During four days of fierce fighting throughout the division starting June 8, Americal forces killed 249 NVA and 87 VC while capturing 89 assorted enemy weapons.
By the second week in June, U.S. forces had accounted for more than 130 NVA and 40 VC killed in the Lamar Plain area alone.
On July 21st, the Americal Division concluded Operation Russell Beach on the Batangan Peninsula 20 miles south of Chu Lai. The massive pacification effort was concluded with the resettlement of more than 12,000 refugees on the peninsula after it had been cleared of enemy bunkers and sanctuaries.
But the overall pacification effort in the area continued as an intensive drive to upgrade small hamlets and villages north of Quang Ngai City.
With the summer months came intensified "Vietnamization" of the war effort and proliferation of joint Americal and South Vietnamese Army operations. US-ARVN tactical operations were increased and the three regiments of the 2nd ARVN Division worked as direct counterparts with the Americal Division's three brigades.
As the pacification effort increased in the 11th and 198th Brigade areas, intensive Communist pressures were beginning to be felt in the Que Son and Hiep Duc valleys 30 miles south of Da Nang.
GIs BATTLING FOR HILL 102
Clipping from "PACIFIC STARS AND STRIPES"..
(CHU LAI)- The Hiep Duc Refugee Center and two Americal Firebases Landing Zone Center and Landing Zone West, were believed to be prime targets for the 2nd NVA Division. In early August elements of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry, beat off a ground attack at LZ West killing 59 enemy soldiers.
On August 18th infantrymen of the 196th Brigade began a battle which killed more than 312 NVA soldiers in 72 hours of fighting in the blistering heat on the Que Son Valley floor. Three days later 103 more enemy were killed by artillery and air strikes as the battle of the Hiep Duc and Que Son valleys erupted. Their enemy was the well-entrenched 2nd NVA Division.
Despite enemy heavy automatic weapons fire Americal Division helicopters continued to fly along the valley air-space bringing supplies and reinforcements to the men of the 196th Brigade. On the morning of August 19, a helicopter was shot down over Hill 102 inside NVA-occupied territory. Aboard were eight men.
(CHU LAI)-The push to recover the bodies of the victims of the helicopter tragedy sparked one of the bitterest engagements of the turgid confrontation. For almost a week the men of the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry strove against unrelenting NVA fire to reach the crash site on Hill 102.
"It was hell out there," remarked PFC Barry Daniels, a rifleman with Company C, 3rd/21st . "The NVA were all over the place with weapons and packs. We couldn't move 100 meters without being attacked."
On Sunday, August 24, men of Company B, 3rd/21st fought their way back into the tangled crash site. Hill 102 was won.
Thousands of artillery rounds pounded the NVA bunker complexes during those last days of August. Scores of tactical airstrikes echoed through the Hiep Duc and Que Son Valleys. Countless times, 196th Brigade infantrymen pushed forward against pockets of fierce enemy resistance. The Marine advance from the east placed an increased strain on the NVA forces. Slowly, the enemy began to withdraw to the north toward the rugged Nui Chom ridgeline. The American units pursued determinedly. By August 29, the major sources of enemy resistance in the Hiep Duc vicinity had been irreparably crushed.
Hiep Duc had been spared! No casualties or significant damage had been reported from the refugee center. The 196th Infantry Brigade had preserved Hiep Duc and cost the enemy over 1,000 dead.
Rice denial operations achieved tremendous success. On November 19, the 3rd Battalion, 21st infantry, captured 20,000 lbs. of rice. Numerous other large caches of enemy salt and rice were found.
A new pacification program was initiated. Two battalions, 5th Battalion, 46th Infantry and 1st Battalion, 52nd Infantry of the 198th Brigade were partially committed. In the Infantry Company Intensified Pacification Program (ICIPP), platoon and squad size US elements live, work with, and train Vietnamese Regular Forces and Popular Forces in their hamlets. This program is designed to help organize, build, and provide continual security in hamlets and villages against local VC forces, guerilla units and VC/NVA main forces.
Education plays an important role in the overall pacification effort. New schools were constructed throughout the division area of operation.
A new strain of rice was introduced into southern I Corps.
On January 4 Americal troops of Company B, 4th Battalion, 3rd Infantry fought off an enemy mortar and sapper attack against their night defensive position. The infantrymen withstood the intense mortar barrage and ground attack and killed 29 of the insurgents.
A Troop 1/1 Cavalry combined with the 15th Regular Force Group to defeat an estimated two companies of VC. A Troop working in an area three miles west of Tam Ky killed 43 of the enemy in the engagement.
Contact was maintained through the next day as elements of F Troop, 17th Cavalry and D Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry operating northwest of Tam Ky accounted for 39 NVA kills and confiscated a large weapons cache.
A search of the area produced four rocket propelled grenades with launchers, two machine guns, one mortar, and 16 AK-47 rifles in addition to the enemy deaths.
Rangers invade camp
Fierce action was reported in the 196th area of operation once again on January 13-14. A task force, consisting of 1/1 Cavalry, 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry and 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, overran the enemy positions resulting in 40 enemy killed and a large quantity of munitions confiscated.
196th Brigade soldiers found themselves in the thick of it the next day as they recorded a total of 662 NVA soldiers killed in action in the "Pineapple Forest" area near Tam Ky.
The first three days of February saw elements of the 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry, in constant contact with the enemy forces south of Tam Ky. During the action the "Professionals" were credited with more than 40 enemy kills.
The remaining days of February produced a steady decrease in enemy activity.
The first two weeks of March saw light to moderate action with the Americal cavalrymen playing an important role in several skirmishes with the enemy.
"Born in Battle," The Americal continues to battle the enemies of freedom "Under the Southern Cross."
1776: New York Patriots defeat Scots-American Loyalists at Moores Creek Bridge.
1814: Napoleons Marshal Nicholas Oudinot is pushed back at Barsur-Aube by the Emperors allied enemies shortly before his abdication.
1864: The first Union prisoners arrive at Andersonville Prison in Georgia.
1897: Great Britain agrees to U.S. arbitration in a border dispute between Venezuela and British Guiana, defusing a dangerous U.S.- British diplomatic crisis and recognizing U.S. authority over the Western Hemisphere.
1905: The Japanese push the Russians back in Manchuria, and cross the Sha River.
1920: The United States rejects a Soviet peace offer as propaganda.
1933: The burning down of the Reichstag building in Berlin gives the Nazis the opportunity to suspend personal liberty with increased power.
1942: British Commandos raid a German radar station at Bruneval on the French coast.
1942: Allied Naval Forces attack a Japanese invasion convoy during the Battle of the Java Sea.
1942: The U.S. Navys first aircraft carrier, the Langley, is sunk by Japanese warplanes, and all of its 32 aircraft are lost.