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On The Firing Line from the Legionnaires' Ledger for Friday, January 22, 1971

Copy of publication provided by Dave Eckberg

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Action in the 3d Bn, 1st Inf AO for the period 17 Dec-12 Jan:

During the cordon and search of a ville west of Quang Ngai which Alpha Company conducted in conjunction with a Regional forces platoon, the RF's and their US advisors questioned over 300 people.  The Regional Forces unit detained 9 VC suspects and destroyed 1 tunnel complex.

The next day, the company was near Tu My ville when 3 young but experienced VIPers brought them 4 M-79 rounds and a booby trap to exchange for C-rations.  The booby trap was a live 155 round that had been buried in the access road to 4-11 until the children dug it up and rolled it to "market".

While on a patrol north of FSB 4-11, Charlie Company found 100 NVA pamplets wrapped in plastic and partially buried in a stream bed.  Each document was 55 pages long and according to a KCS contained propaganda describing the accomplishments of the NVA.

On a sweep northwest of 4-11, Charlie Company found and destroyed 8 fighting bunkers with overhead cover.

In an area east of 4-11, Vietnamese children turned in the location of a can of petnum booby trapped with a trip wire, a 4.2 rd and a 105 mm rd to Bravo Company.

Later that week, the company reported that a herd of cattle detonated what appeared to be a booby trapped 60 mm mortar rd.  Of the 5 livestock KIA, 2 were reported to be in critical condition but no dust-off was requested.

Members of Dancing Delta were on their toes when they uncovered 14 booby traps on a trail south of 4-11.  All the devices were pressure type and contained an unknown explosive.

Working in the mountains west of Nghia Hanh, the 3d platoon of Delta Company discovered an old NVA base camp with concertina wire and a tunnel complex.  They also found 1 unknown type of weapon in poor condition.  While searching the thickly vegetated area around the camp, the element had stopped momentarily on the trail when two VC/NVA personnel stumbled into the platoon's rear security.  PFCs Raymond Baumgard (Denver, Colo.), Michael Murphy (Charleston, Ill.) and Walter Hood (Senoia, Ga.) immediately opened up on the enemy.  This action resuled in 1 NVA KIA and the capture of 1 Chicom, a pack and 20,000 piasters.

MEDCAPS Cont. to Extend Helping Hand

MACV advisors at Tu Nghia have reported receiving a very favorable feedback from the people in all parts of the district regarding a MEDCAP conducted by this battalion in the Nam Phouc ville on 18 December.  Since that time an increasing number of Medcaps have been carried out in which nearly 1000 people have been treated by battalion medical personnel.

On 21 December at the Mo Duc High School, the battalion surgeon CPT Michael H. Dang assisted by 1LT David J. Eckberg, SP5 Arthur Foxworth, SP5 Robert Horridge and PFC Mark Mackie treated 68 people.  When the team first arrived at the school, they informed a student who seemed to understand English that they were there to treat the sick.  When the student left, it was thought that he was going to find those needing medical attention.  It was apparent that there had been some misunderstanding when the boy returned with a 12 girl dance team.  After they had enjoyed a short performance, the Medcap personnel finally made their purpose clear.  Once the began treating a student with a bandaged foot, they had all the patients they could handle.

During the week 21-28 December, PFC Jacob Freudiger, an OJT medic who has been attending the Montagnards on OP1 for the past 2 months, treated 286 people.

At Tu Binh southeast of Quang Ngai on 12 January, CPT Dang along with 1LT Eckberg, SSG Nelson Boicourt, SP5 Horridge, SP4 Howard Harding and PFC Michael Dufek treated over 250 people.  Since this was probaly the first Medcap ever conducted at the ville numerous people were in need of medical aid.

Twenty Chieu Hoi Within a Month

Before the yellow smoke had dropped to the ground, 14 enemy personnel had jubilantly run out into the open waving flags.  Moments later, they were successfully extracted by four utility ships carrying National Police and PF personnel.  The operation which was conducted in the 3d Battalion, 1st Infantry AO north of FSB 4-11 was observed by CPT Larry E. Penley (Rockwood, Tenn.).

Earlier in the week, word had reached the National Police at Tu Nghia that there was a group of VC from a ville north of the Song Tra Khuc River who wished to Chieu Hoi.  All of the potential Hio Chanhs were administrative personnel who had become dissatisfied with the demands placed upon them by the VC command.  They said that they were unable to fulfill their mission due to the extensive activity of U.S. and GVN units in the area.

The disheartened enemy had even devised their own escape plan.  Since there were numerous regular VC units in and around their ville, they decided that the pick up would have to be at a predetermined location across the river.  The yellow smoke was to be the signal for them to come forward.

This arrangement had worked so well that less than a month later, 6 more VC in the area indicated that they would Chieu Hoi in the same manner.  This time, however, there was a misunderstanding as to the location, and the National Police failed to make contact on the designated morning.  Late that afternoon, the 2nd platoon of Bravo Company had 6 Vietnamese walk into their position waving a white flag and Chieu Hoi papers.  As it turned out, the Hoi Chanhs had thought that the yellow smoke which the platoon had used to bring in the resupply bird was the pick up signal.

Life's Longest Minute

"It felt like a twig had grabbed me and when I looked down there was a trip wire between my legs," recalled PFC Don Neiding (Duluth, Minn.) a rifleman with the 2nd platoon of Charlie Company.  After he had regained his balance and his composure, Neiding followed the trip wire to where it was barely attached by a safety pin to a 105 round.

Working west of Quang Ngai in an area intersected by thick hedgerows the company had found and was in the process of destroying a number of enemy bunkers.  Neiding said that he and several others were about to proceed through an opening in one of the hedgerows when he discovered the booby trap.  "After we destroyed the round, we just sat down for a while and thought about what had nearly happened."

Several weeks earlier, SP4 William Childress (Elburn, Ill.) had been walking down a trail within Alpha Company's laager position when he tripped a booby trapped 60 mm mortar round just 5 meters from the company CP.  Fortunatley, when the blasting cap exploded it failed to detonate the round.  Ironically, that particular trail had been in use for several days before the wire apparently worked its way up through the grass.

In Recognition

On 16 January, Chaplain Lawrence C. Horton conducted baptismal ceremonies for SP4 Jackie L. Winn (Big Springs, Texas).  The ceremony also initiated the battalion's recently constructed baptistry. Made from two steel culverts, sand bags and concrete, it is perphaps the only one of its kind in the division.  CPT Horton says that the baptistry will be available to other chaplains in the Brigade.

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Chaplain (Cpt.) Lawrence Horton of the 11th Brigade's 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry conducts the first baptism in a baptistry constructed of sandbags and concrete.  The baptistry is also available to other units at FSB Bronco.  (U.S. Army Photo by SP4 Greg Wright)

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