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Summary December 1966

The 2nd Battalion 5th Cavalry was assigned to the 2nd Brigade, which remained under the control of the 4th Infantry Division as part of Operation Paul Revere IV.  The battalion was based at The Oasis, and  operated in around the Duc Co Special Forces Camp near the Cambodian border.  There was one sharp firefight, then the company enjoyed Christmas at An Khe.

December 21 and 22

Charlie Company and Bravo Company were both air assaulted into an area not far from the Duc Co camp after an estimated NVA platoon had been sighted.  While Bravo Company had some light contact on landing, Charlie Company saw nothing that first night.  

At about noon on the 22nd, CPT Charles Fry halted the company.  He instructed one of the platoon leaders (name unknown) to send out two patrols to find PZs suitable for 4 to6 Hueys.  Richard Bratton led one of the patrols, and an unknown Sergeant led the other, both moving west towards the Cambodian border.  According to Richard:

"We started out and had walked about 800 to 1,000 meters when we came out of the trees into a little valley that could handle 4 to 6 choppers - a good PZ.  Radioed CPT Fry and gave him the location and said we would check it out and make it secure.

As we circled the tree line checking it out, we found a hidden trail leading out of the north side of the little valley.  There were a couple of old spider holes and some old booby traps around it.  There wasn't anything fresh, but I called CPT Fry and told him we would follow the trail to check it out, and to hold the company.  CPT Fry replied that the company was already on the move and the choppers in the air, but he would ask the ARA escorts to hurry.  We went up the trail another 200 yards, and the ground leveled off.  All of a sudden we smelled smoke.  Everybody hit the ground and all hell broke loose.

We had walked right into a bunker complex; we were receiving fire from three directions and were pinned down.  The closest man to me was on my left about 10 yards and the other two men were to his left.  I was laying on the front of a bunker and the other guys had good cover and were returning fire.  I called CPT Fry and told him to come real quick, that we needed help, and for him to come up the trail as we did.  The incoming fire was from the north and we would be between the company and the NVA - but he should still be careful.

About that time I saw a rifle barrel come out of the opening on the opposite side of the bunker I was using for cover, and an AK-47 opened up from a thicket about 30 yards to my right.  I was safe as long as I did not move too much.  I don't think the NVA inside the bunker knew I was there, and he began to fire at the trooper on my left.  (I don't remember, but I think his name was Anderson).  I pulled a grenade from my belt, pulled the pin, and rolled it into the bunker opening.  The NVA in the thicket with the AK saw me move, and he opened up on me.  I fired back and saw him go down.  Then I looked at the bunker opening and saw my grenade coming back out of the hole.  I couldn't run, so I just hugged the ground.  Next thing I knoew, I was flung in the air and landed hard.  I crawled back to where I was, got another grenade, pulled the pin, let the handle fly and counted 1-2-3-4-5-6 - then threw it into the opening.  The grenade went off, and boom - the bunker was cleared. "

I heard the choppers.  I radioed them and told them we needed ARA.  I popped smoke and the pilot said green.  I told him to give everything he had 50 yards dead north of our smoke.  He made a pass, and the incoming just stopped.

I could hear GIs moving up on the right and left flanks, and also from the rear.  The 2nd Platoon medic crawled up next to me and asked if I was hurt, and wanted to know where all the blood on my right hand and face was coming from.  I got a little excited, but he calmed me down.  He wiped off my face and found about 10 to 15 little pin pricks on my face, and 3 more on my right hand.  They were all bleeding.

I radioed CPT Fry.  He said the cease fire (Webmaster Note:  It is assumed Richard is referring to a cease fire for the Christmas holiday) was in effect, to blow the bunker, and get back to the PZ ASAP as the choppers were already picking up troops.  We had killed at least four NVA in the first few minutes, and had two WIA NVA - one in the thicket I shot in the right shoulder, and another with a foot shot off lying to my left flank.  We fragged all the bunkers, then headed back down the trail with our prisoners.

When we got back to the PZ, half the company had already lifted out.  CPT Fry said a Medevac was coming for the wounded NVA, and he wnated me to go in too and get chekced out.  Our medic tagged me, I got on the chopper, and went to the 71st Evac in Pleiku.  The doctor cheked me out and said I had 11 pieces of someting in my face and three pieces in my right hand.  He thought it was rock fragments, not metal.  He gave me a shot, said Mother nature would take care of it, then told me to go to the mess hall.  Martha Rae was putting on a USO show.  During the show, I met a Chinook pilot who said I could ride with him back to An Khe, and I did.  The company got back to An Khe the next afternoon.

The 1966 Unit History of the 2/5 Cavalry stated that both the B Company and C Company actions netted ten  NVA KIA, five  NVA captured, one Viet Cong male captured, eight AK-47s captured, one US made M1 rifle captured, one Communist RPD light machinegun captured, along with 1,500 rounds of ammunition, and 5,300 pounds of rice.  "The battalion suffered only 4 WIA from this action."  (Sources:  Email from Richard P. Bratton Jr., and "Annual Historical Report, Calendar Year 1966, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, Operations in the Republic of Viet Nam)


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December 25

Peace on Earth.

This card was available to be sent back home to the folks.  The chapels were at the main division base camp at An Khe.

Comanche_Chapels_Christmas_1966_02.jpg (28942 bytes)


Comanche_Chapels_Christmas_1966_01.jpg (49756 bytes)
Click on images to see larger version

Courtesy John Licavoli

Another picture of the 2nd Brigade Chapel at Camp Radcliff  (An Khe).  The  2nd Battalion 5th  Cavalry was a part of the 2nd Brigade at that time.

Comanche_2nd_Brigade_Chapel_An_Khe_from_Ray_Long.jpg (56258 bytes)
Courtesy Ray Long

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Updated September 09, 2006