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Summary - January 1967

As the new year opened most of the 1st Cavalry Division continued Operation Thayer II in the coastal plains and mountains south of Bong Son in eastern Binh Dinh Province, but 2/5 Cav was still operating in the An Khe area. The Battalion's mission was to provide security for the Division base camp, Camp Radcliffe, and to help protect Highway 19.

Prior to the arrival of US forces this part of South Vietnam's Central Highlands and this east-west highway had been dominated by communist forces; in 1954 near the end of the First Indochina War Highway 19 west of An Khe had been the scene of one of France's worst defeats, the annihilation of Group Mobile 100. The 1st Cavalry Division's speed and combat power had forced the Viet Cong forces in the region to disperse but they were still potentially dangerous and proper security still important.

Part of C Company's duties included providing squad and platoon-sized elements to protect the several small bridges along Highway 19 both to the east and the west of An Khe. Aggressive cordon and search operations were conducted in areas along the highway and the company also took its turn manning bunkers on Camp Radcliffe's perimeter and patrolling the Highland plateau on which the basecamp sat. Toward the end of the month the entire Battalion took part in a three-day search and destroy mission about twenty kilometers to the north of the Division basecamp.

Unfortunately this effort, named "Operation Root II", was not a tactical success. Three companies of 2/5 Cav made a combat assault to the north and west of a small airfield named LZ Kannack and penetrated westerly into the hill region in an effort to find enemy personnel. As the operation's Combat After Action Report states in its summary of major results: "The success of this battalion during OPERATION ROOT II cannot be measured by contact with or destruction of enemy ground forces, as these were non-existent."

The 2nd Battalion returned to Camp Radcliffe and for the rest of January and the first few days in February continued local patrolling around the Division base. Operation Pershing, kicking off on February 12, would see Company C moving east out of the Central Highlands to the rice-producing coastal plains on the South China Sea. ( 2000, Kenneth D. Burington)

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January 14

CPT Don Markham assumed command from CPT Charles "Chuck" Fry at LZ Fatima near the Cambodian border.

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January 23 - 25

Operation Root II, which took place on the 23rd, 24th and 25th of January 1967, was conceived as a Battalion-sized search and clear operation in the hills about twenty kilometers to the northwest of the 1st Cav's base camp at Camp Radcliffe. The mission was to interdict routes of enemy movement, capture  or destroy enemy supplies found in the area and to kill or capture any enemy forces in the area. To accomplish this mission the 2/5 Cav established a Battalion CP, an artillery battery and one rifle company (Company A) at LZ Kannack, a small airfield along Route 508 near the hamlet of Kan Nak(1) and air assaulted the other three rifle companies into positions on an approximate westward line to the north and west of the airfield.

After completing combat assaults in their respective areas of operation, the three rifle companies ran patrols and established their FOB's (Forward Operational Bases). They made no contact with enemy troops although the Battalion reported one man wounded "not enemy action". Well-used trails, eighteen to twenty-four inches wide, crossed the area north-to-south and east-to-west, proof that there was some foot traffic in the region. As the day came to an end, the rifle companies set out ambushes along likely trails in an effort to intercept enemy personnel.

There was no enemy activity and no contact and all of the ambush patrols spent a quite night. Continuing the search and destroy mission on January 24th Companies B, C and D followed more trails and discovered several hooches, most several years old and showing signs of having been abandoned although ten chickens were found in one small group of hooches and domestic pigs at another location. Some of the trails were booby trapped with punji stakes and crossbows at chest level. All during the day there was evidence that whoever occupied the newer hooches had gone into hiding, but most of the signs of human presence were fairly old, about two years or more. One man was wounded in the leg by a spear-type animal trap, but there were no other injuries on this second day. Ambushes were again placed and again had no contact.

Matters took a small turn on January 25th. There was very light contact during the day but nothing really developed from it. Beginning about 1028 hours C Company began receiving sporadic sniper fire during the day but the company was never able to locate the sniper. Finally, about 1810 hours C Company received a burst of automatic weapons fire and about fifteen individual shots from another weapon. No one was hit by this fire and again the enemy was not located.

The Battalion began winding up the operation during the afternoon. Late in the afternoon one man was wounded by punji stakes along a trail but other than that incident and the fire that C Company received during the day there had been no action. Company A was made OPCON to the 1/7 Cav and departed LZ Kannack at 1400 hours and the rest of the Battalion prepared to return to Camp Radcliffe.  Other than the discovery of a herd of about fifteen wild elephants on the third day, Operation Root II provided very little in the way of results or even interesting occurrences. As the official Combat After Action Report (dated 26 Mar 67) noted in the lessons learned section: "No new lessons were learned." After three days of patrolling, searching for inhabitants and setting ambushes the Battalion had suffered three men wounded and had captured one (1) unexpended .30 Carbine round. ( 2000, Kenneth D. Burington.  Source: After Action Report Operation Root II, dated 26 March 1967)

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January - Exact Date Unknown

Richard "Ricky" Rowell checks out his M-16 during one of the few times the company was located at An Khe.  Ricky was killed in action on March 11, 1967 in Binh Dinh Province,

Comanche_Ricky_Rowell_from_Rutten_01.jpg (50705 bytes)
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Courtesy Tom Rutten

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January - Exact Date Unknown

Shown in a slick are members of the 4th Platoon - John Wnek, an unknown FNG, and Ray Long.  It must have been chilly that day, as they have their sleeves rolled down, and the FNG appears to have some sort of hood under his helmet.  The helmet and rifle on the empty seat must have belonged to the person taking the picture.

Comanche_Wnek_Long_in_Huey_1967_from_Ray_Long.jpg (57200 bytes)
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Courtesy Ray "Tex" Long

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January - Exact Date Unknown

During operations in the Bong Son plains, a slick carrying members of the 1st Squad, 4th Platoon went down in a rice paddy.   Tex Long remembers the Huey autorotated in, and no one was hurt.

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Courtesy Ray "Tex" Long


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Updated March 17, 2010