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Map from Anatomy of a Division, Shelby Stanton, with additions by Ken Burington

Summary - March 1967

The 2/5 Cav continued search and destroy operations among the crowded villages of the southern Bong Son Plains during the first six days of March 1967. The third week of Operation Pershing passed with C Company, often working with D Company, investigating wells, tunnels and other hiding places east of Highway 1 around My An village during the day and setting out ambushes at night. The week was characterized by light contact and problems with snipers and various types of booby traps. At the end of this period the Battalion moved south a few miles to another AO: the area known as The Crescent.

Like the Bong Son Plains the Battalion had just left, The Crescent was a coastal flatland bordered by mountains. It stretched north from Nui Mieu (Mountain) to the Cay Giep mountain group and from the South China Sea beach west about twelve to fifteen kilometers to the coastal mountain ranges. The center of The Crescent was dominated by a large, shallow lake, Dam Tra O and the entire area was very productive with sea and fresh-water fishing and rice growing. The fishing and farming in the area made it important to the Communists and the mountains provided convenient base areas. 2/5 Cav had the same mission in The Crescent that it had on the plains to the north: to search for enemy troops, their hiding places and storage areas, to capture or destroy any Communist resources and to disrupt any Communist organization in the villages.

With the company performing perimeter security for the new Battalion CP at LZ Anchor individual platoons searched villages and the foothills at the northern end of the plains for several days. C Company was then airlifted further south and placed to act as a blocking force while the 40th ARVN Regiment beat the bushes for VC around the southern end of Dam Tra O. C Company made contact leading to the Battle of Phu Ninh near a village of that name located astride Highway 505 at the base of the Nui Mieu (Mountain). 

Comanche_Looking_North_from_Nui_Mieu_to_Dam_Tra_O_Lake_1967.jpg (27144 bytes)
This photo was taken from one of the foothills of the Nui  Mieu across Dam Tra O lake towards the Cay Giep mountains.  Phu Ninh lies just outside the picture to the left (west).

Click on photo to see larger version.  Courtesy Ken Burington

Despite having suffered severe casualties during the battle, C Company remained in control of the ground and continued to search and clear the hills of enemy for another six days, taking several prisoners, before moving their operations back to the northern part of the plains for two days. After this C Company left the crowded villages of The Crescent and spent the last third of the month alternately searching the river valleys and slopes of the mountains west of LZ English and acting as a blocking force near Highway 1 north of LZ English while the 40th ARVN Regiment worked the area. ( 2000 Ken Burington, source, Operation Pershing Combat After Action Report dated 31May67, with additional material from the 1967 2/5 Cav History)  Another source is "A Great Trench of Bloody Hell", by LTC (Ret) Don Markham, the commander of C 2/5 in March, 1965.

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This map is part of Don Markham's article titled "A Great Trench of Bloody Hell."  The symbols in red indicate the location of the 7th and 9th battalions of the North Vietnamese 18th Regiment, and the regiment's security group.


March 5 - 6, 1967

The 2/5 Cavalry Command and Control Helicopter of LTC Robert Stevenson, is fired upon while conducting an aerial reconnaisance of the village of  Hoa Tan.  The co-pilot and the battalion Assistant Operations Officer are both wounded.  Mortar and sniper fire from the village during the night indicated the presence of a large enemy force.  (Source:  "A Great Trench of Bloody Hell" by Don Markham)

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March 6, 1967

Charlie Company, along with Delta Company, combat assaulted into Hoa Tan, with Alpha and Bravo companies in blocking positions.  Though the action resulted in the killing of 81 NVA soldiers, one C 2/5 Cav trooper was mortally wounded by the artillery prep.  (Don Markham makes reference to this KIA in his article, "A Great Trench of Bloody Hell")  Records indicate a number of men in the 1st Cavalry Division were killed during that time frame, but Markham states it was an inexperienced soldier.  The webmaster invites anyone who remembers if the soldier was PFC Gerald Thompson.)


 

March 10, 1967

2/5 Cav Battalion  Command Post  remained at LZ Anchor. C Company continued security at LZ Anchor (BR942853, Map 6837-4). The Third Platoon of C Company was extracted from its blocking position at BR995905 (Map 6937-4) at 0839 hours and airlifted to LZ Anchor. First Platoon of C Company conducted a patrol at BR965870 (Map 6837-4) between the hamlets of Hoa Tan(4), Hoa Tan(6) and Hoa Tan(7) and set up an ambush. There was negative enemy contact. ( 2000 Ken Burington source Operation Pershing Combat After Action Report dated 31May67)

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March 11, 1967


Click on map to see larger version.  To print the larger version, and you are using a PC, right mouse click on the larger image, and click on "Save Picture As."  Once you have saved the map to your computer, you may print it out.

Courtesy of Tom Rutten, who was with 1st Platoon that day.  He invites any comments, additions of corrections to this diagram.  Please notify the Webmaster.

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The Battalion CP remained at LZ Anchor. This is the day the Battle of Phu Ninh started. The hamlets of Phu Ninh Village stretch along Highway 505 at the southern end of Dam Tra O and just north of the base of the Nui Mieu Mountains. At 0800 hours the First and Second Platoons of C Company were air assaulted to BR947823 (Map 6837-4) near Chanh Koan(3) on the west edge of Dam Tra O and the rest of C Company was inserted at coordinates BR958793 (Map 6837-4) near Phu Ninh(2) along Hwy 505 to act as a blocking force for the 40th ARVN Regt.

At 1043 hours the Third Platoon reported receiving fire vicinity BR970791 (Map 6837-4) near the base of Hill 82, one of the northernmost extensions of the Nui Mieu Mountains. One VC was hit, wounded and captured and then the platoon became pinned down by automatic weapons fire at BR 968786 (Map 6837-4). At 1236 hours the Second Platoon, which was acting as a blocking force at BR946820 (Map 6837-4) was extracted and made a combat assault to BR975787 (Map 6837-4) to assist the Third Platoon. Their LZ was a paddy area between the hamlet of Phu Ninh(1) and Hill 82.

At 1354 hours D Company was picked up from the vicinity of Hoa Tan (BR966886, Map 6837-4) and they made a combat assault to the vicinity of My Phu(1) to assist C Company. They landed on the flat land northeast of Hill 82 (BR 987786, Map 6837-4) and maneuvered to the west along the base of the hill.  By 1416 hours the First Platoon of D Company was pinned down at BR969784 (Map 6837-4) and the D Company Commander,  had been killed.

At 1513 hours the First Platoon of C Company was picked up from their blocking position (BR947823, Map 6837-4) near Chanh Koan(3) on the west side of Dam Tra O and air assaulted to the level area just south of Phu Ninh(1) about 100 feet above the sweet potato fields at the base of Hill 82. (Source: Tom Rutten, who was with 1st Platoon).)  At 1736 A Company was added to the fight as a blocking force. A Company, 2/5 Cav had been searching a small isolated fishing village located on a strip of sand to the east of the Cay Giep. The company was picked up from the beach at 1702 hours from BR965943 (Map 6837-4) and twenty-four minutes later assaulted in to the west of Hill 82 near Vinh An(2) at BR969784 (Map 6837-4) to function as a blocking force.

During the afternoon hours the enemy remained and fought with automatic weapons from well-prepared positions. Medevac for wounded men continued until 2400 hours. ( 2000 Ken Burington source Operation Pershing Combat After Action Report dated 31May67)


The 2nd Battalion 5th Cavalry was awarded the Valorous Unit Award for its actions on March 11.  

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Dennis Henzi was with 1st Platoon on that day.  1/6 was helicoptered in to the top of Hill 82 in the afternoon.  Dennis wrote his recollections of March 11.


The Battle of Phu Ninh was the costliest single battle for C 2/5 Cav during the entire war.  Nine troopers met their death, including 1LT Dana Leon GeraldSSG John R. Kreidler,  SP4 Loren A. Armlin,  SP4 Donald L. Bennett,  SP4 Jose Garza Jr.,   SP4 Calvin K. Graeser Jr., SP4 Freddie Marshall, Jr.,  SP4 Richard A. Rowell, and PFC James Holsworth.

Among the wounded were

  • SP4 William Katzenberger - frag wound abdomen

  • PFC Bennie Haley - frag wound right shoulder

  • PFC Lamont Watson - frag wounds both arms and both legs

  • SP4 William "Bill" Walters (4th Platoon) - gun shot wound back

  • SP4 Warren Starnes - gun shot wounds left knee, right back, and right shoulder

  • SP4 John Licavoli, (4th Platoon) - Shoulder wounds

  • PFC Thomas Clark 

  • John Arnold (2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon) - chin, chest, knee.

(Source:  1st Cavalry Division General Order 1310 dated 27 March 1967) (John Arnold)

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March 11, 1967

The following were promoted to Specialist Four on C 2/5 Cav Unit Order 9:

Willie Artley Donald Bennett
William Clanton Felton Cooper
Norman Ford Eugene Gray
Louis Henderson Milton James
Richard Krysiak Alfonso Melendez
Robert Mickens Arthur Padilla
James Prevatt James Redmond
Richard Rowell Kenneth Rothenberger
Thomas Rutten Jesse Tageant
William Taylor James Tusar
Thomas Wall Cardona Yearra

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March 12, 1967

Battalion  CP remained at LZ Anchor. C Company reorganized, located their MIA who were KIA and evacuated all KIA's. The company then conducted search and destroy operations in the area of contact on Hill 82 (BR975783, Map 6837-4). They located a well-dug trench work and evidence of NVA hastily evacuating the area and moving to the south, deeper into the Nui Mieu. Company D received a new CO. There was light contact during the day, estimated at one squad in strength, which was taken under fire by aerial rockets from a 1/9 Cav helicopter. ( 2000 Ken Burington source Operation Pershing Combat After Action Report dated 31May67)

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March 14, 1967

Major General John Norton, commander of the 1st Cav, conducted an awards ceremony for seven members of the battalion at an unnamed LZ in the Nui Mieu near Phu Ninh.  SSG Jimmy Shoemaker of C Company was awarded the Silver Star that day.

Numerous other awards for heroism were earned by C 2/5 troopers, including the Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device to SSG Ronald Morrison, SP4 James Hickman, and PFC Jesse Togeant.  (Source: Blackhorse Hoofbeats, Issue #5, dated 26 March 1967)

Comanche_MG_Norton_CG_1st_Cav_from_Bratton.jpg (52707 bytes)

Comanche_Phu_Ninh_Awards_Ceremony_1967_from_Bratton.jpg (29839 bytes)

Click on Photos to See Larger Version

Courtesy Richard Bratton

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March 18, 1967

SP4 Larry Evans was wounded by grenade fragments while in night patrol.  If you recall any events of this action, please contact the Webmaster.

Interesting is the telegram the Army sent to Larry's parents.  Notice the instructions on the telegram tell  Western Union not to call or deliver it between 10 PM and 6 AM.

 (Source:  1st Cavalry Division General Order 1310, dtd 27 March 1967)

Comanche_Telegram_Wounded_1967_from_Larry_Evans.jpg (64315 bytes)
Click on Graphic  to See Larger Version

Courtesy Larry Evans

Documents_1st_Cav_Div_GO_1310_dtd_27_March_67.jpg (274634 bytes)
Click on Graphic to See Larger Version

Courtesy Larry Evans


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Updated September 13, 2006