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Summary May 1970

The 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) spearheaded the invasion of the Fishhook area of Cambodia, adjacent to the III Corps area of Vietnam.   The invasion was a tactical success, though it failed to find the enemy's Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN), which supposedly commanded Viet Cong military forces in the south (1).  The invasion touched off large demonstrations in the United States, including one at Kent State University in Ohio in which four students were killed.  Huge caches of enemy munitions and supplies were found and destroyed.  The last elements of the 1st Cav withdrew on June 29th, marking almost two months in Cambodia.  (Sources: "Anatomy of a Division" - Stanton, and "Incursion" - J. D. Coleman)

May 1

Comanche was pulling green line duty at  LZ Jamie (north of Tay Ninh).  At first light, the company assembled on the pad and was told the mission - move into Cambodia.  The company went by Hook into an LZ secured by the 2/7th Cavalry  just to the east of the town of Minot, Cambodia, between Snoul and Chup. (Minot not shown on map at right.)  (Source: "Incursion: From America's Chokehold on the NVA Lifelines to the Sacking of the Cambodian Sanctuaries" -  J. D. Coleman)  The LZ quickly became FSB  X-Ray.

According to COL Robert Brace, commander of C 2/5 Cav at the time the company went in to Cambodia, Comanche was first on the ground rather than the 2/7th Cavalry.

Another source, "Vietnam Studies: Airmobility 1961-1971", authored by Lieutenant General John J. Tolson, once the Commanding General of the 1st Cavalry Division, lists the first units to CA into Cambodia as two companies of the 2/7th Cavalry. 

According to Nick Gallo, a trooper with C 2/5 Cav during the incursion, the company went in by Huey, not Chinook, indicating the LZ was probably not secure.

However, Mike Schexnider remembers flying in by Hook - and was sitting next to SSG John Taylor.

Comanche_SSG_John_Taylor_1970_from_Dube.jpg (169499 bytes)
SSG John Taylor

Click on photo to see larger version.

Courtesy Tim Dube

 "Goldie" Howell wrote; "  As I recall early that morning "Shep" (Robert Sheppers) and I drug off the gun dubbed "Goldies" .50 CAL. and several hundred rounds of ammo, 2 cases of frags and 1 case of 5.56mm ammo onto an unsecure LZ X-Ray with my squad leader Roger Lewis.  John Taylor and his big bowie knife were there, most of us landing in Chinook helicopters. It was just barely light and Charlie Company 2nd of the 5th was first on the ground in Cambodia.

The Summer 1970 issue of The First Team Magazine stated it was the 2/7th Cav.   Any information from any troopers serving during the Cambodian operation are asked to send it to the Webmaster.)  Is it possible one lift of C 2/5 Cav went in by Huey to secure the LZ, with subsequent lifts going in by Chinook?

C 2/5 Cav went to work building X-Ray.  After pulling security for a few days as other units came in, C 2/5 Cav moved out.  Originally, there was supposed to be a POW camp nearby, but that soon changed.  One of the prime missions of the Cambodian incursion was to find the headquarters of the Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN), alleged to be a huge underground bunker for four or five stories/floors underground.  (1).  During that fruitless search, Company C found a huge cache of rice.

The famous 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (the Blackhorse Regiment) was commanded by George Patton Jr., and was under the operational control of the 1st Cavalry Division.  It and had entered Cambodia just east of Snoul from the An Loc / Loc Ninh area of South Vietnam.  On May 5th, the 11th ACR took Snoul in a sharp battle.  Company C was attached to Troop F (squadron unknown) commanded by CPT Jack Speedy, and gave the tankers infantry support as they cleared the area around Snoul.  While working with the 11th ACR, the company came across a French rubber plantation, complete with a Mercedes (liberated by a tank commander), a pet farm, fancy peacocks - and some fine French wine - thoroughly enjoyed by the troopers of Comanche. (Sources:  Bob Brace, Jim Holcombe, J. D. Coleman)



Map_Cambodian_Incursion_May_70_from_USMA.jpg (157870 bytes)
Click on photo to see larger version.  Caution - this is a huge file.

Courtesy United States Military Academy Department of History.

Comanche_Artillery_X-Ray_Cambodia_1970.jpg (16631 bytes)
Artillery during a fire mission from LZ X-Ray

Comanche_LZ-X-Ray_Cambodia_Hasty_Fortifications.jpg (16844 bytes)
An example of the hasty fortifications built during fast moving operations.  LZ X-Ray

Click on photos to see larger versions
Both photos courtesy Nick Gallo

(Webmaster note:  The name LZ X-Ray was used in the famous Ia Drang Valley fight of November 1965.  Company C, 2/5th Cav was on that LZ X-Ray as well.)


I was an Air Traffic Controller (93H20), assigned to  the 11th Combat Aviation Group, 1st Air Cav in Phuoc Vinh.   The week of the Cambodian Invasion I was an aide to our  commanding officer, COL Kenneth Mertel, and temporary crew member of his Huey command ship.  When we  arrived at the bare bomb crater that was to become  LZ X-Ray, no ground troops had arrived.  The colonel asked me to volunteer to 'jump' into the site and provide ATC and ground operations for the  incoming supply ships and heavy equipment.

I was supplied with a PRC-25 FM radio, M16, ammo belt, bag of smoke grenades, and a couple of canteens, and jumped from the Huey at a low hover.  For the next few hours I acted as a temporary control tower, bringing the Hueys and Chinooks in using wind direction and altimeter settings from  COL Mertel's ship and colored smoke as a marker.  As the troops finally arrived, they took over the movement of equipment and supplies, and I was 'retrieved' by COL Mertel for the trip back to Phuoc Vinh.

All the plans for the mission were so hush-hush that  I didn't know where I was till I returned to the ship and the Colonel asked me what it felt like to be the  'first Skytrooper into Cambodia'!

 I flew with him for the balance of the week, and considered it to be an honor and privilege to be part of the mission.

 Glen Clover


Members of 1st Platoon enjoying the dust of Cambodia.  Digging in on the first day in Cambodia.  

I have distinct memories of setting up the perimeter, filling sandbags from a trench-digging machine that poured the dirt out the side and we would just stand there with bags filling them up.  We built a position for a .50 cal that then stayed with the battalion for the duration of the stay in Cambodia.  (Source: Jim Holcombe)

Shown sitting left to right:  Mark van Fossen, Jeff Hanthorne, and Steven Stuckey.  Behind them standing are Platoon Sergeant Judd Freeman, Platoon Leader  James Holcombe, and Effrain "Doc" Rivera.  (Source: Nick Gallo and Jim Holcombe)

Comanche_Cambodia_2nd_Platoon.jpg (79957 bytes)
Click on picture for Larger Version.
Caution: Very large file

Courtesy Jim Holcombe

Members of 2nd Platoon taken at LZ X-Ray:

Front Row: Roger Kiddy, and Gary "Goldie" Howell.

Standing: Platoon Leader Richard Ferguson, Roger Lewis, Thomas "Peabody" Grover, David Resendez, Larry Fox, Tim Dube, Mike Combs, and Captain (Chaplain) Father Ferrigan. (Source:  Tim Dube.  Send correction to the Webmaster.)


Comanche_Group_Pix_1st_LZ_in_Cambodia_from_Dube.jpg (436230 bytes)
Click on Picture to See Larger Version

Courtesy Tim Dube

May - Memorial Day Weekend

While college campuses back home erupted into demonstrations, SP5 Vance "Doc" Gifford wrote this letter that appeared on the front page of the Dallas Morning News in support of the Cambodian incursion.

Documents_Dallas_Morning_News_Memroial_Day_1970_from_Gifford.jpg (390438 bytes)
Click on Newspaper Clipping to See Larger Version

Courtesy Vance "Doc" Gifford

Return to Top of Page

(1)  "COSVN (Central Office for South Vietnam)

The North Vietnamese control headquarters for Viet Cong military forces.  COSVN was the target of many American military operations.  Located in a corner of Tay Ninh Province, III Corps, near the Cambodian border, it was the focus of Operation Junction City in 1967 and was the target of Cambodian incursion in 1970.  It eluded capture throughout the war.

More like what the U. S. military would term a forward command post, consisting of a few senior commanders and key staff officers, than the elaborate fixed U. S. and South Vietnamese headquarters, COSVN was extremely mobile, moving frequently to avoid being targeted.  (Summers, Harry G., The Vietnam War Almanac, Presidio Press, 1985)

Return to May 1

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