Tropic Lightning News 1967
17th Cav Trooper Kills 2 Charlies With One Shell
Inter-Platoon Rivalry Ends as 17th Cav Unit Rescues Mates
Inter-platoon rivalry is an old Army tradition often stimulating better morale and increased efficiency. Recently Troop F, 17th Cavalry, 196th Brigade, was involved in an action in which rivalry was all but forgotten.
Troop F's third platoon was on patrol not far from the 196th Lt Inf. Bde. base camp at Tay Ninh. Dusk was setting in as the eleven-man patrol separated with five men going to the right and six going left looking for hidden Viet Cong supplies.
Suddenly VC fire poured in from three sides pinning down both elements of the patrol.
PFC Anthony Sperlazza of Howard Beach, N.Y., remembers firing his M-79 grenade launcher, hitting a VC in a tree and watching him plummet to the ground.
At the Troop F command post an urgent message was received from the pinned down patrol. Sgt. David M. Morris was monitoring the radio.
"I ran to the second platoon area and told them that the patrol from the third platoon was pinned down under heavy fire," he said.
Sp4 James R. McCardell of Warwick, R.I., remembers: "We were playing cards in the tent when word came that part of the third platoon was pinned down. We grabbed weapons and web gear and headed for our jeeps. Men were putting on shirts and lacing boots as we went out the gate."
"When we heard our men were pinned down it was the fastest we ever moved out of the area," recalls Sp4 Joseph Rodriguez of Manhattan, N.Y.
In less than four minutes the second platoon relief force was on the scene under the direction of Troop F commander Capt. Clyde W. Roan of Daytona Beach, Florida.
One element of the pinned down third platoon patrol was then able to link up with the second platoon which was now laying down a heavy base of fire.
The second platoon's firepower enabled the rest of the patrol to move to safety. By this time it was completely dark, and the Viet Cong slipped away into the thick jungle.
The men of the third platoon patrol only speak in superlatives of their rescuers, the second platoon, as all feelings of platoon rivalry were set aside.
"Thank heavens for the second platoon," beamed PFC Sperlazza.
CLEAR THE ROAD - Men of Troop F, 17th Cav, observe a suspected VC site in a rubber plantation south of Tay Ninh. The Cav is on a road clearing mission. (Photo by PFC Chris Perales)
Oh Where, Oh Where, Have the Viet Cong Gone
Co A, and Bn, 21st Inf, 196th, will go a long way to find VC who are willing to fight, but some days you just can't raise a thing.
"Action Alpha" had set up a command post just off the road over a mile from the base of Nui Ba Den mountain. The company commanded by Capt. Emil Gregg of Hazelton, Pa., moved out later to sweep and clear the area parallel to the road opposite Nui Ba Den.
After progressing a mile through alternating areas of plowed fields, dry rice paddies and jungle, the company crossed the road at its far end and faced the small hump of the mountain, known as Nui Cao.
At this point the artillery forward observer, Lt. Michael Moseley of Moorestown, N.J, called a recon-by-fire mission on Nui Cao, but the exploding rounds drew no response. Capt. Gregg then moved the company into a relatively clear patch of elephant grass about 200 yards from the base of the mountain, where the lead squad put a two-minute burst of M-16, machinegun and grenade launcher fire into the side of Nui Cao. Still no response.
The company, in a vain effort to draw even a little sniper fire, began the long trek back to their CP, walking within 50-100 yards of the base of the mountain. But Charlie was not to be drawn out of wherever he was hiding, and the eight-mile sweep was completed early in the afternoon with no contact having been made.
DAWN PATROL - Infantrymen of the 196th Lt Inf Bde, slog through an ankle-deep stream in search of the VC south of the bde's base camp at Tay Ninh. (Photo by PFC Chris Perales)
196th Lt Inf Bde
Brig. Gen. R. Knowles, CO
Capt. M. Randall, IO
After having completed 25 missions over hostile territory, two artillery lieutenants of the 196th Lt Bde have been awarded the Air Crewman Wings.
Receiving the awards were 1st Lt. Richard H. Jackson of Newport, Me., and 2nd Lt. Michael Moseley of Moorestown, N.J. Both officers are the first members of the 3rd Bn, 82nd Arty.
The lieutenants flew as forward artillery observers for the "Flying Red Horsemen," completing most of their missions during Operation Attleboro.
2nd Lt. Adrian J. Sipple became the first man in the 196th to receive a direct commission while serving in Vietnam. 196th commander, Brig. Gen. Richard T. Knowles, recently pinned the gold bars on the former WO helicopter pilot.
Capt. Michael T. Raune of Jersey City, N.J., assumed command of Co C, 4th Bn, 31st Inf, from outgoing Capt. Alfonso Izzi in a recent ceremony at company headquarters. Before assuming command of the "Polar Bear" company Capt. Raune served as S-3 (Air) with HHC, 3rd Bn, 21st Inf.
Capt. Raune's first official business as new company commander was to swear in four enlisted men who reenlisted for a combined total of 17 years.
Capt. Izzi has assumed duties as assistant brigade S-4.
Co A, 3rd Bn, 21st Inf, opened the doors of its new' enlisted men's club recently. Capt. Emil Gregg of Hazelton, Pa., Co A's commanding officer, officially cut the ribbon.
A four-speaker stereo system provided the sounds as the men forgot the war for a while around the tables or relaxed on the sofas and lounge chairs in the TV room.
Meanwhile, Troop F, 17th Cav, opened the doors of its elaborate new NCO club recently. The grand opening featured free steaks and beer, with music provided by a six-piece band from the Philippine Civic Action Group.
The new club features a 26 foot mahogany bar, while a red brick veneer adds a touch of class to the outside. Troop F cavalrymen especially enjoy the club's patio with its swaying palms.
How well is the new club doing? SSgt. Elmer Quist of Colorado Springs, Colo., says, "I wish I had a business like this back in the States."
Vol 2 No. 8 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS February 27, 1967
Unit Page Unit Page Unit Page Unit Page
1/5 1 196th LRRP 1 25th LRRP 8 48th Scout Dog 7
1/5 6 196th Supply Point 6 25th Sup. Com. 3 65th Engr 6
1/5 7 2/1 Photo 1 25th S&T 3 65th Engr 8
1/14 3 2/1 6 3/4 Cav 8 725th Maint 3
1/27 7 2/14 7 3/21 Photo 7 Chieu Hoi 2
1/27 8 2/27 3 4/23 3 Civic Action 2
1/35 1 2/27 7 4/23 3 Hoa Hao 2
12th Evac 7 2/27 8 4/23 7 John Steinbeck 3
17th Cav 7 2/34 Armor 8 4/31 7 Nancy Sinatra 8
175th Engr 6 25th Med. Bn. 3 44th EOD 6 Oper. Gadsden 3
196th Lt. Inf. 1
25th Destroys Another VC Base Camp
BURNED OUT - A radio operator of Co. A, 2nd Bn,, 1st Inf., watches the wreckage of a Viet Cong hut smoldering during Operation "Gadsden." The hut was part of a Viet Cong Base Camp found in War Zone C. (Photo by Sp4 Robert Brown)
Mechanized Unit Kills 6 Viet Cong in Fight
Elements of the 25th Inf. Div. were credited with killing six Viet Cong and destroying an enemy base camp last week during Operation 'Gadsden' in Tay Ninh Province.
The enemy base camp was found about 20 miles northwest of Tay Ninh City in the dense jungles of War Zone C, near the Cambodian border.
A "Tropic Lightning" mechanized infantry unit, attached to the 196th Lt. Inf. Bde., destroyed 10 Viet Cong structures and captured two individual weapons, 500 rounds of small arms ammunition and 20 pounds of documents. Friendly casualties were reported as light.
Participating in Operation Gadsden are units of the 25th Inf. Div., 196th Lt. Inf. Bde., and the 3rd Bde., 4th Inf. Div. Three Viet Cong were killed during sporadic fire fights 15 miles northwest of Tay Ninh City. Two more were killed by artillery fire in Binh Duong province 7 miles northwest of Saigon.
A mechanized unit attached to the 196th Lt. Inf. Bde. discovered a fresh grave with the body of one VC while on patrol through the dense jungle surrounding Tay Ninh City. The enemy was killed by the infantrymen in a firefight several days before.
The grave was located in a thick woodline near the opening of a trail that the mechanized unit had stopped to investigate earlier in the day.
Another mechanized infantry unit attached to the 3rd Bde., 4th Inf. Div., at Dau Tieng killed two more Viet Cong when a recon element spotted five enemy soldiers hiding in the dense undergrowth near a natural clearing. The mechanized units had halted for the night in the clearing, and the VC were attempting to infiltrate their position at 9:30 p.m. when they were spotted and routed with .50 caliber machinegun fire. The other three fled into the darkness.
An additional 11 Viet Cong killed by the 25th Inf. Div. were reported at the week's end. Overall friendly casualties for the entire week were considered very light.
New 196th Recon Patrol Scores
The six men in camouflaged fatigues and floppy hats stared excitedly as artillery rounds crashed into the jungle before them. Just minutes before they had been in that same jungle. Now they were out safe, and they wondered how Charlie was faring amidst the artillery-torn trees and brush.
It had been a successful night ambush for the 196th Lt. Inf. Bde.'s newly formed Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol. Their uncontrollable pride belied their modesty later, as they told of how they notched the patrol's first VC kill.
"We were about 50 yards from the woodline when I called a security halt." said Sgt. Anthony Mazzucchi of Blackwater. N.Y., the patrol leader. "I sent SP4 Richard Bologna of Buffalo, N.Y., back to check on our rear element."
Specialist Bologna talked with PFC Caro Velleri of Buffalo. N.Y., the assistant patrol leader, who was rear guard security. PFC Velleri said he heard movement to his rear. Sgt. Mazzucchi called the information back to headquarters, then got orders to move on.
At the woodline, Sgt. Mazzuchi left PFC Velleri and another man at its edge while he and the others searched for an opening which would allow them into the thick brush. The sound of movement PFC Vefleri had heard still trailed them.
Once inside the woodline, the patrol set up a hasty ambush and waited for their pursuers. Minutes passed and soon there was movement, but not from the direction they had anticipated.
Coming up along another path were three VC. The patrol waited, then opened up with their M-16's, Sgt. Mazzucchi and Specialist Bologna both tossing hand grenades at the surprised Cong. One VC was killed instantly.
Other groans could be heard as the patrol got up and moved back out to the clearing. A quick check by Sgt. Mazzucchi revealed that none of his men had been hit. Safe in the small defensive perimeter in the clearing, the patrol leader called in artillery on the VC.
F Trp. Looks for Mortar Positions
Trp. F, 17th Cav., has provided the 196th Lt. Inf. Bde. base camp with reconnaissance in depth by finding Viet Cong mortar positions on more than one occasion.
Trp. F's second platoon recently was given the assignment of searching and destroying VC mortar positions in the area.
The cavalrymen, working with coordinates supplied by air observation, found numerous; mortar and surrounding foxholes.
Ambush Ends VC Mining Activity
LRRP, CIDG Hammer at Nui Ba Den
Action In Wrecker's Routine Work
Marines At New Home in North
Back to Troop page