War Stories



Operations 23 May to 9 June 1968, vicinity of Dak To and Dak Pek RVN, II Corps, I Field Force operational area. (Note this is abstracted from the Headquarters 3d Battalion (Airborne) 187th Infantry, "Combat After Action Report" (MACV/RCS/J3.32), Stanley E. Shaneyfelt, Major, Infantry, Commanding) Coordinates below from 29 May 1968 on will be found on Map Vietnam 1:50,000

D.   GO KRAM Sheet 6539 III

a.) Were located in these areas: YB948685, YB950734, YB951686, YB953685. Evidently an additional enemy minefield was located at YB984786, for on 6 June, 2 men were injured by an uncharted mine. The mine was in the vicinity of 3 bulldozers found by the company at YB964786. The bulldozers showed no signs of recent use, and were determined to be inoperable.

b.) Recon platoon performed several missions for bomb assessment. An individual was spotted during the first mission, apparently observing US FSB's or policing remnants from a completed B-52 strike. Foxholes for a company-sized unit were found (YB890685) along with 40 rounds of .30 caliber MG ammunition. 4th Div LRRP working with Recon found 80 foxholes (YB915665) with trenches along the ridge line about 2 weeks old, 60 foxholes and trenches about 1 week old (YB917672), a trail from YB912650 to 917672. Each foxhole found had fields of fire cut out.

c.) During visual reconnaissance 25 foxholes were spotted YB944625, 40 to 50 meters of trench (YB949622), logs across creek for foot traffic (YB970626), a possible tunnel entrance (ZB011650) and (ZB015655), 10 foxholes and possibly two bunkers platoon size (YB999689) and a possible camouflaged bunker (YB999697).

d.) Though reports indicated possibilities of enemy assaults by several battalions, such attacks never materialized. Those instances in which contact was established where characterized by sporadic enemy mortar/rocket/recoilless rifle fire, occasional probes on NDP's and visual spottings from VR or C&C aircraft.


MISSION:

a.) In conjunction with elements of the 1st Bde, 4th Inf Division, participate defense of Dak To in preparation for offensive operations in AO of TF MATTEWS,

b.) Conduct combat assaults to seize high ground vicinity Dak Pek on or about 29 May; thereafter, assist in defense of Dak Pek complex.

10.  CONCEPT OF OPERATION:

The operation may be described as having been conducted in three generalphases: Movement from Phuoc Vinh to Dak To; the conduct of combat operations in the Dak and Dak Pek areas; and movement from Dak Pek to Phuoc Vinh via Dak To. The battalion, with normal support units accomplished its first mission by providing separate rifle companies with reinforcing elements to various battalions of 1st Bde, 4th Inf Div; and by providing combat units for the security of the Bde Trains facility SE of Dak To airfield (see overlay 1). For the Northernmost operation vicinity Dak Pek, 3/187 Inf was OPCON to 3d Bde, 101st Airborne Division initially. Again with all attachments, the Bn conducted company combat assaults to seize high ground; thereafter, establishing four FSB's and Bn CP at Dak Pek. Assuming responsibility for the defense of Dak Pek, the Bn conducted CA's (US and combined) to assess B-52 strikes and execute Rif missions. (see overlay 2).

11. EXECUTION:

NOTE: During periods of Operation LUCUS GREEN, all companies were placed under OPCON of battalions outside the Brigade. For historical purposes, significant actions of which these companies played a part are recorded herein.

22 May 68:   Received verbal instructions from 3de, 101st Airborne Division to prepare for movement to Dak To on 24 May.

23 May 68:   Advance party departed Phuoc Vinh by C-130 at 1100 hours.

24 May 68:   All elements of 3/187 Inf (-) closed into Phuoc Vinh base camp Bn prepared for move to Dak To throughout the day. Radio silence in effect.

25 May 68:   First Element departs Phuoc Vinh for Dak To at 1100 hours by C-130 aircraft. 3/187 Inf closed into Dak To at 1930 hours. Co B, reinforced with 4.2 platoon, Recon platoon (-), and one half of 8lmm mortar platoon, closed into FSB 24 (YB909121) at 1915 hours, OPCON to 1/11 Inf. Companies A, C, D and other Bn assets located with Bde Trains vicinity ZB037227.

26 My 68:   At 1415 hours, Co C closed into FSB 15, OPCON to 1/8 Inf. MAJ Bynam, Bn S3, was dispatched to FSB 29 by Bde CO to assume command of this FSB, which had been severely penetrated during the early morning. Co A reinforced the FSB just prior to darkness; thereby allowing troops of the battalion to play a major role in reestablishing and defending a key FSB while OPCON to 1/8 Inf. Co A killed four NVA and recovered many enemy weapons of all types during a search of the battlefield in the area of the FSB. Weapons were turned over to 1/8 Inf.

27 May 68:   Control of FSB 29 was relinquished to 3/12 Inf. Co B was extracted from FSB 24 and placed on FSB 28 under control of 3/187 Inf. This FSB had been under enemy indirect fire attack throughout the day. Co A and Co C remains OPCON to 1/8 Inf. in same positions.

28 May 68:   Co R, B, and C moved to FSB 12 in preparation for further move to Dak Pek. Co D OPCON to 1/35 Inf. at Dak Pek.

29 May 68:   D Co located at Dak Pek came back under control 3/187 and conducted a CA on hill 918 (YB922693). During the day MAJ Shaneyfelt controlled air strikes vicinity Dak Pek in support of assaulting units. A Co conducted a CA on hill 1280 (YB914717). All 3/187 units closed in at Dak Pek, except B and C Co's, which were still on FSB 12 vicinity Dak To.

30 May 68:   By 1015 hours, B and C Co's closed into Dak Pek. B and C Co's conducted a CA to YB954708 and hill 1209 (922727) respectively. All elements established ambushes and LP's.

31 May 68:   C Co was extracted from hill 1209 and departed Dak Pek to Dak To. At Dak Pek C Co became OPCON to 2/187 Inf. Recon platoon with one 4th Inf. Div LRRP team conducted bomb damage assessment in the vicinity of YB890676. 

Recon and LRRP spotted one man running in their AO. Recon was lifted back to Dak Pek; LRRP remained as stay behind for surveillance.

1 June 68:   A CIDG company of 70 pers was placed under OPCON of 1st Platoon B Co 3/187. Both units were lifted into FSB 9, which had been vacated by C Co. LRRP made rendezvous at Co D FSB and was extracted to Dak Pek.

2 June 68:   Bde Hq and 2/506 Inf. Minus one company departed Dak Pek to Dak To. TOC relocated at YB953684, which was previously occupied by Bde Hq. Submitted 7 day operation plan with overlay emphasizing RIF's to assess B-52 bomb damage. 1st Platoon B Co and attached CIDG had been relocated at Dak Pek; at 1300 hours 3/187 assumed responsibility for the defense of the Dak Pek Complex and OPCON of D Co 2/506, A/1/92 Arty Brtry, B/326 Engr and 2/319 Arty. C Co OPCON to 3/12 conducted a CA from Dak To into Hill 990. Co C received around 20 enemy mortar rounds (60mm and 82mm). Results were 9 friendly wounded all of which were evacuated. Co D 2/506 reported small probing all night.

3 June 68:   A Co CA into LZ YB877707 in AO ECHO to RIF and assess B-52 damage. A Co completed mission finding an old uninhabited montagnard hooch. DS Engr plat closed into Dak Pek to assist in completion of construction projects.

4 June 68:   D/3/187, one platoon CIDG and Recon team #4 CA into LZ YB871724 for the purpose of a bomb damage assessment in AO DELTA. Recon team #1 and #3 made CA into YB909647 and YB902650 respectively. Recon Team #4 at YB 871724 found human intestines and bits of flesh scattered over 100-200 meter area. Team #4 was lifted out and linked up with Team #2 at Dak Pek; then after both teams conducted a CA at YB954664. One of C Co (OPCON to 3/12) OP's killed one (1) NVA with a claymore mine. Individual had no weapon or identification.

5 June 68:   2 plat of B Co and 1 plat of CIDG made a CA and RIF in AO KILO LZ YB948767. B Co (-) reported a well-used trail. No other information reported during the RIF.

6 June 68:   Recon team #3 closed into Dak Pek. 

A Co and 1 Platoon of CIDG conducted a CA and RIF in AO LIMA LZ YB965783. A Co reported finding 3 bulldozers (made by International) at YB963779. Recon team #1 closed into Dak Pek.

7 June 68:   2 platoons A Co and a platoon CIDG CA into AO LIMA to secure the area where the Bulldozers were found on 6 June 68, so that Bde Engr could look over the dozers. COLO Fix, Co. 1st Bde, 4th Inf. Div arrived at Dak Pek to coordinate the exchange of units.

8 June 68:   At 0824 hours first C7-A sortie departed Dak Pek for Dak To. By 1640 hours all 3/187 assigned and OPCON elements closed at Dak To. C Co returned to control of 3/187.

9 June 68:   At 0835 hours first C-130 sortie left Dak To transporting 3/187 elements to Phuoc Vinh. By 1900 hours all units assigned and OPCON to 3/187 closed into Phuoc Vinh.


12.  RESULTS:

a.) Enemy: Four KIA by body count; one KIA (possible); one captured. Materials found included four documents, one B-40 Battery, one NVA "Safari" hat, 40,000 rounds 7.62, 20 AK-47 rifles, 3 Chicom carbines, 2 RPD machine guns, 1 RPG-7 rocket launcher, one 9mm Chicom pistol, one 75mm RR (Chicom) and 15 sets of NV uniforms.

b.) Friendly: One battalion soldier KHA and 13 WHA. One M-79 grenade launcher was lost during evacuation by helicopter.

c.) All areas where bomb strikes were conducted were searched by air cavalry and/or ground troops OPCON 3/187 Inf.


13. ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS:

a.)  Supply: Resupply to companies on fire support bases was made primarily by UH1D aircraft supplemented at times by internal and external loads from CH-47's. Resupply from Dak To to Dak Pek was accomplished by Air Force C7-A. The availability of all classes of supply was generally good. However, the availability of aircraft to accomplish resupply was poor particularly in the initial phase of the operation in the Dak To area. On many occasions Class "A" rations had to be discarded due to the unavailability of aircraft.

b.)  Maintenance: The companies carried a 15 day basic load of repair parts which for the most part took care of all requirements for the items in need of repair. Support maintenance facilities of the 1st Bde, 4th Inf. Div handled requirements above 2d echelon.

c.)   Treatment, evacuation and hospitalization of casualties: The treatment and evacuation of casualties were accomplished through the normal channels. This amounted to, in most cases, the patient being extracted by Dust Off to the forward medical company at Dak To and from there to the evac hospital at Pleiku. The battalion surgeon remained forward with the battalion TAC CP and on several occasions treated personnel prior to their being taken to the medical company at Dak To. The primary sources of injury were mortar and grenade fragments.

d.)   TRANSPORTATION: The lack of 2-1/2 Ton trucks in the Dak To area where all logistical support was planned and coordinated, created a difficult situation in accomplishing these tasks. Aircraft support was very poor. Reporting times were not met, number of aircraft or sorties was not always available to accomplish the many requirements for resupply and troop moves.

e.)   COMMUNICATIONS: Communications was primarily accomplished by the unit organic VRC-46 with KY8 (secure Bde met) and AN/PRC 25's and Bn and Company nets. The range was over extended for effective use of the VRC-46 with KY8 but by the use of a ground relay from one of the FSB's the unit was able to establish and maintain communications with Brigade.


14. SPECIAL EQUIPMENT AND TECHNIQUES:  None


15. COMMANDER'S ANALYSIS:

a.)   CA/PSYOP: MEDCAP's were conducted at five hamlets. A total of 315 persons were treated for various illnesses. Early contact with Special Forces personnel proved essential to CA activities. PSYOPS materials, prepared for Vietnamese-speaking people were ineffective for presentation to Montagnard Tribesman.

b.)   Effective courier play is essential in order to meet administrative requirements of the battalion.

c.)   Tactical: Effective unobserved fire on intelligence targets is virtually impossible without meteorological data to update registrations. Every attempt should be made to acquire this data for the Artillery.

16. RECOMMENDATIONS:

a.)   That C&C, slick, and LFT aircraft come from the same airmobile company when possible.

b.)   That a reliable courier service from rear to forward bases provided if even on an "every other day" basis.