Vol 4 No. 10 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS March 10, 1969
NVA Try Daring Dau Tieng
All-Night Battle Rids Base Of Foe
DAU TIENG - Lifting an all-night siege of Dau Tieng base comp, infantrymen, cooks, clerks and other support soldiers of the 3d Brigade killed 73 enemy who had overrun portions of the installation. There were 14 detainees.
By the time a red alert was called, shortly after midnight, portions of the camp’s perimeter had already been overrun. For more than eight hours North Vietnamese Army soldiers held a rubber forest near the south end of the camp and a part of the camp near the east end of the Dau Tieng air strip.
At the height of the fighting, when the enemy flanked brigade headquarters from two sides, Major General Ellis W. Williamson, 25th Infantry Division commanding general, flew his helicopter into Dau Tieng personally and led the counterattacks that drove off the enemy.
Colonel Louis J. Sehelter, Jr., brigade commander, of Columbus, Ga., said, “The troops performed magnificently. In every respect they did the job that had to be done.”
The North Vietnamese troops, attacking in a force of two battalions, hit the base camp from four sides, storming the perimeter at two points and also entering by way of a tunnel. They surrounded portions of the bunker line and trapped a number of Tropic Lightning soldiers behind the lines. During the attack hundreds of rounds of rockets, mortars, and RPG’s struck the base camp.
Some of the heaviest fighting centered around an area of French buildings and swimming pools just south of brigade headquarters. The NVA mounted a machinegun on the porch of the base library while a group of five infantrymen huddled inside with rifles trained on the doors.
All night long the NVA kept a force of combat engineers and infantrymen pinned down in ditches alongside a road in front of the old house belonging to the Michelin family of French rubber planters.
At dawn, a group of enemy snipers had holed up inside the Michelin house and were laying down fire into areas controlled by the military police and brigade headquarters.
Special Forces troops and a 40mm duster leveled portions of the second floor of the house killing some of the snipers.
Meanwhile armored personnel carriers of the 2d Battalion (Mechanized), 22d Infantry, and Wolfhounds of the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, along with an assortment of support personnel, blasted the main enemy force away from the area near the swimming pools. Four dead NVA lay in a road beside the officers’ pool when the fighting stopped.
The enemy retreated past the post exchange and into the woods near the base camp communications center of the 587th Signal Company’s White Platoon. Heavy fighting drove this force of NVA toward the perimeter.
Meanwhile other Triple Deuce armored personnel carriers drove the enemy off the east end of the air strip, but not before several spotter planes and a helicopter had been damaged with satchel charges.
With the coming of daylight and the driving out of enemy main forces, there remained the job of cleaning out snipers from many of the base camp’s trees. This job took almost until noon. Shortly after one p.m., a group of eight soldiers was found hiding inside a culvert near the (Continued on Back Page)
Siege . . .
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east end of the runway and were detained. During the long night there were many instances of individual heroism.
“As the fighting became savage we had to commit our reaction forces into the hottest areas,” said Captain Joseph Heeney of Fords, N.Y., assistant brigade operations officer. “We formed small reaction forces from cooks, clerks mechanics engineers, and military policemen. It’s amazing how such an amalgam of units that are trained primarily for other jobs were able to function so well.”
Meanwhile helicopter gunships and an AC-47 dragonship provided illumination and additional fire power to infantrymen on the ground.
The fighting was the heaviest in and around the base camp in the three years that American infantrymen have used it as a jumping-off point for large-scale operations near War Zone C.
Sergeant First Class Preston Rowser, Detroit, Mich., moved to a position during the attack where he could see the advancing enemy, knocking back any who dared advance.
Grenadier Specialist 4 Bruce Brauman, Baltimore, Maryland, located a bunker held by the NVA soldiers and poured fire on the enemy.
A final, powerful punch was provided by Tropic Lightning artillery and gunships. The big guns pounded the advancing enemy throughout the assault.
Fighting got so close at one time that according to artilleryman Specialist 4 John Jasinkski, St. Paul, Minn., “When I turned around and saw them on top of our protective berm, we traversed the gun on them and started firing point blank. It was just like a firefight but we were using 105’s.”
Helicopter gunships poured walls of lead on the enemy making low level passes in the midst of enemy fire. Air strikes brought their powerful bombs up to the perimeter forcing the enemy to retreat.
Combined body count for the two nights of action approached upwards of two hundred NVA soldiers and delivered serious damage to a prime enemy division.