Chapter 3

A Company was to stay at Dau Tieng to secure the air strip while B Company, under the command of Captain Robert P. Garrett, would approach an LZ just to the west of the Saigon River and at the northeastern extension of the forest where the troops exited from hovering helicopters some 15 feet in the air into 12 foot high elephant grass. At the time, what concerned me the most was the solidity of the ground beneath us. As it turned out, we landed into some 2-3 inches of water—much to our relief. Best of all there was no mud present. An Infantryman carries a lot of weight on his person and to compound that by jumping from great heights into an unknown substance is enough to cause great concern.

We immediately lost coordination with units around us. We could not see around us. Our unit's course was due west, so we set out in that direction hindered by the cutting edge of the tall grass. We soon came upon an abandoned VC village. One hour later, C Company, commanded by Frederick H. Henderson, was set down on another LZ on the far side of the forest. Plans were for A and C Companies to sweep north through the jungle growth, and B Company would set up a blocking action to prevent anyone from escaping.

At 1530 hours (3:30 pm), Major Meloy brought in Company A 1/27, to an LZ approximately 200 meters from the site of the engagement. Then Meloy had his helicopter, which was circling above the action, to lead the airmobile assault at the LZ. Although not under direct attack, the LZ was swept by machine gun and automatic weapons fire from the battle area. Once on the ground, Co. A maneuvered to the north, and then east to flank the VC force. Attacking across the flank of Co. C, they routed the VC with the exception of stay-behind snipers. During the course of the battle, four air strikes were called in, one of which was within 100 meters of the forward positions. It consisted of jet-delivered 500 lb. bombs and napalm. As the afternoon progressed, additional reinforcements were sent in. The Commanding General of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Brigadier General De Saussure, sent in Co. C 3/21, and at dark, Co.'s C and B 2/1 were airlifted in to help secure the LZ. This was deemed necessary because an earlier dustoff helicopter had been shot down attempting to land in spite of the intense artillery barrage called in for protection. It was eventually lifted out along with the casualties late in the afternoon. By dark, Meloy had five companies (750 men) on the ground under his command. Co. B 1/27, unable to reach its blocking position, returned to its original position where it was joined by 4th Bn, 31 Infantry for nighttime security.

Copyright © 2000 Marion L. Ellard - All Rights Reserved