May 26, 1967 - Alpha and Charlie Company

 

The following information is taken from battalion and division reports, daily staff journals, and first-person accounts of the events of that day.  These narratives are written as a memorial to the men who were killed in action.  The story told on this page is incomplete due to gaps in the information available.  Some of the men present that day were killed in subsequent actions, or have died in the years since returning from Vietnam.  Others were unable to be located, and some who were there, even though within dozens of meters of the action, did not witness anything because of the tall grass and brush.  If you have any information to add to this page, please contact the webmaster.


May 26, 1967

[Annual Historical Supplement, 2d Battalion 14th Infantry, 1 January 1967-31 December 1967]

Operation Barking Sands, 15 May 67 – 8 Dec 67, the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division's wide-ranging monsoon season campaign, opened in the lower sector of Hau Nghia Province and east towards the Saigon River, designed to blunt the enemy's monsoon offensive before it began and firmly establish the allied presence in Hau Nghia through continuous military pressure coupled with pacification efforts.

On 17 May advance elements of the 2/14th Inf conducted a motor march to the vicinity of AP Bau Tram and established fire support base Scarlet, which was to be the battalion CP for the next four months.  The battalion had the mission of clearing and securing Hwy 8A which runs from Cu Chi to Phu Cuong while elements from the 554th Engineer Bn upgraded the road.

Ap Bau Tram is about halfway between Cu Chi and Phu Cuong near the intersection of East-West Highway TL8A and North-South Highway TL15.  Phu Cuong sits on the banks of the Saigon River and the Phu Cuong bridge was the major crossing point.

 


The Golden Dragons also received their first taste of bitter fighting for the year 1967 while working the east-west canals running off the Saigon River.  While sweeping a canal south of Phu Cuong, Companies A and C narrowly escaped a VC ambush which was sprung prematurely.  The ensuing six-hour battle saw the Dragons in a heavy firefight supported by US artillery, gunships and the 7th USAF in close support.  Reports received from Chieu Hoi’s, who surrendered later that week, reflected that sixty VC had been slain in the engagement.


[Summary from the 2/14th Daily Staff Journal for May 26, 1967 - at bottom of the journal]

2/14th Infantry Golden Dragons, 25th Infantry Division with B Btry 7/11th Arty continued Operation BARKING SANDS.  A & C Cos started a new S&D [Search and Destroy mission] in AO BASS.  A Co went in by rag [River Assault Group] boats initially at XT 805120.  Upon landing they received heavy sniper and automatic weapons fire.  C Co was then landed by rag boats to assist A Co.  Heavy fire was encountered throughout the day.  A & C Cos established their night perimeter to start extraction of KIAs, WIAs and bring in resupply.  A Co was located at XT 805118.  C Co was located at XT 806116.  No body count of VC or estimate on enemy casualties could be determined.  A Co had 9 KIA and 9 WIA, C Co had 3 KIA and 9 WIA.  Five (5) air strikes were called in to support the operation as well as several gunships.


The final count of the day's casualties was 13 KIA and 17 WIA:  List of casualties from the following day's 1st Brigade S-1 Daily Staff Journal dated May 27, 1967


Alpha Company


Killed in Action

MORGAN, Shelton  PFC
JOHNSON, Xavier  SP4
MORRISON, Jimmy  PFC
COLEMAN, James E.  PFC
SMITH, Gary M.  PVT
JAMISON, Frank  PFC
MARKUS, Larry  PFC
MOULTRIE, Oxley C.  SSG

Wounded in Action
 
ZACKOWSKI, Edward F.  PFC
SALAS, Roy S.  PFC
CLAY, Thomas S.  PFC
LANGNESS, Darryl E.  SP4
CRAVEN, Eddie C.  SP4
MACK, Peter Jr.  SP4
MILLER, Donald M.  SGT

 

Daily Staff Journal 26-May-1967
 

Line

Time

Description

2

1135

A Co reports receiving S/A fire and Rifle grenades at coord XT 801116.  Requested fire team and dustoff to be on standby

3

1205

A Co reports having 2 KIA and 4 WIA, does not request dustoff at this time

4

1215

A Co reports now have 3 KIA & 6 WIA

 

Statement of 2Lt. John Ricca, 7/11th Artillery Forward Observer attached to Alpha Company

On 26 May 1967, I was the Forward Observer (FO) attached from the 7th Battalion, 11th Field Artillery to Alpha Company, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry, of the First Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division, operating out of the U.S. Cu Chi base camp.  My radio call-sign was Cannon Five-One.  Either the night before, or early that morning, Alpha Company commander “Dragon Alpha Six”, Captain John Byers, received our mission.  Intelligence had determined that there was significant Viet Cong (VC) activity west of the Saigon River, south of Phu Cuong [located approximately 10 kilometers east of Cu Chi].  At approximately 0700 hours, we were to truck from Cu Chi to a pick-up point on the west bank of the Saigon River, just south of Phu Cuong.  We were to board six ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) river assault boats, travel south about two kilometers on the Saigon River, make a landing on the west bank between two of the streams [feeding into the Saigon River].  We were to proceed west on a search and destroy mission with the goal of finding and destroying any enemy weapons or military supplies.

The 2d Rifle Platoon was to be on point on the left flank, followed by the company headquarters group and 1st Platoon.  The 3d Platoon was to be on point on the right flank.  The Mortar Platoon would remain behind and join the company later that day.

The terrain that we were to enter was a series of deep streams that were separated by more than 100 meters.  From Phu Cuong, the Saigon River flowed in a direction of approximately 180 degrees, almost due south.  At the mouth of each stream, where it met the Saigon River, the streams were approximately 30 meters wide, and were very deep.  The streams were narrower farther inland, but even a kilometer inland, they were still several meters wide.  There were more than a dozen streams, all running in a direction of approximately 90 degrees, from west to east.

After moving a few hundred meters to the west, at approximately 0800, we heard a single shot fired to our left front, followed by a second shot several seconds later.  Apparently, the 2d Platoon point-man, moving cautiously, had just stepped over the mud berm, and spotted a sniper in a firing position on the south side of the Left Stream.  At that location, the sniper’s position was only approximately 10 meters away.  The point man was shot in the head as he turned to engage the sniper, and was probably killed instantly.  The platoon machine gunner, armed with an M-60, moved up to the berm immediately to reinforce and assist the point man, and was hit by the second shot and probably killed before he could return fire.  SSG Moultrie, followed by several soldiers moved forward to the berm and returned full-automatic fire directed across the Left Stream.  VC from several prepared positions returned fire, and the level of intensity quickly increased to become a platoon level firefight.  Alpha Six gave radio directives to the 1st and 3d platoon leaders to halt and secure their positions.

[Read the full text of 2Lt. John Ricca's recollection of the events, including diagrams showing enemy positions and 2/14th movements]


Statement of SP4 Peter Mack, Jr., 3rd platoon

I was the point man that day for 3rd platoon, on the left side.  We had traveled to the landing point by a WWII-style landing craft.  After walking for about 30 minutes, I noticed some activity ahead, and recent footprints along the path we were on.  I was careful to watch for mines and booby-traps.  I saw movement to my left and I passed that info back down the line to reach the CO.  At that time I was hit by a sniper and the bullet broke my left leg. I saw the sniper, and turned to fire at him, but was only able to return one shot before my M-16 jammed.  At that point my leg gave out and I fell to the ground.  The pain was terrible and I yelled to the guys behind me.  I heard machine gun fire and it seemed like hell broke loose.  During the shooting, as I was lying there, I saw Jimmy Morrison and Gary Smith (who may have been a M-60 machine gunner) get hit - I was sure they were dead.   Our medic moved up to help me, bandaged my leg wound and gave me morphine, then moved to help others.  Someone yelled incoming grenade and it tore me up with fragments.  I knew I was bleeding bad and tried to stop as much as I could.  I remember air strikes.  I passed out, and woke up from time to time, then I was extracted on a poncho and taken to a dustoff.  At one point I remember waking, and hearing a guy say, "He's alive!"  I was not aware that so much time had passed since I was shot.


Statement of SP4 Antonio Ramirez, 2nd platoon, 2nd squad

We had come down the Saigon river and for what appeared to be the distance of about 2 miles maybe.  Then we debarked and 2 files were made.  I was on the right side as well as Hamilton, Sgt Rodriguez.

When we had gone about two hundred yards the 2 files were separated by a sugar cane field, so our file couldn't see the other file.  By the time we got to the end of the field there was a trench and a dike.  The other file started receiving fire.  We couldn't see any one because of sugar cane and tree lines.  I remember Sgt Moultrie had come to check on us, he was with the other file for some reason, and I remember him saying, "it's really hot over there."  When he felt sure that we were alright he came past me and stopped where I was at and his eyes locked on mine and said, "I got to get back to the other side."

It wasn't more then a couple of minutes, that we heard a loud painful scream.  It was Sgt Moultrie, who had gotten hit by a sniper in the legs below the thigh.  Bullet went through both legs.

We were having trouble getting the wounded out because the Medevacs couldn't come in until air strikes were called in to drop butterfly bombs.

Sgt Moultrie, as far as we knew, died on the Medevac.

We were pinned down for what seemed a long time and were only able to pull back when evening was starting to set in.  Wheeler was the company medic and as far as we heard was very heroic.  We set our perimeter for the night and the following day we went back again through the area where we were ambushed, this time not encountering any fire.


Statement of Neil Chamberlain, 2nd platoon, 2nd squad

The pictures were taken by Bill Wermine, Public Information Office, shortly after landing on the Saigon River, by the boats.  I did not know him at the time, but he later gave the pictures to me.  It was the day Moultrie was killed.

 

SSG Oxley Moultrie leads a column after disembarking from the assault boats


 

Taking cover from air strikes during the day




Charlie Company

 
Killed in Action:

NIEMAN, David C.  PFC
JERMANY, Emmett Jr.  PFC
TALLEY, Teddy G.  SP4
GARCIA-SOTO, Jeronimo  PSG

Wounded in Action:
 
TRIPPEL, Dennis L.  1LT
ODEKIRK, Warren G.  SP4
EAST, Daniel R.  PFC
RUSSELL, Luther C. Jr.  PFC
PORT, Harold E.  SP4
HILL, Ralph C.  PFC
ALGER, Stephen R.  PFC
JIM, Kenneth E.  PFC
STEPTOE, Wilbur  PFC


Daily Staff Journal, May 26, 1967

Line

Time

Description

5

1230

Bn S3 told C Co to move by RAG to assist A Co

6

1300

Sitrep to Bde:  A Co still in contact and C Co moving to assist

7

1320

C Co location is XT 805114, also C Co reports receiving S/A fire at this time

 

Statement of Lt. Dennis Trippel, 3rd platoon leader

Charlie Company arrived on river boats.  As they moved away from the river they received sniper fire.  3rd platoon was the point element that day.  They assaulted forward on line and killed the sniper(s).  They moved forward to a 3-4 foot high dike, on line, and then were attacked from an L-shaped ambush.  The platoon was pinned down for 6-7 hours.  Two of my men were killed and several wounded, including myself.  I remained in command of the platoon until my casualties were removed from the field.


Statement of Steve Andrews, 3rd platoon medic

We arrived in landing boats, the kind used in WWII where the front drops down, driven by the Vietnamese Navy.  We marched past a sugar cane field on our left and approached a tall berm, and we weren't aware of any shooting at that time.  Three men moved forward to recon the area and returned, then 3rd Platoon moved forward.  Teddy Talley was on point, and Emmett Jermany was behind him.  Someone told me a soldier needed help, and I thought someone was sick since I hadn't heard shooting.  As I moved forward to assist, I approached a group of men and they told me to get down because they were under fire.  I found Teddy Gene Talley, shot four times in the chest, and a soldier nicknamed “Lightning” [Emmett Jermany from Pittsburgh] who had been shot in the leg, and Warren G. Odekirk who was shot in the right ear, then the bullet went into his neck, his shoulder, and out his back.  Odekirk was the M-60 gunner, and his machine-gun had jammed so he couldn’t fire.  His assistant gunner, Harold Port, was also wounded.

The group was taking fire from a Viet Cong machine-gun at the end of the berm.  No one appeared to be shooting back, so Andrews grabbed the M-60 and tried to fire at it, but the gun was jammed and didn’t work.  So he used his own M-16 and fired his few magazines until he ran out.

The 3rd platoon leader, Lt. Trippel, came forward, and he too didn’t know they were under fire.  He and Steve crawled over to Jermany, who had stood up to fire into the bamboo in front of their position, and been shot in the helmet.  While in that forward position a Viet Cong grenade landed in front of them, giving facial wounds to both Lt. Trippel and medic Steve Andrews.  Though neither received fragments in their eyes, they were temporarily blinded by the mud and debris, so they crawled backwards to safety.

There was no more action at that time.  Other men moved to the wounded and dead and pulled them back, and the company pulled back to the boats.


Statement of Stephen Alger

Early in the morning of May 26, 1967, after just returning to Chu Chi from Operation Manhattan, we were awakened and told to suit up. We were being sent out to help another company that had gotten in some trouble. We were loaded on trucks and taken to a ferry crossing on the river. We were loaded on some landing craft type boats and sent up river where we landed on shore, D-Day style. We were told that the VC had been pinned against the river by another company and we were coming in behind them. We landed without much happening. As we started to move inland, on line, through an old pineapple plantation, we took some sniper fire and Kenneth Jim was hit in the face. We continued forward while he was taken back to the boats. We stopped moving, but the last 2 guys to the right side of our squad didn’t stop and somehow got out in front of us. The VC opened up on them with automatic weapons and one of the guys came busting back through the brush and was screaming Nieman is hit, Nieman is hit!  Steptoe and I went forward to try to help Nieman.  Our medic, Walter "Kangaroo" Wideman, also went with us. When we found Nieman, he was face down in some water with lots of blood surrounding his head.  I crawled up to him and grabbed his legs to pull him out of the water and all hell broke loose.  Steptoe was on my right and he was hit right away.  I started crawling towards the left to the closest cover I could find.  It was towards the incoming fire but it was close.  I believe Kangaroo helped Steptoe to get back to our guys and then back to the boats.  I was hit in the leg as I crawled towards the cover. I was then pinned between our guys and the VC. I tried to fire my M-16 but it jammed.  Somebody started yelling at me wanting to know where I was and what was going on. They couldn’t see me so they couldn’t shoot without risking hitting me. The person yelling at me was pissed.  I think it was a sergeant from another squad. I tried to give him as much info as I could but I wasn’t going to stick up my head and look around because the VC were within 30 or 40 feet of me. I don’t believe I was thinking very straight because all I could think about was that my M-16 was jammed and I was in a world of shit.  The guy that was yelling at me asked me if I had any grenades and I did, 4 of them. I threw them over my shoulder at the VC and that gave our guys enough cover to move forward and take them out.  I don’t know if my grenades hit any of the VC or it just made them keep their heads down long enough for our guys to move up.

I was then helped back to the boats and Steptoe and I were taken back to the ferry landing. From there we were med-evac’ed to Chu Chi. I was operated on that night and sent to Saigon a couple of days later. From there I was sent to the 249th General Hospital in Japan and then back to the states.


One source indicated that 1st platoon sergeant PSG Jerohimo Garcia-Soto died when "he stood up to throw a grenade"


Daily Staff Journal 26-May-1967
 

ITEM

TIME

INCIDENTS, MESSAGES, ORDERS, ETC.

1

1135

Log Opened

2

1135

A Co reports receiving S/A fire and Rifle grenades at coord XT 801116.  Requested fire team and dustoff to be on standby

3

1205

A Co reports having 2 KIA and 4 WIA, does not request dustoff at this time

4

1215

A Co reports now have 3 KIA & 6 WIA

5

1230

Bn S3 told C Co to move by RAG to assist A Co

6

1300

Sitrep to Bde:  A Co still in contact and C Co moving to assist

7

1320

C Co location is XT 805114, also C Co reports receiving S/A fire at this time

8

1345

A Co reports not receiving fire at this time

9

1332

C Co reports still receiving S/A fire

10

1420

C Co reports having 2 WIAs, does not request dustoff at this time (Location XT 805114)

11

1435

C Co requested dustoff for the two WIA, dustoff on way

12

1443

A Co reports having a total of 9 KIA and 9 WIA.  Requested dustoff

13

1450

C Co dustoff complete at 1450 hrs

14

1453

A Co first dustoff complete at 1525 hrs

15

1515

A Co reports receiving S/A fir again, also AK-47 and light M/G fire

16

1530

C Co reports receiving S/A fire, have 2 WIA, don't request dustoff at this time

17

1600

Estimated force of VC which C Co & A Co were in contact with was an reinforced squad

18

1620

C Co reports having possible 10 or more US WIA, also the FAC spotted movement and a VC in open, also spots a bunker where the VC are firing from but they are too close to US troops to help

19

1643

A Co dustoff of 5 KIA & 1 WIA complete at 1648 hrs, will have 1 more dustoff for A Co

20

1720

A Co completed extraction of KIAs at 1720 hrs

21

1815

LZ for resupply for A Co & C Co is XT 809118

22

1830

[Late Entry]  2/14 Inf has had 5 air strikes in support of A Co & C Co.  Time 1215 hrs, 1245 hrs, 1320 hrs, 1450 hrs, and 1610 hrs at coord XT 801116

23

1838

C Co dustoff complete at 1838 hrs (3 KIA & 9 WIA)

24

1900

Resupply for A Co & C Co started at 1900 hrs

25

1940

2/14 Inf LNO with ARVNs informed S3 that we could use boats until 1030 hrs

26

1955

Location of 2/14 Inf elements are as follows:  A Co XT 805118; B Co XT 796133; C Co XT 806116

27

2020

2/14 Inf LNO reports spot report:  That they have spotted approx 40 VC at coord XT 802097 moving south, also reports have picked up some people which reports were wounded by air strike

28

2043

Informed 1st Bde that resupply aircraft and gun team has been released as of 2043 hrs

 

 

 

31

2100

Co A & C reported night activity as follows - LP/100 meters all around, Co A patrol vic XT 802117 - UJDBYZH

 

 

 

 

 

Journal Summary
     a.  2/14th Infantry Golden Dragons, 25th Infantry Division with B Btry 7/11th Arty continued Operation BARKING SANDS.  A & C Cos started a new S&D in AO BASS.  A Co went in by rag boats initially at XT 805120.  Upon landing they received heavy sniper and automatic weapons fire.  C Co was then landed by rag boats to assist A Co.  Heavy fire was encountered throughout the day.  A & C Cos established their night perimeter to start extraction of KIAs, WIAs and bring in resupply.  A Co was located at XT 805118.  C Co was located at XT 806116.  No body count of VC or estimate on enemy casualties could be determined.  A Co had 9 KIA and 9 WIA, C Co had 3 KIA and 9 WIA.  Five (5) air strikes were called in to support the operation as well as several gunships.  B Co (-) secured the bridge at XT 731134 as well as the FSB.  Recon continued to provide security along Route Blue and escort convoys.
     b.  Journal Forecast.  2/14th Infantry will continue Operation BARKING SANDS.  A & C Cos will sweep to West from their night location to drive against B Co (-) which will be lifted in by chopper to vic XT 793112 to block while A & C Cos sweep West.  B Co will then return to FSB and secure area, continue to secure bridge site and Engineers.  Recon will continue Route Blue security and escort convoys.

David A. Cope
1Lt, Infantry
LNO

 

 

Daily Staff Journal 27-May-1967, the following day

 

ITEM

TIME

INCIDENTS, MESSAGES, ORDERS, ETC.

1

0001

Log Opened

2

0115

Dragon C6 sited 5 VC moving toward his position along East-West stream line.  A notified, C engaged same

3

0120

Bravo 6 completed crossing Bridge - one man injured - not seriously - subject fell into river, lost one M-16 - Castle element will attempt to retrieve same

5

0226

Dragon Charlie 6 reported neg results on contact w/VC

15

0958

Resupply of Medic and supplies for C Co complete

21

1026

A & C Co began movement

25

1109

A & C Co location XT 802115; B Co location XT 794111

26

1143

A Co reports finding bunkers and firing positions at XT 802116.  Will destroy

27

1200

A Co reports finding 2 Chicom hand grenades in a bunker at XT 802116

31

1350

Location of 2/14th Inf elements as of 1350H are as follows:  A Co XT 800116; B Co XT 800114 & C Co XT 803113, neg contact

33

1420

A Co reports that they found 11 2-man bunkers made of log and mud also found lots of blood on ground at one bunker (2 VC CIA poss).  Location XT 802117.  Bunkers had overhead cover two layers log and 8 inches mud: DESTROYED

34

1450

C Co requests for resupply 10 each:  20 gauge and 23 gauge needles

36

1700

Location of elements for tonight:  A Co XT 803113, B Co XT 805114 & C Co XT 805113

37

1715

C Co reports finding a grave which had fresh blood on it.  Will dig up to see how many bodies are in it.

38

1750

First load of resupply to Charlie on its way

40

1800

A Co requests 1 case insect repellent and 3 flashlights on tonight's resupply

41

1845

C Co reports reference grave found at 1715 hrs:  They have dug up and found one VC body may be one more under it but smell is so bad that they will not search any more.  Believed to have been buried yesterday XT 804112

42

1910

A Co reports OLS A-108, B-4, C-3.  Also requests 2 - .45 Cal pistols to be sent out on mornings extractions

45

1945

C Co has 2 LPs one with Rag boats to East and one 50 meters South of his perimeter.  B Co has 4 LPs 100 meters out from their perimeter

47

2010

C Co reports OLS as A-98, B-4, C-3 also requests on morning extraction 1 case PRC-25 batteries.

48

2020

C Co requests for resupply 400 linked M60 ammo, 2 boxes 5.56, 2 cases M79, 1 box foot powder, 2 ponchos.  B Co requests on resupply 10 cans of extra water, 1 case smoke grenades, 1 case C4.

50

2055

Co A requests for resupply 12 rucksacks, 10 PRC-25 batteries

 

 

Journal Summary
     a.  2/14 Infantry Golden Dragons, 25th Infantry Division with B Btry 7/11th Arty will continue Operation BARKING SANDS.  A & C Cos swept to the West from their night locations towards the block that B Co (-) formed, they were flown in by chopper vic XT 793112 to make the block.  Elements searched area over to block, then the elements turned South to sweep in that direction.  Negative contact was encountered during the day, however one (1) grave was found with one (1) VC body, dead approximately one (1) day.  In some of the bunkers that were found there was a lot of blood spots, estimated two (2) VC KIA (poss).  The following was captured, destroyed or evacuated:
     1     grenade
     1     Mud & log bunker
     11   spider holes
Units were located at the following grids:  A - XT 803113, B - XT 805114, C - XT 806113.  Night activities, no patrols were out from the elements just normal LPs etc.  Recon continued Route Blue security and convoy escort.  Engineers continued to build bridge.
     b.  Journal Forecast.  2/14 Infantry will continue Operation BARKING SANDS.  A Co will move by rag-boats to vic XT 807109.  B & C Cos will continue S & D East.  Recon will continue Route Blue security and security of FSB.

David A. Cope
1Lt, Infantry
LNO

 


List of awards given for action on 26 May 1967:
 

CPT John W. Byers A Co Bronze Star “V”
1LT Dennis L. Trippel C Co Bronze Star “V”
CPT Frederick C Phillips C Co Bronze Star “V”
SP4 James K. Wheeler A Co Silver Star
SP4 Richard R Hillyer A Co Bronze Star “V”
SP4 Larry G Smith A Co Army Commendation Medal “V”
SP4 Walter E Knorek A Co Bronze Star “V”
2LT John J. Ricca A Co Bronze Star “V”

Annual Historical Supplement, 2d Battalion 14th Infantry, 1 January 1967-31 December 1967
    Also listed in Tropic Lightning News   http://www.25thida.org/TLN/tln2-37.htm
    Also listed in Tropic Lightning News   http://www.25thida.org/TLN/tln2-41.htm




May 26, 1967 - Alpha and Charlie Companies
All other material on this page is copyright © 2015 Kirk S. Ramsey
Last modified: November 07, 2016