|A SHORT HISTORY 1970-71 CAMBODIA
The basic mission of interdicting enemy movement in III Corps continued In 1970 with Companies A and B finding several large
weapons caches in Northern Phuoc Long Province. But the inviolate Cambodia territory meant constant enemy resurgence. The
overthrow of the Sihanouk Regime in Cambodia and the establishment of a pro-western government, allowed the battalion and other
units to strike quickly at the Communist controlled border area in Cambodia for the first time. The Jumping Mustangs air assaulted
into Cambodia early in May 1970 and immediately found themselves in a series of regimental sized enemy base camps. For nearly two
months, the battalion was engaged in removing enemy ammunition, weapons and equipment and food in large quantities from the
enemy base areas. The enemy made several attempts to defend his caches and in the fighting around the Cambodian base camps, the
Jumping Mustangs killed more than sixty enemy, losing only five men themselves. This shift of center of operations enabled the
ARVN forces to consolidate their gains in Vietnam and allowed the III Corps area to breathe easier. It is a tribute to this battalion and
other units that the task of destroying the enemy's havens was accomplished quickly and efficiently.
After the withdrawal from Cambodia by Presidential Order, the 8th Regiment continued with the remainder of the division to clear
remaining combat elements from III Corps. This action continued throughout the remainder of 1970.
WITHDRAWAL FROM VIETNAM
26 March 1971 marked the official end of duties in Vietnam for the 1st Cavalry Division. President Nixon's Vietnamization Program
required the continued presence of a strong US fighting force. The 3rd Brigade continued the cavalry mission, headquarters located at
Bien Hoa with primary mission of interdicting enemy infiltration routes in War Zone D.
On 5 May 1971, the colors of the 1st Cavalry (minus 3rd Brigade), including the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry, was moved to Fort Hood,
|Alpha Company 1965-1971
History 1968 - 1971
|A SHORT HISTORY OF 1968:
OPERATION PERSHING, the last large operation in 1967, came to a close with outstanding results on 21 January 1968. The totals
for the operation (division wide) included 5,000 killed, nearly 2,500 captured and over 1,000 weapons confiscated. The battalion moved
with the 1st Brigade to continue operations in I Corps at the beginning of 1968, as this was to turn out to be a memorable one for the
battalion and the 1st Cavalry Division as a whole. Moving into Quang Tri, the battalion protected the brigade's fire bases during the
defeated the enemy and begun pursuit operations. Operating on the shores of the South China Sea, Companies A and B engaged an
estimated battalion of enemy soldiers and killed 19 while capturing valuable enemy arms. April 5, marked the beginning of
OPERATION PEGASUS; the battalion and other 1st Cavalry elements came to the relief of the Marines at beleaguered Khe Sanh.
After successful operations, the battalion moved on to their biggest operation for the year. The A Shau Valley was the first objective of
large caches of enemy equipment including crew served weapons, Soviet trucks, rockets and rice. In many respects, this operation in
an enemy stronghold would reflect the battalion's activities in Cambodia a year and a half later.
Later in the year, the battalion began to conduct joint operations with ARVN soldiers and the local forces. This was another sign of
progress as the 1st Cavalry Division already had initiated the Vietnamization program long before it became a national concern.
Cordon and Search operations utilized local Regional and Popular Forces in order to deny the enemy the vital rice which he so
desperately needed. The Summer months and early Fall were spent securing Highway 1 and conducting operations within their own
AO, the battalion had been operating in an area designated as base area 101 by the Viet Cong and continued to engage small enemy
units, the classical way to fight guerrilla war. The last big battle fought by the battalion in I Corps was at Quang Tri City on 22 August.
A new phase was begun in November. The entire battalion moved along with the division to III Corps where the mission was to
interdict infiltration routes and destroy enemy forces. Primary emphasis was on stopping infiltration from Cambodia through the
"Angel's Wing" and the "Parrots Beak" two staging areas in South Vietnam. Maximum coordination was made with the US Navy as
the battalion went "watermobile". This emphasized a maximum use of sea and air power to cover a large area of operations. Joint
operations were launched along the maze of waterways to eliminate enemy traffic, neutralize bases and seek out caches. As a
mini-armada of battalion troops in armed Navy ships moved up stream, they would turn to shore at irregular intervals and deploy
troops to search the area long the waterway. 1968 closed with the NavCav operations, indicating the ability of the battalion to
coordinate both with allied ARVN and other branches of the US Armed Forces. It was a memorable year for the battalion, truly
emphasizing mobility from the dusty reaches of Khe Sanh in I Corps to the waterways of the lower III Corps.
|A SHORT HISTORY OF 1969:
On 20 January 1969, the battalion moved into IV Corps for a short period, thus marking the unit's activity in all four Corps Zones.
Working with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the battalion then continued operations in III Corps. On 15 March 1969, LZ White
was partially overrun. Sp4 Donald R. Johnston of Co D was manning a bunker on the perimeter when a satchel charge was thrown into
the bunker, By diving on the charge, and absorbing the blast, SP4 Johnston save the lives of six of his comrades. His actions resulted
in the award of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the third man so honored for the battalion in Vietnam. Moving to LZ Rock, the
battalion began to operate in the vicinity of the Don Nai River. A series of operations in late May and June uncovered large supply
caches and ammunition with 2 June marking the high spot. A battle on the river banks, with Companies A and B involved, resulting in
54 enemy killed. Co A was led in this engagement by Captain Walter J. Marm, winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor in the
1965 Ia Drang valley battle. In September a move was made reminiscent of the old cavalry days. The entire battalion, minus the
battalion rear, moved from the Quang Loi region to the Bu Dop CIDG Special Forces camp on the Cambodian Border. The move In
the new year the battalion rose to the challenge of new mission as they continued to work in "NavCav" and interdiction missions.
involved 1,200 men and was completed in 48 hours. Leaving FSB Jerry, FSB Ellen was established to interdict enemy movement of
supplies along one of the major trails, the Serges Jungle Trail. On 4 November, the FSB beat back the enemy attack and cost the In
the new year the battalion rose to the challenge of new mission as they continued to work in "NavCav" and interdiction missions.
enemy severe casualties. The year was concluded with operations against enemy forces in the area around FSB Ellen.
As the battalion had moved more deeply into the III Corps sanctuaries of the enemy, the nature of the adversary had changed. In the
earlier years, troopers had been accustomed to fighting Viet Cong guerrillas in more populated areas along the coast. This had given
way by 1969 to fighting North Vietnamese regular units who were rushed back to the Cambodian border away from the populated
centers of the coast. These were trying times for the soldiers as the triple canopy jungle had to be regularly canvassed to root out the
enemy bunker complexes. The job was made more difficulty by the ability of the enemy to slip into Cambodia with impunity and obtain
resupply and rest, since allied forces respect Cambodian neutrality. On 2 December, Co B engaged such an enemy forces in a large
bunker complex. For his heroic actions, 2LT Robert P. Leisy was recommended posthumously for the Congressional Medal of Honor,
the fourth such warrior in the battalion in Vietnam.
|More 1969 History by Sam Ault, Forward Observer "A" Battery 2nd Bn 19th FA.
I served in A Company longer than any commander or platoon leader by the time I left NAM in August 1969. As the
forward observer, I am keenly knowable of what went on in every battle that I took part in. Below find the article of
two separate OP CON missions with the 11th ACR.
In 1969 from Feb thru 13th August, I was the Forward Observer from A Battery 2d Bn 19th FA for A Company 1st Bn 8th CAV.
Twice during my tenure in the Company we were sent OP CON to E Troop 2d Squadron 11th ACR. Unfortunately when a unit
goes OP CON, they are taken off the 8th Cav Daily Staff Journals and are added to the receiving unit Daily Staff Journals. The
ACR only recorded our arrival and departure. No one knows of the exploits of A Company during the OP CON. Captain Lutz
informed me that we were going OP CON at Núi Bà Đen, Black Virgin Mountain. We CAed out of the LZ White and arrived at
the ACR in the late afternoon of the first day of OP CON. We received the track assignments and bunked with the crew of that
track. Next morning, Stand Too was announced at 0600. There was no unified startup of tracks, and any nearby enemy could
count the number of vehicles. When the sun rose over the area it was clear that the ACR had about half of the tracks being towed.
It was a total mess. We traveled 125 Kilometers that day through miles of 8 foot sawgrass. So soldiers from the company lite C 4
and tossed it into the grass. They started a massive fire. We pulled into Tonlesheon at noon, were we broke for lunch of C
Rations. At 1300 we left Tonlesheon and headed west on Hwy 13. We traveled another 25 kilometers and turned south on a new
road two klicks down that lead to a clearing were the Troop would build a fire support base and have Troop HQ.
The next morning Captain Lutz came to me and asked me the go with a squad of his men in two ACAVs to find lost material from
the S4 trailer. I agreed, but I knew that back tracking was asking for the enemy to hit us. I met with the two track commanders, told
them to secure a tow bar, and track tools before we left. Also told them to resupply ammo to both tracks and make sure we had a
full tank of fuel in each. The two track commanders, E-5s were pissed, but I said we would not leave until this was done.
We pulled out on to the road heading north with the lead track carrying half of the squad. I was in the trailing track with the
remainder. These tracks were old 4.2 mortar open top tracks. We had not been gone 20 minutes when my track hit a shape
charge that blew the right idler wheel off the track. We all dismounted and I sent two men into the jungle with a M-60 while the TCs
attached the tow bar I made them bring. When we were back on board we high tailed it to Tonlesheon, finding S4 material about
5 klicks outside town. We lunched at Tonlesheon and started back. I was now in the lead track. The TC and Driver were booking
it down the road for the 3rd time to the ACR fire base. When I saw a large tree laying across the road in the distance. I grabbed
the track commander and stopped the track. I told them to pull into the jungle on the left so we could talk.
I told them that if we continued West on this road we would never reach the fire base. We would surely die and or be captured by
the enemy. I gave them an alternate route to the fire base, by a diagonal cut through the jungle. I instructed the TC on the dead
track to start his engine and rev it up. I told him to face the rear with his 50 Caliber. The squad was to man M-60s on each side
and the grenadier was to ride with me. We set out running at top speed through the jungle and the noise was like many tracks
moving. It started to rain and we saw fresh boot prints in the mud as we flew through the jungle. We got back in record speed.
Made one course correction and entered the fire base from the jungle. Years later I received an email from soldiers in those two
tracks, thanking me for saving their lives.
That night NVA followed the ACAVs to the fire base. They attacked us at 0100 hrs and hit the wire in front of where we entered
the clearing. Oddly enough, the Troop had only set wire out where we came in and nowhere else. The next day we boarded
ACAVs and pushed back into the jungle. Around 1000 hrs I got knocked off the track by a swing limb and injured my ankle. The
ACAVs had to stand by for the Troop Huey to sling me up through the trees. I was sent back to Long Bien Hospital. Later that day
to the next day 1SGT William Wescott was killed in action on the track I had been riding on when he was hit by and RPG. As far
as I know the 1st SGT did not have any next of kin.
When I got back to A Company, they were back for OP CON. It was now late April.
By June 1969 A Company had survived one of the defining battles of 1969 along the Dong Nai River. The commander of A at
that time was CPT Walter J Marm, who won the MOH in November 1965.
In July we had a new commander, Cpt Avenick, did not tell me anything about the combat assault we were making west of Quan
Loi. It was a 10 ship LZ and I was on the first Huey with a machine gun team, grenadier and my RTO. As we approached the LZ
no artillery prep was underway. We landed in an open field and there were no trees within a kilometer in any direction. Wide
open spaces. It was when CPT Avenick landed that he told me where we were. The LZ was 25 kilometers from FSB Wescott. I
could not raise Guideon 8 as we were too far out of range. Avenick was not forthcoming that we were attached OP CON to E
Troop 2d Squadron 11th ACR. I did not have any fire support net to call for artillery, Tac Air or ARA. I found out the Platoon
Leaders were also in the dark. Avenick told me we would be walking back toward Quan Loi and the Cav would pick us up the
So we strung out in a single file with 1st Platoon, then CP, 2d Platoon, 3rd Platoon and 4th Platoon. We walked over hill and dale
until we walked up a hill and saw 6 foot sawgrass on the other side. 1st Platoon went in and we followed. Suddenly 1st Platoon
stopped and hit the dirt. Reported to Avenick that they had captured an NVA Soldier wearing a bloody ammo vest. We moved on
and came to a small clearing on the right side of the grass. Shooting started coming from a wood-line about 600 meters south of
us. The CP took cover behind some downed trees. Machine guns chipped away at the tree trunks. I flipped channels on the PRC
and finally got a conversation. BREAK, BREAK FIRE MISSION UNDER ATTACK. The conversation broke and a Radio Relay
Aircraft contacted a 155 SP Battery moving in the area. They contacted me and I adjusted 155 fire on the wood line. They
returned fire with 82 MM mortars. They put 10 rounds into our CP and none exploded. I pulled one out of the ground and it had no
1 hour into the firefight, we were giving the NVA all we had. Then we heard track vehicles moving at a fast rate and were nearly
run over by ACAVS. The CAV Troop charged into the wood-line with machine guns blasting. Then they withdrew and formed a
circle like a wagon train. We moved back up the hill and dug in on the hill overlooking the ACAVs, the Sawgrass and the wood-
line. Again my RTO found a downed tree and we dug in behind it. That night the NVA attacked the ACAVs and the ACAVs
opened with 50 caliber MGs in all direction even at us. 50 Cal rounds were hitting all over the night location. They were kicking up
sand and chipping away at our cover.
Next morning we moved about a kilometer and the 1st Cav came and hauled us back to LZ Wescott.
Somehow in both actions we only lost 1SGT Westcott and had no Medevacs required in July.