OPERATION PERSHING, the last large operation in 1967, came to a close with outstanding results on 21 January 1968. The totals for
the 1st Cavalry Division as a whole. Moving into Quang Tri, the battalion protected the brigade's fire bases during the enemy TET
Offensive. The defense of the city itself ran from 31 January to 6 February. At the end of this time, the 8th Cavalry had 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 OPERATION DELAWARE. Located in a strategic position guarding the passes to Laos and
the Ho Chi Minh Trail, all units found 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 1968 against a Regiment
of North Vietnamese regulars.
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:
In the new year the battalion rose to the challenge of new mission as they continued to work in "NavCav" and interdiction missions. On
20 January 1969, the battalion moved into IV Corps for a short period, thus marking the unit's activity in all fours corps zones. Working
with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the battalion then continued operations in III Corps. On 21 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 saved the lives of six of his comrades. His actions resulted in the
award of the 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, who awarded the 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 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 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 would rush back across 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 difficult by the ability of the enemy to slip into Cambodia with impunity and obtain resupply
and rest, since allied forces respected 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 Medal of Honor, and was awarded it,
making him the fourth man so honored for the battalion in Vietnam.
|Delta Company 1965 - 1971