History of the 12th Cav in Vietnam 27 Jul 1968 – 30 Nov 1971 According to the collective remembrances of it’s surviving troopers.
CPT Errol D. Alexander, July-Oct 1968
CPT Kenneth G. Carlson, Oct 68-Mar 69
CPT Larry R. Robinson, Mar-Sep 1969
CPT William C. Kaufman, Sep-Nov 1969
CPT Matthias A. Spruill, Nov 69-Feb 70
CPT John L. B. Smith, Feb-May 1970
CPT Robert R. Richards, May-Oct 70
CPT Woodrow W. Waldrop, Oct 70-Apr 71
CPT Edward E. Helton, Apr-Oct 71
After a fun filled New Years on the bunker line at Charlie 2 (C2), the Cav pulled out. C 2 took rounds promptly at 7:00 a.m. on a regular basis and the Cav waited for it to end. 26 & 28 were down for repairs and both crews were drinking coffee in the one-foot deep mud to determine how we were going to get these two monsters back on the road. One crummy rocket came in and landed fifty feet away. The angle of impact was such that most of the shrapnel went forward. Messed up a 2 1/2 ton and blew holes in the shit house. Lucky no one was using it.
Unfortunately, there was shrapnel that came back and nailed seven out of eight of us. Daryl Pence, 26G was sent back to the states. I knew Deierling was hit right away, because I saw his shirt rip across the back. Bass took a chunk in the leg and had infection problems for the remainder of his tour. The rest of us just received minor injuries.
A week later, working the DMZ with Sgt Alexander as TC on 26 (DiSanto was on R&R), we hit a land mine. That was the infamous night that we locked and left 26 and came in after dark via flares. Mendoza’s track hit a mine. Spruill had negotiations with the medivac (Batman). We got in about 2:00 a.m. to C 2.
The next day we loaded a canister round and fired on 26 before towing it to A 4 where two of us stayed with it for four days of monsoon.
DiSanto came back from his R&R to no tank, no gunner, and no driver. At that time I was an extra guy, because I was new in country and became the gunner.
A week to remember, (John Sharpe)
John, I remember that day because my track was back at C2 for some reason. It was about the time Stamm was KIA. If I remember correctly the rocket landed beyond the guys but close. They caught the back blast. Mike D would know since he was wounded. I guess that is why C2 was rocket alley. Bob T.
I remember this day very well! PR, Maggot, and myself went out to pull 3 of the wounded troopers to safety!! C2 was ROCKET ALLEY!! Thank GOD we made it home. Kid
I DOOO remember That John I Think Myself and Fenwick were the only Two without a Scratch
Merle A28 Reed
I also remember that when the rocket landed, I along with my crew, was in that bunker next to the 4/12 mess area, as we were in C2 every morning around breakfast time, safe from that lethal rain. The protocol was get your breakfast and walk directly into the bunker to eat it. Because you always timed it right, the “incoming” siren would always go off after you got your breakfast. That morning, someone came running into the bunker yelling for the 1st platoon doc. Doc Kagimoto ran outside along with PR, Kid, and Maggot. As the rockets were still falling, I thought it wise to be around to retrieve them should it become necessary. I kept on eating breakfast. I wondered why someone was outside during rocket attack time. During the same medivac , my friend Papasan, who had arrived with me in-country, was flown out never to be seen again. I thought he was one of the wounded from the rocket, but he wasn’t. Someone had either pushed him or punched him and he fell from his track. He had just transferred off my track to the mortar track after 6 months on the crew. I think the bad craziness exhibited by SS and I finally got to him, and the relatively saner mortar crew appealed to him. Unfortunately for him, someone didn’t like him. I never knew what really happened to Papasan until 2001, when I located SS, who told me the story. Papasan made it back to the world in one piece and I talked to him also in 2001, but he didn’t want to reveal who sent him to the hospital. Pineapple
Around January 9th
N.E. of C-2 within easy sight of the Red Chinese Flag, 1 tank hit a mine about 3 PM. Another tank started to pull around it to tow him and hit a booby trap. Claymore in a tree at a height to wipe everyone off a track, but since the tank was higher the main blast hit the center. The TC (Drake) caught pellets in the side of his face, groin, leg and side – medivac’d. It was getting dark so we locked up the tank (26?) to leave it and started leaving. We got about 100 yards when a 1st platoon track hit a mine that about 8 of us tracks had already been over (finally got the rust broken loose??). All 5 onboard were medivac’d. We finally made it back to C-2 about 9PM with arty supplying illumination all the way in.
By the time you receive this, except for Pineapple, it will be January 12, this is the Day that according to Duffy, I flew…The day that 1-0 hit a mine late in the evening at the “marketplace”.
We ran over a mine. I always wondered what it was going to feel like? would our driver survive? would I survive? would it hurt? would our APC explode considering the amount of Ammo we carried? All those questions went through my mind the instant after the explosion. I remember talking to Hestand, the muffled noise of an explosion, the sensation of going up into the air, lots of dirt around me, the .50 Cal going up ahead of me…..landing on the inside of the APC and the .50 landing on my chest….looking at the gas tank and wondering if it would explode because the mine hit just ahead of it. My back did not hurt right away until I jumped off the track and started looking for Walker, our driver, then I realized I really hurt. That day is etched in my memory also because that is the day that our Capt. promised the medivac to shoot him down if he did not come get us out, he became my hero that day.
The next day I remember Big Daddy helping me get dressed, I could not get out of bed in Quang Tri, we were there 3 days and were sent back to join the Troop.
I wrote a speech in College about this experience because on the Chopper ride to the hospital Walker’s face was bandaged up and he kept saying,” I can’t see, I can’t see” with lots of concern, Big Daddy put his arm around him and told him, “don’t worry Walker, you gonna be ok” I looked down and could see the lights of the city or the base. Please don’t mind me rambling on, just wanted to share it with you all, I probably have shared it before with you , but I always like to share it with someone on this day…..We shall never forget!!
I always remember those that shared the experience with me….Love you all.
You’re right you did share that before, but it is okay. I think about that event often. That was a tough time for the Cav. Monte Stamm and Al Hall were killed in the few weeks prior and a rocket wounded about seven guys on C-2 on January 2nd.
I was driving 26 that day. Mike Deireling was laid up with shrapnel wounds, Sgt Alexander was the TC, because Di Santo hadn’t returned from his R & R yet. Daryl Pence was send home with shrapnel wounds, so I don’t remember who the loader or gunner was.
That chain of events started with me hitting a land mine. We tried driving it on one track, towing it, and finally booby trapping it and leaving it for the night.
The one thing that stands out in my mind was how well the arty guys handled those flares. A-4 fired for us until we were too close to A-4, then C-2 took over. When we were too close for C-2 to fire, A-4 had turned there guns around and fired.
Some pretty cool shit for a bunch of kids.
Wally and John, I remember that night too. I was driving 29 and trying to be careful and not lose a track. The best thing that night was when Capt Spruill called in that medivac and threatened to shoot it down. I’m glad that we only suffered a few wounded. That was not a good place to be that late and not set up in an NDP.
Wally, I remember that night well:) I was driving 13. After you boys were Choppered out we SHOT THE HELL out of everything on our way home:) I always wondered myself about how it would feel to hit a mine. Thanks be to God I never did!! Sure came close a few times. I know in my Heart The LORD protected all of us. I will Never Forget Duffy seating on top of the track reading his Bible, and Praying for all of us!! As I look back today I just want Duffy to know how thankful I am for his Faithfulness in The LORD:)
Hey Wally, welcome to that exclusive club of “minefinders”.
The APC I was on (21) rolled over two of them while I was in-country. One was on September 30, 1969 while we were working out of Charlie-2 and the other was on February 8, 1970 while working out of Cua Viet (isn’t it amazing how those dates stick in one’s head?) The first one, two of my best buddies Jim Lundvall and Ed Ward were medevaced out and wound up going home because of their wounds. The rest of us on the personnel carrier were messed up a little bit though not as bad as Ed and Jim. I remember being covered in black powder and walking around in a daze.
The mine on Feb. 8 wasn’t quite as bad as the first but hitting a mine is definitely an experience not to be forgotten.
I also remember that night. At that time I was the 4.2″ mortar platoon leader in 1/77. I had split the platoon, leaving 2 tubes at C2 with the platoon Sgt and I took 2 tubes to A4. We had been there since mid-Nov. We got the fire mission to provide continuous illumination for the Cav. If my memory still functions, we fired all the ilum we had except for our final defensive supply. Yes, the tubes got so hot that one gunner did piss on it (not a nice odor)!
Nice to know someone appreciated our efforts.
Earl Schorpp (40)
The day you flew was also my first experience at being “airborne”. It’s funny some of the things you think about while flying through the air. I remember being aware that the mine went off under the left rear of the track and wondering if the shape charge we kept there was going to explode. A day or two after we were medavaced I left to meet my wife in Hawaii for R&R. One of the toughest things I ever had to do was get back on the plane to go back, when my last memory of that place was hitting the mine. Speaking of memory, when I got back Capt. Spruill commended me for the report I made over the radio immediately after the incident. Didn’t remember it then, don’t remember it now. Anyway, the crew of 10 is still around and I look forward to seeing everyone in Sept.
The night was real bad; the capper was that A12 was the last track to pull into A4 that night/morning. That day the troop’s cooks had made a trip up there to feed the troop a hot non-C ration meal. By the time our crew got to the meal site, there was nothing but a few thin slices of mystery meat and dibs and drabs of boiled carrots left. After swearing at the cooks, the crew left and relaxed by taking a tub bath in an artillery water buffalo (they denied us use of their shower.)
Al Hall is killed while waiting for a USO show at C-2, accidentally shot in the back by a REMF.
We went to a USO show at C-2. Waiting for the show to start when a shot sounded and everyone scattered – except 2 medics who immediately started both kinds of artificial respiration on the guy hit (Al Hall you say, I never knew him). The 16 round never exited, just tore up his lungs and he was gone in a very short time. Som new guy from arty had grabbed a 16 off the rack. No mag in it but he never checked for the round someone had left in the chamber – safety off. He leaned it against the split log bench; trigger snagged and went off point blank into Al’s back. A lot more details are permanently etched in my mind about this. About 15 minutes before this happened; I had been sitting exactly where he was when he was shot. Some buddies came in so I moved 2 benches back and into the middle and a few minutes later he came and sat there. …But for the grace of God…
The rest of A Troop moves from LZ Nancy, to new and improved quarters at Quang Tri Combat Base. For most of the troop, it’s no big deal since we spend most of our time in the field, but now on stand downs, the conditions are less primitive.
January 10, 1970 At C2, going north of A4, cold, can see your breath (Taylor)
January 24 back to Quang Tri (Taylor)
EXCERPTS FROM GREENE RIVER COAAR 19 January 1970 – 22 July 1970
- (U) NAME AND TYPE OF OPERATION:
- Type. Search and Clear, reconnaissance in force, rocket suppression and ambush.
- (U) LOCATION: Trieu Phong, Hai Lang, Mai Linh, Cam Lo, Huong Hoa, Gio Linh Districts, Quang Tri Province , RVN.
- (U) COMMAND HEADQUARTERS: Headquarters, 1 st Inf Bde, 5 th Inf Div (M)
- (C) TASK ORGANIZATION:
- The brigade normally operated with four task forces formed by the cross attachment of infantry, mechanized infantry, tank and armored cavalry units. The composition of these task forces was varied on a mission type basis.
A/4-12 Cav operational control to 1-77 Armor
- (C) EXECUTION: Following is a chronological list of significant events which occurred during Operation Greene River :
(46) 2 May 70 – At 0905H vic YD278468 1/A/4-12 Cav with members of the A/7 Engr received SAF from the south of their location from an estimated NVA squad. 1/A/4-12 Cav returned fire with organic weapons and searched the area. Results: Three US WIA (M).
(55) 4 July 70 – At 0659H personnel of A/4-12 Cav while retrieving a mechanical ambush vic YD343448 discovered three claymore mines missing and a fourth booby trapped. The booby trapped detonated resulting in one US WIA(E).
Hey all, By the time you get this it will be 34 years to the day since rockets rained on us at Charlie Two. Does anyone remember that???? I recall that it was a beautifully clear day, brisk and cool, Had rained recently and there was lots of mud on the ground because Big Daddy and I ended up in the mud when the shit hit the fan. I remember running into the command bunker and we were freaking out!! Capt. Spruill was sitting on his cot, I can still see him putting on his boots muttering to himself,,,,,,” you damned civilians,”” I yelled” Capt. we are getting rockets” he said, don’t worry about it, put on your flack jacket. He proceded to go outside and call artillery on their ass. That night there was a b-52 strike on the possition,,,( as I remember it). Just wanted to share the memories with you all. Sorry I remember so much of it. Love to all wally
Papasan, Gerald Holden, is medivac’d after a fistfight (?) at C2 in which is he thrown off a track. He never returned.
Larry somebody (not Veatch or Corso) was involved in that fight with Papasan.
First night back from C2, we stayed there for a month and half. Two Troopers were killed, Stamm 2nd platoon KIA and Alfred Hall accidentally shot in the back by a REMF while at a USO show. A17 and A10 hit mines; A10 had two or three people hurt. A10 driver was the most serious but he is back with us now. We went west of C2 a lot, Doc Parker found 28 mortar rounds. Received incoming about a half-dozen times; I guess it was not too bad except for the rain. We went so far north this time you could see the NVA flag flying across the DMZ with your naked eye.
Need a little help from anyone, I found a letter my dad wrote to a congressman about a grudge against the VA, in it, it states how he was wounded the first time, it says (Mike Minchey), “I was wounded on the last day of January of 1970,when a soldier in front of me walked into a booby-trap at Jones Creek, I was blinded in right eye and wounded in lower leg and spent the next several weeks on the Naval Ship USS Repose, Instead of going home on a medivac I stayed on board till my eyesight improved and I volunteered to return to combat.” Does this incident sound familiar sound familiar to anyone dad also stated that he was on the ship several weeks before he could return to duty.
Thanks (Derek Minchey)