QuarterHorse Stories

Battle of Bong Trang - 25 AUG 1966

As related in The American Traveler 3 Sep 1966

DIVISION KNOCKS OUT 1/2 OF PHU LOI BATTALION. 171 VC KIA in Aug 25 Action. Fight occurs in heavily Fortified Base Camps. by Lt. David L. Raney

In a full day and night of fierce fighting on August 25, the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry; 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry; 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry; and A and C Troop, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry engaged the famed VC main-force Phu Loi Battalion, killing 171 and capturing six in thick jungle base-camp areas approximately four mile east of Lai Khe and 25 miles noth of Saigon of Highway 16. The VC casualties amounted to 50% of their battalion destroyed.

A 15 man ambush patrol set out the day before from Company C, and the Recon Platoon, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry radioed for help at 7:40am, after encountering an estimated battalion in what later proved to be heavily fortified base camps. Helicopter fire teams reacted immediately to the call for help and started firing on the enemy within ten minutes. C Troop 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry and the remainder of C Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry rushed to assist.

Diverted from a Highway 16 clearing mission, the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry and B Troop, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry also joined the fight, encountering heavy resistance in a series of bunkers and machine gun positions. As the fight intensified, the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry was air lifted was air lifted fro Lai Khe and began an attack eastward, locating another base camp and encountering M79 grenade-launcher fire and claymore mines.

By early afternoon, the VC were apparently breaking contact and moving west. Air strikes and artillery from the 1st Battalion 5th Artillery hit the fleeing VC. At 4:30pm, an Air Force helicopter flying a rescue operation was downed by 57mm recoilless rifle fire in the center of the battle area. Troops strung out along the chopper to protect it, because of the thick jungle and heavy action, the copper could not be extracted until late the next afternoon. At dark, the three battalions had only light contact and took up positions encircling the enemy. The 2d Battalion, 28 Infantry was air lifed to a blocking position to the north. Helicopters dropped flares over the area throughout the night, preventing escape under cover of darkness. The next morning, trying desperately to break away, the VC threw out heavy small arms fire at the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, protecting the downed Air Force chopper. After being called in, two Air Force jets barely missed their targets attempting to hit the dug-in enemy only 50 meters from friendly positions. The tragic accident resulted in moderate friendly casualties and gave the VC a momentary lapse in action.

By 8:30am VC resistance had diminished considerably. Air and Artillery pounded likely avenues of escape. The infantry battalions linked up in search and clear operations. Demolition teams from the 1st Engineer Battalion began destroying the large and sophisticated tunnel and cement-bunker complex.

The results of the search operations proved the enemy was not only well dug-in but also well equipped. Found were three 60mm mortars, three rifles, one Browning automatic rifle, one pistol, three radios, miscelaneous medical supplies, pioneer tools, gas masks and uniforms. Later destroyed were 82 60mm mortar rounds, an assortment of claymore, anti- personnel and anti-tank mines, TNT, hand grenades, small-arms ammunition and one radio. Company C, 2d Battalion, 28th Infantry discovered and destroyed 600 pounds of rice. Division casualties were described as moderate to heavy in four companies. The other eight companies had light casualties.

Another Version of Battle of Bong Trong Woods

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