QuarterHorse Stories

Battle of Bong Trang - 25 AUG 1966

As remembered by Jim Holland - 1st Infantry Division

On the night of August 24, 1966 C Co, 1st Bn, 2 Inf sent out a reinforced squad sized ambush patrol. The patrol was to set up and watch an area for the four days that we were to be involved in a road clearing mission. The patrol got lost on the way to the site and asked for permission to "coil up" (spent the night) where they were and move to their ambush site when the sun came up. When the sun came up that squad found that they had walked into a battalion sized base camp. They were surrounded by VC and fought there way into a VC bunker where they set up a defense. When they found themselves in that predicament they called back to the company for help. We initiated air and artillery strikes in support of them and at the same time asked for help from the 1/4 Cav. We received elements of C Troop, mounted on their vehicles and broke jungle to move to the assistance of the encircled squad. When we were about 400 meters from them all hell broke loose. We deployed off the cav vehicles and we all returned fire. Our fire suppressed the VC and my company commander told me to take an A Cav and a tank, mount my platoon and go get the squad. We pulled out of the perimeter and headed for our objective. When we were about 400 hundred yards out the company and the vehicles we left were hit hard. I was ordered to return. As we turned the tank threw a track. Because it would have taken to long under those conditions to repair it we had to leave it. After destroying it we headed back in to the fight.

At first it was just C Co and C Troop. Then we were reinforced by B Co 1st of the 2d. Later the 1st Bn, 26th Infantry arrived. Then the 1st of the 16th. The fight lasted from about 8:00 in the morning on the 25th until the VC completely broke contact on the 26th. If your dad was fighting on those two days he was in this donney brook somewhere.

The 2nd of the 2nd had a site at one point but I have not been able to raise it for a while. They were trying to make it a 2nd Infantry site. I will keep looking for it. If it pops up I will forward it to you. I am still in the process of gathering information on the fight and trying to contact people who were with me or their relatives. After years of searching I did find my platoon sergeants children and we have had a good dialog. SSG Anglim was killed that day along with four other men from the 1st platoon. It was a rough one. Having the cav with us gave us firepower that we would not have had without them.

There were too many brave men who died in the Battle of Bong Trang, infantry and cavalry, for it to fade away as a footnote. I have the intention of putting together personal accounts of Bong Trang in a manner which I hope will give it the attention it deserves. I would also be glad to share with anyone else who is interested.

I had only been in country a short while when that fight exploded around me. Prior to Bong Trang I remember reading one of MG DePuy's memos to the field explaining the tactics we were expected to use upon making contact. I also remember that not long after this fight there was another memo to the troops which refined the tactics he had described in the pre Bong Trang memo. I have little doubt that the lessons the division learned from Bong Trang were incorporated in the post fight directive.

Over the years I have lost the directives which Gen DePuy distributed to all of us. I would love to read them again to see if my memory is as clear as I think it is. I am also looking for after action reports that cover that day. If you could provide me with any sources I would be most appreciative.

I have a great admiration for 1/4 Cav. I came to the division reading about the fight on Highway 13 and the Minh Thanh road fight. As I have already said in my first big fight the Cav was right in there with us. In fact it was your ability to bust jungle, firepower, bravery and even your ability to resupply us and provide shelter for the wounded that allowed us to sustain the fight.

For years I have those contemporaries, that were interested, that I have four Cav stories from my time on the ground. The first story took me into the middle of the Phu Loi Battalion. In the second I was riding on an A Cav that hit a mine and threw us and road wheels all over the place. My third encounter was on another road clearing operation S of Phouc Vinh. My platoon had 1,000 meters of road to clear and secure. Two teams consisting of one tank, one bulldozer dragging a hook, and one A Cav each were travelling with us on each side of the road. When we hit the end of our sector I stopped and told the tank commander to hold up. As I was placing security I heard the vehicles start up. I grabbed my RTO and headed for the lead tank to tell him to hold where he was. As I came even with the A Cav, which was about 8 feet below me it hit a mine. The force of the explosion blew both me and my RTO out into the rice paddies on the East side of the road. The ladderite gravel hits made me feel like I had been wounded numerous times from the bottom of my helmet to the tops of my boots (as it turned out none penetrated). The explosion also picked that A Cav up and dropped it on its side up on the road bed while blowing road wheels out past my security. The fourth time nothing happened but there was no way I could convince my mind that it would play out that way. You guys could move and it kept you in the middle of the fray.

I was BG Hollingsworth's aide during the second half of that first tour and as I am sure you well knew his soft spot was the Cav.

Another view of Bong Trang

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This page was last updated on 4 Feb 2017