Stories & News Articles

VC Bunkers Don't Stop Co. A 4/9
From: Stars and Stripes July 1968

1ST BDE-The 25th Infantry Division 4th BN. 9TH Infantry Regiment, killed 23 Viet Cong with the aid of artillery and airstrikes, nine miles northwest of Saigon. Company A made an airmobile assault, and as they jumped from their choppers on the landing zone the Manchu infantrymen were greeted by a hail of heavy automatic weapons fire. Using the tremendous firepower at his disposal,Captain Elcie Adams called in artillery and airstrikes upon the enemy positions. When the artillery lifted the Manchus guickly pushed into the woodline. The Viet Cong were in well fortified bunkers and still putting up strong resistance. SP4 Robert Tafoya of the 2nd Plt, firing his 90mm recoilless , blew apart several VC bunkers, killing three enemy. Raking the area with machine gun fire the Manchu killed several more VC as they fled their bunkers. Encoountering no more resistance the Co. A soldiers swept the area and found 23 dead VC, 4 AK-47s, 1 chicom carbine, 2 sights for the 122MM rocket, and 500 rounds of AK-47 ammunition.

Manchus Discover NVA 'Ghost Town,' AF Jets Destroy At Sundown
From: Stars and Stripes Mid 1969

Tay Ninh, (25th Inf.Div) Manchus of the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry uncovered a vast North Vietnamese Army ghost town that extended for 1,700 meters of almost-empty tunnels, bunkers, and underground rooms while sweeping through the Renegade Woods, 17 miles southeast of Tay Ninh. There was evidence, however, that the camp had been haunted by live NVA troops not too long before the Manchus ran into it. Specialist 4 Lloyd H. Gray of Colorado Springs, Colo., of the Manchus' Bravo Company, the man who noticed the freshely dug dirt that tipped off the Tropic Lightning soldiers to the presence of the camp, found a box of what he said looked like personal articles. He also found a Chicom hand grenade during an exploration of one of the camp's many tunnels. Gray's platoon leader, First Lieutenant William M. Barnes of Charlottesville, Va., said his platoon found six tunnels and 15 bunkers in the small area it covered. His men found bamboo picnic tables and clothes lines in some of the bunkers. "They must have been there for a while," Barnes said. "They were so well dug in. They may have heard us coming and decided to leave in a hurry." If the NVA did hear the three allied companies - Bravo and Charlie companies of the Manchus and an ARVN company - it wouldn't have been too surprising. They had been hacking their way through thick underbrush in the communist-infested woods from 9:00 a.m., when they were airlifted in, until 3:00 p.m., when they found the camp. Gray was walking just behind the patrol's point man, Private First Class Matt R. Sitanowski of Roseville, Mich., ("just out of machete range," Gray said), when he noticed the fresh diggings that turned out to be a nearly completed mess hall, with a chimney and cooking area already dug, but no cover installed. "We found some tunnels that were down about 12 or 15 feet underground," Gray said. "A few were just barely big enough for me to squeeze into, and there were some that weren't big enough." (Gray is about 5-9, 160 pounds.) Other elements of the allied sweep found what appeared to be a hospital complex, but oncoming darkness and the arrival of helicopters at their pickup zone forced an early end to the exploration of the abandoned camp. That night though, the Tropic Lightning soldiers watched the fireworks as Air Force planes destroyed the camp, which was two miles from the Division's Fire Support Base Sedgwick.

Manchus Grip Fingers Area
By SP4 Tony Crawford

The Manchus of Alpha Company, 4th Battalion,9th Infantry, recently went northwest of the Black Mountain to try their hand in the dense enemy infested woods, commonly referred to as the "fingers Area".A great deal of enemy activity had been reported and Alpha company's mission was to saturate the area with small night ambushes. During the first two nights, enemy movement in large groups was sighted but the ambushes wer too small to be employed effectively. Because of this heavy activity, Alpha ambushes became platoon size the following night. About 0100 hrs PFC William W. Yeager of Fairchance, Pa., heard noises. "I was on guard when I suddenly heard movement to my left," Yeager later recalled. He immediately alerted the rest of his ambush and then waited for the enemy. In what seemed to be hours, but in reality was merely aminute or two, the twelve enemy made their way towards, and moved in front of , the waiting Manchus."When they were in the center of our kill zone we detonated our claymores and tossed a few grenades," recalled Sgt. Daniel Barnes of Portsmouth Va. Then after reconning with M-79s and more hand grenades, the platoon assaulted the kill zone. PFC Ramon C. Estrada of ElPaso, Texas, a member of the maneuver unit, remember the night being brightly lit by a full moon. "We had no trouble spotting the dead enemy," he said. They gathered up the four dead bodies and captured weapons, then returned to the ambush site to wait till mourning. At daybreak they returnedto the area and after rechecking, found another dead enemy, giving them a total of five enemy KIAs, along with an AK-47, an AK-50, a carbine, and a chicom pistol. One of the dead was carrying valuable documents and maps which were sent back for a readout. PFC William Riley of Oaklahoma City commented after the ambush, "Those claymores really do a job." Several blood trails were found as evidence that those who escaped were badly hit. After returning to Tay Ninh Base Camp, Lt. Richard W. Gill praised his men. "They did just what was expected of them; the operation couldn't have gone smoother."
Dec. 23, 1969

Cool Manchu AP's Put 14 Foes on Ice
By PFC Richard W. Sears

 Quiet, patient and calmly keeping their cool, Manchus of the 4th Battalion,9th Infantry's Alpha Company sprung a series of classic night ambushes over a two-night period, killing 14 NVA soldiers without incurring any friendly casualties. Working out of Fire Support Base Sedgewick II, the first Brigade soldiers set up their Aps in swampy rice paddies nine miles south of Tay Ninh and only a half -mile from the Angels Wing, a stretch of Cambodia-Vietnam border that has been crossed by countless NVA feet. After the company's ambush elements had taken up their positions, they settled down, silent and alert. They didn't have long to wait. Soon after dark movement was spotted along the border. The enemy was operating in small groups making their way along paddy dikes, avoiding the muck of swollen rice paddies. "They were walking right into our arms," recalled PFC Charles La Days of Houston, Texas. "I counted close to 30 of them coming right at me , but for some reason they started to turn." The same thing was happening at the other Manchu AP sites. "When we saw them change direction, that's when we opened up on them," added PFC Ramon Estrada of El Paso, Texas. The NVA, surprised and trapped, tried to run. But the fire from Tropic Lightning Infantrymen, backed up by artillary and gunships, forced them to seek cover Sporadic fire punctuated a long night, and at first light, the Manchus carefully moved into the hostile positions. They found 13 bodies spread over a wide area, one wounded hoi chanh waiting to give himself up, five medical kits, 28 RPG rounds, seven B-40 rounds, 16 B-40 boosters , 10 shirts, 7pair of trousers, 200 AK 47rounds and 2 AK-47s. Another detainee was later picked up in the same area. That night another ambush was blown on the enemy forces, costing the NVA one dead , one AK-47, 4Chi-Com grenades and some more clothing "this time with a wounded man inside of it. --Charlie sure walked into it these last two nights," said Spec. 4 Robert Gonzales of esills park, N.M.

440 Ton Cache Found:
By: Sgt.John Gress
Alpha Co.4th.9th inf.

1st Bde. Operation Yellowstone

A Viet Cong brigade will have to go on a crash diet thanks to, Alpha Co. 4th bn. 9th inf. On the second day of operation Yellowstone,the company was conducting a search and destroy mission about 7kms. south of the Cambodian border,deep within War Zone C. Sp4 Steven Gray of Portalees NM. spotted the glint of the sun bouncing off a tin roof about 50 meters ahead of the element he was with. He and his platoon leader 2Lt. Richard D Tipton of Springfield, Ohio moved up with three other men to investigate. The party found a typical Vietnamese hootch measuring 20 by 40 by 7 feet that had one distinctive featureit had been built without windows or doors. Curious the men pried off the roof and found the interior filled to the rafters with rice; 560 cubic feet weighing 140 tons. Returning to the area the following day, they discovered two more similar hootches filled with rice, 30 meters from the first, The find brought the total weight of rice found at 440 tons.

Trip Flare Stalls Attack
By: Sgt.John Gress
Alpha Co.4th.9th inf.

Operation Yellowstone

"When I finally realized what was happening, I dove for the M-60 and opened up," said SGT David Robbins of Monroe N.Y., describing what happened when a trip flare suddenly revealed some 40 Viet Cong standing not 20 meters from his position. Following a heavy mortar attack, the Viet Cong had launched an assault on the fire support base occupied by the 4th Bn, 9th Inf 65 kms northeast of Tay Ninh in War Zone C. As Robbins open fire with his machine gun, the rest of his squad scrambled for their positions and poured small arms rounds and grenades into the enemy. What Robbins didn't know at the time was that the entire camp was being hit by and estimated 200-man enemy force. It was learned from Robbins that artillery and helicopter gun ships aided the infantryman in breaking up the enemy assault, and pushing them back into the jungle. At dawn, the defenders found 21 Viet Cong bodies strewn alone the perimeter. They also found nine AK-47 and six of the newer AK-50 assault rifles, two pistols and three RPG-2 rocket launchers.
Cu Chi, (25th Inf.Div)

1st. Bde. Hits Cong
From: The Army Reporter-April 15, 1966

Cu Chi, (25th Inf.Div) Elements of the 1st. Brigade, the newest addition to division forces at Cu Chi, killed six Viet Cong in small actions during their first three days in base camp. Within 24 hours after the arrival of the brigade's three infantry battalions, Soldier< from each unit were manning the perimeter. At the same time, tent kits, mess facilities, showers and all the other things necessary for a new base camp were being constructed. And the soldiers of the 1st Bde. discovered how little time it takes to become oriented to their new way of life in Vietnam. The brigade includes 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry, 4th Battalion 9th Infantry (Manchu) and the 4th Battalion,23rd Infantry (Tomahawks). Providing artillery support for the brigade is the 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery commanded by Lt. Colonel William D. Brown. Of the six VC killed by 1st Bde. elements, half of them have been accounted for by the 4/9th on separate ambush patrols just outside the base camp.

Documents, Base Camps Discovered

Soldiers of the 4th Bn, 9th Inf "Manchus," slashing through a Viet Cong stronghold 40 kms northwest of Tay Ninh in conjunction with Operation Yellowstone, have killed 70 enemy troops and destroyed five of their base camps. The camps, all battalion size, were heavily secured by numerous networks of wires leading to CHICOM command detonated mines. On searching the camps the Manchus discovered secret documents, 25 pounds of hand painted propaganda posters, and 52 tons of rice - an amount estimated to spell the difference between prosperity or starvation for an enemy regimental force for three months. COL John Henchmann, Manchu battalion commander, said "This area is literally swarming with Viet Cong, and we're smack in the middle. The fact that our casualties are practically nil is a tribute to the ability of these fine young soldiers." Thus far in the Operation the enemy has continuously harassed Manchu positions with day and night mortar attacks.

( This article was written in December 1967)

This Important Message

An airmobile assault 64 kms east of Tay Ninh provided a surprise for a 25th Inf Div battalion commander, as Viet Cong conversed with him on his battalion radio Frequency. LTC John Henchmann, commander of the 4th Bn, 9th Inf "Manchus", was coordinating the operation when he heard voices warning him to turn back.. "All tactical communication on the battalion frequency ceased immediately and I relayed this message to the Viet Cong: all Viet Cong get off the Manchu push, Viet Cong Dien Cai Dau, Viet Cong Did Mau, the Manchus are coming," Henchmann, of Bremerton, Wash., said. The Viet Cong replied, "Come on Manchus, come on." "We employed company frequency for tactical instructions, but as it turned out the Viet Cong and us were not at the same place, at the same time, the LZ was cold," Henchmann commented. "I'm sorry we missed them, I'd liked to have taught them a lesson for ease dropping."

( This article was written in December 1967)

Danger lurks on all sides
The Army Reporter-Aug. 20, 1966

Cu Chi, (25th Inf.Div)
While walking in the dense jungles, each step taken can be a matter of life or death. Danger lurks in both man made and natual hazards. Private First Class Marshall Ayers was point man on a patrol when he stepped into the center of a huge coiled snake. Ayers of the second squad, 3rd platoon, Company A, 4th Bn. 9th Infantry, jumping back took three quick shots at the snake with his M-16 rifle. Private First Class Patrick McDermott helped Ayers kill the snake by cutting off its head with his machete. After regaining their composure the men decided they had obtained a valuble snake hide, plus the making of a good meal.

Mascot Dies Heros's Death
Stars and Stripes Vietnam Bureau
TAY NINH, Vietnam

Floppy, the famous canine mascot is dead. The mongrel was killed in the Renegade Woods, 45 miles northwest of Saigon. For eight months Floppy had been the constant companion of the men in the 4th Bn 9th Inf, 25th Inf Div. The day he was killed he was the point man of Delta Company. "Floppy alerted us to an enemy machine gun position", said 1Lt Walter D. Farris, Executive Officer of D Company. "The dug-in machine gun opened up and killed Floppy, but that dog saved at least 14 lives, including mine." Floppy was no trained scout dog. He was just a plain dog. In January, Floppy was on a mission near Mole City (now called forward support base Sedgewick). When the company pulled out by helicopter, Floppy was left behind. Less than 12 hours later, Floppy had crossed a 100-yard wide river, seven miles of enemy territory, and infiltrated the barbed wire of Mole City to rejoin his outfit. Exploits such as that made Floppy the famous mutt that he was.

Tunnel & Cache Found by Manchus
From: Stars and Stripes early1969

     Tay Ninh, (25th Inf.Div) The men of D Company, 4th Battlion, 9th Infantry Manchus located an enemy weapons cache including an 82mm mortar tube and 45 Rocket Propelled Grenade rounds 12 miles south of Tay Ninh City. The Manchus were sweeping an area from which they had been mortared the previous night while securing Fire Support Base Stoneman. Company Commander Captain Nathan H. Kniker's curiosity was aroused when he spotted a patch of loose dirt covered by piles of discolored vegetation. Kniker, of Bellville, Ill., investigated the patch and discovered a tunnel four feet by six feet. Privte First Class William M. Peeples of Clayton, Ga., and Sergeant Joe Ambrus of Fairfield, Conn., were immeditely commissioned to investigate the possible enemy stronghold. They returned to the surface with an 82mm mortar tube, base plate, aiming stakes, various maintenance tools, 45 RPG rounds and eight bangalore torpedos were dragged from their hiding place.

CU CHI MAY 22, 1967

     It was five minutes after one in the afternoon when the first bomb hit. That was the start of the destruction of a Viet Cong province headquarters in the Boi Loi Woods, 29 km northwest of the 25th Infantry Division Cu Chi base camp.

     The 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry "Manchus" discovered the bunker and tunnel complex the day before when they were on a sweep during Operation "Manhattan." A 'Hoi Chanh' had led the men to the area. The underground system consisted of three reinforced concrete bunkers 20 by 15 feet. A tunnel big enough for two Manchus to walk along side by side and standing up led off the bunkers. About every 50 meters there was another tunnel running off in an opposite direction. Tunnel rats were sent more than 500 meters into the Viet Cong subway and the end was not in sight. Small reinforced bunkers encircled the main bunker.

CU CHI MARCH 6, 1967

      Two platoons of Company A, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, "Manchu" killed 92 Viet Cong last week, spoiling an estimated battalion-sized enemy unit from overrunning their position, 500 meters south of Phu Hoa Dong village. One Viet Cong was taken prisoner and two more detained for questioning.

      The assault, which was later termed as a "human wave," began at approximately 12:30 a.m. when the enemy poured in mortar, rifle grenade and machine gun fire from several positions surrounding the platoons' perimeter. The Viet Cong fired more than 100 mortars. The two platoons were conducting a routine mission providing security for units of the 65th Engineers repairing a road which leads through the Filhol Plantation and past the village of Phu Hoa Dong. Using Chicom Assault rifles, carbines and machine guns, the enemy force, 300 strong, charged the camp while the Manchumen fought from their bunker positions. The first wave fell to the claymore mines and machine gun fire, but were quickly reinforced. Enemy bodies later found inside the camp perimeter and just a few feet from the bunkers, gave evidence to the closeness of the enemy attack. Several machetes, and packets of narcotics were found on the ground near the enemy bodies.

     Artillery rounds from the 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery, landed within 25 meters of the camp perimeter warding off the brunt of the attack. Gunships from the 25th Aviation Battalion, and the 116th Aviation Company, also lent support to the battle. Contact was finally broken at 1:15 a.m. when two platoons of reinforcements from the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry, and a platoon of Manchumen from Company B, arrived on the scene. Air strikes were called in on the fleeing enemy.

      The action also netted captured documents, medical supplies, small arms ammunition and grenades. The operation has been highlighted by the first United States major combat parachute assault of the Vietnam war. Paratroopers of the 173rd Abn. Infantry Brigade jumped into Katum, less than 7 km from the Cambodian border.

     After a thorough investigation of the facilities, the Army and the Air Force combined their might to reduce the complex to an open space in the densely wooded area. The little gray FAC circled the area and dropped several white smoke markers. Suddenly a downward scream was heard as an Air Force jet shot through the light cloud cover and dove straight for the area.

     LTC Robert Hyatt, the Manchu Battalion commander; was circling in his chopper. When the resounding crack-whomp of the first 500 lb bomb reached the helicopter, a slight smile flickered across the face of the 39- year old colonel. The headquarters was a big find for the Manchus. The jet made twenty runs and heavy explosives, napalm and 20 mm cannon rounds were placed in the area.

     Supporting artillery units then fired a Time on Target (timed so all projectiles hit the target at the same time) with more than 300 rounds smashing the trees to splinters and plowing the ground more effectively than a dozen tractors.

     The Manchus went in the next day to blow the inside of the tunnel complex with cratering charges. There is at least one province headquarters that won't host any big-wig Viet Cong meetings for a long time. The 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, "Manchus" discovered the bunker, tunnel complex the day before when they were out on a sweep in Operation "Manhattan."