I have read, with interest, the accounts of the battle of "Bandit Hill". It got me to thinking this may be a good place to share and gather information on Battles that we were each involved in.
My first battle was Prek Klok II. I arrived in country February 3, 1967 and Prek Kolk II took lace on the night of March 10, 1967. There have been some accounts written about the battle but there are things in my mind that do not agree with what has been published.
I am including the published version of that report here and will come back later with my own story. As I remember it! And we all know how good the memory is these days.
Here is a report written by Lieutenant General Bernard Rogers, a man I have great respect for and the first General I ever came face-to-face with.
Tom Copeland, HHC, 2/2 67-68
Prek Klok II
[Excerpt From: Vietnam Studies, Cedar Falls- Junction City: A Turning Point, By Lieutenant General Bernard William Rogers, Department Of The Army Washington, D. C., 1989]
The second major battle of Operation Junction City took place on 10 March 67. The following description of that battle is also based in part upon the account presented in the December 1967 edition of Danger Forward.
On the evening of the 10th, the 2d Battalion (Mechanized), 2d Infantry (minus Company "B"), commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Edward J. Collins, was securing the perimeter of Artillery fire Support Patrol Base II located at Prek Klok on Route 4, twenty kilometers north of Nui Ba Den. Inside the circular "wagon train" perimeter of the base were headquarters, "B" and "C" Batteries of the 2d Battalion, 33d Artillery (Lieutenant Colonel Charles D. Daniel), plus elements of the 168th Engineer Battalion. The engineers were busily engaged in building a Special Forces and Civilian Irregular Defense Group camp and airstrip.
The 2d Battalion's APC's (armored personnel carriers) were placed at 50-meter intervals around the base perimeter. The areas between the tracks were protected by foxholes manned by infantrymen, engineers, and artillerymen.
Just after dusk fell, the troops on the perimeter fired a "mad minute" to test their weapons and provide a show of force to the enemy. Ambush patrols and listening posts left the perimeter for their positions in the surrounding jungle. At about 2030, men of an "A" Company listening post to the east of the perimeter, while moving into position, reported seeing and engaging three Viet Cong with unknown results. Colonel Collins placed the battalion on 75 percent alert as preplanned artillery harassing fires continued.
At 2200 the Viet Cong commenced a heavy mortar attack on the small circle of U.S. troops. Within two minutes after the first explosions, countermortar fire was initiated by the heavy mortar platoons led by Sergeant First Class Kenneth D. Davis. The fire was directed to the area where it appeared the mortar attack was originating. Sergeant Davis and his platoon fired a total of 435 rounds during the battle. For some thirty minutes, round after round of 120-mm, 82-mm, and 60-mm, mortar ammunition exploded inside the base. In addition to the estimated two hundred incoming rounds, the Viet Cong employed 75-mm recoilless rifles and RPG2 antitank weapons against the perimeter of the base. Several tracks were hit; twenty U.S. troops were wounded. Cooks, maintenance crews, and medical personnel began carrying the wounded to the airstrip; helicopters evacuated the injured as they arrived.
As soon as the mortar barrage ended, Colonel Collins directed all his units to conduct a reconnaissance by fire of the area from 200 to 600 meters beyond the perimeter. The relative stillness was shattered by the noise of .50-caliber machine guns mounted on the tracks and ground mounts. The reconnaissance by fire had no sooner ended than the enemy, two battalions in strength, launched a ground attack along the eastern sector into the positions held by "A" Company. It was now about 2230.
Among those firing, not now in reconnaissance but in defense, was Staff Sergeant Richard A. Griffin of "A" Company. During the mortar attack Sergeant Griffin had run from his sheltered position to resupply his comrades along the perimeter with ammunition. When the ground attack began, he returned to his machine gun and placed a heavy volume of accurate fire on the enemy. He was later awarded the Bronze Star with V (valor) device.
The 3d Brigade tactical command post at Suoi Da had been requested to provide close tactical air support, artillery, medical evacuation for the wounded, and ammunition resupply. The response to these requests was immediate. Medical evacuation and resupply were provided with the dispatch of five Hueys and a light fire team. Sixty-four sorties were flown under fire into Bases I and II. With their landing lights on, the aircraft brought in sixteen tons of supplies by sling load. One hundred tactical air sorties supported the friendly forces.
In addition to the main attack from the east, the Viet Cong launched limited attacks from the northeast and southeast. Intense fire from enemy recoilless rifles and automatic weapons struck the "A" Company positions. Three of their armored personnel carriers were hit by enemy RPG2 rounds; one track had received a direct hit from a mortar round.
On the southwestern side of the perimeter, "C" Company met the enemy's secondary attack head on. Moving parallel to the highway along the western side of the road, the Viet Cong rushed across 500 meters of open ground to hit "C" Company's positions from the southwest. Continuous fire from the American weapons quickly gained fire superiority. The company never reported sighting more than a platoon of Viet Cong in the clearing, although many more enemy soldiers fired from the woods.
When the mortar attack had started, the artillery defensive concentrations which ringed the entire perimeter of the base were fired. As the enemy attacks commenced, adjustments in the fire were made toward and onto the attacks. Nearby artillery units at Bases I and III as well as the artillery in the Prek Klok base itself swept the area around the perimeter with over five thousand artillery rounds, while the 3d Brigade's forward air controllers directed the air strikes. An armed C-47, "Spooky", trained its miniguns on the Viet Cong forces to the east of the perimeter as it orbited the area.
When the first Air Force flight had arrived in the area, Route 4 was declared a fire co-ordination line between the artillery and the aircraft. To the west of the road the artillery fired and broke the enemy's assault and prohibited him from regrouping, while to the east the fighters covered the area with bombs, rockets, and 20- mm cannon fire. The massive and devastating use of air strikes and artillery broke the back of the attack.
After an hour of fierce fighting, the brunt of the Viet Cong attack had been repelled. Sniper fire continued as the Viet Cong withdrew, and it was about 0430 before the last enemy round was fired. Early morning sweeps and aerial observation of the area disclosed 197 enemy killed. Five wounded Viet Cong were found and taken prisoner. U.S. losses were 3 killed [see below] and 38 wounded. The enemy left 12 individual weapons on the battlefield as well as a considerable amount of other equipment and gear.
It was determined that the attack had been made by two battalions of the 272d Regiment of the 9th Viet Cong Division. By now in Junction City two of that division's regiments had attacked and been badly defeated. The remaining regiments would make their appearance in Phase II and be bloodied as well.
According to http://www.thewall-usa.com, and the latest edition of the KIA list for the 2nd Infantry Regiment, those soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment who lost their lives during this battle are:
PFC Joel Andrew Brown
A Co, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment,1st Infantry Division
21 year old Single, Caucasian, Male born on Aug 29, 1945, From Hamburg, New York
His tour of duty began on Oct 10, 1966 and his casualty was on Mar 10, 1967, in Phuoc Long, South Vietnam.
Hostile, died while missing, ground casualty, multiple fragmentation wounds, body was recovered.
Religion - Roman Catholic
Panel 16E - - Line 51
SP4 Edward Senior Hall
C Co., 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division
21 year old Single, Caucasian, Male, born on Jan 14, 1946, from Lee, Maine
Length of service 2 years.
His tour of duty began on Feb 12, 1967 and his casualty was on Mar 10, 1967, in Tay Ninh, South Vietnam
Hostile, ground casualty, artillery, rocket, or mortar, body was recovered
Religion – Baptist
Panel 16E - - Line 52
I cannot identify the third American KIA mentioned in General Rogers’ report.