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Second Infantry Regiment
 
 
 


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Tom Copeland
Reply with quote  #1 

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.

Tom Copeland
Reply with quote  #2 

I put this thread on here to get comments and stories from guys who were at Prek Klok II in March 1967.  Here is my story, the best I can remember it.

 

Unlike the account written by General Rogers, I do not remember a mad minute being fired on the evening of March 1oth.

 

Battle of Prek Klok II – March 10, 1967

I arrived in Vietnam on February 3, 1967 and after a week or so of processing I was assigned to the Ground Surveillance Section of Headquarters Company (HHC) in the 2nd Battalion (Mechanized), 2nd Infantry Regiment in Lai Khe. I went through the Jungle School at Lai Khe and eventually turned to learning how to operate the Ground Surveillance Radar unit AN/PPS-4. The PPS-4 is an antipersonnel radar system that can detect movement of troops during times of low visibility. We generally set the radar units up at night on the perimeter where we could monitor large open areas to detect any movement. While in Lai Khe we manned the old French guard tower on the North side and monitored the open areas along the stream bed to the East and West of Highway 13, and back towards the Lai Khe perimeter. We generally kept one team on Lai Khe perimeter every night and had another team in the field, attached to various Line Companies.

On March 10, 1967, a team made up of Sgt. David Hutton, PFC Tom Copeland and PFC Charlie Matthews left Lai Khe to relieve the team working with HHC Company at the Prek Klok II base camp. We flew from Lai Khe to Soui Da on a UH1B helicopter and transferred to a 2 ½ ton truck to finish the journey with the re-supply convoy to Prek Klok II. Upon arrival we talked briefly with the departing team and Charlie and I were assigned to a fox hole on the perimeter to stand watch. A few hours later we were taken off guard duty to help fight a fire that had started in a large pile of trees that had been pushed over by bulldozers to clear the base camp. The engineers were building a Special Forces base camp and a runway. Charlie and I tried for several hours to bring the fire under control using only shovels before the decision was made to let it burn.

Later that afternoon we were assigned to a foxhole located near the Command Center and told to stand guard there that evening. I developed a sore throat and went to the medics to get it checked out. I was told I had an advanced case of strep throat, given a shot of penicillin and put on 24 hour bed rest. The doctor who examined me said it was bad enough that I would be sent back to Lai Khe the next morning. I was instructed to go back to my position, lay down and keep warm. "Keep Warm", Hell it was 120 degrees out there and he was worried about me keeping warm? Soon after I laid down I began to get chills and started shivering. I assume this was a reaction to the shot of penicillin that was so big my entire leg started to hurt. It felt like I had been hit with a ball bat right below my right hip. I actually managed to fall asleep for an hour or so.

After chow we were talking and just before I went back to my position for the evening I told Matthews that if the VC came that night he was to tell them to go away cause I wasn’t feeling well. Around 9:00 PM I went back to our daytime position and settled in for the night. The chills had gone away but my leg was still sore. I had a poncho stretched out to lay under and used my helmet for a pillow. Around 10:00 PM I remember hearing explosions over near the runway and stuff was falling on the poncho. My first thought was that it had started raining, but I also remember thinking the explosions didn’t sound like outgoing artillery rounds, there was something different in the sound. I then saw the explosions and the dirt flying into the air and grabbed my helmet, rifle and web gear and dove into the foxhole. I was in there all by myself and I don’t mind saying I was scared shitless. I sat down in the very bottom corner of the hole and I remember looking up out of the hole and it appeared to take the shape of a funnel. I decided to move to the position with the other guys and just as I was getting out of the hole I saw a round hit directly in their hole. My heart sunk and I knew they were all dead. Right after the shelling stopped I stuck my head out of the hole to get ready for something, but I didn’t know what to expect. The first thing I saw was a large group of people running right at my foxhole. My first thought was that the VC had broken through the perimeter and were going after the artillery positions. I raised my weapon to start firing and noticed that they were wearing American helmets. It was a group of engineers coming over to secure the runway. They took up positions in the ditch along side the road. Right after they moved into the ditch the flares started coming out and I could see this eerie scene when I looked across the perimeter. As I was standing up in the hole and looking around I heard a pop-zing sound coming from near the mess tent. I noticed that every time I stood to see what was going on I heard that sound, then I heard one of the engineers call for a medic. He had been struck by one of the sniper rounds that I think was meant for me.

Shortly after that, a SPC5 from HHC (I do not remember his name) came by to check on me and told me to stay where I was. He also told me he had just left the other hole and they were all fine. The round had hit just in front of the hole but no one was harmed.

I ask him about the pop-zing sound and he told me it sounded like a carbine. The next morning they found a VC lying next to the mess tent with an M-1 carbine. He had evidently been killed buy a stray round.

On the morning of March 11th, we were assigned to help police up the VC bodies and haul them to the mass grave sight.

I think it was the next day that we started our move back to Lai Khe. We first moved back to Soui Da and spent the night. The following day we convoyed through Tay Ninh, Saigon and back into Lai Khe.

There are several photos on the 2nd Inf. Reg. Association Web page that were taken at Soui Da and Prek Klok II. Look at the section: HHC/2/2, Photos 05, 06, and 07

Tom Copeland
Reply with quote  #3 

I was hoping to get comments and\or stories from other guys who were at the battle of Prek Klok II.

 

Any short stories would be appreciated, even if they are only a line or two.  I have read three published accounts of this battle and there are slight differences in each of them.

 

Tom

Robert Fazio
Reply with quote  #4 

Hello Tom,  I just got off the phone with a friend of yours and mine.  Jerry Lupo  he directed me to this web site and explained how you helped him find me. I was scanning the different pages and came across your article on Prek KlokII. I was there that night What i remember about that night was we were running the road north up to another camp reconning by fire. We go the word to  button up in the track and get back to the camp because it was under attack. By luck we got in and another personel carrier covered our position. So we ended up with our personel carrier  not in the dug in position but  standing on the ground it took one RPG round in the side and a direct mortor it on the front.  I forget the fellows name but he got blown off the 50  but got back on and kept firing.  He was awarded the silver star that night. I  just got out of the track and was checking a fox hole when it took the rpg hit, the fellow passing up the ammo got hit I think his last name was Cullan,not sure. I ran into him when I came back to the states. He was having surgery for his wounds a year later. It was at Valley Forge General Hospital  in Philly.  I was the medic on that track. I remember it was a bad night and i took a piece of scrapnel in the arm. The next morning we found 5 enemy dead infront of our position and 2 alive in the stumps. That morning we patroled the are and found a lot of blood  and tracks , thats about all a remember

Tom Copeland
Reply with quote  #5 

Robert,

 

Welcome to the board.  It is great seeing you on here.  Did you look at the posting for Jerry's brother, "My Brother"?  I posted some photos of Medics on there that Jerry got from Dr. Rosenthal.  The same ones I sent you.  I may re-post them under a new post titled 2/2 Medics, 1967.

 

Tom

Robert Fazio
Reply with quote  #6 

Hi Tom, I received you letter yesterday and mailed the pictures back this morning. I  think one of the guys in the picture is Greene I can't be positive. If you get any other information give me a call  Good Luck

Mark Coletta
Reply with quote  #7 

I was there that night. I was on track 314 on the northwest side of the permiter. I was the weapons platoon squad leader. I was on LP that night and sat out there for about 2-3 hours till they came at us, it sounded like rain as they ran through the tall grass. We were released to come in and we placed a grenade on the radio and came in as we took fire. I had to place my web gear on the wire and dive across as we could not find the hole in the wire. the Arty in the bunker next to mine opened up on us with a 60 and one of my guys went over to their bunker to stop them from killing us. We went FPL alot that night and the Arty went Beehive twice that night. I remember that the guy from Alpha Co was RPGed a couple of time and had a pile of dead bodies in front of his track in the AM, but I thought he died and got a CMH. I guess not. We picked up alot more than a 197 bodies put into the nets the next morning. I do remember that the engineers had just finished the runway that Day and the NVA ran 122 mm up and down that thing with ease.

John Venn
Reply with quote  #8 
I was in A Company (second platoon) and in a foxhole with Paul Trudeau.  We had built the hole so it looked like a "DePuy hole" but we could push the front down if we wanted (and we did push it down). 

We had an lp out in front and Sp4 Nease was the ranking person (I think he had some new guys with him) and he warned us when he saw the enemy.

On our right was our track, 123 (Ssgt Richard Rouseau "Rosey" was on the fifty) and to our left was the maintanence track. 

We took a lot of fire and mortor rounds.  One of the mortor rounds hit almost on top of our hole.  I had a M-79 and was going through the grenades fast.  Many of the VC were pretty close in and used the tree that had been knocked down for fighting positions. 

I got down to shooting flares at the position to our front (I used to carry 40mm long flares that could be fired in the m-79).

At one point Paul's 16 jammed and I was out of ammo (I had a magazine of 45 ammo left) we got out of the foxhole.  At that time Bill Hansen brought us a box of grenades.  We crawled forward (not that we wanted to) and threw our grenades and went back and got some more. By the time we used the grenades up, Paul had returned with a 60 (I think he got it from the Engineers that were behind us) and ammo.  Later he brought me a box of M-79 grenades.

It was a long night and got longer when every other man had to go on a patrol the next morning.  We had many dead VC bodies to our front.

It was kinda funny.  In the morning Lt. Parker came and told us to police the area because brass was coming in.  We did not know what to do with all the empty ammo boxes, so, we threw them in the fox hole (stupid?)  He came back and asked us what we were doing and told us to get the boxes out of the foxhole.
Tim McCormack
Reply with quote  #9 

Hello,

My name is Tim McCormack son of Combat Medic Kevin James McCormack "Moose" from the Bronx, NY. I was looking at some of my father's things from Vietnam and came across something regarding this battle that he was a part of and thought I would do some research to learn more. He didn't speak much in specifics so this was one of the first times I had information to look into. 

I know he spoke often of a Joe Lupo, and I see that Mr. Fazio mentioned a Jerry Lupo below so I thought perhaps some of you may have known my Dad. Unfortunately he recently passed from complications from ALS. He was proud of his service and the men he served with. He was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in April of this year. 

If anyone knew my father while overseas, I'd love to hear from you. 

Thank you for your help and most of all for your service and sacrifice for our nation. We are forever indebted to you. 

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John Venn
Reply with quote  #10 
Tim,  Take a look at your other post.

John Venn
Curtis Parker
Reply with quote  #11 
Tom you are right on time about us Soldiers Once and Young who can still remember our combat tours and battles in Vietnam after all these many years before of the facts and details are lost because lack of memory (One major reason why I have not completed my book called "JUNGLE DAZE"). It seems like to me that all the knew information about the Battle of BANDIT HILL is either from John Kerins and 1LT.Richard E. Brown ( B36) who was the 3rd platoon leader then before being reassigned to the 4.2 Mortar Platoon. I did not know all the details of what actually accurred during that night during that attack of Bandit Hill...Still now knowing the enemy situation and their intent I still would have led the company back to the NDP at Bandit Hill that night....Now only after all these years I finally know the reason why my platoon Sergeant said "Parker you are a crazy Mother F and 1LT. Richard E. Brown told me at dawn that morning that I had done a good job and that he was recommending me and my driver Ken for the Silver Star medal". That night during the battle of Bandit Hill I did not consider myself a hero, I was just doing what needed to be done just as I did on 3 April 1968 when B 2/2 Infantry engage a NVA regiment with Red Chinese....A Call Of Duty like we all did for each other..Noli Me Tangere.
I am enjoying reading about the Battle of Prek Klok II from those guys who fought there. Again I hope that our 2nd Infantry Regiment website is part of the Cantigny First Infantry Division Foundation (First Infantry Museum) to help preserve the histor of the 2nd Infantry Regiment and the Big Red One.

Curtis Parker
B 2/2 Infantry, 3rd Platoon, Track B231
9 Dec 1967-10 Dec 1968
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