1st Battalion 22nd Infantry
Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Inf Division
Fort Lewis, Washington and Vietnam
January 1966 - July 1967
(Source: Personal memory and letters kept by Bob Babcock)
January 1966 - troops fresh out of basic training joined the company at Fort Lewis, Washington for in-unit AIT followed by squad, platoon, and company training.
February-May 1966 - in unit AIT, squad, platoon, and company level training was conducted. Selection of squad leaders and fire team leaders from recruits to fill slots - very few NCOs in the company relative to the authorized slots. All classes were taught by company officers and NCOs, often with weapons and equipment that was borrowed from other companies in the battalion - we were not equipped as a training unit but by sharing crew served weapons, effective training was conducted all across the battalion and brigade.
June 1966 - participated in Brigade FTX at Fort Lewis in first ten days of month then qualified on M-16 rifle (newly issued, few had ever seen it before) and packed equipment for deployment to Vietnam, went on leave late in the month.
July 1966 - returned to Fort Lewis from leave, despite national airline strike that made travel very difficult to impossible (only two soldiers missed the port call and they caught a flight and were in Vietnam when we arrived. Left aboard USNS Nelson M. Walker on 21 July 1966 from Port of Tacoma, WA enroute to Vietnam - spent sixteen days on board ship, stopping only for overnight in Okinawa, officers and E-6 and above got off the ship.
August 1966 - arrived in Qui Nhon, Vietnam on 6 August 1966. CO of B/1-22 was 1LT Sandy Fiacco. Immediately flew aboard a C-130 to Pleiku and was trucked by engineer dump trucks to future site of 4th Inf Div base camp at Dragon Mountain, south of Pleiku. Took over perimeter guard duty as darkness fell, was drenched by monsoon rains. Spent next three weeks improving perimeter, receiving equipment from the ship, patrolling around the base camp, and getting acclimated to weather. 1LT Lou Dinetz, platoon leader of first platoon, was first 22nd and 4ID soldier in a firefight (while accompanying a 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division unit on a night ambush patrol). Monsoons continued daily. Flew to Tuy Hoa aboard C-130 on 25 August 1966 and were attached to 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division to protect the rice harvest - Operation Seward. First combat patrol was by third platoon working with engineers of 101st Airborne to clear a road west of Tuy Hoa. Moved to Mosquito Valley, south of Tuy Hoa, and patrolled and provided strongpoints along Highway 1.
September 1966 - continued our mission in Tuy Hoa. First KIA of battalion and Division was PFC Albert Collins, C/1-22 on 3 Sep 66. We went up the valley to help them but found no VC. Provided security as 1st Brigade, 4th Inf Div arrived in Tuy Hoa. Second platoon flew to Ninh Hoa in late September and had first firefight while working on convoy security with a Korean unit. We also worked alongside the Korean White Horse division which had just arrived in VN.
October 1966 - continued mission in Tuy Hoa until 10 October then were redeployed back to Pleiku and 4ID where we provided security and patrolling around Hwy 19 between Pleiku east to Mang Yang pass toward An Khe. Worked as task forces with B/1-10 Cav and A/1-69 Armor - one rifle platoon, one Cav platoon, and one tank platoon in each task force. Fiacco was promoted to Captain. Pulled back to Dragon Mountain base camp on 31 Oct for payday activities and our first company stand down day since arriving in country. Were alerted at 2000 hrs to move by truck to Plei Me where Special Forces camp was reported to be subject of attack by large NVA force. Drove all night, arrived Plei Me at daylight, no NVA - heavy artillery and air strikes all night may have driven them off before they attacked.
November 1966 - returned on 1 Nov 66 to Dragon Mountain and were immediately trucked to Plei Dejereng to prepare to jump off to Cambodian border for Operation Paul Revere IV. 3 Nov 66 we made a combat assault into the Plei Trap valley and moved out immediately on search and destroy operation that lasted the entire month of November. First officer KIA of the battalion and Division was 1LT Dick Collins, A/1-22, West Point class of 1965, who was killed on 5 Nov 66. Our first KIA was SP4 David Mendez, RTO of 2nd Platoon who was killed on 20 Nov 66 by friendly 4.2 mortar fire as we moved up as a blocking force to help 1-35 Infantry of 25th Infantry Division. Ten other B/1-22 men were wounded by the friendly fire, including 1LT Walt Ferguson, 2nd platoon leader. Through the month we found numerous NVA base camps and killed and captured a few stragglers, no major battle.
December 1966 - Continued on Operation Paul Revere IV in the jungles of the Plei Trap valley along the Nam Sathay river. Found more NVA base camps, killed and captured more NVA stragglers, but no major battles. Were two kilometers from a B-52 arc light dropped in during the night and then next morning swept the area hit by the bombs. Much damage to jungle but only one sick NVA found, who became a POW. Moved three kilometers into Cambodia in hot pursuit of NVA that were flushed out of a large base camp before we were ordered to return. Battalion and our support artillery, C/4-42 Arty, were lifted out of the jungles on 20 Dec 66 to return to Dragon Mountain base camp. Another friendly fire incident on 19 Dec 66 by Spooky (DC3 with Gatling guns) killed one man from C/4-42 Arty and wounded two others - all three rifle companies were in the fire base but escaped without casualty. Spent 21 Dec to 3 Jan 67 in base camp. During this time period, CPT Sandy Fiacco relinquished command of the company to CPT Richard D. "Buck" Ator, who had been Aide to MG Arthur Collins.
January 1967 - Returned to Plei Trap valley on 3 Jan 67 in Operation Sam Houston. Mission was virtually same as it had been previous two months. More NVA activity throughout the AO but we maintained our record of no casualties. Other companies in the battalion and brigade had significant casualties. Late in January, LTC Len "Rawhide" Morley relinquished command of 1-22 to LTC Paul Braim.
February 1967 - Continued on Operation Sam Houston. Our second KIA, again by friendly fire from a short 105 round from C/4-42 Arty, was SP4 James Hubbard, one of company commanders RTOs. No other casualties from the round. Several small skirmishes but no significant casualties. Brigade trains area at Plei Dejereng was mortared on 14 Feb with minor casualties and damage.
March 1967 - Significant contact throughout the battalion and brigade AO. Sniper fire wounded SGT Doug Muller, squad leader in 3rd platoon and PFC Julian White, medic. Next day, NVA mortar fire wounded 2LT Roy Dean, replacement platoon leader of 3rd Platoon and SGT Willie Cheatham, another squad leader in 3rd Platoon. Multiple casualties in the battalion during this time period, including LTC Paul Braim who was wounded in the side by a soldier cleaning his weapon. LTC Thomas Rosell assumed command of the battalion. Brigade trains at Plei DeJereng was again mortared, this time inflicting heavy damage on the 1-22 motor pool and vehicles with minor casualties to the troops. (It was on 22 Mar 67 that 1SG David McNerny of 1-8 Infantry earned the Medal of Honor in our AO). Battalion support was moved back to the Camp Holloway and Pleiku area and the rifle companies moved back to making sweeps of Montagnard villages west of Pleiku.
April 1967 - After spending the first week or so working around the Montagnard villages, the battalion moved to the Ia Drang Valley and resumed search and destroy operations. Battalion support elements moved to the Oasis. No major contacts by the company during the month of April as we continued our constant time in the field and away from base camp.
May 1967 - Operations continued in the Ia Drang valley with no significant contact. On 20 May 67, Buddhas birthday, a truce was called with the NVA/VC but our company was hit by mortar, RPG and small arms fire just before midnight. The RPG hit a tank of the 1-69 Armor that was working with us, causing minor casualties to the tank crew. Despite the lack of supporting fires due to the cease fire, our company repulsed the attack and suffered no further casualties. A few days later, the company returned to Camp Enari, for the first time since 3 Jan 67, for a rest and refitting period. After being there less than 18 hours, we were alerted to fly to Jacksons Hole fire base to prepare to help 1-8 and 3-8 Infantry who were under heavy attack by a large NVA force. By the time the company arrived at Jacksons Hole, the NVA had been repulsed and we were diverted back to the Ia Drang valley. In late May, some of our troops were given a 45 day drop in their tour and started rotating back to the States. We began receiving fresh troops from the States, along with troops transferred from the 9th Inf Div, to replace our troops.
June 1967 - Operations continued in the Ia Drang valley with no significant contact. More and more of the original troops returned to the States and were replaced with fresh but inexperienced troops. CPT Ator continued to command the company until Sep 67 so we had continuity at the CO level.
July 1967 - On 5 July, 1LT Bob Babcock, author of this report, and the last of the original officers of B/1-22 returned to the States. When he left, the company was in the Ia Drang valley and virtually all the leaders and troops were new to the company within the past sixty days.
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