July 1 – 8, 1970
Day by Day Report
by Lee Widjeskog
July 1, 1970
Fifty years ago the battle for FSB Ripcord just started heating up. The NVA started putting pressure on the base at 7AM with mortars, small arms fire, RPG, recoilless rifles and heavy machinegun fire. As a result 15 men were WIA that day and a Chinook helicopter went down onto the firebase. In response we employed airstrikes, counter fire by artillery and mortars and ARA (aerial rocket artillery) at suspected NVA location. D2/506 held the security of the base for the boys in A2/11 FA , B 2/319 FA and the E2/506 mortar units.
Elsewhere, B2/506 was patrolling around Hill 805 east of Ripcord. They ran into NVA bunkers where they killed 1 NVA, captured a mortar tube and destroyed the bunkers. Two GIs were wounded.
D2/501 was attached to the 506 and operated 5 kilometers northwest of Ripcord. Their day was quiet.
D Troop 2/17 Cav was deployed 2 kilometers north of Ripcord where they found a bunker complex, machinegun pits and a 2 foot wide east-west trail. No NVA.
The day before C2/506 had reached Hill 902 , west of Ripcord where they spent the night. During 1 July they spotted mortars firing on Ripcord. They employed LAWs (bazooka) on the location from afar and quieted them. That night they were instructed to set up their NDP once more on Hill 902, not what was normally done. The unit had only 40 men plus about 7 in the command post so their perimeter covered the area of maybe a baseball infield. Some there thought the set up was too casual. Some dug in deep while others used existing holes or just set where it was convenient. At 10PM (2200) noise was heard outside the perimeter but nothing further was noted till after midnight.
The remaining unit for 2/506 was Alpha Company and they secured FSB O’Reilly 6 kilometers north.
The worst month of the battle was beginning.
July 2, 1970
After the early evening movement on the 1st, the C2/506 perimeter on Hill 902 was quiet. At 0330 guys started hearing noise. Mantheiu, Tarbuck and Holtenhausen went on alert to the south. Herndon, Moyer and Steel to the southwest also alerted as did Mueller two holes over. Almost immediately satchel charges, grenades, RPGs and small arms fire erupted through out the NDP. On the opening salvo, a RPG hit the command post killing Captain Hewitt and wounding other in the CP. His RTO Dreher and Medic Cafferty were wounded as was the forward observer Van Cleve. As they recovered they called for mortars and aerial flares to help stem the attack. the attack on the CP seemed to come primarily from the northeast
On the southwest side Herndon was hit as he moved to reinforce a position. He called for a medic and Doc Conrady rushed to help him when others told him to wait. He died as he reached Herndon.
At machine gun position manned by Lenz, Sumrall and Harber, a satchel charge landed in it killing Sumerall. Lez and Harber moved towards the CP to join Radcliff. On the move Harber took a direct hit from a RPG and died instantly. Lenz dove into a foxhole with Radcliff. As they set up a RPG hit them killing both.
The majority of the assault came out of the west. Here Mueller, “Shakey” and Mendez fought of the NVA. Next to them were Zoller , Smith and a third man. this trio was hit by small arms fire killing Zoller.
An hour into the fight, the GIs were gaining control as the FO brought in ARA and other aerial support. Finally by 0530 the perimeter was once again secure. US losses that night were 8 dead and 6 wounded. Shortly after daylight the Third Platoon was flown in to help with the clean up. By noonC2/506 had been extracted from Hill 902 and A2/501 was insertted to take their place. they quicly received 32 rounds of mortar fire and had one man wounded.
At Ripcord 10 mortar rounds hit wounding one man. An attempt to remove the CH-47 from the base was unsuccessful due to enemy fire.
3rd Platoon B2/506 near Hill 805 received RPG and small arms fire as they captured a .51 machine gun. No injuries.
C2/501 worked the hill south of Re-Up Hill. D2/501 patrolled the jungle between Ripcord and O’Reilly.
D Troop 2/17 headed behind Hill 1000 to seek reported caves.
D2/506 secured FSB Ripcord and A2/506 secured FSB O’Reilly.
GIs that died today were Conrady, Harber, Herndon, Hewitt, Lenz, Radcliff, Sumrall, and Zoller.
July 3, 1970
3 July 1970: scattered through the day, FSB Ripcord received 11 75mm rounds without injuries. The downed CH-47 was finally retrieved and returned to Camp Evans. D2/506 maintained security on Ripcord and A2/506 remained on FSB O’Reilly.
C2/506, now under Capt. Wilcox, moved from Ripcord to Hill 805 to work with B2/506. Around 1600, 1st Platoon B2/506 was leading out. Bob Utecht was point followed by Bob Judd. Judd noticed some fresh cuttings that Utecht had missed. He tried to stop him when the NVA opened fire killing Utecht and wounding one other.
Later that day as the CO Bill Williams was on the radio , a bolt of lightning hit and destroyed the radio. Eight men were hit and the CO was knocked unconscious. No one required evacuation, but the CO was incoherent for a while. C & B 2/506 set up NDP on the hill.
Team B Recon E2/506 working north of Ripcord killed one NVA
D2/501 worked the jungles 5 kilometers north of Ripcord. A2/501 worked the area southwest of Hill 902 and C2/506 patrolled near Re-Up Hill. both areas known to harbor NVA.
Airstrike continued to be directed throughout the Area of Operations.
July 4, 1970
FSB Ripcord received 40 rounds of mortar fire and 4 rounds of 75mm recoilless rifle fire resulting in 3 WIA where D2/506 provided security and B2/319 & A2/11 manned the cannons.
Recon team E, of E2/506 was inserted north of Triple Hill.
Team F of the 3rd BDE Recon section was inserted at O’Reilly and moved off and later had one man, Lokker, was hit with a 81mm illumination canaster ring and medevaced out that night.
Airstrikes were put in between O’Reilly and Ripcord.
C2/506 with a few new guys, was inserted onto Triple Hill, north of Ripcord.
B2/506 remained in the Hill 805 area, denting the area to the NVA.
Just before 10AM, C2/501 was moving to a LZ in the vicinity of Hill 902, while being led by scout dog “Fritz” and his handler Bill Ray. Apparently signals were missed or the scent was in the wrong direction, but a booby trap consisting of 5 82mm mortar rounds strung along the trail was command detonated. Killed instantly were Bill Ray, Jimmie Robinson, Carl Mickens, Gary Thaden and LT. Bill Sullivan. Five others and Fritz were WIA.
A2/501 worked the area northwest of Hill 902.
B2/501 had the region southwest of Coc Muen a large hill in the area and D2/501 remained north of Ripcord , below O’Reilly.
A2/506 secured FSB O’Reilly and during a “mad minute” one man was hit with a piece of M-79 shrapnel.
July 5, 1970
A slow day at FSB Ripcord receiving only 4 mortar rounds and no injuries. Perhaps having men near Hill 902, 805 and 1000 is the reason. D2/506 provided security.
Early 5 July, just after midnight, C2/501, located 1500 meters southeast of RE-Up Hill, had their night defensive perimeter probed by NVA when trip flares were set off. Small arms fire and satchel charges erupted on all side of the position. By 0100 the attack had broken off. Later at 0650 they received RPG from from the west and a second attack. After beating it off, a sweep of the area revealed 5 NVA KIA. During the action Charlie Company had 14 WIA and one man killed. This was Mike Waymire. He was from HHC 2/501 and had arrived the day before to track down a serial number on a weapon. Weather conditions changed and he was not able to fly back so he stayed with the line company. During the attack he was apparently hit with small arms fire and killed.
C2/506 located near Triple Hill located a bunker complex and two NVA killed by artillery.
B2/506 continued to patrol in the vicinity of Hill 805.
D2/501 patrolled north of Ripcord and south of FSB O’Reilly without incident.
B2/501 worked the area southwest of Coc Muen.
A2/501 worked between the big hill and Hill 902. They engaged NVA about 1 kilometer southwest of Hill 902. In the exchange of RPG and small arms and artillery, Alpha suffered 2 WIA and the NVA 5 KIA.
A2/506 remained on FSB O’Reilly.
July 6, 1970
Things were in flux around FSB Ripcord today. Only 6 mortar rounds hit with no injuries.
B2/50 moved onto Ripcord to take over security, leaving Hill 805 open to the NVA again.
Over near Hill 1000, Recon Team B or E 2/506, engaged NVA on the north flank of the hill resulting in 5 WIA. 2nd Platoon D2/506 moved to assist them and get a medevac in. In the process of getting Recon out, a starlight scope was left behind and other equipment.
D2/506 set up a NDP 400 meters southeast of Hill 1000 and received 3 mortar rounds for their efforts.
South of Hill 902, A2/501 was hit by a company of NVA. After employing organic weapons and airstrikes contact was broken off by the NVA. 15 men were WIA and one more was wounded during the medevac that followed.
B2/501continued patrols south of Coc Muen.
C2/501, recovering from the previous losses continued to work in the area of Re-Up Hill, south east of Hill 902.
D2/501 remained between Ripcord and O’Reilly.
C2/506 patrolled near Triple Hill and A2/506 secured FSB O’Reilly.
On the far south east flank of the Ripcord Area of Operations, B1/506 lost Sandy Porter when his squad attempted to reenter the NDP and he was accidently killed by nervous GIs who did not get word of the friendly troops movement.
July 7, 1970
From Ripcord, a number of artillery missions and air strikes were planned and conducted. At the same time the fire base received 42 mortar rounds, small arms fire and 3 75mm rounds on the site leaving 2 WIA.
To the west D2/506 attempted to recover the equipment lost the previous day by Recon.. They were met with small arms fire and RPGs from bunkered NVA. The exchange of fire continued for two hours where upon Delta drew back and employed artillery, air strikes and ARA. During the assault Delta suffered 1 KIA, 2 MIA (presumed dead) and 13 WIA. Delta set up for the night and prepared to try again in the morning. Killed were Charles Beals, Lewis Howard and Mike Grimm.
July 8, 1970
FSB Ripcord met another day by firing artillery and dropping bombs onto Hill 1000 in preparation for an assault.
In return Ripcord received 9 mortar rounds, 3 75mm, and 2 RPG but took no injuries.
C2/506 combat assaulted from the Triple Hill area and was soon assaulting Hill 1000 from the west while D2/506 moved on the hill from the east. It was mid-day when the assault started and the ground was pulverized from all the bombs and artillery used to roust the NVA. Climbing up these soft sides had the men lose a step for every two they took. As they closed in, the NVA opened up with RPG, satchel charges and small arms fire from the still functioning bunkers. Gradually Charlie Company was able to neutralize a bunker on to have it re-manned from interior connecting tunnels. Eventually, C2/506 secured the western peak but Delta could not get their goal . After 2 hours of hot weather and heavy action, NVA were spotted trying to flank the companies through the jungle. Col. Lucas had them pull back to protect the flanks. Plans to go back at the hill later that day were put off and additional artillery was fired onto the hill. During that day C2/506 lost Hupp and new medic Scott and had an additional 3 WIAs. Delta fared better with only one man wounded.
That morning, not far from Hill 902, A2/501 built a LZ to medevac those wounded yesterday. No sooner done and they were mortared by the NVA leaving an additional 11 WIA. No further contact occurred that night.
B & C 2/501 continued to patrol the jungled hills near Re-Up Hill.
D2/501 continued patrolling well north of Ripcord but south of O’Reilly.
A2/506 provided security for FSB O’Reilly and B2/506 did the same for Ripcord.