1968 Time Line ~ Ambush & Recon
~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association ~ Vietnam History Project ~
This Page Last Updated    10 January 2010

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The Operations are consolidated and assigned to B Company


18th Bde.
89th Gp.

22 January Members of a C Company River Patrol unit were notified by an Air Force reconnaissance plane of a suspected enemy complex on the Buong River, just east of the "Boot," the most southern end of the Battalion Tactical Area Of Responsibility (TAOR). The patrol discovered a recently deserted Viet Cong (VC) base camp and hospital complex consisting of two buildings and a bunker with a slit trench in front. The patrols searched the empty facility and were ordered out due to an impending artillery strike nearby.

        The river patrol linked up with a twelve man B Company and Popular Forces (PF), recon squad 90 minutes later and returned back to the base camp. They immediately came under fire after leaving their boats.

        During the fire fight two VC were killed. Inside the bunkers they seized medical supplies, a Viet Cong flag, rifle, and various documents, which later proved to be of considerable intelligence value. No MP's or PF's were wounded in the engagement.

10 February The 615th MP Company ambush and recon Area of Operations (AO),within the Battalion TAOR was assimilated by the 720th ambush teams when the company was detached from the the Battalion and reassigned to the 95th MP Battalion (Long Binh Post).
Consolidation 26 June In a consolidation move B Company was designated by the Battalion to take over all TAOR operations under Operation STABILIZE. All A and C company, Village Outpost,  ambush, and River Patrol operational missions were transferred to B Company.
        Ambush Patrol Cycle The B Company ambush mission cycle consisted of a three day and night reconnaissance in a given area, followed by six days of night ambush. The seven man ambush squad, consisted of one Sergeant (E-5) or Corporal (E4) as squad leader, and six enlisted men.
        They would carry enough rations, water and supplies to sustain them for this time period. If for some unforeseen reason they ran low they were always able to proceed to one of the four village outpost in the TAOR to resupply, or have a river patrol boat meet them along one of the many streams or river banks.
        During the reconnaissance mission the ambush team would look for signs the enemy had been using the area. They would check old established trails for evidence of recent use, as well as look for evidence of new trails. The squad leader would determine the night ambush position based on previous activity that occurred in the area or, new intelligence developed during the days recon. In some instances the squad would group in a site just before dark and shortly after, move to the preferred site to throw off any enemy observers that may have been watching their activities during the day.
 The map coordinates of the squad position would be called into 720th Battalion Tactical Operations Command (TOC), to plot local Harassment and Interdiction  (H&I) artillery fire and coordinate assistance if needed later in the night. Just before dawn the squad would leave the ambush site and begin another days patrol in a different area of the assigned sector.

        On the morning of the fourth day the squad would end the reconnaissance mission. Depending on where the area of operation was located, they would walk out to a highway, outpost, or have the river patrol pick them up.

               Upon arrival at the company area the squad leader would notify TOC of any intelligence information not previously reported via radio. The squad members would clean their weapons and prep their gear before heading to the mess hall for a hot breakfast or lunch, depending on the time of return. Much needed sleep would follow a refreshing shower.
        That evening the squad would be back out and set up the first of seven nights of ambushes in the sector they just reconned. The morning of the eighth day the squad would return to post, have the remainder of that day and the morning and afternoon of the next to relax, then the cycle would begin again in a different sector of the TAOR.

        The only break in this routine would come if TOC obtained new "hot" intelligence or an incident of enemy activity occurred. In those instances the squad would be held over in the morning after a night ambush and be asked to conduct a search or join other squads in a sweep for the remainder of the day.

        At times squads were moved from their ambush locations to an outpost to beef up the defense capabilities. There were also times when a squad would be assigned to night walking patrols of villages. Instead of spending their night at an ambush location they would be expected to patrol one of the villages and its surrounding roads throughout the night.

        The bottom line was an ambush squad was the instant reaction force for any incidents that occurred within the TAOR. It was long, hard, tiresome duty and many men looked for any reason to avoid or get out of the ambush platoon. The one plus factor in working ambush was the time passed quickly and you never received any "make work" assignments when in the company area.

September A Special Forces infantry MOS trained 2LT by the name of Robert Chavis arrived at B Company and was assigned as the Ambush Platoon Leader. Under his leadership the tactics used by the squads changed drastically, and for the better.

        2LT Chavis recognized that the primary local VC base camps were located just outside the Battalion TAOR, south of the Buong River in the Area of Operations of the Royal Thai Army, Black Panther Division. 2LT Chavis targeted the back river areas for much of our activities in the latter months of 1968. The LT, who spent much of his time on day and night ambush and recon patrols with each of the squads, provided the much needed intensive on-the-job training for the men.

Rubber Raft Patrols Before the month was over 2LT Chavis acquired a seven man rubber raft and trained the men for its use in night ambush patrols on the back river and streams of the TAOR. The training was done in the Rach Bien River by the "Steel Bridge" that separated the villages of Long Hung and An Hoa Hung. Use of the raft resulted in several successful ambushes both on and off the river.
        During one night raft patrol a Viet Cong way station was discovered. Ambush Team #76 accompanied by 2LT Chavis, using a Star Light Scope, were paddling up (east) the Buong River, spotted a flicker of light in the thick woods near a stream junction. The LT and CPL Watson crawled approximately 50 yards through a rice paddy and were able to observe several VC sitting around a bunker just inside the tree line. Because the bunker was in the Royal Thai Army area, the patrol withdrew. 2LT Chavis and two ambush teams returned on another night successfully ambushing the VC and captured three sampans, supplies, ammunition and weapons.
        In January 1969 Ambush Team #76 accompanied by 2LT Chavis, & 1LT Ed Mendez ambushed two VC sampans traveling on the river resulting in three dead VC and the capture of the sampans, supplies, ammunition and weapons.

Black Pajama Patrols Another innovation by 2LT Chavis were the periodic black pajama operations in several of the villages. 2LT Chavis, CPL Thomas T. Watson, and the squads Popular Forces (PF) interpreter SGT Xichs, would wear black pajamas instead of jungle fatigue uniforms. Based on current intelligence on known and active VC sympathizers and family members, the LT would pick a village and lead the squad on a raid. The squad would sneak up on the residence of a VC family or sympathizer and surround it. The LT, CPL Watson, and PF would approach. The PF would either ask for the VC family member or family friend by name, or pose as an associate of the VC. Once the door was opened the three would rush inside the hooch search it for weapons or contraband and interrogate the occupants at gunpoint.

        Several raids were conducted at different villages during the night village walking patrols. Then as word got around the raids were halted for a period of time. Although none of the raids produced any VC, the psychological effect it had on the local VC families and friends was successful. Intelligence information received indicated they were now scared to come into the villages at night for fear of being caught by the black pajama patrols.

Tax Collector Patrols The squads also ran tax collector patrols on the back rivers during the afternoon and evening before dark. The VC would hide in their sampan in small streams along the river bank and wait for the farmers and merchants that used the river highways to return from a days work. As the sampan passed the VC would paddle out and force them at gun point to come to the bank and there they would take money or materials as a war tax. When the complaints started coming into intelligence, 2LT Chavis formulated a plan. Civilian sampans were obtained by bartering with cooperative farmers to operate them. An MP in black pajamas and PF dressed in Vietnamese civilian clothing were placed on each. The MP would stay hidden in the bottom of the sampan as it traveled the back rivers in the late afternoon. After a shoot-out with a VC tax collector the second day of the operation, no new complaints were received. The patrols were effective in shutting down the VC tax collection plan.
20 September, 0440 hours The 60 foot long reinforced concrete bridge across the Buong River on Highway QL15, just south of the Long Binh Post was destroyed during a Viet Cong attack. An estimated 300 pounds of explosives placed by the enemy dropped the concrete span into the river making the highway impassable. Imediately after the explosion they also attacked the MACV & Popular Forces Outpost that abuts the bridge on the south side of the river in Phuoc Cang Village with automatic weapons and RPG fire. B Company Ambush Squad #76 who were several clicks away, were assigned to conduct a security sweep at daylight the next morning.
WANTED Photographs of the destroyed bridge and temporary bypass. If you have any please contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.
22 September A Viet Cong base camp located along the Dong Nai River, just south of An Xuan Village was reported to Battalion by a local Vietnamese fisherman. The platoon sized camp consisted of 3 bunkers, connecting trench lines and thousands of "fire ants." Some old ammunition, rice and cooking materials were discovered. The camp was destroyed with C4 explosives after the search.
23 September An Army Tug towing an ammunition barge north up the Dong Nai River was fired upon with small arms from the area of the Viet Cong base camp searched the day before. Another sweep of the area failed to locate the enemy force. An air strike was used to destroy the wooded area along the river that contained the camp. After an uneventfull night ambush of the site by Squad #76, a subsequent seach of the area resulted in discovery that the base camp was used recently to burry several VC bodies.
30 September, 2245 hours A team of Viet Cong sappers, tried to crawl through the wire of Long Binh Post at Gate #11. It appears their target was the POL (Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricant) storage tanks. Several mortar rounds were also launched at the area during the attack. The VC Sappers set off a trip flare and the bunker guards opened fire catching several of them in the perimeter wire. There was a brief exchange of fire before the VC retreated into the darkness. That night the bunker guards found one VC body in the wire and what appeared to be several blood trails.  B Company Ambush Squad #76 conducted a search  at first light with negative results.
4 October, 0200 hours An MP recon patrol from B Company conducted a nighttime sweep of An Xuan Village and apprehended 7 Vietnamese Nationals who were transported to 720th Battalion S-2 for interrogation. Four were later classified as innocent civilians and released, three were identified as Viet Cong suspects and transported to the Duc Tu National Police Station for further interrogation. The three VC suspects were, Phan Van Cu, age 15, Nguyen Van Gia, age 49, and Nguyen Van Tuoi age, 16.
0200 to 0400 hours Seven Viet Cong entered the village of An Hoa Hung from the eastern side. They entered several homes, took the government identification cards of the villagers, and were asking where their young men were. Before they left they cut down all of the barbed wire perimeter that had been set up by the Rural Development Cadre (RDC) along the northeastern end of the village.
1930 hours Members of  a B Company ambush squad reported that accompanied by an ARVN Intelligence Squad from Duc Tu, they conducted a search of Phuoc Hoi Hamlet, resulting the in the apprehension of four Vietnamese males. They were detained by the ARVN intelligence squad as VC suspects and taken to Duc Tu Headquarters for interrogation. The four men were identified as, Le Hui Son, age 46, Tran Van Dund, age 16, Duan Van Duc, age 47, and Tham Van Kham, age 47.

20 October SP/4 David Richards of the 212th MP Company, Scout Dog Unit, and SP/4 Brownenberg of B Company, the National Police Station Liaison, were both wounded when their ambush team, on a night walking patrol, encountered a squad of VC in the southeastern sector of An Hoa Hung Village. There was a brief exchange of gunfire before the VC melted back into the darkness.

Incidents of enemy activity began increasing sharply throughout the eastern half of the TAOR along the Buong River.

21 November The Viet Cong that planted the land mine in the roadway between Outpost #1 and #2 that killed  PFC Robert Alicea and severely wounded PFC Jim Brunotte on  1 October 1968, was captured in An Hoa Hung Village by Ambush Team #76, lead by CPL Watson. The ambush team interpreter, SGT Xichs, was tipped off to his presence by a villager while the squad was using the land line at the National Police Station for an intelligence update during their day recon patrol. The VC, an 18 year old male, was captured unarmed and without incident.

23 November Information received from a local rice farmer resulted in the discovery of a VC base camp and separate storage container. Members of a platoon of three B Company ambush squads lead by 2LT Robert Chavis, located and destroyed the camp situated 100 hundred meters north of the Buong River in the eastern sector of the 720th TAOR. The patrols recovered a hand gun, ammunition, food, counterfeit identification documents belonging to the local VC platoon leader, cooking supplies, propaganda leaflets, and valuable intelligence documents. Ambush Squad #76 destroyed the bunker with a 60 pound case of C4 explosives which turned the area into a large pond.

        Several reconnaissance patrols and night ambushes resulted in the observation of squad and platoon sized enemy movement, seizure of enemy weapons, supplies, sampans and dead local and Main Force VC without any MP ambush squad casualties.

        Unknown to the ambush squads at the time, was that the increased activity was a result of the 5th NVA Divisions planning and preparation in the TAOR for their 23 February 1969 Post Tet New Years attack along the southern perimeter (Highway 317) of Long Binh Post.

ATTENTION If you participated in any of the incidents listed on this page or know of some that are not, please contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.