~ 720th Military Police Battalion Vietnam History Project ~
April 1968 ~ Battalion Timeline
This Page Last Updated   19 March 2018
Regardless of MOS if you recognize or participated in any of the events listed on this Timeline page and would like to contribute any information, personal stories, documents, media articles, photographs, or, if you can provide information on any events not listed, please take a moment to contact the History Project Manager Tom Watson at the Email Link provided on this page. Your contributions are important to the recording of the Battalion history and always welcomed here.
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      All major theater activities, stateside incidents, or Cold War and Vietnam War events that affected the 720th MP Battalion’s force allocations, training, operations, deployments, morale or history are shown in Italic blue American Typewriter font.
18th MP
Brigade
89th MP
Group
720th MP
Battalion

     At the start of the month Battalion HQ Detachment, its organic letter companies and the 212th MP Company (Sentry Dog) were headquartered subordinate to the 89th MP Group, 18th MP Brigade in Long Binh Post in Bien Hoa Provence of III Corps Tactical Zone, South Vietnam.

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1 April
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     This is an official Army film (19 minutes & 56 seconds long) depicting River Patrol and Ambush & Recon Patrols of Alpha and Bravo Companies in Operation STABILIZE in the Battalion Tactical Area Of Responsibility during 1-3 April 1968. It was obtained from Army Archives by SP/4 Robert "Twiggie" Hensley of Alpha Company (1967-1968). The music and captions were processed and added in 2014 by 1LT George A. "Tony" Loftin, who served in both HQ Detachment and Alpha Company (1966-1969). Depending on your PC operating system, it may take some extended time to upload.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FILM
     Battalion strength for the month was 603 personnel (organic units), and 214 for the 212th MP Company (Sentry Dog).
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Exact Date Unknown, Xuan Loc  A Company was assigned to the discipline, law, and order mission, and provided a 26-man detachment, 1 officer and 25 enlisted men in support of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment at their Blackhorse Base Camp [Highway QL-1, Xuan Loc, Long Khanh Province]. Four MPs also performed combined patrols with the ARVN MPs (Quan Canh) in the neighboring village of Xuan Loc.

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2 April
     7th US Campaign Begins Vietnamese Counter-Offensive Phase IV (2 April 1968 to 30 June 1968).
4 April
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   The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent the day at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee working and meeting with local leaders on plans for his Poor People's March on Washington to take place later in the month.

     At 6:00 PM (EST), as he greets a car of friends in the courtyard, Rev. King is shot with one round from a 30.06 rifle. He was declared dead just an hour later at St. Joseph's Hospital.

     The event resulted in widespread violent civil disturbances throughout the U.S., and greatly affected the morale of both the black, and many of the white troops in-country.

     The Marxist movement used the tragic event to fan the flames of antigovernment violence and promote further racial division to recruit more members. Civil turmoil in the U.S. was at its highest level since the American Civil War of the mid 1860s, and there appeared to be no end in sight.
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8 April
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TAOR  In late March the Battalion welcomed the arrival of the 116 man, 301st National Police Field Forces (NPFF) Company who became operational 8 April, and deployed the unit in the Battalion Tactical Area of Responsibility (TAOR). The company was billeted in tents at Outpost-2 in Long Hung Village.

   Two enlisted men from the 301st were integrated into the Battalion Tactical Operations Center (TOC) to insure coordination of all NPFF operations within the TAOR.

Operation OVERTAKE

     Overall responsibility of Operation OVERTAKE was reassigned from the 92nd MP Battalion and 188th MP Company, to the 95th MP Battalion with staffing provided by A Company of the 720th MP Battalion. The 188th would continue to escort the southern runs into IV Corps Tactical Zone (Mekong Delta Region).

     The Battalion allocated ninety-five enlisted men, two officers, six Armored Personnel Carriers [APC’s], and twenty-eight patrol jeeps daily to provide security for high end U.S. cargo being transported by civilian contractors on Route 1A between Newport Docks and the Long Binh / Bien Hoa bases in III Corps Tactical Zone.

92nd MP
Battalion
95th MP
Battalion
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Xuan Loc Convoy  With A Company's mission commitment to Operation OVERTAKE, and B Company to expanded commitment with the National Police Field Forces in the TAOR, C Company took their turn in the rotation of convoy escort duties at Xuan Loc with a commitment of two APC's, four gun jeeps and a total of eighteen MPs. The escort ran five days a week. C Company's rotation would end on 26 June.
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11 April
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     1LT Robert V. Vogt assumed the duties of commanding officer of A Company.
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TAOR  Outpost-2 (Long Hung) in the Battalion Tactical Area of Responsibility was the scene of a major inspection by the battalion commander, LTC Zane V. Kortum, who escorted BG Karl W. Gustafson, Commanding Officer of the 18th Military Police Brigade and the Provost Marshal General of the United States Army Republic of Vietnam (USARV).

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12 April
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     During an awards ceremony at 18th MP Brigade Headquarters, GEN Creighton W. Abrams, Deputy Commander, Military Assistance Command Vietnam, commended the Brigades MPs for their raw courage and performance under fire during the Communist Tet New Years Offensive.

     BG Karl W. Gustafson, Commander 18th MP Brigade issued a Letter of Appreciation to the HQ 89th MP Group commending the Group, 95th and 720th MP Battalions for the outstanding job they did in building the new Brigade Command Mess.

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16 April
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     BG Karl W. "Big Gus" Gustafson, Commanding Officer of the 18th Military Police Brigade and The USARV Provost Marshal General authorized the presentation of a Certificate of Achievement to all members of the Battalion for their Meritorious Performance of Duty during the Tet Offensive from 31 January to 10 February 1968.
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TAOR  The Viet Cong Ambushed the C Company Armored Gun Jeep that made the Outpost-3 shift change. They struck when the jeep arrived at the outpost.

     When the C Company armored patrol jeep passed the outpost the VC hit it with an RPG. The rocket was low and it flipped the jeep over when it went off. Everyone including the wounded MP's made it safely inside the outpost. The VC then opened fire on the outpost with RPG and automatic weapons fire keeping them pinned down. During the fire fight the VC removed the jeeps M-60 machine gun, an M-14 rifle and ammunition for both.
      Wounded in the ambush was PFC David G. Shea of C Company. He was taken to the 24th Evacuation Hospital and within days was shipped to Japan for additional treatment and rehabilitation.

Wanted: If you were a member of the outpost or jeep crew, or can provide photographs of the jeep or the names of the other members involved in this incident, please notify the History Project Manager via the Email link at the top of this page.

PFC Shea
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17 April
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TAOR  In the early morning a PF at the southeast corner bunker of PF/B Company Outpost-2 [Long Hung Village] observed three men in the distance running from a wood line east towards the Ben Go River. He sounded an alert and gave chase. PFC Thomas T. Watson and additional PFs soon joined him in expanding the search area, and spotted the three men in the reeds down river.

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     The three began to run again, stopping only after bursts of rifle fire passed over their heads.

     Each was middle aged, dressed only in loincloths and shirts, and said they were spearing rats along the riverbank. They had only a single trident tipped spear, no rats and none of the three were carrying their National ID cards or any papers. The three suspects each had scars indicating healed wounds. With that observation the three were returned to the outpost and turned over to a responding ARVN intelligence team.

     Hours later the outpost was informed that the three were VC scouts sent into the village with the team that ambushed the gun-jeep the night before. Their assignment was to observe the daily routine at the village outposts.

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23 April
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Click on streamer for award information

     The General Orders (No. 17) for the Department of The Army's official authorization for the issuance of the Meritorious Unit Commendation to the 720th MP Battalion, HQ & HQ Detachment, Alpha, Bravo & Charlie Company's [1st Oak Leaf Cluster] and the attached 615th MP Company [1st Oak Leaf Cluster] for exceptionally meritorious achievement in performance of outstanding service from 19 October 1966 through 31 May 1967, were issued.

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27 April
Cordon And Search Of Long Hung & An Xuan Villages

TAOR  After several weeks of planning and briefings, in the early morning a major joint cordon and search operation of An Xuan and Long Hung villages was launched involving the organic companies and Staff Sections of the Battalion, 301st National Police Field Forces Company (Counterinsurgency) from Saigon (TDY to Outpost-2), the local TAOR Popular Forces Company, ARVN HQ elements from Bien Hoa, Vietnamese National (Uniformed) Police from An Hoa Hung and their headquarters elements from Thu Duc, and members of the 15th ARVN Military Intelligence Detachment (Counterinsurgency) from Thu Duc and 702nd U.S. Military Intelligence Detachment (Counterintelligence), MACV (Long Binh Post).

Wanted: Regardless of MOS, if you participated, or can provide personal stories, documents, photographs of the operation or the names of other members involved, please notify the History Project Manager via the Email link at the top of this page.

     The early morning’s operational activities started with the arrival of several truckloads of Battalion MPs from Long Binh Post, and the materials needed to set up the holding areas, toilet facilities and Med-Cap stations for the operation. Additional materials were transported by boat and helicopter to An Xuan. The joint search teams were quickly formed and assigned their duties, and started off with the arrival of dawn.

Map of AO

     The Battalion's River Patrols dropped off MP teams to close off the southern perimeter of An Xuan Village, and then positioned their boats to block any sampans from leaving An Xuan via the Dong Nai River and Long Hung Village via the Ben Go River. The liaison staff of Outpost’s 1 and 2 were designated as operational security for their respective villages with Outpost-2 as the overall HQ for the cordon and search. Checkpoints were established to prevent foot traffic into either village. The responsibility for overall perimeter security and a Reaction Team for the operation was assigned to the Battalion MPs.

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     Once a Landing Zone (LZ) was secured outside Outpost-2, the Battalion Commander LTC Zane V. Kortum arrived by helicopter, while members of the Brigade and Group Staff Sections, U.S. Military Public Affairs press staff and their security teams, arrived by jeep to view and photograph the days events.

     To insure compliance, the village chief's, accompanied by National Police, Popular Forces and military police representatives walked among the village homes using a bullhorn to broadcast instructions for an orderly evacuation. Additional teams of National Policemen and Popular Forces followed them and politely but firmly insured that each household obeyed the evacuation order. Each house, building, and sampan was to be thoroughly searched for hidden enemy, their weapons, supplies and contraband.

     As the joint NPFF, NP Uniformed Police, ARVN PF's search teams supported by U.S. MPs as security, went house-to-house. They checked National Identification papers and discrepancies found or anyone deemed suspect was brought out and escorted directly to the ARVN 15th and the U.S. 702nd Military Intelligence Detachment tent for interrogation and further examination of their identification documents.

Editors Note: The joint unit makeup of the search teams was to put a friendly face on the operation by showing the villagers the cooperative solidarity of their governments mission to rid the area of Communist influence and control, and to display the 720th MP Battalion's support for that goal.
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     The villagers that were evacuated were taken to one of the two large separate holding areas, each segregated by village, where they were provided with water, a medical examination and treatment by staff of the 44th Medical Brigade (Long Binh Post) during their long wait. The Popular Forces teams assigned as holding area security also constantly monitored the detainees for signs of heat related illness during the operation.

     At each of the holding areas the villagers were once again informed of the reason for their temporary detainment by their government official, ARVN staff and Popular Forces representatives. Those who were either elderly, pre-school age or deemed to ill to be out in the heat of the day were given processing priority and allowed to return to their homes quite early. The school age children were accompanied to their respective schoolhouses where they were looked after by a staff of their respective village mothers and members of their village Popular Forces personnel.

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     As noon approached, the initial search of the village homes, commercial buildings and sampans had been concluded and the joint teams began processing the villagers still remaining in the holding areas. After each villager was finished, he or she was given a C-Ration meal and escorted to another separate holding area pending release.

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Editors Note: Considering that very few Vietnamese actually liked to eat C-Rations, it might not have been a positive public relations move. It was a well know fact that when rural villagers came into possession of  U.S. C-Rations, if they couldn’t sell them they picked out the plastic utensils (knife and spork), sweets, cigarettes, coffee and toilet paper, and fed what remained to their livestock.

     The operation was concluded by the late afternoon, and many of the supporting MP's and the VIP's stood down and returned to their bases and headquarters.

     A small reaction force from B Company and the local Popular Forces remained until the tents, detainment area concertina wire fences and debris of the days activities were collected and removed.

     The end result was either a success or a disappointment depending on how it was viewed. Taken into Vietnamese government custody was a total of nine civil draft dodgers, one VC and no weapons or military related contraband.

     The low number of VC and sympathizers taken into custody could be said to be good because the overall Battalion tactical mission launched in September of 1967 was working, or it was bad because the search operation had been compromised, possibly by all the activity in and around Outpost-2 during the planning stages.

     At the least, the word was now out that the Battalion was proactive and on the hunt, and the ARVN 15th and U.S. 702nd MI Detachments gleaned information on the size and scope of VC family and local sympathizer activities that would be used as a foundation for their and the Battalion's future planning of ongoing counterinsurgency operations in the area.

     Unfortunately, before the day was over complaints started coming in to the Popular Forces Headquarters at Outpost-2 about minor thefts of money and valuables from village homes by members of the NPFF. Whatever psychological edge may have been gained over the VC and villagers, was now lost with some of the villagers, an unfortunate but not unexpected evil of the large search operations.

     It was observed that hours after the operation had ended the local cafes in Long Hung were filled with many of the senior male residents of the village who were openly voicing a less than favorable opinion of the days events and directing unfavorable stares at the PF's and MPs from Outpost-2.

     The best result was that not one shot was fired, no villagers or troops were injured and there was only a minimal disruption of daily commerce during the days operations.

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Editors Note: Although having a reputation as the "elite" arm of the National Police and having a very good reputation at carrying out their counterinsurgency missions, the NPFF had also had a reputation of abusing their authority by stealing small quantities of money and items of personal property during search operations. Since the nature of their mission involved paddy hopping from area to area they had no direct personal ties to the villages they operated in. There was also the expected agency rivalry between them and the local village Popular Forces that may have inflated the number of actual legitimate complaints.

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      The following Battalion personnel were authorized Hazardous Duty status for Non-crewmember Flying Status for the dates indicated: HQ & HQ Detachment- MAJ Leroy Walton, Battalion XO (26 April-18 June 1968), CPT Steven Vass, Jr., Battalion S3 (26 April-23 June 1968), CPT Roger J. Gaydos, Battalion S1 (26 April-24 July 1968), CPT Maurice T. Fitzgerald, Battalion S2 (26 April-16 July 1968), SFC Roger F. Ruggles, Battalion S3 NCO (26 April-7 September 1968), SGT Walter C. Doudna, Battalion S2 NCO (26 Aptil-22 October 1968); C Company- CPT Dale R. Price, Company Commander (26 April-31 May 1968); A Company- CPT Robert V. Voght, Company Commander (26 April-2 January 1969); B Company- CPT Paul R. Guimond, Company Commander (26 April-25 November).

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29 April
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TAOR 0250 hours Battalion TOC called Outpost-2 [Long Hung Village] and said they received information that the VC were going to attack and overrun it.

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 Personal Reflections When the PFs were informed they laughed it off. It was evident the local VC were suffering from a loss of face over the capture of three of their staff on the 17th, and the cordon and search operation of the 27th and could never muster enough local forces to overrun the outpost now staffed with over forty well armed soldiers.  Journal of CPL Thomas T. Watson, Outpost-2, B Company, 1968-1969 .

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30 April
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Xuan Loc Detachment  During the quarter ending 30 April the Xuan Loc Detachment processed twelve detainees from operations conducted by the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. None of the detainees was deemed to be an enemy POW.
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