~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association Vietnam History Project ~
July 1968 ~ Battalion Timeline
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Last Updated
3 December 2014

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, III Corps Tactical Zone, Bien Hoa Provence, Long Binh Post,  South Vietnam.

18th MP
89th MP
720th MP
1 July
8th U.S. Campaign Begins Vietnamese Counter-offensive Phase V (1 July 1968 to 1 November 1968).
The Military Police Corps is Redesignated as a Combat Support Arm

    In early 1968 during the preparation of a report for career planning for commissioned officers of all branches of the army, the issue was raised concerning the status of several branches including that of the Military Police branch. At the same time, the Military Police Corps status was being addressed by the Provost Marshal of the Army, Brigadier General Karl W. Gustafson, and the Deputy Commanding General, HQ, USARV, General Bruce Palmer, Jr

MP Corps Crest

    They recommended that the Military Police Corps be recognized as a combat support element (previously only as a combat service element) on the basis of their demonstrated ability "to move, communicate, and engage the enemy." This proposal from Vietnam accepted the fact that, in the implementation of their basic functions, circumstances and conditions evolve which place military police at the scene of the action and require them to respond rapidly to tactical requirements and combat situations.

   After review, then US Army Chief of Staff, General Harold K. Johnson, in a hand written memorandum formally designated the Military Police as an arm of the combat support variety as well as service on 1 July 1968. Later in September 1968 the new Army

BG Karl W. Gustafson

Chief of Staff, General William C. Westmoreland, reaffirmed this action in his 27th Anniversary Message to the Military Police Corps where he formally recognized the designation as a combat support arm of the service.
Below are the original communications pertaining to the change.
BG Gustafson
Department of The Army
Department of The Army
   "General Gus" who was the driving force behind the change and deserved much of the credit went on to become the ninth Provost Marshal General of the U.S. Army. He retired as a Major General, and passed from our ranks 16 July 2000 in Augusta, Georgia.
   GEN William C. Westmoreland passed command of Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV), and US Army Republic Of Vietnam (USARV), to General Creighton W. Abrams, in a ceremony on Long Binh Post. General Westmoreland returned to the states to become the new Army Chief of Staff effective 3 July 1968.
2 July

   The following personnel received promotions to Sergeant E5 under HQ 720th MP Battalion Special Orders #155.

To Sergeant E5,
A Company: Philip J. Beaver, Kenneth R. Benefield, Alan M. Jones, Gary M. Lathrop, Gary A. Sundt.
B Company: Audrey D. Bolen, George R. Gray, Jr., Richard D. Hicks, James R. Minick, Raymond L. Pearson, Dennis E. St. Clair, Alexander Von Koch.
C Company: Elroy Edwards, James P. O’Neil.
212th MP Company (Sentry Dog): Thomas R. Bruns, Edward G. Cline.

To Specialist 5th Class, E5,
C Company: Ronald C. Henselman
HQ Detachment: Richard C. Williamson

   The following personnel were awarded the Army Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service, under 18th MP Brigade General Orders #446.

A Company: SP/4 Kenneth R. Benefeld Nov 1967 to Jul 1968, SGT Leroy A. "Gabby" Hayes Jul 1967 to Jul 1968.
B Company: PFC James A. Goodale Sep 1967 to Jul 1968, SP/4 Richard D. Hicks Sep 1967 to Jul 1968
C Company: SP/4 Robert L. Allen, Sep 1967 to Jul 1968, SP/4 Jack L. Burton Jul 1967 to Jul 1968, PFC James D. Crozier Oct 1967 to Jul 1968.

3 July
MAJ David I. Bertocci assumed the duties of Battalion Operations Officer (S3).
6 July

   C Company escorted the first Tay Ninh Convoy to cross the newly constructed Phu Cuong Bridge, 14 miles north of Saigon. The small convoy of 31 trucks from the 48th Transportation Group and five C Company escort jeeps, escorted the first convoy across the 1,0002-foot span over the Saigon River as part of the ceremonies opening one of the largest bridges in Vietnam. The new route avoiding the heart of Saigon will cut 27 miles off the trip from Long Binh to Cu Chi and Tay Ninh and save the convoy approximately 3 hours travel time.

   For two years the daily convoy escort of 80 to 150 trucks traveling from Long Binh Post to the 25th Infantry Division in Chu Chi and Tay Ninh Base camps, had to be escorted through the busy traffic in the heart of Saigon.

   The opening ceremony was presided over by LTG William F. Cassidy, Chief of Army Engineers, who praised the engineers for the million-man-hours of work to complete the new span.

9 July

SP/4 Milton Jay Johnson age 20, of C Company, died as a result of illness believed to be related to Malaria.

   It was approximately 0700 hours [7:00AM] when someone came into the Orderly Room and reported to SP/4 Ron Hensehman (acting) Charge of Quarters, that Milt had passed out and collapsed. Rather than wait for an ambulance the men put him into the First Sergeant's Jeep and drove him to the 24th Evacuation Hospital. Later that day they were informed that Milt had died from a form of sleeping sickness.

SP/4 Johnson
TAOR: A 49 year old Long Hung Village fisherman appeared at Battalion HQ S2 to claim his mother who had been wounded in a curfew violation incident in the Battalion Tactical Area of Responsibility. The fisherman was recognized by SGT Joseph Blakley, HQ Detachment the Battalion interpreter, as the same man who appeared to claim the body of his son killed in a June incident. When interrogated the man denied any involvement with the local VC platoon. He provided SGT Blakley his dead sons name and 1LT George A. Loftin, HHD Intelligence Officer, matched the name with that of a known Long Hung VC platoon member. An investigation was initiated by 1LT Loftin.
10 July

TAOR:  Further investigation of a Long Hung VC sympathizer first interrogated on 9 July 1968, resulted in additional questioning of the fisherman, his wife age 44 and their, teenage son at Battalion S2.

   The son admitted that he and his late brother (killed in June) were members of the Long Hung VC platoon. The son also identified two additional VC members in the platoon. The two newly identified VC members were apprehended in the Village and brought in for questioning. They identified two additional VC platoon members and two civil Draft Dodgers from the village. Further interrogation provided additional names and information resulting in a tactical operation by B Company in Long Hung Village on 11 and 12 July 1968.

12 July

TAOR: A two day tactical operation in Long Hung Village in the 720th MP Battalion Tactical Area of Responsibility that was initiated by SGT Joseph Blakley (interpreter) and 1LT George A. Loftin, 720th MP Battalion S2 (Intelligence), on 9 July resulted in the capture of three local VC in the Battalion Tactical Area Of Responsibility (TAOR), one was a war tax collector.

   Based on information obtained in the 9 July 1968 interrogation of a Long Hung fisherman and his wife and son, SFC Richard L. DeHart, B Company, lead a two day joint Popular Forces and B Company tactical operation in Long Hung Village. They immediately captured two VC, one a 51 year old war tax collector. From information obtained from the two a third VC platoon member was also captured. The entire three day operation, started on 9 July 1968 resulted in the capture of five local VC with an average age of 19, two civil draft dodgers and 2 VC sympathizers, all without having to fire a single shot.


TAOR: Friendship Bridge, the new bridge providing the village of An Xuan access to the rest of the TAOR was completed and dedicated by a host of Village dignitaries and 18th MP Brigade, 89th MP Group and 720th MP Battalion Civil Affairs officials. After the dedication ceremony the dignitaries and local villagers were provided with refreshments.

     The people of the village of An Xuan had long been denied direct roadway access for their commerce by two deep and fast running tidal streams along their northern border where the only road providing access to the outside world ended at the stream banks.

   Situated along the eastern bank of the Dong Nai River the village itself could be best described as a small island. It was surrounded by low lying tidal swamp land and deep water, and its only link to the rest of the TAOR were several old and dangerous wooden foot bridges. The lack of vehicle access also hindered the resupply capabilities of the battalion to provide supplies and assistance to the B Company MP’s living and working at Outpost-1 who were assigned to the village.

   The project to replace the main foot bridge was undertaken sometime in late May 1968. Members of D Company, 46th Engineer Battalion were responsible for the construction while members of B Company, 720th MP Battalion provided day and night security at the construction site. The local VC who had enjoyed open access to the village due to its remoteness, were less than happy to see the bridge being built.

   With the successful completion came they added security responsibilities of insuring the longevity of the remote bridge. Each evening a squad of MP’s were assigned as a bridge security team. Denied the ability for a direct attack on the bridge by the tight security, the local VC directed their focus on the MP security detail.

14 July
   Members of the 18th MP Brigade pre-IG Inspection Team conducted debriefings in the Battalion.
16 July
TAOR: Late in the afternoon at Outpost-4 in Long Binh Tan, the building tensions between CPL Watson and the PF platoon over misuse of slap-flares for personal amusement and their Platoon Sergeants approved work slow down on the physical security improvement project came to a head. Knowing they had the backing of their Platoon Sergeant the small core of militant PF's dared CPL Watson to take action. SFC Richard L. DeHart, who had been receiving routine briefings on the problem was immediately informed of the line that had just been drawn in the sand by the PF Sergeant and his confidants. Fearing it would grow into a mutinous situation SFC DeHart said he would take immediate action to end it.
17 July
   SP/4 Donnie A. Ross of A Company received a letter of appreciation from his Commanding Officer CPT Donley W. Brothers for his superior knowledge as company Mail Clerk during a debriefing interview by the 18th MP Brigade pre-IG Inspection team that occurred on 14 July 1968.

TAOR: The threatened mutiny of the PF platoon at Outpost-4 came to an abrupt ending with the arrival in the morning of SFC DeHart and a Lieutenant from the ARVN, PF Headquarters, Bien Hoa.

The Confrontation CPL Thomas T. Watson, B Company.

20 July

TAOR: At 5:00 AM a civilian truck trying to get a jump on the curfew became lost and ended up in the TAOR free fire zone before daylight. Not familiar with the roadway the truck almost ran through the Outpost-4 gate at Long Binh Tan Village. The driver had his two young children in the back as passengers. A fathers foolishness almost resulted in a tragedy. CPL Thomas T. Watson, B Company.

Operation CONDOR-II
   C Company was assigned the responsibility of organizing, supervising and providing security for the movement of half of the Royal Thai Army, Black Panther Division from the Newport Army Terminal Docks in Saigon to the new home they would share with the U.S. 9th Infantry Division at the Bearcat base camp under Operation CONDOR II  The operation called for complex control and timing on a large scale.
23 July

TAOR: PFC Joseph F. Bella was reassigned from duty at Outpost-4 in Long Binh Tan Village to a newly formed ambush and recon squad leaving only CPL Thomas T. Watson and PTV Walker on duty to staff the outpost.

25 July
   A Combined Police Agreement became operational that established a radio network between the Headquarters of the three principal U.S. / Vietnamese police agencies, the United States Army Republic of Vietnam (USARV) Provost Marshal’s Office, Vietnamese National Police, and Provost Marshal's Office of Army of The Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). The agreement established the ability to communicate and assist in solving operational problems encountered by combined patrols throughout South Vietnam.
26 July
TAOR: A South Vietnamese Revolutionary Development Team (RDT) consisting of 59 personnel was attached to B Company for an indefinite period of time for the purpose of educating the Vietnamese villagers in the proper governmental functions, farm cultivation procedures, and to assist in improving village security and aid combat operations within the Battalion TAOR.
30 July
   MAJ John C. Blair assumed the duties as the new Battalion Executive Officer (XO) from MAJ Fred J. Villella.
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