~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association Vietnam History Project ~
August 1968 ~ Battalion Timeline
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Last Updated
10 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
2 August

     The 720th MP Battalion and 615th MP Company are awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC) under General Order 3757, for the period covering 1 June 1967 to 8 February 1968. This is the second MUC awarded to the 720th in Vietnam.

Wanted: Anyone from the Battalion or 615th MP Company that can provide additional photographs or personal stories about the awards ceremony. Please notify the history Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.

6 August
TAOR  CPL Thomas T. Watson was reassigned from duties as NCOIC of Outpost-4 in Long Binh Tan to replace CPL Woodrow "Woody" Morgan as the NCOIC of Ambush Team-76. CPL Morgan is assigned to Outpost-2 in Long Hung Village.
8 August
Stateside  Richard M. Nixon accepts the Republican nomination for President of the United States. A large part of his campaign platform was to bring the Vietnam War to an honorable conclusion. This position is covered in his acceptance speech.
10 August
   CPT Carl F. Hopp assumed the duties as Battalion Adjutant (S1).
12 August

   The following members of the Battalion were awarded the Army Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service under 18th MP Brigade General Orders #567.

A Company: SP/4 Donnie A. Ross, SP/4 Richard A. Stockton, SP/4 James B. Ahlfeld, SP/4 Julian L. Bain, SP/4 Albert J. Kappes, III, PFC Charles E. Beck, PFC Michael C. Biggs, PFC Kenneth R. Roemer.
B Company: SP/4 Bruce D. Ballard.
C Company: SP/4 David P. Adams, SP/4 Robert M. Schinzel, PFC Stephen A. Michael.

15 August
   C Company completed Operation CONDOR II that began on 20 July with the movement of half of the Royal Thai Army, Black Panther Division from the Newport Docks to their new home at the 9th Infantry Division, Bear Cat base camp.
25 August
Tay Ninh Convoy  During an overcast misty morning at 1145 hours, the 81 vehicle convoy from Long Binh Post to the 25th Infantry Division Base Camp at Tay Ninh was ambushed on Highway QL-22 while passing through a rubber plantation.
   The convoy units consisted of the 48th Transportation Group (command and control and cargo transport vehicles), 64th Quartermaster Battalion (Petroleum, Oil & Lubricant - POL - transport vehicles) C Company 720th MP Battalion (six gun jeep escorts), 25th MP Company, 25th Infantry Division, (two gun jeep escorts),
1st Logistics
25th MP

   The ambush site at the Ap Nhi rubber plantation was 1 to 1&1/2 miles long (Grid Coordinates XT349335, seven kilometers north of Go Dau Ha) and the attacking force was estimated to consist of three North Vietnamese Army (NVA) Battalions, later identified as the 88th Main Force Viet Cong/ North Vietnamese Army Regiment.

   The ambush was extremely well planned. It started with enemy forces marching along the roadway wearing U.S. camouflage jungle fatigues and jungle boots armed with M-16 rifles, thus appearing to be ARVN's and giving the convoy personnel the impression they were friendly forces. As the lead serial of reefer (refrigerated) trucks passed them they turned and opened fire on the next serial signaling the start of the ambush.

   Entrenched enemy and snipers in the trees from both sides of the roadway as well as the front and the rear opened fire on the convoy with small arms, heavy and light automatic weapons, Rocket Propelled Grenades and mortars. The initial attack directed towards immobilizing the lead and trail vehicles, ammo trucks and fuel tankers, was successful in blocking the road and preventing the remainder of the vehicles in the convoy from driving through the kill zone. The first 31 vehicles in the convoy and their MP escorts escaped and continued on to Tay Ninh without further incident. The remaining 50 trucks, and the MP and transportation unit escorts were trapped in the kill zone and had to face the enemy onslaught.

   With the convoy stalled, the MP's and truckers were forced to dismount and take up defensive positions around their vehicles to ward off the attacking NVA.

SP/4 Guy A. Davison, age 21, was part of the C Company escort teams and was killed in action during the fighting.

Wanted: If anyone can provide a copy of SP/4 Davison's Silver Star citation, personal accounts or names and photographs of other Battalion escort crewmen, please notify the history Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.

   SSG Charles H. Frazier and SP4 Albert Murphy were escorting the first of four march units in their armored gun jeep when the attack started. The enemy fire became so heavy they were forced to dismount and take up a defensive position.

SP/4 Davison

   Under the withering fire they spotted a small hooch just off the roadway, picked up another severely wounded MP and drug him towards the hooch. Just as they arrived an enemy grenade exploded about six feet away wounding them both. The enemy first attempted to rush them from the front and SP4 Murphy turned the attack with his M16. Another group of NVA then tried an attack from the rear and SSG Frazier killed all three. Despite their wounds and being short of ammunition, the two MP’s managed to hold their position until additional help came 30 minutes later in the form of several 25th Infantry Division MP’s.

   The C Company MP escorts of the first serial dropped their vehicles at Tay Ninh and immediately returned to the ambush site to come to the assistance of their brothers.

   The second enemy objective appeared to be the destruction of the radios on the MP and Transportation escort jeeps. This was accomplished by highly effective small arms fire, automatic weapons fire, mortar and rocket propelled grenade (RPG) fire. Prior to the loss of communications, air support (helicopter light fire teams) and ground reaction forces had already been requested. There were no helicopter gunship escorts on the convoy this day due to the overcast weather and other priority assignments.

   Relief elements consisting of Company C, 4th Battalion 23rd Infantry Mechanized, who were stationed one mile south of the ambush site on Highway QL-22, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, and B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Armored Cavalry arrived and joined in the fight.

   Heavy contact along the convoy line was maintained from the initial attack at 1145 hours until 1430 hours. The NVA were well entrenched in spider holes and bunkers built in the rubber trees. The enemy continued to press the attack on groups of disabled trucks only to be repulsed by the truckers.

   With a lack of air support due to low cloud cover and the enemy fortified positions in the rubber trees greatly slowing their ability to reach the convoy line, the heavy contact continued until approximately 1700 hours when the relief units had to initiate withdrawal from the trees to regroup and resupply their depleted ammunition. Before they could launch the new assault, darkness and heavy monsoon rains again delayed their regrouping. By then the enemy assault had faded to pockets of sporadic contact along the convoy line.

   The efforts of the dismounted fighting MP’s and truck drivers in the initial phases of the ambush were credited with preventing the entire convoy from being overrun and destroyed during the first 30 minutes of the battle. Now with darkness, monsoon rains, and the relief columns at both the north and south ends of the highway stalled, the truckers and MP's had to face an uncertain night with little to no ammunition or chance of resupply. The pockets of truckers and MP's were scattered along the convoy line and the enemy had gained access to several of the ammunition trucks and were off loading cargo.

   Occasional breaks in the cloud cover allowed helicopter gunship's to attack the enemy trench lines with rockets and machine guns giving the trapped truckers and MP's some breathing room while they waited for daylight to approach.

   By 0600 hours the following morning, the relief units aided by helicopter gunship's started their assault on the enemy positions and by 1000 hours the enemy had been cleared from the kill zone and the trapped truckers and MP's relieved.

   During the ambush there were two Americans taken prisoner, SP/4 Bobby L. Johnson SSG Kenneth R. Gregory, both of the 62nd Transportation Company. Both were captured late in the fight. They were held in a VC prison camp North West of Tay Ninh City. Nine months later SSG Gregory escaped and after wandering for four days in the jungle was rescued by a helicopter crew that spotted him during a routine patrol.

   SP/4 Johnson remained in captivity for five years. In February 1973 he was released with most other known POW's.

   A Sergeant from the US Army, 62nd Transportation Company named William W. Seay, received the Medal of Honor, posthumously.

   There were 96 enemy bodies recovered from the scene of the battle. Six Americans were killed including, SP/4 Guy A. Davison, and 51 Americans were wounded, six were C Company MP's. C Company also lost 6 gun jeeps, 6 radios, and 5 M-60 machine guns destroyed.

   Receiving awards on 18 November 1968 for their heroic actions in defense of the convoy were: SSG Charles H. Frazier, Silver Star and Purple Heart; SP/4 Albert Murphy, Silver Star and Purple Heart; SGT Raymond H.Tate, Bronze Star for Valor.

Wanted: Photographs of the aftermath, names, photographs and personal accounts of others on the MP escort detail, both C Company and the 25th MP Company. Please notify the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.

29 August
Riot At "LBJ" the USARV Stockade

     A riot began in the USARV Installation Stockade (field type) known as Long Binh Jail [hence the reference to "LBJ" a play on the presidents initials], staffed by the 284th MP Company, (Confinement) 89th MP Group. The riot lasted into 30 August 1968. The prisoner population at this time was 719 (718 military plus 1 civilian), in a facility build (1967) for 270 and later expanded to handle 600 (1968).

     The disorder resulted in the death of one prisoner, hospitalization of seven custodial personnel and twenty-six prisoners, outpatient medical treatment of one custodial personnel and twenty-six prisoners, and the escape of four prisoners.

     Property damage (buildings and contents, less expendables) was estimated to be $100,000.00. 

Click on LBJ Diagram to enlarge. >

     Long Binh Post Military Police Reaction Forces, including the 720th MP Battalion, responded to quell the disturbance.

Riot Time Line  2345 Hours, approximately 15 Negro prisoners held in the Detainee Section (pre-sentenced prisoners) of B Compound (medium) were assaulting a Caucasian prisoner. The MP guards responded to the section to break up the fight. The prisoners attacked the guards. The gate key was then removed from a guard who opened it to render assistance.

2350 Hours, the prisoners from the Detainee Section and B Compound fled into the exercise area which serves the two sections plus the A (Sentenced) Section of Compound B. The guards in A Section heard the noises and went outside of the section and secured the gate from the exercise area side in an attempt to restrict the further movement of the prisoners.

2355 Hours, the prisoners scaled and broke through the A Section fence, quickly subdued the guards and joined the prisoners in the exercise area of Compound B.

2400 Hours, SP/4 Larry J. Kimbrough opened the gate to the administrative section to assist the unarmed MP's trapped in the exercise yard. The MP's made it out but were unable to again secure the gate.

     It was my decision to open the gate, and I stand by it!SP/4 Larry J. Kimbrough, B Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, April 1968 to June 1968, and 557th MP Company, 95th MP Battalion, June 1968 to March 1969.

      The combined group of prisoners moved through the control gate toward the stockade administrative office compound and the disciplinary segregation area where guards were overpowered and selected prisoners were freed.

     A group of prisoners attempted to rush the gasoline storage area and gunfire from the nearby tower guards turned them back.

     The prisoners, who were now armed with shovels, broom sticks, metal pipes, wooden foot locker adjusters, knives from the mess hall, and a baseball bat, roamed the Medium A, & B, Detainee Compound, Exercise yard and Administrative Compound area beating Caucasian prisoners and starting fires in the tents and buildings.

< Click on Overview Photo to enlarge.

     The stockade Commander LTC Vernon D. Johnson personally confronted, then appealed to the prisoners to stop their violence and was severely beaten about the head and shoulders. CPT Ernest G. Jones also attempted to appeal to the prisoners and was also severely beaten about the head and shoulders suffering a fractured skull.

     Several of the prisoners recovered gas masks from the administration building and put them on expecting the MP Reaction Forces to use tear gas.

     Tower guards were reinforced and the MP Reaction Forces were positioned around the stockade perimeter.

30 August
The Riot Continues

0010 Hours, fire trucks and the first ambulance arrived at the stockade, the ambulance began evacuating the injured to the hospital.

0020 Hours, reaction forces from Military Police Battalions within the post arrived in full combat gear. Including custodial personnel on duty, the initial platoon-sized reactionary force, and forces later called for reinforcement and to secure the perimeter of the stockade. There was a total of 21 officers and 490 enlisted men deployed to include: 557th MP Company, fifty personnel; 720th MP Battalion, fifty personnel; 95th MP Battalion, fifty personnel; 615th MP Company, number unknown.

0030 Hours, with the arrival of additional MP Reaction Forces they began removing approximately 300 to 350 prisoners who were not involved in the disorder from the stockade grounds to the parking lot of the 284th MP Company, a cordoned holding area established across from the stockade on Idaho Street.

0200 Hours, the Reaction Force formed into riot control formation and released two (2) M3 CS gas dispersers on the compound.

   The Chaplain SP/4 Larry J. Kimbrough, B Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, April 1968 to June 1968, and 557th MP Company, 95th MP Battalion, June 1968 to March 1969.

0300 Hours, COL Monroe, Commanding Officer, 89th MP Group, Supervisor USARV Stockade operations, called for a meeting to formulate plans for immediate restoration of order in the facility.

0530 Hours, the MP "V" riot suppression formation entered the facility separating the militant and docile prisoners. The militant prisoners were then moved into the Big Red (work yard) area on the north side of the stockade.

0700 Hours, Engineer units on scene started removing some of the debris from the fire.

31 August
Riot Standoff

1800 Hours, LTC Zane V. Kortum, Commanding Officer of the 720th MP Battalion and Deputy Provost Marshal, reported this Sit-Rep to 18th MP Brigade Headquarter; "The situation in the stockade remains relatively stable and quiet. There remains a group of about 45 prisoners who actively resist control by custodial personnel. They do this by refusing to identify themselves when requested and by refusing to leave their compound individually. In addition they continue to agitate the other 205 prisoners. Force has not been used to segregate these 45 prisoners as of this time. The situation is being monitored closely. Minor disturbance could occur among this entire group at any time. The nature of the injuries sustained by the hospitalized prisoners indicates that some of the injuries may have been inflicted by the Reaction Forces which quelled the disturbance."

     Although the riot itself was suppressed by the evening of the 30th, the approach taken by the U.S. Army High Command was to wait out the remaining group of militant prisoners rather than a having a confrontation with force. The 720th MP Battalion Reaction Force would provide small detachments of personnel for the next several months to supplement the stockade staff during the waiting period and process of clean up and reconstruction of facilities.

   An American on the business end of my M-16 CPL Thomas T. Watson, B Company, 720th MP Battalion.

     Immediately following the riot a temporary stockade made of tents with a concertina wire perimeter was constructed on the Battalion parade field to house the stockade trustees. For reasons yet discovered, the facility which stood in place for approximately a month was never used, and was eventually dismantled.

     The small group of eleven militant prisoners inside the stockade were still in a standoff, and the official Headquarters position was to keep them segregated and wait them out. They would eventually surrender to atthorities on 21 September.

     In the December 2004 issue of Vietnam Magazine, Joe Kilb published this story of the LBJ riot, Vietnam's Notorious 'Camp LBJ.

     An official board of inquiry was established by Brigade to investigate the cause and review the response to the incident.

   The 720th MP Battalion Reunion Association History Project would like to extend special recognition and appreciation to SP/4 Larry J. Kimbrough, B Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, April 1968 to June 1968 and 557th MP Company, 95th MP Battalion, June 1968 to March 1969, who at great personal expense obtained the official 18th MP Brigade Board of Investigation Reports of the stockade riot and donated them to our archives.

Wanted: Photographs of the aftermath, names, photographs and personal accounts of the other MP's in the Reaction Force and LBJ staff, regardless of MOS. Please notify the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.

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