~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association Vietnam History Project ~
November 1968 ~ Battalion Timeline
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Last Updated
5 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.

    The National Archives has reported that there are no Daily Staff Journal / Duty Officer’s Logs, DA form 1594’s, from Battalion S3 on file for this month. If anyone can provide access to any or has any information on any 720th MP Battalion activities for this month please contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link above.
18th MP
89th MP
720th MP
"Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons," Murphy's Rules of Warfare.
1 November

TAOR  CPL Thomas T. Watson, B Company, Squad Leader of Ambush Squad-76 was instructed to transport his scout interpreter, PVT Vo Van Duc to the Popular Forces Headquarters in Bien Hoa. Duc has been charged with armed robbery by his former platoon sergeant from Outpost-4 in Long Binh Tan Village. The complaint accused Duc of robbing two local prostitutes at gun point. After arrival Duc was placed in the custody of the Quan Can’s (Vietnamese Army MPs) at Bien Hoa.

Reflection  "Duc is one of the best PF's I have ever had assigned to my ambush team, and that probably had something to do with the charges. Yes, he is somewhat of a cowboy, however, he is foremost very dedicated in his pursuit of local draft dodgers and Viet Cong agents.

     Duc denied it was an armed robbery, he did admit to me that he just refused to pay for the prostitutes services. He was armed with a personal sidearm (.45 cal pistol) at the time, but said he didn’t point it at the prostitutes.

     The PF platoon sergeant in Long Binh Tan is using Duc to get back at me for a July 17th incident at the outpost where I was the NCOIC when one of his men was arrested and he was chastised by his commander for a complaint I filed relative to the willful destruction of U.S. government property through my Platoon Sergeant SFC Richard DeHart. And, most recently Duc arrested and turned in two draft dodgers that were living in Long Binh Tan Village nearby by Outpost-4. The platoon sergeant was taking payoffs to protect the two draft dodgers from the authorities. The Platoon Sergeant is also the pimp for the two prostitutes that Duc is charged with robbing.

   I know the charges have been blown out of proportion. My Platoon Leader 2LT Robert Chavis knows, and the American Advisor to the PF Headquarters in Bien Hoa also knows. My former Platoon Sergeant SFC DeHart who had the connections has left for home and there is no one left who I can call on to right this matter.

   On 3 November I lost the battle to have Duc returned to my squad. The PF sergeant from Outpost-4 put together a strong case against him. I sent a letter explaining the entire situation to the Battalion Commanding Officer in the hope that he might influence the outcome. The letter may have done some good. Instead of having to serve one year in prison, Duc has been assigned to the PF District Headquarters in Bien Hoa. It’s a waste of talent not to have him back in the field with us."   Journal of CPL Thomas T. Watson, Squad Leader, Ambush Squad-76, B Company, 720th MP Battalion.

Moving the 1st Air Calvary (Airmobile)

     C Company was tasked with moving the 1st Air Cavalry Division from the Newport Docks to three base camps. The company assigned four gun jeeps and twelve MP's who were used daily for the eleven days it took to complete the mission. One convoy went from Newport Docks to Quan Loi and Phuoc Vinh base camps of the 1st Infantry Division where 1st MP Company elements picked up the escort from check point #81.

     The other convoy went to Tay Ninh Base Camp home of the 25th Infantry Division. The operation which moved a total of 1,600 troops and 550 vehicles was successfully completed on 11 November without a major incident.

1st Cavalry
2 November
9th US Campaign Begins: Vietnamese Counter-offensive Phase VI (2 November 1968 to 22 February 1969)

     The South Vietnam government with American support began a concentrated effort to expand security in the countryside. The project was known officially as the “Accelerated Pacification Campaign.” This period covers the election of President Richard M. Nixon, and a change of policy brought about by his administration after January 1969 when he announced a coming end to U.S. combat in Southeast Asia, and a simultaneous strengthening of South Vietnam's ability to defend itself. Formal truce negotiations began in Paris on 25 January 1969.

      Forty-seven ground combat operations were recorded during this period, the following being the most important in CTZ III. Operation TOAN THANG (complete victory) II, a second multi-divisional operation involving Allied Forces conducting ground operations throughout the zones Saigon defensive ring to deny the enemy sanctuary in their staging areas.

4 November
LTC Bullock

     The traditionalists in Battalion and Brigade Headquarters who were initially reluctant to accept the counterinsurgency mission concept of Operation TABILIZE in September 1967; submitted their request to bring it to an early end during the command of LTC Baxter M. Bullock.

  Brigade Commander COL William H. Brandenburg signed off on the request from Bullock asking for the battalion to be released from the commitment, and forwarded it up the chain of command to theater commander GEN Creighton W. Abrams, Jr. at MACV

      GEN Abrams denied the request, and directed brigade to resubmit it for later review again in February 1969 following the arrival of additional Royal Thai Army troops at Bearcat.

     SGM Burton E. Morrow was assigned as Battalion Sergeant Major; 2LT Therrell M. Davis was assigned to B Company; PFC Michael S. Marvel was assigned to C Company; SP/4 Johnny W. Sanford was assigned to A Company; and 2LT Robert L. Chavis of B Company was assigned additional duties as the Chemical Biological and Radiological (CBR) Officer.
SGM Morrow
2LT Chavis
6 November
Sappers Attack the Phu Cuong Bridge

Cu Chi-Tay Ninh Convoy  Viet Cong sappers destroyed a section of the Phu Cuong Bridge on Highway 8A in Binh Duong Province. The span crossed the 700-foot wide Saigon River and was a critical part of the Cu Chi-Tay Ninh Convoy route that supplied the 25th Infantry Division and other allied units operating along the Cambodian Border in north western III Corps Tactical Zone.

     U.S. and ARVN engineer troops teamed up to construct a temporary pontoon bridge prior to the arrival of the next resupply convoy due to arrive on 7 November, just hours away. The 65th Engineer Battalion, commanded by LTC James W. Atwell, directed the proceedings.

     On the south side of the river, 65th Engineers directed the delivery of huge rubber and steel pontoons by Chinook helicopters of the 269th Aviation Battalion. Meanwhile, the southern approach to the pontoon bridge was being prepared by elements of the 65th Engineers and 554th Engineer Battalion, 79th Engineer Group.

     The filling and grading was done with equipment support from the 30th ARVN Engineer Group, commanded by LTC Nghia. On the north bank, while Company C, 46th Engineer Battalion, 159th Engineer Group, prepared the approaches, three float bridge companies, the 100th and the 573d of the 20th U.S. Engineer Brigade and the 317th (ARVN) worked side by side assembling the heavy bridge sections and hauling them into position.

     The ARVN Engineer School, located at Phu Cuong, provided valuable equipment support to the effort.

     At 0445 hours 7 November, the weary red-eyed engineers completed the last link, and the bridge was ready.

     When the trucks appeared, they rolled on across the river. With the valuable assistance given by the ARVN Engineers, the nearly impossible was accomplished. The bridge was up and not a single item of supplies was held up by the enemy's efforts, and less than 26 hours after the incident, traffic was proceeding as normal. Not one truck was delayed from its destination.

11 November

     CPT Darryl K. Solominson transferred command of B Company to 1LT Edward R. Mendez who was designated as the "Acting" Company Commander until the arrival of CPT Jimmie H. Rich

     CPT Solomonson was reassigned to the position of the assistant Provost Marshal of Long Binh Post with the 179th Provost Marshal Detachment, 95th MP Battalion that would later bring with it a promotion to the rank of major.

CPT Solomonson
1LT Mendez
13 November
     The following members of C Company were promoted from Private 1st Class (E3) to Specialist 4th Class (E4). Food Service Specialists- Michael T. Saravello Stephen B. Coghlan, and William T. Peele; Military Police- Reed S. Andringa, Larry R. Bates, Roger C. Bishop, Robert L. Darlington, James F. McHugh, James A. McCallum, Jr., Harold G. Lambert, John F. Leiker. Gerald E. Hoeke, Martin L. Griffin, Robert E. Gulbrandsen, Adam Garza, Michael L. Nugent, James V. Housadakos, Henry N. Stafford, James A. Smith, Roger L. Robertson, Roger L. Roark, William T. Foxie, Francis T. Yartin, Michael S. Marvel, Keith E. Willerton, Maurice P. Nielson, Dan B. Hyatt, Roger E. Watson, Ernest E. Garbutt, Elier A. Strickland, William J. Stafursky, Jr., Douglas W. Joslin, and Roy C. Paynter.
18 November

      Members of C Company were decorated for their heroism during the ambush of the Cu Chi-Tay Ninh Convoy on 25 August.

     COL Brandenburg, Commanding Officer of the 18th MP Brigade presented the awards in person to, SSG Charles H. Frazier, Silver Star and Purple Heart Medals, SP/4 Murphy, Silver Star and Purple Heart Medals, SGT Raymond Tate, Bronze Star for Valor, SP4 Guy A. Davison, Silver Star and Purple Heart Medals (posthumously).

     CPT (COL Ret.) Donald P. Kirchoffner, the commanding officer of C Company threw a farewell party for his close friend, CPT Paul R. Guimond, former commanding officer of B Company, who just completed his rotation with HQ Detachment as S3 and was leaving Vietnam on 19 November. The party was held in the C Company day room.

CPT Kirchoffner
CPT Guimond
21 November

TAOR  In the afternoon the Viet Cong (VC) 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, was captured in An Hoa Hung Village by Ambush Squad-76.

Reflection  "We (Ambush Squad-76) stopped at the National Police Station in the afternoon to take a break and get an update on the recent intelligence from B Company TOC. The station had a land line and we used that instead of the radio which was less secure.

     While in the compound our PF Interpreter SGT Xichs came running in from the village and informed me that he was just told by a villager that the Viet Cong we were hunting for blowing up the Outpost-1 jeep in which PFC Alicea was killed on 1 October 1968, was in the village visiting his family. We had no photograph of him but the informant had pointed him out to SGT Xichs.

     The team moved out into the village and we proceeded in a normal speed and manner so we wouldn't look out of the ordinary to the many villagers on the street. SGT Xichs lead us on our walk until we came up to the small coffee hooch just past the village market on the main street, off to our left. There were approximately five or six Vietnamese men standing and sitting around at the small wooden table in front of the hooch. All were older papasan's except for one young man who stopped in his tracks when we approached. At first he froze like a deer in the headlights. Then he looked down and slowly started walking towards the side of the hooch when SGT Xichs, at gun point, commanded him to stop. The young man offered no resistance.

      We took him into custody alive, and he was unarmed. I couldn’t believe that he was only a young teenager, no older that 18.

      We paraded him through the village square on the way back to the National Police Station. Before we brought him into the compound, an empty sand bag was placed over his head.

      When I called into the Company TOC they were elated to say the least. The young VC was put in the MP jeep kept at the National Police Station and I personally drove him to Military Intelligence on Long Binh Post where he was turned over for interrogation.

     After finally avenging the death of PFC Alicea the ambush squad's morale couldn’t be any higher. After all, we were the TAOR police, and after a two-month hunt, we just apprehended our #1 fugitive.

     Although not mentioned in the official records, the VC did talk, and within days the information he provided would result in further successes for the ambush platoon."  CPL Thomas T. Watson, Squad Leader Ambush Squad -76, B Company, 720th MP Battalion.

23 November
VC Way Station & Supply Cache's Destroyed

TAOR  Information received from intelligence sources resulted in the discovery of another VC way station and nearby supply cache used by a major VC political officer, Nguyen Van Thi, along the Buong River in the Tactical Area of Responsibility. A platoon of three B Company ambush squads lead by 2LT Robert L. Chavis located and destroyed the camp and cache situated several hundred meters east of Hill-15 along the Buong River in the southeastern sector just below the Finger Of Land.

Reflection  "The base camp was unguarded and unoccupied. 2LT Chavis had three ambush teams involved in the sweep. The base camp was finally located 1,000 meters east of Hill-15, just below the Finger Of Land.

     LT Chavis formed the squads into a skirmish line and set them up along the edge of some rice paddies along the southern edge of the Finger of Land that bordered the swamp and wooded area between us and the Buong river. We swept south towards the river from the Finger of Land and took up position on the outside of the wooded area that covered the stream.


    The lieutenant and I then waded into the water and followed the stream into the wood line.

     2LT Chavis spotted the bunker up on the south side of the stream to our right. We crawled up to it slowly and once we determined it was unoccupied I called in the rest of Ambush Squad-76. The other two squads secured the perimeter of the tree line.

   The camp appeared to be only several weeks old, and the VC had it set up real nice. It consisted of one main bunker about 6’ long by 5’ wide by 5’ high with a roof made of logs and covered with 2’ of earth that had plants growing from it. If you parted the tree canopy from above with a helicopter down draft it would look like part of the jungle floor.

   The sides of the bunker were also made of logs reinforced with mud and plants embedded in them. It also had a bath dug into the ground next to it. The bath was approximately 3’ by 3’ by 5’ deep. The mud removed from the bath was used for the bunker.

   Behind the bunker was a hand dug canal, 8’ long by 3’ wide by 5’ deep that connected to the main stream. It was large enough to hide a good-sized sampan. Over the stream the largest trees were bent down into a canopy and tied in place with vines. We didn’t find any tree trunks so the logs used were cut and floated in from another part of the woods or south of the Buong River in the Thi Army Area of Operation.

   Inside the bunker there were kerosene stoves, small glass oil lamp, 5 pounds of rice, 1 quart of cottonseed oil, 2 quarts of kerosene, one 1 gallon container of drinking water, 5 pairs of chop sticks, 9mm Chi Com handgun ammo, several Communist Chinese newspaper clippings, two canvas ponchos, some assorted plastic bags and assorted cooking pots and pans.


    The Chinese Communist ammunition told us it was “Thi’s” base camp. Only NVA or VC officers carry hand guns. The Chinese newspaper clippings confirmed what intelligence has been saying about him, that he has been up north (North Vietnam) or in a Cambodian sanctuary training. Now that we have confirmed he is back something big must be in the works.

     We also found something very unusual, this camp had a flush toilet of sorts. It was located about 20 meters east of the bunker. It consisted of small tree branches cut into a bench seat that was built over a small hand dug trench connected to a swampy tidal area. The swamp was separated from the camp stream by a natural dirt berm. At high tide the water would come from the main river into the swamp and through the ditch dug under the toilet seat. When the tide went out it would carry all the waste material out into the swamp. They even had some scrap pieces of paper stuck on branches for toilet paper.

     After a thorough search of the area we gathered up all the supplies and 2LT Chavis called for some C4 (explosives) to be delivered so we could destroy the bunker. I don’t know the specific amount he asked for but the chopper delivered a 60 pound case. Chavis set the charge, all 60 pounds of C-4 explosive (he said why carry out the rest). It was placed inside the bunker, some rocks were placed on top of the case, and he set a two-minute time fuse. The tide was moving out and the water was down about half way so we got into the stream, which was waist high, and hauled ass away from the bunker south towards the main river.

     When it blew we were only about 50 meters away. Pieces of trees, large bunker logs, mud, muck, and water rained down on all of us. We were very lucky someone didn’t get hurt from the falling debris. We went back to check on the destruction and found a small lake where the woods and bunker had been. The other squads on perimeter duty had already been removed so we started back down the stream towards the Buong River where the PBR's were now waiting to pick us up.

Second Cache Discovered

     I was on point and about 100 meters south from where we found the first bunker. Just before I neared the river junction I glanced up towards a small rise of dry land to my right and observed a rusting 55-gallon drum sitting on small bamboo stilts under some bushes and trees. It was situated so that you would only be able to see it from the stream during low tide. I alerted Chavis who put the squad on alert while I went up to inspect it.

     The stream bank was steep and slick due to the low water and I had to crawl up. I immediately cut my hand on a sharp metal object embedded in the mud. I backed away and splashed some water on it to wash away the mud. The object turned out to be one of two halves of a metal bomb container that had been cut into points similar to a crown. The points were filed to a sharp edge and the base of the two objects was buried in the mud so the points were facing the water. It was like eight metal "punji sticks."

     If you jumped out of a boat at high tide you could impale yourself on them causing serious injury. I warned the others about the hidden booby trap and continued back up the bank. I carefully inspected the drum for booby traps before I lifted the lid, a piece of tin that was covered with a poncho to waterproof it. Inside the drum I found a better bonanza than we found at the bunker.

     There were 320 rounds of AK-47 ammunition, 420 rounds of M-16 ammunition, one Chi Com stick grenade, one NVA map case with maps, fifteen 6”X 8” paper VC flags, first aid equipment, 6 blasting caps, 15 to 20 pounds of rice, one quart of cotton seed oil, ammo magazines for an M-16, clothing consisting of a civilian shirt and pants, a wallet with a counterfeit Vietnamese National Identification Card, and best of all two pictures of “Thi.” They were small ID card size and matched the one on the counterfeit ID card. No one but the elder villagers knew what he looked like before this. I kept one of the photographs for later use in our village sweeps.

Nguyen Van Thi

     Once we finished the search of the immediate area 2LT Chavis called in the boat squad who were waiting off in the main river. They moved one of the PBR's in to pick us up, the second remained a distance away as support. We loaded up the boat with our seized supplies, minus the 55 gallon drum that I blew up with a hand grenade.

     In all it was a very good day."  From The Journal of, CPL Thomas T. Watson, Squad Leader Ambush Squad-76, B Company, 720th MP Battalion.

Wanted: If you participated in this sweep operation, please contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.
28 November

     For dinner at the Battalion Mess on Thanksgiving Day the mess staff gave their all to provide a great meal for those that were lucky enough to be available on post to take advantage of it. Each soldier also received a dinner menu with the Chaplains prayer for the day.

   For those in the field, it was your choice of C-Rats.

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