Heroes helped repel attack on fire bases
DONG TAM - Many 9th Division soldiers stood out by their heroism in
the fierce battle on Nov. 18, when forces of the 5th Mechanized
Battalion, 60th Infantry and the 2d Battalion, 4th Artillery fought
off a furious VC attack on Fire Support Base Cudgel, 25 miles west of
One of them is Private First Class Sammy L. Davis, 21, of
Martinsville, Ind., an artilleryman who made several heroic rescues of
foot soldiers after his howitzer was knocked out.
Another is Private First Class Edward S. Gallegos, 23, of Sacramento,
Calif., a member of the 5th/60th, whose persistant machine gun fire at
the VC, who had penetrated as close as 25 yards, may have kept them
from entering the fire support base.
Davis' heroic exploits were described by Lieutenant Colonel Charles F.
Gorden, 40, of Ft. Monroe, Va., his battalion commander.
"Davis was helping man a 105mm howitzer when he saw automatic weapons
fire from across the canal," Gorden reported. "He grabbed an
M-60 machine gun, fired it for a while and then used an M-16.
"The howitzer was hit with a recoilless rifle round and started to
burn, but Davis used it to fire five high explosive rounds directly at
the enemy position. But the steaming hot piece was hit a second
time, finishing it for good and knocking Davis into a hole next to the
Davis heard the voices of 5th/60th infantrymen calling for help across
the canal. He had already been wounded in the battle, but he
jumped into the canal with an air mattress, and crossed the water
three times to bring the wounded men to safety, although he was a poor
During one trip he picked up an M-16 and fired at some enemy soldiers
who hoped to attack the wounded infantrymen.
"All of this action was on an exposed portion of the canal bank,"
Gorden pointed out. The VC had entered the area by taking boats
up the canal and their survivors left the same way.
At another section of the perimeter, Gallegos, manning a defensive
position, stopped firing his M-60 machine gun to bring a wounded
noncommissioned officer to safety under enemy fire, according to PFC
Wayne E. Shiparski, 19, of Waukegan, Ill., a member of his squad.
"After he got the sergeant in the hole, he got back up on the 60,"
Shiparski said. "A lot of VC were running up the trail toward us.
He said, "I don't want to give away our position but I have to shoot
at them." He fired about 300 rounds, linking them as he fired.
But then he was hit and knocked unconscious.
"We put another man on the '60,' Shiparski continued, "but Gallegos
came to and insisted on firing it himself. We got the word to
pull back and tighten the perimeter. Gallegos continued to fire
as I helped get the sergeant back to the rear and then I came back for
Gallegos and the M-60."
Gallegos' platoon leader, Second Lieutenant Peter M. Becraft, 23, of
New Hartford, N.Y., praised him for his heroism. "If he hadn't
stayed and held off the VC by himself, the VC could have penetrated
the position," he said.
DONG TAM - The 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry, was welcomed to the ranks
of the 9th Division during ceremonies here Sept. 13.
Called the "Rangers," the 1st/16th comes to the Old Reliables from the
1st Infantry Division, where it amassed an impressive battle record.
Lieutenant Colonel Willard Latham, of Arlington, Tex., Ranger
commander, said his men made the move in a good frame of mind and are
anxious to work in new terrain.
"Our job is to go where we are sent and do our jobs as soldier," said
Latham. "In the two months I have commanded them, the battalion
has had a lot of contact with the enemy and done well in all actions."
The 1st/16th is assigned to the 3rd Brigade, commanded by LTC John A.
Hemphill, who greeted the battalion on its arrival.
The new battalion operated in terrain much different than in the
Mekong Delta's inundated rice paddies and myriad waterways.
Working out of Lai Khe, about 30 miles north of Saigon, their area of
operation consisted of many rolling hills, something not seen in the
sprawling, flat Delta.
battalion assumes designation of 5th-60th
In a brief ceremony in front of 9th Division headquarters Oct. 21, the
1st Battalion, 16th Infantry, was re-designated the 5th Battalion,
The 1st/16th., a former 1st Infantry Division unit, joined the 9th
Division Sept. 13, when it switched places with the former 5th
Mechanized Battalion, 60th Infantry. Designations were changed to
reestablish the 5th/60th as a 9th Division unit.
Ninth Division colors were passed from the new 1st/16th battalion
commander, Lieutenant Colonel Eric Antilla, to 9th division Commanding
General, Major General Julian J. Ewell. General Ewell then passed the
colors to the new 5th/60th battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel
After the exchange of colors, Major General Orwin C. Talbet,
commanding general of the 1st Division, commended the men of the old
1st/16th. He said the 1st/16th had special meaning to the 1st
Division, because it was the unit that marched for the then 1st
Expeditionary Force in the streets of Paris on July 4, 1917, to
signify the U.S. troops arriving to help the French.
He noted the rest of the battalion's record in World War II and
Vietnam. "We were and are proud to have worked with you," General
General Ewell welcomed the former 1st divisions soldiers to the 9th
Division, saying, "You're joining a division that has to look up to no
He commended the battalion for its fighting in recent weeks with the
Division's 3rd Brigade. "The battalion has shown the stuff of which of
which it is made in the Plain of Reeds, where it cut the VC deep and
where it hurts," General Ewell said.