1968 Supplement to Company F, 58th Infantry Unit History

By on November 7, 2011 in F/58th LRP

BIEN HOA TO SONG BE TO CAMP EAGLE

Company “F”, 58th Infantry upon its activation on 10 January 1968 found itself located at the Bien Hoa Army Base in the Republic of Vietnam. Most of the personnel were the cadre of Fort Campbell’s RECONDO school who had flown by C141 to Bien Hoa only within the preceding two months, and members of the First Brigade’s Reconnaissance Platoon. The time prior to the activation was spent establishing the company as a working unit and in refresher training covering all areas needed to be known for the special mission of performing long range patrols – from repelling to immediate action drills. So the prospects for the year 1968 were bright. The men, although few had prier combat experience, were well trained and confident and moral was high.

Although the men were anxious to begin performing long range patrol missions the needs of the Division were such that this event would be postponed until 4 May. Shortly after the official activation the company boarded C-130s at the Bien Hoa airfield and headed for song Be to assist in securing that city. Soon after arrival the first ambush team was sent out and for the next two weeks the company provided the city security by sending out ambushes and close in reconnaissance missions. Helicopter support was limited at this time so all missions were conducted within easy walking distance of the perimeter. During this period the company received its first casualty when an enemy mortar round killed one and wounded two company members.

On 21 January the company began its move to return to Bien Hoa to rejoin the 101st Airborne Division which was formulating relocation plans. But shortly after the first half of the company departed Song Be the city came under enemy attack. This was the beginning of the communist TET offensive and it was seven days before the company was again reunited at Bien Hoa. During the TET offensive the company member at Song Be saw a considerable amount of action. They received rocket, mortar and RPG rounds, and at one point during the ground fighting assisted in repelling the enemy from a quad 50 position which they had overrun. By the 28th of January the enemy had retired and the half of the company at Song Be returned to Bien Hoa.

At Bien Hoa the company began to perform security missions for the Division and General Clay, the Assistant Division Commander, took two six-man teams with him to help locate and secure a new area for the Division. These teams accompanied General Clay in his C-130 to Quang Tri, DaNang, and finally Phu Bai. In the Phu Bai area they provided security at a temporary base established near Gia Le, and accompanied General Clay in his survey of the surrounding area.

The decision was made to move the 101st Airborne Division to the Hue area. During the Communist TET offensive Hue was occupied by the communists for 27 days and the enemy threat was strong in the area. Company “F”, 58th Infantry was one of the first units sent. The company joined the two teams already in the area and secured the area which was to become Camp Eagle. In doing so they killed four enemy who had approached their parameter.

For the next two months the company was deeply committed to providing security for the Division’s rapidly developing base camp. Its primary missions included providing close in ambushes and daily clearing of the road connecting Camp Eagle and Highway 1. On one occasion elements of the company responding to an enemy ambush of an American truck on this road killed one fleeing enemy.

During this period the men of the company found it does get cold in Vietnam. They had left Bien Hoa in such a hurry they took with them only what they would immediately need. The 1968 Monsoon season was unusually cold and the men found the damp cold air went right through their light jungle fatigues. The unquestioned conclusion was that reports that Vietnam is always hot were grossly in error.

In addition to learning that Vietnam is not all sweat the men learned that not just any bunker will survive the monsoon rains, and during a two week period the most respected man in the company was SSG Richard Burnell whose bunker remained sound and dry while all other bunkers, if they did not wash away entirely, were reduced to mudholes.

Good weather follows bad, however, and with the good weather came a change in the company’s operations. Helicopters were assigned to the company and on 4 May the company conducted its first long range patrol.

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1968 Supplement to Company F, 58th Infantry Unit History

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