This is a copy of an e-mail sent by Riley Cook on the 40th anniversary of TET.
(I would like to add)
The Tet offensive at Vinh Long was a grueling sleepless 3 days of
constant air and ground assault expending most of our munitions,
till we finally got the F4 air strikes, supplies and support from Saigon.
Subject: 40 years ago today February 1, 2008 at 03:10 hrs.--> Riley
This morning at 03:10 hrs. marked the 40th anniversary of tet-68. On that date many lives were changed forever.
To tell the truth I'm surprised that know one has brought this up today.
For those of you who don't know me. My name is Riley Cook, I was with Co.C.Det-2 52nd Sig.Bn.
My job along
with another trooper by the name of Al Brodhagen were to maintain all
land lines on the compound,to Macv to the PBR base to other places in
On the night
and morning of the( 31st Jan.Morning of the 1st Feb.) at 03:10 hrs.
Mortars and 122 rockets and small arms fire started hitting the
compound and the airfield.
By 03:30hrs. The Airfield Commander was killed along with a Sgt. that was with him in a jeep.( See Report Below)
Word was passed down to all the detachments that we were going to be hit and people were added to build up the perimeter.
At the same time the orphanage was being hit and I think to slicks were busy getting the orphans and the Nun's on the compound.
(They Slept in the Chapel) and Sister Mary kept the kids busy washing our laundry. We shared our C's with them.
The VC were trying to set up their weapons Inside the Orphanage. It didn't work well for the VC.
( Side note:
I sent a copy of the Stars & Strip report of the battle at the
Orphanage to the 114th Archives,If anyone is interested.
( Vinh-Long Perimeter Map)
(Report of Col. Thompsons Death)
("Dear Riley, I don't know how you got my name, but yes I can answer your questions as I worked directly for LTC Thompson,
he was a wonderful man, all for his men, wouldn't take any shit.
Sometime after the mortar rounds starting coming in and some small arms firing on the compound, he got into his jeep and a
SSG V. Newton got in on the passenger side and LTC Thompson drove down to the airstrip and both were shot,
LTC Thompson was shot thru the lower
windshield and right thru his chest and into the set cushion, the same
for SSG Newton, they both died instantly.
If there is anything else, just let me know . When did you get to Vinh Long, you were their the same time I was there.
Were did you live while you were in
Vinh Long. Take care and if you have anymore questions let me know.
Regards Pete Anderson")
Some of us from the Sig. Det. were sent to help support the area around the 199th bird dog area.( Swamp fox)
As most of you know there was NO American Infantry to come to our aid at the time."
The VC got on
the compound mostly from coming over the top of the mound of sand that
had been dredged from the river and overflowed over the Perimeter wire.
was built up with Cooks, Clerks, Supply people, Maintenance people,
Sig. People etc. They ALL did a great Job and should be proud.
Support came from the 69th Eng. that were flown in. The Seawolfs
came in with their gunships. (Below is a personal report from a sea
click to read the Seaawolfs record TET 1968
( From the Can-Tho website)
( " Vinh Long Airfield: At approximately 0310 hours on the morning of 31 January 1968,
the Viet Cong initiated a coordinated mortar and ground attack against Vinh Long Airfield, Republic of Vietnam.
As the intensity of incoming mortar
rounds diminished, personnel of the 199th RAC began moving to their
assigned defensive positions on the west end
of the Vinh Long runway.
The defensive mission of the unit was
to secure the western end of the runway, protect the unit's aircraft,
and to repel any enemy ground attack from that end of the airfield.
Even as the lead elements of the company defensive force reached the transient revetments, a fire fight was in progress between
the VC and the night crew augmented
company guard which were the first elements to take the enemy under
fire in the company's defensive area.
It was during this initial fire fight that Sp/4 Fred K. m. Hatada's courageous actions resulted in his being mortally wounded
and Sp/5 Kenneth H. Erickson receiving his wounds which required medical evacuation.
Sp/4 Hatada was a flight operations specialist and Sp/5 Erickson a crew chief.
Maj John S. Jacob, the company
commander, SFC Dwight C. Clark, the unit First Sergent, Cpt Richard M.
Pribnow, the second platoon commander,
and WO Richard W. Shoup were the first
to arrive from the company billets area, and they encountered intense
small arms and automatic weapons fire as they
attempted to reach the wounded personnel and stop the enemy's advance.
The VC were already in several
revetments which contained unit O-1 aircraft and although they could
not suppress the enemy fire with the weapons at hand
they were able to deny the enemy freedom of movement within the revetments.
Three of these four personnel were wounded, and the fourth had a round pass through his helmet barely missing his head.
As these personnel were forced to pull back, other members of the unit were arriving on the scene.
Cpt Robert S. Jones, Jr., the company's executive officer, Cpt Charles Baker, the general support platoon commander.
and Cpt Daniel P. Alfridge, the unit
maintenance officer along with aircraft mechanics, cooks, clerks,
supply and maintenance support personnel at this time
took up the offensive and began rooting out the entrenched VC from the revetments.
By the coordinated use of hand
grenades plus fire and maneuver these personnel advanced from revetment
to revetment under intense enemy fire.
As each revetment was cleared,
personnel were positioned to prevent enemy reinforcement and to re
secure the unit's defensive perimeter.
When the advancing group reached the
second revetment east of the general support hanger, they administered
aid to the wounded and recovered the body of Sp/4 Hatada.
At this point the VC had been boxed in
and they broke from the revetments and attempted to flee south over a
mound of dredged sand and thereby escape into
the rice paddies and trees on that
side of the airfield. The fleeing enemy were taken under fire and
killed or wounded by accurately placed and devastating fire by
Cpt Jones, Cpt Baker and WO Shoup with
a small group of men eradicated the remaining VC with their personal
weapons and grenades tossed to them by Cpt Aldridge.
After the general support platoon
hanger was regained, the group continued toward the second platoon
hanger and linked up with personnel there thus restoring
the perimeter and securing the
company's defensive position. At this time relief was sent to the
unit's machine gun position located on the dredged sand.
These machine gun positions were
effectively and heroically manned throughout the encounter and although
cut off by the VC until the perimeter was secured,
they were instrumental in preventing enemy reinforcements from entering the battle and protecting the flanks of the unit.
As the sun rose on the morning of 31
January, the initial assault by the VC had been stopped in the 199th
RAC area of responsibility,
and the enemy had been made to pay
dearly for his effort. Ten VC were killed and six VC were
captured in the company aircraft revetments, and the adjacent
In addition one US BAR, four US
carbines, one US M-1, one AK-47, and two Chicom rifles along with great
amounts of ammunition for these weapons
as well as satchel charges and hand
grenades were discovered on the bodies of the dead VC, in the
revetments and on the dredged sand to the south.
Numerous documents of varying importance were also captured and turned into the intelligence channels.
During this initial action, personnel
of the unit suffered 1 KIA and 7 WIA. A check of the battle area
in the company's area of responsibility disclosed that even though
the VC had been in the revetments with
satchel charges, they had not been able to place them and no aircraft
had been destroyed.
Of the twelve O-1 aircraft in the revetments only four had been damaged and these were all repairable at unit level.
The immediate and decisive action
taken by each member of the unit had saved the aircraft and the unit
was able to continue to perform its mission of supporting
elements of the 7th and 9th ARVN
Division, all assigned sectors in the IV Corps Tactical Zone and to
continue to provide a general support capability.
An after-action evaluation indicated
the brunt of the VC attack had been directed against aircraft in the
199th and also the 175th AHC revetments located
on the south side of the
airfield. The action in the 175th area also included revetment to
revetment fighting and the ejection and destruction of the enemy force
from these areas was instrumental in reducing the loss of valuable aviation assets on the airfield.
Other units participating in the
defense of Vinh Long Airfield were the 346th Aviation Detachment, the
611th Transportation Company
(ADS), the 114th Assault Helicopter Company, the 52nd Signal Detachment, the HAL-3 (Sea Wolves) plus attached support elements.
The defensive/offensive force of the
199th RAC was composed of pilots, cooks, clerks, crew chiefs and
All elements of the company participated in the defense of the airfield.
Many members of the unit had gone
directly from BCT to AIT in their specialized fields with no additional
training as infantrymen.
The TOE mission of the company is
combat support, but by demonstrated ability, aggressiveness and
dedication to duty, the unit performed in an extraordinary
manner in defense of Vinh Long Airfield." )
(Sorry,But after all these years the time factor may not be correct on this.)
A day or two later two Shanuks CH47
landed at the airstrip with members of the 9th ARVN under the command
of Capt. Stuart Jamison.
They came to clear out the VC in the Village. They took VERY
HEAVY Casualties. Capt. Jamison has
written of his account of their fight to take Vinh-Long back from the
VC and has sent me a copy on CD.
If anyone is interested I'll be more than happy to send you a copy. ( NO CHARGE )
(As I mentioned above About the time factor)
I don't remember how many days had passed,but finely an F-4 was sent to help us out.
My buddy James Baron captured some of the F-4's work on 8mm.some of it was placed on google video.
here is the link.
Click to see Don Swift video Vinh Long Jet attack - Google Video
It has been many years now since tet-68, I was 22 at the time. I'm 63 now. The years have taken a little toll on me.
But I still remember some of the friends I lost at Vinh-Long.But God has blessed me in my Golden years.
This past couple of years I've been reunited with 5 of the men I served with at that time.
We keep in contact and we plan on meeting once more when The wife and I make our move to Tennessee.
In closing I'd like to say that for a few years now
trying to have the Video that the 114th has that has been placed on DVD
into the hands of the members for their own personal archives.
Before I pass on to the Promise land I would like to complete this task,
for ANYONE that could help in this endeavor. I have many pictures and
I'm willing to share with anyone from the 114th.
Thank you and God Bless all of you.