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During the five day search and destroy operation, Operation HATTIESBURG, which began on March 1st, the Vanguards had only light contact with the enemy. On March 30th, the battalion began Operation ABILENE with an airmobile assault near Vung Tau, followed by search and destroy missions. When ABILENE ended on April 15th, the 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry returned to their base camp at Field Forces Two and then made their final move to the new base camp at Bearcat. During May 1966, the Vanguards participated in Operation BIRMINGHAM conducting search and destroy missions. From the beginning of June to July 13th, the battalion took part in Operation EL PASO II and participated in the BATTLES OF AP TAUO on June 8th; SROI DONG on June 30th and HO KRIGNOU on July 1st and 2nd. During these three battles the battalion saw action against three of the four regiments considered to make up the 9th Viet Cong Division.
SROI DONG was the first successful large-scale counter ambush operation run by the 1st Infantry Division. It cost the 9th VC about 350 verified dead and an unheard of 17 live POWs from the 273rd VC Regiment. Live prisoners were a real oddity at this point in the war. The 2n Battalion, 18th Infantry, together with the 1st Squadron, 4th Armored Cavalry, were awarded the South Vietnamese Presidential Unit Citation (Cross of Gallantry with Palm) for this action. These were the first such awards to American units. The South Vietnamese president personally attended the ceremony. Two days later 2/18 Inf engaged in its heaviest action of the war. Assigned to block exit trails into Cambodia the day after SROI DONG, the battalion was moved into the area late in the afternoon. This turned out to be in the vicinity of the undetected assembly area of another VC regiment supporting the 9th VC Division. Small unit contact started almost as soon as the rifle companies moved to block the trails assigned to them. The battalion commander quickly assembled as much of the battalion as he could at the most threatened point. At dawn the following morning the enemy struck with his entire force at this large segment. The troops, completely aware of the situation, were well organized and fully dug in. The battle raged for two hours. The battalion was heavily supported by tactical air strikes since supporting artillery could cover only a portion of the perimeter because of the extreme range. Finally the enemy gave up their effort to overrun the position and fled into Cambodia. This battle became known as HO KRIGNOU. Between the first and second of these three battles, 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry moved first to An Loc and then to Quan Loi, a French rubber plantation about six kilometers to the east. The Vanguards became the first American unit to occupy Quan Loi. Within a week 1st Infantry Division Forward Command Post moved in, starting a long history of American units in the area. In mid-July when Lieutenant Colonel McChrystal moved to command the 2nd Brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Lewis R. Baumann assumed command of the battalion. He was to hold that position for almost ayear. From July 14th to August 2nd, the battalion participated in a security and training mission in the Long Binh area of the 173d Airborne Brigade.
On August 2nd 1966, the Van guards relinquished this mission to the 173d Airborne Brigade, and then began participation in Operation EL PASO III on August 13th. They provided security for airstrips and base camps, acted as a ready reaction force, and conducted search and destroy missions until the operation ended on August 24th. On August 24th, in Operation TOLEDO the 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry came under the operational control of the 1 73d Airborne Brigade. The operation ended on September 6th, without contact with the VC. On September 22nd, the battalion moved to the new Di An base camp of the 2nd Brigade and conducted search and destroy operations in the area and improved the new camp. During Operation TULSA which was conducted during the period October 9th- 16th, the battalion helped to clear and secure Highway 13, but had only minimum contact.
At the beginning of Operation ATTLEBORO on November 5 1966, the battalion rushed to the airstrip at Di An at a moments notice, flew to Dau Tieng and made an air assault to relieve the battle-weary 196th light Infantry Brigade, 25 Infantry Division. This aggressive assult forced the 271st VC Regiment to break Contact and flee. On November 18th, during Operation ATTLEBORO a platoon from Company B made contact with 68 VC in an enemy base camp. Artillery was called on the VC position and the VC broke contact. The base camp was extensive with well made huts and trench systems. From November 28th to December 23rd, the Van guards conducted search and destroy operations in the Rung Sat Special Zone during Operation CHARLESTON. There was no major contact. During Operation CEDAR FALLS in January, 1967, the Vanguards discovered what was described as a "miniature Coiregidor" - a tunnel/bunker complex reminiscent of the famous island fortress in the Philippines. When the largest offensive operation of the Vietnam war, the multi-division Operation JUNCTION CITY began on February 22nd, the 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry was airlifted into a 250 square mile area in War Zone C, around which American units formed a horseshoe. When the operation ended on April 15th, the Division had set a new record for itself: 1,780 Viet Cong killed. The two-phase campaign cost the 9th VC Division and other enemy units some of their bloodiest defeats.
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This page last updated on 10/11/2001 8:30:03 PM.