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A blog based on 170+ letters and photos sent home from the Vietnam War.

  • Joe Lex

#05 1968, early August - The Worst Is Yet to Come

In early summer of 1968, my family moved from Park Forest, a south suburb of Chicago, to Havana, Illinois, a town of less than 4500 on the Illinois River about 200 miles southwest of Chicago and 150 miles north of St. Louis. My father spent most of his career managing grain elevators for Cargill, Inc., and this move was a promotion. They had only recently moved and were unpacking a houseload of belongings as my father celebrated his 43rd birthday on 1 August.


Battalion Action Report for August 03, 1968:

Company B was conducting a sweep in the eastern portion of the Michelin Rubber Plantation. Contact was made and the VC took shelter in a village. Company A was dispatched to reinforce Company B.

At 0915 hours, the village was evacuated with the help of a loud speaker helicopter. One of the villagers stated that there were still 100 VC in the village. CS was dropped on the village and a LFT was called in.

At 0958 hours, a dust-off was requested. One of the LFT helicopters had fired a rocket that exploded on Company B soldiers. One Bobcat was killed and five were wounded. Also wounded by the rocket blast were one engineer and one Vietnamese civilian. A search of the village resulted in negative contact. The Recon Platoon provided security for a convoy from Dau Tieng to Tay Ninh.

At 2150 hours, elements of Company C providing security at the Dau Tieng Bridge over the Saigon River engaged and destroyed one sampan.


VC = Viet Cong

CS = tear gas, the compound 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile

LFT = Light Fire Team – Cobra (gunship) + LOH (observation helicopter, aka ‘loach’)

Dust-off = medical evacuation by helicopter

“Operating room shirts” are, of course, scrub tops.

I talked about Father J. Robert Falabella before. Not sure why I kept putting “Tiny” in quotes.


Battalion Action Report for August 07, 1968

At 1825 hours, Dau Tieng Base Camp received small arms fire. Fire was returned with organic weapons. The enemy fire continued for almost 30 minutes before the VC broke contact. One Bobcat from Company C was killed and another wounded in the exchange.

Battalion Action Report for August 09, 1968

Companies A and C conducted sweeps in the area of AP 12, located in the center of the Michelin at XT 557505.

At 1345 hours, Company C received sniper fire while moving back to Dau Tieng. There were negative casualties.

At 1445 hours, the Recon Platoon departed Tay Ninh with a 48 vehicle convoy.

At 1507 hours, Company A received small arms fire from 3 or 4 VC. The VC broke contact when fire was returned. A dust-off was requested for one Bobcat from Company A who was shot in the chest. He died of his wounds later in the day.


AP = ??? Attack Position? Advance Party? Assault Position? Ammunition Point?

Undated letter, envelope postmarked 12 Aug (and letter typed on onionskin)

CQ = Charge of Quarters. For the dispensary / aid station, this meant that I was “on duty” every night and available to anyone who walked through the door – kind of like a contemporary emergency department.

Me and Tiny at Dau Tieng

Me, Lady, Monk, and Tiny at Dau Tieng in front of out jeep.

Diving into a wading pool was pure stupidity. I am lucky that I did not end up a quadriplegic. I got off light with a scraped nose. 20-year-olds do really stupid things when surrounded by other 20-year-olds, especially when there is beer involved.


Battalion Action Report for August 14, 1968 At 2323 hours, Company C reported that one VC walked toward the night perimeter and was shot.

Battalion Action Report for August 15, 1968 At 0545 hours it was reported that the person killed on August 14, was a US Soldier from Company C, 1/5th(M). He had no weapons or web gear when found. Speculation on how he got outside the perimeter and then walked back towards it varied.


Web gear = canvas belt and shoulder straps for packing equipment and ammunition on infantry operations. Death by friendly fire.

“Draining water on the elbow” was almost certainly aspirating an olecranon bursitis. Not sure where the cyst was located, but I “removed” it rather than draining it, so probably an uninfected sebaceous cyst.


Battalion Action Report for August 16, 1968

Companies A, B, and C conducted a cordon and search of Dau Tieng City with South Vietnamese District officials. 102 people were detained for questioning.


This was the beginning of the Battle of Ben Cui. It also represented Phase III of the Tet Offensive of 1968 (also known as the August Offensive or Third Offensive) and lasted until late September. The Bobcats were about to get hammered hard.


Battalion Action Report for August 17, 1968

At 0400 hours, Dau Tieng Base Camp was hit by a mortar and rocket barrage. Five people were wounded. The enemy fire was returned with artillery fire with unknown results.


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