INTERVIEW: Capt. Elliott Fishburne, 095910, Commanding Officer Company C.
Question: What took place during the early portion of the
evening from about dark until 2030 hours on 1 Jan 68?
Answer: I had placed a 3 man LP in front of each platoon perimeter area with
a radio about 75 meters out. The ambush was about 350 meters to the southeast. The few incoming mortar rounds around 2000 hours was
not anticipated as anything more than harassment since we had been mortared lightly nearly every night for the last three days or
Question: Then there was no activity until 2330?
Answer: Everything was quiet until 2330 hours. At this time the heavy mortar attack
took place and all LP’s and the AP reported movement all over the place. We had maintained our 100% alert since the earlier attack
and every one was in his bunker. The LP’s requested to withdraw but I refused at this time. At about 2345 hours, the entire perimeter
opened up and the heavy ground assault started. I recalled the LP’s but the 26 and 36 were unable to return because of the intense
fire from the perimeter.
Question: What warning did you have of the eminence of the attack?
Answer: The first we knew of the assault
was the reports of heavy movement near the LP’s. Then the VC opened up with dozens of RPG rounds at the bunkers before they tried
to penetrate the perimeter. By 0030 hours, the VC were swarming all over the 3rd and 4th platoon bunkers, the second platoon perimeter
had no radio (1 was on LP, the other on AP) so the first Platoon leader kept me informed of their situation.
Question: Did they actually
get through your perimeter?
Answer: One VC managed to get on top of my CP bunker and was trying to put grenades through the opening.
My third platoon leader attempted to get him but was wounded along with 2 others before they got to him. The 105 mm behind my CP got
him off with a direct hit from a Beehive. The First platoon reported some VC behind them but very few. The Third platoon reported
hand to hand fighting on the southeastern portion of the perimeter which was getting hit hard. One RPG Team took over one bunker.
Describe the employment of Beehive and direct fire.
Answer: The 105 mm right behind my CP began firing Beehive about 0030 at the bunker
line and just in front to keep the VC out of the perimeter. It was very effective and kept the VC from over running the southeastern
portion of the perimeter. About 0230 hours, all the Beehive was expended and the crew fired HE direct fire. At 0400 hours, the artillery
was re-supplied with Beehive and continued to fire them until the attack slowed and eventually contact was broken heavily about 0530.
What other supporting forces did you have?
Answer: We got air strikes with CBU and napalm about 0230 hours, which was very timely and
effective. The planes placed their ordinance between my perimeter and the LP’s. Some of the bombs hit within 15 meters of the bunker
line. It was extremely accurate and as far as I knew no one on the perimeter was casualty as a result, although I had one (1) KIA
on the AP from the air strike. The Puff could not get close enough to do much more than drop flares. The helicopter gun ships arrived
about 2 hours late. I don’t know why they were so late. They gave good support with their weapons when they got there however. I also
moved two (2) APC’s up behind by perimeter for additional ground support.
Question: What happened to the AP?
Answer: Earlier, about
0230 hours, they reported that half of them were casualties. Later I found that they had exchanged fire with the VC who used RPG’s
and automatic weapons. Eleven (11) of them were wounded, one (1) was KIA by an RPG, and one (1) was KIA by the air strike. Only 3
got away without being hurt.
Question: What were the casualties, both sides?
Answer: In the morning our company didn’t make the sweep.
Manchu (4th-9th Inf.) did that. However, we counted 53 VC bodies within 30 meters of the bunker line. Only the one on my CP had actually
gotten through. I had 12 KIA and 46 WIA.
Within hours after the attack at FSB Burt, Captain Jerry Brown
interviewed the company commanders of the 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.
INTERVIEW: Capt. Herbert Chancy, 05321797, Commanding Officer, Company A.
Question: Where did your principal attack come from?
We were attacked straight from the east at the extreme right of my perimeter. It was fairly heavy, especially with RPG fire.
Were you penetrated?
Answer: Around 0200 hours, 2 or 3 VC got through just about the time I lost radio contact with 16 on that side.
Bravo Company’s reserve force of two platoons filled in the gap in that portion of the perimeter and it was held. Eventually commo
Question: What artillery did you have?
Answer: Since the 105mm was firing in support of Company C, we took the only
thing we could get which was a 155mm gun. It fired direct fire just over our bunkers and the HE cleared out many of the VC that might
otherwise have gotten through.
Question: What was one of your effective defenses?
Answer: We fired all our 90mm RR canister rounds and
blew well over 50 claymore mines. My LP blew one claymore mine after which they found 10 dead VC lined up in front of it the next
Question: How did the LP’s communicate?
Answer: I had radio with two of them all night; I lost commo with one LP.
What were your casualties?
Answer: We didn’t make the morning sweep, so we could only count what was within 30 meters of the position.
There were 21 VC KIA (BC); I had 4 KIA and 23 WIA.
INTERVIEW: Capt. Robert Hemphill, Commanding Officer, Company B.
Question: What was
Answer: I only had one platoon on the perimeter. One platoon was an AP on the road and two were reserve.
did the AP first spot the VC moving south?
Answer: About 2330 hours they reported large numbers of VC moving toward us and didn’t think
it was wise to engage them because of the numbers.
Question: Did they ever fire?
Answer: During the night the VC kept moving back and
forth past them. Eventually they were compromised and triggered the ambush killing 4 VC. In the morning a heavy blood trail was found
indicating that 1 or 2 others were seriously wounded.
Question: When were you called to reinforce A Company?
Answer: About 0300 hours
I got word that the VC had broken through A Company’s perimeter so I sent my two reserve platoons who filled in the gap and held the
Question: What were casualties both sides?
Answer: I had 1 KIA and 21 WIA. We counted 4 VC in front of the AP and
in front of the bunkers on the north.
OBSERVATIONS AND LESSONS LEARNED:
- The well built bunker, utilizing a deep foxhole with heavy overhead cover contributed to the ability of the positions to withstand
countless mortar rounds, RPG hits and small arms fire.
- The employment of direct fire from artillery, the HE and especially the Beehive
proved invaluable in the support of the perimeter and prevented the VC from breaking through the perimeter due to sheer force of numbers.
- Claymores in front of bunkers were a valuable defense.
- LP’s proved to be the only early warning of the size and eminence of the attack.
- In the Company C area the VC were too close to positions and Beehive was so intense that the 90’s could not be fired.
- Air strikes
and the precision of the bombs kept the majority of the attackers from getting close enough to attack with as great a capability as
their numbers could have had the capacity for doing.
- Gun ships arrived too late to turn the initial attack.
- Artillery and Puff furnished
good flare support since illumination was vital for defense.
FOR THE COMMANDER:
GERALD T. BROWN