Subject: Annual Historical Report
Chief of Military History
Department of the Army
Washington, DC. 20315
1. Reporting Period 1 April 1968 to 31 January 1969
2. Major Activities:
a. During the period 1 April 1968 to 1 June 1968, the 3rd Bn 34th Artillery provided close and continuous fire support to elements of the 2nd Brigade’s Mobile Riverine Force. In fifteen major operations that ranged into Kien Hoa, Dinh Tuong, Go Cong, and Vinh Long Provinces, the barge mounted elements, (Btry B and Btr C), and the airmobile guns of Battery A, occupied numerous fire support bases well forward in 2nd Brigades area of operation, in order to deliver timely and accurate artillery fire. These operations along both sides of the My Tho River added immeasurably to the security of this important delta communications artery.
b. On 2 June 1968, the Mobile Riverine Force moved into a series of long range strike operations that began in Long An Province below Saigon and ended with the first penetration of the U-Minh Forest of the Vietnam War. Wherever the 2nd Brigade moved, the 34th Artillery was close by providing the fire support required to assure destruction of the enemy. During this period, Btry A moved on to the artillery barges making all three batteries water mobile for the first time. Each firing battery participated in air-mobile operations during the month of August 1968, howitzers were air lifted directly off the barges to inland fire support bases, adding a new page to the lengthening list of the battalion’s accomplishments. During the week of 4 August Btry B and C occupied four different fire support bases separated by 150 kilometers of waterways varying in width from 50 meters to 1000 meters. The occupation of FSB Winchester, located 15 miles southeast of the Gulf of Thailand and 43 miles southwest of Can Tho, was the deepest penetration of the area by U.S. Forces in Vietnam. The Battalion supported elements of the 2nd Brigade, 5th VNMC, and local GVN District forces on this operation. The 3rd/ 34th Artillery proved to everyone, during the month of August, that barge mounted Artillery loses none of it’s mobility. The batteries moved in every conceivable way during the month by water, by road, and by air lift. On 24 August, all three batteries and the battalion GP were airlifted from their boats and barges and placed in three different FSPB’s to support a combined 7th ARVN Div and the 2nd Brigade operations.
c. On 9 September 1968, the 2nd Brigade and the Mobile Riverine Force began the accelerated pacification campaign in Kien Hoa Province. One infantry battalion moved in the semi-permanent base areas in the enemy infested areas of central Giong Trom District. Battery A tied up near the newly established Fire Support Base David and provided fire support for the incipient campaign activities. The remainder of the battalion moved to the mouth of the Ham Long River to support the first of a series of MRF strike operations on the periphery of VC dominated Kien Hoa Province. Three mortar attacks, a mining incident, and an ambush, all delivered against units of the 3rd/34th Artillery, highlighted this problem. All units reacted in a professional and disciplined manner and continued their mission of close and continuous support by artillery fires to the 2nd Brigade.
d. Btry C was lifted off the barges in early October 1969 and set up in a land fire base at Giong Trom Town, the waterborne elements moved to the eastern extremes of the Kien Hoa to the Binh Dai secret zone of the VC. Working in close operations with a Navy Destroyer, the guns of Btry A and B helped account for over 300 enemy bunkers and structures destroyed in this traditional enemy stronghold. The 3rd Bn VNMC joined the 2nd Brigade on 18 October 1968, 34th Artillery Liaison and forward observer parties helped provide this outstanding unit with the close and timely fires. B-52 strikes follow-up missions became common place as the 2nd Bde hammered at the pivotal central Giong Trom region. By early November, Btry C was established on the field artillery firing platforms at FSB KLAW. This unit lent close support to the 3rd/47th Infantry’s continuing patrol base construction program. By mid-month the crucial TL 26 Highway had been opened on a regular basis and security up-grading of central Giong Trom was a reality.
e. Btry A and B steamed into the enemy’s Thanh Phu secret zone to establish two fire support bases in this traditionally VC dominated region. A highlight of this coastal sweep by the MRF coordination of naval gunfire by the 34th Artillery control center. On November 23, Btry A made the first artillery transit of the Mo Cay District Town. Btry C on their paddy platforms in Giong Trom, suffered 1 KIA and 6 WIA in two enemy mortar attacks during the month. Btry C, continued their mission in a truly outstanding manner through all these actions. The attacks were evidence of the effectiveness of the type operation being conducted by the 3rd/47th Infantry in the area. The Viet Cong had been hurt and had to strike back. The battalion supported eight major operations during November. The newly established “Eagle Prep” technique gained maturity as the units of the 3rd/34th Artillery smothered helicopter landing zones with deadly prep fire.
f. The Cordon and search operation entered the 34th Artillery’s list of accomplishments in early December 1968. This type of activity was to become more prevalent as the intensified pacification efforts in pivotal Kien Hoa continued. Battery 4 made the always dangerous canal passage to Mo Cay again and again, and by the end of December it was a routine activity of the battalion. 2nd brigade operations picked up speed and became even more widely separated with the insertion of the U.S. Infantry into Mo Cay Town, From My Tho to the lower Ham Luong Rivers, the 3rd/34th Artillery was hard pressed to keep up with the fast moving 2nd-Bde strike forces. Out with split batteries echelon moves, and indomitable spirit all critical battle areas were covered. On 20 December, Btry A displayed the flexibility that has become the watch word of the 3rd/34th Artillery. The unit was alerted for movement to Can Tho in the deep Delta region, re supplied with rations and fuel and water, they departed for extended duty all in the space of three hours. As the dry season descended on the Mekong Delta in earnest, the land mobility of Btry C was displayed by two split operations featuring a platoon of howitzers being towed off the paddy platforms and road marched to fire bases in Giong Trom Town.
g. Late December 1968 and early January 1969 saw the 2nd Bde moving into Mo Cay and And Don Nhon Districts, both lone VC controlled. Gordon and search operations were again prevalent as the real business of pacification continued. The 3rd/34th Artillery, displayed the ingenuity and resourcefulness that have marked the Riverine Field artillery unit since inception, placed a FPS-5 surveillance radar on a LCM-8 boat. Detailed surveillance of river activity proved entirely feasible under this technique. The first four months of the Mobile Riverine Forces operation in support of the GVN accelerated pacification campaign in Kien Hoa province has resulted in over 1500 Viet Cong KIA and a 100% increase in the Chieu Hoi rate. Throughout the campaign to date, the 3rd/34th Artillery, has on every occasion, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, provided the close and continued artillery support essential to successful prosecution of United States goals in Vietnam.
h. During the period of 1 May to 31 January, the headquarters and service Battery has become fully entrenched in Dong Tam Base. Using limited resources, an outstanding base camp area has been constructed, including the mess hall, 3 troop billets, a BOQ a BEQ Headquarters building and a S-4 shop. The area has been further enhanced by addition of a net work of sidewalks. Construction has also included two personnel bunkers and a bunkered aid station.
i. In the way of civic action programs, the Battalion has initiated an aggressive ICAP/MEDCAP program, using all modes of insertion, air, water, and road. The battalion since 1 November, has conducted 30 MEDCAPS and 20 ICAPS, treating 4534 patients and distributing commodities to 5 times that number. In addition to
ICAP/MEDCAPS, the battalion has provided materials for construction of a Pagoda in Giong Trom District and is gathering material for construction of a school and church in Ham Luong District. C battery makes a monthly contribution Of $90.00 to the My Tho leper colony.
For the Commander:
Norman L. King
CPT, Field Artillery