ARTY, Jets Join, Plaster 13 Viet Cong
DAU TIENG - In a coordinated barrage of artillery and gunship fire coupled with air strikes, 13 enemy were killed after they tried to shoot down a helicopter hunter-killer team recently.
The enemy force was spotted from a light observation helicopter of Delta Troop, 3d Squadron 4th Cavalry, in the Michelin Rubber Plantation, 50 miles northwest of Saigon.
The small helicopter and an accompanying Cobra gunship engaged the group, believed to be VC, with rockets and miniguns.
But the enemy responded with heavy ground fire from a .51 caliber anti-aircraft machinegun and other weapons. The Centaur team called for help from artillery and airstrikes.
Howitzers from Charlie Battery, 2d Battalion, 77th Artillery in Fire Support Base Mahone and Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 27th Artillery in Dau Tieng base camp opened up on the enemy as Captain Jon Swift of Plattsburgh, N.Y., arrived overhead in an OV-10 Bronco spotter plane.
Swift got the gunships to mark the location of the VC, then marked the spot with his own rockets to enable two strikes and several strafing runs by F-100 ‘Supersabres’ to find the enemy, who were in an X-shaped trenchline complex.
“It was incredible. They must have been inexperienced enemy troops because many of them stayed above ground during the strafing runs. They seemed to be confused,” noted Swift.
Five of the enemy ran into a bunker which took a direct hit from a bomb, he said.
Swift, who flies as a forward air controller for the 3d Brigade, praised the work of Lieutenant Colonel Vernon Lewis of Marshall, Tex., commander of the 2d Battalion, 77th Artillery, who directed artillery fire.
“It was a classic example of artillery and airpower being completely coordinated,” Swift said. “As the jets and choppers lifted away, the artillery filled in immediately. The enemy never had a chance to move.”