2/12th Infantry Regiment in Vietnam
4th Infantry Division
OCT 1966 – AUG 1967
25th Infantry Division
AUG 1967 – MAR 1971
JAN 66 ~ Establishment of Cu Chi Base Camp
The 1st Division’s 3rd Brigade (Col. Brodbeck) was tasked with preparing the way for the 25th, and Operation BUCKSKIN commenced to clear the area of the enemy.
The 3rd Bde, 1st Div., established a forward command post at Trung Lap in late January 1966. “Nearly every day of the operation the Americans found ample signs of the Viet Cong’s presence – booby traps, mines, weapons, ammunition, supplies, bunkers, and tunnel systems – but few soldiers.”
“On 24 January, certain that no large Viet Cong units were in the area, Colonel Brodbeck moved his brigade to Cu Chi proper to establish a perimeter around what was to become the 25th Division’s new home. Almost immediately, his troops turned up a series of trenches and tunnels that seemed to permeate the site in every direction.”
“On the morning of 30 January, with the 25’s 2nd Brigade largely in place, Brodbeck turned over control of Cu Chi to the brigade commander, Col. Lynnwood M. Johnson, and returned to Lai Khe.”
“But the job had just begun, and Colonel Johnson’s troops spent much of the next few months trying to clear the 25th Divisions base camp of the maze of tunnels that lay beneath it. In one month alone the 2nd Brigade lost 50 men killed and 350 wounded. The tunnels of Cu Chi would torment the 25th Division for years to come.”
Carland, John M., COMBAT OPERATIONS: STEMMING THE TIDE, May 1965 to October 1966, Washington, DC: Center of Military History U.S. Army 2000 pp.166-168.
ibid p. 168
ibid p. 168
Deployment of the 4th Infantry Division to Viet-Nam
Mid 1966 saw the 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division
deployed to the “Central Highlands” (Pleiku Area of Operations), followed in the fall by the 3rd Brigade – 2/12th included – who were diverted to the South around Saigon.
Deployment of 25th Division to VN
The 25th was the Pacific Commands contingency force and was ready for deployment by December 1966.
3d BRIGADE to Pleiku Province Jan66
2d BRIGADE to Cu Chi Jan66
(The 25th’s commanding general, Maj. Gen. Frederick C. Weyland, arrived in Mar66.)
1st BRIGADE to Cu Chi Apr66
In the CU CHI/SAIGON CORRIDOR (1966) the 25th had “six [infantry] battalions and three cavalry troops (two armored and one airmobile)….”
Carland, John M., COMBAT OPERATIONS: STEMMING THE TIDE, May 1965 to October 1966, Washington, DC: CMH U.S. Army 2000 p.165
The 2/12th Infantry is stationed at FT. LEWIS,
Washington as a part of the 4th Infantry Division. The 12th was a ‘Train and Retain’ outfit – which meant that the new draftee (or enlistee) assigned to the unit took Basic Training and Advanced Training WITHIN the battalion. Source: Howard Paris. a.k.a. Flame 3
2/12th INFANTRY FORMING AT FORT LEWIS, WASHINGTON
Because of the need to rapidly build up the U.S. Army a program was established whereby new recruits (“inductees” or “Boots”) would not go to “Boot Camp” for their basic training, but would go directly to the unit that they would have been assigned to (after Boot Camp). Under this system the civilian became a soldier within the battalion and learned his military specialty or job – known as one’s military occupational specialty(MOS). This system was known as Train & Retain. The officers and NCO’s who would eventually lead them in Vietnam trained the new 2/12th recruits for the next few months.
Army Sergeant Barry Sadler has a hit song; The Ballad of the Green Berets.
Enemy troops began using the RPG-2 for the first time in South Vietnam.
1 Jul 66
COUNTEROFFENSIVE, PHASE II begins.
A U.S. military history ‘Named Campaign’ ending 31 May 1967. Individuals who served during this period are authorized to wear one (1) bronze Battle Star on their Vietnam Service Medal ribbon – representing participation in the Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase II.
Operations during this period included, but are not limited to; OPERATION GADSDEN (2Feb to 21Feb67); and OPERATION JUNCTION CITY (22Feb to 14May67) during which the 2/12th was in the BATTLE OF SUOI TRE (21Mar67).
Lieutenant Colonel Marvin “Red” Fuller was the 2/12th battalion commander from September 1966 until theSpring of 1967. He “trained-up” the battalion at FortLewis, WA and was it’s first commander in Viet Nam.
22 SEP 1966
Troop ship carrying the 2/12th Infantry leaves Tacoma, Wash. wharf for Viet Nam in Southeast Asia (a.k.a. Indochina).
Source: Authors collection.
The battalion shipped over to Viet Nam on the USS Walker, a troop transport that carried many units to Vietnam at the beginning of the war.
On October 8th or 12th – depending on who you talk to – the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry arrived in Viet Nam. The 2/12th Inf. was part of the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division who were headquartered in Central Vietnam. Because the 3rd Brigade was so far away from their parent 4th Division, who were headquartered in the Central Highlands, the 2/12th was placed under the operational control of the 25th Infantry Division’s HQ.
After landing, the battalion was initially stationed at BEARCAT (Camp Martin Cox vic YS1498). Bearcat – east of Saigon along Highway 15 – was newly established in March 1966 and first manned by the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division.
12 OCT 66
“3rd Bde, 4th Inf Div lands at Vung Tau, completing the Division’s deployment to RVN. (U)”
[SOURCE: MACV Command History 1966.]
21 OCT 66
CO. C KIA:
Private Robert F. Ehlers (20) of Saint Paul, MN
perished in Viet Nam.
[NOTE: Charlie Company suffered the first and last of the 2/12th Infantry’s killed-in-action in Viet-Nam. The battalions last KIA was Pfc. Paul L. Bradshaw (CO. C), killed-in-action on 2 MAR 1971.]
OPERATION FORT NISQUALLY
28 Nov 66 to 14 May 1967
“The mission of the operation was to conduct operations to secure the area adjacent to the base camp of the 3rd Bde, 4th Inf Div at DAU TIENG and to eliminate VC influence in the unit’s Tactical Area of Responsibility (TAOR).”
[SOURCE: HQ 25th Inf Div, Operational Report for Quarterly Report Period Ending 31 July 1967 – 19 August 1967]
28 NOV 66
The 2/12th Inf opens and helps build a major new base camp at DAU TIENG [Tri Tam, Binh Duong Province] CAMP RAINIER (vic XT492479).
The new base was established as a direct result of the events of OPERATION ATTLEBORO [6-15 NOV 1966]. After the 1/27th Infantry “Wolfhounds” were severely mauled by the 272nd VC and 101st NVA Regiments, the need for a stronger presence in the Dau
Tieng area became apparent to the 25th Division Headquarters.
Bob Hope USO Christmas Show;
Les Brown and his Band of Renown, Anita Bryant, Vic
Damone, Phyllis Diller, Joey Heatherton and Diana Selton performed.
There is no record of the 2/12th Inf attending this show, but movie star Martha Raye did do a Christmas show at Dau Tieng that many of the Warriors saw.
[FOOTNOTE: Miss Raye was honored with the U.S. Army rank of Major after she was caught up in the Tet 68 battles and helped treat the wounded in I Corps. Major Martha Raye, an American hero. – Sarge