Here it is the eighth of November and time for my tribute to Duncan Hunter and his old Brigade from Viet Nam the 173rd Airborne. The first night I met Duncan, I knew he was a veteran but I didn't know the background of the 173rd, and their service in Viet Nam. On further study it was really quite an eye opener, the battles they fought in are subjects of songs, and movies, and a moving story lest we never forget the price they paid. I don't do this to demean or say other units didn't do their part, not at all, Duncan would never allow that, and he is right. But when you look into the service of the Brigade in Viet Nam and the price they paid, for a country that really didn't appreciate it, at the time. it is quite touching. Here is a short history of the 173Rd's service in Viet Nam:
On March 26, 1963, the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) was assigned to the regular army and activated on Okinawa. Brigadier General Ellis W. Williamson took command of the unit, which was chartered to serve as the quick reaction force for the Pacific Command. Under Williamson, the unit trained extensively, making mass parachute jumps. They earned the nickname Tien Bien, or Sky Soldiers, from the Taiwanese paratroopers. During their time in Okinawa, they prided themselves as the "toughest fighting men in Okinawa, if not the entire US Armed Forces". They took their theme song from the television series Rawhide.
The brigade's deployment in May 1965 made it the first major ground combat unit of the United States Army to serve in Vietnam. Williamson boldly predicted on arrival that his men would defeat the Viet Cong quickly and that they "would be back in Okinawa by Christmas". The brigade was the first unit sent into War Zone D to destroy enemy base camps, introducing the use of small Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols. On November 8, 1965, the 173rd took part in Operation Hump, just north of Bien Hoa on the outskirts of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam. They were ambushed by approximately 1,200 Viet Cong fighters, suffering 48 deaths. Throughout their six years in Vietnam, they served under the command of the II Field Force, Vietnam. The unit fought in the Iron Triangle, a Viet Cong stronghold north of Saigon, seeing many engagements with enemy forces during that time. They participated in Operation Crimp in 1966, a failed attempt to root out enemy forces from the Cu Chi tunnels.
1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade soldiers battle for Hill 882, southwest of Dak To.
Specialist Six Lawrence Joel from the 173rd Brigade, receiving a Medal of HonorThe 1st and 2nd Battalions, 503rd Infantry were the first Army combat units from the 173rd sent to the South Vietnam, accompanied by the 3rd Battalion, 319th Artillery. They were supported by the 173rd Support Battalion, 173rd Engineers, Troop E, 17th Cavalry and Company D, 16th Armor. The 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment and the 161st Field Battery of the Royal New Zealand Artillery were later attached to the brigade in 1965. Late in August 1966, the 173rd received another infantry battalion, the 4th battalion, 503rd Infantry from Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The 3rd battalion, 503rd joined the brigade at Tuy Hoa Province in September 1967 following the former's reactivation and training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The 173rd was also assigned Company N, 75th Ranger Regiment. At its peak of its deployment in Vietnam, the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) comprised nearly 3,000 soldiers.
On February 22, 1967, the 173rd conducted Operation Junction City, the only combat parachute jump of the Vietnam War. During the summer and fall of 1967, the unit blocked North Vietnamese Army incursions at Dak To during some of the bloodiest fighting of the war, culminating in the capture of Hill 875. Elements of the brigade conducted an amphibious assault against North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces as part of an operation to clear the rice-growing lowlands along the Bong Song littoral.
The intense fighting during the Battle of Dak To in November 1967 took a heavy human toll on the 173rd. While several of its units, including the 2/503rd and A/3/319th were ordered to Tuy Hoa to repair and refit, the 173rd was transferred to the An Khe and Bong Son areas during 1968, seeing very little action while the combat ineffective elements of the brigade were rebuilt. The unit then served in An Khe until mid-1969, seeing little in the way of heavy fighting. From April 1969 until its withdrawal from Vietnam in 1971, the brigade served in Binh Dinh Province. From April until August of 1971, the unit underwent the process of redeployment back to Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
During more than six years of continuous combat, the brigade earned 14 campaign streamers and four unit citations. Sky Soldiers serving in Vietnam received 13 Medals of Honor, 32 Distinguished Service Crosses, 1,736 Silver Stars and more than 6,000 Purple Hearts. The 173rd incurred 1,533 deaths and around 6,000 wounded. The brigade was inactivated on January 14, 1972 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Assets from the brigade were used to form the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, a parachute component within the helicopter-landed 101st. The 3rd Brigade went off jump status on April 1, 1974, the same date on which the Airmobile Badge (Air Assault as of October 4, 1974) was introduced.
With the results of this election, it is now more important than ever to make sure what happened to the Viet Nam generation, don't happen to this generation of brave Americans. I am committed to that. Maybe President elect Obama got an awaking at the FBI Building yesterday, and will listen to young Hunter, as he takes over for dad in the House of Representatives, I am sure it was quite an eye opener for Obama, since he was unable to get security clearance before election,election because of his past associations.
I am sure if called upon, the Hunters will help, as they have repeatedly shown they know how to put America first. Well another year has gone by, don't forget your local veterans this Tuesday, without all of them where would we be? As for my friend, and hero Duncan Hunter, hanging out with you, is an honor and a privilege, you are truly a GREAT AMERICAN!!!
Here is a video about Duncan's old brigade, I don't believe it is about the Dak To battle Duncan was in, but it is a great tribute to one of Americas legendary Brigades, from Big @ Rich:
16 hours ago