Zone Vera: The crash of incoming mortar fire shattered
the night for the men of Battery B, 1st 92nd
Artillery as they slept on this tiny firebase.
About 0130 hours on November 13, 1968 the enemy launched what was
termed a concentrated suicide attack to cripple the battery. The Battery
sustained the attack throughout the night and into the next day until
1700 hours when the NVA and VC launched what was to be their last
attempt to over-run the firebase. At this time LZ Vera received a
devastating barrage of 82mm mortar, 100mm artillery and 122mm rocket
B Battery held the Firebase and the 155mm guns of the Battery, and
with the aid of gun ships, effectively silenced the enemy fire.
(See also Map Numbers: MAP 6536-3 - MAP 6536-1 - MAP - 6536-4 )
B, in direct support of 3rd Brigade 4th Infantry moved to
LZ Vera (YA834178, 50 KM southwest of Pleiku) on 12 Nov 1968. The Battery
arrived late in the afternoon, following the procedure that all over
head cover must be built before any one sleeps. This saved many lives
since the NVA attacked the Battery shortly after midnight on 13 Nov.
Two days of intense enemy action ensued in which 23 Battery Personnel
were wounded, one man was killed and 3 howitzers were damaged. The Battery
was highly commended for its Valorous Action, which helped repel a ground
attack leaving 7 VC dead inside the perimeter, and suppressed the subsequent
hostile mortar, rocket and artillery attacks with counter-battery fire.
PFC. Greg Stiger Battery B, 1/92nd Artillery lost his life. PFC. Weeks
was wounded in a mine incident
In addition to the numerous Purple Hearts
the following awards were issued. For their actions during the battle,
men of B Battery were honored with awards recently presented by
Brigadier General A. Edwards JR., Commanding General First Field
Forces Vietnam Artillery. The General awarded Bronze Stars with
"V" Devices to:
1st LT. Richard S. Golaszewski, who risked his life to
pull injured men from the enemy line of fire to the relative safety
of the bunkers,
1st LT. Thomas A. Harris JR. Who, along with three Non-commissioned
Officers and the remaining men of the sixth howitzer section, manned
the gun until it was damaged, and could no longer be fired
SGT First Class Harry A Lucas, who, while serving as Chief of firing
battery was required to take over a howitzer section and direct fire.
Staff Sergeants David Pouncy JR, Raymond Johnson JR. Louis O. Romero
and David C. Uhl for manning their howitzers and bombarding enemy
SGT. Joseph Lee, who, without regard for his own safety, manned his
howitzer and bombarded enemy positions,
SP-5 Jimmie C. West, Medic: who disregarded his own safety to treat
men of B Battery and the men of supporting Infantry unit.
PFC William C. Ross and Ira R. Forehand who braved heavy fire to evacuate
a wounded man
1st LT. James Hughes II and SGT. Michael P. Mosher also
received Bronze Stars with "V" Devices
General Edwards presented the Army Commendation
Medal with "V" Device to the following men:
Charles L. Baklew, undaunted by incoming rounds, defended his positions
SP-4 Perry D. Jennings, who evacuated a wounded man under fire.
Walter Brown, JR, Melvin C. Pick, Daniel Swarts and Peter S. Melnick,
who endangered their lives to evacuate wounded men.
Ralph A. Calhoun also received the award.
edited by Fred Stella)
anyone has any photos or other information to add to this account
of the action at LZ Vera, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The following link was provided by Melinda
Rollins Talkington whose Father was KIA at LZ Vera. His name
was SFC Dale F. Rollins of Alpha http://www.cacti35th.org/regiment/kia/kia_details.php?person_id=99&battalion=1st
(The following is an account as reported on the 35th Infantry Regiments web site).
LZ Vera was one of the many fire bases built by American Soldiers in Vietnam. They each had a particular reason for being built. Some were on hill tops and others were placed in the middle of no where to block enemy approaches. LZ Vera fit the last category. LZ Vera was in the middle of open terrain surrounded by trees. A Company 1/35th was the unit responsible for building the fire base. The fire base was named after the wife of the First Sergeant of the company, First Sergeant Kahn Carley. It started out as a company firebase but within a couple of weeks, it became a Battalion FireBase with a 155 battery in support.
The unit had been in position for almost three weeks. The Company Commander from Company A decided to send out a five-man patrol. In order to provide security for the patrol, the five team-members were made part of a platoon size element. When the platoon reached the wood line, the platoon took a break and the five team-members slipped into the security of the woods. The platoon moved out and left the five men, who would be providing reconnaissance for the company for the next five days, alone. When the patrol returned to the company, they informed the company commander that there was a lot of enemy activity in the vicinity and that the enemy had built a platform in the trees 2,000 meters from the company perimeter to overlook the company operations. The company commander called brigade on the secure radio and he was informed that the battalion would be lifted from the firebase to reinforce the units that were going to be attached North of LZ Vera, according to the information that the Brigade had received.
First Sergeant Carly had less then a week to do in country so the decision was made that he would leave when the evacuation of the 3/8th started. SFC Rollins, the First Platoon Sergeant, was made the First Sergeant. When the battalion was lifted out, A Company was the sole element guarding the battalion perimeter. Twenty five to thirty yards separated the company positions. As the sun went down and darkness overtook the perimeter, the company commander issued the order that each position would have three personnel and that two would remain alert and one would sleep. The clay more mines had been camouflaged to prevent detection from the wood line and the barbed wire had the trip flares woven into each other and placed in the middle of the concertina wire. The machine guns and the 106 recoilless rifle were moved into position after dark.
The soldiers were told that if they spotted movement the only weapon to be fired was the M79. Around 2200 hours the company commander left the CP and made a round of the perimeter. All of the men were in position and alert. The Weapons platoon had illumination rounds readily available and the 155 SP's were ready should anything start. At midnight, SFC Rollins, the First Sergeant, left the CP to make a round of the perimeter. He called the company commander shortly after midnight. He said, "I am at the North West end of the perimeter with the 106 RR. Everything looks ready should anything start." The company commander said, "Come on back and I'll see you when you return."
The Company Commander decided to lay on the bunk and catch forty winks. He thought about all of the things that needed to be done and about the information that his patrol had given him. Will the enemy attack? How big will the force be? He thought about his men and knew that they were a good outfit. After all, they were the Fighting Gypsies. He was just about to fall asleep when the first of the trip flares went off. The Mortar Platoon reacted and fired the illumination rounds.
The enemy had zeroed in the mortars and enemy HE rounds began to fall into the mortar pit. The commander told the unit to disregard firing. Spooky was called and the 155 SP Battery responded. The men on the line opened up with their individual weapons and the firefight was on. A young Sergeant from the first platoon reported to the company commander that his platoon leader had been wounded. The company commander told him he since he was the ranking man that he was now the platoon leader. The company commander had heard that the battery commander had also been wounded, so he sent the Forward Observer to the Battery CP. He told the lieutenant that if he saw that he was the ranking officer he would now be the battery commander.
When the FO returned he said that the FDC Lieutenant was also wounded but that he was able to function as the battery commander. The FO felt that he could best serve the unit by relaying information to him. The Sergeant from the first platoon returned and said that three Sappers had penetrated the wire and he thought that one was still alive. The company commander left the CP and went to the location where the Sappers were laying. All three were side by side. The company commander shined the light on the Sapper on the left and he was dead. He shined the light on the one on the right and he was dead. When he shined the light on the one in the center, the eyelids moved. Without hesitation the Company commander released the safety of his weapon, kicked the enemy on the thigh just below his family jewels and shouted "Chi Hoi Chi Hoi". (Surrender, Surrender) The Sapper looked like a Ghost. His face was ashen and his body was covered with blood. He still had grenades hanging from his body. He moved to a sitting position with his arms held over his head. The Sergeant quickly removed all of the ammunition and the Sapper was moved to the edge of the 155 SP perimeter.
A Helicopter was requested and the Sapper was kept under observation. The night sky continued to be filled with Spooky, Bombs and Flares and the bullets that were fired by the men of Company A. When the Company Commander returned to the CP, SFC Rollins still had not returned. It was strange that no radio messages were received from SFC Rollins. When the sun began to creep over the Horizon, the enemy fire stopped and the company began to take toll of what had occurred. It was then learned that when the three Sappers started to breach the perimeter it was SFC Rollins who discovered them and engaged them. He had killed two enemy and wounded the third. SFC Rollins was found on a pile of sand bags with his weapon empty. He had given his life to save the company. If it had not been for the actions of SFC Rollins, the Sappers would have penetrated the Company perimeter and the outcome of the battle would have been much different.
The Sapper that was taken prisoner never made it to base camp. The helicopter did pick him up, but the story goes that the Sapper died and he was pushed out of the helicopter. When a search outside of the of the perimeter was made, the remains of five Sappers were found in the wire. The ninth was found in the latrine area. He was discovered when a young soldier went to the latrine for his morning constitutional. The company commander was called and he shouted "Chi Hoi" as he approached the latrine. An AK 47 appeared around the side of the latrine. The company commander pulled the pin on a grenade, released the handle and waited two seconds before dropping the grenade into the latrine. A soldier moved around the front of the latrine and the Sapper expired.
A patrol was sent to check the area and there were blood trails all over the area. It is hard to say how many attacked that night, but the company held. The Fighting Gypsies had made the name of LZ Vera proud.
A, 1/35, Commanding
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