Sometimes I have to believe that things are simply supposed to happen. This is one such incident. Having received a note that there was a conversation regarding CAP on the VWAR-L, I signed on. The conversation involved an unknown CAP Unit and an "alleged" Viet Cong assault by sea. All that is recorded below is a result of that note. Having met Bob Cummings on the VWAR-L, we then discovered that Bob had just happened to record the "Radio Log" reproduced below because of something else that happened to him that day. He just happened to also have a map of the area. Incidentally, Bob just happens to be doing a mini-history of his Army unit, and he didn't know what CAP Unit had been involved in the activity the night of 23Apr68.
I received an e-mail from Lynn McMillen (Eravette) advising me that there was a CAP
discussion on the VWAR-L. I signed onto the list, asked about previous messages, and Bob
sent me the following copy of his original message, then the ensuing logs.
(First Posted To The VWAR-L From Bob Cummings)
I always thought, then and now, that the Marine CAP teams were the best idea to "win" the war. I have seen several times references to how effective they were but Westmoreland and Abrams would have nothing to do with the concept cause the idea was invented by Krulak.
I went over with the 5/46th (198th) from Ft. Hood, which is a hell of a way to go cause the whole damn Battalion was FNG's. Landed in Chu Lai, then to LZ Gator. Our first real boonie trip was when my company took over LZ Paradise on the coast south of Chu Lai. Paradise was on a cliff or bluff overlooking the ocean. Down the hill to the north was a village (Le Thuy?) and down the hill and on the beach to the South was a village with a Marine CAP team. We used to feed them hot chow from time to time, and in return they would send a few rounds our way when they went out on patrol.
One evening, probably April or May, 1968, the CAP team got hit hard. A regiment of NVA hit the village from the ocean using fishing boats. Anyone hear of an NVA amphib assault before? The Marines had their shit together - three rows of concertina, good bunkers, etc., but what really hurt the bad guys was a platoon of track mounted 4.2's from H troop, 17th Cav that had just come to Paradise the day before. We took every .50 we had and shot everywhere around the village. The 4.2's fired illumination and almost all their HE rounds. Then artillery, then gunships, and the fight went on almost all night.
This Is The Type Of Fishing Boats Used During The Assault
The next morning we went down to the village. I'll never forget one bunker where one Marine with a .50, firing explosive rounds (OK, OK, in violation of the Geneva Convention) had about 30 dead NVA stacked up on the first two rows of wire. They didn't get through the third row. The local in the bunker with him had been VC and the Marine gunner had killed him too. Most of the dead bad guys were dragged off, of course, but there were still maybe 100 or so bodies around.
The village held, and the Marines stayed. Those guys had their shit together.
OTOH, the only thing more dangerous than a 2 Lt. was a Marine 2 Lt.
Bob C (11B Grunt)
At that point, Bob responded to my request for permission to post his comments to this Web Site.
From: Bob Cummings
Subject: Re: CAP Team
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 1997 23:50:24 -0500
Thanks, again....and may I post your comments to the CAP Web Site once I determine the actual unit?
I was just at the Archives, and I could have had this info, but didn't think about it. Paradise was BS705972. The CAP team was within 500 - 600 meters, just to the south in a village on the beach.
My memory recalls about 65 enemy KIA, but my memory is about as long as another part of my anatomy. I also remember that a portion of the CAP was out on patrol that night, and they almost got it from the bad guys leaving the scene. It was a memorable evening.
For April 24, 1968 the 5/46th S-3 Log at 1920:
This was not the day of the attack, though 'cause the same log shows me out on a bush that night, and I was definitely ON Paradise when the CAP was hit. As I recall, the attack was by NVA, and not local VC, but I could be wrong on this. I also have the recollection that the CAP near Paradise was 1-3-3 but I could be very wrong on this.
I also remember periodic cease fires for the 4.2s and Arty so the gunships could come in. As I said, the 4.2's were on tracks on Paradise. The Artillery came from LZ Gator and elsewhere.
Be sure and let me know if you find out - I'd like it too, as I'm trying to put together my Company mini history.
Bob C. (11B Grunt)
From: Bob Cummings
Subject: Re: NVA amphibious assault
(From another reader curious about the "amphibious assault", and Bob's response.)
A regiment of NVA hit the village from the ocean using fishing boats? Anyone hear of an NVA amphib assault before? I've never heard of this either. Would you give us more details? Where and when did this take place?
Bob Cummings Response
April or May of 1968 near LZ Paradise. We could see the village from the LZ. Paradise is (was) BS705972, 10 Clicks north of Pinkville on the coast.
I think I have the CAP number somewhere, and I'll try to find it.
I then submitted support documentation to Bob's claim that the NVA had, in fact, conducted an "amphibious assault". While it has been removed, I credited that I was quoting from Michael Peterson's Combined Action Platoons, Page 59:
Tim "CAPVet" Duffie
Bob then provided me with the following Radio Log from the night of the attack on CAP 1-3-5.
Attached is the map (jpg file) showing the location of CAP 1-3-5. The black runways at the top of the map are the Chu Lai airfield. The river is the Son Tra Bong, the one Tim O'Brien writes about in The Things They Carried. LZ Gator was on Highway One (the black road) just north of the Binh Son Bridge over the Tra Bong River.
About one third of the way down the map in the ocean, you will see a little peninsula shaped like a thumb sticking out. CAP 1-3-5 was at the village Phuoc Thien, I believe, or very near there. LZ Paradise was about 500 meters west of that village, on the beach, and between Phuoc Thien and Le Thuy.
At the very bottom on the map you will see the village of An Ky on the coast. The next village South was My Lai 1. My Lai 3 is not shown on my map but was there on the Batagnan Peninsula.For a larger copy of the map, go to:
S3, 5th Bn, 46th Inf. LZ Gator BS 575963.
Daily Staff Journal or Duty Officer's Log
April 23, 1968.
Friendlies: 3 PF KIA. 8 PF & Youth Group WIA.
Enemy: 2 VC KIA, 3 VC captured still at field. 1 VC WIA at Chu Lai, 1 cold .45, 19 hand grenades, 1 57mm RR, 1 AK44, various kinds of ammo and propaganda material also captured.
It was pure luck that I had the radio log for that day. Later that afternoon my platoon got caught in a minefield, and me and the Lt. worked all afternoon probing, mine detector, and shit to get out of it. We blew over 14 mines, but only one man was injured: the point man.
I had copied the pages for that date for the poop on the minefield, and it happened to be the same day as the attack on CAP 1-3-5. I had forgotten that the A Co. CO had sent some treads down to the village during the night. I saw the citation on your web page. The citation mentions the number of enemy dead, but for once this is a certain underestimation. There were body parts, huge blood trails, and drag marks all around, in addition to the whole bodies (mostly in the wire) that were actually credited.
A10 must have been an A Co. element down in the village, or more probably the radio contact between Paradise and CAP 1-3-5. There's lots of other shit that happened that night: LZ Ann was hit, and there were several bushes that got what were probably elements of those who hit the CAP.