Jack served in the 5th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam, and prior, was in the 54th Infantry Brigade.
He was Med-Evaced out of Vietnam in approximately May 1967 after sustaining a casuality to his upper groin. He was officially never awarded a Purple Heart (no records exist) since, accordining to him, the records repository was burned in Vietnam. Though I did see the scars from the wound, so I believe the story to be true. Based on stories I've heard, he must have returned to the United States somewhere around New Year's Eve 1967. He always said one of the first things he did upon returning was visiting his father and stepbrother in Kenosha, Wisconsin to watch the "Ice Bowl" between Green Bay and Dallas on Dec. 31, 1967.
What follows is a history of the 5th Cavalry from 1965-67. It is likely that he took part in most battles outlined here, especially those that took place between toward the inner portion of his two tours from May 1965 to May 1967. He may not have took part in battles near the very beginning and the very end of the chronology below.
The sketchiness of this history is due in large part to the fact that he rarely talked about his service while he was alive:
Information taken from http://www.first-team.us/assigned/subunits/5th_cr/5crndx04.html
Jack was part of the 5th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division, which was the Army's first air mobile division and the Army's first fully committed division of the Vietnam War. An advance party, on board C-124s and C-130s, they arrived at Nha Trang between the 19th and 27th of August 1965. They joined with advance liaison forces and established a temporary base camp near An Khe, 36 miles inland from the costal city of Qui Nhon.
The newly arrived Skytroopers wasted little time in getting into action. From 18 - 20 September, to troopers of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry and the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry supported the 1st Brigade of the 101 Airborne Division in Operation GIBRALTAR. The operation took place 17 miles northeast of An Khe in the Vinh Thanh Valley; known as "Happy Valley" by the troops. "B" Battery of the 1st Battalion, 77th Artillery provided supporting fire.
On 23 October 1965, the first real combat test came at the historic order of General Westmoreland to send the First Team into an air assault mission to pursue and fight the enemy across 2,500 square miles of jungle. Troopers of the 1st Brigade and 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry swooped down on the NVA 33rd regiment before it could get away from Plei Me. The enemy regiment was scattered in the confusion and was quickly smashed. The troopers inflicted many hundreds of casualties. Hundreds of NVA troops died in the blistering, precision bombing of B-52's.
More savage fighting erupted about a week before the campaign ended. The second Battalion, 7th Cavalry was ordered to move toward a location named "Albany". Encountering a NVA battalion from the 66th Regiment in the dense jungle they slugged it out in grim determination. The 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry surged into the battle and the vietnamese decided to cut their losses and run. When the Pleiku Campaign ended on 25 November, troopers of the First Team had killed 3,561 North Vietnamese soldiers and captured 157 more. The troopers destroyed two of three regiments of a North Vietnamese Division, earning the first Presidential Unit Citation given to a division in Vietnam. The enemy had been given their first major defeat and their carefully laid plans for conquest had been torn apart. (Note: my family was issued a copy of this Presidential Citation upon his death in 2008).
25 January 1966, was the beginning of "Masher/White Wing" which were code names for the missions in Binh Dinh Province. On 19 - 21 February, one of the main actions occurred in an area known as the "Iron Triangle", an elaborate, well fortified defensive position 12 miles south of Bong Son. During the interrogation of a prisoner, he revealed the location of the NVA 22nd Regimental headquarters. Elements of the 2nd Brigade advanced into the area and were met by fierce resistance. Units from the NVA 22nd Regiment attempted to reinforce the their headquarters, but they were cut down in the crossfire of two companies of the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry. For the next three days the area was saturated with artillery fire and B-52 strikes. The mission ended 06 March 1966. with the enemy losing its grip on the Binh Dinh Province, however its name would be heard again and again during the next six years.
On 16 May, the next major mission, Operation CRAZY HORSE, commenced during the hot summer, with the temperature soaring to 110 degrees. The search and destroy assignment extended into the heavy jungle covered hills between Suoi Ca and the Vinh Thanh Valleys. The 1st Brigade went into action against the 2nd Viet Cong Regiment. Intelligence indicated that the Virt Cong were massing in a natural corridor known as the "Orgeon Trail", planning to attack the Special Forces Camp on 19 May; the birthday of Ho Chi Minh. Initial contact was made by "B" Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry at LZ Hereford. "A" Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry were airlifted to a nearby point to join the battle. The two companies held off superior enemy forces throughout the night. The next morning elements of the 12th Calvary and the entire 1st Brigade became involved in Crazy Horse. The fighting now consisted of short but bitter engagements in tall elephant grass and heavily canopied jungle. The battleground covered approximately 20 kilometers with the Viet Cong holed up on three hills. Once they were surrounded, all available firepower was concentrated in their area. If not killed by the devastation, those trying to flee were cut down by cavalry crossfire. On 05 June 1966, Operation CRAZY HORSE was concluded.
The need for rice by the famished Viet Cong was the catalyst for Operation PAUL REVERE II which commenced on 02 August 1966. Hill 534, on the southern portion of Chu Pong Massif near the Cambodian Border, was the location of the final battle of Operation PAUL REVERE II. It began on 14 August, after "A" Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry suddenly ran into a North Vietnamese battalion and "B" Company, 2nd Battalion began slugging it out with enemy troops in bunkers. A total of two battalions of Skytroopers were committed to the fight. When it ended the next morning, 138 NVA bodies were counted.
Operation THAYER I was one of the largest air assaults launched by the 1st Cavalry Division. Its mission was to rid Binh Dinh Province of NVA and VC soldiers and the VC's political infrastructure. On 16 September, troopers of the 1st Brigade discovered an enemy regimental hospital, a factory for making grenades, antipersonnel mines and a variety of weapons. On 19 September, elements of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry traded fire with two NVA combat support companies.
In the opening phases of Operation THAYER, enemy elements of the 7th and 8th battalions, 18th North Vietnamese Army Regiment had been reported in the village of Hoa Hoi. The 1st battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, in the face of strong heavy resistance, deployed to encircle the village. On 02 October, "B" Company was the first to be air assaulted into the landing area 300 meters east of the village. Immediately, the units came under intense small arms and mortar fire. "A" Company landed to the southwest and began a movement northeast to the village. In the meantime, "C" Company landed north of the village and began moving south. By this time "A" and "B" Companies had linked up and established positions which prevented the enemy from slipping out of the village during the night.
During the course of the evening, "A" and "C" Companies, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment were airlifted into an area east of the village to assist in the containment of the enemy. Additional support of artillery forward observers from "A" Battery, 2nd Battalion, 19th Artillery helped as the enemy locations were identified and called in during the night.
In the morning of 03 October, "C" Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry and "C" Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry attacked south to drive the remaining enemy forces into "A" and "B" Companies, 12th Cavalry who were braced in blocking positions to take the attack. This last action broke the strong resistance of the enemy and mission was completed.
On 31 October, Operation PAUL REVERE IV was launched by the 2nd Brigade. Its units included; 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry; 2nd Battalion, 12 Cavalry; "B" Company. 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry and the 1st Battalion, 77th Artillery. The operation called for an extensive search and destroy in the areas of Chu Pong and the Ia Drang Valley, as well as along the Cambodian Border. With only one exception only light contact with the enemy was achieved. In mid-morning of 21 November, "C" Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry was searching south of Duc Co along the border. Suddenly the 2nd Platoon began trading fire with a NVA force of significant size. The 3rd Platoon went to the aid of the 2nd Platoon. The two units, outnumbered by large numbers of North Vietnamese, fought desperately.
The 3rd Platoon was overrun in fairly short order with only one man surviving - it happened before they were able to call in any effective artillery or air support. The 2nd Platoon took over 50% casualties but was not overrun - they had 13 or 14 KIA and about as many wounded. As was typical in the early days of the Vietnam war, many of their M-16s had malfunctioned early in the fight. With the dense foliage, neither artillery nor helicopter gunships were very effective in providing support. The remnants of 2nd Platoon was saved by the arrival of a flight of Skyraiders equipped with napalm. They were accurate enough to put the canisters right on the attacking NVA. The 1st Platoon arrived a few minutes after the airstrike and linked up with 2nd Platoon. Except for a few stray rounds from the departing NVA, the battle was over. The foliage was too thick to cut an LZ and the wounded were lifted out one by one by hueys equipped with winches. The KIA's were placed in a cargo net and was lifted out by a Chinook. "A" Company located the ambush site of 3rd Platoon and medevaced the one survivor. The 101 "C" Regiment of the 10th NVA Division paid a very high price for its victory. It lost nearly 150 of their men. On 27 December, Operation PAUL REVERE IV was closed out and 2nd Brigade troopers added their strength to Operation THAYER II.
As 1967 dawned, the 1st Brigade began making new contacts with the enemy units in central an southern Kim Son Valley, while the 2nd Brigade began a sweep to the north, flushing the enemy from their position in the north end of the valley as well as the Crescent Area, the Nui Mieu and Cay Giep Mountains. On 27 January heavy fighting with the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry launching an air assault in the midst of an NVA battalion northeast of Bon Son. In THAYER II, the enemy once again had suffered punishing losses of 1,757 men.
On 13 February 1967, Operation PERSHING began in a territory which was familiar to many skytroopers, the Bong Son Plain in northern Binh Dinh Province. For the first time, the First Cavalry Division committed all three of its brigades to the same battle area. (As this is the last battle mentioned in the chronology before May 1967, it is likely Jack was wounded during Operation Pershing)