Saturday, May 6, 2023


"As far as the 1st Battalion 92nd Artillery History is concerned, the Dak To, Ben Het, Dak Seang area is perhaps the most heavily fought over piece of terrain that the Battalion occupied."

Bohdan Prehar, COL(R)
A Battery Commander

The following is from the Operational Report of the 1st Battalion 92nd Artillery for period ending 31 July 1969, (Unclassified) I have tried to limit the information to the time that is documented in the Award of the Valorous Unit Citation.

See also Map Number: 6538-3

Towards the end of April and the beginning of May 1969, intelligence indicators pointed to a build up of NVA Forces in the Dak To/ Ben Het Area. It was discovered that two NVA Infantry Regiments and major portions of an NVA Artillery Regiment were present to the south of Ben Het, FSB 6 and Dak To. The target appeared to be Dak To. On 24 May 1969, the 24th Special Tactical Zone established a Combined Tactical Operations Center at FSB 1 Dak To, in order to control the troops being inserted into the area to counter the NVA threat. The Commander of the 1st Battalion 92nd Artillery, LTC Nelson Thompson was designated the Fire Support Coordinator for the Dak To/ Ben Het area of operations. The Dak To Combined Fire Support Coordination Center under his command was to control the fires of not only US but also all ARVN artillery in the area. This would eventually evolve into the equivalent of one Battalion Group; forty-one tubes of Field Artillery and six Air Defense Artillery twin 40mm M-42’s. The Fire Support Coordination Center also coordinated all air fires, to include B-52 strikes, sky spots and helicopter gun ships. During the period 04 May to 08 July this force coordinated over 150,000 rounds of artillery, 1100 sorties of Forward Air Control directed Tactical Air Strikes, 533 combat sky spots and 142 B-52 strikes. Also in this period, the 24th Special Tactical Zone employed nineteen maneuver battalions, with as many as nine battalions committed at one time. This same period saw friendly element kill more than eighteen hundred NVA troops.

Due to the growing complexity of the organization and situation, a Battalion Group was established on 09 June 1969. The Forward Command Post remained at Dak To while the 6th Battalion, 14th Artillery established a Forward Command Post at Ben Het. The Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion 92nd Artillery was designated the Battalion Group Commander. During the period of operations, both Command Posts were subjected to intense enemy fire, B-40 rockets, 75mm recoilless rifle and sapper attacks.

During the month of June 1969, Ben Het was surrounded by a large number of well-armed and well dug-in NVA. The NVA had the firing data for the airfield and for all established helicopter pads. When an aircraft attempted to land, it not only received small arms and automatic weapons fire, but also immediately upon landing was subjected to mortar and recoilless rifle fire. Large NVA Forces effectively cut the road to Ben Het, and aerial resupply was essential.

May-July 1969 the 1st Battalion 92nd Artillery Forward Observer Teams were assigned to the following Units: 3rd Cavalry Squadron, 1stSquadron 10th Cavalry, 1st and 4th Battalions 42nd Regiment, 2nd and 5th Mobile Strike Force, 2nd and 3rd Battalion 47th Regiment, 1st and 3rd Battalions 53rd Regiment, 11th, 22nd and 23rd Ranger Battalions ARVN. A Forward Observer Team was sent to Dak To District, to fire defensive targets for friendly villages. Two Aerial Observers were used on a daily basis using two C-1 Aircraft (headhunters).

On 14 May 1969, SP4 Eric J Greco, Headquarters Battery and member of one of the 1st Battalion 92nd Artillery Forward Observer Teams was killed in action. He was killed when his Forward Observer position was attacked by the NVA.
Radars were employed to assist the battalion in its operations. Two AN/MPQ-4 and one AN/PPS-4 counter mortar radars, one AN/MPQ-10 counter mortar, one AN/IPS-4 and one AN/PPS-5 was employed. These Units gave counter mortar and personnel movements respectively.
1/92nd Artillery Forward Command Post was located at FSB 1, Dak To at Grid ZB005217. While Battalion Headquarters and Service Batteries remained at Artillery Hill in Pleiku, with the mission of General Support Reinforcing (GSR) to the Battalion and the 52nd Artillery Group.
A Battery 1/92nd Artillery was located at the following locations: A Battery (-) was located at LZ Mary Lou (ZA223829), vicinity of Kontum with a mission of GSR. The 6th Battalion 14th Artillery. A Battery Platoon was at Ben Het, with the mission of GSR with priority of fires to Ben Het counter battery.
B Battery was located at FSB 6 (YA863265) 7 km southwest of Dak To. C Battery (-) was located at LZ Bass (ZA028935) 22 km west of Kontum and C Battery Platoon was located at FSB 12, Ben Het, 15 km northwest of Dak To.

On 04 May A Battery (-) moved to FSB 1, Dak To (ZB003215) with the mission of GSR 1/92nd Artillery. A Battery supported 24th Special Tactical Zone Operations in the Dak To/Ben Het area. On 09 May, FSB 1 began receiving daily incoming enemy fire. During the next month 703 rounds of incoming 122mm rockets were received at FSB 1. On 11 May 1969, PFC Ronald J. Carter of A Battery was killed in action when the firing bunker he was in received direct hits from both a B-40 rocket and mortars. Due to the daily aerial attacks by the NVA, some bunkers were built with an overhang. This one had an opening on top with two howitzers inside and aiming west. The bunker withstood the attack but shrapnel came through the opening on top, killing PFC Carter and wounding several other men. On 13 May, a 122mm rocket landed approximately five feet from a manned howitzer, resulting in four men killed in action, and eleven men wounded in action. The four men who were killed were: SP4 Thomas M. Connell, SP4 Thomas W. Davis, SSGT Donald R. Kraft and PFC Lynn J. Wieser.

As was true throughout the War, there was no shortage of brave men in the 1/92 Artillery. Thirteen men volunteered from Artillery Hill, Headquarters and Service Battery, to replace the dead and wounded. These men went in to harms way and airlifted into FSB 1 that evening. A Battery continued to heroically operate under fire, supporting the maneuver elements and returning accurate and effective counter battery fire whenever Dak To was attacked. In addition to a large number of 122mm rockets fired into the Dak To compound, recoilless rifle fire was received against the A Battery position. On 27 May, A Battery (-) was assigned the mission of GSR with priority of fires to the 2nd Ranger Group (ARVN), which was in continuous contact with the enemy.

The mission of A Battery Platoon continued to be GSR with priority of fires to Ben Het counter battery. On 28 May a CV-2 aircraft resupplying Ben Het by airdrop, accidentally dropped a 55-gallon drum of fuel oil, on one of A Battery’s gun bunkers. No casualties resulted, but the flash wall on the right side of the bunker was destroyed. On 02 June, the mission of A Battery (-) was changed to GSR with priority of fires to the 4th Mobile Strike Force Battalion. On 04 June, the mission was also changed to GSR of A Battery Platoon to support 4th Mobile Strike Force Battalion. On this day, A Battery had two men killed in action, PFC William C. Burgess and PFC David R. Porter. Three men were wounded as a result of incoming 75mm recoilless rifle fire. During periods of incoming 122mm rocket fire, the NVA began to direct recoilless rifle fire against A Battery positions when the men manned the howitzers to fire counter battery fire. On 05 June, A Battery Platoon, 1/92nd Artillery, took a direct hit on a gun section bunker. No casualties resulted, but one bunker was destroyed and needed to be rebuilt while A Battery was under fire. On 06 June, A Battery Platoon received a direct hit on the powder bunker, resulting in the loss of 560 canisters of powder. On 07 June, a NVA B-40 Rocket hit A Battery’s 3rd gun section bunker at Dak To and a flash wall was destroyed.

On 09 June, A Battery’s mission was changed to GSR with priority of fires for one Platoon of 2nd Mobile Strike Force Battalion. From 08 June, to 12 June, one A Battery Platoon conducted a daily hipshoot, in order to be capable of firing counter battery while Dak To was receiving incoming enemy fire. On 08 June, the FDC at Ben Het received a direct hit resulting in only minor damage. On 09 June, A Battery Platoon had six men wounded in action, a result of incoming 75mm recoilless rifle fire. On 17 June, one man was wounded in action from mortar fragments. On 19 June, the mission of A Battery (-) became GSR with priority of fires for a Platoon of the 4th Mobile Strike Force Battalion. The other Platoon was assigned to the 5th Mobile Strike Force Battalion. On 19 June, the mission of A Battery (-) reverted to GSR. A Battery Platoon sustained three hits on gun bunkers on 22 and 23 June, resulting in only superficial damage. On 23 June, A Battery Platoon’s powder bunker sustained a direct hit, resulting in five men wounded in action. This resulted in a loss of 350 canisters of white bag powder and destruction of the bunker. On 26 June, the crews of A Battery Platoon exchanged positions with the crews of C Battery Platoon, 1/92nd Artillery Dak To. The howitzers remained in place. A Battery 1/92nd Artillery was once again together as a Battery. On 14 July, A Battery moved four howitzers to Artillery Hill to support the 3rd Battalion 6th Artillery. On 15 July, A Battery (-) was road marched to LZ Oasis, and from there to LZ Elaine where it had the mission of GSR with priority of fires to the 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry. Throughout this period, A Battery 1/92nd Artillery was under daily attack. Each time the battery had a fire mission; the NVA would attack the battery with all weapons at its disposal.

B Battery 1/92nd Artillery was located at FSB 6 (YA933188) throughout the reporting period. On 04 May, the 24th Special Tactical Zone Force began operations in the area. B Battery 1/92nd Artillery supported these operations throughout this reporting period. On 09 May, B Battery while engaged in a Battalion Time on Target (TOT) and massing of fires on an NVA position close to FSB 5 suffered an explosion of the breech end of a howitzer, killing one man PFC Arturo S. Sisneros.and wounding six others. The wounded men were medically evacuated. PFC Arturo S. Sisneros was Promoted Posthumously to Corporal. On 11 May, the damaged howitzer was replaced with one from C Battery 1/92nd Artillery. On 26 May, B Battery’s mission changed to GSR with priority of fires to the 1/42nd Regiment. On 04 June, the mission was changed with one platoon direct support of 3/42nd Regiment. On 08 June, FSB 6 received 16 incoming 75mm recoilless rifle rounds. One round hit the mess hall and several hit an ammunition bunker. There were no casualties in this attack. A UH-1 helicopter was hit during the first attack and crashed into its landing area. Counter battery fire from Batteries A, B, and C, 1/92nd Artillery destroyed the NVA’s positions. On 11 June, FSB 6 came under attack by an NVA Infantry company with sappers. The attack consisted of small arms fire, satchel charges, concussion grenades, B-40 rockets, 75mm recoilless rifle rounds, and mortar fire. Four satchel charges exploded near B Battery’s 6th howitzer section. This did not deter the B Battery gun crew who continued to fire their howitzer throughout the attack. No B Battery men were wounded in this attack. Although, two men from the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) were wounded. Twenty-five NVA were killed in this attack and many weapons were captured. On 19 June, B Battery‘s mission became the GSR with priority of fires to the 2/47th Regiment.

On 01 May 1969, C Battery 1/92nd Artillery, moved by road from Artillery Hill to Plei Ring De (ZA218351). On 02 May, C Battery moved to the Asphalt Plant (ZA896118) with the mission of GSR. On 01 June, C Battery moved to FSB Mary Lou (ZA223829) with the mission of defense of Kontum. On 24 June, C Battery Platoon moved by road to Dak To (ZB004217) with the mission of GSR for the Dak To/Ben Het area. On 26 June, C Battery Platoon’s crew was airlifted into Ben Het to exchange places with the crew of A Battery’s Platoon. On 07 July, C Battery (-) moved to LZ Bass to support the 4th Infantry Division.
Service Battery besides sending volunteers to replace the WIA and KIA kept the supplies flowing to A, B, and C, Battery’s; and fulfilled all requests by the 52nd Artillery group to bring supplies to other Units. The 1/92nd Artillery was the only airmobile 155mm howitzer towed unit in the 52nd Artillery Group.

Service Battery moved the following supplies by air, to the other batteries during this reporting period. A Battery under daily stand off attacks, were still able to receive 198 tons of supplies by helicopter. B Battery received 1740 tons of supplies by helicopter. C Battery received 703 tons of supplies by Helicopter. Supplies were also brought in for the other units by Service Battery, via air and road.
During this reporting period, the 1/92nd Artillery’s, Battalion Surgeon not only took care of the sick and wounded of the Battalion, but also with personnel from Headquarters Battery made fourteen MEDCAP visits. Six hundred and sixty six villagers were also provided general medical care.

Personnel of the 1st Battalion 92nd Artillery received the following Awards:
One Legion of Merit Medal
Fourteen Bronze Star Medals with V for Valor
Ten Bronze Star Medals
One Air Medal
Sixty-seven Army Commendations Medals with V for Valor
Ten Army Commendation Medals
Forty-four Purple Heart Medals

Personnel who were assigned to other Units, both U.S. and ARVN, may not have Awards listed here.

1st Battalion 92nd Artillery was awarded: The Valorous Unit Citation with streamer embroidered Dak To/Ben Het. For service from 04 May 69 thru June 69.
The following list of Battery A's KIA and WIA from Dak To/ Ben Het is from the Diary of Judge Bobbie Joe Pope. Judge Pope retired from the Army with the rank of Sgt. Major. He was seriously wounded at Dak To when he was SFC Battery A 1/92.
(Note: Between May 69 to Oct. 69, Battery A had over a 60% casualty rate, some were Awarded multiple Purple Hearts.)

May 11-PFC Ronald J. Carter-KIA
May 11-PFC Smith-WIA
May 12-PFC Louis C. Bustamante-WIA
May 12-SSGT Donald Kraft-KIA (died on May13)
May 13-Bell-WIA
May 13-Dunbarr-WIA
May 13-PFC Theodore Chmieloweic-WIA
May 13-SP4 Thomas M. Connell-KIA
May 13-PFC Thomas Davis-KIA
May 13-PFC William L. Gould-WIA
May 13-SP4 Hearld-WIA
May 13-PFC Leland K. Payne-WIA
May 13-PFC Roy C. Pharr-WIA
May 13-SGT. John S. Plonka-WIA
May 13-SP4 Pope-WIA
May 13-PFC Michael Shingleton-WIA
May 13-PFC Charles H. Webster-WIA
May 13-PFC Lynn J. Wieser-KIA
May 15-PFC Lawrence G. Howard-WIA
May 15-Kinney-WIA
June 4-PFC William Burgess-KIA

June 4-SP4 Guadalupe Guerrero-WIA
June 4-PFC David L. Hanson-WIA
June 4-PFC David Porter-KIA
June 4-PFC Jeffry D. Wood-WIA
June 9-PFC Franklin Austin-WIA
June 9-PFC Donald Hettervik-WIA
June 9-PFC David A. Hughes-WIA
June 9-SP4 Joaquin M. Martinez-WIA*
June 9-SP4 Jose A. Pagan-WIA
June 9-Richardson-WIA
June 17-Talbot-WIA
June 23-Bailey-WIA
June 23-Bober-WIA
June 23-Chamber-WIA
June 23-Connell-WIA
June 23-LT. Johnson-WIA
June 23-PFC Joe Martinez-WIA *(two men named Martinez may have wrong date)
June 23-SP5 Wayne T. Mitchell-WIA
June 23-PFC David W. Metz-WIA
June 23-SFC Bobbie Joe Pope-WIA

*Stars and Stripes Tuesday June 3, 1969

SAIGON (AP)-- Fighting flared Sunday in Dak To, the central highlands district capital where Americans fought one of the Vietnam War's most vicious battles in 1967. In the latest fighting, North Vietnamese troops moving under cover of a mortar barrage, attacked the South Vietnamese district headquarters at Dak To, defended by about 125 militiamen. Bombs and artillery beat off the attackers after an hour. Initial reports said two South Vietnamese were killed. And four woun

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