I/75 RGR & F/52 LRP & 1st ID LRRP & 1st ID LRS HISTORY

A conversation was held between the First Brigade Commander and the Third (Iron) Brigade Commander shortly before F Company 52nd Infantry (Long Range Patrol) was transformed into Company I (Ranger), 75th Infantry. The conversation concerned the Big Red One LRRP's loss of SGT. Cohn's team (the first team) and SGT Washington's team (second team) at Quan Loi. At that time the Rangers numbered only 25-30 personnel. The First Brigade Commander complained that Ranger intelligence was not very reliable prior to the overrun of his perimeter. SGT Crabtree's LRRP team had warned him in advance that the enemy was heavily infiltrating the area and that they were in danger, The third Brigade Commander replied: "What do you mean that these Rangers don't have the proper attitude, appearance, and that they rejected your assessment. Don't you know that their enemy KIA's exceed any battalions in your Brigade"

",,the relative aggregate of Iron Rangers casualties was not exceeded by any other Ranger company [in Vietnam]., the only debate is whether this figure was attributable to "being in the thick of fighting" or being under an overzealous and aggressive division operations section. Whatever the reason, the Iron Rangers performed with valiant determination in reconnoitering some of the most persistently dangerous enemy strongholds in South Vietnam."

In early 1969, Company I shifted from tactical employment of reconnaissance and ambush concepts, to hunter-killer tactics employed during the summer months and again to its reconnaissance role beginning in September, 1969. In Vietnam, where a well-defined front rarely existed, Ranger teams discerned the fragmented battlefield and detected guerilla activity. They operated deep in hostile territory to find the enemy, provided advance warning, and conducted small precision strikes The Iron Rangers monitored menacing NVA/VC formations in hazardous locations. The teams stressed area reconnaissance and night ambush tactics to identify and interdict enemy concentrations and worked extensively with the Iron Brigade Other Rig Red One Rangers were detailed to the Special Forces, the Black Virgin Mountain, outlook, and Recondo School.

Long-range detachment patrols were designed to infiltrate objective areas prior to division operations and obtain information on enemy locations and perform terrain analysis, lengthy ground searches were required, because many trails and streams were covered by thick jungle canopies and not observable from the air. Missions were normally three to four days 15 or more miles from the nearest friendly linen Contact was only by radio, if it worked. Most teams consisted of six men, although there were occasional 12-men hunter-killer teams who at times had body snatch missions. In the high number of hot pickup Zones (PZs), which were literal enemy territory jungle hell-holes with firing much brighter than Fourth-of-July fireworks, helicopters were frequently riddled with AK-47 fire. Huey helicopters inserted teams into targeted areas, often making false landings to fool the enemy as to whereabouts. Patrols scrambled to interior of the jungle cover to relocate to a designated place. After remaining quiet for extended Periods, moves would be made to monitoring sites where enemy activity had been suspected.

With painted faces, radios, and lightweight gear, the patrol carried heavy ammunition of magazines, frags, smoke grenades, claymores, and often weapons of the enemy, since the M-l 6 rifle had a distinguished signature. Everyone performed duties including the team leader, assistant team leader, Kit Carson, medic, radio telephone operator (RTO), and pointman. A security wheel of members with one staying awake at all times would be formed at the monitoring site off of enemy trails or underground tunnel homes. Claymore mines were spread in front - hopefully in the direction of the enemy. Few sensing gadgets were present and everything was examined personally. The numbers and style of tire shoe marks were noted. Morale of the enemy was sensed along with their weapons and luggage.

The three to four day mission did not permit talking, snoring, noise, smoking or excreting. Urination was permitted by twinkling dawn twigs to avoid noise Coughing was not allowed, a muffled cough could alert the enemy. Often the enemy would be within ten feet of the team. The quiet allowed the senses to notice so much: the sudden snap of bamboo growing pains a jet-like wines of mosquitoes, dive-bombing flies, and butterflies alighting on the guns; the darkness so black that the only visible light was the luminous glow of decaying leaves. Radio contact was frequently by code clicks rather than voice. The food was dry LRRP rations with the water carried. Most often the Rangers were not hungry and waited to eat when they returned to basecamp. There were long hours of tense waiting in the jungle, with feelings of doubt and fear, Rangers coped with many anxieties, including the possibility of mutilation by the enemy.

Operational control of Company I was initially under the 3rd (Iron) Brigade, and the unit was known for a while as the Iron Rangers. Its control then passed to Division G2; it remained until deactivation and was under the direction and guidance of the Commanding General to insure its proper utilization, until deactivation.

From 1 January 1969 until deactivation due to Phase II1 withdrawal on 7 March 1970, Company (Ranger) conducted 372 classified tactical operations (with 205 recorded sightings of the enemy). A designated strength of 118 volunteers was authorized. However, strength varied from approximately 30 to 100 members, and most often personnel strength was about 80 Rangers. They operated in areas that were primarily under night-control and often day-control of the enemy. Iron Rangers engaged the enemy 191 times. Much history of the First Infantry Division Rangers has never been recorded or released due to its classified nature. Probably it will never be released, although those events will never be forgotten by those who participated.

Robert D. Law, Company I (Ranger), was the first member of the 75th Infantry Rangers to receive the Medal of Honor. Only three Rangers LRRPs received the Nation's highest medal while assigned to these type units. Company I's Ranger Peter Lemon, a member of the Ranger Hall of Fame, also received the Medal of Honor for a mission with the First Air Cavalry that included other former Company members, days following his redeployment from the First Infantry. Company I members also received awards for the Distinguished service Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross. Ten members of the command received the award of the Silver Star for Valor and 91 received the Bronze Star awards for service or achievement Members of Company I earned sixty three awards for valor; 191 awards for service or achievement; 111 Air Medals; and twenty-eight Purple Hearts.

Unit members did not request award of medals. Rangers were actively involved in warfare and unable to write of their comrades' achievements This responsibility for writing documentation for medals was left to the Division G2 for their attached unit. As a result, the unit was presented for only the Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Citation years after their departure. By contrast, ARVN Ranger units, often trained by 75th Rangers, were bestowed the U.S. presidential Unit Citation approximately thirty-four times while no 75th Ranger unit was considered for this citation. Members are well aware of achievements which would certainly have qualified for this citation.

The several commanders of the Rangers barely had time to know their unit and its men before being reassigned. Nevertheless these leaders as a whole were extremely dedicated to their men and were highly respected. The six commanders of Company I (Ranger), during its approximate one year of existence, were CPT Allen A. Lindman, lLT Jerry M. Davis, CPT Reese M. Patrick, MAJ Hamor R Hanson, MAJ James J. McDevitt, and CPT Robert D. Wright First Sergeants were Carl J. Cook and Jack D. Franks. On 14 May 1969, Captain Reese Patrick, Company Commander, was killed on his first patrol while re-entering the Quan Loi Perimeter.

The lst Infantry Division, to which Company I (Ranger) was attached, lived by its motto, "No mission too difficult no sacrifice too great, duty first." Organized in 1917 by Major General John J. Pershing, the Big Red One was the first division to see action in Europe during World War 1. Again in World War II, the Big Red One was the first to reach Britain and land in North Africa, Sicily, and France. It was also the first US. Army Infantry Division to reach Vietnam.

Faced with aggression from communist North Vietnam and widespread terrorist and guerrilla activities of the Viet Cong, the government of South Vietnam asked the Free World for assistance. By 1965 the situation had reached the point where US. units had to be summoned, if South Vietnam was not to be overrun by the communists. The bulk of the 1st Infantry Division reached Vietnam in October 1965 after the 2nd Brigade's advance party had arrived in July. The division was established in III Corps basecamps with its headquarters at Di An. Later, headquarters was moved to Lai Khe. Major General Jonathan O. Seaman, Commander, had the entire division operational by 1 November 1965. He was to be succeeded by Major Generals William E. Depuy, John H. Hay, Keith L. Ware (KIA), Orwin C. Talbot, Albert E. Milloy, and last by Brigadier General John Q. Herrion who ordered the Rangers to cease operations and stand down effective 7 March 1970.

The Viet Cong was generally a well trained, well equipped and well-organized military force which attacked when tactical situations were favorable but disbanded into small groups and retreated into the jungle when superior forces pursued them. They were experts at tunneling and field fortifications. The enemy army consisted of three different types of troops: Local Forces, Main Forces and the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). Operations against the enemy were begun immediately with division reconnaissance principally mounted from bases in the Binh Duong Province at Di An, Phu Loi, Lai Khe, and Phuoc Vinh (Phuoc Long Providence).

The lst Infantry Division began OPERATION TOAN THANG, ("Complete Victory") with the objective of clearing and pacifying the Binh Duong Province Patrols were conducted throughout the predominantly jungle- and marsh-covered regions of War Zones C and D, the Iron Triangle, the Easter Egg, the Mushroom, the Heart-Shaped Woods, the Trapezoid, the Michelin Rubber Plantation, the Long Nguyen Secret Zone, the Song Be Corridor, and the Vietnamese frontier with Cambodia. At times division reconnaissance was launched farther afield to cover other operational areas, such as the Rung Sat Special zone.

Most of Company I's (the Division's) Area of Operations was densely populated, especially near Saigon and the Saigon River, The population density gradually decreased towards the north, going towards the central highlands inhabited by the Montagnard tribesmen. The Saigon River was one of the major waterways that served as a means of transportation for the inhabitants of the Saigon area and the many hamlets and villages along the river's course. While the terrain in the south was generally division it became rolling and hilly at the northern edge near the Cambodian border, Temperature averaged 79.5 F" in the summer and 86.5 F" in the winter, with Monsoon rains during the May to October season, followed by unrelieved dryness from December through April. One of the world's largest rubber plantations, the Michelin Plantation, was located in the area of operations 14 miles northwest of Lai Khe. The area was noted for its agriculture of tobacco, sugar cane, bananas, pineapples, rice and an assortment of other fruits and vegetables.

Division reconnaissance initially from October 1965 had relied on the armored 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry. The squadron's aerial unit, "Darkhorse" Troop D, contained an aero rifle platoon, under the command of CPT Richard Murphy, that rapidly responded to scout helicopter sightings and downed aircraft but was precluded from longer ground patrols. During April 1966, Maj. Gen. William E. DePuy formed a provisional division Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) contingent (The "Wildcat" Lerps) that was attached to D (Air) Troop, 1-4 Cavalry but which specialized in ground searches that stretched over several days inside hostile territory. In August 1967, the unit became The LRP Detachment, HHC, 1st Infantry Division, Under the command of Major General John H. Hay, Jr., and moved from Phu Loi to Lai Khe. General Hay took measures to upgrade ranger-style warfare within the division by expanding the first patrols into a long-range detachment authorized 118 reconnaissance personnel. Officially on 20 December 1967 (but actually in late January 1968) the LRP Detachment became F Company, 52nd Infantry (LRP) with CPT Jack Price remaining as Commander.

The Big Red One Rangers kept essentially to themselves but were good friends of the medical unit. At times they picked an antagonist unit, such as MP neighbors, on which to bestow derogatory cadence songs or mischievous trick. As one of the few units that regularly participated in organized physical training (PT), the unit was cohesive and synergistic. The unit had its own club until it moved and joined its friends, the medics' club. When the medics left, Company I inherited the medic's monkey, George, who often kept company with the Ranger's openly gay dog, Zulu.

Each of Company I's 372 missions was important Missions resulted in the lose of life for both the enemy and Rangers. It also saved lives of many U.S. servicemen through their intelligence gathering. Based on their findings, larger U.S. forces knew where to, and where not to, pursue the enemy. For most missions, guidance to the Rangers was to observe but not engage the enemy. Close proximity to the enemy made it difficult to observe without engaging the enemy with contact occurring more often than not Successful intelligence missions were achieved when no shots were fired. During February 1969, the first month of Company I, fifty-two missions were conducted beginning with six missions on the first day of operation. In the later months, fewer missions were conducted. Following is an excerpt from three of the many missions:

On 22 February 1969, SP4 Robert D. Law threw himself on a hand grenade that landed in the middle of his team and saved three Rangers. He was the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for this bravery, beyond the call of duty.

Five days later three Rangers were killed and three wounded when they were ambushed by the NVA. An NVA force of 4,000 enemy troops surrounded their Ranger team for eighteen hours before the Rangers were able to be extracted from a hot PZ. Nevertheless, U.S. forces were able to rescue the three surviving Rangers.

The Rangers moved their unit in December 1969 because their site was chosen for the Bob Hope Show that would be attended by about 12,000 troops. Three days before Christmas on the morning of the Bob Hope Show, three Ranger teams were inserted South of the Saigon River; there they discovered the enemy and their rocket cache. During this truce, while the rest of the world was wondering if Christmas would bring peace, the Rangers discovered enemy insurgents moving rapidly carrying heavy packs. it was believed that they intended to hit the Bob Hope Show. Another patrol engaged the enemy with claymore mines and used evasion tactics before being extracted from a hot PZ. Here the enemy was staging transient personnel and supply close to the Hope Show.

Fellow soldiers did not mess with Rangers who were easily distinguishable by their black beret and red and dark blue 75th Airborne Ranger Infantry Company scroll which rested above the Big Red One patch. Their pocket unit patch featured their colorful Coat of Arms inherited from the 5307th Composite Forces.

The unit was awarded a Rest and Relaxation (R&R) week off following heavy action, and while there, the Big Red One Rangers lost the freedom to wear the unofficial Ranger black beret. At the R&R Bar, a fight erupted between the Rangers and Marines, A Marine removed a Ranger beret from a dancing girl. Immediately, a brawl broke out and the club was damaged. The Rangers were sent home not wearing their berets and wore regular infantry headgear for most of the rest of the war. Notwithstanding this action, most Big Red One Rangers kept their berets and wore them around camp. No one challenged the Rangers to remove their berets. As the unit neared deactivation, word was received that the beret could be put back on officially "unofficially." The coveted black beret of the Big Red One Rangers was not won, bought, awarded as a school diploma, or even officially recognized; but it signified respect among fellow Rangers who shared the experience of enemy combat beyond friendly lines. As the unit withdrew from Vietnam, the men left wearing their berets with pride. Later, the respected black beret would become official Ranger headgear.

The unit guideon, citations, and memorial plaques were sent to the 75th Infantry's headquarter at the Ranger Training Command, Ft. Benning, Georgia, to be placed in a museum. In previous phased drawdowns servicemen were sent home if they had less than four months remaining in country; Big Red One Rangers were sent for action with other units in Vietnam.

Still today, the Rangers don't forget nothing.