Fire Support Base Jaeger
Stars and Stripes
Feb 27th 1968
Concerning Fire Support Base Jaeger Feb 24th/25th 1968
Fighting from behind a wagon train circle, made of armored vehicles, U.S. infantrymen of the 5th Bn (mech) 60th Inf. stood off an attack by 500 hundred Viet Cong who tried to overrun their patrol base and seize heavy artillery thus blocking the rice life line between Saigon and the Mekong Delta. The pre-dawn battle at Fire Support Base Jaeger took place 42 miles southwest of Saigon, lasting 4 and a half hours.
The enemy attack wilted under counterattacks from infantry reinforcements, helicopter gun ships and outside artillery. But U.S. losses were heavy and damage to the base was extensive.
American losses were 20 killed and 70 wounded. Among the dead was the patrol base commander.
The U.S. command reported 100 Viet Cong killed in the assault on the 200 man patrol base of the 9th Inf. Div. The unit charged with keeping open Highway 4 which carries rice and other essential goods to the capitol of Saigon.
About 60 of the Viet Cong penetrated the bases western perimeter and managed for a while to take over a 155mm artillery piece. Heavy American counter fire drove the enemy away before they could turn it on the defenders or haul it away.
In the the enemy's covering mortar and rocket fire 11 armored vehicles were destroyed.
The attack began shortly after midnight with a Communist feint from the east. Then the main attack came from the west.
Field dispatches said the 16 armored vehicles drew into a circle around the 4 artillery pieces to stand off a human wave attack by the Viet Cong, when they had blasted their way through barbed wire on the western perimeter with Bangalore torpedoes.
Spec 4 Ralph Hirshler of Lamar, Colorado manned a .50 caliber machine gun on an armored vehicle. "They just kept coming over the rice paddy dikes and I kept heaving lead at them" he said. I must have fired 1000 rounds in 10 minutes
One of the attackers killed the company commander and Lt. Stanley Nowach ,of St. Louis, a Forward Observer, took command.
The fight was touched off when the U.S. company spotted 12 Viet Cong moving toward the perimeter from the east shortly after midnight . The American troops opened up with machine gun fire and sent out four armored personnel carriers to sweep the area. The lead carrier was hit by rocket fire. Then the Viet Cong opened up from the southwest and northwest. Then sent the bulk of its force storming into the western perimeter. Recon Platoon tried to break through to the encircled company but was attacked en route. Four of the armored personnel carriers of Recon Platoon finally drove through along with another infantry company.
"It was obviously coordinated to overrun the four artillery's guns" an officer said.
The Old Reliable
March 6, 1968
Over 100 VC cut down by defenders
Dong Tam – More than 500 Viet Cong attacked the perimeter of a 9th Infantry Division fire support base and more than 50 of them assaulted an artillery emplacement before being beaten back by reinforcements Feb. 25.
At least over 100 Viet Cong invaders were killed by members of the 5th Mechanized Battalion, 60th Infantry, and Division artillery batteries in the pre-dawn battle at Fire Support Base Jaeger, 10 miles west of this 9th Division camp.
U.S. forces lost 20 killed and 68 wounded.
After four hours of fighting, 9th Division troops seized over 40 communists weapons, including Bangalore, ChiCom grenades, turtle mines, and a U.S. M-60 machinegun. Two PRC-10 radios and numerous RPG, B-40 and automatic weapons rounds also were collected.
The four-pronged enemy attack began at 1:45 a.m. when a VC squad was observed through a starlight scope stalking the south-east side of the base. Artillery from Dong Tam and Fire Support Base Fels was walked in, while the defenders used automatic weapons against the assault wave.
The heaviest action raged on the west flank of the camp. Mortar and RPG fire was used in the assault by the enemy.
Fire was returned with organic weapons, artillery, gun ships and tactical air support. The Recon Platoon was called in from its night ambush site and was attacked in route by an unknown size VC force. Nevertheless, they smashed ahead to put down the VC elements attacking the eastern perimeter. In that same area, 53 bodies were found the next morning.
When the 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry arrived at the southeast perimeter, the mop-up began in earnest. By 4:30 a.m. the contact was broken.
Specialist Four Ralph Hirschler, of Larmar, Colo., was near his .50 ca. machinegun when the human wave charged up to the perimeter. "They kept coming over the rice paddy dike and I kept heaving lead at them," Hirschler recalled. "I must have fired over a thousand rounds in the first ten minutes."
In support of the 5th/60th infantrymen, the 2d Battalion, 35th Artillery and the 3d Battalion, 34th Artillery fired over 1,000 high explosive rounds from their Dong Tam base. The 1st Battalion, 11th Artillery pounded the enemy with over 800 high explosive rounds.