The Old Reliable
Feb. 21, 1968
Delta unit fought in Saigon
By MAJ R.E. Funderburk
LONG THANH – A 9th Division battalion was summoned from its Mekong Delta environment Feb. 1 to help defend the city of Saigon.
In a brutal street fight near the Cholon race track, the 5th Mechanized Battalion, 60 Infantry became the first 9th Infantry unit to conduct combat operations in the capital city.
Entering Saigon, the battalion was placed under the operational control of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, engaged with enemy forces near the race track.
Company B was directed to sweep to the northwest of the track and clear the streets and buildings of the well-entrenched enemy.
Captain James H. Scarboro, of Winter Garden, Fla., Company B commander, described the action:
"I put my Armored Personnel Carriers in formation and moved toward the area we were to clear," he began.
"As we moved slowly along the street, I noticed women pulling their children into the houses, and people covering their ears with their hands. I knew something was waiting for us."
Scarboro then related how his element proceeded cautiously down the street until they approached a large cemetery. As he scanned the surrounding buildings, a little Vietnamese boy ran alongside his vehicle, shouting, "VC…VC…VC."
"Near the edge of the cemetery, I saw a flash from behind one of the many large trees growing in the cemetery," Scarboro continued. "Then a B-40 rocket hit the second track in my column."
Scarboro immediately deployed his tracks in a battle formation and returned fire with .50 cal machineguns.
"The VC were firing down on us from the treetops," he said. "You could see them tumble out of the trees as our shots found their mark. They were using B-40 rockets and had a recoilless rifle set up in a shack at the center of the cemetery."
At that time his track was struck by a recoilless rifle round.
"I was grazed by the shrapnel and was helped out of my track to a building nearby," he went on. "My men continued to return fire. Some had dismounted to check the buildings adjacent to the cemetery."
Soon after, Company C, 5th/60th arrived on the scene to reinforce Company B. The fight raged into the night and only after four more days did the Delta-oriented unit return to 9th Division control.