Tet 1968 Phu Tho Race Track
TET OFFENSIVE 1968 UNIT CITATION
RECOMMENDATION FOR PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION
1. In accordance with paragraph 201, AR 672 – 5 – 1, it is recommended that the Presidential Unit Citation be awarded to the 5th. Battalion (Mechanized), 60th. Infantry for extraordinary heroism in actions against insurgent forces in the Republic of Vietnam from the period 1 February to 26 February 1968.
2. At 301030 January 1968, the 5th Bn (M), 60th Inf was informed that the TET truce was terminated. During the night of 29 January, intelligence reports were received indicating that the insurgents would violate the truce, however, few anticipated the massive aggression that the Viet Cong were soon to initiate. At 311130 January 1968, the 5th Bn (M), 60th Inf, was placed under the operational control of the Capital Military District and proceeded to Binh Chanh, 10 kilometers south of Saigon. Throughout the night of 31 January and the morning of February, recurring contact was maintained with an unknown size enemy element. At 010642 February 1968, Company B and Company C departed Binh Chanh and the Mekong Delta enroute to the streets of Saigon and Cholon. The mechanized infantrymen arrived at the Phu Tho Race Track two hours later with the mission of embattling the insurgent forces in the stricken Capital City. From the race track, Company B was assigned a sector to reconnoiter in force to the northwest on the west side of Highway 235 and commenced movement at 011500 February 1968. At 1600, Company B began their combined mounted and dismounted reconnaissance in force to the northwest of the Phu Tho Race Track. The dismounted elements searched the area, while the Armored Personnel Carriers simultaneously moved to give them supporting fires if they were called upon. Upon arriving at the corner of XS 799538, the commander hesitated, noticing the number of civilians departing the area. Questioning revealed nothing further; however, each mechanized infantryman sensed the imminence. As the lead platoon turned the corner Company B was destined to be the first unit in the 9th Inf Div to fight in the streets of Saigon – Cholon. As the forward platoon advanced one third of the length of the street, an immense barrage of rocket fire came from the buildings on the southeast and from the northwest. In the initial murderous burst of rocket fire, the second Armored Personnel Carrier in the column was hit and immediately burst into flames. Upon receiving the insurgent's formidable fire, the mechanized infantrymen instantly returned a massive volume of fire with 50 Cal machine-guns to both sides of the street. Simultaneously, troops dismounted the APC's and aggressively returned effective fire against the insurgents. The command track, with the captain James H. Scarboro commanding, went forward through the intense fire to aid those wounded on the burning track. As the APC advanced forward an enemy rocket found its mark and struck the left side of the command track. Captain Scarboro received multiple shrapnel wounds, and communications were lost. Almost instantly, a large number of second platoon commanded by 1LT Bruce Mills, immediately moved against the enemy and aggressively denied him the tactical advantage. Later more than 20 Viet Cong bodies were found at this point of heavy contact. As the vast firepower continued to flow from the 50 Cal machine-guns, the fire from the buildings and rooftops subsided. At this point the Company Executive Officer, 1LT Robert E. Whitworth, assumed command and ordered an assault upon the cemetery to the west from where the most intensive fire was coming. As the company began to advance, the enemy opened up with a series of rocket and automatic weapons fire that was impassable. At this time Company C was informed of the situation and began to move towards the cemetery. As Company C rolled from the northeast they deployed and put out savage fire onto the insurgents northeast flank. The mounted infantrymen with superior 50 Cal firepower forced the enemy to cease the heavy volume of rockets and Company B advanced aggressively on the enemy positions. The results of the fierce engagement were 128 insurgents killed (BC) and a massive amount of vital intelligence documents captured.
3. The 5th Bn (M), 60th Inf displayed extraordinary professional competence in this critical battle for control of the Capital City of the Republic of Vietnam. The advent of intense street fighting in Saigon demanded individual valor as well as cohesive teamwork. The mechanized infantrymen exceeded these demands by their combined exprit de corps, individual and collective heroism, and skill against the insurgents by the 5th Bn (M), 60th Inf was a decisive factor in the expulsion of the Viet Cong from Saigon. The achievement of the battalion stands as a living tribute to the counterinsurgency efforts in the Republic of Vietnam and is in keeping with the highest traditions of the American fighting man. The dedication to duty and the myriad acts of gallantry are symbolic of the 5th Bn (M), 60th Inf and reflect great distinction upon the officers and men, the unit and the United States Army.
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDIATION FOR AWARD OF PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION, 5TH BN (M), 60TH INF. 9TH INF DIV, US ARMY
MISSION: The 5th Bn (M), 60th Inf established a base in the vicinity of the Phu Tho Race Track and conducted reconnaissance in force mission to clear the area of insurgents.
CONCEPT OF OPERATION: The overall concept of the operation was the initial entry in Saigon and the establishment of a combat base in close proximity to the Phu Tho Race Track, an area of known insurgent concentration. From the race track base, two companies were directed to execute reconnaissance in force missions, sweeping to the northwest on both sides of Highway 235.
EXECUTION: In the morning of 1 February 1968, Company B and Company C departed Binh Chanh and proceeded to the Phu Tho Race Track in the Vietnamese Capital City. After establishing the combat base at the Race Track, by mid afternoon Company B commended a reconnaissance in force to the northwest on the west side of Highway 235. Simultaneously, Company C began to reconnoiter on the east side of the Highway. At 1630 hours, as Company B rounded the corner at XS 799903 and proceeded down the street, a VC/NVA battalion statistically positioned in the dwellings on the southeast and in heavy fortifications in the cemetery to the northwest, opened up with a murderous volume of rocket and automatic weapons fire. Company B reacted instinctively and decisively engaged the numerically superior enemy. The strategic enemy locations to the southeast on top and emplaced in the buildings were silenced as the Armored Personnel Carriers burst forth with suppressive 50 Cal fire and the dismounted mechanized infantrymen fought from house to house. The enemy's attempt to flank from the north was decisively repulsed. The insurgents reinforced their fortifications in the cemetery and directed a heavy volume of rocket fire on the mechanized Company. Unable to rapidly maneuver into the Viet Cong stronghold due to the volume of rocket fire,Company B requested their sister company – Company C – to advance from the northeast onto the enemy's flank. Company C rolled down the streets of Saigon and deployed, placing murderous fire on the insurgents flank, currently,Company B advanced in an aggressive frontal assault of the Viet Congs cemetery stronghold.
As a result of the fighting reaction of the mechanized infantrymen, 128 Viet Cong were killed, numerous valuable intelligence documents and assorted small arms and munitions were destroyed and captured. Friendly casualties were light, resulting in only three mechanized infantrymen being killed.
THE VALOROUS UNIT AWARD
FOR EXTRAORDINARY HEROISM
IS AWARDED TO THE
1ST CAVALRY DIVISION (AIRMOBILE)
AND ITS ASSIGNED AND ATTACHED UNITS
1ST BATTALION, 12TH CAVALRY (1OLC)
5TH BATTALION, 60TH INFANTRY, 9TH INFANTRY DIVISION
The 1st CAVALRY DIVISION (AIRMOBILE) and its assigned and attached units distinguished themselves through extraordinary heroism in action against North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces in Cambodia and Northern Military Region 3, Republic of Vietnam, during the period 1 May 1970 to 29 June 1970. Assigned the task of seizing base areas and cache depots and interdicting lines of communications occupied by the Central Office South Vietnam Command located in the Fish Hook area of Cambodia, the officers and men of the division brilliantly launched a coordinated armor, mechanized infantry, air cavalry and airmobile infantry assault deep into enemy territory. Demonstrating rare courage, versatility and aggressive determination, unit personnel engaged the enemy in fierce bunker to bunker fighting to drive him from previously untouched sanctuaries. Through their unmatched professionalism and dauntless actions the members of the 1ST CAVALRY DIVISION (AIRMOBILE) and its assigned and attached units effectively neutralized hostile base areas, supply depots and interdicted infiltration routes while inflicting massive casualties upon the enemy at every encounter. As a result of their valiant actions and poise under fire, division personnel contributed immeasurably to the Free World military effort in the Republic of Vietnam. The extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty displayed by the members of the 1st CAVALRY DIVISION (AIRMOBILE) and its assigned and attached units are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect distinct credit upon themselves, their unit, and the Armed Forces of the United States.
General Orders Number 2264-252
Headquarters, United States Army Vietnam
29 June 1971
General Orders No. 43
Headquarters, Department of the Army
29 November 1972