© Copyright CJ Magro, Paratroopers of the 50's


Editors Note: The following facts and pictures of the Junction City Combat Jump was taken from the 1996 winter newsletter of the International Society of the 173d Abn. Brigade with the permission of SFC (Ret) Timothy R. Stout. who was editor at the time.
Tim, made the Combat Jump and advised me he has that "Bronze Star" firmly implanted in the middle of his Silver Wings. 
To joining the association or subscribing to the Newsletter just click on Skysoldier.  http://skysoldier.org/register/

In the mid-morning hours of February 22, 1967, a task force from the 173d Airborne Brigade jumped into history by making the first United States combat parachute assault in the war against the enemy in South Vietnam - and the first such assault since the Korean War .
173d Troopers loading for Combat Jump
 The jump put  845 Sky Soldiers under silk over War Zone C near the Cambodian border long a Viet Cong redoubt Below them lay drop zone "Charlie" 1,000 by 6,000 feet of dried rice paddies deep in enemy controlled territory.
Map of DZ Charlie
Within an hour after the start of the parachute assault, an Infantry battalion with artillery, heavy equipment, control teams, and support elements
173rd ready to jump
was on the ground, deployed to secure the drop zone and ready for combat as Operation Junction City got underway. To both men and planners, the combat jump was a success.

HITTING THE SILK... A U.S. Paratrooper, along with 844 others, jumping behind Viet Cong lines in a vast blocking and encircling operation a few miles from the Cambodian border. Continued air strikes paved the way for the massive ground-air assault of 45,000 troops.

The 1st and 4th Battalions came into adjacent landing zones by airmobile assault. (see above map)

 Operation JUNCTION CITY's objective was to locate and destroy the Central Office South Vietnam (COSVN) the supreme headquarters of the Viet Cong in the Republic of Vietnam.

The accomplishments of Phase I of Operation JUNCTION CITY were significant: 
266 VC killed by body count, 32 possible kills, and 4 captured, the complete destruction of the (COSVN) Public Information Office for Psychological Propaganda and a COSVN Signal site dealt a heavy blow to the enemy propaganda effort.

was the biggest Allied 
offensive to date in Vietnam.
At 0825 , the planes took off.
At 0900, the green light flashed
At 0910, 778 Skytroopers were
on the DZ ready to do battle !!

Streamered Eqpt.
without mishap?? -- YA, RIGHT !!

For the operation, 23 C-130 aircraft were available -
13 for personnel and 10 for heavy equipment. The size of the drop zone and operational plan dictated how the aircraft were to be loaded; the drop zone was 26 seconds long and would require two passes to put all personnel into the drop zone. Each C-130 would carry 60 men and would be cross loaded to put the men of each company on the drop zone in the approximate area of their assigned sectors.

It was imperative that all units react rapidly in clearing and securing the DZ, for the airdrop of supplies and heavy equipment was scheduled to commence 30 minutes after the first man exited the aircraft.

The cargo was being dropped by the container delivery system which uses colored parachutes to denote the contents of the container swaying beneath it. It was a perfect drop Everything landed in a DZ the size of a baseball field without mishap.

As each man hit the ground, he grabbed his
weapon and combat gear and moved to his designated assembly area. Colored smoke, colored helium balloons, and colored tape on each man's helmet assisted the task force in rapidly assembling on the ground and identified each man with his unit and section It was imperative that all units react rapidly in clearing and securing the drop zone, for the airdrop of supplies and heavy equipment was scheduled to commence 30 minutes after the first
man exited the aircraft.

Right on time and target, the loaded C-l3Os began
their heavy drops. Drag chutes pulled jeeps, trucks, mortars, and howitzers from the tail of each plane, and giant canopies lowered this vital equipment to the ground without mishap. Immediately thereafter, more planes appeared over the treetops at low altitude, leaving in their wakes brilliant clusters of colored parachutes over the DZ.

Heavy Eqpt Drom in VN
The heavy equipment and supplies needed to support the task force  included the 105mm howitzers and 2,400 rounds of l05mm ammunition, four 3/4-ton trucks, five 1/4-ton trucks, one l/4 ton trailer, six M274 Mule vehicles, four 4.2-inch mortars and 746 mortar rounds six 81mm mortars and 1,500 mortar rounds, 416 five-gallon water Cans, 18,000 sandbags, 746 cases of C-rations, 115,700 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, 1,440
grenades for the 40mm M79 launchers, 1,000 fragmentation hand grenades, and 500 smoke grenades.

The success of this parachute assault shows that the airborne concept still has a place in modern warfare. It shows that large numbers of troops and heavy equipment can be delivered quickly and accurately with a minimum number of aircraft. 

173D Troopers in Air over DZ Charlie
The spirit and professional enthusiasm demonstrated by the men of the task force during the training for and conduct of the jump into War Zone C made this combat parachute assault a success.

The Following Account of the jump is by : PFC Gary "Ski" Krolikowski

February 22, 1967. I'm sitting in the aircraft just after dawn, rolling down the runway at Bien Hoa, about to make history for the 173d. There is complete silence as we lift off into the unknown. This jump was anticipated because of the two training jumps earlier, but we didn't know where and we didn't know when. The time is now. As I look around the aircraft, I observe my fellow squad members and my best buddy,  Dames (Mule) Muiherin, next to me. He and I have been together in the same squad through AIT, jump school and our entire tour of Vietnam, which was somewhat unusual. Everyone is caught up in their own thoughts, and you could hear a pin drop over the roar of the engines. It was so quiet. I looked down the line to see my squad leader, James, the Rock, Stewart, the best squad leader any trooper could serve under, in the same mode as the rest of us and thinking to myself, how did we get here? All of us were military policemen, Captain Friend, the PM, and Lieutenant Colonel Sigholtz, the battalion commander, had faith in us that we could do the job. Without those two, we would probably not be sitting here today. Thoughts of home were running through my mind, as I did not know what the outcome would be. We were in the plane for about two hours, and the time was drawing near The anticipation got greater and greater, and my feelings and emotions are difficult to put into words as we approached our drop zone. 
As time was getting near, being passed around in our aircraft was a large, confidential aerial photograph of the drop zone. As it got to me, I studied it to try to figure out where we would be landing and hoped we would be landing in that drop zone, not way off course which has happened in the past to other paratroopers, going all the way back to World War II. 
I thought to myself that this would make a great souvenir so [folded the map into fours and slipped it into my shirt. I probably became the only PFC with a confidential photo of the drop zone prior to our jumping. 

When Tim Stout, the editor, came to Milwaukee for a visit last fall, I shared my scrapbook of Vietnam photos and memorabilia. He immediately noticed the map and indicated that he would like to put it into the anniversary issue of the Newsletter for the jump. That map photo is on the cover of that newsletter. The rest is history.

PFC Gary Ski" Krolikowski, HHC Bde

To find out how to obtain a CD of Airborne songs i.e. "Beautiful Streamer, Blood on the Risers, Letters from Vietnam, etc." just click on the album cover SONG ALBUM

To see an excellent page on Chuck Dean who is presently, the National Chaplain for the 173d Airborne Brigade Association.  Click Here

Be part of one of the largest data base to find old Para Buddies !!
Please, list the dates and units you served with.

Want to see more pictures of the 50's :
Combat Jumps; Jump School; The Planes; and Great Jump Pictures?
Then use our drop down menu and pick a DZ to jump on.

Paratrooper of the 50's Site Index
   Or Select a Site

Return to top of page

Free Counter  Visits This Site
Paratroopers of the 50's main Index Page