|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
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.
Within an hour after the start of the parachute
assault, an Infantry battalion with artillery, heavy equipment, control
teams, and support elements 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
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 !!
without mishap?? -- YA,
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;
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
|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
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
clusters of colored
|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.
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
To see an excellent page on Chuck Dean
who is presently, the National Chaplain for the 173d Airborne Brigade Association.