I CORPS HISTORY 1968

     1ST BATTALION 8TH CAVALRY INFORMATION OFFICE FIRST BATTALION EIGHTH CAVALRY BATTALION HISTORY 1 JANUARY 1968 - 31 DECEMBER 1968........ With the close of operation PERSHING and the beginning of the new year, 1st Battalion 8th Cavalry, as part of the 1st Brigade 1st Air Cavalry Division, was to begin a series of operations for the year 1968. These operations were to include JED STUART II, DELAWARE, JED STUART III, COMMANCHE FALLS TAN THANG and NAVAHO HORSE. Departing LZ English utilizing 17 sorties of C-130's and land-sea transportation, the "Jumping Mustangs" closed in full force at their destination LZ Betty, in Quang Tri Province on 30 January 1968 to begin OPERATION JEB STUART II . 0n 16-17 February 1968 the "Skytroopers" made their first major contact with the enemy. Company B engaged in heavy fighting with the NVA's 883rd Regiment and the 324 B Division in the vicinity of Quang Tri City. Receiving only light casualties the men of the 1st Battalion 8th Cavalry accounted for 29 NVA-KIA's ,4 AK-47's , 3 SKS rifles and 1 RPG destroyed. For the remainder of February and part of March the 1st Battalion 8th Cavalry conducted search and clear missions which accounted for 10 thousand pounds of rice , 8 NVA- KIA, 6 small arms weapons, 5 B40 rockets, 19 grenades, and 150 small arms rounds. Hard fighting continued for the men of the "Honor and Courage" Battalion.

     On 9 March Bravo Company came under intence mortar attack at the beach that resulted in 3 SKYTROOPER KIA'S. On 25 March 1968 Company A air-assaulted into two separate LZ 's North and South of THON XUAN DUONG hamlets. Upon landing the men met with heavy resistance however within fifteen minutes 3rd platoon reported sporadic fire being received and 2nd and 4th platoons reported receiving heavy fire from all directions. Company D was immediately airlifted to join Company A. Company C who was operating in the area earlier, moved by foot to provide blocking force. Both Companies A and D, coordinated two assaults with the help of aerial rocket artillery ( ARA) and ground artillery. Both attempts failed because of heavy enemy fire. During the night the enemy ran. A search of the area the next morning revealed 66 NVA-KIA, 6 NVA- POW'S, 6 small arms captured 1 Rpg captured.

     April 5, marked the beginning of OPERATION PEGASUS; the battalion and other 1st Cavalry elements came to the relief of the Marines at beleaguered Khe Sanh. After successful operations, the battalion moved on to their biggest operation for the year. On 23 April 1968 1st Battalion 8th Cavalry began OPERATION DELAWARE in which it air-assualted into and constructed LZ Stallion in the A SHAU VALLEY. Within two days after it's arrival the "Jumping Mustangs" captured the largest cache accredited to the 1st Brigade since it's arrival in the Republic of Vietnam, Company D captured 5 (1 1/2 ton ) trucks, crew- served weapons, mine detecters, flame throwers, 135 cases of 37 mm ammunition, 35 cases of black uniforms, 440 AK 44 rifles, large drums of diesel fuel, explosives and food supplies. With the close of OPERATION DELAWARE and the start of OPERATION JEB STUART III, THE 1st Battalion 8th Cavalry returned to operating in the Quang Tri Province, in the general vicinity of Quang Tri City. Immediately after its return the Battalion made contact with the enemy. On 18 May 1968 the night perimeter of Company B was attacked by NVA soldiers. The result of this encounter was twelve NVA-KIA, one POW, 10 grenades, and 10 small arms weapons captured. For the remainder of the months of May, June and July contact was light and scattered. The month of August however proves to be one of the highlights for the "Jumping Mustangs" for the year 1968 .

     On August 24, 1968, reacting swiftly and decisively, the men of the 1st Battalion 8th Cavalry aided in exploiting a minor contact and wound up inflicting heavy losses on elements of the NVA's K8 Main Force Battalion. An estimated 80% of the enemy unit was killed in the four day fight which took place in three coastal villages northwest of Quang Tri City. The First and Second Companies of the K8 Battalion had linked up in the villages of Van Phong and Dong Bao, and the Fourth Company was stationed two kilometers to their south in the village of La Duy. Their mission was to secure the hamlets and villages northeast of Quang Tri in preparation for an attack on the city. The day after the NVA arrived however, three choppers from the 1st Squadron 9th Cavalry hovered over Van Phong on a snatch operation. Communists gunners made the fatal mistake of firing on those choppers. Within minutes, American forces were speeding to the contact area, and in a few hours a cordon had been secured around the two villages. Company A and B, 1st Battalion 8th Cavalry, which had been operating seven miles northwest of the fighting, were flown into the Northern section of the cordon. At the same time, troops A and C, 3rd Squadron 5th Armored Cavalry rolled up the beach from the South in tanks and armored personnel carriers (APC's). Company C, 1st Battalion 8th Cavalry and D. Troop, 1st of the 9th, were also brought in. Brigade scout birds (LOH's) darted in and out of the villages providing suppressive fire as the ground units maneuvered into position. When the cordon was secured, a psyops team flew over the area broadcasting warnings for the civilians to come out of the villages. Tube artillery and ariel rocket artillery (ARA) were called in later and pounded the area throughout the night as ground fighting increased.

     On the morning of 25 Aug 1968 air strikes and naval gun fire joined the barrage, and by late afternoon, "SKYTROOPERS" prepared for a sweep of the area. They met little resistance, mopping up in the villages continued throughout the day, when new fighting erupted in the area. The reconnaissance platoon, Company B, of the 1st Battalion 8th Cavalry were operating at La Duy when they made contact with 4th Company. The Cavalrymen pulled back while ARA was brought in for support. Company C was immediately air assaulted to the area. When the rocket firing helicopters expended, the "SKYTROOPERS" made a sweep of the village. The communist were in bunkers, spider holes and trenches, and it took several hours to silence their guns. The enemy body count for this four day engagement swelled to 148 NVA - KIA, 14 NVA - POW and 4 CHO HOIS, 9 Crew - served weapons and 54 small arms weapons. During the months of September and October the 1st Battalion 8th Cavalry conducted search and clear operations, as part of OPERATION COMMANCHE FALLS, in the Ba Long Valley, west of the Song Trach Han River. There were many entrenched sites and built up areas discovered which were exploited and destroyed by the "Jumping Mustangs." Captured enemy equipment included 9 individual weapons, small arms ammunitions, B-40 rockets, booby-traps, medical supplies, a Chinese ohm meter, Chicom grenades, an American made sewing machine and 122 MM rocket fuses, warheads and mortars. In addition there were two NVA-KIA, one VC-KIA, one VC-POW and 15 NVA/VC bodies found in graves.

          The beginning of November thru OPERATION TOAN THANG in which the 1st Air Cavalry Division moved from Viet Nam I Corp to the III Corp. The 1st Battalion 8th Cavalry was airlifted, along with land - C transportation, to the base camp of Tay Ninh, in the vicinity of Tay Ninh City, In Tay Ninh Province. The unit reached its destination on 3 Nov 1968. Immediately after constructing LZ Mustang the Cavalrymen began uncovering numerous bunker complexes. During the month of November over 600 such complexes were found. In these complexes were models of American aircraft, including helicopters whittled out of wood, along with antiaircraft positions, classroom containing 19 new bleachers and communications facilities. It was obvious that the troops were receiving good training in the new area of operations of the "Jumping Mustangs." It was also found that the enemy didn't spend all of his time working. A number of picnic tables (state side type) have dotted some of the complexes, along with fresh meat, fish and livestock. They had other delicacies such as snails and frogs. Heavy contact with the enemy was made in the latter part of the month. On 23 November 1968 the lead platoon of Company D was pinned down by heavy automatic weapons fire. There was no safe way that the company could bring in fire support without endangering their own life, thus enemy positions had to be located and marked with hand-thrown smoke grenades. With the successful finding and marking of enemy placements aerial rocket artillery (ARA) were brought into the fight. After suppression elements had expended the men of Company D pushed out the deeply entrenched NVA. The 12 NVA/KIA confirmed the effectiveness of support and the fighting ability of the men of the 1st Battalion 8th Cavalry. After battling the NVA for six weeks in war zone C, the "SKYTROOPERS" from the (Honor and Courage) Battalion redeployed on OPERATION NAVAHO HORSE (15 December 1968) to the Southwest where the threatened 4th NVA offensive was expected to be launched. Combat assaulting into the low lands west of Chu Chi, the first elements of Company D secured the landing zone. Chinooks (Ch-47) carrying troops, supplies, and the battalion command act section flew approximately 100 sorties to LZ Tracy during the day. Companies A and B closed out LZ Mustang and made the 50 mile flight south on 17 Dec 1968. The disposition and operations did much to buffer the 3 Corps area against an invasion of communist forces across the open lowlands. The Bong Son, Quang Tri Province, the A Shau Valley, The destruction of the NVA's K8 main force battalion and the move from I Corp to III Corp again prove the ability and professionalism of the men from the 1st Battalion 8th Cavalry.
LZ SHARON