Blackhorse Hoofbeats

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Don Snedeker
11th ACVVC Historian


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Blackhorse Hoofbeats

By: Don Snedeker

3rd Quarter, 2023

In 1966 and 1967, Regimental Headquarters and each of the Squadrons submitted Monthly Evaluation Reports. Ranging from three to more than ten pages, these reports provided a summary of Blackhorse activities to higher headquarters (II Field Force in Long Binh). They give insights into the Regiment’s first year in-country – especially how the rest of the in-country system was dealing with the large number of armored vehicles and weapons employed by Blackhorse Troopers. The following are excerpts from those reports.

October 1966 (Regiment): “During October over 500,000 leaflets were dropped in conjunction with Operation ATLANTA [movement to and occupation of the new Blackhorse Base Camp south of Xuan Loc]. Two of the leaflets were printed especially for the regiment based on a design created by the S5 [Civil-Military Operations staff section] and employed during the move by the 1st Squadron to Xuan Loc. One leaflet was dropped on friendly towns and the other on possible VC areas in the Xuan Loc area. The friendly leaflet depicted the proposed patch of the regiment and informed the people the ‘Blackhorse Regiment’ was here to stay and to help them against the VC. While the leaflets were being dropped a HU1D [Huey helicopter] with speaker circled the area telling the people more about the regiment. Later reports from intelligence sources indicated the people were very receptive and pleased with the announcement of the regiment’s arrival and its intentions.”

October 1966 (1st Squadron): “Initial PLL [Prescribed Load List – repair parts kept on-hand at troop/company/battery level for vehicles, weapons, and radios] rapidly depleted. Repair parts, especially for weapons, very hard to get. Most automotive repair parts needed were procured at salvage yards.”

Meritorious Unit Commendation: From Department of the Army General Orders 32, dated 2 July 1968: “The 3D SQUADRON, 11TH ARMORED CAVALRY REGIMENT distinguished itself in support of military operations in the Republic of Vietnam during the period 13 September 1966 to 31 May 1967 By making tactical movements in areas previously considered inaccessible to tracked vehicles during Operation HICKORY, the 3D SQUADRON, 11TH ARMORED CAVALRY REGIMENT completely revised the concept of the adaptability of armored units to combat in the Republic of Vietnam. During CEDAR FALLS and COLBY/IOLA, the unit utilized its awesome firepower and extreme mobility to continually route the Viet Cong from their well-entrenched, ingeniously concealed bunkers, spider holes, and underground shelters …”

December 1966 (1st Squadron): “Squadron morale continues to be high. During the Christmas holidays the troops receive presents from various organizations in CONUS [Continental United States], as well as Christmas cards from school children, civic groups and private citizens. The men of the ‘First of the Blackhorse’ responded with many thank-you notes and letters of appreciation. Each troop adorned its own mess hall with Christmas trees, lights and other decorations even though the Squadron was participating in vigorous operations during the holiday season.”

January 1967 (Regiment): “A total of 18,223 artillery rounds were fired by the 11th Armored Cavalry Howitzer Batteries, with 1st Squadron firing 1,480, 2nd Squadron 9,378, and 3rd Squadron7,365.” May 1967 (Regiment): “A total of 14,303 rounds were fired by the Blackhorse Howitzer Batteries, with 1st Squadron expending 7,515 and 3rd Squadron expending 6,788 rounds.” [From April to October 1967, 2/11, was under the Operational Control of Task Force Oregon at Chu Lai in I Corps, just south of the Demilitarized Zone with North Vietnam; 2nd HOW is not included in this total.]

January 1967 (1st Squadron): “It has been the experience of this Squadron that the most effective method of conducting a security mission (whether area or route) in an economy of force role is to saturate the area with platoon sized mounted and ambushes. Aggressiveness is the key to accomplishment of the mission.”

January 1967 (2nd Squadron): “During the period 27 through 31 January, the Squadron conducted S & D [Search & Destroy] operations (OPERATION MUNCIE) in conjunction with 1st Bn. 43rd Inf, (ARVN) [South Vietnamese]. The force consisted of three rifle companies and a headquarters company. The three rifle companies were attached to Troops E, F, and G and conducted dismounted sweep and search operations … Due to ARVN’s use of cook fires at day’s end, light discipline is a constant problem. Water is also a problem due to the excessive amount needed to prepare their rice. Recommend that where possible operations be terminated early enough to allow ARVN units to prepare their rice and have the cookfire extinguished by dusk. Also plans should be made for a minimum of three (3) gallons of water per man per day, half to be issued in the morning and half n the evening.” [Water weights 8 1/3 pounds per gallon.]

March 1967 (1st Squadron): “The First Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment continued participation in OPERATION JUNCTION CITY from 1 March to 16 March [under the operation control (OPCON) of the 25th Infantry Division]. During this period daily contact was made with VC local force and main force units. A large number of enemy installations and defensive positions were discovered and destroyed, including two VC printing presses, each weighting ¾ ton, psywar [psychological warfare] center, radio broadcasting installation and a rice mill.” On 21 March, the Pacific Stars & Stripes newspaper published an article entitled “Troops Shut Down VC Newspaper”. From that article: “While sweeping an area near the Cambodian border 25 miles northwest of Tay Ninh, the first squadron of the [11th] Armored Cav. ran into a heavily defended Viet Cong base camp. After battling the cavalry troopers for more than six hours… the VC had had enough. They slipped out under cover of darkness, leaving behind 31 dead. When the cavalry moved into the deserted area the following day, they found the prize the VC guerrillas had tried to defend. Located in a reinforced concrete bunker 15 feet underground, was a communist Chinese printing press. A direct hit by an artillery shell had knocked a hole in the top of the bunker. Following wire leading from the printing press, the troops located a generator with another wire attached. The second wire led to another concrete bunker which also contained a printing press.” CH47 Chinook helicopters evacuated the printing presses to Cu Chi. One stayed there, and the other became property of the Blackhorse. “The [11th Cav] troopers plan to put the press in operating condition and use it for their own printing needs.”

March 1967 (2nd Squadron): “Howitzer Battery experienced a severe loss when a howitzer exploded and burned causing a fire which destroyed their Fire Direction center [FDC] on 22 March 1967. All FDC equipment was destroyed. Individual weapons and equipment was also destroyed. As of this date [31 March] the losses have been partially replaced.”

May 1967 (Regiment): “On 6 May, the Regimental CP [Command Post] and Trains [logistics elements] … received approximately 60 rounds of 82mm mortar fire which resulted in 3 US WHA [Wounded, Hostile Action]. Counter-mortar fire and LFT [helicopter Light Fire Teams] were employed with unknown results. Five mortar positions and approximately 20 bunkers and foxholes were later found in an area where the VC had cut down the young rubber trees to clear the position, then sawed the trees into 6 foot lengths to use as overhead cover for the bunkers. It appeared the position had been prepared during the night and that the VC had possibly moved into and out of the area by vehicle. On 20 May, K Troop, 3rd Squadron, at the GIA RAY rock quarry received 15 rounds of mortar fire (estimated 82mm) … All of the rounds landed outside the perimeter and there were no casualties or damage. Counter-mortar fire and a light fire team were employed with unknown results.”

June 1967 (Regiment): “The Blackhorse Regiment [1st and 3rd Squadrons] participated in Operation QUICK SILVER in support of the 18th Infantry Division (ARVN) [South Vietnamese] elements conducting operations between National Highway 20 and the DONG NGAI River … At 271917H [7:17 pm on 27 June] 1st Squadron moved to provide direct support to 3/5 Cavalry Troop (ARVN) and 52nd Ranger Battalion in contact with elements of the 3rd Battalion, 275th VC Regiment (-) vicinity YT327325. Forces under the operational control of the Regiment were 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, 1st Battalion, 11th Artillery (-), B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 35th Artillery, and Troop A, 3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry [all from the 9th (US) Infantry Division]. VC losses were 37 VC KIA (BC) [37 Viet Cong Killed in Action (Body Count)], 31 lbs. documents, 107 grenades, 3 lbs. medical supplies, 11 small arms weapons, 1 RPG-2 with carrier captured; 22 military structures, 6 grenades, 85 RPG-2 rounds, 82 fortifications, destroyed. US losses were 11 WHA [Wounded, Hostile Action], and 1 ACAV [Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle] damaged. The operation is continuing.”

June 1967 (2nd Squadron): “The logistical situation of the Squadron is considered to be fair … Combat losses for the month of June include 5 M-113 APC’s [Armored Personnel Carriers] and 2 M-48A3 tanks … It is noted that, from the date of first loss of M-113’s at Chu Lai, to the date of receipt of first replacement, a total of 40 days had elapsed, which is entirely too long.” [From April to October 1967, 2/11, was under the Operational Control of Task Force Oregon at Chu Lai in I Corps, just south of the Demilitarized Zone with North Vietnam.]

December 1967 (2nd Squadron): “On three occasions the Squadron found 750# bomb duds which had been dismantled and the explosive charge removed. Comparing the size of the mines employed [against the Squadron … with the amount of TNT available in one 750# bomb it is estimated that the US supplied the VC with a minimum of 30 mines for use in the immediate area ... [The VC] were successful in destroying 3 ACAVs and two tanks from the Squadron.”

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