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Jaxon Reed
Jaxon Reed

PACK N 73.rar

On the morning of 20 December A Company 1 RAR found a VC surgical facility and dispensary, and capturing a quantity of rice, salt and documents. At 09:20 9 Platoon C Company ambushed seven VC moving south on a track, killing three of them and capturing an AK-47. Only one of the VC had been armed, while the other two had been carrying packs filled with food and tobacco. Ten minutes later 8 Platoon ambushed two VC moving along a track away from 9 Platoon, killing one and also capturing an AK-47. Moving on, the Australian platoon was in contact again at 10:50, with the lead sections killing a VC soldier in a bunker and uncovering a cache.[50] Later A Company uncovered another large, unoccupied bunker complex and quantities of food, medical supplies, explosives and ammunition. As with the previous bunker systems the Australians proceeded to destroy them with explosives, with A Company 1 RAR destroying 93 bunkers over the previous three days. On dusk 1 Platoon was establishing its night ambush location when it had a fleeting contact at 17:55.[49] The same day in the 4 RAR/NZ AO, a composite platoon protecting a survey party engaged a group of five VC without result, while W Company on the Horseshoe feature had a successful ambush, killing two VC and wounding a third.[53]

PACK N 73.rar

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On Christmas Day a special dinner was prepared by the 4 RAR/NZ cooks and trucked to the battalion at FSB Sandpiper in AO Kilcoy.[53] Likewise with 1 RAR still deployed in AO Wondai, a Christmas lunch was prepared and flown to the rifle companies,[60] while the Australians at FSB Julia also enjoyed a traditional Christmas Day lunch, with the other ranks served by the officers and sergeants.[61] Although the allied units continued to observe the cease-fire there were a number of minor violations initiated by PAVN/VC units.[62] Soon after lunch an RPG round destroyed an American jeep on Route 15, and a number of Australian tanks and APCs, along with the Task Force Headquarters Defence and Employment Platoon reacted. The Australians engaged the area with machine-gun fire and the infantry swept the area, uncovering numerous tracks but little else.[61] Later, in AO Wondai 10 Platoon 1RAR was fired on by two VC at 14:07, and they subsequently captured an AK-47. Meanwhile, over the evening of 25/26 December South Vietnamese forces at FSB Barbara in AO Moose came under small arms and mortar fire, suffering a number of wounded.[60][63] In AO Wondai on 26 December A, B, and C Companies 1 RAR were to redeploy to new ambush locations, while D Company moved north to ambush Route 320 following a further extension of the area of operations. At 09:55, while moving to a new position 8 Platoon, C Company engaged seven VC carrying packs filled with food, clothes and detonators, killing two and capturing an AK-47.[64]

On 2 January 1 RAR was immediately redeployed on Operation Tiger Balm to conduct a cordon-and-search of Xom My Xuan and Phước Hoà, along Highway 15. This operation was designed to support Goodwood, as it was believed that the PAVN/VC infrastructure had moved into the villages along the highway after being forced out of the jungle during 1 ATFs operations there. The search was completed by 12:00 on 4 January and the operation concluded have only achieved modest results for the Australians.[73] During this period South Vietnamese forces had continued to operate in AO Moose with minimal contact. Yet at 16:40 on 7 January B Company, 5 Airborne Battalion was engaged by a VC squad resulting in five South Vietnamese being wounded, two of whom later died of their wounds. The VC had then withdrawn and their casualties could not be determined.[74] Meanwhile, 4 RAR/NZ began a sweep in their allocated area just inside the Phước Tuy border in AO Warrigul, settling into a routine of movement by day and harbouring at night while covered by the guns of the 104th Battery at FSB Wattle.[68] Ambushing on tracks continued to prove successful. On 1 January 4 Platoon B Company ambushed a track, killing one VC, while later 7 Platoon C Company found a cache of twenty 82 mm mortar rounds, twenty 57 mm recoilless rifle rounds and 40 grenades. On 3 January 9 Platoon C Company was forced to spring an ambush during set up, killing two VC soldiers and capturing their packs. Because of the frequency that the VC were continuing to use the tracks in the AO the ambush remained in location.[67] Less than an hour later, while in a company defensive position, the 6 Platoon B Company sentry contacted three VC soldiers moving outside the perimeter, killing one before withdrawing back the defensive position under the covering fire of the section machine-gun. The two surviving VC then fled back along the track away from 6 Platoon, only to be killed by 5 Platoon who was also ambushing the track.[75]

In AO Wondai on 13 January 8 Platoon C Company 9 RAR engaged two VC at 09:15, killing one and capturing an AK-47 and a pack. Soon after B Company discovered an unoccupied camp and captured a quantity of equipment including a 60 mm mortar and base plate, rifles and ammunition. Several hours later A Company located a disused camp and a bunker system, uncovering grenades and explosives. Eight bodies were also discovered, and they were believed to have been killed during the contact three days before.[80] Meanwhile, even with 1 RAR nearing the end of its tour of duty it was committed to Operation Goodwood once more, and was tasked with ambushing lines of communication and conducting reconnaissance-in-force operations if required.[81] On 13 January Bennett moved to establish FSB Margaret 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) east of Tam Phuoc in Biên Hòa Province, located in AO Kilcoy immediately west of AO Wondai.[82] That morning at 07:30 C Company commenced the fly-in, securing the fire support base while Support Company and the 102nd Field Battery departed Nui Dat by road. B Company subsequently flew-in to FSB Chestnut to secure the area for the road convoy until it was called forward to FSB Margaret, and was followed by A and D Companies which were air-lifted by helicopter.[81] The Australians then commenced an operation to search part of the Rung Sat, locating a number of small camps among the mangroves and swamps. At last light 6 Platoon B Company 1 RAR engaged three VC, and the next morning one body and an AK-47 were discovered.[83] In AO Moose, the ARVN 2nd Brigade had concluded operations on 15 January and was relieved in place by a Brigade of the South Vietnamese Marine Division, with the 1st Marine Battalion occupying FSB Kathleen and 5th Marine Battalion occupying FSB Barbara.[84]

Later, in AO Wondai on the afternoon of 16 January 40 VC were sighted in a camp and were engaged with artillery. C Company 9 RAR, under the command of Major Laurie Lewis, was rapidly redeployed by helicopter just prior to last light. The company moved on foot to its objective, and set up a night ambush. At 23:20 the ambush was initiated by 8 Platoon, when approximately 15 PAVN soldiers carrying torches entered the engagement area; five were killed in the action. At first light C Company entered and searched the now abandoned camp, 300 metres (330 yd) from the ambush site, and aside from a number of dead killed previously by artillery nothing of note was discovered.[85] In contrast, 1 RAR had continued to operate with only minor contact in AO Kilcoy, ambushing a number of waterways.[86] However, on the evening of 16 January at 20:50 9 Platoon C Company fired on a sampan, engaging the vessel at 50 metres (55 yd) with an M60 machine-gun, small arms and grenades, killing two VC. The Australians then used flares to illuminate any swimmers but nothing further was observed.[87] Later at 11:43 on 18 January in AO Kilcoy a section of Australian APCs from A Squadron Headquarters was deployed to resupply D Company 1 RAR when an APC hit a large road-mine 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) west of Thai Thien on Route 15, killing the crew commander and wounding two others, and destroying the vehicle. Later as Goodwood continued the VC mined roads and tracks extensively, hampering the operations of the Australian cavalry and causing further damage to vehicles and injuries to personnel.[88] At dusk an ambush from 6 Platoon B Company had engaged two VC, and although one soldier was seen to fall no casualties were found during the sweep. At 06:15 the following morning an ambush by 4 Platoon B Company contacted a group of five VC, killing one and wounding a second.[89] Around 07:00 B Company 1 RAR observed a large force of 70 VC moving from north-west to south-east, wearing greens and carrying large packs. They were subsequently engaged by artillery, while A Company moved into blocking positions by APC to the south-west and B Company commenced a sweep to the east. Much of the artillery fire had been inaccurate however, and the sweeps were completed without incident. At 12:00 D Company was inserted by air to the west, and also swept the area without incident.[90]

4 RAR/NZ had begun to meet strong resistance within its AO. On 30 January all four rifle companies clashed with small two to five-man groups of VC within the space of a few hours, killing five and uncovering another camp as well as quantities of ammunition, medical supplies and rice.[102] Meanwhile, after an uneventful period at the Horseshoe, the New Zealand V Company joined 4RAR/NZ following its relief-in-place by C Company.[68] After landing V Company commenced moving towards it patrol area and soon found itself in an entrenched camp, locating a number of caches. An ambush was then established on tracks approaching the bunker system by 3 Platoon, who killed three VC over the following two days.[101] The next day, 31 January D Company contacted one VC soldier at 09:15 without result and the Australians subsequently attempted to follow-up. An hour later 10 Platoon was ambushed with claymore mines, RPGs and small arms by five to 10 VC soldiers located in a bunker system, killing two Australians and wounding two more. The Australians resisted strongly however, and the platoon's fire eventually forced the VC to break contact and withdraw west. During the opening burst of fire Private Malcolm Gibson, an acting section commander, had been knocked unconscious and after recovering he crawled forward under heavy fire to man the machine-gun, providing covering fire to his section despite having the pack shot off his back. He then regrouped his men and provided effective fire support for the remainder the platoon. For his leadership and courage he was later awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.[102] 041b061a72


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