The majority of the information in this section consists of pictures and text from CACO 1-3. The “Sudden Death Echo” article was published in the Leatherneck and describes what Marines experienced when they were inserted into what became part of CAP 1-3-9’s A/O in what was known as Operation Texas. The “Remembering Operation Texas” article was published in the Leatherneck and is an extension of the “Sudden Death Echo” article.
THE 1-3-9 CAP COMMANDERS AND THEIR APPROXIMATE DATES OF SERVICE ARE NOTED BELOW.
The 1-3-9 CAP Commanders and their approximate dates of service are noted below.
- Sgt. Robert Holm; December 16, 1968 through mid-February Spring 1969
- Cpl. Phil Leiker; Mid-February 1969 through early August 1969
- Sgt. Michael A. Murphy; Early August through Spring 1970
- Sgt. Glista; Spring of 1970 through sometime in May.
- Cpl. Robert Mason; May 1970 through deactivation in late July or early August 1970
ALL CAP 1-3-9 COMMAND CHRONOLOGIES
The following documentation was taken from 1st CAG’s Command Chronologies and includes the period from when 1st CAG began submitting command chronologies through the deactivation of 1st CAG. The first reports are general. Others are specific to 9 and include all command chronologies that were present. They were accessed on Records of War. (http://www.recordsofwar.com/vietnam/usmc/USMC_Rvn.htm). The copies are the best available.
After action reports and unit diaries were the supporting documentation for command chronologies with after action reports being prepared on the Combined Action Platoon (CAP) level and unit diaries being prepared at the Combined Action Company (CACO) level. They were not included in command chronologies, and none were found.
The information is organized as it existed. Some of it is out of sequence and some pages did not have the original document and/or page number noted. Those pages have been listed as “various” and are included where it made most sense.
January through June 1968
(This period is covered in one report and appears to have been an effort to get current. It is included for informational purposes even though 9 didn’t exist.)
July through September 1968 (None were included because 9 didn’t exist.)
October through December 1968
(None existed for October and November. December includes startup info for 9.)
July through September 1969
(The September report contains information specific to 9’s heroic actions.)
October through December 1969
(CAP 1-3-9 did not experience much contact during this time and none was noted during November or December. This may be because Sgt. Murphy had been ordered to run patrols and ambushes without overly pursuing the enemy in an attempt to protect and regain the villagers’ confidence after the trauma they went through when the NVA and VC attacked in September. It may also have been because the NVA and VC didn’t want anything to do with 9 after having 116 confirmed KIAs during their stunning defeat.)
January through March 1970
(No combat info was noted specific to a CAP or CACO. Activity was listed only as 1st CAG.)
April through July 1970
(Combat actions were noted on the CACO level and specific CAPs were not noted.)
August and September 1970
(These reports were the last two for 1st CAG as it was fully deactivated on September 13, 1970. They are brief and do not note any combat action specific to any CAP or CAG.)
This was taken in front of the Headquarters 3d Company, 1st Combined Action Group (CAG) communication bunker in Binh Son. Third company was known as Combined Action Company 1-3 (CACO 1-3). From left to right; Sgt. Parker, Bob Reilly, Rick LeBlanc, and Doc Richard Clodfelter.
Viloria sitting and possibly Henderson getting some shut eye on the cot at CACO 1-3. Some of Binh Son can be seen in the rear.
Reilly inserting a Vietnamese babyson into a 60 mm mortar at CACO 1-3. The babyson often helped the Marines at CACO 1-3.
Brian Fritz and Bob Reilly in CACO 1-3’s communication bunker. Fritz is on the left. Note the wall map with artillery info drawn in semicircles.
Left to right; Woods, LeBlanc, Viloria, and Dave Frenier at CACO 1-3 on July 17, 1970. Woods and Frenier were from CAP 1-3-2 and were there the night of May 8, 1970 when the CAP was overrun by elements of the 21st NVA Regiment (same unit that attacked 9 in September 1969). Frenier won a Silver Star. Frenier was the second in command and took over as soon as the attack began because the CAP commander, a sergeant, froze and couldn’t lead. Without Frenier’s leadership, 1-3-2 would likely have been annihilated.
This map is from Our War: The History and Sacrifices of an Infantry Battalion in the Vietnam War, 1968-1971. It was written by David W. Taylor, a retired Army colonel and Vietnam veteran, and is about the 5th/46th Infantry Battalion of the Americal Division. Taylor used official records in writing the book. The book may be accurate with respect to the5th/46th, but some of the info regarding the Combined Action Program isn’t. (i.e., CAP locations on the map, including 1-3-2)
Strait, a corporal at CACO 1-3, played his guitar and made-up the following songs. Bob Reilly, a corporal in CAP 1-3-9 and later a radio operator at CACO 1-3, provided the lyrics as he remembered Strait.
Click image to download pdf
Safe Conduct Passes were dropped from aircraft as part of ongoing psychological operations. An enemy, NVA or VC, who presented one when surrendering was indicating that he was giving up and not going to fight anymore. This was known as Open Arms or Chieu Hoi program. An enemy who surrendered was known as a Hoi Chanh. Many Hoi Chanhs became scouts for United States forces. The scouts were called Kit Carson scouts.
The following letter was written to alert parents that their son was coming home and what they could expect. Oddly enough, while written to be a bit humorous, it hit the nail pretty much on the head.
Sudden Death Echo
The following article, "Sudden Death Echo", from the February 2005 edition of Leatherneck Magazine describes what the situation was in and around the area that became CAP 1-3-9's area of operations when Echo Company, 2d Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division was inserted in March 1967 as part of Operation Texas.
Remembering Operation Texas
This article is from the March 2019 edition of Leatherneck Magazine and further describes Operation Texas, the Marine operation in March 1967 that took place in part of what became CAP 1-3-9’s area of operations. Operation Texas was probably the first American encounter with the 21st NVA Regiment. As the Leatherneck states, ‘Close-quarters combat resulted when Marines from Co. E, 2nd Bn, 4th Marine Regiment assaulted elements of the 1st Viet Cong Regiment and the 21st NVA Regiment south of Chu Lai, Vietnam, on March 21, 1966. CAP 1-3-9 and CAP 1-3-2 also battled companies from the 21st NVA Regiment, with 9’s battle being in September 1960 and 2’s being in May 1970.