1st MIBARS In Vietnam!


Working With the ARVN


The I Corps Compound

 

Headquarters of the 1st Corps Tactical Zone

General Staff

 Army of the Republic of South Vietnam

Photo Credit: MIV

Above: A contingent from the Army of the Republic of Vietnam forms up at the "B" Detachment Operations Area to participate in an awards ceremony in 1967.


The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) Recognizes "B" Detachment Personnel

Photo Credit: MIV

Photo Credit: MIV

Above: Contingent from ARVN 1st Corps Headquarters at the "B" Detachment operations area to decorate Detachment personnel and MACV officers who advised the I Corps General Staff.   ARVN I Corps Staff Officer pins a medal on a "B" Detachment trooper, perhaps a Vietnamese "Cross of Gallantry," which was one of the ARVN's standard decorations.   These photographs date from early 1967. 

Interacting With ARVN Soldiers

Photo Credit: MIV

Photo Credit: MIV

Above: "B" Detachment officer poses with ARVN counterpart.

Above:  PFC Frank Thomas Billiteri [1946-2010], "B" Detachment, Imagery Interpretation Section, 1967, chats with an ARVN officer on the I Corps Compound.


"Attention To Orders!" -- Prelude To Awards For Soldiers In Formation!

Photo Credit: MIV

Photo Credit: MIV

Photo Credit: MIV

Photo Credit: MIV

Above Left, Top and Bottom:  A delegation from the I Corps Tactical Zone general staff presents awards in a ceremony for "B" Detachment personnel in 1967.  Above Right, Top:  Having received their decorations, awardees await dismissal with their written citations, in manila envelopes, held at their sides.  Above Right, Bottom:  A massed formation of Republic of South Vietnam military personnel on the parade ground of the I Corps Compound.  "B" Detachment troopers interacted with the ARVN daily -- either casually in moving around on the Compound or in operational or training activities with the Imagery Interpretation Section.  Most ARVN are recalled as being polite and soft-spoken, seemingly under-equipped and perhaps even under-trained, but who tried to maintain a military presence and bearing in the presence of American military.


The General Spoke . . . 
Attack On the I Corps Compound -- The Tet Offensive, January 1968

"The TET offensive was initially planned to commence on January 30, 1968, but was then postponed for one day to the 31st. A number of units did not receive information of the postponement and attacked on the 30th. One of those units attacked the I Corp headquarters compound. While this attack was minor in relation to what was going on throughout the rest of the country, it has been immortalized in the book, TET, The Story of a Battle and its Historic Aftermath. The book was written by Don Oberdorfer and published in 1971 by Doubleday & Company, Inc.  [This] is what was written.  "I Corps headquarters on the outskirts came under mortar and ground attack by a company of Viet Cong infiltrators, and a dozen men penetrated the compound briefly.  When the corps commander, Lieutenant General Hoang Xuan Lam, arrived from home at dawn, the headquarters was still under fire by small arms and anti-tank rockets.  Lam looked over the situation, then turned to the U.S. adviser on duty at the Tactical Operations Center, Major P.S. Milantoni.  ‘Milantoni, bomb here.  Use big bombs,’ said Lam, tapping the map with his ebony swagger stick.  ‘General, that’s pretty close,’ replied the major skeptically.  ‘Bomb,’ repeated Lam. Milantoni called the air support center in another room of the I Corps headquarters building.  ‘That’s too close, you’ll never get a clearance for it,’ said the surprised watch officer.  ‘General Lam just gave it,’ Milantoni announced.  The bombs fell two hundred yards away, shaking the building and causing the defenders to hit the dirt.  The Viet Cong rifle fire slackened and the general smiled.  He called in more air strikes, and as the Viet Cong began to disengage, he sent helicopter gun ships to pursue from the air.  U.S. and Vietnamese took chase on the ground.  Lam smiled again, tapped his swagger stick against his leg and walked out."  I'm sure all of us who were there well remember the day.  I recall an old WWII prop plane coming right over the vans strafing into the village behind the rear wall of the compound, as well as the "big bombs" General Lam called for.   . . . Darryl Tucker . . . ever the photographer, was standing on the back wall taking pictures while the action was still going on.  At the conclusion of the engagement, the enemy dead were dragged out of the village and piled up on the helipad across the street for the villagers to see as they passed up and down the road.  I can recall some significant helicopter activity on the pad that day, and probably the next, as the brass came to see the aftermath of the battle.  Darryl got his pictures on the helipad, too."

Gene Pianka, "B" Detachment, Imagery Interpretation Section, 1967-1968

And Then The Lieutenant Spoke . . . 
On The Quality of the Technical Assistance

"I was with Det D in Nha Trang [and ] I learned a lot [about] the Photographic Interpretation (PI) of tactical photos.  I always found it amazing the things one could pick out of photo. Miles of jungle [on film examined] - and [yet you could still] spot a corner of a camouflaged tank.  Had to look at it in stereo to figure out what it was.  Still wasn’t sure of it until I spotted the muzzle evacuator and tracks nearby leading to it.  [While a short timer] I was sent to Pleiku as liaison with the Vietnamese PI unit up there. Unfortunate[ly] the [ARVN] 1st Lieutenant of their unit was a [difficult to work with].  I would PI a mission and a day later he would stop over and bring a couple of his guys to point out that I had misplaced coordinates.  I would say "Show me" and he would take me over to his 25 guys to belittle me in front of them.  . . . I would lay out the mission on their huge tables.  They used prints and cut each frame off the roll and stacked the prints.  I used the film positives [NOTE: film stock with positive images, similar to color slides except in black and white -- Site Administrator] across a light table and kept [the film] on the reel.  Every time, I was able to show him that I was correct and his coordinates were wrong.  I don’t know why he kept subjecting himself to this, but he kept trying to show me up.  I hated to prove him wrong in front of his guys but he was so arrogant that he made it easier to enjoy a little sadistic humor.  I would have liked to work with some of his guys but he would not allow that, so we were constantly competing. One time Sgt Kramer came to me and asked if I could put together a mosaic of the Pleiku base.  . . . I ordered a set of prints from my unit in Nha Trang and got them the next day on Scatback (U.S. Air Force Learjet Courier Plane).  By early afternoon I had a full mosaic of the Pleiku base done.  Sarge took it, and that was the last I heard about it for a few days.  Three days later Sarge came to me to relate a story; he knew about the problems with the Vietnamese PI unit.  He said that they had gotten the same request and took 3 days to complete the mosaic (with 25 guys working on it).  They proudly delivered it to HQ [headquarters] and were told to take it into the general’s office.  They rolled it out the floor (about 6' x 8') to show it off and one of the ranking officers said, "That looks just like the one we got 3 days ago."  They turned and looked and there was the one I had done, already hung, with acetate over it and grease pencil marks showing that it had been worked on.  Sgt. Kramer let me know that they were pissed.  I took some delight in this."

Norman Black, "D" Detachment, Imagery Interpretation Section, 1968-1970

Above:  A view of the edge of "B" Detachment's area on the I Corps Compound, with the shadow of Good Guy 182, the Detachment's deHavilland U6A Beaver, passing over on the interior access roadway.


The I Corps Compound MAIN PAGE

"B" Detachment Operations Area

The Tet Offensive 1968


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