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1st 50th Infantry Association

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1. Co. E (LRP), 50th Inf.
2. Unit Awards & Decorations
3. Vietnam Campaign Participation

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Unit History, Company E (LRP), 50th Infantry

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Above (center) Photo taken the day the unit became "E/50", courtesy of Roy E. Barley, 75th Ranger Assn.

Company E (LRP), 50th Infantry

20 December 1967 to 1 February 1969 (as Co. E (LRP), 50th Infantry)
1 February 1969 to 23 Aug 1969 (as Co. E, 75th Infantry (Ranger)) (First tour)
1 Oct 1969 to 12 Oct 1970 (as Co. E, 75th Infantry (Ranger)) (Second tour)

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Echo Rangers

We are grateful to the 75th Ranger Association for the following information.

Throughout history the need for a small, highly trained, far ranging unit to perform reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, and special type combat missions has been readily apparent. In Vietnam this need was met by instituting a Long Range Patrol program to provide each major combat unit with this special capability.

Rather than create an entirely new unit designation for such an elite force, the Department of the Army looked to its rich and varied heritage and on 1 February 1969 designated the 75th Infantry Regiment, the present successor to the famous 5307th Composite Unit (MERRILLS MARAUDERS) as the parent organization for all Department of the Army designated Long Range Patrol (LRP) units and the parenthetical designation (RANGER) in lieu of (LRP) for these units. As a result, the 50th Infantry Detachment (LRP), formally the 9th Infantry Division LRRP (Provisional) assigned to the 9th Infantry Division, became Company E (Ranger), 75th Infantry.

In the fall of 1966, the 9th Infantry Division formed a division Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) Platoon after division commander, Maj. Gen. George S. Eckhardt flew to Vietnam on an orientation tour of the combat theater. Major General Eckhardt noted that each division contained a long-range patrol unit. He arrived back at Fort Riley, Kansas, where the Division was completing preparations for its scheduled December deployment to Vietnam, and ordered the immediate organization of a reconnaissance platoon for his own division. Capt. James Tedrick, Lt. Winslow Stetson, and Lt. Edwin Garrison were chosen as the officers for the LRRP Platoon. They interviewed and screened the records of 130 volunteer soldiers and selected the best 40. The provisional unit was known as the "War Eagle Platoon". In November of 1966, the LRRP Platoon completed the Jungle Warfare School in Panama. Captain Tedrick conducted an extra week of tropical training following the regular two-week course. Platoon members were shipped to Vietnam in January 1967.

At the Special Forces MACV Recondo School at Nha Trang, the entire 9th Infantry Division LRRPS became recondo-qualified, Meanwhile, the unit adjusted to its combat operating area. The division operated primarily in the lowlands south of Saigon, the Rung Sat Special Zone, and the Mekong Delta. Torrential rains and year-round water exposed patrollers to high rates of disabling skin disease. Reconnaissance troops often suffered extensive inflammatory lesions and rampant skin infections. And by the fourth month of tropical service, nearly three-fourths of all infantryman had recognizable infections. The Bear Cat - Long Thanh area east of Saigon was where the division was initially concentrated. The new base, Dong Tam, was constructed by dredging the My Tho river to produce enough fill to build a major installation in the Mekong Delta. It was located five miles west of My Tho in Dinh Tuong Province.

On 8 July 1967, the 9th Long Range Patrol Detachment (LRPD) was formalized. Borrowing General Marshall's World War II phrase, the Division LRPD was "well brought up." During June and July, the LRPD completed forty-three patrols and clashed eighteen times with enemy forces. Through August and September, the LRPD continued to fill. By October it had reached full authorized strength of 119 personnel and was rated fully operational. Each platoon contained a command section and eight, six-man teams.

Some teams of the division LRPD rendered reconnaissance for 2nd Brigade in Operation CORONADO and entered the Viet Cong Cam Son secret base area while other teams supported the 1st Brigade in Operation AKRON and uncovered a massive underground system of enemy tunnels and bunkers. The LRPD also conducted important military intelligence tasks for the Mobile Riverine Force within the Mekong Delta.

Major General George C. O'Connor activated Company E (Long Range Patrol), 50th Infantry, to give the 9th Infantry Division specialized ground reconnaissance support on 20 December 1967. The long-range patrol company absorbed the LRPD and was designated as "Reliable Reconnaissance" after the division nickname of "Old Reliable's."

During January 1968, the Navy SEAL teams began joint operations with Reliable Reconnaissance. LRP's did this to gain training and experience in the Delta environment The missions designated as SEAL-ECHO were the highly selective patrols. They were inserted by Navy patrol boats, plastic assault boats, helicopters, and Boston whalers. The SEAL-ECHO troops used supporting artillery and airstrikes to destroy larger targets.

Maj. Gen. Julian J. Ewell assumed command of the 9th Infantry Division in February 1968. He authorized the Reliable Reconnaissance company to acquire a similar capacity to the 3rd Brigade Combined reconnaissance and Intelligence Platoon as a result of the Tet-68 battles. Company E received permission to employ available Provincial Reconnaissance Unit (PRU) personnel from the Central Intelligence Agency's Project Phoenix program. The PRU troops were hardened anticommunist troops dedicated to destroying the Viet Cong infrastructure. The PRU troops generally possessed very high esprit and great knowledge of Viet Cong operating methods. From November 1968 through January 1969, the last three months of Company E's existence, the Reliable Reconnaissance teams conducted 217 patrols, and engaged the enemy in 102 separate actions. The company was credited with capturing eleven prisoners and killing eighty-four Viet Cong by direct fire.

SGT Joseph J. Florio (Hamden, Conn.),
Co. E (LRP), 50th Infantry, 9th Inf Div,
displays the Bronze Star and Purple Heart
that he was awarded upon return from a
long range patrol in the Mekong Delta. 1968.


On 1 February 1969, the department of the Army reorganized the 75th Infantry as the parent regiment for long-range patrol companies under the combat arms regimental system. Maj. Gen. Ewell activated Company E (Ranger), 75th Infantry, from Company E, 50th Infantry. The rangers were known as "Echo Rangers" or "Riverine Rangers," because they mostly dealt with riverine and canal reconnaissance - even though the company was only partially assigned to the Mobile Riverine Force. Ranger Company E took advantage of dry season conditions to harass suspected Viet Cong supply lines from activation until the end of April. The Riverine Rangers conducted 244 patrols and reported 134 observations of enemy activity. They clashed with the Viet Cong during 111 patrols and were credited with capturing five prisoners and killing 169 Viet Cong. When the 9th Infantry Division began phasing out of Vietnam in July 1969, the rangers renamed themselves "Kudzu Rangers" after the operational code word for the close-in defense of Dong Tam. The ranger company phased its teams out of the Kudzu business by 3 August.

On 23 August 1969, the Army formally inactivated Company E (Ranger), 75th Infantry. The provisional 'Go-Devil" Ranger company, also known as the separate 3rd Brigade of the 9th Infantry Division, formally established as an independent unit on 26 July 1969, was unaffected by this paper ruse. On 24 September, the U.S. Army Pacific reactivated Company E by General Order 705 and the U.S. Army Vietnam headquarters published orders reassigning Company E to the 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry.

Company E, 75th Infantry was again activated on 1 October 1969 and the original Company E was discontinued and became the new Company E. The only difference was what they called themselves, They dropped "Riverine Rangers" and continued on with their newly acquired name, "Go-Devil" Rangers." They left Vietnam on 12 October 1970 with the 3d Brigade, 9th Infantry Division.

No other combat recon units waged reconnaissance and intelligence - gathering operations under circumstances more difficult than those with the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam. Despite this, the Reliable Reconnaissance Patrollers, Riverine Rangers, and Go-Devil Rangers manifested sound tactical doctrine and imaginative techniques in adjusting to the alien Mekong Delta environment and applied undeviating pressure against the Viet Cong havens and their supply lanes throughout the division term of service in Vietnam.

KILLED IN ACTION

PFC Thomas Wayne Hodge
24 January 1968  -  35E 022
PFC George Jonathan House
11 February 1968  -  38E 077
SSG Kenneth Ray Lancaster
6 March 1968  -  33E 029
SP4 William Francis Piaskowski
14 March 1968  -  44E 052
SSG Johnston Dunlop
16 April 1968  -  50E 013
MSGT Joseph Melvin Jones
16 April 1968  -  50E 016
SP4 Herbert Lee Vaughn
25 May 1968  -  67W 006
PFC James L Dillard, III
13 September 1968  -  44W 047
SSG Herbert Pok Dong Cho
25 September 1968  -  42W 013
CPL Robert John Loehlein, Jr.
25 September 1968  -  42W 012
PFC Ronald Kelvin Moore
4 November 1968  -  39W 017
SGT Joseph Philip Castagna
21 December 1968  -  36W 056
SP4 Richard Roy Bellwood
25 January 1969  -  34W 073
SGT Roman Gale Mason
27 January 1969  -  33W 003
SP4 Leon David Moore
27 January 1969  -  33W 003
1LT Richard Vickers Thompson
27 January 1969  -  14E 089

Unit Awards and Decorations

Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Streamer embroidered VIETNAM 1966-1968, 1 Dec 66-30 Jun 68, DAGO 31, 69
 
Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Streamer embroidered VIETNAM 1969, for the period Jan 69, DAGO 53, 70.amended DAGO 59, 69
 
Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class, Streamer embroidered VIETNAM 1967-1969, 20 Dec 67-31 Jan 69, DAGO 53, 70, amended DAGO 56, 69
 


Campaign Participation Credit

Vietnam War

 

Counteroffensive, Phase III (as Company E (LRP), 50th Infantry)
Tet Counteroffensive (as Company E (LRP), 50th Infantry)
Counteroffensive, Phase IV (as Company E (LRP), 50th Infantry)
Counteroffensive, Phase V (as Company E (LRP), 50th Infantry)
Counteroffensive, Phase VI (as Company E (LRP), 50th Infantry and E/75 (first tour))
Tet 69/CounterOffensive (as Company E, 75th Infantry (Ranger) on their first tour)
Summer-Fall 1969 (as Company E, 75th Infantry (Ranger) on their first and second tours)
Winter-Spring 1970 (as Company E, 75th Infantry (Ranger) on their second tour)
Sanctuary Counteroffensive (as Company E, 75th Infantry (Ranger) on their second tour)
Counteroffensive, Phase VII (as Company E, 75th Infantry (Ranger) on their second tour)


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