May 25, 1966

Callaway Praises Combat Units’ Civil Affairs Work in Viet Nam; Describes Fame of 1st Cavalry

(EDITOR’S NOTE:  Enquirer Military Writer Charles Black has been in the field with troops of the 1st Cavalry Division in South Viet Nam.  While in the field, Black interviewed Georgia 3rd District Rep. Howard (Bo) Callaway during the congressman’s tour of the country.  This is a report on his comments.)

Enquirer Military Writer

AN KHE, May 16 - U.S. Rep. Howard (Bo) Callaway of Pine Mountain, Ga., took  time to get a close look at the military situation in South Viet Nam in general and the 1st Cavalry Division in particular following a series of Saigon committee hearings delving into the application of foreign aid.

Callaway came to the 1st Cavalry Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. John Norton, after visits to the Navy carrier Enterprise, where he interviewed pilots who have bombed North Viet Nam.

He had also taken part in an air assault made by the 1st Infantry Division in Tay Ninh province, 75 miles northwest of  Saigon near the Cambodian border, in Operation Birmingham.

He arrived here May 14 as Operation Davy Crockett was in its final days.

Visits Marine Area

Callaway also visited the Marine area at Da Nang, where he took a close look at the work being done by individual servicemen in civil affairs.  This work takes place on the local level and is not supported to any great extent by the U.S. Operations Mission. Troops and the people of the U.S. support such efforts on a volunteer basis.

“The best chance I’ve had to see the people was actually in a village near Da Nang . . . where we had a chance to spend several hours in a village where a small team of four men had been working for four months,” Callaway said.  “It is amazing what four Americans have done with a hamlet of 200 or 300 people.”

Subject of Charges

“This was the only place we got down to seeing how they are cooking their meals, eating, what they are doing, how the wells the Americans have dug are fitting into the community - in general, how these people really react where these four men know the name of each of these people and have worked with them on a personal basis,” he said.

Callaway’s committee has been investigating the major programs of aid set up by USOM.  These programs have been the subject of charges of black market diversion, misapplication and of not getting to the basic roots of the pacification problem in South Viet Nam by using the same type of civil action at the village level as that practiced by the Marines and soldiers in their base areas.

Callaway said it would be “some time” before any results of his committee’s investigation of the foreign aid program are released.

However, he lauded the civil affairs programs instituted by the combat units in South Viet Nam.

First Impression

“We know in our own Air Cav division that they have found good use for things we have sent from Columbus to soldiers here for their civil affairs work, such as dolls and soap,” he said.  “We know from this that these children like Americans.  I think Americans have tried to win over a country as well as defeat the enemy.”

Callaway said his first impression when he came to An Khe was one of surprise at the huge engineering job which had been done in tearing out bamboo and jungle to create a division base, a helicopter port, etc.

He commented on the fame which the division has won since it left Fort Benning and moved into combat.

“Throughout the entire country of  South Viet Nam, whether you are talking to U.S. troops or the Arvins (Vietnamese troops), when you mention the Air Cav you get nothing but the most remarkable answers,” he said.

He said he had visited the commander of II Corps, Maj. Gen. Cao Lynn, and that when he spoke of the 1st Cavalry Division, “his eyes just lighted up.  He said ‘No one has been able to handle the Viet Cong like the 1st Cavalry Division.’ ”

When he asked Gen. W. C. Westmoreland about the effectiveness of the helicopter division and if the unit had lived up to expectations, Callaway said, Westmoreland answered that “they exceeded my fondest dreams.”

Battle Museum

Callaway toured the division’s battle museum of captured Viet Cong and North Vietnamese equipment, uniforms, flags, etc., and was briefed on past and current operations.  He then said he wanted to visit one of the division’s brigades “to see if the men are as proud of themselves as we are of them.  The people from Columbus are certainly proud of the Air Cav.  We think it’s the finest unit ever committed to combat.”

As he toured the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry; 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry; and 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry, Callaway went to individual paratroopers in the airborne 1st Brigade, commanded by Col. John J. (Big Thunderbolt) Hennesey, and talked to them about their unit, families and Viet Nam experiences.  He said he found them as proud as could be expected of their victorious tour in Viet Nam.

“This is the best division the Army ever had,” he quoted one soldier as saying to him when asked what he thought of the 1st Cavalry.
Callaway left An Khe after an eight-hour visit and tour of the area to take part in a Navy river patrol.


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