“The Fighting Deuce”
272nd MP Company Fighting Deuce
Vietnam 1965 – 1972
272nd MP Co. was reactivated on July 1st 1965, at Fort Knox, Kentucky under the command of Lt. Joseph L. Richardson. Captain Ulmont C. Nanton assumed command of the 272nd just prior to departing for Vietnam. The 272nd departed August 13th 1965 on the USS Barrett, arriving in Vietnam on Sept. 4th, 1965 and established its base in Nha Trang. Capt. Nanton commanded until he was replaced by Captain Stephen R. Taylor in July, 1966. In January of 1966 the 272nd began assisting Company A of the 504th MP Battalion. The 272nd participated in convoy escorts and security, its primary mission was security of Headquarters 1 Field Force Vietnam.
Unit Patches of Vietnam: The 272nd MP Co. operated under three different unit patches. Upon arrival in Vietnam in 1965 the 272nd wore the MACV patch. In 1966 the Unit wore the patch of U.S. Army Vietnam and later in 1966 or early 1967 the 272nd operated under the IFFV (First Field Force Vietnam) colors where it continued throughout the Vietnam tour until departing Vietnam in 1972.
August 1, 1965 – July 31, 1968: By Order of the Secretary of the Army General Order #45, Meritorious Unit Commendation for 272nd MP Co. The citation reads as follows: Hqrs and Hqrs Co., I Field Force Vietnam, distinguished itself by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service in connection with military operations against an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam during the period 1 August 1965 to 31 July 1968. Upon activation in August 1965, the personnel of the Hqrs were faced with the monumental task of establishing base camp facilities and defenses, while initiating measures for the provisions of all of the functions and services of a corps-level Hqrs. The establishment of individual officers and sections was accomplished in a timely and efficient manor, through the dedicated and professional efforts of all personnel, and within a minimum period of time the Hqrs was providing a noteworthy contribution to United States counterinsurgency efforts in the II Corps Tactical Zone. Because of the unusually large areas encompassed by the II Corps Zone, which covers nearly 48% of the land mass of the Republic of Vietnam, serious difficulties had arisen throughout the 3 year period since the Hqrs was established. All of the challenges which arose have been consistently and successfully met by sections of the organization, and all tactical, logistical and support needs of the subordinate units within the command have been filled in a manner which contributed immensely to the success of military operations within the zone. In addition to the assigned, attached and operationally controlled units under this command, Hqrs., I Field Force has accepted the responsibility for supporting and coordinating operations with Republic of Korea Army, Army of the Republic of Vietnam, and other free world military assistance forces operating within its area of responsibility. Through outstanding planning, skillful diplomacy and the application and sound military principles, the personnel of the organization have accomplished this mission so effectively that freeworld military operations within II Corps Zone have consistently met with great success, and the military strength and capability of enemy forces within the area have been steadily reduced. In addition to its immeasurable contribution to allied military victory in the Republic of Vietnam, II Field Force has done much to support the free Government of Vietnam, and to encourage the civilian populace in the support of their lawful government. By close cooperation with the programs of civil and effective civil affairs programs, and participation of personnel in various other programs in aide of the civilian population, the command has done much to increase the welfare of the Vietnamese people and to build the foundations for a stable and prosperous Vietnamese nation. The outstanding accomplishments of Hqrs., I Field Force Vietnam have been inoperations and revolutionary development support, the maintenance of numerous, vigorouskeeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon the personnel of the organization and the United States Army.
February 1, 1966: A 272nd jeep on US1 coming out of Phu My with four MP’s heading to Bong Son hit a land mine. Lt. Barnes, James Sweeney, Lewis Hartman and Smitty were wounded. There was a firefight and they were out numbered when a group of Korean Marines heard the gun fire and came to their aid. A dust off copter medivac them out.
March 2, 1966 thru December 7, 1966: One squad was airlifted to Tuy Hoa and attached to the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. Their duties included convoy escort, handling of POW’s, highway patrol, town patrol and security of the perimeter, airfield and tactical operations.
March 29, 1966 thru April 7, 1966: One squad was airlifted to Pleiku during Operation Lincoln. Providing security for the advanced command post of the Commanding General, 1 Field Force.
April 10, 1966 thru May 30, 1966: One squad was airlifted to Phan Thiet to assist the 1st Brigade 101st Airborne Division in town patrol, tactical operations, perimeter security, detention and processing of detainees.
July 27, 1966: Capt. Stephen Taylor assumed command of the 187 man, 272nd MP Co from Captain Ulmont C. Nanton. Capt. Taylor initiated a vigorous building program as the unit seen completion of its supply room, orderly room, day room, mess hall and improvement of the troop living conditions.
Sept. 5, 1966 thru Oct. 24, 1966: One platoon (minus one squad) was deployed to Tuy An with the 101st Airborne Division on Operation Seward. It was the first time an American Military Police Unit operated with the Vietnamese National Police in joint operation. The 272nd 1st Platoon convoyed from Tuy An to Nha Trang, opening the road for future convoys. The primary mission of the unit on Operation Seward was to operate five check points with the National Police along Highway 1 between Tuy An and the Song Chai River. The check points were to prevent rice and corn harvest from falling into the hands of the enemy. During the 49 day operation the 272nd were daily harassed by small arms fire from snipers. On five occasions they were involved in heavy fire fights.
Sept. 1966 – Oct. 1967: GO #60 By Order of the Secretary of the Army, Meritorious Unit Commendation – First Oak Leaf Cluster – Has been awarded to the 272nd MP Co. The citation reads as follows: : The 272nd MP Co. distinguished itself in support of military operation in the Republic of Vietnam during the period of 1 Sept 1966 to 31 Oct. 1967. Charged with providing security for the Commanding General, I Field Force Vietnam, his headquarters and the Tactical Command Post, the members of the company demonstrated alertness and vigilance in fulfilling their mission in an exemplary manner. In addition to this primary responsibility, they expended considerable resources and manpower in support of sixteen major combat operations within the II Corps Tactical Zone. While serving with elements of the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) during Operations Filmore, Lincoln, John Paul Jones and Seaward, the men of the 272nd MP Co. played a key role in destroying Viet Cong control in Phu Yen Province. Further, they supported the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), and in this capacity, they efficiently processed and evaluated prisoners of war, refugees and civilian personnel, thereby freeing the combat elements for their tactical mission. Significant among their many accomplishments was their effort in the area of convoy security. Their quick reaction to enemy ambushes and ability to rapidly gain fire superiority were key factors in the low casualty rate sustained by United States Forces during the first logistical move of supplies from Nha Trang to Ban Me Thout. Through their exemplary courage, relentless determination and resourcefulness, the military policemen materially advanced the struggle against communist aggression in the Republic of Vietnam. The remarkable proficiency and devotion to duty displayed by members of the 272nd MP Co. are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect distinct credit upon themselves and the Armed Forces of the United States.
Sept. 27, 1966: One squad was airlifted to Phan Thiet to participate in Operation Byrd. The unit was attached to the Task Force 2/7, 1st Cavalry Air Mobile Division. The 272nd detachment established a comprehensive prisoner of war collection and processing point.
Oct. 1, 1966: One platoon was airlifted to Phu My, attached to the 1st. Air Cav Division during Operations Irving & Thayer I & II. Originally the 2nd Platoon provided Military Police support to each of the five Battalions conducting Operation Irving. The 272nd accompanied the Infantry Battalions on their sweeps, facilitating the rapid evacuation and processing of prisoners of war and refugees out of the combat area. 2nd Platoon of the 272nd performed convoy escorts, highway patrol (mine sweeps), and forward perimeter security. During Operation Irving the 272nd accompanied combat troops into forward area as infantrymen, established a central collection facility in the forward combat area and conducted both air and ground raids of villages and hamlets in search of VC/NVA forces and contraband. The aforestated duties have caused the 2nd Platoon to see considerable action. Incidents worthy of mention are the following:
Oct. 22, 1966: Two enlisted men were awarded the Purple Heart as a result of wounds sustained when their position was attacked. Two enemy were killed and one captured.
Oct. 29, 1966: Two enlisted men, one subsequently awarded the Bronze Star with “V” device and another nominated for a Silver Star, when rushed to the aid of a convoy under attack as they contained and repelled the enemy while the convoy cleared the area. They were credited with saving the lives of thirteen American soldiers that were pinned down..
Nov, 21, 1966: One NCO was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” device and two enlisted men were awarded the Army Commendation Medal with “V” device for their actions when they rushed to the scene of an ambush, repelling the enemy that had attacked the lone jeep, killing one and wounding two of its four occupants. The fast and effective actions of the “Fighting Deuce” were instrumental in saving several lives of members of the 2/8 Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division for their effectiveness, received a Letter of Appreciation from the Commanding Officer.
Dec. 2, 1966 thru Dec. 17, 1966: One squad was airlifted to Pleiku. Providing security for the advanced command post of the Commanding General, 1 Field Force.
Dec. 7, 1966 thru Jan. 23, 1967: The squad located at Tuy Hoa on Operation Geronimo I & II was airlifted to Kontum Province to participate in Operation Pickett. Duties were POW detention & processing, area patrols and security. On Jan. 23rd this squad convoyed from Kontum Province to Phan Rang with the 101st Airborne for participation in Operations Farragut & Gatling. The squad moved once more on Feb. 1, 1967 to Song Mao for continual participation in Operation Farragut. It was during this Operation that the unit again distinguished itself as an excellent, seasoned combat support unit by repelling numerous day and night ambushes on convoy between Phan Thiet and Song Mao. Incurred during this Operation was one Purple Heart for injuries sustained from a mine explosion while the enlisted man was providing security for a mine sweep detail on March 1, 1967.
Jan. 23, 1967: Four enlisted men were awarded the Purple Heart as a result of wounds sustained when their vehicle was ambushed on Highway 1 near Bong Son.
Jan. 25, 1967: One enlisted man was awarded the Purple Heart as a result of wounds sustained when his vehicle was ambushed in the LZ Hammond area.
Feb. 10, 1967: The platoon at Phu My, which is assigned to the 1st Cavalry Air Mobile, moved to Bong Son by convoy for participation in Operation Pershing. The primary mission of this highly diversified unit is the operation of a central collecting point. On its first day of operation contained more than 1,300 detainees. The 2nd platoon still provides security for convoys and remains ready to react to any further missions it may be assigned.
April 2, 1967 – Sept. 1967: A squad was deployed to Phan Rang with the 101st Airborne. The mission was to provide check points, base camp patrols and joint US and Vietnamese National Police patrols for Phan Rang.
July 5-10th, 1967: One squad and one NCO were airlifted to Pleiku in support of a forward tactical operation center exercise.
July 10, 1967: Capt. Thadeus A. Duzenski assumed command of the 272nd from Capt. Stephen Taylor. Capt. Duzenski received orders to move the unit from Camp McDermott (Nha Trang) to the old R&R center located in Roberts Compound.
July 11, 1967: 1st Lt. Charles L. Ross left for Phan Thiet to become Provost Marshal and OIC of the 3rd Platoon assigned with the 1st Cavalry Air Mobile during Operation Byrd. The mission was to provide joint check points and patrols consisting of Vietnamese National Police, Quan Khan and a Military Policeman for the town of Phan Thiet.
August 1967: 1st Lt. John R. Haughery became the platoon leader of the 2nd Platoon of the 272nd in Bong Son, OPCON to the 1st Cavalry Division Air Mobile during Operation Pershing I & II. Weather forced the 272nd to move from the Bong Son River banks to a higher location at LZ Two Bits. The mission of the 2nd Platoon was to provide Military Police support for the town of Bong Son and Landing Zones (LZ’s) English & Two Bits. Forward perimeter security, convoy escorts and a 24 hr Military police desk. The 2nd Platoon duties caused the 2nd Platoon to see considerable action as listed below.
Dec. 27, 1967 – March 1968: A total of 18 MP’s have been attached to the 201st Aviation Company to perform to duty of door gunners on helicopters. Each received their flight wings and each has qualified for and recommended for the Air Medal.
Jan. 11, 1968: Six Military Policemen were stationed at the Bong Son police station, Hoai Nhon District, when the facility came under attack by an estimated 200 NVA and VC. The enemy attacked using RPG-50 rockets, grenades, satchel charges, heavy automatic weapons and small arms fire. The attack was launched against all four edges of the perimeter simultaneously and throughout the three hour duration the enemy attempted to breach the wire and overrun the compound. Approx an hour and a half after the attack started a squad of enemy assaulted the front gate of the police station with satchel charges under cover of intense automatic weapons fire from enemy positions located directly across the street. The enemy was unsuccessful in this attempt. After three hours of direct contact and no apparent progress in sight, the enemy withdrew, leaving several dead still lying in the street. When the fire lifted, a count revealed no injury to US personnel. As a result of their valorous action the Provost Marshal 1st Cavalry Division recommended one MP for the Bronze Star with “V” device and five men of the squad for Army Commendation Medals with “V” device.
Jan. 15, 1968: GO #7688 1st Cavalry Division Hqrs. Seven members of the 2nd Platoon received the Award Of The Air Medal for performing the duty of door gunner on assault helicopters for Company C, 229th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter) from June 1, 1967 to June 24th 1967. Each man actively participated in more than 25 aerial missions over hostile territory in support of counter-insurgency operations.
Jan. 30, 1968: GO #72. The Dept. of the Army on Nov. 19, 1968 awarded the 272nd MP Co. the Valorous Unit Award. The 272nd MP Co. distinguished itself by extraordinary heroism in the city of Nha Trang, Republic of Vietnam on 30 January 1968. When a company of the 7th North Vietnamese Army/Viet Cong Battalion succeeded in reaching the units perimeter fence and attacked the compound with grenades, the company alert force responded to the initial assault with such devastating fire that the enemy was driven from the perimeter into a nearby villa. The communist aggressors then placed automatic and small arms fire upon the compound from this relatively secure area. Realizing the need to direct flanking fire upon the enemy from a more advantageous position, members of the 272nd Military Police Company unhesitatingly volunteered to move to a building adjacent to the villa in order to accomplish this mission. Upon arrival they found that seven United States civilian personnel occupied the structure, and they quickly formulated an evacuation plan which enabled the civilians to reach the company’s compound safely. Throughout the eight hour battle, numerous heroic actions on the part of the military police personnel insured the total defeat of the hostile force. When the battle was over, forty-eight enemy dead were found, eight prisoners were taken and twenty-nine semi-automatic and seven crew-served weapons were confiscated. The men of the 272nd Military Police Company displayed extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty which in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect distinct credit upon themselves and the Armed Forces of the United States.
Jan. 30, 1968: Time Line of Attack
- 0240 hrs: Explosion heard down the street from the Unit (272nd).
- 0245 hrs: Unit under attack by a force of 30-50 NVA.
- 0315 hrs: Unit of 6 men sent to reinforce the CG’s villa in Roberts Compound.
- 0330 hrs: Heavy fire from Villa across the street.
- 0335 hrs: SP4 Soutar KIA on water tower.
- 0600 hrs: Dispatched 6 men to the CORDS Villa.
- 0725 hrs: 7 personnel evacuated from CORDS Villa (3 females & 4 males). SFC Snook WIA.
- 0730 hrs: Called for assistance from the 504th MP and received a 5 man team.
- 0900 hrs: SP4 Perdue KIA – CORDS Villa roof.
- 0930 hrs: ROK’s began a house to house sweep to clear the area with Sgt. Todd, Sgt. Hatcher & PFC Kelso.
- A total of 22 enemy bodies were evacuated from around the perimeter of the 272nd MP Company, and approximately another 22 enemy from the Villa across the street from the company area. Total enemy KIA – 48, captured -8 (including 1 officer) and weapons.
Jan. 31, 1968: The 272nd MP Co. was granted authorization from the Department of the Army to utilize a Distinctive Unit Designation “The Fighting Deuce”. (Note: The 272nd was known in Vietnam as the Fighting Deuce upon their arrival in Vietnam but this Unit Designation made it officially recognized by the Army).
Feb. 2, 1968: A member of the 272nd 3rd Platoon received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his valorous action above and beyond the call of duty for his actions of Nov. 8, 1967 while serving with the “Night Hunter” team during a combat mission near Phan Thiet. During that night the MP located a large enemy force and exposed himself to the hostile ground fire as he leaned out of the helicopter to place effective fire on the enemy emplacements. His actions forced the hostile soldiers to flee the area as he continued to engage and succeed in destroying the fleeing enemy force.
Feb. 20, 1968: Dept. of the Army amended General Order #502 Meritorious Unit Commendation to include the 272nd MP Co. for action from Sept. 1965 to June 1966.
July 1968: Capt. William Sonricker had assumed command of the 272nd MP Co. in Nha Trang from Capt. Thadeus A. Duzenski.
July 1969: Capt. Robert G. Garey had assumed command of the 272nd MP Co. in Nha Trang from Capt. William Sonricker.
Nov. 18, 1969: GO #782. Effective date Dec. 14, 1969. The Unit now has a total of 1 officer and 52 enlisted men. Enforcement of military laws, orders and regulations, to include traffic stragglers, circulation of individuals, protection of property and operations of checkpoints. Security for the Commanding General, his staff and headquarters and to provide military police for I Field Force Vietnam as required by the Provost Marshal of I Field Force. The company has made a big change, the unit went from 263 man company to a 53 man company. This, however, did not lessen the total performance of the “Fighting Deuce”.
Dec. 1969: As the 272nd was reduced in manpower by GO#782 Capt. Carroll W. Spragins assumed command of the 272nd from Capt. Robert G. Garey.
March 10, 1970: Capt. Carroll W. Spragins and FSGT Donald R. Donaldson were killed by friendly fire. Lt. Lee Heiman immediately assumed command of the 272nd until June 30, 1970.
May 1971: Captain Charles G. Prinzi assumed command of the 272nd MP Co. thru January 1972. The 272nd was moved out of Nha Trang and was now stationed in Pleiku.
VILLAGES WHERE 272ND OPERATED:
Nha Trang, Pleiku, Phan Thiet, Tuy An, Bong Son, Kontum, Phan Rang, Tuy Hoa, Ban Me Thout, Phu Yen, Dong Ba Thin, Ninh Hoa, Phu My, Polei Kleng, Song Mao, Phu Cat, An Khe, Qui Nhon, Cung Son, Cam Ranh, Hue, Ashaw Valley, Chu Li, Tan Thanh, Tan Phung, Khanh Duong.
OPERATIONS PARTICIPATED IN:
Operation MASHER: Jan. 24, 1966 – March 6, 1966
Operation White Wing: Jan. 24, 1966 – March 6, 1966
Operation FILLMORE: March 26, 1966 – July 21, 1966
Operation LINCOLN: March 25, 1966 – April 8, 1966
Operation JOHN PAUL JONES: July 21, 1966 – Sept. 5, 1966
Operation LEJEUNE: April 7, 1966 – April 22, 1966
Operation SEWARD: Sept. 6, 1966 – Oct. 24, 1966
Operation BYRD: Sept. 27. 1966 –
Operation GERONIMO –I & II: Oct. 25, 1966 – Nov. 28, 1966
Operation DAZZLEM: Oct. 1, 1966 – April 22, 1967
Operation PICKETT: Nov. 29, 1966 – Jan. 25, 1967
Operation FARRAGUT: Jan. 26, 1967 – March 23, 1967
Operation SUMMERALL: March 24, 1967 – April 29, 1967
Operation IRVING: Oct. 1, 1966 – Oct. 23, 1966
Operation THAYER – I & II: Oct. 23, 1966 – Feb. 13, 1967
Operation PERSHING: Feb. 10, 1967 –
Operation COCHISE: March 30, 1968 –
LZ’s (Landing Zones)
LZ – English (Bong Son), LZ – Hammond (Phu Cat), LZ – Two Bits (Bong Son), LZ – X-Ray (la Drang Valley), LZ – White (Tay Ninh),
LZ – Betty (Phan Thiet), LZ – Uplift (Phu My), LZ – Dog (Bong Son), LZ – Pony (Bihn Dihn) , LZ – Deuce (Bong Son)