Mitchell L. Leeds, Major USAR (Ret.)

Participation of Major Mitchell L. Leeds during:

The Enemy Easter Invasion of 1972 AKA The Spring Offensive of 1972

By; Major Mitchell L. Leeds – USAR ( Retired )

During the Enemy Spring Invasion of 1972 when the NVA, with main objective to get as many troops into South Vietnam, before the Cease Fire was signed in Paris, I participated in the largest battle of the Vietnam War, as the S-5 of the 3rd Brigade ( Separate ), Ist CAV DIV (Airmobile); the last U.S. Army Maneuver element remaining South of the Central Highlands.

The NVA attacked South into the upper three tactical Regions (I, II, And III Corps), by coming down the Hoi Chi Minh Trail , moving into South Vietnam from Southern North Vietnam, in order to attack units along the DMZ in I Corps, and into II, and III Corps via Laos and Cambodia. They moved South with 13 of their last 14 divisions led by 535 Russian Built tanks. Some of the NVA soldiers we captured were only 15 years of age.

The intermediate objective of enemy forces attacking in III Corps was the Provincial Capitol City of An Loc not far from the Cambodian Border…….defended by the 5th ARVN Division and a handful of brave U.S. Army Advisors from MACV Advisor team # 70.

The enemy’s main objective was Saigon; the capitol city of the “Republic of Vietnam” aka “South Vietnam.”

I was an Enlisted Man for three years before accepting a commission as an Infantry Second Lieutenant; little did I think back then, that I would one day hold such high and most important responsibility as I am about to describe below.

My self Appointed Mission (seems the S-5, was simply forgotten when the 3rd Brigade hastily created a plan to help the defenders of An Loc) was, around the 4th to the 6th of April 1972 (no longer positive) mainly a verbal order I understood clearly / directives to the Brigade’s Air assets of the 229th Assault helicopter Bn. were the priority. Regardless, I knew my job and it’s responsibilities well; and I had experienced

numerous episodes of being under fire , as well as having a better understanding than most, of the Vietnamese people, and I had developed a great affinity for them and their cultures.

Additionally, it was my third tour in Vietnam ; having served as a rifle company commander on my first tour for 7 Months (during this period my unit was often attached to a “Special Forces ‘C’ Team as it’s recon unit while it was operating with CIDG elements )…. then as assistant S-3 for 5 months; a MACV advisor on my second tour , as the Army Liaison Officer on flight status with a TFW of F-4 Phantom jet bombers (the enemy fires were just as heavy in this assignment….but at night I slept in air-conditioning)…..during the first 6 months of my third tour I was the XO/and a Task Commander of the 1/7th Cav of the 3rd Brigade (yep one of “Custer’s Bns”/then called squadrons=but we happily had Helos with M-60 machine guns instead of Riflemen on horseback/but still had the ceremonial bugle with one guy standing on the skids of a Huey blowing the “Charge” during a combat assault/ young men do foolish things-but I have come to learn/so do old men.. and I suppose I can be included in that group.

Important to note that I do not enjoy having to say “I”……but that is simply the way it was.

I took My S-5 section’s Huey with speakers, and a Kit Carson Scout Interpreter (with bull horn, just in case we had to land among fleeing refugees)…………….I initially over-flew the town to the north of An Loc named Loc Ninh; ARVN troops with their U.S advisors were putting up one hell of a fight…………….but they could not hold back the tank led superior forces and eventually fell with several of the advisors being taken prisoner.

I broadcast to refugees as to where to head for safety………………and having no ability to affect the battle , I was given an important mission out of the immediate area that would require, I fly in a VNAF fix wing aircraft (Canadian Built “Otter”) with speakers , interpreter, and leaflets, North up to “I” Corps and back, broadcasting and dropping leaflets, over Long Thanh, Duc Tu, Bien Hoa, Binh Tuy, Buy Dop, Pleiku, and kontum (the provinces/towns are probably not in the order as actually flown.) After Landing back in Bien Hoa, the 3rd Brigade’s main base………I once again returned to the now main Battle area of An Loc in a borrowed Huey to review the ground situation concerning refugees from the Air……my speaker helo was committed to another mission at that time.

The advisors there were adjusting Air Strikes by the USAF fast movers, by first coordinating with the FACs (Forward Air Controllers) in unarmed small 0-2 propeller driven aircraft which marked the targets with WP for The jet bombers, that would hit their smoke with bombs and napalm (Truly Suicide Missions for these FACs diving in low for accuracy / I render a hand salute to each and every one of them). Enemy ground to air fires were extremely heavy in that AO to include numerous missiles, 50 and 51 Cal anti-aircraft fires. The NVA, knowing ,U.S. Presidential Policy at the time, precluded our attacking key targets in the North, moved the majority of their AAA South, forcing our FACs and Jets to face the heaviest ground fires since U.S. Army Air Corps bomber attacks against targets inside Germany during WW II.

Lest I forget, the Advisor, FAC, teams performed just as superbly during the previous battle at “Loc Ninh”.

The only call sign belonging to the FACs I can “vividly” remember is “Sundog”…….they seemed to be involved in each episode of the battle I monitored over the radio in my Chopper. There were other guys/FACs with call signs I cannot remember, but do well remember their bravery……at both Loc Ninh and An Loc.

Additionally I must point out that Advisor and FAC teams worked steadily with the Air Arty (Hueys with rockets) and the Cobra helos of the 1st Cav’s 229th Assault helicopter Bn. The Cobras knocked out several tanks that day…many in the wire around the advisor positions)

At this point in my report I am taking an “Aside” to note radio transmissions I monitored and happenings I witnessed during the battle…….I belief most, but not all the transmissions from aircraft to advisors and advisors to aircraft were mainly from operations at Loc Ninh:

The Following may not be in the exact order as they happened:

1 / Zippo (Mark Smith) Army Advisor: “Put the napalm in the wire where the tanks are coming through and put the bombs right on top of my Bunker”.

Zippo to FAC: “Right on Target”……..dead NVA all around My Bunker…but here comes another wave of them…..put your bombs right on top of my bunker again.”

FAC to Zippo : “I’m low on fuel……….I’ll be back as soon as I can”

Zippo to FAC : “Won’t make any difference, they are almost on top of me……I’m going out the back door ASAP” Thanks for all your help!”

FAC to ZIPPO : “Sorry we have to leave you………..good luck and God bless you”

Note: ZIPPO was wounded seriously and became a POW.

Note: Some time in December 1984, while visiting the Officer’s Club at the Los Angeles Air Station………….I found a plaque on a wall in the bar……on it were the words, “To ZIPPO”, the greatest and bravest Ground to Air Controller of the Vietnam War”…….”with great admiration and respect” from: It named a FAC unit / sorry I do not remember the unit designated.

2/ Danger 79er (Major General Hollingsworth) III Corps Commander to FAC : “where are the God damn fighters bombers” ?

FAC to Danger 79er : “Sir, the fog is too thick and too close to the ground , to bring in the fast movers…the visibility is only about 1/2 mile at best.”

Danger 79er to FAC : ” Well, God damn it to hell”..”How about getting ‘Specter’ out here in that case ?”

FAC to Danger 79er : “Specter is on the way/should be here on station in about 5 Minutes”

Danger 79er to FAC : “Roger”..’Break/break’…

Danger 79er to ZIPPO :”Zippo this is danger 79er” over

ZIPPO to Danger 79er: “This is Zippo ‘Go’ ”

Danger 79er to ZIPPO : “This is 79er……..HANG IN THERE SON !!! Specter is almost on station….you will have priority of it’s fires !

ZIPPO to Danger 79er : “Roger that Sir.”

Specter to FAC : I see you……….what do you want us to target”

3/ BG Hamlet(call sign=’The first Hoss’) (flew his own Chopper) to unknown Advisor : This is the ‘First Hoss’ “Get your head down, tuck yourself in good, My Heavy section is running hot (Meaning the Cobras with rockets)”.

4/ COL Casey (Deputy 3rd Brigade commander “A”) (He also flew his own Chopper)….to “The First Hoss” : =”I’m Hit , I’m Hit bad”….think it must have been a 50 or 51 Caliber……….It got me in the wrist/think I might lose my hand/losing much blood……I’m turning the ship over to my co-pilot.”

BG Hamlet to Co-Pilot : “This is the “First Hoss”…fly directly to the 3rd Field Hospital, in Saigon…..I’ll have the S-3 alert the hospital to have an ambulance waiting on the Helo pad.

Co- Pilot to Fist Hoss : WILCO

Note………COL Casey’s hand/wrist/arm were saved/ I visited him a few days later……..he smiled and said with much Gusto=”Hi Ya Mitch !!” He retired as a Brigadier General, making the OCS “Hall of fame” for attaining that rank (Pvt E-1 to BG).I liked him much from the Gitgo=as Deputy Commander of the BDE for tactics…..he understood the importance of my S-5 Mission, and backed me up numerous times when I was in verbal battle with a Infantry Bn Commander who had a poor Bn S-5 operation. He said to me=”from know on tell those LTCs who won’t co-operate with you…that you are talking for the Brigade Commander”…………I loved the guy for that !! Saw him at a 1st Cav Div Reunion in the Summer of 1975……he gave me a big bear hug ! I shall never forget him.

5/ One of the bravest things I ever witnessed in combat involving a helicopter=a small group of Advisors and ARVN soldiers were pinned down by heavy enemy small arms and machine gun fires :

Captain John Whitehead , flying a Light observation helicopter,……flew across the battle area under heavy fire to where those soldiers were pinned down,….the helo nicknamed a “LOCH” really had “no” room for passengers / the two back seats had equipment on them and the plane was at it’s “Allowable Flight Weight”. White-head and his crew chief / spotter Sergeant were using two of the four seats. Whitehead took on board all that he possibly could, regardless of his flying “a bicycle built for two” while still under heavy enemy fires……The sergeant leaned out of the right side and pulled three soldiers inside……had another get a good hold inside while standing on the right skid/Captain Whitehead did the same on the left side while simultaneously doing his best to keep the helo airborne…….as he started to lift off several ARVN soldiers jumped into the air on the left side of the ship and took a strong hold of the skid, making the helo tilt severally to the left……….there were now about 9 soldiers in or hanging onto that helo as “Whitehead” flew back across the battle area while still receiving heavy enemy fires…………..unfortunately two of those hanging on to the skids were shot off by the NVA….leaving seven men on or in the helo……….they made it back to friendly lines;……….I recommended to General Hamlet that Whitehead and his crew chief/spotter be recommended for the Medal of Honor/”The First Hoss” Agreed, and he personally initiated the paper work and signed the recommendation. However, it was not approved; Both Whitehead and his crew chief/spotter were awarded “The Distinguished Service Cross” for Valor. General Hamlet flew from Washington to Ft. Benning , GA. in order to pin the award on the chest of John Whitehead personally.

End of the “aside”

It was early Morning back at Main base when BG Hamlet (The 3rd Bde Commander) held his urgent briefing telling about the written order and plans to not only continue to assist the defenders of “An Loc”, but that we would participate in one of the largest air lifts of refugees in the history of the war from “Bu Dop”…………At “Song Be”,refueling bladders of Aviation fuel were in place and ..that position and the airstrip were well defended by Infantry of the 3rd BDE; helos and cargo plans could refuel there.

The plan was, as developed by The Deputy Bde Commander “B” for logistics (Col. Clyde Spence) for Cargo Planes to pick up approximately 4,000 refugees from the town of “Bu Dop” not far from the battle areas………back haul them to “Song Be”…refuel …and return to “Bu Dop” to pick up more refugees and continue to conduct this procedure until mission accomplishment or dark…whichever came first………..900 meters north of the airfield in a wide opening between Jungle growth (an excellent path for tank and Infantry teams was positioned another Infantry Bn of the First Cav as a blocking/Delaying Force) ).

The General’s last words of the briefing, before he turned it over to the S-3 were =”don’t be surprised if we are called on at any time to evacuate American State Department Personnel from Saigon.” (Said so all would be ready if the 5th ARVN Division with it’s MACV Advisor’s of team #70 could not hold back the enemy)… BUT HOLD THEY DID…….as well as did the Third Infantry (“Rock of the Marne”) Division at the Marne River during WW I =THEY TOO, HELD LIKE A ROCK!

It was the morning of 16 April 72.

My S-5 section was again “not” mentioned in the orders (I expected such/for I was not invited by the S-3 to help in the planning )………I quickly left the TOC as soon as The General completed his briefing, while Bn Commanders got further briefings pertinent to their responsibilities from the S-3……………..ran to the S-5 Hooch………Directed one of my Captains (“Mastaglio”) to get his butt out to “Song Be” anyway he could and work with the incoming refugees/told him to take a radio/weapon/ and interpreter with bullhorn only………the next day I visited there…….he had done a spectacular job…..I found a tent city in place……he accomplished this with the help of 3rd Bde Logistics, and helos and with the help of the ARVN, the Regional Forces in that area, and officers from that Province Headquarters.

After giving the captain his instructions………I picked up a radio and interpreter with bullhorn, an M-16 with bandoliers of ammo/a map with grease pencil (I was wearing a 45 on my web belt at the time and extra canteens of water) ( I already had our Psyops/speaker helo on the ready with blades turning ) and boarded the chopper….we headed straight for Bu Dop.

As I suspected, no provision was made in writing or verbally for someone to be in control of the evacuation……neither Army or Air force had provided personnel for such duty.

There was however, one most important fellow American that day positioned on the Airstrip ; A young USAF first Lieutenant who directed incoming and outgoing cargo planes (USAF and VNAF) to parking places off the runway ……..and directed them when to comeback onto the airstrip when ready for takeoff ……..he guided the pilots with hand and arm signals only / he stood stoically on the airstrip……..never moving from the spot he had elected to position himself; never flinching when there were enemy arty air bursts close to him……………he performed in this manner all day, never leaving his post until I yelled to him………”jump on board, this is the last plane”…….and he did that almost at the same time as my interpreter and I jumped into the plane as it swung around onto the runway. He moved to a position far from me inside that last plane…….and just seemed to disappear upon landing at Tan Son Nhut Air base (The reader will learn more about the last plane out of “Bu Dop” later in this document). Regretfully, I never learned the name of that intrepid Lieutenant/ but I shall remember him and the important role he performed in the evacuation of the refugees fleeing the Communists that day in April 1972.

Knowing that I would probably be on the airstrip all day……..I directed the pilot of my speaker helo to fly it back to the Bde. main base at ‘Bien Hoa’,just after dropping us off, so it could be used for different psyops missions if needed.

It is important to note , that most S-2s, S-3s and Leaders of Units could care less about “S-5” Civic Action/Community relations/Tactical or Non-Tactical Psyops missions back then ……shear ignorance and a myth that an S-5 assignment was a death blow to an army career (thus rather than placing their best young officers and Non Commissioned Officers into an S-5 assignment, they were giving that responsibility to their weakest officers) ….I volunteered for my S-5 assignment knowing the importance and urgency of mission /…nothing could be more important than a good S-5 operation in a war where it was required to win the hearts and minds of the people. I was not shocked by my team being left out of the orders/as noted above I anticipated such……………but I am most proud to report, that after my performance in that position for several months (not just the period of the Spring Invasion) during which I built a

most effective S-5 operation, General Hamlet himself wrote a special report to the “Chief of Staff of the Army”, noting my name/rank and methods, urging that much more focus be placed at all levels on S-5 operations, and that such become a vital part of instruction at the Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. And I must note the emphasis now in Iraq and Afghanistan being placed on S-5 operations, and the monies and highly qualified and well trained personnel being dedicated to those missions. Indeed I am proud of the role I played some 40 years ago that lent to enhanced S-5 type operations today.

As we neared “Bu Dop” I viewed approximately 4,000 Vietnamese old men, women, and children rushing two USAF C-130s and one VNAF C-123. I landed……my interpreter and I ran to about 50 feet from the mob scene………and……..I fired my 45 pistol into the air…my interpreter now having their attention spoke to them trough his bull horn…..and asked if there was a leader among them…… old man came forward………..crying and yelling at the same time….he said that the NVA had broadcast that any civilians fleeing the areas of “Loch Ninh” and “An Loc” would be considered as “enemy” and slaughtered ! I asked for his help in getting order established………and it was with his help…….the three planes were then loaded in an orderly manner and flew off to ‘Song be’.

About 14:00 H, a Cobra flying cover for the Infantry in a blocking position as noted before, 900 meters to my North, was hit by enemy fires, crashed and burned just to the front of the Infantry…..I cannot remember which Bn it was for sure….but think it was the 1/5 Cav…………..the refugees witnessed this and I thought they would panic again in mass…..but only frightened wails from frightened faces this time……only a few for the rest of the day tried to board the planes out of turn.

There were sporadic enemy arty airbursts at about 300 feet above the air strip;………..though shrapnel rained down on refugees, there were a “surprisingly” minimal amount of casualties………..but the air bursts did result in instilling a greater fear amongst those already highly frightened refugees; I belief the true purpose of those enemy fires were psychological warfare efforts mainly, to cause confusion, because the NVA had our exact range and could place fires onto the airstrip at will when ever they elected to do so. But their plan did not work……..for panic remained at a minimum despite the airbursts. I had called back for a medical team to be sent out to “Bu Dop”,

earlier in the day….none ever appeared…..we made do with the help of the women among the refugees who did the best they could rendering “First Aid”( “miraculously” there were only minor shrapnel wounds, which were professionally attended when the casualties reached “Song Be”.

This went on all day……………..until just about the start of EENT. I looked to the North and saw that our infantry was being air lifted out by helos over the Jungle tree tops.

Simultaneously The enemy changed tactics reference their indirect fires….I felt inwardly the NVA Arty had a change of orders as pertained to attacking those of us still on the airstrip, now without a blocking force to slow down their progression…….I thought, perhaps, even, a new and tougher commander.

Things seemed to be going rather well up to that time with my channeling the refugees into incoming cargo planes with reduced fear…….until the NVA Indirect Arty fires I had long anticipated, finally started impacting on and to the sides of the airstrip and amongst the refugees=ABSOLUTE PANIC AGAIN ! And again they tried to rush the aircraft. This time I fired my M-16 set on full automatic, over their heads. They stopped in fear, but for only seconds…then tried again to rush the lowered ramp of the only C-130 on the ground.

At this time I told the Pilot of this cargo plane…………to move the plane 50 meters forward and to close the back ramp………….the plane lurched forward. I yelled, It’s going to be dark soon; from now on were only taking children under ten years old and then were getting the hell out of here……have your crew open the side doors (which were very high in the air=they could not be rushed)….my interpreter dispatched the same message to the refugees via his bull horn………..wailing mothers with wailing children crowded below the high in the air open doors and I and my interpreter tossed their kids up to U.S. Airmen like so much cord wood being stacked for a winter fire……….I was below the door on the left side of the aircraft ….many of the distraught mothers were were tearing my clothes to shreds as they pleaded with me to take an obviously older than ten year old child..yelling=”Not 12/or 13=only 8 years old,” etc.

Just then, I noted the PF ( Popular Forces-Militia )in a small outpost about 100 meters from us on the other side of the airstrip……running away………about five minutes later, I noticed the South Vietnamese Flag come down the flag pole and a North Vietnamese Flag go up. We could see the tropical Pith helmets of the NVA Soldiers as enemy heads peered over the captured outpost’s defensive berms. I knew it was definitely time to “Di Di Mau” (‘get the hell out of there’ in Vietnamese).

Finally loaded with that precious cargo of only small children….I instructed my interpreter to tell those refugees still remaining to head to the safety of “Song Be”……then I watched sadly as they ran into the Jungle (there were only about 300 remaining that I could not get out by airlift)……….still I felt a great depression/sadness come over me because of this situation, as I watched them disappear into the jungle.

Ever since I saw the North Vietnamese Flag go up, I had expected we would start receiving fires from that position. We did not. Why I do not know…….but have discussed this with Author “Dale Andrade” at the Army Department of history at Ft. MacNair in Washington, D.C…..who had written two books on the Easter Offensive of 1972. Dale said he found in interviews, that there were numerous such incidents as I described…but, even he had no answer as to “Why” they didn’t fire on us or those in other similar incidents during the offensive throughout the Republic. I have a Theory of my own=I belief, simply…….a bit of humanity took over, result of the enemy watching us load ‘only small children’ into the last plane.”

I yelled up at the pilot “Lets get going!!” He needed no further instructions…..he was ready…..the engines were at the ready….may I say at this time=”HATS OFF TO ALL THE BRAVE PILOTS AND CREWS who participated in the air lift that day!”

He gunned the the engines as the AF LT. Air traffic Director, my interpreter, and I all jumped into the lower door just under the pilot’s seat and shut it just as the aircraft turned right sharply onto to runway (I almost fell out of the plane/was caught by my interpreter who entered before me). The plane rushed down the runway at last light taking some enemy fires as it became airborne (I’m sure the fires were not from the unit in the compound)…..”somebody up there loved us”……….we climbed higher into the night sky with no damage from enemy hits (this was determined after landing). The children were crying loudly…….I, holding one small life in my own arms in that crowed

plane of kids…let my head fall back against the hull of the aircraft as we headed for Tans Son Nhut Airbase on the outskirts of Saigon (it was too dark to land safely at Song Be)…….I asked the Pilot to call ahead for the Base chaplain to get hold of “Catholic Relief Services” and have them standing by to care for the children when we landed; they were standing by when we deplaned with the children.

A USAF Sergeant drove my interpreter and I into Saigon, where I had a REMF buddy billeted in a U.S. Hotel, where we could get a good night’s sleep……NEVER HAPPENED….we were picked up by the Army Military Police and charged with having unauthorized weapons in Saigon and being out of uniform…………..I didn’t even get angry, I laughed out loud at the charges which were soon dropped after my explanation to the Desk Sergeant, who provided an MP jeep and driver to take us back to Tan San Nhut Airbase where we both lay down and went fast to sleep in a hanger.

By BMNT the next morning on 17 April 72 we had awakened and made our way to the helo pad and caught a lift on a helo going our way / back to main base at Bien Hoa / My Interpreter and I caught some breakfast on the run/changed our clothes after a quick shower near the S-5 hooch/I visited the S-3…rendered a report……ran to the S-5 shop, picked up my interpreter and same equipment as the day before….and as the morning before boarded my Psyops Helo and, ……..flew straight out to The Air Strip at “Bu Dop”………the air strip we knew had fallen to the enemy…….I spotted truck tracks going into the jungle……there were trucks in the open on the Air strip…..Damn…the enemy was bivouacked down there. I thought- “Hope there are no tanks down there under the jungle canopy that could drive out quickly to blow us out of the sky.

I called for TAC AIR CAS Support……there was none available at this time on ground alert …nor were there any sorties in the air that could be diverted (for this was not yet a TIC which if it were could become a priority TAC AIR MISSION.) Knowing that we must get the true disposition of the enemy and it’s strength in order to render a timely INTEL report, I feigned a full departure from the area (knowing I would return shortly) and completed my broadcasting to any refugee stragglers under the jungle canopy for a few miles from the air strip , telling them to head to “Song Be” and safety……then directed the pilot to fly low and fast back over the jungle top to the air strip at “Bu Dop”……and directed the door gunners to open fire into the Jungle on both sides of the air strip as we flew down it a few feet above the ground (I focused on the

left/the Co-Pilot focused on the right side/there were enemy troops and trucks on both sides under the trees/but no tanks)……..we only took some light to medium small arms and machine gun fires, having caught them off-guard…none of it effective against us…..and lifted up over trucks, and jungle top at the end of the airstrip; we climbed to a good altitude, turned and flew back over the Air strip with machine guns blazing away at the trucks on the field below …..then headed to “Song Be” (I rendered my Situation and Intel reports while airborne headed to where the refugees were temporarily safe / including those mothers who had handed up their children/then walked to “Song Be”)…..and being well cared for by my S-5 Captain and his ARVN and Province counterparts. I found the old man who had helped me control the refugees on first landing at “Bu Dop” the day before…….had rice/ fish, and fish sauce (Nuc Nam) with him, using chop sticks while *sitting on the grass with my legs crossed in his family’s tent with a “Ba Muy Ba” (Beer 33) ( Not sure where that came from so fast-but it was well chilled). *Never did master the Vietnamese way of sitting back on their calves while keeping their feet flat on the ground…but I always tried, which never failed to bring a smile.

About one hour later a C-130 with one of my S-5 Sergeants aboard as I had arranged that morning, landed from “Tan son Nhut” with the children left in the care of “Catholic Services” the night before ……….there was no need to use a bull horn…..the mothers instinctively knew and ran to the Air Field…..each taking their own child as they came off the plane……..again crying….and tears……but this time……they were filled with happiness………JOY !!!!!!!!! WOW…..I felt wonderful !!!

A short time later, General Hamlet, based on my ‘Total’ performance as his S-5, proposed to MACV that I fill a ‘Full Colonel’/’Brigadier General billet’ as Advisor to the Mayor of Saigon/Liaison to Ambassador Bunker; simultaneously Chief of the Directorate of Civic Action/Community Relations/Psychological Warfare/and Chairman of the Vietnamese-American Association for the entire Saigon Command (which included 13 Districts within Saigon and two bordering Saigon). I was selected for this mission based on General Hamlet’s recommendation, without interview. All my counterparts were “Flag Officers”.

After the U.S. participation in the war, and after my retirement, I created the “American Academy for Entertainment at U.S. Veterans and Military Hospitals”…..I had

superb help with this Not-for-Profit Organization; Both Lt. General Hollingsworth (Danger 79er) and Major General Hamlet (the First Hoss) , as members of my “Board of Directors”, and true comrades in arms during the “Enemy Easter Offensive of 1972″…….played a significant role in bringing “The Academy” to fruition, and professional entertainment to our hospitalized veterans and active duty personnel for the first time since WW II. General Westmoreland and Admiral Zumwalt, also served on my Board with great distinction.

Copyright 2006 News Bureau International, LTD.

Mitchell Leeds is now an international journalist, recently returned from Iraq.


Maj. Leeds, two VNAF pilots from the 716th Squadron and Capt. Mostaglio. The VNAF pilot to the left of Capt. Mastaglio was KIA by NVA ground to air fire only a few days after this photo was taken, while flying PSYOPS mission near An Loc.

Major General Trung (Commander of the 5th VNAF Air Division) decorating Major Leeds for his leadership and achievement, while under enemy fire, in leading the evacuation of over 4,000 refugees from An Loc and Loc Ninh on 16 and 17 April, 1972. The ceremony took place at the Saigon City Hall. Leeds received the Air Service Medal (Honor Class) from General Trung and the Honor Medal 1st Class from Saigon’s Mayor, Brigadier General Nhieu, for his performance in the defense of Saigon (the capitol of the Republic of South Vietnam) from late March 1972 to early May 1972.

Map of Main Area of Operations

Glossary of Terms

The following is a glossary of terms used in the report above.


ARVN=Army of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam)


BMNT=Beginning Morning Nautical Twilight (Dawn/when it becomes light but the sun has not yet risen over the horizon)


CAS=Close Air Support

CHOPPER=Helicopter of any type

CIDG=Civilian Irregular Defense Groups

COBRA=Two Seated Helicopter with seats one behind the other/slim in structure/highly maneuverable, fast, armed primarily with anti-tank rockets

C-123=Cargo Plane

C-130=Cargo Plane

DMZ=Demilitarized Zone

EENT=Ending Evening Nautical Twilight (Dusk/when it is still somewhat light after the Sun has dipped over the horizon.)

FAC=Forward Air Controllers (USAF personnel who flew in small unarmed ,unarmored propeller driven aircraft), who coordinated with the ground commander and the bombers; marking the target for the bomber pilots with White Phosphorous (WP) marking rockets (nicknamed=Suicide missions)

Fast Movers=Jet propelled fighter bombers

Flag Officers=Generals and Admirals

Helo=helicopter of any type

Huey=UHIE helicopter /used for inserting troops into a battle area, used by commanders as C & C ( Command and Control helicopters), used for medical evacuations (Dustoffs), and used as platform for Air Artillery Rockets.

Kit Carson Scout=mainly previous Viet Cong who returned to the Saigon Government, and elected to serve as scouts for U.S. Infantry units, always walking point(1st); many were KIA while saving U.S. Soldiers and Marines/numerous were awarded U.S. Valor awards.

MACV=Military Assistance Command, Vietnam

PSYOPS=Psychological Operations

REMF=Rear Echelon” Mother Fuckers “ (mainly military who manned a desk far from the battle areas) I.E. = those who were assigned to the Saigon Command; worked in air-conditioned offices, slept in air-conditioned hotel rooms, ate in French restaurants, etc.

Specter=C-130 Cargo Plane converted to serve as a weapons platform; armed with 105 Howitzer and “MINI – GUNS”



S-5= Psychological Operations / Civic action / Community Relations

TAC AIR=Tactical Aircraft(Fighter Bombers)

TIC=TROOPS IN CONTACT with the enemy.

TOC=Tactical Operations Center

TFW=Tactical Fighter Wing

VNAF=Air Force of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam)

WP=White Phosphorous AKA smoke rockets for marking enemy targets

XO=Executive Officer (Deputy Commander)