The large PERSHING area of operation was left with only one thin brigade during this period. I was glad we had spent so much time working with the 22d Army of the Republic of Vietnam Division on airmobile tactics, since the 22d, under the able leadership of Colonel Nguyen Van Hieu, would have to bear the major burden in Binh Dinh Province for a time.
During the long period of the Binh Dinh operations, the 1st Cavalry Division had developed a special rapport with the regiments of the 22d Army of the Republic of Vietnam Infantry Division. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam regiments were assigned distinct areas of operation contiguous to the 1st Cavalry brigade areas and, teamed with 1st Cavalry helicopters, they became well versed in the intricacies of airmobile assaults. During Operation PERSHING over 29 joint operations were conducted with the 22d Army of the Republic of Vietnam Infantry Division. The 40th Regiment of this division played a major part in the Battle of Tam Quan.
Back in May 1967, the Division's capabilities had been greatly enhanced by the attachment of three companies from the 816th National Police Field Force. Introduction of the National Police Field Force into the PERSHING area of operations brought a new weapon to bear on the Viet Cong infrastructure. Now, the Division could conduct cordon and search operations of hamlets and villages with greatly increased effectiveness. The National Police Field Force squads were very important to 1st Cavalry operations in the Binh Dinh Province.
The Battle of Tam Quan, 6 December to 20 December 1967, which was one of the largest battles during Operation PERSHING, was a good example of the "piling on" tactics which had been so successful in the early airmobile reactions to the enemy. The battle began with the fortuitous discovery of an enemy radio antenna by a scout team near the town of Tam Quan and a small force was inserted at 1630 hours on 6 December. Although the original enemy contact had been late in the day, the 1st Brigade reacted by "piling on" with a battalion of infantry and elements of the 1st Battalion, 50th Mechanized Infantry. On the following day, elements of the 40th Army of the Republic of Vietnam Regiment joined the fight and distinguished themselves by their aggressive manner. Throughout the battle, which was characterized by massive use of artillery, tactical air support, and air assaults by both the U.S. and Army of the Republic of Vietnam troops, the allied force held the initiative. There were frequent vicious hand-to-hand battles in the trenches and bunkers. The division used its mechanized forces to fix the enemy and drive him from his fortified positions. The airmobile units hit him when he tried to move. The enemy lost 650 men during this fierce engagement.
Lieutenant General John J. Tolson