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Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo

   1st Battalion (Airborne), 508th Infantry assumed the mission of Division Ready Force at hours on 23 April 1965. Daily events continued in a normal vein until 0015 hours on 27 April- when an alert was received placing the battalion in a "DEFCON 3” status. For the next two days, personnel and equipment were further prepared for an actual operation. At approximately 1330 hours 28 April the battalion assumed the status of “DEFCON 2." Late in the afternoon of 29 April, the battalion was informed that its assault echelon would take off from Pope AFB at 1930 hours that day.
   Due to a change in plans, the proposed landing at Ramey AFB [in Puerto  Rico] was cancelled and the word spread “We land in Santo Domingo at San Isidro Airfield.” Thus at 0130 hours 30 April, the 1st Bn (Abn), 508th Inf became the first Army combat unit to set foot on the Dominican Republic, and the first unit in the 82d Airborne Division to enter combat since May 1945. The next few hours were spent derigging and unloading the heavy drop equipment that had been airlanded. At 0515 the Bn CO received an order to seize and secure the eastern end of the Duarte Bridge, check the bridge for demolitions, and clear the Villa Duarte section just south of the eastern end of the bridge. The task force, composed of 1st Bn, 508th Inf, and cavalry and engineer attachments, struck out on a dual-axis at 0700 hours securing the eastern end of the bridge without incident. Bravo Company and the Reconnaissance Platoon moved to secure the area north of the bridge on the east bank. Charlie Company and the attached cavalry element moved south against sniper and automatic weapons fire to secure the Villa Duarte area just south of the bridge. At 1030 hours Company A also proceeded south clear the La Francia area, and effected a link-up with Dominican forces located there.
   At approximately 1500 hours, the Bn CO received the order to secure the Villa Duarte area, both ends of the Duarte Bridge, the city’s electric plant, and to establish a foothold around the western end of the bridge. Charlie Company was given the mission of taking the Duarte. Bridge, which it did under heavy
enemy fire, thus becoming the first American unit to cross the bridge into the city of Santo Domingo. Our Company B and Company C (attached from 1st Bn, 505th Inf), followed behind Company C and fought on its right and left flanks respectively to secure a foothold on the western end of the bridge. Company A was given the mission of securing the Duarte Bridge and being the battalion, reserve and the cavalry element, was given the mission of securing the Villa Duarte area. By 1800 hours all assigned areas were secured and the battalion received only occasional harassing fire throughout the night.
   At 0900 hours on 1 May 1965 the Bn CO received an order to organize a task force to move across the city and link up with Marine elements there. The battalion reconnaissance platoon and the 1st platoon from Company C were organized into the link-up task force.
   The task force moved out immediately, and within minutes had neutralized the first heavily armed, enemy position where it suffered (1) KIA, the first man killed in combat in the 82d Airborne Division. since World War II. Despite sniper and automatic weapons fire received throughout the route, the task force was able to link up with the Marines at 1315 hours 1 May 1965.
   By 1115 hours on 2 May the entire battalion task force, minus Company A which had been detached to provide close in security for the Duarte Bridge, had been relieved in place and moved to San Isidro Airfield to provide security for the surrounding area. Rifle companies on the airfield perimeter conducted foot patrol in the early mornings and late afternoons with platoon outposts established to their front at night.
  Early on the morning of 3 May 1965, the 2d Bn 508th Inf commenced deployment by air to the Dominican Republic from its home station at Fort Bragg, its last elements closed into the DR during the wee small hours of the next morning and the battalion moved into an assembly area at the San Isidro Air Base.
   The next day, the battalion received its first combat mission. This mission was to secure the entire east bank of the Ozama River south of the Duarte Bridge and the bridge itself. Shortly after the battalion was in position to accomplish this mission, it received its baptism of fire from the rebels located across the river in the Ciudad Neuva section of Santo Domingo.
   Some of this fire was received from the superstructure of the ship, “Santo Domingo,” docked on the west bank of the Ozama River near its mouth. At first the battalion’s Reconnaissance Platoon returned this fire with small arms. Since this did not silence the fire [from] the ship, a 106mm recoilless rifle crew of the platoon, while exposed to automatic weapons fire from the ship, calmly and carefully aimed their weapon at the location on the ship where the fire was coming from and fired. One round was enough, and no further fire was received from that ship.
   During the four and one-half days spent on the east bank of the river, the battalion distributed food to the civilians in its vicinity and its Aid Station gave medical treatment to many of these civilians. It was here that the battalion’s Aid Station delivered its first baby; it was also while in this sector that the battalion received its first casualties. Fortunately, there were only two.
   The battalion moved into the main part of the city of Santo Domingo on 8 May to occupy and secure that part of the All American Expressway which included Checkpoints 1 and 2, Checkpoint 1 was the main check point for control of traffic into and out of the rebel held zone of the city and was in A Company’s sector. B Company controlled Checkpoint 2 which was opposite Checkpoint 1 on the north edge of the All American Expressway.

    During the time the battalion was in position in the city, it received fire daily from the rebel-held part of the city and returned this fire vigorously whenever it could be sure from where the rebel fire was coming. All the while the battalion was securing its sector of the city, the men of the battalion improved their positions and barriers and conducted house-to-house searches for weapons, ammunition and explosives.   The battalion was relieved of its mission in Santo Domingo on 21 May and moved out to Training Area B to get in some field training. After three days of training in the rain and mud of Training Area B, the battalion, less its B Company, moved to the vicinity of Boca Chica for three days R&R. During R&R, A Company discovered what spiny urchins were. While the rest of the battalion was enjoying a rest, B Company was guarding the logistical complex in the vicinity of Andres Bock.
   From R&R, the battalion moved to the vicinity of the town of Guerra and field training. While in the vicinity of Guerra, the personnel of the battalion were called upon for many details such as the “Rice Detail," guarding the Andres Dock, guarding a water point, the division CP, San Isidro Air Base and supervising the parachute jumps made by all units of the division, XVIII Abn Corps and even some members of the USMC.
   During the counter-guerilla training conducted by Headquarters, 1st Brigade, 82d Abn Div, the battalion provided C Company at first and then both B Company and C Company to play the part of guerillas against the 1st Bn, 504th Inf. This training was done in the mountains about 20 miles northwest of Santo Domingo. ---end page 95.
   Company A rejoined the battalion as the reserve company on 4 May A motorized patrol was conducted on 5 May by the Bn command group, the Bn Recon Platoon and Company A effecting coordination with the Dominican Armed Forces located at the International Airport 25 km east of Santo Domingo, It proceeded further east to Boca Chica, striking north for about 10 km and returning to the airfield by the northern route. Heliborne operations were conducted by the 3d platoon of Company E on 8 May and the 3d platoon of Company C on 9 May but no enemy contact was made. Also, on 9 May the battalion reconnaissance platoon escorted 120 American citizens from the Ambassador Hotel to San Isidro Airfield for evacuation from the Dominican Republic.
   Starting 9 May the battalion was relieved of that airfield security mission and became the Division Ready Force. It remained in this status until 0900 hours 11 May 1965 when it was ordered back to the east side of the Ozama River.
   While in this area from 11 May until 21 May 1965, the battalion received enemy fire on the average of about twenty times daily. On 13 May the battalion reconnaissance platoon was able to knock out a machine gun position with one 106mm RR round destroying the machine gun and killing four enemy soldiers.
   On 14 May Company B lifted a 106mm RR by helicopter to the roof of the nine-story flour mill. On that same day, heavy fire was received by the flour mill from an old fort located across the Ozama River. Return fire of nine 106mm RR rounds from the gun on the roof wreaked such havoc in killing enemy soldiers and destroying weapons and warehouses that for the remainder of the battalion's stay on the east bank no significant fire was again received. The battalion also participated in civil affairs during this period handing out foodstuffs to the local populace and treating 250- 500 civilians daily in the Bn medical aid stations.
   On 21 May this battalion again moved to the west side of the Ozama River taking up positions that it had first cleared on 1 May 1965. From 21 May until 3 June the personnel of the battalion improved their positions under sporadic enemy fire. On 4 Jane the battalion was given the additional mission of guarding the city pow- [sic, sentence ends prematurely]
   And so ambitious was a clean-up campaign on the part of Company A that the civilians presented a letter to York thanking him for the wonderful work his [men] had done.
   Food distribution and administrative inspections [were] quickly forgotten when, at 1030 hours 15 June the battalion got the order to attack south. Company A and C jumped off in the attack at 1100 hours, on 30 May 1965 Company C again bore the brunt of attack. Both companies immediately began hitting higher enemy resistance than ever encountered before but returned fire with such confidence and courage that within one hour and a half, the battalion front advanced from two blocks south of the Corridor [10?] blocks south. Company B, on order, had also attacked west securing two more blocks on the battalion [left?] flank under heavy enemy sniper and automatic weapons fire.
   By 1230 hours the entire battalion area was secure, orders were given to prepare defensive positions. [illegible] men wounded and maybe one [hundred?] more men [??] wounds. Twenty-seven men were also wounded in action daring those two days.
   The losses and wounds hurt, but far less than the rebels with 67 KIA and 59 WIA. The area had quieted down to normal harassing fire by 17 and 18 June despite increased rebel activity in the southernmost area of the city.
   1st Battalion, 508th Infantry was relieved in place and sent west of Santo Domingo to an area near the town of Jaina, June 19.
   And the job was done. Suffering six KlAs and 48 WIAs, 1st Bn., 508th Inf. was credited with 97 enemy KIAs, 76 WIAs, 181 POWs, 284 detainees, capturing 51 rifles, 12 pistols, 15 knives, 14 vehicles, 10 grenades, 2 caliber 50 MGs, 3 shotguns, 5 gas guns, 1 rocket launcher, I 20mm gun and an unknown amount of ammunition. It destroyed 3 caliber 50 MGs, 2 ARs, 8 rifles, 1 cal 30 MG and 4 warehouses, 2,000 civilians were evacuated through the lines. [end pages 24 and 25 of an unknown document --- ¬

Jumpmaster Note: The above text was received without proper attribution and its origins are unknown although an attempt was made to locate its original source, or perhaps sources, as two segments conclude with he words of "end pages ..." ad imply that they were extracted from a book.

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