2nd Battalion in Vietnam
The 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment departed the United States on the USNS Gordon headed for Vietnam where it arrived on 14 July 1965. Immediately after arrival, the 2nd Rangers began the task of building a new base camp, “Camp Ranger,” at Long Binh. During the last week in August the 2nd Rangers started a series of small operations just across the river from Bien Hoa Air Base in an area infested with bunkers, booby traps, and tunnels. In the many operations that followed, the 2nd Rangers fought in some of the most difficult conditions known to an infantryman. The enemy had to be found before he could be destroyed and to find him the troops had to remain almost constantly in the field. “Search and destroy” missions such as those in operations MASTIFF, ABILENE, BIRMINGHAM, EL PASO, ATTLEBORO, CEDAR FALLS, and JUNCTION CITY found the unit operating as far as 70 miles from its base camp. In the thick, nearly impenetrable jungles of Tay Ninh near Cambodia, the “Iron Triangle” near Lai Khe, and northeast of Bia Gia towards the South China Sea, the “Rangers” inflicted heavy losses on enemy supplies and manpower.
Toward the end of 1966, the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry began a series of pacification or revolutionary development operations. During operations ALLENTOWN and FAIRFAX, the battalion inflicted significant losses among the local guerrillas in the provinces of Gia Dinh, Thu Duc, and Lai Thieu. In late February 1967, the 2nd Battalion was pulled out of LAM SON to join in Operation JUNCTION CITY. The 2nd Rangers’ own experience was conducting numerous, but fruitless, search and destroy sweeps near the Cambodian Border in an attempt to find the Central Office of South Vietnam (COSVN), the controlling headquarters for VC units in the III Tactical Zone.
During most of the rest of 1967, the battalion continued to conduct pacification efforts with 5th Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) Division partner units and conduct patrols, ambushes, and search and destroy missions near Ben Cat. The end of January 1968 saw the beginning of the infamous Tet Offensive, the VC effort to overrun and win the war in South Vietnam. Both battalions of the regiment were intimately involved in the US Army’s own counteroffensive operations during this period. By March, the VC effort was thoroughly defeated and the enemy had sustained over 45,000 KIA. Flush on the heels of Tet, the 2nd Rangers partook in Operations QUYET THANG and TOAN THANG. These were pacification operations designed to consolidate gains made during Tet.
Throughout 1969, the 2nd Rangers performed numerous and varied missions in support of the pacification campaign. In April it joined in Operation PLAINSFIELD WARRIOR in the “Trapezoid,” and in numerous search and destroy missions in June and July around Ben Cat and Lai Khe. Later in July the battalion was assigned the road security mission along a section of the highway to Song Be. The battalion remained engaged in that mission until September 1969 when it was transferred permanently to Lai Khe where it joined the 1st Battalion under the Big Red One’s 3rd Brigade, an assignment that held for the remainder of the war. The battalion’s work changed in early March 1970 when it was ordered to pack up its equipment and prepare to depart Vietnam.
The battalion’s colors and records were transported back to Fort Riley where it was reorganized as a mechanized infantry battalion in April 1970.