In front of us you could tell that the bank was deep enough to hide several people and it was my idea to pitch a grenade into this area before walking up to it. To this day I can see it ( one small tree between me and the creek bed ) yes that's right ! the grenade hit the tree and bounced straight back, it landed perhaps 20 ft in front, no problem, yell fire in the hole and hit the dirt. I guess the Enemy siting up on the ridge must have thought we were nuts. Anyway we proceeded through the creek bed and to our designation with the enemy.
Running along the base of this ridge was a old irrigation ditch, perhaps 3 ft deep, as I said before I wasn't leading my squad in a race to get to the top, by the time we reached the irrigation ditch we were in tall grass and could not see very far to the front or the rest of the Plt to the Left. Just as we were crossing the ditch heavy firing broke out to our left, it took no orders as my squad as one dove into the ditch, as we dove heavy fire broke out in front of us, and for those of you who have heard the snap of a bullet, you can imagine what it is like to have a whole ridge erupt in fire with you on the wrong end.
What saved my squad was they couldn't see us and they waited a split sec after the ambush was triggered to open fire, that plus the lay of the ground was that they couldn't get their fire down to just maybe 12 inches above the ditch. ( this gave us a small safe window to return heavy fire back up the ridge, even though we couldn't see them) My training as a Tanker came back " keep your fire down low" a ricochet will kill just as good as a straight shot plus it makes the enemy keep his head down.
Time seems to stand still in a sudden fire fight and it is hard to judge, but very soon my Plt Sgt came crawling down the ditch over the top of everybody, as he came to me he never stopped but as he went by, he said for me to take charge, everybody was dead in Recon , his RTO was dead and he was going for help, and that is the last any one in my Plt ever saw of him again. I Must admit that the thought entered my mind to shoot this yellow bastard my self.
Later we learnt that he never stopped running until he was back in the company area, about 2 miles away. He was transferred out that same day.
After Quinn left I was able to raise the CO and tell him what the situation was, I guess I was pretty excited as I remember the CO telling me to settle down, and that was all it took. Suddenly instead of a squad Ldr I was a Plt Sgt of my Plt and what ever was left of Recon. I had radio contact with the Recon RTO at that time, I told him to get what ever was left of his Plt back to the irrigation ditch and that I would be adjusting 105mm fire in as close as I could. ( Recon Plt had passed the ditch when ambushed ) a few minutes later when I tried to contact recon plt to
tell them art fire was one the way there was no contact. Later I was to learn that the young man was killed trying
to get what was left of recon back to the irrigation ditch.
I can remember walking the artillery fire at least 5 times down the length of the enemy held ridge, It might have been more. All this time we were under heavy fire, but in my squads area at least the enemy was firing blind. They knew where we were, it sounded like they had a hundred mgs up there, but in truth it was probly only 2 or 3. The young man who was carrying the squad M60 was found later to have 3rd degree burns on his left forearm from the heat of the mg barrel. Judging time by how long it took to adjust and walk the 105 fire where I wanted it, and by the fact that when
note# memory can often be wrong, I was always under the assumption that the indirect fire was 155 however the records say it was 105 ? whatever it was those guys knew what they were doing
the last chopper had taken out the last KIA, it had just got dark, we were pinned down some where between 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours.
For me the worst part was after the firing stopped and we had to carry our dead and wounded to a area where trees could be cleared enough to get a chopper in. This was a distance of perhaps 100 yds. I know that I pulled most of the ligaments in my back that day and to this day suffer from a bad back..I have to praise those unknown pilots that hauled the wounded and dead out. with nothing but a few machetes and some C4 we cut and blasted a small clearing for the choppers to get in, it was so small that the chopper blades were whacking tree limbs from the standing trees as they came straight down to the ground. These trees were tall mature rubber trees.
The next day one of the other companies went into this area, to determine just what we had tangled with. They found 97 bodies, ( reported I can not vouch for this, but perhaps a week later I led a patrol close to this area, the stink of dead body's was every where ) plus numerous blood trails where dead or wounded had been drug off. We had more or less stumbled right into what was later found to be a NVA BN Hqs, this would have been some where between 250-500 troops depending on how up to strength they were. For a two plt force we did as well as could be expected,
BUT if it was not for that extra radio my squad had BOTH plts would have been wiped out.
The following day there was a after action debriefing, which involved My company commander, the Bn commander, several Bn staff officers and some one star general who had flew in for the briefing. As a Sgt E5 I would not normally attend such a debriefing but as I was the new Plt Sgt and the only nco left from 2nd plt., I had to attend. Well when this General came in, all of us were introduced to him. Me the lowest ranking man there, the Gen looked right through me.( I was not there ) this was just fine with me. Well the debriefing is going on , the Bn Co is explain that we had apparently made contact with a North Viet Force, not VC, well I guess the briefing was about over cause the General takes over and he is telling us, that no, this was just a VC force. Like most Generals he was talking like his words were gospel, ( for those of you who have never been in combat I should explain, that afterwards those who survive are mentally not prepared to listen to no bull shit from any one) I was no exception. As this General is going on with his theories , with out thought I uttered my 1st words at this debriefing. BULL SHIT ! now I have always been the type to stick my foot in my mouth, but would argue with the devil himself. So I preceded to tell this stuffed shirt that who we had tangled with wore uniforms and helmets and were NOT VC. That broke up the meeting.
Nothing was ever said to me about this afterwards, I sorta thought that perhaps their were some at this meeting who would have like to said what I did?
# we had a brave helicopter pilot who twice hovered over our position and dumped out cases of ammo right on top of us. He couldn't see us because of the dense tree tops, but we had popped yellow smoke and where it went up through the trees that's where they threw the ammo out.
I guess now is as good as place as any to remind you who are reading this that, when it
Thanks to Carrie at Homestead, I was able to get this text on
these pages. Maybe when I get time I will finish the above
NEW INFO HAS CAME TO LIGHT ABOUT 11 JUNE JUST THIS YEAR (2016)
comes to putting my thoughts down I am a amateur. I have hand written notes from years ago to go by, but they keep bring back memories and I end up side tracked once again.
My impression of the country and its people, perhaps I should mention. Vietnam is a large country, ranging from swamps and rice paddies to rugged Mts and every thing in between. All in all it is a very beautiful country, if only the fighting and war could stop. Being from a family that had made a living from the woods I was quick to notice the standing forests
of Vietnam. Trees as big as our Redwoods, thousands of square miles of them.
The people in the cities and those near base camps were as the rule very friendly, Economics played a large part of this I am sure. The people in the small villages were either aloof or just plain did not want to see us any where near. It was common knowledge that when a village became too friendly to us, that their was a good chance, the village would be visited by the VC and all to often heads would roll. I feel that the average farmer wanted nothing but to be left alone, so that they could get on with their lives. A very hard working people who suffered many hardships. The People in the larger cities and around the base camps were of a different breed for the most part. While a lot of them were like the farmers a large percentage were either thieves or beggars and were the type if they could not beg or steal it, they would do with out. Plus a lot of them were info gathers for the VC.
22 March 1995, well thanks to this computer I am almost a 1/4 way through my hand written pages. Its almost that time of the year to get ready to move back up the lake. The snow is still ass deep to a short Indian but it won't be long now. Maybe I will finish this next year
10 Jan 1999. reading back through this I see a lot of ( I )s. Normally I'm very suspicious of any
who open their mouth and says I did this & I did that.
At the same token one lesson that I brought back from my war was
( if you don't blow your own horn, no one else will)
The VFW is publishing a 50th Anniversary book about the Vietnam War titled
of which this battle is included