Took first chopper ride
April 3 took first chopper ride. Operating on the beach, cold rainy (Taylor)
April 8, 1970
“26 took an RPG through the road wheels and hit a guy in a fox hole. DiSanto was TC, I was gunner, Jerry Beverage was loader, Chet Misa was the driver, and Tom The Gook was a passenger. Tom was medivaced with a bullet in the leg.”
John Sharpe wrote that an RPG hit A26. Photo of RPG hole on Track A26 The night was April 8, 1970. We had just set up our NDP north of Cua Viet. The area was flat and sandy. We put up our RPG screens and a bunch of claymores in front of each track. Guys also went out and put up trip flares 50 to 100 meters outside the perimeter. It was a moonless very dark night, and as night fell, our Lt, who I believe was Lt. Perrino, began calling in defcons on one side of the perimeter. He brought them in very close. I was in the middle of the perimeter manning the mortar track. It was hot and very muggy so about 5 of us were talking behind my track, ducking the shrapnel from the artillery. After the Lt was done on one side of the perimeter, he had the artillery dropped in on the opposite side. Shrapnel flew over our heads as we took cover behind track 29. Right after a round hit extremely close, one of the trip flares went off. One of the guys peeked around the PC and shouted,” Look at all those gooks!” I didn’t need to look as the five of us scrambled to our positions. I spun the mortar tube around and began firing charge 0 rounds. The whole perimeter opened up at that time. Smithy and Koontz joined me in dropping rounds. The tanks were firing, machine guns blasting and all of a sudden there was this bone-chilling scream. Gibbs, who was in a foxhole next to 26, took the shrapnel from the RPG. His arm was nearly blown off. Tom, the scout, was hit and also one of the other M60 gunners was hit. Sgt. D crawled over to my track and opened the door. I thought that we were goners because I believed that it was the NVA. He wanted me to fire some illumination rounds and I remember that I replied that illumination rounds don’t kill. He said OK and crawled away. After awhile a Medivac landed and we loaded the three wounded men. When the pilot took off, he caught our Concertina wire with his skid. Somehow Sgt. Hunter got the pilots attention and we got the wire unhooked. In the morning, we went out on foot patrol and found 7 dead NVA under our wire. They had bamboo sticks holding the wire up. One had an RPG launcher and some of them had satchel charges. We found another NVA further out. We were very lucky that night. That trip flare saved our asses. I believe that a guy named Ferguson set it out. Also, our Lt saved us by calling in those defcons so close.
I was the gunner on 26 that night and was on guard behind the fifty. We had a headquarters radar track to the right and Gibbs was in a foxhole to the left. That doesn’t say much for the radar. Most of the gooks were in front and to the right of me. I opened up with the fifty, but the rounds coming in were from the wire and not from the large amount of gooks farther out. They just took off. I think the sappers in the wire were going to open it up for the others farther out.
Before I could hardly fire, Sgt D pushed me down in the gunner’s seat and I cleared my sector with three canister rounds with Jerry Beverage loading. Sgt D emptied the fifty and went to check the perimeter while Tom the Gook and Chet Meesa loaded. Tom got shot in the leg. Gibbs scream was the most bone chilling sound I’ve ever heard in my life. That RPG burnt through the road wheels on the right side of 26 and out the left. To add to the confusion in the tank, our coax jammed a round in the chamber. Beverage unwrapped a new barrel, then bare handed the jammed barrel to the floor. It ignited the wrapping from the new barrel. I went back to the fifty while Jerry stomped the fire out. In retrospect that part was a little comical.
I don’t think we took a round in after a few minutes, but didn’t quit firing for a long time. I was soaking wet with sweat, but freezing cold. Go figure. The TC on the headquarters track had a week to go and in the midst of all this he yelled out “I’m too short for this shit!”
John Sharpe and Bob taylor write in the Hist. of the Cav that they were north of Cua Viet on April 8 1970 when A26 was hit with an RPG. Was this when the NVA had several hundred pounds of plastic explosive and a balloon type water mine with them. They had come within 25yds of the parimeter and dug fox holes? The guy who hit the trip flare was out several hundred yards with the mine gear and all that gook C4)
Jerry, that is the night. Lt Perrino was calling in the defcons when the guy tripped the flare.
The gooks hadn’t dug holes and I don’t remember water mines, but they had a shit load of plastic explosives. One guy had a snorkel.
That night NVA Naval sappers hit us. They were coming down to mine the river. The next morning we recovered 240 pounds of ChiCom TNT, pencil delay fuses and baskets with inflatable rubber tubes to float the mines. April 8 1970.
On the evening of 4-8-70 we in the Cav selected a position to set up our perimeter. This position was a few clicks north of Cua Viet. It was a flatpiece of terrain with white sand as far as one could see.
Our perimeter was set up in a 360-degree circle, just like the cowboys did with their covered wagons in the old western movies. Tanks were positioned a 12,5, and 7 o’clock. Next to each tank was a 113 PC and in the middle was our mortar track. For some unknown reason I had the troops dig foxholes in between each track which later proved to save our asses.
As the sun set in the west troopers visited with each other at their emplacements. Most likely talking about the day they would leave the Nam and return to the world.
Someone called in arty defcons that were landing so close one could hear the shrapnel whizzing over our heads as we ran for cover by our vehicles. I recall Sgt. Hunter making coffee for the troops and removing his boots to air out his feet.
Just as the last defcon was registered outside our perimeter I saw a trip wire go off approximately 100 to 200 meters to our west, and at that time I heard someone yell “god damn look at the fucking gooks.”
Every one ran for their foxholes and gun emplacements and at that moment every emplacement opened up with machine gun, rifle, and main gun fire spraying the areas to their immediate front.
As this all took place I heard a blood chilling scream as trooper Gibbs was hit by shrapnel from an RPG that hit the road wheel of A26 to his immediate right.
Now if you can believe this a captain in the rear with the fucking gear, most likely sipping some cold beer kept coming on the radio asking for a confirmed enemy body count. I got on the radio and told this son of a bitch to keep the net clear of traffic we need a medivac for our wounded,( which was Gibbs and little gook Tom).
Sgt. Hunter being the good trooper he was grabbed an M-16 and jumped over the concertina directly to our west where we had seen the trip flare go off to get a body count.
After a few seconds I jumped over the wire to assist Hunter. As he was coming back into the perimeter, he got his sock on his caught in the concertina wire.
As I covered Hunter I saw three fucking gooks off to my immediate right facing our perimeter with what later proved to be AK-47’s. At that split second I fired several bursts from my M-16 at the gooks, and could see the shirts on their backs rip as each round found it mark. (Mr. Rebbec this brings back memories of our little encounter).
Someone called in Puff who lit up our outer perimeter with cover fire I remember thinking no one can survive that gunfire. There were so many red tracers falling from the sky it looked like you could walk from the ground to the plane.
After puff finished the medivac came in to my left and hovered just off the ground as the wounded were loaded. As the chopper started to lift off the left skid got caught on the concertina wire preventing it from lifting off. Two or three of us pulled the wire off the skid, and as the chopper lifted off it turned on its searchlight lighting us up like a candle in the darkness.
After a while things for us started to settle down as a light fog started to settle in. I walked from position to position checking on the troops. As the sun rose in the east we could see seven dead NVA lying just outside our perimeter, they were so close it was frightening.
Some time later the Colonel flew out to our location and the Lt. asked me to select a trooper off each track to receive an award. I went to each track as requested and ask the troops to select the trooper they wanted decorated.
We then buried the 8 dead NVA and departed to Cua Viet.
Closing comments : a captain that I won’t mention his name told me prior to 4-8-70, “Sergeant, the war is over in Vietnam”
Where did he gather his Intel?
Troopers these are my memories of the Cav.
From Klinsky’s war dairy:
2nd platoon got in another firefight about 10PM. Body count, 8 NVA. Our worst, 1 messed up arm and a scouts broken leg. Same night, 1st platoon killed one of 2 gooks walking near their perimeter and also the perimeter here at Cua Viet had 2 exchanges with AK47s. We provided illum till 3AM.
From: Jerry Beverage
Subject: Heart attack
To: “Jerry Malan”
Date: Saturday, June 27, 2009, 8:35 AM
Just a note to let you know. Just got out of the hospital found out i had a heart attack sometime in the last few months. Didn’t know i had one no signs.. The Doctor said it was on the bottom part of the heart. Can’t do any thing for it because the tissue is dead. The heart doctor didn’t say what % was damaged. I am doing good now but still weak. I wanted you to be the first to know in case the Lord calls me home. The night of the fire fight on April 8th that 2nd Plt had i am the one that set out the trip flare the gook set off.Over by the bomb crater i was on 26 Sgt. Ds tank that night. Along with John Sharpe Chet Mesa, Sgt D. My tank 28 had got some bad fuel and was in base camp. Never told anyone i set the flare out that night that they tripped until now. Thought guys in 2nd Plt. would want to know.
41 hit 40lb mine. Rodgers got broken left foot, broken right ankle, a hole in his back, and a gash in his left leg requiring 120 stitches. Werner, sitting behind Rodgers had some internal injuries but was OK in a few weeks. TC & gunners OK.
I will be arriving Wednesday evening for the reunion. My cell is 401 354-5433. I received a letter – snail mail – today from an old trooper, Gerald Standridge. He’s looking for a sworn statement regarding a PC that hit a land mine. He lists several names of people on the track: Richard G Rogers, J. C. Hunt from KY, Gerald Ware from Atlanta, Carter Fuller from FL, If any of you can help him or know of any of these troopers please contact Gerals A. Standridge, 100 Peach Hill Dr., Jefferson, GA 30549. See you in Vegas LT Zero
That incident happened in April of 1970, about the time and near the location of your famous night firefight on the north side of the Cua Viet river. I was in 3 rd platoon, but had the great, good pleasure of being on an in-country R&R to Vung Tau when the track hit the mine. Total combat loss, and I know that Rogers was medevac-ed to CONUS, and later had a foot amputated from injuries received in the blast. Carter Fuller is a sometimes member of the Commo Net. According to the last roster that I have, Rogers & Ware are TNF status, there is an address for J.C. Hunt, though I don’t know how active he has been in the organization. Doc Lagnese probably treated the victims of that blast. I vaguely remember Standridge’s name, but don’t really recall anything about him. Perhaps he was medevac-ed too, and didn’t spend much time in the platoon. Long time ago, and that is one of the incidents that I recall hearing about, but did not witness. Jim Good
Brothers: I do recall that incident. The track that blew was in column right behind mine (40). I had just radioed our proposed NDP to troop and started to move to a slight rise on otherwise flat terrain. Cpt Smith and the Battalion S3 Air had also just called and said they were airborne in our area and were coming in to our position. Then the mine blew. When I turned to see what in the hell happened, their track was in the air, and landed on its side, and was on fire by the time I got to it. The guys on top were blown off ( thank God for the soft sand of Cua Viet). Rodgers was still in the drivers seat. We pulled him out and away from the now burning PC. Rounds were starting to cook off. Andy administered morphine to Rodgers. When Cpt Smith and the S3 Air landed in a LOH, I kind of remember Medevacing the wounded on their LOH. I have Standridge’s address and will write a letter to him confirming the incident. See you at FSB Vegas. ETA Thursday mid afternoon. Have a safe trip. Earl (40)
In the fight’s aftermath, some medals were handed out to 2nd Platoon.
April 11 returned to Quang Tri for R&R (Taylor)
Left Cua Viet for Quang Tri
23 Apr Pedro – (boo coo mine area)
Track 32 Call Sign 42 went over a brush-covered embankment – ass over teakettle – skidded down on their top. Can’t believe ….no injuries. (Click here for photos)
I don’t remember who was on the track, but apparently the gravity was especially strong in the area where it flipped. If I recall correctly, the sheridan that I was on had some sort of mechanical problem, (didn’t they always??), and our crew was in Quang Tri when this incident happened. I remember them bringing the track back to the motor pool, but don’t recall how seriously damaged that it was. It seems like no one was killed or seriously injured when it flipped, but somehow it seems that I recall that the driver was trapped in the driver’s hatch for a while. Given all the ammo and other stuff that we carried in APCs it must have been a real mess inside when it went over. The story I remember was that John Coble was the TC of the track and he ended up trapped. Sniper Tom, you may be onto something there. I remember Coble had one of his arm’s in a cast for a while. I can’t remember how he broke it, but it might have been from when this track flipped over.
As I remember that incident, the 40 track was behind Coble as we traversed down and across a slope covered with high grass. When the PC started to roll it was like watching it in slow motion. It rocked back and forth once or twice and then rolled completely over. The roll occurred because the right track went down into a hidden bomb crater. Coble’s leg was pinned to the ground by the 50 cal gun shield. I tried to get him unpinned but the damn track was still rocking slightly, keeping his leg pinned. I was concerned that the track may catch fire so I remember saying to him ” You’re coming out of there right now” . I grabbed him under the arms and pulled until he finally popped out from under the gun shield. We medivac’d him and he returned to the field in a couple of days. Nothing more serious than some bruises!
25 Apr Pedro
21 hit mine. 1 busted eardrum. CBL (combat loss) track.
26 Apr Pedro
62 hit small mine – no injuries.
April 27 Got back the 24th pulling bunker guard at Quang Tri (Taylor)
Sheridan and a pickup track (whatever THAT was) hit mines on the way back from a log run. 18 caught fire and driver, Sammons, slightly injured back.
**I think I remember this incident. Wasn’t this the one where the Sheridan & the M-548 (pickup track), and another vehicle, either a second Sheridan or an ACAV, were on the way back to Quang Tri from FB Shitty Smitty? The TC of the Sheridan thought of something he wanted to tell the CO, and had just initiated a call on the radio. Since the whole troop was in a perimeter, everyone was on the same frequency, and most of us heard the exchange. “6, this is XXX (I’ve forgotten his call sign)” XXX, this is 6, go ahead.” “6, this is XXX AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” [high pitchedscream] The TC of the other vehicle with them then excitedly keyed his mic and said “6, XXX just hit a big mine and blew up, they are on fire!” Turns out the Sheridan had hit a dud 155mm WP round, and burst it open. Scared the bejeezus out of the TC who had his radio keyed, and he screamed like a woman being raped. The other track could just see the flash and the cloud of smoke that engulfed the Sheridan. Scared the crap out of everyone for a minute, but as I recall, it really didn’t do much if any damage, and no one was hurt.
30 Apr 1970
Nixon announced that US troops have attacked Communist sanctuaries in Cambodia, following the overthrow of Prince Sihanouk by US-aided Lon Nol.