Elements of 1/61 Mech infantry and 1/11 infantry are blasted to smithereens
Elements of 1/61 Mech infantry and 1/11 infantry are blasted to smithereens by artillery hidden in the hills that form the Bi Long Valley as they use the new road.
1st Platoon works at LZ Angel, LZ Pedro and LZ Mohawk, all in the AO that includes Nancy and LZ Sharon
From Coop’s War Diary:
01 Aug 69
Left Sharon at 11:00; we are back out in the same area we were in a few days ago. We have a 60mm mortar that Shue had traded a 46 for and out of eight rounds only one worked. Don’t know if was the tube or the rounds.
02 Aug 69
Changed location today, we did a few sweeps around 14:00 Ð 15:00 we ended up at the river to wash up. Went back to night location and J.B. set out a four-claymore ambush.
03 Aug 69
we are to head back into Sharon today. About 5 minutes from Sharon we get a call that 3rd platoon has been ambushed. We turn around and haul ass. 2nd platoon and the old man make it to 3rd platoon before we do, we are instructed to take up the right hand side of the cordon, on the way A13 breaks down and we hook up and tow him into place. 6 calls in air strike, then artillery, and then the Troop opened up. I fired 20 main gun rounds and 700 50 cal. (the 73 jammed). To this day, what happen next I can not explain. Out of all of this hell we were pouring down into this area one of the TROOPERS of 3rd platoon walks out . I do not his name and I have always wonder what happen to him. 3rd platoon had 5 troopers medivac’d that day. Before we fired, we were told everyone was out of the area only the enemy was down there. Spent the night on a hill overlooking the valley; J.B. took out a AP. Link to photograph of napalm burning after being dropped on ambush site referenced above.
I was with the 3rd Platoon that day, I was the PSG of 3rd at that time. we had one person med evac’d and one PC destroyed. We were headed back in when we got hit. The ambush was set for for 4 vehicles because 5 other vehicles come in from another direction, but all 9 come out the same way. The ambush was not long enough to get the whole platoon. The track that got hit was the platoon leader’s, which we did not have a LT at that time. Don Bunch
I was out with 1st Platoon that day. We were closer than the 2nd and took a position on some low hills overlooking the little valley where 3rd got hit. All the vehicles except the one had pulled out of the jungle. Saw the guy come out of the jungle with uniform smoking (an unbelievable sight), nearly got bombed by one of those Phantoms, and later saw what was left of the hit APC melted to a puddle of aluminum. McFadden was the LT, but as I recall he was away from the platoon picking up new funny money for C-day. That night we (1st) stayed on the hills. A large “manned ambush” was set out behind us composed mainly of FNG’s, really just to get them some experience being out away from the tracks at night. In the morning it was reported to me that everybody was asleep. You know who you are! (Not to worry, I don’t. Everybody was an FNG once, and never again!) LTF
we were just about at the gate at Sharon when 3rd platoon got hit, and got hit hard, and how to my utter dismay we had to turn around the head back to where we were just an hour ago! Worse, when we arrived we were being shot at by 3rd platoon! I’m sure it wasn’t the NVA because there were red tracers flying towards us! I remember just peering over the M60 shield at all the noise and moving greenery from the fight on the other side of those green jungle walls. Haw! Haw! If you see the jungle rocking, don’t come a-knocking. I didn’t see that 3rd platoon guy emerge from the jungle like you did. I guess I must have been looking the other way or my memory is erased. I do remember that the log run came in with cases of ice-cold apples so me & SS had us an apple feast while Phantom jets were dropping napalm between us & 3rd platoon. That’s when Groulx explained to me that the hot sucking wind was caused by the fire consuming all of the oxygen to our front in big bites. Then, I heard the funniest thing on the radio. Some sergeant who was leading a patrol in that thick jungle screamed for artillery support. When they asked for coordinates, he said, “Dammit, just fire, I’ll adjust” Sure enough, it took just 2 adjustments to get the fire on target. How lucky was that? Pineapple
John, good to hear you are still around. Don’t worry about things being foggy about Vietnam. Just a little while ago the ambush of 3rd Platoon in August of 1969 was mentioned and it’s amazing what came back to me about that day. My recollection was that we were at LZ Sharon then when 2nd Platoon received word that 3rd Platoon had been ambushed. We rushed out of Sharon and put up a blocking force on one side of the ambush site (though I’m sure the NVA were
long gone by then). I watched what was probably the first airstrike of my tour in Vietnam as jets bombed the area and then gunships strafed the area. Quite a sight for a 19 year old to see. Afterwards the platoon went down for a recon of the site. Saw the 3rd Platoon vehicle that had been hit. Either us or 1st Platoon booby-trapped the vehicle and we spent the night some distance from the ambush site. Next morning the booby-trap was still intact so obviously none of the “little people” returned. Anybody else out there from 2nd Platoon remember that day?
04 Aug 69
A Troop credited with 3 KIA, we had three men come up to our location to be medivac’d One had shrapnel in his foot, one had a M-16 round stuck in his back (didn’t go all the way in) and one had a blasting cap go off in his hand (if he hadn’t had a Bible in his left pocket it could have been much worse). We towed A13 back into Sharon. Later that night Reb and I help Mike back to his track.
05 Aug 69
LZ Sharon Still in Sharon, a couple of other units and a ARVN unit is out sweeping the area where 3rd platoon was hit.
The Night of the Ammo Dump
6 Aug 1969
The ammo dump went up in Late August, I believe. I was CO of A/1-77 at the time and we were in a night position several miles northwest of LZ Nancy when it happened. Initially I thought NVA had infiltrated the camp and we were preparing to move back towards LZ Nancy in case there was an attack. I was told by the battalion operations officer that when the mortar platoon was pulling charges off the rounds or was disposing of some charges that had been pulled off that they used an improper procedure, started a flash fire that spread to other charges and so on until most of the dump went up.
06 Aug 69
07:00 towing A18 down to the 75th (after 5 or 6 six stops nobody seems to know anything about it) for repairs. On the way back to LZ Nancy, A14 and A15 break down. About 24:00 a short round from4 duce mortar set off an ammo dump. You could see flames and explosives from all over Nancy; it also touches off riot gas. They had to medivac 5 people, 1 dead and 2 missing.
In August of 1969 the ammo dump went up at LZ Nancy. I can remember the incident because a bunch of CS gas went up. I had just gone to bed after a night at the club when the thing went up. No one could find their gas masks so we had to cover our faces with whatever we could find. Does anyone remember the incident?
August 6, 1969
From: John Olney “Okie”
What happen to A18 was we were crossing a river that had a steep bank on it. We had a new driver and he didn’t hit it fast enough and the tank stalled on the way up. We got about 4 or 5 miles and all of a sudden a big puff of white smoke and the power pack froze up. The reason I remember is I was the skinniest and had to crawl in and unhook the sprocket. I also got a little R&R out of it, because I got to stay at the 75th and help them put the new power pack in.
I sure as hell remember that incident ’cause I thought I was going to gag and or suffocaten to death. I was concerned especially for the guys in 2nd platoon because I think the last time any of us thought about using a gas mask was in basic or at Ft. Carson. Seem’s like we had pulled into Nancy for refuelling and to change out an engine pack or maybe it was only to check the drive axles, 3rd echelon stuff, but I remember squatting down beside the 27 track and Turtle or somebody telling me to wet a tee shirt and breathe through that. Fortunately, the wind blew the AO clear after what seemed like forever, but in reality was probably only 3-4 minutes. That’s the way I remember it, ‘course a lot of gin has flowed over the transom since then.
Bob Taylor same night those motormen put a short round in the ammo dump!!!!!! Ever been pukey drunk when the tear gas was so thick you couldn’t see 10 feet? Lots of fun!)
Ya, I was at Nancy when our side put a ‘short round’ in the ammo dump. THAT was totally miserable!!! Very new in country and I had just recently been introduced to “Beauford the Skull”.(You guys remember Beauford don’t you?) Crawling through CS gas, so thick you couldn’t see to get to the tracks and our gas masks, was no fun!!!! Puking all the way. We thought we were being over run. When I found out what happened I couldn’t decide to kiss the mortar man (no VC) or shoot him.
Remember it clearly. Was in my bunk in the commo hootch and the Commo Sgt. came in and woke us up the CS wasn’t bothering us while we were in the hootch but once we went out side it hit you like a ton of bricks. I think I would have rather spent the time in the hootch asleep instead of being out in that stuff.
Take care, Keith
Hey I remember that night and your right I don’t think many of us in 2nd plat had a mask, I ran outside and headed towards the guard bunker thats the last place i remember seeing a mask, on the way i almost fell into a smouldering shit can and even that smelled better than that dam CS.
I remember that night the ammo dump went up especially since I was one of the few guys (and there were only a few of us) that had a gas mask available and believe me, I used it. A lot of guys suffered that night although for a fairly brief time.
Kim aka Turtle
And I remember sleeping through the night the Ammo bunker blew up at Nancy then awakening to find myself alone in the reception barracks stinging from all the CS Gas and smelling of gunpowder. I remember wondering, where is everyone at, and looking over to see the bunk next to mine with a big shrapnel hole where Mike Davis’s head should have been. He had jumped in the bunker earlier in the night and they couldn’t wake me, evidently I wasn’t in any shape to be woken. They had concern for their own lives. I’d a done the same! That should have been the end of little ‘ole’ me. Ask ‘ole’ Mike about it I’m sure he’ll get a kick when he remembers. But I guess all the planets aligned and the Moon was in Aquarius and I was spared to live another day. Their ain ‘t no sense to it. [Bill Dodds]
In August of 69 I was the platoon leader of the Scout Platoon 1/77 Armor. On that fateful night, we were ordered to proceed from LZ Nancy to reinforce B Company 1/77 which was in contact with an enemy force of unknown size. The mortar platoon was firing illumination rounds so we could link up with B Co. as quickly as possible. All the way out I was unsuccessfully trying to raise the B Company Commander on the radio so that we could link up and not blow each other away in the process. When we finally did link up the contact had been broken, so the Capt. called me over to his tank to find out why we had been unable to communicate. At the time we were issued radio frequency books which gave the frequencies for all the units in the Brigade. The frequencies were changed on a regular basis and when that happened, new books were issued. Well, naturallly, the books had just been changed and I had forgotten to bring the new one, still had the old one.As the Capt was chewing the last little bit of my ass that was left, we heard a tremendous explosion. We turned and saw a series of explosions in the middle of LZ Nancy. We were sure Nancy was under attack and immediately radioed back that we were prepared to come back and do whatever was needed. We were told that there was no attack, and not to return to Nancy until the next day. The explosions had successfully interrupted my ass chewing and I managed to avoid the Capt. for the rest of the night. The next day we both went our separate ways. Fast forward now to November 69. The Troop has a new CO and he wants to meet his platoon leaders. He looks at me…”Don’t I know you?” You guessed it. The Troop’s new CO is the former CO of B Company, 1/77,Capt. Matt Spruill. You can imagine how thrilled he was when he remembered where we had met before. Turned out to be the best CO I ever had. LT Styles
An Eye-witness account of the Ammo Dump Incident with photos!
LZ Nancy, 6 August, 1969. In reference to several mentions of the ammo dump blowing up and as I in the 4.2″ mortar platoon at the time, some clarification of that night should be made available.
We were firing illumination rounds for our FO that was out on an ambush with the 1/77 Scouts and we had overheated the #1 gun so we cranked up #2 and started hauling ammo over to the Gun#2 bunker. After about 30 minutes of constant firing, that tube was GLOWING hot and a piece of the “cheese pack” charge wafted out of the tube landed just inside the bunker door. Normally, a poncho would be covering the opening but with ammo going in and out at such a pace, it was folded over the top of the bunker. Anyway, the guys setting the charges were just dropping the leftover cheese packs on the floor of the bunker and when that burning charge landed on that pile, dat’s all folks. We didn’t even try to stop the conflagaration…we didi maoed outta there. I headed back toward the hootches and dove into a slit trench between them and the shower (which took a 4.2 round thru one of the 55 gallon drums). Ammo was blowing up inside the #2 bunker and was sending rounds flying thru the air everywhere. One of the rounds landed on the roof of the hootch next to me it, rolled off and nailed me in the back. It must have been only a few minutes later when another round landed in the trench that we used as our main dump because when those rounds went off, the CS went off too. Lucky for me, Lt. Jesse Silva came looking for us guys that were unaccounted for and he told me to get over to the Seabee’s area. What a fireworks show it was that night. I have recently found out that a couple of Seabees that had driven a water buffalo over to the #2 bunker in an effort to put out the fire were killed when the HQ42 track exploded with a full load of ammo. My platoon wasn’t allowed back in the area till later the next morning, just in time for the 8″ers to open up on the other side of the ridge. The “definitive” pucker factor. Just walking around the gun pit area kicked up the dust that was soaked in CS powder.
Memory by: Tom Loehr
from Taylor’s letter home:)
Aug 10 – 13 LZ Nancy, 4.2 inch mortars got hit, we used our three mortars to help them. The troop’s mortarmen stayed behind at Nancy while the rest of the Cav went to C2. Second platoon got 8 kills while acting as a blocking force. Us mortarmen eventually joined back up with the Cav.
From Coop’s War Diary:
07 Aug 69
LZ Nancy The ammo dump is still burning; 4 mortar tracks and 2 or 3 other tracks that were next to the ammo dump are toast. Talked to TOP about getting out of the field, should be the new training NCO next month.
08 Aug 69
LZ Nancy Mounted AP tonight, men on second guard thought they heard something and fired a 79 round & M-16. Turned on the searchlight didn’t see anything.
09 Aug 69
LZ Nancy A11 ran out of fuel on the way back in; we towed them in. Towed A91 into the motor pool. Went to USO show ( NO BOB HOPE)
10 Aug 69
04:30 going out past Jane this morning, will sit up as blocking force for grunts who will be sweeping the area. A13 threw a track on the way, took a couple of hours for A13 to be back on the road. A16 throws a track next; finally we make it to our AO. Set up, put out claymores and wire; J.B. put out three claymore ambushes.
Aug 10 –13 LZ Nancy, 4.2 inch mortars got hit, we used our three mortars to help them. The troop’s mortarmen stayed behind at Nancy while the rest of the Cav went to C2. Second platoon got 8 kills while acting as a blocking force. Us mortarmen eventually joined back up with the Cav. (Taylor)
11 Aug 69
A10 and I made a log run to 6’s location, on the way back one of J.B. ambushes was set off. The rest of the platoon cut loose into the area. Once we made it back to the platoon we turned around with A10 & A13 and returned to the ambush location and shoot the hell out the area before the guys dismounted to sweep the area. 1 KIA NVA and 2 RPG’s. They threw the dead NVA on our Tank deck (his face was blown away, both legs were broke and his body was like one big bowl of JELLO the poncho he was wrapped was soaked with blood). Artillery was called in so close that one guy on my tank was hit. I fired 10 main gun rounds and 300 50 cal.
12 Aug 69
LZ Nancy Return to Nancy today, getting ready to head out to C-2 around Cam Lo (a lot of mines in that area)
13 Aug 69
06:00 loading up (wire, 79 ammo, water and a few other items) 10:00 left Nancy went to C-2 then on to A-4. The OLD MAN just finished giving us all a pep talk: C 1/77 had 4 killed, 9 wounded and hit 10 mines. Those kinds of pep talks I could do without. I would say we are a couple clicks south of the DMZ; a chopper just killed 2 NVA (been there done it brought the T-shirt took the pictures all before)
Aug 23 Troop at A4, I was on 25 as gunner, puff came in one night and put on a show for us. (Taylor)
24 Aug 69
We found 15 NVA bodies in various stages of decomposition. It was very, very hot and humid that day.
Aug 29 Alpha 4, gunner on 25, hit a mine and assigned to a tank, 3 APCs lost to mines. CO’s pc hit one also a couple of days earlier (Taylor)
Aug 31 Troop at Hill 100, moved to Mother’s Ridge where 25 hit the mine. Assigned to 27, got stuck, gooks dropped 2 mortar rounds close to troop.
Troop responded and got 2 kills and 3 prisoners. Dragged raced CO’s APC from C2 back to A4. Still on 27. We won (Taylor)
Hey there Fearless Leader,
Do you remember the incident when you guys encountered gooks?, Captain Robinson kicked one of them and forced him to surrendered, while that was going on one of them ran up to one of the tracks, Big Daddy shot him point blank. I was not in country yet, but no one has mentioned yet.
Wally, I’m pretty sure I remember this we were up around the Z and the whole Troop was together ” one of the few times we were all together” we were casually going about our business when we started taking on Mortar Rounds the second platoon. and third platoon went to the left and right and first platoon went down in the draw where the rounds were coming from I was on a small hill and I could see these two NVA laying in a ditch the first platoon was getting close to them when all of a sudden they jumped up like rabbits and one ran straight for a personnel carrier. Whoever who was on the 60 started nailing him but he just kept coming finally he went down and the other was KIA also the reason I remember this so well is that some big brass wanted to come out and see the Dead NVA so we put the two dead on my tank and brought them up the hill to where the chopper was going to land. We put the bodies on the ground and after the big brass left Sgt. D was the lead tank and I was following 26 went down into a deep gully and up the other side I went into the gully and hit a mine I was in the same tracks as 26 never understood that. The mine really messed 28 up blew a couple sets of road wheels off and ruptured the fuel tank on that side. we got the Tank back to Nancy but it took a long time for repairs during the time we were down for repairs is when the incident happened where Sgt. D drove the burning tank out the tank he drove out was 27 not 28 he was also wounded and sent to Japan for about 3 months in this maylay (sic) .I forget the platoon sergeant’s name that was over the 2nd platoon while Sgt D was gone but I know we were at Cua-Viet most of the time he was there and we had to go on a lot of ambush patrols on foot being tankers we didn’t like that too much maybe this is the incident you are talking about.
I have a notation on my short-timer’s calendar that this contact occurred on 30 August 69. We were indeed casually going about our business, in thiscase Troop-in-line test-firing all our weapons into the DMZ, Six Robinson commanding. Scared the heck out of an NVA squad doing forward observing for arty across the Z. They mistakenly thought we had detected them. What appeared at first to be mortar fire were the explosions of a couple of command-detonated chicom mines attached to trees, attempting to sweep the crew off some of our tanks. Don’t remember who was closest. The squad attempted to evade by going down a valley stretching into the Z. Six decided hot pursuit was justified. 2nd and 3rd platoons went along the sides of the valley pouring in fire, 1st platoon was at the head of the valley, and an artillery spotter flew overhead. The spotter could occasionally see an unknown number of NVA moving toward safety through the trees. Since 1st plt was the only one in position to go into the valley, I requested permission for the 1st to pursue and pin them down. Hell, that’s definitely one thing Cavalry is FOR. Six finally said do it (although to be honest, he later said there was a misunderstanding in all the radio cross-talk and he had not meant to) and away we went.
We did run them down and trap them, a couple in a patch of woods and 3 in a large shell crater adjacent to the woods. Turns out there were only 5 total, 2 killed, 3 captured including the squad leader, who Intelligence later said had a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. The guy was no dummy, he did not panic, he waited until the right time to calmly surrender. But one of his guys started a rush across the crater toward the 10 track at the edge with a chicom grenade in hand. Big Daddy Trimble on his 60 nailed him, depressing the barrel so far down that he chipped the corner of the APC deck. At the same time I hit him with a .45, he was really close. Pretty fatal without that extra lead. How the other NVA got killed is a story which I suspect I remember differently from other Troopers’ versions. The wounded guy in the woods took a bad hit through the leg from a .50 round. The other captured guy was unharmed physically, but literally paralyzed with fear. He stood frozen against a crater wall, petrified and unresponsive right under the front of 10 where we couldn’t even see him until we came around the crater from the far side. He had just seen his buddy shot to hell in front of him, and truly believed as told that we would skin captured NVA alive (so reported Intelligence later). I heard he didn’t come out of his trance-like state until the next day when he suddenly started screaming like crazy.
The other notable aspects of the 1st’s foray into the valley I’d rather hear from somebody else so I don’t sound too self-serving, and the details of the squad leader’s surrender to Six Robinson I could mention later. But that sure was a good day for the Cav, as the forward observation team was put out of action and whatever smoke they were bringing on the AO was at least temporarily interrupted.
From: jerry malan
Date: Wednesday, July 16, 2003 6:45:29 AM
To: George Gersaba
Cc: Bob Barrows
Subject: Cav History Aug 30 1969
George, Have been reading the history. You are doing a great job. Thought I would give you a bit more detail on the events listed as occuring on 30 Aug 69. The troop was togeather that day with 1st platoon in the lead and Barrows tank at the head of 1st platoon.Ê We were approching a ridge line at a 90 degree angle and encountered a soft muddy area some 500 meters away from the ridge. The tank began to sink and we reversed and backed out of it before we got stuck.Ê We moved to our left aprox 500 meters where the ground was solid and turned right to head towards the ridge line again. Shortly after we had made this turn several explosions went off on the top of the ridge line at about the same area where we had encountered the mud.Ê Barky was in the area and spotted some NVA in a valley on the other side of the ridge line. The entire troop pulled up on the ridge inline and proceeded to open up on the valley. W! e emptied the turret of 90mm ammo during that time and had to move the gun tube to the rear to reload the turret ready racks from the 2 racks on either side of the driver. The 1st platton then proceeded to sweep the valley and 2nd and 3rd platoons kept their positions on the ridge line. The tanks were some 30 meters in front of the APCs during this sweep. Dodds had been assigned to our tank as noÊtankers were available as replacemnts and was loading that day. I don’t think he had been with us long and am sure this was his first combat experience on an M48 tank.Ê The valley had some heavy bamboo and underbrush as it was very difficult to see anything but brush thru the tank sights. Some one was on one of the radios saying we were about right on top of them and I still couldn’t see anything thru the sights on the tank. Vision or not I decided to fire the area up and cut loose with a canister round and told Dodds to reload canister while I s! prayed the area with .30 cal coax fire. I expected Dodds to say “up” when the cannon was reloaded and he was clear but didn’t hear anything from him so I finally looked over and the turret was empty. I tapped Barrows on his leg and ask him where Dodds was and he said “on the back deck”. I told Barrows to tell him to get back down inside which he did. A few minutes later Barrows said he wouldn’t get back in the Tank. So I reloaded the 90mm and sprayed a little more coax and since I couldn’t see anything I got out of the turret and grabbed an M16 and sat up on the loaders hatch. I hadn’t been there very long when the NVA fellow appeared in front of us and Sgt Barrows sprayed him with the .50cal and he went down. The CO said that higher up needed prisoners and if the NVA was alive we should take him prisoner. We pulled the tank up beside this guy and could see he was hit in the leg but he also had his hands under his chest as if he migh! t have had a grenade so we decided to let him leak a little more before we called Doc up to look at him. We were about 30 meters in front of Lt Fs APC so he was to our rear and right.Ê There was a bomb crater in between his track and our tank. Sgt Barrows had his .45 pistol in a holster under his .50cal and I saw him reach for it. I didn’t know what he had seen but knew the shit was close to hitting the fan if he was getting his pistol. I watched him pull the pistol and as he moved it to our rear I followed him with the muzzle of the M-16.Ê There was an NVA crawling up out of the bomb crater right in front of the Lts APC maybe 20 feet away from and the APC. The Lt was dismounted with his .45 pistol in hand. (Beginning to sound like the wild west?) In between the crater and the APC. Barrows popped the guy in the upper chest with the .45 and almost at the same instant I sprayed him with the M16.Ê He was not taken POW but the wounded one was.Ê Barrows got a wristwatch marked made in Moscow off one of the guys which I later lost. We also got a brand new AK47 which still had the factory grease on it and appeared to have never been fired. They choppered the wounded fellow out and patched him up. I understand he spilled his guts and they flew him back out the next dayÊwhen he showed our guys where they had stayed ect.Ê Word was that he told them when his unit was resupplied and one of our units set up an ambush for them and had some sucess. I felt for poor Dodds. The turret of a tank is bad enough looking out the gunners view but the poor loader has no view at all and it really wasn’t fair to put him in that position without the benifet of some training. I don’t recall any other NVA KIA or taken prisoner but that may have happened elsewhere where I didn’t see it.
Sgt Barrows shot the NVA guy twice in the leg with the .50 cal and 6 wanted him taken as a prisoner. While waiting for the medic another NVA came up out of a bomb crater between our tank an LT Fs’ APC. Sgt B shot him with his .45 pistol and I sprayed him with M-16 fire. I’m pretty sure he never crested the edge of the bomb crater where the APC could see him…ask Sgt B. Jerry
This is my memory of the incident of August 69 on the DMZ: Peter Rabbit was TC; I can’t remember now who the driver was or who was the left m60 gunner; Doc Parker was on the track with us and I was the m60 gunner on the right. Over the radio came a message that we were heading into a horseshoe shaped ambush-this message came from a spotter plane. While this was going on, headquarters and 2nd platoon came up on the left flank, while 3rd platoon came up on the right. 1st platoon went up the middle and as we were closing in on the enemy, the barkey spotted the nva crossing back over the dmz into north vietnam; as they were moving, we were notified that the enemy was carrying some kind of “boxes”; therefore, 6 wanted to know what was in those boxes. As we moved on up into a little valley we took on fire, so we proceeded to fire back. 50 cal. and 60 cal. were firing. I fired 100-200 rounds through it, then I gave it to Doc Parker and as he was firing, I looked to my right and there was a Sgt on a tank that was trying to fire his m50 machine gun which would not fire but one round at the time; it seemed that his timing was off; it appeared that he was getting exhausted from chambering one round at the time. Being frustrated he grabbed the m79, loaded it and it went off before he could get it completely raised; the round went off directly in front of the tank. Peter Rabbit got word that there was some wounded on the left and he saw nva go into a bomb crater. As this happened, I decided to dismount, as being an infantry soldier I felt like I could do more on the ground than where I was at. As I dismounted, PR told me to get back on the track and I told him to Kiss My A– and that I was sick of this Sh–!! Doc Parker dismounted behind the track for cover and I asked him did he want me to go with him, but he said no; so I proceeded around the right firing my m16 over the crater and closed in on the position and as I approached one side of the crater, a guy from another platoon came up at the same time from another angle. There was a young looking nva soldier holding a grenade in one hand; as the other guy told him in vietnamese to surrender; my first thought as he released the grenade, was is the pin released!? Fortunately, it wasn’t. As I held my weapon on him, the other guy tied him up with his belt; there was one dead nva soldier in a hole in the crater.
As others from the different platoons came up I remember Capt. Robinson came up holding his 45 and he looked around at me and said that I was in uniform; I suppose because I had my flack jacket and helmet on. Since he knew the top brass was on the way (and I was in uniform) he handed me his 45 and took my m16 and told me to take in the wounded prisoner; and to shoot him if he gave me any trouble. They loaded the prisoner on the Loach helicopter and as we were flying tree top level I was holding the 45 upright; the pilot looked around and told me to point it out the door! So I did. When I returned, the guy who tied up the prisoner, was pissed with me because he kept saying that I had stole his helicopter ride (well, he should have been in uniform!) I returned the 45 to the captain and he gave me back my m16 and we searched for the “boxes”, but found nothing. We loaded up the dead nva, and carried them “somewhere”; then “they” decided to bring them back; we threw them off and some of the guys took their 4/12 cav patches and laid them on the chests of the dead and also left the Ace of Diamond playing card to let the enemy know we had been there. This is how I remember it.
Jerry I received your E about Birth Control, but, there was nothing on it. Have you seen the way they are describing what happened the day we captured the NVA Trooper and nailed the other two! If they did all the shooting and capturing, I wonder how we ended up with the watch and I got my new AK 47? Some are saying it happened in Aug before I got in country and some say it happened later in the fall. I know I reenlisted in October and got a 30-day reenlistment leave that I had to make up before I left Nam!! I think that may be the time you got to go to the rear till I got back cause when the original A17 got broken and we got the replacement “Stoned One” (You picked the name!) It was only 12 days before we hit the next mine as pictured in our collection of pictures. I hit that dude in the thigh with the .50 Cal. I hope I didn’t ruin his Love Life!! Well I’m out of here, Regards to You and Debbie I’m Gone
My platoon was in the field with the rest of the troop near the DMZ. At one point 1 st platoon (my platoon) started up a scrubby brushy hillside, when we experienced two explosions. At the time we thought they were mortar rounds. We found out later they were, Chi/Com anti-personal mines.
At this point, I had been assigned to tank 1-6 I believe they were short 1 crew member.
When we heard the explosions go off very close by, we all climbed inside and buttoned up, and began advancing being guided by a F.O. flying above in a Cessna. Command had instructed 2 nd and 3 rd platoon to block and 1 st was to advance up the middle and engage the enemy. As we advanced we came to a knoll or high point and command ordered us to recon with fire. At this point I must mention that I was trained 11-B Infantry, and knew little of the operation of a tank. Jerry Malan a regular tanker on 1-6 had graduated tanker school, as well as TC. Sgt. Barrows, and had lots of experience firing etc. I asked Jerry where he wanted me, he in turn asked me if I wanted to fire and he would load, as Sgt. Barrows had an over ride to correct any wrong targeting I might have. I slid behind the breach and into the gunners seat, and began looking through the gunners sights. I could see the brush around the tank and the crater marked landscape ahead in the ! kill zone but I could not identify any enemy troops. So, I began firing H.E.-Rounds into the bomb craters in the distance, firing between 15 and 25 rounds total. At one point Jerry had to stop loading, to clear the empty casings from the turret.
Command ordered a cease fire and I believe we took time to refreshed the ready rack. Then the F.O. (code named Barkie) had just observed the enemy on the move ahead of our position, and near to the left flank of our platoon formation. Since Our tank was on the left flank
I took this time to speak with Malan and told him that, I was not comfortable with firing the 90MM and wanted to load as I felt he could probably do a better job engaging enemy targets being a tanker and all.
We switched and I helped throw out the last of the empty casings. Malan slid into the gunners seat and I loaded for him. Command ordered us to advance on the enemy, and we began creeping forward as per F.O.’s directions.
The vehicle I was in was 1-6 the left flank tank in our platoon sized online sweep formation. The PC next to us on our right was 1-1 ? not sure of number but the T.C. was Peter Rabbit, Jimmy Mann drove and I think Duffy was left gunner possibly Mike Davis Right gun.
Next P.C. over may have been LT Canda’s command track.
I could hear F.O. talking us toward the bomb crater he thought the enemy had concealed it’s self. We crept forward and at one point I heard F.O. shout excitedly over our CBC head sets, “Left flank tank stop, your about to run over them, Their in a bomb crater to your right front” (or words to that effect). I could hear Sgt. Barrows firing his 50-CAL and observed he seemed to be having trouble with it. At this point I decided to join him topside for 3 reasons, #1 I felt that firing the main gun was futile at this point being’s as F.O. had said we were right on top of the enemy. Being an Infantryman 11-B, I was not sure of how close the 90MM could be fired, #2 From what I heard above I thought Sgt. Barrows could use some help above, as per our close range with the enemy. I felt that Malan could stay inside and fire the Co-Ax 7.62’s, without my help. #3 has to do with a warning we had received several days prior to this engagement. It was reciently rummored that the NVA had ! a new weapon in their arsenal. A small shaped charge, fitted with a tiny parachute attached to its finned tail. This they would use in close combat with armor. It was to be throne from a concealed position by ground troops over the top of a US Tank or PC, where it would be effective against the thinnest armor on the vehicle. The tiny parachute would deploy and it would come down nose first upon the top of it’s intended target. When the nose struck, It would detonate the shape charge that would blow a small hole through the armor and then explode inside.
I did not intend to find out how effective it would be. I left the turret after yelling to Malan that I was going Up top.
Upon emerging from the loaders hatch, I ran immediately to the bussle rack and found my personnel weapon M-16. I locked and loaded, then swung around, and walked forward on the deck of the tank, where I observed Sgt. Barrows trying to fire his 50CAL, Single shot at a time, toward target on the right front side of the tank Opposite me. I flipped the safety off my 16. Just at that moment I saw a flick/movement directly in front of the tank and closed my 16’s sights on and enemy NVA obviously trying to flee the area. His AK-47 was in the present arms position in front of him and he turned to look at me. I fired at him on semi auto until the magazine was empty. To be sure, I didn’t see a round hit him, however I was convinced that I had hit him, due mainly to his actions when I fired at him. He didn’t return fire rather He Immediately turned back and hit the ground and began part crawling and part pulling his self out of my field of vision, under the right track and fender of! the tank. I was terrified and when I squeezed off those rounds tears came to my eyes and clouded my vision. I then leaned against the turret, reloaded and reconed the area to the left of Sgt. Barrows. There was a lot of firing that continued for several minutes before cease fire was finally called. I could hear Peter Rabbits track firing and their was much yelling back and forth between Barrows and I think LT Canda and or Duffy or PR. It wasn’t at real clear to anyone where anyone else was and where the enemy was. When the firing stopped and cease fire was called I shouted that I was going to dismount and did, walking, creeping in front of the tank and coming over to the right of it. Where I observed the enemy NVA I had shot trying to hide under a small dead tree branch. I watched him for aprox 1-2 minutes then grabbed some como wire from the side of 1-6 and tied it to one of his legs. I stepped back to the rear of 1-6 and began to pull his body from under the tree branch.! When I was sure he was not booby-trapped I went over and claimed his AK-47 as a trophy of war, along with his wrist watch and his medicine kit and his note pad. I put those items in my personal container on board 1-6 except for the note pad, which I gave to command for investigation. I Believe Captain Sprull was our commander at that time. [Actually it was Captain Robinson]It was known that one of several enemy engaged that day survived. I am unsure weather the one I shot, survived or not for sure but it was my understanding and my fervent hope, that he was wrapped up and sent to K-2 for interrogation upon wince he received good treatment.
He was, shot twice in the knee, the same knee I believe.
That night I slept fitfully if at all, and the next morning ‘I believe’, Captain Spruell [Captain Robinson] came over to our track and verbally commended me personally, for my duty in that skirmish.
After reading others accounts of this same incident I find that some saw it unfold differently. This is fine. I don’t wish to argue with them, or to discredit them. That is for them to judge. But as for me, this is the way I remember it. I take no pleasure in believing that I shot the man I saw running in front of me.
On many other occasions I fired at the enemy who were concealed or hidden, however on this particular occasion I observed the whole thing at close range in Technicolor with Dolby stereo complete with blood and special effects.
It is entirely possible that Sargent Barrows shot him after he turned and scrambled out of my vision, indeed he went over to Sarg’s side.
It’s also entirely possible that fire from Peter Rabbits track felled him.
I only know the effect it had on me, believing in my heart that I had shot this man. To shoot at muzzle flashes or fire at enemy troops hundreds of yards away, or just to recon with fire is one thing, but to look into the eyes of a person your trying to kill is quite another.
It hasn’t been a pleasant experience for me for I grow tired of remembering and wondering if this poor unfortunate rice farmer lived or died and weather he had loved ones who mourned his loss. I still remember to this day the look of fear on his face, as we faced off to each other, and the feelings I felt as I squeezed off those rounds from my perch on the deck of 1-6 that day. Had I spoken his language, perhaps I could have spared his life. Perhaps he was ready to surrender? I cannot say.
I’d be glad to let others claim this incident. I don’t seek any glory nor do I believe killing and maiming others will yeald it.
Later I took the AK back to the troop area at LZ Sharon and turned it over to the NCO Club for safe keeping. They hung it on the wall behind the bar. The other items I took and put in my footlocker in my hooch back at, Sharon?, I believe the watch made in USSR, went to Sarg.Barrows. There was an ink pen made in Hanoi and the medical kit, that I hoped to take home to my mother who was studying medicine at Portland State, as a war souvenir. I don’t know what happened to them, I believe they were stolen.
I believe this action in which I played a part, has profoundly effected the way in which I think about war.
I have been haunted by this and other such memories, since my return. I no longer think it’s a good Idea to send skinny pimple faced kids over to foreign lands to kill people. Yea, I wish someone would take these thoughts from me I’d surrender them gladly. Bill Dodds.