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Gaffer
09-01-2007, 11:14 PM
A personal account.

As best I can remember this would have taken place about Dec. 13, 1967. I know I had about ten days to go before returning to the world as we referred to going home in those days. It was the last action I took part in during my time in Vietnam. It was part of Operation Walla Walla/Wheeler. Two operations that began about Oct of 67 and were combine. The actual location I have no clue about. It was somewhere in the central highlands about 20 miles south of the dmz, as best as I can determine.

I carried an M-16 rifle. Three prong barrel flash suppressor using 5.56 ammo. Now about this time they had begun loading the ammo differently with a high grain powder. This caused the shell casings to sometimes split open in the chamber when fired. Causing the casing to become jammed. The only way to get the casing out was to run a ramrod down the barrel and knock it loose. Aggravating even in normal circumstances.

We had just swept through as village. It was unoccupied so after a quick check we moved forward to a slope that led down into a rice paddy. Across from us was a grove of trees and jungle. I took point,as i always did, the Lt wanted experience in front. And started down the slope. I spotted some movement about 100 yards away in the bushes right on the edge of the rice paddy. I gave the drop signal to those behind me and dropped to the ground. Immediately bullets were flying by. The rest of the platoon took cover behind a natural burm and began returning fire. I was out in the open with my guys firing over me and the VC firing at me and them. I took aim at the point I had seen the first movement and fired off a couple of rounds and then the gun jammed.

In the military you are taught to call it your weapon or your rifle. But when it jams in a critical situation its a “goddam gun”.

So here I was, bullets flying everywhere and I’m trying to get out my rod, which has to be screwed together. So I lifted my head up as I tried to get the rod and heard a sizzle as a bullet passed my ear and over my back. At that point I decided to forget about clearing the “gun” and just try to keep from getting shot. So I laid there and played dead. Which worked for a while, cause the firing moved away from me. But the Lt thought I was hit and started crawling out to get me. Which naturally brought the fire back on both of us now. I waved him off and told him about my “gun”. All this seemed to bring the attention back to me so along with the Lt I crawled back to the burm where the other guys were. we both made it safely back. Once under cover I was able to clear my “goddam gun”. We seemed to be up against a pretty large and well armed force. It was obvious they had established a horseshoe style ambush which was blown when I spotted the movement.

Two of our guys had been hit. One in the leg and the other in the arm. Neither serious, but painful. We decided to call for artillery support. we gave them our map coordinates and waited for a spotter round. This is a round that is fired and set to go off like a giant fire cracker directly over the spot where you want the rounds to fall.

Well we heard the gun fire in the distance and listened to the shell as it went by was so far away we couldn’t even hear it go off. The Lt told them to drop two miles and try again. Again we listened to it go over but never heard it go off. Three more tries finally got it close enough to hear. This was absolutely amazing. I had never seen such inaccuracy from an artillery unit. We managed to contact some gunships that were near by and called them in instead. A Huey and a Cobra. One with mini guns and one with 20mm cannon. They proceeded to sweep in front of us and totally blasted an area the size of three football fields. But it still wasn’t over. we still had to go across the rice paddy and check things out. And guess who’s the first to go? You got it, Mr Point Man.

So I started across with my hawk eyes and sixth sense tuned to the max. All was safe. I made it across and we found lots of blood and blood trails but no bodies. One of the blood trails led me to a tunnel. Did I mention my other job besides point man. The platoon tunnel rat. Ok, so I have ten days left in country, I have a blood trail leading into a tunnel. The Lt hands me his 45 and flashlight. I am NOT a happy camper.

So the tunnel goes into a hillside. And it curves. It curves to the left so you can never see more than a few feet in front of you at a time. It curves and curves, almost like a C. About three feet in I started imagining some VC lying there wounded with a grenade primed and waiting for me. My guess now is that the tunnel was about 20 yards long. Just big enough to crawl through. It seemed about a half mile to me at the time.

It seemed this was an escape tunnel as I found it came out on the other side of the hill. The blood trail led off into the jungle from the exit. Never did find the guy. I did talk to one of the gunners that was on one of the gunships. Turns out he and I were in basic together and he was going home the same time I was. Once we found out we had both been involved in the same action we discussed what we had seen. It seems there were a lot of VC involved in that ambush. He told me after their first pass he could see bodies laying all over the place. Don’t know how many we shot or how many the gunships got. But there were enough survivors to haul away the bodies, so that when we got over there there were none to be found. Just blood. The VC knew body counts were important so they made sure to get rid of bodies as much as possible.

There was a hooch on the other side of the hill with the tunnel and the was a woman there with a baby, cussing us. She had been grazed in the stomach with a bullet and the baby had been shot in the foot. Quite likely the same bullet did both wounds. We med evacted her and the baby along with our wounded. Then set up at the original ambush site for the night.

The next morning as we were heading out I spotted two VC almost a mile in front of us. I really did have hawk eyes in those days. The chase was on and during the chase was where I tangled with my machete and ended up being med evacted out. So ended my tour of duty.

Mr. P
09-01-2007, 11:33 PM
:salute:

nevadamedic
09-02-2007, 12:55 AM
:laugh2::laugh2::laugh2::laugh2::laugh2::laugh2:

actsnoblemartin
09-02-2007, 01:02 AM
All veterans are heroes

:salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute:
:salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute:

Mr. P
09-02-2007, 12:24 PM
:laugh2::laugh2::laugh2::laugh2::laugh2::laugh2:

WTF is so funny? Or are you just being an ass?

Abbey
09-02-2007, 01:55 PM
Fascinating story, Gaffer. I've often wondered how a man has the guts to be the guy on point. Or in Revolutionary or Civil War times, to be the guys in the first line of troops marching toward the enemy. And the adrenaline must be unbelievable.

Gaffer
09-02-2007, 04:20 PM
Fascinating story, Gaffer. I've often wondered how a man has the guts to be the guy on point. Or in Revolutionary or Civil War times, to be the guys in the first line of troops marching toward the enemy. And the adrenaline must be unbelievable.

It's definitely an adrenaline rush. I was point because that's what I always did. even though I complained, the logic was, I was the most experienced. I don't think there was a guy in the platoon at the time with more than three months time in country. We had been on this particular operation since Oct. And I can't remember the Lt's name or any of the guys with me that day. All the other old timers had either gone home or were wounded. The Lt was a good guy. I heard he and five others got killed about a month later.

The policy at the time was, you stayed in the field until three days before DROS. So if I hadn't got hurt when I did I would have been on point until then. As it was I went home with a cast on my left hand.

Point is not nearly as scary as crawling in a tunnel. I use to check them out and then go back in and set the explosives and blow them up. My explosives training consisted of ...Here's the C-4, here's the blasting caps, here's the fuse line.

I'll see about posting some more memories of history when things are slow.

Kathianne
09-02-2007, 04:28 PM
All I can say is this is one case of many, where the masses owe so much, to so few! :salute:

manu1959
09-02-2007, 04:29 PM
dude you have balls....:salute:

Mr. P
09-02-2007, 04:49 PM
Hey, Gaffer!

Please add your stories to this site.
http://www.witness-to-war.org/content/contribute.html

Gaffer
09-02-2007, 05:11 PM
Hey, Gaffer!

Please add your stories to this site.
http://www.witness-to-war.org/content/contribute.html

I'll see what I can do P, thanks.