Being part of the air cav unit, our platoon was to be inserted about ten clicks south of the Ho Chi Min trail. B-52 bombers had bombed the area for ten hours along the trail that the VC used to transport ammunition and supplies to their forward troops.
The Huey helicopter that was taking us to our drop zone, gave a soothing vibration of wind turbulence as the echos of the blades hammered the dense humidified air. Charles the door gunner for the Huey motioned us to stay well behind him as he maneuvered the gun from side to side to check his firing radius.
It would take us ten to fifteen minutes of air time to reach our destination and Charles wanted to be ready if any thing happened abruptly. The guys on the chopper were checking their weapons and ammo one last time when we saw tracers coming from the jungle below. You could hear the sound of impacts against the Huey's metal skin. It was no fun being shot at in the air and you have no where to hide.
Lucky for us it was light arms fire and we were quickly out of range from the bullets that riddled the Huey. Being dropped in to a hot LZ at dark is even more frightening. Weapons fire comes from all directions and it causes much confusion. It is only when your feet hit the ground that you realize what hell must be like and it is thrust on you from the start.
Our LZ had been cleared by a daisy cutter and offered very little in protection from ground fire coming from the jungles covered edges. George was hit and killed before he could get out the Huey so we left him on board and bailed out in to the mud dragging the ammo boxes and heavy mortars that would be needed to hold the position.
Others set up a parameter to cover us from enemy fire while we set up the weapons. Tracer bullets could be seen coming from the jungle and we had a good notion of how to set the ordinance to their local. Tracer bullets can give your position away and we were going to use it to our benefit. Luckily we had set up in a bomb blast hole it provided us with adequate cover and we started dropping the mortars around the parameter.
Under the cover of night rolling around in the mud you could hear the screams and blast as the mortars took the life of the enemy. We had dropped right in to the middle of a passing convoy of VC. They were making a detour around the bombed trail routes in the mountains. I told the first Sargent that maybe we should have brought more ammo but his reply was that if we ran out it would not matter any way because we were completely surrounded.
I lay back against the mud wall of the blast hole and tried to take a deep breath. I had found it difficult to catch my breath with all the action going on around us. No time to loose concentration our lives depended on our ability to hold this piece of hellish soil.
Our guys were scattered out in all directions, some had patrolled out to set claymore mines on our weak sides to shield us from un wanted intruders trying to flank our position. Claymores are frightening when they are set off. The explosions make the ground shudder and and the screams in the dark of night you never ever forget. I still wake up at night screaming in my sleep to the gore of what I witnessed from the confines of the bomb hole.
The VC mortar fire was sporadic and hit all around us during the night. Mud clods fell from the sky down on to us from the blast but luckily we escaped injury. Some of the others were not as lucky. We lost two guys to enemy mortar fire that night. I had taken a round through my shoulder trying to retrieve one comrade that had his legs blown off and he died shortly after I made it back in to the hole with him.
The radio man had called in for artillery support all during the night. You could hear the rounds whistling over head as they hit their mark. The thirty cal machine gun placement about a hundred yards to our forward position had held the enemy off for the rest of the night. We took the tracer rounds out of the feed belts before we were lifted to this LZ. You could still see the muzzle flash in the distance but it was hard to pin point from the jungle.
With day light breaking and the smell of smoke and death all around me I crawled to the top of the hole to pear out. The surroundings littered with dead VC and shard-ed trees. A few of the guys were standing around in the blast holes pointing to different directions of the most heaviest fire that happened that night. No shots were fired any more that day and the dead count was heavy for the enemy. Thirty three VC killed in the fire fight that night and we had lost six total. To me that was six to many.
We gathered our dead and placed them respectfully at our aft-ward position. The lieutenant and first Sargent had placed the dog tags in their pockets and stuffed the spare in to the dead boot lace. I could not help but cry uncontrollably. My tears for my fallen comrades trickling down my dirt covered face leaving clear trails down my cheeks.
In the far off distance you could hear the clip clop of the Huey coming in from the south.Heavens birds I call them for they were coming to carry us a way from this Hell and a feeling of relief seemed to over take our shocked minds and souls as the first Chopper landed.
One can never describe the horrors of battle. It scars you and embeds emotional stress you carry with you all the days of your life. Being the hunter and the hunted at the same time puts fear in to your soul.
The nature of such brutal warfare can only be described as a senseless way to die. Being in that bombed out hole in the ground makes one realize how precious life is. I am sure the dead VC have had the same visions as I. The war In Vietnam was a non-conventional war. Every one looked the same, wore the same black pajamas and Siapan bonnets with sandals. You really did not know what or who your enemy might be or come from.
A confusing time to be in the military and experience the hazards of being a combat soldier.One that I will never forget in my life time. Who knows it may even follow me to heaven as I account for my sins against humanity. God for give me for the lives I have taken over there.