“When night falls and other heavy stuff too!!”

Discussion in 'Vietnam Memories Forum' started by Admin, Mar 15, 2003.

  1. Admin

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    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 276
    (4/25/02 2:26:42 pm)
    “When night falls and other heavy stuff too!!”
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    Most all of us who served in VN, can tell stories about almost anything that happened there.

    Many of the stories are very unique to a given Corp area or even to a given LZ. Also, many, many stories happen while in base camp during a refit or relax session and not in combat. But we almost never tell those stories because we believe that they are not “colorful” enough or “interesting” enough to tell.

    This is one of those type of stories but I will tell it anyway….

    It begins…

    Uneventful week, boring day…. spent trying to sleep in a tent … with the temperature in the 100’s and no shade….and for those of you who think..” well he IS inside the tent.. isn’t THAT shade??”..

    NO….

    Hell NO…

    F&^% NO…….

    In that order…..

    OH God Bless America….. got guard duty on the perimeter again tonight….that is what happens when you are the only RTO trained guy in camp today.. or even this week….

    Oh well…. Off to supper…..

    I ignore supper… watery instant mashed potatoes, watery instant whatever-the-hell-this-is, and some sort of meat patty that looks like it was washed first and then again it may not be meat at all…..now I remember why I like “C”s, at least I can guarantee what the hell is in them… even if they were produced in the mid 1940‘s…..

    So I drink orange juice…At least I KNOW why water was used in its production…..and fill my second canteen with something that is supposed to be coffee…it’s black… it stinks…. Its hot…yeah…it’s coffee alright…or battery acid…well… I’ll find out later…..

    Off to the Supply room (a connex) to draw the PRC-77 and batteries….

    Off to the armory to draw ammo (another connex) ….

    Off to the CQ tent to report in and draw my assignment….

    Now I am OFF to my assigned place in the perimeter….

    Yep… it has been an OFF day alright…..

    As I approach the assigned bunker….I hear a low-level argument going on…..looks like three NUGs manning this bunker tonight…..they are arguing over how the belt goes in the MG, “No, it goes in this way”. ”No it doesn’t, the open part of the link goes in this way”…”NO IT DOESN’T it goes this way” and so on and so forth….

    Thank God above that these guys came AFTER the crossing of the Perfume river…..

    However… I decide to retreat to a foxhole some meters BEHIND them…just so as to not get shot nor fragged….

    “Hey Sgt. Ain’t ya gonna get in the bunker with us??”

    “No… I’m fine here”…(and a damn site safer too ya putz!!)

    I drop my gear into the hole, get in and start my pre-nightfall inspection….lets see….. one grenade sump…oh shit full of dirt…I dig it out…… slope is right…. sand bags in front need to be reset….. reposition the side ones too while I am at it…. I dig a couple a small holes in the side of the hole for frags and flares….I set the PRC down the way I want it…I get out and use my poncho for a cover on the hole and secure it with some more sand bags….looks like it might rain a bit tonight anyway……I get in again and check the batteries…and the spares by putting them in the radio and turning it on to see if they work….then I turn to the assigned freq and do a radio check….yep… everything works and the CQ people can hear me…..

    Oh damn… “Hey you guys!!!… you know what the password is for tonight don’t you?’..

    “What password??.. we weren’t told of any password!!?”

    I write it down and get out to go give it to them…. &^%$ING NUGs…..Now remember it… if you don’t I have been known to SHOOT!!…ya got it??”

    “YES SIR SGT.!!!” and this idiot stands up and salutes me.. I almost dove to the ground… but it was inside a base camp I just had a vision flash through my mind that he might not make it outta here…..

    I should have chewed his ass but good ..but I am not in the mood for it…. I just grumble something about &^%$ING NUG’s and walk away……many years later I would remember this banter and realize the scene in the “MASH” movie where the jeep driver just keeps saying “&^%$ING ARMY” all the time…..

    The jeep driver in that movie was right …..”&^%$ING ARMY”…

    As the suns starts to set I get into my little hole to settle down… and those of us that have been here… we know it sets faster than you can say DARK.. It is……

    First RTO checks in and after a few minutes it’s my turn… I check in and set the squelch….I remember that I had also checked out a pair of headsets so I put them on……recheck the squelch and then just listen to the camp shut down….

    No birds…..the trucks have stopped driving around….. the chops are quite…the generators still running in the distance will shut down around 11PM… then

    It will be just us and those damn lizards….. silly things sound like frogs back home… but with a lisp….

    Quite comes…….

    Midnight passes……

    Flares in the distance…..

    A few bumps very far off……..

    Long about 1AM a Marine Arty unit a few miles down the road goes on a fire mission… but the booms are light… the 175’s must be firing away from us instead of over our heads tonight…..I can here them impact way, way, way off…..after about a half hour they fall silent…….

    I can here the NUG’s talking…… one is scared….well.. so aren’t we all boy……

    “SHUT THE F&^%K UP!!!!”…..I don’t know if that was me or the bunker next to us…..but they were right… best not to talk nor smoke at night…. Even on a “Safe” perimeter like this one

    That night…that second… I realized that I was no longer one of them… a boy……I felt a little bit of pride I guess….I must be a Soldier now……My old ROTC instructor once said that “One day…you will wake up and find out that sometime during the night and during the fire and amid the smoke… that you have become a Soldier”….he taught me many things and someday I will write about him…a real Soldier….but that night… those words seemed to give me a new purpose….

    I wasn’t bored anymore….. I was now watching over those boys in the bunker…..

    More flares……..the guys in the Engineer unit to our left are a nervous bunch… they NEVER go anywhere but they pop light at every little thing…. and there is NEVER anything out there…..however, the MI unit on our right isn’t any better….

    Flares are gone now…..

    Quite again…..

    Somewhere way high up, a C-130 drones by heading northwest……

    This half-hour passes slowly… make my RTO report….. check the time for the log….3AM..



    wait....

    Esse Quam Videri

    Edited by: Mithrandir at: 4/25/02 3:31:57 pm

    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 280
    (4/25/02 7:32:30 pm)
    Re: “When night falls and other heavy stuff too!!”
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    CCCCRRRRUUUMMPPPP!!!!!!!

    JESUS H CHRIST !! WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT??!!!

    Dirt and sand starts to rain down on me.. the sandbagged bunker half-collapses with the NUG’s in it… they are yelling and trying to claw their way out of it….

    I pull my poncho down into the hole and flip off the safety on my 14….

    Can’t see anything in the dark… the Engineers pop light……

    A LO & BEHOLD…….

    I have a frikkin tank muzzle starting at me!!!!!!

    The chute is slowly collapsing under it own weight and the lines begin to fall over me and my little hole…..

    The is gunfire on the perimeter over in the Engineers area…. the radio is going nuts… I can’t even get a word in edgewise because of those idiots….

    Finally.. the CQ RTO asks who got hit… I finally get to break in and tell them that “No one got HIT….. but I gotta intruder in my sector!!”….”BTW no danger now… no infiltration……just a short round dud”..

    I lied……

    “Sit tight, we will have you First Shirt there soon…”

    “Roger.. out”

    A few minutes later I hear the First shirt and the security team coming my way..

    I give the “halt” and other stuff and he properly id’s himself… then we go through the process of IDing the others….(I won’t go into it here… it is just normal friend/foe stuff)….

    He steps closer and whispers….”is that what I think it is??””

    “yep……A frikkin tank, either that… or there was something in my coffee”…

    The security team fans out an checks on the bunker and the NUG’s…. they are all right… just shaken….

    Now….a word about the First shirt. He was OSS during WWII more that two dozen missions behind enemy lines, wounded five times and was in the MI during Korea but won’t talk about that….. and one of the first true SF guys recruited in the early 60’……So….. we are talking “OHSLDBH&FMF” (One High Speed Low Drag Badass Hard & Fast Mother F&^%er) type of guy….…THIS GUY.. has been known to bend a .50 barrel with his bare hands… six foot four, 250 pounds (minimum) size nineteen-hundred boots…..you DO NOT want to get touched by this guy in a fight……his idea of fun was to tip over M151 jeeps and ¾ trucks by HIMSELF…could shoot a crow in flight at two hundred yards with an M14 FROM THE HIP!!… (honest to God.. I have seen him do it)

    I think that’s about it……..

    Yeah….

    That will do…

    I think you get the picture……

    “Say nothing” he says….. yeah… like I’m going to call anyone in on this one….at 3AM…….and he walks off….

    After about ten minutes he walks back out of the darkness and gets on the radio… “this is (insert call sign here…HEY I DON’T REMEMBER EVERYTHING YOU KNOW!!) and there is nothing here, everything is OK…out…” and he tosses the handset back to me…..

    The security team leaves for the company area…..

    “Help me with this”… and I help him cover the tank with the chutes…..

    OK…. This is what happened…. A mission to drop this tank…a Sheridan Air droppable Light tank to be exact with full armament… was slated to be inserted at an LZ up to the north…. But the primary drogue chute did not open in time… therefore….. it undershot its destination……by about 50 miles…….

    Another thirty feet and I would have had a flat day…..or maybe the boys in the bunker would have… neither possibility pleased me…..

    Long about sun up… he comes back… we are shutting down the perimeter now and everyone has gone to report and have breakfast…..I help him remove all the chutes and lines… it is still lashed to it landing pallet.. we remove the straps..

    “OK… lets see what we have here” and he climbs up into the tank… opens then main hatch and gets in….obviously he has been in one of these before….I climb up and follow him in….the interior is lit now… he must have flipped a switch somewhere to get light inside….wasn’t needed though… the sun was getting higher anyway…

    He is up in the drivers seat now looking at the controls….

    Seems simple enough, left & right steering paddles and left & right foot actuated tread controls…and a throttle lever on the left….

    He flips a couple of more switches and the lights on a panel come to life…..he pulls what looks like a choke lever and presses a big red button…

    AND HOT DAMN the engine turns over with a cough and starts idling…somewhat high but steady…”get your gear out of the hole” he shouts over the noise…

    I exit and retrieve my stuff and move it a few yards away……

    His head is up and out of the driver port now… I found out later that the seat can be adjusted up and down to suit the driver….and the little tank starts to jerk forward and jerks to a stop……he does it again and comes far enough forward to clear the tank off of the drop pallets…..and right over my foxhole!!!

    “Back away!!”… as if I needed to be told….

    He revs the engine and locks one of the tread levers… and the tank starts to turn in a circle….in place…and then he adds throttle and continues the spin… again.. in place….much faster… and as he adds more throttle and spins even faster until he is literally tearing up the ground… chewing it and throwing it outward…

    I have to move even farther away.. I am getting beaten senseless by dirt clods and sand!!!

    As I watch… this is absolutely amazing!!! He is grinding out a hole with the tank!!! It begins to go deeper into the sand and dirt and on and on and on until only the turret is above the ground….at which time he shuts down the spin and turns the tank in the direction it was before he started….

    “OK… now get a detail out here to build a bunker around this thing…so I hurry off to put together a work party…

    It took about an hour to get them together… and we begin to build a sand bag bunker around this thing…. It took almost two hours to get it to LOOK like a bunker….. with the entrance into the back of the bunker leading to the main turret hatch…..The front firing port now had a cannon in it….a very wide firing port ….the roof was supported by 2x4’s and plywood so that nothing hindered the turrets movement…..

    All done…. and looks good… no way to see that it is anything other than JUST a bunker……

    This thing had about thirty rounds of HE, twenty rounds of WP, twenty rounds of Hotchkiss (Beehive). The First shirt removed the .50 that was to go on the top ring and had it and all the ammo moved back to the CQ bunker…

    “NOW we got some firepower” say he……

    The nice thing about this is that it was really much cooler in there then a normal bunker… the steel seemed to hold the cold much better…. Those guys who got to pull guard duty in it were always much more comfortable too… nice seats…

    Another nice thing….. while it was there…. There were NO probes on our line…….

    We lost it later…. But that’s another story……


    Out…



    Esse Quam Videri

    Edited by: Mithrandir at: 4/26/02 8:42:42 am

    Tac401
    Administrator
    Posts: 1962
    (4/26/02 12:27:08 am)

    Re: “When night falls and other heavy stuff too!!”
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    Damn good read Mith!
    TFF VMBB Email Tac

    hope6970
    *VMBB Staff*
    Posts: 998
    (4/26/02 12:36:16 am)
    Re: “When night falls and other heavy stuff too!!”
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    have to agree with JD Mith, you have put down some mighty fine writings.......now, am waiting for "thats another story segment". Will be waiting for the next event. - Hope

    SixTGunr
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 226
    (4/26/02 2:17:08 am)
    Re: “When night falls and other heavy stuff too!!”
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    Thanks Brother

    [​IMG]

    "What more can I say ..... I was at the wrong place at the wrong time"

    106RR196LIB
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 226
    (4/26/02 2:30:10 am)
    Re: “When night falls and other heavy stuff too!!”
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    Thanks Mith;
    A whole in the ground is an excellent place for those Sheridan's they are the breakdown champions of the world. your first shirt was smart -- you never turn down free odinance!
    Mike
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