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Mission 16 or rather

Discussion in 'The VMBB True Story Tellers' started by Guest, Feb 26, 2003.

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    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 61
    (5/31/01 12:14:40 pm)
    | Del All Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    “Mission 16” or rather “The mission from hell”
    &
    “The letter sent”

    As I state in the title I have chosen for this memory…..this will be about a mission and then its aftermath, the letter…..please bear with me…. it is a long and hard memory… and one that still wakes me up in August in cold sweats…..I tell this memory as a story because it seems the best way to present the information, so that it is not cold and harder than it really was…

    We all know that some memories are suppressed just so much or for just so long.. then they become alive and eat at you….some are untamable and are always at your throat.. some are dormant and attack at random times……some stay just below the surface and bite you at the wrong moment in time… this type always cause problems in a marriage……some grip your heart or freeze your mind and will not let go……..while others go away as if they never existed…..

    I tried to exorcise these demon memories by staying in the Reserves and working them out by military work…. I was with others of my kind … my brothers…there were no sisters in those days…..and exorcise……cauterize……and burn them away…….

    But not all…….

    ( There were two women that were in VN at the same time and we did talk & share, but I will speak of these women at another time)………

    The memories of Ben and the choppers are such memories…. but they are not vicious… just bothersome…..


    I begin…………



    DAY ONE

    Sometime in April or May of ’68…

    Our team was given a choice of two missions to go on….

    One was to provide radio support for an SF medical team that was going to visit several villages in western I CORP on their quarterly circuit…Evidently this was a normal thing for them…. but they needed some minor support……we would be out for about four or five weeks…..

    The other was to provide radio & Intel gathering support for a combat mission……. we would be out one day at the most…..

    We chose number two……so number one becomes another story……

    My team consisted of Tom, Buddy (I think his real name was Leo), John, “Kage” (from Louisiana don’t you know-real name Phillip) and Bob (Robert). The six of us had been out together before… so no one was considered a NUG……

    Now…. providing radio & Intel support was something we did on a regular basis…. but combat was not normally involved……matter of fact, not supposed to be involved at all…..

    And the briefing sometimes did not tell us the WHOLE extent of what level of combat MIGHT be involved….

    But we were normally told something about what to expect & how to react & what our orders were in different situations….

    This mission wasn’t one of those…

    That is… THEY DIDN’T TELL US SHIT!!!!!

    We were told ….

    “Easy ride”….

    “Ride in”……

    “Get stuff”….

    “Ride out”……

    “Come home”…

    “drink beer” (hot of course…….. why?? did YOU have ice????… then gimme some!!!)…

    “Cake walk guys….. Cake walk!!”…..

    So…. typical start…… O dark thirty…. chops winding up…. dust chokes us….

    Oh… did I mention??? minimal ammo…… this was a cake walk so only 7 mags and one bando……

    79 guy only had 25 rounds…..

    No M60….

    No extra canteens…..

    No rucks……

    No extra food…..2 C’s each…in butt packs….

    Actually… this mission was OUR FAULT…. we were the ones that found a small NVA unit out in the middle of nowhere…
    about one or two companies strong….On an in country R&R…..Light commo traffic…. Light truck & foot traffic….
    not near anyone friend or foe alike….But they were in an AO of some south VN commander that wanted them out of there….

    So….. we went along for the ride……and we are to return to the chops if there is contact… we are not to assist in the engagement… IF there is one……..IF & when fire starts… book for the chops….. we ASSIST only….if all elements are not in contact… abort…..etc.. etc etc…. so on and so forth… it gets boring after awhile…..

    Sun comes up…. and we come down……

    Jeezz MSG…why are we linking up with the Marines??? I thought that this was an ABN thing???

    Well…. the right flank is the Eagles… the left flank is the 82nd and the Marines will go up the middle because this IS THEIR AO AND NOT OURS… GOT IT??????

    OK…OK… no reason to get testy……this wasn’t in the briefing…..

    Jeezzz… what a grouch!!!…….needs coffee…….or maybe I do…..

    09:00AM……

    We are behind the Marines….. in support…… Eagles on the right are not to initiate the attack…. but only to contain enemy movement.. same with the 82nd on the left……

    Made attempt to contact with right flank……. OK….. my counterpart at HQ…. he sounds sleepy…..or bored…..

    Made attempt to contact my counterpart on the left …….. 82nd doesn’t answer……

    Again…. no answer…..shit… are we on the right freq????

    Again…. no answer…..time to tell the MSG…..

    Marines begin forward movement.. and us with them….. Uhhhhhh MSG…. I don’t have contact with the left……

    TS…. forward!…….

    Uhhhhhh MSG…… I don’t have contact with the left flank……

    He is gone….. took a chop to the right……..

    BIRD 6 …. BIRD 6……you got the MSG??????

    Roger…..

    MSG WE DO NOT HAVE CONTACT WITH THE LEFT…. WHAT ARE YOUR ORDERS……MISSION BRIEFING CALLS FOR ABORT…. WHAT ARE YOUR ORDERS…….

    MSG says….. MOVE FORWARD…. WE will made contact …..out

    Well…. OK…. but this is not normal…….

    OK… so now we are officially FD&H and have to continue…. under Marine control….

    Oh well… never been a problem before…… matter of fact… we are happiest when working with the Marines…..

    But why.. oh why.. do we feel odd about THIS mission????

    The enemy is 3 clicks out now…… radio traffic is normal….. no alert……. no outposts…… no …… no…..

    A firefight literally erupts to our front…..the forward edge of the Marine elements are engaged…..along their ENTIRE front

    OOOOOOOOOOOH… THAT’S NOT RIGHT!!……..they are supposed to be 3 clicks away…… why the hell are there heavy bunkers HERE???

    They are HEAVILY ENGAGED…… this is not just some little firefight on a perimeter of some little village….

    OH SHIT!!!!!! THIS IS A BASE CAMP!!!!!!!!

    This is not one or two companies cooling their heels on R&R….. this is a frikkin’ BATTALION!!!!!

    OH SHIT!!!!! Marine elements report TWO BATTALIONS……AND they have artillery……

    Shells start coming in…. not just a barrage…. sounds like two pair of combat boots in a clothes dryer……….

    BUMP..BUMP…BU-BUMP-BUMP… which a few CRACK sounds thrown in for good measure…..

    We have lost most of our cover now and we can see them coming at us ……they have us outnumbered on this one…..

    But the Marines are still in front of us…..

    Artillery shifts to the right flank as the Eagles pour on the heat…..

    We can hear the Eagles call for more Gunships…. Smokey’s… PUFF’s… and anyone else who can hear them…..

    We only brought two loaches….

    Uhhhh… one left……. we see one get cut in half and go down in fire and smoke…..

    Marines order a withdrawal……..

    Eagles keep the heat on…..

    Somebody upstairs knows that this is a lost mission…… radio squawks something about a recall…..

    And estimates that they are already overrunning the right to our northeast…..

    Marines are asking where the hell the left is……

    No answer…….

    No answer…….

    Commo squeaks a weak answer ….. finally!!!!….. “no one is home-I say again-no one is home”

    Uhhhhhh what do you think they means by that?????

    (This was years before the fraise “Elvis has left the building” but it amounted to the same thing)

    The right flank is leaving……..Gunships have come and are suppressing the arty……

    Three lines of Napalm erupt in front of us….. the ensuing rush of air sucks at our clothes… slightly takes our breath away…and clears our front……

    Marine Lt. says to book “this way”… and we follow…….but it is NOT the way to OUR CHOPS…..

    OUR CHOPS……..

    They are gone……..

    Uhhhhhh…… we now discover that we are not only official FD&H we are now officially SOL….

    SLMF!!!! (definition – “Sin Loi MF”)

    Marines are split up by fire…… we have stuck to this one platoon….. of rather scruffy looking jarheads…. but they shoot good….

    Enemy cannot get too close without these guys knocking them down….

    Fire getting lighter…..

    We keep moving……but we have no idea where to or which direction….

    We just keep moving…….

    Marine Lt. orders a stop…..

    Marine Lt. orders “fix bayonets”..

    WTF!!!!!!! we don’t have those…… do we?????… NO ….we don’t……

    LOOK Lt. …. my orders are clear…. we do not engage… we book……

    Well…. without getting into the details of THIS pissing match…..we went one way and they went another……..

    Never been this far out in the bush before….. ALONE….. well….just the six of us…… ARE ALONE……

    The first order of business is to get out of this AO….

    We head southeast… oh shit….. it’s blocked….

    We head west….oh shit … IT’s blocked

    We head south… it’s blocked…..

    Can’t go north…….

    We go to ground…….we find a heavy bamboo grove with a good depression in the middle, and it is well overgrown with…

    with….

    with…. WEED!!!!!!!!

    No John…. you can’t smoke it……. yet……AND DON’T CHEW ON IT!!!!

    We form a 360….. cut some of the weed and cover ourselves…….. no sound……. only our breathing….

    Good God Tom…… don’t hyperventilate… calm down….. (not that MY pants were clean!!)

    Anyone hurt??
    Me…no…
    Bob….no…
    Tom…no…
    Kage…no…
    Buddy…no….
    John…no… shit I’m missing a boot!…..oh… here it is…….

    Small laughs… small nervous laughs…..…..

    We go silent…

    The firefight is everywhere…… but fading….. fading…. fading…..

    No rotors…. no shells….. no nothing……..

    Silence……. deafening silence……

    JHC!! WHAT WAS THAT????

    Oh…. those stupid frogs…….

    Well…. good…. if we have frogs…. we have no bad guys… for a while……

    Night comes and covers us……. and keeps us covered….. and AWAKE!!!!!

    DAY TWO


    wait.......


    Edited by: Mithrandir at: 6/1/01 8:58:38 am

    homer4
    Moderator
    Posts: 712
    (5/31/01 6:29:41 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I too was an RTO Mith,yet my AO in the Delta never reached the scale that the other Corps reached. The bulk of the Delta was color coded Yellow(ARVN friendly ???)but quite a bit was also coded Pink(Questionable) and then there were the Coded Red(sympathizers).

    The move into Cambodia some six months prior to my arrival had disrupted some of the VCI amongst the cities and villes along the Mekong.Consequently our sitation wasn't near as bad as alot of the Nam,so with out North Viet Nam willing to send large combat hardened troops that far south to be over extended and exposed and plus the fact that the Ruff Puffs were a different breed
    of fighting unit...my tour was much much easier than most.

    I can only recall three firefights...but I'll stand nose to nose with anyone and declare that one firefight is one too many...also was mortared and rocketed and there was a sniper that hounded us some times and the occasional land mines too.But there were periods of nothing except co-ordinating local civie support projects,military training and exercises and such.

    I say all this to let you know as a PRC-25 carrying,in the mud and smoke type...I know somewhat of how it feels to be a part of a Command team.The VC as I'm sure with the NVA...don't care for the guys with the Whip...where theres a whip theres a Command function...and some beaucoup serious shit could be brought to bear on their ass...make it a real bad day in a hurry.

    Great story Mith...I could here the squelch! Having privy to how the firefight was progressing being an RTO can be extremely stressful when it takes a bad turn...most often a squads aren't aware of a flank being over run or some other advantage the enemy has gained...till they're simply told to withdraw.

    Good story bud!

    ...and two hard boiled eggs.

    Indybear57
    Moderator
    Posts: 343
    (5/31/01 10:12:48 pm)
    | Del
    ezSupporter
    Re: Mission 16 or rather
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    Mith-ready for Day 2 whenever you are.

    gorourke
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 49
    (5/31/01 10:40:11 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
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    Homer & Mith,

    I was also an RTO. That’s me on the right in the photo with the Whip, Doc Hicks is on the left. Note the plastic bag from a PRC-25 battery over my handset.

    Great posts from both of you. It’s late so for now I’ll just share this photo.



    P. Gary

    homer4
    Moderator
    Posts: 722
    (5/31/01 11:02:40 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Say Hey P.Gary...lot of guys carrying some heavy ole Pricks around here! Hehe!...Good Deal!

    Now who's that YOUNG! fellow on the right again?
    ...and two hard boiled eggs.

    Tac401
    Administrator
    Posts: 788
    (5/31/01 11:11:10 pm)
    | Del
    ezSupporter
    Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Great stuff guys, keep'em commin, pictures too!

    JD
    The Firearms Forum Vietnam Memories Bulletin Board Contact Administrator

    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 62
    (6/1/01 8:05:20 am)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Love the comments and pictures guys.....

    most everyone in our unit was an RTO of one sort or another.. we had one team that even had PRC77's... some if the first ones issued (at least in our units)....

    It is also good to know that you guys pick up on the signal stuff.....many have forgotten it.....

    One question for all.... who among us still does morse?????


    wait......

    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 64
    (6/1/01 8:38:14 am)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    DAY TWO

    Morning comes……

    And John is chewing weed…….

    STOP THAT!!!!

    We try to check in….. we are now OOR (out-of-range)…. we can’t talk to Khe San….nor Eagles nest nor Camp Eagle...

    Nothing on or in the air at all except static…..

    The sound or Arty comes to us… it is far away and only the echo’s come to us……

    A lone jet… very high…..going north……

    We need to evaluate our status and look at the maps…..

    Lets see….. I have a cut on my arm and my trousers are torn in two places……no other marks….

    Tom’s boot has no heel….and a chunk of metal is in the bottom plate……his foot is swollen and numb… but upon examination… he is not bleeding and nothing is broken….

    All ammo and mags in tact (no one fired a shot!)

    Johns left boot has ripped shoestrings so he has to tie it up with cord…..he has no butt pack.. therefore no food and a very large dent in his helmet…. OH…. he says he did that……..

    Others … no wounds … only torn uniforms and two canteens with holes in them…..

    My map is gone… who has the other one???

    Now we find that the guy from Louisiana “Kage” has the other map……

    Or rather….. HAD the map…. his butt pack has a very large tear in it and the contents are gone…..his butt pack is shot up… but his butt is intact!!

    No maps….. well… I still have my compass…… with a large crack in it and no face…….

    The prick25 has a gash in its side but the battery is not damaged….no one has spares….

    Cake walk my frikkin’ ……..

    Buddy needs to bathe……something about accidentally soiling himself (if he only knew!!)

    WAIT Kage is bleeding……..Oh…. a nosebleed……(well….. stop picking it!)

    Small laughs…..a little stronger now….

    We know that we are OOR & SOL if we cannot get moving but we have no way to determine direction at this time….so we are going to rest and then make a decision….

    Things couldn’t get worse……

    The frogs suddenly stop…..

    We hunker down…..expecting the worst

    Then it starts to rain……..


    wait.......

    dap22
    Senior Chief Moderator II
    Posts: 645
    (6/1/01 8:48:47 am)
    | Del
    ezSupporter
    Re: Mission 16 or rather
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    Have enjoyed all the posts.....Mith, Homer, P.Gary. Sorry about the lack of morse but certainly understand breaking squelch. Great stuff one and all.

    Homer.....we'd sometimes have to go down and supplement the dustoff unit at Soc Trang......I absolutely hated flying in that wide open delta area. Much preferred the cover found in the III corps area......there used to be a rat bastid sniper who'd hang out in the area of what we used to call the Twin Sisters (small mountains I guess you'd say) and we'd always expect a hole or two in the aircraft when working in that area. He remained active during my tour 7/67 - 7/68.... persistent little fellow he was.

    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 66
    (6/1/01 10:03:39 am)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    DAY THREE & FOUR

    We had stayed put for a full day…..and today decided to move east…. we now know which direction it is ……

    No one eats anything…….we collect water from the bamboo…..

    Buddy bathes as best he can…. (no more shit smell)…I am not sure why he tried as everyone was soaked to the skin and began to smell the same……because …

    Guess what??….. no ponchos anyway…. short mission… remember??

    And john…. well John needs to stop eating the weed…….but he may have something there…..

    We move for an hour then halt…. & listen HARD…… we keep doing this for a full day then go to ground….

    Sun is setting….. the jungle STINKS!!!!! NO its NOT Buddy this time….

    GOOD GOD WHAT WAS THAT!!!!!

    Ooh… the radio….. Tom forgot to put the squelch on…..

    Good… find out who and what……

    LZ Betty answers us, finally and we tell them our situation……

    They get the ARDF boys to fix us… and then tell us which direction to keep traveling in….give us new freqs to use and times to use them…..

    Then, they lightly and very kindly in a soft voice as if they are participating in a woman’s talk show……inform us that there is a large body of NVA looking for us and any others that got separated during the initial action….Everything North, West, Northwest and south of us is enemy at this time….and they are coming our way….

    Now ……..isn’t THAT good frikkin’ news!!!

    Oh yes… buy the way…. the SF boys will have Yards looking for you too… so please do not shoot them…..

    Look, we know we are OOR, have minimal ammo so we couldn’t survive a MINOR firefight and can’t last for very long with little food ……so…. what do you suggest BETTY???

    “PUNT”….. out….

    We start moving… and we pick up speed as best we can…. we want to be elsewhere FAST….

    We try to stay on a straight course…. but movement in a jungle…. well….. it ain’t easy…..

    It starts to rain…..



    wait.......

    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 68
    (6/1/01 12:25:43 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    DAY SEVEN

    It has now been three days and we have seen no one and nothing else but us, birds, one or two monkeys and the jungle….And we liked it that way!!!!!

    Lots and lots of jungle….. This jungle was different than Panama….Panama’s jungle was thick as hell and had poisonous frogs, but it also could provide you with comfort, water, food… and most of the time …peace…….Not this jungle…..…. it seemed vicious, foreboding, evil…. full of demons…… and some of them wanted us dead……

    Having come from the Midwest… I remembered, just then, for some reason I cannot phantom…. what it was like crossing Kansas…. you know the old saying… “All you can see in Kansas is Miles and Miles of Miles and Miles”…..Jungle was all that we could see….

    We are still heading east….. well…. pretty much… contacts with Betty have kept us on course....everyone is extremely nervous…. apprehensive…. hungry… thirsty……and downright … well……CRANKY!!!

    Sooooooo this is what PMS is like…..

    CRUMPCRUMPCRUMP…….SHIT!!!! MORTARS!!!……

    We drop where we are and try to make love to the ground….. the mortars do not seem destined for us.. they are dropping everywhere… indiscriminant…..…and now the sound of a firefight comes to us…. to our south…. it has to be our people as the 16’s can barely be heard over the x39 rounds… but we know that it is our people……

    Now fire from the west……..more intense….. Buddy yells that he sees a stream or river over there…we go to it and jump in…. up to our waists….. SOME river Buddy!….the bottom is very muddy and hard to walk in……

    But the banks can provide some cover….. we start moving against the stream as it takes us east, uphill and away from the fire….

    CRUMP…. I feel nothing…. I am sitting on the shore…. wet….. stunned… half aware……

    Tom shakes me.. ARE YOU OK? shakes me some more… COME ON DAMNIT!…..

    I come out of it… dive headfirst into the water…..or was pushed by Tom.. I don’t know……somehow I still have my rifle….

    Buddy & Kage have Bob between them… he looks hurt…… John is out in front pointing the way….

    Fire fades….. echo’s die away……. and the frogs are singing again……

    We come out of the stream and move off to cover………but we do not stop…. we keep moving as fast as we can…

    Long about two maybe three miles later, we stop……still soaking wet… our pause allows us to be baked by the sun and dry us out… steam is rising from us like a power plant smoke stack……in 15 minutes we are dryer and start moving again…..

    Everyone is still hungry and tired… our rations are now all gone but we do have water… if you want to call it that….

    Night comes and we go to ground…. everyone has leeches on them….. we cut them off as no one wanted to start a fire that could be seen….our uniforms are torn up badly and three guys are now wearing shorts….Bob is like me… stunned but unhurt…. we had a mortar drop between us into the water and it sunk deep before exploding…… Tom says that we “took a ride” and were thrown ten maybe twenty feet in the air……Bob had the radio and it now has a new dent, the long antenna is gone and the handset has a large crack in it.… but it still works with the short whip…his 16 is worthless because of the bent barrel. The radio seems to have saved Bob…….I have no idea what saved me……

    I have blood coming from my left ear…..and a taste of it in my mouth…..

    John has green stuff coming from… well….. everywhere……(TOLD you not to chew that stuff!)

    Diarrhea has us all now….

    Rest……. no one can stay awake……………but we are dry now… and feel a little better…..

    It starts to rain………and creates a cold and miserable night…..




    wait.....

    Edited by: Mithrandir at: 6/1/01 1:26:21 pm

    homer4
    Moderator
    Posts: 735
    (6/1/01 2:26:33 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Absolutely riveting Mith !!!


    I know where Soc Trang is Dave ...we were supposed to assist the Mats for 30 days and rotate back and several of us were within a week or so of rotating as we overlapped one another.

    I traded off for the bush and not to boast...was pretty much liked by the Team...never had a problem doing as asked...but that's neither here nor there.

    Occasionally I was stuck at a Com Center and spent nights mostly in a connex with the Teletypes spueing out contacts and sitreps and other stuff that was boring as all get out...I didn't type and was told just to tear off the paperwork every so often and stack it and to get some guy an NCO in another "Box" if the Mat Compound at Sa Dec was to be alerted for some special reason.

    That's how I know where Soc Trang is. All that bore just to say that...losing it Dave. Geez!
    ...and two hard boiled eggs.

    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 69
    (6/1/01 3:01:04 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
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    Side story just for gorourke


    We had one RTO guy that HATED officers.....

    So every time he went out to the bush... he would remove the plastic from the handset and stick the handset in his pants!!!!

    Every time they wanted to talk... he would pull it out and hand it to them........

    Most of them let him do the talking.....

    Never did seem to get into trouble for it.....




    out





    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 70
    (6/1/01 3:05:35 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    DAY EIGHT

    Sun comes up and we make it to the top of a small line of hills that run north and south… we must cross them and keep going east…..cannot talk to BETTY now but JANE has us and keeps us moving in the right direction…. they report that our way MIGHT BE CLEAR to the eastern front range of mountains….….

    ”Can you explain…MIGHT BE”????

    “Well…… we think a battalion has moved into your path, coming down from the north… elements of the 101st & Marines are chewing them up as they go….”

    “Can you get chops to us now?”

    “No…. they are needed everywhere else”

    From this point on… conversations with JANE deteriorate into a pissing match….and…

    And….

    John is throwing up…. badly…..

    And….

    The battery goes dead…..

    And….

    It starts to rain……


    DAY NINE , TEN, and ELEVEN

    Are all the same…. chock full of “Trys”

    Try to move east…

    Try not to be seen or heard….

    Try to avoid any and all small villages (as most are not Yard villages and we don’t know which one are)…..

    Try to find something to eat or drink….

    Try this, try that, try anything … to get back…..

    Just before sunset… we stop…….

    It starts to rain…..(I think I started to see a pattern here)

    To this point we dare not shoot at a bird or any other animal we see for fear of it being heard….but we need food…Tom spots a thorn tree…. one with long black spikes on it……and I cut a piece of bamboo….

    While Tom & I were stationed in Panama… we use to make blowguns…. out of bamboo and thorns just as the SanBlas Indians did down there……you take a length of thin bamboo that has no joints in it, that is about three feet long, then you cut some thorns off of the tree…. sometime you can just work them back and forth till they break off…… then you “Feather” the end of the thorn… the Indians used spider silk wrapped around the end… it looked like a Q-tip…….either way works…. of course.. we had no poison. The Indians would scrape the tips of the “arrows” against the skins of the poisonous frogs or use Curare…

    We made two of these and then set off to find some birds………

    After about an hour… we returned from our little jaunt…. Tom had nailed two birds and I had gotten one… Never saw birds like these but the were now in our food chain….. after moving into a well covered dry area that will help conceal smoke.. we start a small fire….. this DOES NOT taste like chicken!!!!…. but we eat….



    wait.........

    homer4
    Moderator
    Posts: 739
    (6/1/01 5:05:41 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mith...toyed around with Morse for a few years and then eventually left off...haven't tapped since forever.

    Never once did any send/receive while in the Nam. Did you have opportunity? How about you P?
    ...and two hard boiled eggs.

    gorourke
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 51
    (6/1/01 8:38:01 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
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    Homer,

    Never learned Morse, I had no special communications training other then learning the phonetic alphabet in country. I learned all I needed to know OJT in the Bush. After walking point, humping the 60 and going down in tunnels, I decided to give the radio a try. Hell, it sure looked like a good idea at the time – till that antenna sticking out of my head and the LT I was always walking behind started attracting some unwanted attention. By then it was too late to switch, they liked my voice and, after a few dressing downs for talking to fast during fire fights, my new found calm demeanor.

    After a few months with the LT, the CO had me hump the radio for him on the ground and in the TC of the Command Track when we were on the move. I liked that job, for good or bad, I always knew what was going on because I had both Company, Battalion and Arty push on the track.

    P. Gary


    gorourke
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 52
    (6/1/01 8:41:17 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
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    Mith,

    Loved the story about the Handset in the pants! LOL!!

    P. Gary

    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 72
    (6/2/01 10:16:32 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sorry...... double posted.....

    Edited by: Mithrandir at: 6/2/01 11:21:47 pm

    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 73
    (6/2/01 10:19:59 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    DAY TWELVE, THIRTEEN & FOURTEEN

    We spend day twelve & thirteen doing what we did on the previous day…….. and by day thirteen we finally get across the mountain range and are heading down… down… down….then up across the eastern most part of this range….

    Bob seems to not be able to hear very well and begins to show signs of disorientation…..he will not let go of the PRC…nor his rifle…..

    At this days stop…. we forage… and find streams with fish in them…. but the streams were worse than the Perfume river up by Hue…..no one wanted to eat them……or course… rats & insects were also not on the menu.. so that limited us to…..birds……birds……… stupid birds……..they were easy to hunt… if you sit still long enough.. they come down into range… and blowgun this short has NO long range……but they don’t taste bad…after a while….

    Kage says “ wish I had condommints!……..

    We get to laughing….. NO COMDOMINTS HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    “That’s “condiments” Kage!!! ….no one has condiments……the laughter subsides….

    We discuss the possibility of making contact with a village….. supposedly… most on this side of the mountains are “friendly”…..while we were talking, in what we believed to be very hushed tones, I might add…. Tom taps me on the shoulder…..and points…… Obviously our laughter got us in trouble!!…

    Off about twenty yards or so… there were GUN BARRELS POINTED AT US!!!!!!

    Everyone dives for cover and unlocks…….

    We all look at one another… no one shoots….. Bob is aiming his 16 at them too……..even WITH the bent barrel!! but no one laughs…..

    We SHOULD have been dead by now……..

    After a VERY TENSE two minutes…. several very short men come out onto the trail….

    WHERE THE HELL DID THAT TRAIL COME FROM!!!!! WE DIDN’T SEE NO STINKING TRAIL!!!!!!

    And then….. relief… they were YARDS!!!!!

    “Tom… guys… these are Yards!!!”… we lower our weapons (but not our guard) and Tom & I step out into the open…..the other keep watch…

    YEP…. THEY’RE YARDS.. and they chatter like the birds we have been eating…….one has a 101st shoulder patch with him and after seeing ours… chatters more and louder…..more of them come out….. maybe thirty in all…. with the strangest assortment of weapons… M1 carbines, shotguns… French stuff from WWI….one even had a flint pistol on him….If they had been anyone other than Yards… we would not be here…….they had us dead-to-rights…..AND they were all around us….

    We learned a very hard lesson that day about movement and stealth…..WE WEREN’T DOING IT RIGHT!!!

    We kept trying to get them to lead or take us out of there.. but they would NOT move from this spot and they settled down for the night RIGHT THERE…. then I noticed that maybe ten of them were gone…….THAT made me very nervous…..

    BUT they fed us… boiled rice!!!! and something that looked like beef ,most likely rat, but now…. we no longer cared…..and their water was fresh and clean….. GOOD GOD that tasted good………and some bread…..

    The day passed into night and we slept…. fairly soundly for the first time in a while….. the Yards had set out guards….

    And …. it did not rain………





    wait.....


    Edited by: Mithrandir at: 6/2/01 11:23:03 pm

    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 79
    (6/6/01 12:11:20 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sorry guys.... I meant to finish this a few days ago and got sidetracked by life.....after this one... only a little more...I hope that I am not boring you guys to death with this.....


    ============

    DAY FIFTEEN

    By the time the sun was up… so were we and our new friends….. the ones that had left us yesterday were back and after much chattering, we all started out to the south…..We still could not talk to them but they knew where they were going and we were going too… numbers have an advantage.. and besides….. they hunted better then us…….

    The day waxed and waned uneventful… just a lot of walking……

    And it did not rain…..

    DAY SIXTEEN

    We went south again and then in the afternoon we shifted and started going east……then southeast….

    By sunset… we were coming to a village…. one that they evidently knew of … or was theirs… And there at the edge of the village was a site that none of us will ever forget….. One lone SF Capt. ….and a woman…..A ROUNDEYE WOMAN!!!!!!! a nurse to be exact….. and what was that behind them??….OH HOZZANNA a CHOP!!!!!!!

    I reported to the Capt. and he seemed to know who we were already… said that the yards had seen us when we came over the mountain several days ago but made no contact until they knew who we were for sure… he had called to ask if there were any operations in that area.. and the answer was… “only a small bunch of lost guys that may be dead by now” and then they explained the circumstances to him….

    Relief came over us…. most of us.. me included, sat down and couldn’t move for a long time…. weights were being lifted off our shoulders and worries removed from our minds……the yards gave us more food.. fresh water… and we thank God above to this day .. FRUIT… bananas and mangos (I think) and some fruit I never saw before…..

    The village was one that the SF frequented during the medical rounds in the region.. it was a base camp of sorts… the SF guys would rotor into here and then make their rounds and then return here to rotor out or to get more supplies….in any case… we gave him our names and outfit and they called our outfit for us and told them where we were….but I could tell by the tone on the radio that sometime was not quite right… but the Capt. said nothing about it.. just that they knew we were alive and that the SF would bring us out when they left…..

    Something about not having enough chops for a spare recovery mission at this time…..

    So… OK Capt. …. when do we leave???…… six days……six days before we finish this rotation……

    And what are we supposed to do????…..

    Oh… you guys…. well you guys… get to do…….nothing…….no duty… just relax ….the medics will check you all out and we have fresh uniforms over there (pointing to a …….well…….hut for a better word)

    Now….. having been in country for almost sixteen months…. to do NOTHING? was a blessing…..

    Better then R&R in Australia (well… almost…I am fudging here!!)

    The nurse looked all of us over… looked at my ear and stuck some sort of medicine in it and asked me how I got that rather large beautiful colored bruise over my right kidney and lower back….”Bob & I took a ride”….she gave us stuff for minor pains & Diarrhea… cleaned and covered our now numerous cuts and scrapes (ALL infected)….Turns out that the marks on Buddy’s legs were not made by him when he removed leeches but scratches from shrapnel……Tom has a piece in his back, real small.. says he never felt it and none of us saw it… we thought that he just had an insect bite!

    We start to check our insect bites too!

    WOW…. fed, somewhat rested….dry….clothed, the SF guys gave us Tigers to wear as our uniforms were… well… for want of a better word….SHIT!….…..

    Then it started to rain…..but the villagers had given us a covered area to rest in…. we stayed dry for the first time in a long time….

    DAY SEVENTEEN

    Funny thing about this…… we all were relieved, or at least felt better about having others around us… but every time I tried to talk to the Capt. about things… he acted very funny…. not suspicious… but like he knew something and did not want to “let the cat out of the bag” so to speak….It gave me a very uneasy feeling…….Tom said that he noticed it too…..

    DAY EIGHTTEEN

    Long about 9 or so, the Capt. comes to us and says to get ready to leave after noon meal, a chop will be in this afternoon for us…..

    “I thought that we wouldn’t leave until your cycle was completed?”

    “THEY want YOU back…NOW!” he turned and left without explaining…..he seemed angry…..

    Oh…. shit….. I guess that I am in trouble for something…..at least by the way he said it…..

    We gather our rags (our old uniforms)… what is left of our gear…. check our weapons… they are all clean and loaded…

    Well….. except Bob’s…. he is getting a lot of teasing about his bent barrel…..stuff about ours being made by Mattel but HIS was made in Poland and stuff like that……he puts a full mag into it and we ALL CRACK UP!!!! John was taking a drink out of a canteen and proceeds to blow water out his nose. HAHAHAHAHA!! Bob says that it is now good for shooting around corners!!! Buddy says that he thinks that he just soiled himself!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    We are all rolling around on the ground now laughing like madmen and the Yards are beginning to look scared of us…..HAHAHAHAHAHAHA snort snort choke choke !!! Bob hides behind a tree that is only 3 inchs around and says “Look they can’t see me” and aims his 16 out into nowhere… with the barrel pointing in another direction…. HAHAHAHAHAH choke… stop it!! Bob suddenly stands straight up …. shudders once…. and falls to the ground……

    GOOD GOD!!!… what’s wrong…… everyone had ducked for cover… but heard nothing.. the Yards react, but to us … not something else……Tom gets to him first……MEDIC!!!… and the nurse and another medic rush over……. they saw him go down and take Bob into a hut…. we get kicked out…..

    The thumpthumpthump is heard…….The chops are coming…three of them …..in a few minutes they land not far off…..

    Capt. shows up a says to go…. we try to tell him about Bob… he will not hear of it… we are to go NOW!!!

    No one moves….. I then notice that while I am engaged talking to the Capt. … the others have sat down by the door of the hut…. it is obvious to me, at least, that we go nowhere without Bob…..John has Bob’s rifle……and is cradling it like a precious thing…..

    The Capt. is glaring at me………but says nothing…then turns away to do other things….

    Nurse comes out and say that Bob is bleeding internally … she says that the mortar blast concussion must have caused his colon to split and he was bleeding internally which has caused the problem…..(he was closer than I was!)……they have temporarily sedated him and are now loading him onto a chop…… we start loading……

    I am told to go to the other chop….. WHY????? no answer…… WHY DAMNIT!! I NEED TO BE WITH MY TEAM!!!

    Capt. yells… “YOU get on THAT chop…NOW!!!!”…..

    I, reluctantly, obey……”Tom… you are in charge”…….I turn and go to the other chop……four SF guys are on it… they pay me no mind….

    We lift off…. and slowly rise while turning to the East…… then my chop begins to head northeast…. I notice that this chop now has two Cobras following it…. the other chops don’t… I remember thinking.. WTF is going on??… I slump against the seat…..

    The trip was uneventful…..and actually pleasant…… bright sky… clear…. not too warm up here….. thumping rhythm was putting me to sleep….My thoughts were with the others……

    In retrospect… it’s funny that your thoughts do not seem to stray back to Home & Hearth & the girl at home….. I did not care about the other World…. only these guys in this one….and wondering why I was not with them……one of the crewmen comes to me and shouts…”we are taking you straight to your camp… A MSG Schwagman is waiting there for you”… I MUST be in D E E P Kimshi now!!!! this is one guy no one alive WANTS to have “waiting “ for them. The chop turns north and seems to pick up speed….

    I look out the door…. and contemplate the number of feet to the ground……several times……

    The trip now feels like it took two years to get to camp……. which had obviously moved since the day we left for this “Cake walk”…..

    As the chop starts its decent… the air gets hotter…… and I can see that we did, indeed, move to what looks like a forward fire base for the Arty…. I cannot get a name from anyone.. they do not seem to know…..

    MSG is standing at the edge of the PCP Helipad……. the chop bumps down and immediately cuts the engine….the SF guys are already out and gone around the corner of some tents…..the door gunner starts locking down his gun and then he gets out… I do not want to move…….MSG glares at me….. I get out and start toward him… there are several other officers standing there that are NOT my officers…..I now contemplate soiling myself… just for the hell of it….it is too late to jump….

    Without a word I am led into one of the tents… and there is a MARS station setup in there (HAM radio)…. I am told to wait….the MSG leaves saying “I’ll be back” (now you know… the terminator DID NOT say it first!!) and I do…. for four more hours I sit there…. wondering when the ax will fall….

    Along about 8PM….In comes the MSG with those officers in tow….. I am to debrief them NOW!!! and I do…..there is a guy at the end of the table writing this all down….he looks like an MI guy… no insignia nor patches of any sort…..I STILL think that I am dead…….I talk for an hour and a half…. when I am done the officers leave…..

    The MSG says “now I have something else for you to do” and tells the MARS operator to “Make the call”….and “while we are waiting…. “Bob…… is fine…. they found the hole and have sewn him up… he will be fine and awake tomorrow…..it was not as bad as they first thought…and all the guys will be here shortly.”… a wave of relief comes over me……I start to shake…..uncontrollably…..I almost DO soil myself……the MSG gives me a drink and I almost puke…. hard stuff… some sort of whiskey… my system cannot take it… just yet, but I don’t give him the cup back……

    After a few more sips, the MARS guys says “OK I have them”…. and turns to me… explaining…. “when you want to talk, press this key and then say “over” and let go to hear them”…. I privately think to my self “just who is THIS idgit think he is talking to!!!

    The MSG laughs and hands me the mike…… “talk to your Grandmother… she needs to talk to you, you have 15 minutes”

    I am absolutely thunderstruck!!!!

    My Grandmother… the one who raised me……more of a mother to me than my mother….we talk for twenty-five minutes.. then the signal fades……We talked about how I was and how she was, and how everyone at home was…. and how proud she was of me (she never had ANY idea what I was doing or where I was!) and other normal drivel… she was crying… I could tell…she ended by saying “I will see you soon”….. she must know something that I don’t or just optimistic…..

    I put the mike down….. and after very long pause I thank the MARS guy and the MSG….. he said “You were ordered to talk to your family as soon as you were found because of an incident that has happened at Ngok Tavak & Kham Duc”….I had no idea what the hell he was talking about……”look…. get some sleep and I will talk to all of you in the morning”…

    And then led me to a tent where the others were staying……..the five of us…. in a tent ALONE!!… unheard of…..and we just stood in a circle for the longest time… then went to sleep……. no one let go of their rifles… john still had Bob’s….we sleep clothed…..

    And like the dead…. solid…sound…. the first time in a while……





    wait.....


    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 81
    (6/6/01 3:39:46 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    DAY NINETEEN

    The next morning……. at noon, to be exact… we woke up or rather we got up…. the MSG had let us rest…..the day was a normal VN day… hot…..dry….. SMELLY!…. a buck Sgt. wandered toward us and said that the MSG wants us to join him in the mess hall.. and it was that tent over there…..this was strange… everyone we saw was not from our unit… we kept looking for someone we knew but we saw no one…. and all of these people were new to us….. but they ALL knew the MSG….and they ALL treated us like we were special……no one ordered us to do anything and even privates saluted….absolutely scary!

    And very strange feeling indeed…..

    Upon entering the tent.. we find that there are, again, several officers that we have never seen before…..

    The MSG instructs us to go through the debriefing again.. and we do….this is a completely different group that at the last session……When we are done, everyone leaves with the exception of the MSG, the CO, the XO and one other officer, who, we now know to be an MI guy……

    It seems that because of the coming troop reduction… we can go home early…….

    Uuhhhhhh what?…….

    “You guys all voluntarily extended.. and that makes you guys first on the list to be allowed to go home….. IF you want too…..”.. if the floor had not been of dirt… you could have heard a pin drop… no sound… not even from outside… as if a bubble of dead air surrounded us all…..

    Uuhhhh.. ALL of us????……

    “your choice”

    “How soon”

    The MI officer speaks up.. “Now…. if you wish… there is a chop waiting……it will take you to each of your clearing stations and then to Tan Son Nhut …in 5 days and you all be home…….except you … if you decide to go.. then you have to be on tomorrows flight out…..so….you go in the Cobra”

    With that…the MI guy gets up and moves to leave the tent….

    One of the guys pipes up and asks “why does he go on a Cobra, why does he need to be gone tomorrow??”

    The officer turns… and with a very pained look on his face, says “HE was the one reported MIA/KIA, none of you were” and out he goes….

    Twice in one day…. thunderstuck….. “MSG? what does he mean…..I ask”

    Our Co answers….. slowly………“there was a mix up during the reporting of MIA’s & KIA’s during the last two weeks….. you were in an action that separated you from all real contact for those two weeks….. the head-shed saw your name on a list of KIA’s and sent a letter home….. YOU were dead… a confirmed KIA at Ngok Tavak & Kham Duc… the details are in the after action reports sent to head-shed…..”

    But…. I was nowhere near there…. was I??

    “No….. but an airman with a name like yours was….. no one knew that he was an airman.. at first… ……..he was listed in the Army list… it wasn’t until three or four days ago… when you were found by the Yards that we knew that the list was wrong…. that’s why you were required to call home… that’s why you are being given priority for clearing station… If you decide to go….”

    “Do you have info on that guy?

    “Yes… the first one is the original… the second page is the corrected copy” ”. and with that.. he handed me a report that was the same as I have posted previously with one exception…


    At the top of the first page was this information……

    =================
    Name: George W. Long
    Rank/Branch: E5/US Army SA
    Unit: Withheld
    Date of Birth: 30 September 1948
    Home City of Record: KC MO
    Date of Loss: 12 May 1968
    Country of Loss: South Vietnam
    Loss Coordinates: 152601N 1074801E (ZC031110)
    Status : Killed/Body Not Recovered
    Category: 2
    Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: C130B

    ================

    On the second page was :

    =================
    Name: George Wendell Long
    Rank/Branch: E3/US Air Force
    Unit: Withheld
    Date of Birth: 30 September 1948
    Home City of Record: Medicine KS
    Date of Loss: 12 May 1968
    Country of Loss: South Vietnam
    Loss Coordinates: 152601N 1074801E (ZC031110)
    Status : Killed/Body Not Recovered
    Category: 2
    Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: C130B



    I am : George Mell Long The middle initial “M” being the key to the error……..


    I took the Cobra home…… Years later I have an MIA blacelet with his info on it....and I still wear it….. My daughter has been to the wall in DC and she brought back the rubbing for me…..but he will never come home…..and he will never be forgotten……


    I end the story here…. I will not relate what went on in the family when the letter came……

    Some things are best left alone in the dark……


    thank you for listening……





    out……….


    dap22
    Senior Chief Moderator II
    Posts: 679
    (6/6/01 7:11:37 pm)
    | Del
    ezSupporter
    Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mithrandir:
    Most interesting. Did you ride in the front or back seat of the cobra?

    homer4
    Moderator
    Posts: 815
    (6/6/01 8:28:06 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Never boring Mith! In fact...captivating ! An amazing Tour!... with just the stories you've written so far bud.

    The fact of the mix-up and then being allowed to talk to Grandmom must have taken you back a bit to say the least. Grandmom even more so.

    Keep em coming George!

    The post about a youngster was meant for P. Gary on another thread...how it got here I don't know...it's deleted.


    ...and two hard boiled eggs.

    Edited by: homer4 at: 6/7/01 2:12:38 pm

    gorourke
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 62
    (6/6/01 9:57:23 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mith,

    I sent my parents through hell when they got a telegram stating I was wounded. I said nothing because I was sure I marked the card saying "do not notify family if not seriously wounded". I guess I checked the wrong box, I had a lot of explaining to do as to why I did not write and say I am ok. I can only imagine what pain that letter caused about your KIA status. Great thread Brother.

    P. Gary


    TShooters
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 208
    (6/6/01 11:05:20 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Thank you for sharing with us, Mith. What a harrowing experience !!! ...... and then to find out you have been declared KIA.

    Welcome Home!
    {{{HUGS}}}
    Sharon

    hope6970
    Moderator
    Posts: 411
    (6/7/01 10:48:22 pm)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mith,

    Perhaps when you can, you will be able to tell us more of those memories that you went through? You know how to keep us all in suspense.

    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 84
    (6/8/01 9:48:28 am)
    | Del Re: Mission 16 or rather
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Maybe some short ones later.....I wait to read someone else's for awhile....

    and DAP22.... in the front.....


    out...
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