The Lost Brothers

Discussion in 'Vietnam Memories Forum' started by Admin, Mar 16, 2003.

  1. Admin

    Admin Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 347
    (10/31/02 3:38:02 pm)
    The Lost Brothers
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Sometime late in 1968…an army division moved into the western mountain regions in I Corp. Now… bear with me, because they may have moved into that area well before my memory recalled it…but the story remains the same…

    The “Big Red One” as they are called… the 1st Infantry Division.

    I am not sure just why they are there… there seems to be some sort of bridge-head or river mouth they are sitting on that seems to be important to the NVA. The radio was always jammed with someone screaming about needing to get some cover for the Navy’s little river boats that were taking fire.. or the bridge…or some base camp of whose name I no longer remember, if I ever did.

    Our unit had almost no contact with these guys so we did not know that they were there…if it weren’t for all the radio traffic….. remember… we listened to the world….24/7….!!!

    Our small units were spread out along the western frontier of VN, but no too close to the border….

    And… as usual… some of them were in contact… some of them in contact constantly and others .. not at all.

    Such was my unit… and the one we were attached to at the time.

    No contact… quiet……..and quite…. serene….almost “lazy”…..

    This time at least…..

    For many days we did our jobs and did our little patrols and basically did things that had been established by our mission statement….and we spent time wondering amongst ourselves just what the hell was going on with this radio traffic…..we had no alerts to monitor it.. nor even to investigate…… It was becoming annoying because it… the signals….. were interfering with our transmissions to our HQ….. we constantly had to re-transmit our messages.. and we knew that these were NOT Marines at Khe Sanh…. Plus….. we had to be fairly close to them because a good many of the radios used seemed to be the PRC-10 man-packed ones….they had a very distinct signal about them…..

    Well… time to leave… and go back to HQ and base camp… our mission is over ….

    I had been assigned to be a team leader for the last group that would be extracted….. all the other small groups would rally here and then the chops would be coming in ….in ones and twos over a period of several hours to pick us up.

    There was no hurry… we weren’t being attacked…. and … besides… there were no known ground enemy within a hundred miles of us……

    Or so we thought…..

    There first wave of our chops could be seen in the clear mountain morning air, coming low and slow from the southeast…..not unlike watching the opening scenes of the M.A.S.H. movie….. just like it….. you could hear the THUMP THUMP THUMP of their rotors long before you could see them…..

    The first ones are down…. And I can see them being loaded with the gear…. slowly… methodically… in no hurry….. and then they are up and have turned to the east…. All at a slow pace….

    This goes on for most of the day…..I am informed that we, that is, my group, will not be leaving until late in the evening… most likely not before dark…..so I have to retain some ground flare for the landing site.. and so some reason… one of the senior Sgt’s gives me two WP grenades… “You might need them”.

    OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKAY??! And I put them away…….I saw no need for them…..

    Lunch time comes… and we have almost two hours before the next set of chops is due in…. so we entertain ourselves with listening to the radio…. The frequency that has all this traffic on it…. The traffic has become, high pitched… shrill… DESPARATE!!!

    Geeezzzz… some of these guys are not even encrypting their traffic… they are just screaming it out in the clear… and it has become VERY obvious to us that they are in very deep Kimshi (to use a Korean term)…….we can hear the closer radios.. and just barely the ones farther away…. Tappan wants to set up one of our radios so that he can hear the further stuff…..

    Well… why not…. We have hours before we leave…..

    When the bigger GRC is set up… we can hear their base camp radio….

    MAN!!! They are taking some serious shit!!!

    We can hear the fire-fights, the mortars coming in, the rockets hitting… and THAT’S JUST ONE of the stations….the base camp is under heavy artillery shelling……just like Khe Sanh has been (and still is at this time)..

    “I NEED ARTY NOW”

    “SEND REINFORMENTS TO COORD………” it gets cut off

    “LEFT FLANK…LEFT FLANK…SWING THAT F*&^G MG TO THE LEFT YOU IDIOT”

    “Bravo One? Bravo One?.. where the hell are you??”…

    And so on……

    No matter which of the several frequencies we found… they were all under attack… two reported being completely surrounded….. one officer tells his platoons to withdraw to some unknown coordinate and then the signal goes dead… another tells his people to rally at some point and to split into smaller groups and then his signal goes dead…

    I have Rundles send a message to our HQ to advise them of this….battle…….we have counted no less than ten radios go dead…….and if you have ever heard it…. You won’t forget it….

    We continue to listen…..

    One platoon leader is screaming for extraction…. “WERE THE HELL ARE OUR CHOPPERS??

    Another seems to be trying to get back in contact with his mortar crews…..

    And so forth..

    We didn’t think that we had been listening for very long… but, Rundles says that our HQ is aware of the situation and that we are to continue the extraction as planned…..

    We hear our next wave of chops coming in……FAST!!!

    They land just as fast…. The LT. Says that all the chops will be pulled out NLT sunset and that some have been re-directed to help with the extraction of some base whose name he doesn’t know… or won’t say.

    “You will have only four chops… the others are now unavailable, but…. Two will be Chinooks so make sure that they have proper guide-in.. you understand??”

    “yes sir” …guide-in…. meaning that they need more room to land safely and that we are going to have to provide ground security because of it….

    I inform the ground-air coordinator where the big ones are to land… and he passes the info on to the pilots and my people move to set up security over the new landing zone…..only a couple of hundred yards away…

    I have the guys re-pack the big GRC…”we have had enough entertainment for awhile guys….put it up”

    “Can we keep the small ones on?” asks Rundles

    “Sure… we may need to know something before we get out of here.. and keep several batteries handy”.

    A few more hours go by… we are all depressed now…. We know that there is nothing we can do for these guys….. the signals are getting weaker… sporadic… choppy… incomplete….

    The sun is low in the west now…. Shadows are longer… but.. there is still plenty of sunlight left for us to get out….and here comes our ride….. or rather … rides…..

    The Hueys go to the other site and are down… our big ones are coming in much too fast… and have to be waved off….. they turn… slow… lumbering giants…. Blasting the tree-tops and throwing debris up into the air….one hovers for a moment and the other one drops with a resounding THUD!! Leaving its wheels deep in the ground… the other one comes in slower and is down……

    We get the high-sign to start loading up….

    Our HQ Lt. has come in with this chop….I guess that he wanted to get out of camp for awhile…. I didn’t blame him….. base camp could be very boring… and ANY ride on a chop was preferable to desk work…

    I can see the other chop’s crew looking at the wheels…. The rear ones are buried up to the top of the struts, with it butt laying right on the ground….. the pilot and co-pilot are being chewed out by the flight crew….

    Lt. say… “Hey Long… what the story with that battle??”

    “Didn’t you get a briefing at HQ??”

    “No… they won’t talk about it…. But the rumor is that the 1st Division has a battalion up by the border locked in a fist-fight with several NVA battalions… they seem to be outnumbered, outgunned and generally up the creek; hell… we can hear the traffic at camp like they were just next door!!” “Marines are asking the same questions.. and if they can help….I understand that the Marines do have two batteries that MIGHT be able to get into position by late tonight, but.. that will be too late”.

    Everything is loaded up… the two Hueys are in the air and the one Chinook is ready to go.. the other one may take more time….I send most of my guys to the other Chinook…. The LT. thinks.. out loud…to no one in particular “that’s a good idea…. More room in the last chop and that should make it easier for them to get airborne again”…

    That leaves nine of us and the Lt.

    We can see that the flight crew is trying to dig out the rear wheels…. Well… not dig them out…. Just clear a small area way from them….

    Another hour goes by….. Tappan says that it sounds like one small group of these guys has broken out of their encirclement… but are being dogged by a larger force….they are screaming for help and are running out of ammo… but they are dragging their dead & wounded with them..

    “They aren’t gonna make it… they have to leave the dead” mumbles Jamison….

    “Would YOU??!!” challenges Tappan…..

    “No……..but that does make it harder to survive . now doesn’t it!”

    The flight crew seems to have dug out the wheels now… and inform us that they are ready to go.

    We all mount up and click in our seat belts… this chop has seats in it… a nice comfortable touch… don’t you think??.

    The pilot revs the engines…. And lurches up into the air…and, almost immediately, the rear engine springs a leak in the fuel line….but the rear door in down, so the smell won’t make us sick…. I hate JP-4!!….

    We are informed that we must fly north first … seems some one has noticed a NVA force to our east moving in our general direction and we don’t want to take on fire……….so… we head north…..

    “Rundles says “ HEY LONG….LISTEN TO THIS” and passes me the headset….

    “CAN ANYONE HEAR US….PLEASE ANSWER… WE ARE AT COORDs (numbers here) AND ARE BEING PURSUED….OFFICERS DEAD ONLY A FEW OF US LEFT….HELP US”.The rattle of a fire-fire is in the background of the transmission……

    Now that we are in the air… out little PRC can hear them real good!!!

    The Lt. says “ DAMN those coordinates are only fifteen clicks out” and he gets this real funny look on his face..

    “All right… listen up….. are you guys game? I mean… do we go home.. or go after them”?

    Everyone…………………….

    At one time…………………..

    Unbuckles their seats…..

    Drops gear….

    Checks ammo…..

    Locks and loads……

    Fastens their helmet straps ……

    And starts passing the extra gear to the front of the chop……

    “I take that as a yes then?” He has the biggest smile on his face that I have ever seen…..But I don’t think that HE knows what HE is getting into…. You see…. ALL of us had been in maybe fifteen or twenty fire-fights by that time… HE had been in exactly NONE!. …..and goes to inform the pilots….. they seem to take a shine to the idea….

    Obviously THEY have no idea either…. Or… they are as crazy as we are….

    UUUUUhhhhhh .. all except one guy…….

    “what’s goin’ on guys??

    “You go to the front of the chop and stay with the gear OK? Just sit right on the gear and try to keep it from getting in our way…..We are going to pick up some riders”

    “OK”…..still not knowing what the hell is happening….

    “Rundles….. get on the freq and tell those guys to switch to our freq”

    “Right”

    “When they acknowledge… tell them to get ready to run and that we are coming in hot!.. there will only be ONE attempt.. got it?”

    “Roger” and he starts trying to make contact….

    We feel the bird start to descend and then it starts to circle a bit… the Lt. and the pilots seem to have located our little band and are attempting to line up on their position….The pilot will swoop down straight at them and then land right behind them some fifty or so yards from their position…. The ground has a lot of elephant grass and scrub bushes but no trees… which makes it easier…. And also easier for the NVA to shoot at us….

    “They understand” shouts Rundles

    The Lt. comes to the rear…. “Are we ready? He shouts.

    “Yeah”… “but YOU aren’t!”… and I switch his rifle off safety……

    He grins…..and looks back out the door….

    The crew member shouts “One minute”…

    “Hey Lt” I shout…. “ I forgot about these” pulling the two WP’s out of my magazine bag…

    “ALL RIGHT”..” WHEN WE GET OVER THEM…DROP WHEN I DO OK??”

    We cannot see the landing, so we are going out the door blind…the Lt. is lying on the floor with his head looking out and to the front of the bird….He could have fallen out right about then….

    “NOW!!” and we both chuck the WP’s out the door…

    But I can see the ground coming up very very fast… and in the blink of an eye, we are passing over them…

    CLANG, CLUNK, CHINK..

    We are taking fire now… but this is a big bird and they don’t seem to have RPG’s….so far….

    OOOPPPS WRONGOOO…

    One whizzes passed us.,… the idiot could have dropped us… but the guys on the ground dropped him instead… and the rocket went elsewhere…

    WHEW…..I can hear the Lt. exclaim….

    VOOOP VOOP the two WP’s go off

    HA!!! I can see them scattering and they have lost fire-group integrity… they are running like ants!!

    “Rundles… tell them NOW!!!!” I shout

    BUMP…bump.. bump.. we are down…

    AND OUT!!!!

    We only go about ten yards and drop in a V behind the bird….I can see them running toward us…

    Well… somewhat running…. They are carrying their dead and wounded….

    “OPEN UP” shouts the Lt. and we lay down cover fire to the left and right of them…we have two 60’s on the left and right with orders to melt the barrels….. and they do…..

    There is such a huge amount of grass, dirt… smoke and general crap in the air we cannot see if we are doing any good….the WP’s seem to have delayed the NVA from chasing these guys…..Well.. at least…. For a few minutes….

    The Lt. says “COME ON” and he and I break up the middle to direct them in……

    SHIT!… I’M HIT……I am spun around and land on my face….

    But I don’t hurt….but I feel a big wet spot on my back and leg….

    Aw hell… they got me in the canteen….

    So I just roll over and start dumping downrange…..

    The Lt. is coming back now and they are close on his heels….they start climbing into the bird

    The Lt. hand signals to regress to the bird….

    The MG’s withdraw last…..

    The bird is revving and trying to gain air….

    I turn to look out and the Lt. is the last one in…. no one left behind….

    The damn engine is leaking fuel again.

    OH MY GOD!!!!

    The guy and the front of the chop is shooting out the side door!!!

    Rundles looks out the side window to see what he is shooting at…..

    And then a huge explosion shakes the chop….

    But it keeps rising……the rear door is up and we can hear more hits on it……

    But we are airborne and moving away fast……

    The big birds engine are at max…. the whine is terrible…. our ears pop….and the bird is shaking like a dog that just came out of the water….

    I am still standing at the back of the chop… the LT. went to the front….

    We have about twelve new passengers…..

    Canteens are broken out… they don’t seem to have any…

    Several of them are wounded… most are minor but two are really serious…. Blood is covering the floor and the smell mixes with that damnable JP-4 stuff…as if that wasn’t bad enough!

    Wounds are being bound, water drank, some food of given to them… everyone is covered in dust, dirt, grime and a few are soiled…. being wounded sometimes does that to a person….

    I never needed to get wounded to soil myself in combat… I do it naturally….

    Four are dead…….seemed to have been dead for many hours now…..

    Rundles is over talking to the Lt. “He saved us all Lt….. there must have been ten or twenty of them there”….

    It seems… that our NUG had nailed a bunch of them that had outflanked us… but they presented themselves to his rifle just perfectly……right in his line of fire …. Right in the doorway….

    The Lt. has informed HQ of our situation and evidentially is going to be royally chewed out for it!!

    The trip back was uneventful……we give thanks to God….

    When we landed….rather roughly I might add…. Seems that the landing earlier had damaged the strut just right…… so when we came in this time… enough though it was a slow landing….. it broke and the bird went down on its left side very hard…..but … the door came down and everyone got out ok…

    Our riders were taken to a empty tent and were looked at by the medics… the wounded were met by the medics and immediately whisked off to the field hospital…… there was water and more food there for the others…..The dead were properly cared for, draped with a flag and removed to our morgue.

    Everyone within eyesight was at attention…..and saluting them……….

    We were taken to the debriefing area…and, as usual, presented our briefing to the HQ intell people… and some officer we had never seen before… a major….wearing a crisp, clean, pressed uniform… and while the Lt. was talking, he turned away from me and I saw his patch…. A big red patch with the number one in it… So….. an officer from the Big Red One!

    When the Lt. finished, no one asked Rundles or I what our side of the story was…. They just told us to report to the HQ tent….

    OH OH……….

    We looked at one another.. and did not say a word… we both knew that those that were told to report to the HQ tent, never came out of there quit the same as they went in…”can we go clean up first?”…

    “NO”….

    Ok…. Now I KNOW were are in trouble for sure….




    But………



    That’s another story……




    Out…



















    Esse Quam Videri

    hope6970
    *VMBB Staff*
    Posts: 1145
    (11/1/02 12:18:50 am)
    Re: The Lost Brothers
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hurry, Keep Going!!!!!!

    Hope

    cricket328
    Member
    Posts: 23
    (11/9/02 5:06:00 am)
    Re: The Lost Brothers
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    You can't end it there!!

    Chris