A Hard Place: A Sergeant's Tale
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The story of combat in South Vietnam,Republic of, with the men of a small unit known as a Mobile Reaction or "Mike Force". Operating out of the Chu Lai base camp on the coast of South Vietnam,between Danang to the north and Cam Rhon Bay to the south. Home to the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal) the 75th Rangers and other support units. Their missions took place in the northern provinces, which were dubbed by the military as the 1st Combat Tactical Zone (1CTZ).From Rosemary's Point at Chu Lai, to Da Nang, to the Tuy Lon River and the White Mountains, across the Hai Van Pass to Phu Bai, Quang Tri City and on to the DMZ
They were both recon and striker unit, sometimes just looking for intell, sometimes attacking and sometimes being attacked. Often deployed to reinforce a small camp or firebase. Sometimes workng as convoy security.Mostly it was just HOT! Life for them was either base camp boring, or "boonie rat" intense in full "battle rattle" sweat soaked, sneakin in the bush. Living on salt pills,nasty tasting water and even worse tasting rations.
Often assigned missions to locate or capture specific targets. All of their missions were both classified and clandestine. Even their existence was denied. As much as possible their movements were hidden or camouflaged within larger unit operations and movements.
Their operations were conducted with out back-up,or support readily available. They were required to move and survive on their bush skills, to adapt, over come, improvise, and if that failed, E&E (escape and evade) back to a pick-up or rendezvous point for extraction.
This story is about serving in Vietnam as professional soldiers in a "No Such Unit Exists" status. Part of the "other" Army, the one not circumscribed by line unit regimentation, order of battle movement, or rules of engagement, in - South Vietnam, Republic of "A HARD PLACE." .
for us to sweep through the open area and get to our regular positions, about 25 meters behind the bunker line. With only half of the platoon here we’re spread pretty thin. The firing has pretty much stopped now. We’re on the radio with Defense Command. The towers are reporting no further movement. There are lots of flares up and down the perimeter line. There are half a dozen choppers in the air. LZ Bayonet’s 105s are fining in the distance off to the Southwest and the rounds are impacting to
“Amen” he replies, “Amen”. We shake hands and I leave the office, back through the outer office where Sgt Lewis is still on the phone and writing on a yellow legal pad. He gives a wave and I’m through the plywood door. Back out in the street I unlock the jeep and climb in. I start up, down to the corner and turn right heading back towards the beach and after a few blocks of dodging pedestrians and cycles I realize I am hungry. I remember another good place to eat, the Air Force NCO Club, over
the rounds are hitting behind us and the world slows down al little. I can hear things again. The pounding of my feet and my heart, the loud high pitch whine in my ears is making me nauseous and my equilibrium is fucked. We are all running and stumbling. Dana is carrying someone, fireman carry, rucksack and all. Then we’re back into the trees again. I signal for a halt, but it is more a stumble to my knees unable to go any further. My lungs are burning from the exertion and the smoke from the
four a.m. Captain Miller sends one of his guys to tell us there s movement both in the East and the West. 0400, still nothing, this guy is smart. He wants to see if we will tip our hand, 0410, 0415, 0420 a trip flare pops on the perimeter to the East. White glow from that direction. M16s are firing. Then an M60, now the answering fire of AK-47s and SKSs. Then it’s a righteous firefight. The dull sound of grenades thumping, the Whoosh-Bang of RPGs and B-40 rockets. I can hear rounds hitting around
is that he will be there for at least a week beginning tomorrow. This agent has given us good reliable information numerous times. If, this time his information is accurate we’re going to relocate him and his family to someplace out of the country. If you know what I mean.” “Yes Sir, I know what you mean. He is going to open a restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona. Get a new tract home and a Mercedes Benz. All courtesy of one of the local churches, no doubt.” Both of the Captains look a little