Chapter 5 - The Valley of Death - Fear No Evil...
We were headed back to LZ Hawk for another three day stand down when the CO received a call from HQ (head quarters) and was ordered to turn back and head for another area of operations. This was a sector that was championed by the US Marine Corps... what is up, Irene?
Just before we loaded up in helicopters we are told we are to relieve a company of Marines that were almost wiped out by the VC in The Valley of Death. (There is a Vietnamese name for this valley, but I have lost my memory of that name) The Marines had gotten their *** wiped by the boys in black, so they send in the boys in Green to clean up the mess. We all filed in single line into the Marine encampment. As we walked in I saw several KIA Marines, probably over 100 laying on the ground. The Medic Choppers had yet to come pick up the dead. Well, now all of us Green Guys could see first hand what we were going to face when the sun went down. As we filed around the perimeter, I spotted our 16 year old Vietnamese interpreter filing out with what was left of the Marines. This was not a good sign. He perhaps knew more than we did at that point. I spotted a place that looked pretty good for me, but this punk 18 year old Green Boy said that he already picked this place. He was a private. I was a SP-4 and 23 years old at that time…well, let the snot have his way...he he he. As it turns out, that was not such a good spot after all. I parked it a couple of hundred feet down the line and set up for the night.
I must explain about the difference between the Marine approach to warfare and us Army Ground Pounders. All of the Marines had a strict code: charge the hill, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, up the hill and over the top, no matter what the cost. The Marines did not call in for Helicopter Gun Ships, Phantom Jets, or Artillery. They carried mortars and felt that it was all they needed because, By God, They Were Marines, ate nails for breakfast and feared nobody. Hummm, I will let you decide how bright of a code that was. Now us Green Guys, when we came under fire, even a lone Charley Chink, we stopped, pulled back and used all the force we had behind the danger line. If we came up short, we called in all of the above, and we would achieve the goal at a low cost to our Guys. In reality, the VC and NVA all respected us Green Guys. They would unload at us and then run like hell to get away from the hell that would follow. Whereas, the Marines - Charley would come for them, no mercy, overwhelm the John Wayne action figures and win the day. Oh well, we just let them have it their way.
Anyway, when night fell, we all looked like deer in headlights.....he he he. Heavy jungle, could not see spit. Then, boom, an RPG round was fired into our line by Charley. The 18 year old Green Boy was blown away and his fox hole buddy torn up bad. This was the place where I had wanted to set up.....gee whiz, Mabel, thanks for the heads up.....he he he. Then, a few minutes later Charley tried to charge into our line and was cut down by an M-60 Machine gun. He started to get ripe so someone laid a rain poncho over him and threw some jungle junk over him. Nothing smells worse than a dead Charley after 12:00 midnight....he he he. In the mean time, the CO called in for Snoopy to cover us for the rest of the night. Snoopy is a cargo plane with mini guns. He showered the outer perimeter with machine gun fire. We could not see the plane as it had no lights and it was dark as hell, no moon, but we could see a steady stream of red tracers coming down all around us. Lord, I could hear and see jungle jumping all around in front of me. Snoopy got a little too close and hit a Green Guy in the leg. He moved his line of fire a few more feet. How comforting. When Snoopy One run out of ammo, another one came in behind and would set up his gadgets for a safe line of fire. Well, this took some time so, the CO ordered all of us to "Free Fire" until Snoopy Two came on board. Boy, did we shoot the **** out of the jungle in front of us....he he he. We made it through the night, rather long and tedious to be certain. Free Fire is when everyone fires their respective weapon in front of them until told to stop. No target, just to keep Charley's head down and discourage him from advancing, giving him every opportunity to get the **** out of our face!
In the morning we moved out but had to hold up about 30 minutes later. Damned if there wasn't a VC taking pop shots at us from a tunnel. Well, the Marines would charge the ****er and kill him for sure. One against 200. Well, they would win that one.....he he he. Now, on the other hand, us Green Guys, we called in gun ships and jets and blew hell out of Charley's position. No one hurt, no harm done to us. You can bet the Marines would have lost at least two people charging that Gook. I will not speak of the Marines any longer, they lost more people than any other military force in Vietnam, but they were able to come up with a larger body count of dead Viet Cong. How nice for them. We were unable to find enough left of Charley to count so, we lose that point. I will let you reach your own conclusion on this one also. Say, was Glenn Harris a Marine by the way?
Call to duty
Johnson (idiot) activated the Kansas National Guard. All of us were sent to Fort Carson Colorado. Some of us were re-assigned to the SE Asia area of operations, a death sentence for most of us. How they decided on me is a total unknown. I was the only NG in the company of men of which I was assigned. Its so very different now as the National Guard is the major source of manpower and the units are sent over as a group. Let's see what was it that we accomplished in SE Asia? I am afraid I have forgotten?
Hey sweetie, thanks for sharing my story with others. You are the first person that has heard my story. I feel better for doing this. You can be proud and that is super important to any Father for his child. Oh, by the way I am watching a three part series of Viet Nam 64 to 75 on the History Channel. It came to me as I watched my fellow Green Guys in the middle of the ****... the name of the Valley of Death... "Ah Shau Valley". If you ever meet another Green Guy sometime he will know of the Ah Shau for certain. The Marines never took that valley. The Viets were not going to let that valley be taken, no way.
POP the green man