My last with ST Deleware.
My first mission with DE was an in-country for the 4th ID and so was my last. Not a shot was fired but I remember it well.
I was on my way to Sunday Brunch and was stopped by the Grim Reaper. That is what we called the S-3 NCO who passed out assignments. That is also why I questioned TR about his screen name. A convoy from the 4th ID had been ambushed between Pleiku and Kontum (what was new?). They thought they had an idea where the ambush had been launched and controlled from. Like always their sorry assed LRRPS couldn't handle the job. I said: "Why me?" and the reaper replied that I had the best team for the job and he knew he could count on us. Anyone heard that BS before? What he meant was that everyone else had gone into hiding and I was the only dummass walking around. We were supposed to be on stand down for three more days. I rounded up my two US, Sgt Williams and SP4 Richardson but could only find two yards. The rest had split home for the stand down.
We had a very brief briefing and were inserted ASAP. Within about an hour a tracker had picked up our trail. When we stopped we heard a shot and the same when we began to move again. To me, trackers were just an accepted fact. It didn't hurt for them to know where you were as long as you didn't tip off your destination. My point man was a gem. I would point out where I wanted to go and he would take off at almost 180 deg. We stopped and changed directions every 15 minutes or so.
When we broke for lunch, the yards heard this sucker coming up the trail. They planned on capturing him. All of a sudeen this boy who couldn't have been 10 years old came into sight. My yards gave him the "come hither" sign and his eyes got as large as mangos and he did a douible back flip down the trail.
We continued on, generally along a ridge line until it was time to RON. We did a button hook and set up on the other side of the ridge. Dark came upon us real fast. It wasn't long till we realized something wasn't quite right. We started hearing voices. We moved a little deeper and found a fallen tree with a cave in the roots that was just large enough for the five of us. I contacted Covey and told him I was going to need someone up at first light and explained the situation. All night we heard troops coming into the site in groups of twos and threes. We could hear the password and counter sign and even hear the operator talking on the radio. We had found what we were looking for, but a little early. The ambush party started arriving about a half hour after we did.
Of course there was no Covey at first light. Luckily it was raining enough to cover any noise we made. One of the NVA walked right past us, so close I could have grabbed his leg. It became obvious that Covey wasn't coming, I don't know if I could have talked to him anyway unless the shit flew. We decided that it was time to leave. It was twilight. Very carefully and quietly we tippy toed out of there without being seen - somehow.
We moved to a ridge across the valley from where we were. Finally we contacted Covey. I explained the situation and recommended an air strike, ASAP. We were within range of a 4ID firebase and Covey said that would be quicker. Now comes the next problem. SOP was that there would be no arty support of troops without a visual ot the team location. A shiney didn't work and I refused to mark with smoke. I wasn't that far in the clear yet. I spent a while convincing them that I knew exactly where I was as well as the target. The target was simple. The NVA had set up in a box canyon. I guess they had seen too many cowboy flicks. This canyon looked like the letter "Omega" with verry steep sides. Very easy to recognize on the map. The FAC finally agreed after a marking round was fired 1K off target. This was also SOP. You hear a lot about accidental Arty strikes but I know that in our case they took every precaution. They then fired about 9 - 12 rounds for effect, CRS if 175mm or 8 in but they were big mothers. We could hear the screaming and confusion in the camp from where we were.
That was probably the most scared I ever was. When I got back they sent me to Khe Sahn to relieve the TDY treams from Oki. They took a real beating in the first months of 1968.