(April 1970 to January 1971)

The following are events in which I was present and/or participated in. This is how I remember them. I have added names of others who were there and who would possibly be able to either confirm or correct my memory of these actions. I will send others as I come across them.

May 15, 1970. Second platoon 05:00 - LP hears movement, fires weapons and pulls back. Other LP thinks they are enemy and engages. Two men below are injured by friendly fire (claymores) – movement around NDP. Both go to C Med and then 85th Evac. Time of incident – 05:45 at YD 427118.

SP4 Alfred Haun, 410-86-6553 – frag wounds, right arm and left leg SGT Gerald L. Mauney, 587-30-7903 (lost both legs) Four other men with minor wounds.

Here are the details, as I recall them, before, during and after this very unfortunate and tragic event. This can be confirmed or corrected by getting in touch with Bruce Aaron and Rick Marshall. Ronald Marks might also remember something about this. I have talked to Bruce about this a couple of times over the last year or so. I had only been with Charlie Co for about three weeks when this event took place. I had originally been given a squad about a week to ten days after arriving in the field with Charlie Co.

At some point SSG Reid arrived in Charlie Co. and took over my squad since I was the junior squad leader. As far as I remember, he had been involved in a “Vietnamization” program most of his time in country and for some reason was assigned to a line company. I remember his being a very nice and likable person and seemed like he knew what he was doing. At this particular time 1st (Plt Leader – 2nd Lt. “Peanuts” Woolridge) and 2nd (Plt Leader – 2nd Lt. “Fido” Martin) platoons were working together. The weather was very rainy, cold and we were pretty much socked in before, during and after this event. I remember that we were having trouble with our radios because of the wet weather. Our hand sets were put into plastic bags to protect them as much as possible from the humidity but this was not totally efficient. We were in our combined NDP when we received word that our squad was to go out on ambush. Besides myself, there was SSG Reid, Bruce Aaron, Rick Marshall, a guy named Biggs or something and I think “Little Joe” Cartwright; I do not remember any of the others. I remember there was a trail that went through the NDP.

We left on ambush through one of the NDP positions down a small muddy incline. The people at the position did not make any effort to tell us that 1st Platoon had already sent a squad out on ambush in this direction. Why nothing was said we will never know. We went down the trail for about 400 to 500 meters, as best I can remember, and set up our ambush just off the trail. It was already pretty dark by the time we had set out our claymores and got into position for the night. The radios were only working intermittingly due to the humidity. We would send in our sitreps – two squelches – and have to repeat them a couple of times before the CP would acknowledge them, so if anything had been said about the other squad blowing their ambush and heading back to the NDP I am not sure that who ever was on watch at the time, got that message. Even if a message had been received, we did not know that the 1st Platoon ambush had gone out on the same trail as us.

At some point I remember being awakened by the person next to me, who was on watch, and hearing him say that there was movement to our right front. The others were roused and were all on alert as we heard the movement approaching our position. A first claymore was detonated, and then a number of others followed rapidly. I was in the process of getting my “frags” ready to throw (luckily no one shot their M16) when someone yelled out, “GI, GI…” I think that they thought they had reached the NDP. We still had no idea where these guys had come from or exactly what was going on.

It became apparent that we had blown our ambush on our own people. We finally got a medic out and as day broke I remember seeing SGT Mauney against a tree with his legs blown off and a few others with lesser wounds from the shrapnel and steel balls of the claymores lying around the general area. The weather finally broke enough to get a medevac in. I do not remember how many were taken out. A couple of days later we received word that SGT Mauney had died of his wounds. I think that SSG Reid was immediately transferred out of the company. Looking back I do not think it was in any way his fault or that anyone else was to blame. There were just a number of things happened in a sequence that lead to a very tragic event.

I also remember SGT Marks when we got back to the NDP that morning asking why it was always the sergeants that got hit. I did not understand what he was talking about until I read your book and saw that a number of sergeants had been lost in a short period just prior to my arriving in Charlie Company.

2. - May 17, 1970. Third platoon 10:23 - has contact at YD 423121. OP west of third platoon saw 5-6 NVA and engaged with small arms. 33 reinforces OP with MG and small arms. Enemy returns fire with AK. 33 employs LAW. One US wounded and one injured by falling in rush to reinforce. PFC Kerr is evac'd by jungle penetrator and line snags in trees and falls 35 feet, aggravating his injury.

Second platoon 13:19 - YD 423121, point man comes upon enemy point. Small arms fire is exchanged and US has leg and arm wounds. Weather socked in. Company reports Dustoff 999 completes medevacs under very difficult conditions. SSG Steven R. Smith, line #12, right shoulder wound PFC Charles O. Kerr, line #96, back injury due to fall (while being extracted by jungle penetrator, the penetrator caught in a tree and snapped; Kerr fell 35 feet aggravating his injury) PFC William T. Clous, line #83.

It does not seem like this happened so soon after the incident above. It seems like I had been in the company much longer when above action occurred. I do remember that I was a squad leader when this happened and that my squad and possibly another from 2nd platoon were called on to reinforce the CP and 3rd platoon. A RIF had gone out and included PFC Clous (probably walking point) and also SSgt. Steven Smith and SSgt. Jerry McGee as well as others. They were engaged by one or more NVA and PFC Clous was shot twice in the leg and once in the arm. SSgt. Smith was shot in the leg and shoulder, I think. All three of the above must have been at or near the front of the squad when this happened. As I recall, when the shooting started most of the squad returned towards the NDP and only SSgt. Jerry McGee stayed and put down a wall of fire using all of his ammo as well as most of the ammo of the two wounded soldiers while waiting for the support of a medic. They were finally brought back to the NDP, which is just about the time we joined up with the CP-3rd Platoon.

Zippo called in artillery and walked it in very close to our position. I can remember hearing the buzzing of shrapnel and having wood from the surrounding trees falling all over us. A medevac was called in and was having trouble; there was some bad weather at this time, possibly some wind. A “jungle penetrator” was lowered and both Smith and Clous were put on. As it was being pulled back up, the Huey started veering off, the cable got hung up in the trees and the cable snapped, sending both wounded soldiers to the ground (probably about 25 to 30 feet). One of them hurt his back in the fall. From what I remember the pilot was getting a little nervous and was probably a little worried about being shot at. I think he said he was going to go off station and return to Evans. Zippo advised him that he had an M60 pointed at the Huey and that thee pilot would hold the helicopter study and send down a basket to pick up the wounded or he would have the Huey shot out of the air. The basket was lowered, the two men were loaded and pulled up into the waiting Huey and taken out. (Zippo should be able to add more detail and confirm or correct the above)

SSgt. Jerry McGee was put in for a Silver Star, but it was reduced to a Bronze Star. PFC or Spec 4 Chuck “Doubleduece” Kerr was a medic. As far as I remember he was neither wounded nor medevaced that day. He might very well have been the medic with the CP/3rd Platoon at that time and had taken care of the wounded men until they were medevaced.

Just a short story that relates to the above: When I arrived out in the field with 1st platoon I was put in a position in the NDP and meet PFC Clous for the first time. He kind of showed my how things were done during my first few days in the field. That “training” consisted of everything from how to dig in, stand watch, be silent, make coffee and/or hot chocolate, heat up the c-rations (both with chunks of C-4 explosives) and a quick course on the use of a P-38. He was also the one who showed me how to get leeches off. As I remember, he had only been out in the field for a couple of weeks or so, but he seemed like an old veteran to me. After all these years I could remember this guy and the first impression he give me of life in the jungle. I could remember sitting with him, keeping him down as low as possible during the artillery strike and trying to console him with his wounds as he waited for the dust-off, but I could not remember his name until I read your story. I so am glad that I am finally able to put a name to the person in my memories and hope that he recovered from his wounds and is leading a healthy, prosperous life.

May 5, 1970 – May 9, 1970. Charlie Company moves to FSB Rakkasan and has mission of providing security to the fire base. D Company moves to FSB Maureen (YD 429122). On the 7th, third platoon 09:38 moves to reinforce D Company on Maureen. D company has 6 KIA and 9 WIA. 17:30 - finds misc ammo including 60mm mortar rounds at YD 434124. Third platoon is attached to D Company temporarily. On the 8th they receive some small arms fire with negative results. Back at Rakkasan, 08:13 - During FB rehearsal, SGT Noli had minor wound from claymore.

May 9, third platoon 10:53 - reports CH-47 at YD 442120 receives RPD fire from 300m. CH-47 goes down at YD 480148. Second platoon moves from Rakkasan to help secure the CH-47 and returns a few hours later. 13:30 third platoon - finds two bunkers YD 445120 with signs of recent use. 15:07 - receives some AK fire. Negative results. Charlie Company moves to Eagle Beach the morning of May 10th and remains there through the 11th. D Company loses a platoon leader on the 10th. Back to work on May 12. Charlie moves from Eagle Beach to Rakkasan to Maureen (YD 429122). Perhaps Maureen was inactive other than the LZ? 20:34 - reported mortar tube 600 meters from YD 427118. Turns out to be artillery from FSB Kathryn (YD 468111). Zippo has conversation with NVA on his push. Obscenities are traded! Alpha Company is on Rakkasan. For the next two weeks, C Company will be working the area in the vicinity of FSB Maureen. This area is very hilly with some peaks near 1,000 meters and is south of the Rao Trang River and about nine km south of FSB Granite.

It seems that instead of FSB Rakkasan that we were at FSB Jack at the date mentioned above, although I could be wrong. I remember a very flat area with a narrow road around the perimeter. It was rainy and muddy. There were fox holes dug every few yards with little or no protection for those not on guard. There were only one or two strands of concertina wire around the FSB. There was a “Mad Minute” every night that actually lasted for about five or ten minutes, maybe longer, during which we could fire up everything in front of us at will. The next morning someone would have to go our and repair the wire that had been shot up from the night before. We did, after a few days, have a stand-down and then came back to Jack before we were taken out and CA’d into an old FSB – Maureen.

I remember going into Maureen and being told by the door gunner that the LZ was “hot”. A couple of Cobras preceded us in and were shooting their “flechettes” and rockets. If there was someone shooting at us as we came in I was unable to tell. Also, sometimes the noise of the Huey‘s rotors could sound similar to the familiar “clack, clack, clack” of an AK 47.

I don’t know if the following is of any use to the story or not. It is a brief recollection of a few of the things that I can remember while a part of Charlie Company. I will also include the names of those I remember as being there at the time. This will help keep these recollections in proper prospective and keep them, I hope, from becoming exaggerations or embellishments of what really happened. I have thought of most of these things that follow over the years, but your story and it’s time line have helped me remember more of the details of when and where they happened.

One morning (cannot remember when this happened – might have been July or August) we were brining in our claymores after a night on ambush. We had just about gotten all our material together and were ready to head back to the 2nd platoon NDP when we heard some very loud noises coming up the trail. It was so loud that we just looked at one another and thought that there had to be at least a company of NVA in a hurry to get somewhere. We got done behind whatever we could and readied our M16’s to shoot up as many NVA as we could before they overran us. Then, all of a sudden a pack of wild boars comes down the trail – about three or four adults and a bunch of little ones. They never looked our way or paid any attention to us in any way, we had to be about 15 to 20 feet off the trail. Besides myself, Bruce Aaron, Rick Marshall, Larry Sterzik, maybe Jim Davis and Jerry Brenke as well as a guy from Guam named Lorenzo, were on this ambush.

While we were on Ripcord we were constantly getting movement. We went out to set up some trip flares one afternoon. There were no signs of recent activity, but that night our flares went off. It seems that we were told that an attack was possible at any time, but nothing major happened while we were there. I will never understand why we were not used a few weeks later in support of Ripcord. Why was D Company, that had already had its butt kicked several times, used instead of us?

FSB Kathryn was our AO most of the time I was there. We pulled FSB duty a couple of times on this FSB. One of the toughest things was when we walked off FSB Kathryn – June 15th – 1st time. It seemed like it was straight down. Trying to maneuver down the side of this mountain with a full rucksack plus all of our other gear was very difficult. On top of being extremely steep we would have to spend the night on this slope. Needless to say, there was no digging in, we would spread out and try and find a tree, stump, rock or anything else to curl up round to keep from sliding down during the night. To make things worse, it seems that when you did slip, which was often, anything you grabbed onto had thorns or stickers. I can remember that when we finally got off that mountain everybody would rush the Doc to have their sores taken care of before they could get infected.

My squad was on a RIF one day when we came upon a group of bunkers situated just off a very large trail. We were setting up a perimeter and starting to check the bunkers. Because of the size, I called for another squad to come up as re-enforcement to help secure the area. I was told that they were on their way. As I continued to talk on the radio I looked up and saw someone standing about 30 to 40 meters away. I could only see the guy, who behind a bush, from the chest up. He had a boonie hat and an M16 held across his chest. My first reaction was that the other squad had really moved fast. We had a few guys of Mexican descent and from that distant I thought that it was one of them. A split second later, when I realized that it could not be the other squad and that I was looking at an NVA soldier, I yelled out to the others to get down as I brought my M16 up to fire. This guy had already taken off back down a trail. He actually almost ran into the point man of the other squad coming to meet us. I think he then took off down the side of the mountain while the other squad fired on him. I am not sure but I think they later found a blood trail but never found the NVA soldier. Afterwards, I wondered why this guy had not taken any shots at us. I don’t know how long he had been observing us, but he never got a shot off. The only thing I could imagine is that he did not have very many, if any, rounds for his M16. And where did he get the M16. It was the M16 that caused the moment of hesitation that kept him from dying that day. On top of that all we found in the bunkers was a couple of satchel charges and a few rounds of AK 47 ammo. Besides myself, Bruce Aaron, Rick Marshall, Larry Sterzik, maybe Jim Davis and Jerry Brenke as well as a guy from Guam named Lorenzo, were on this RIF. Cannot remember who my RTO was.

We were on a RIF, somewhere in the lowlands, and heard noises like pots and pans being washed or hitting together. We followed the noise and came upon a little camp site. There was a small rise behind the campsite and on the other side, where the noise was coming from, was a stream. To NVA or VC were actually starting to wash their pots and pans after having made a fish head soup or something. We must have made to much noise coming up to them because by the time we went over the rise ready to shoot, they had taken off down stream. We followed them for quite a ways. We could see the way they had gone by the muddy churned up water. A LOH came out to help us locate them – Zippo might have been in the LOH – but we were never able to find them. We did get all their cooking utensils, an NVA belt ( Daryl Noli got that) and I think an AK47 with some ammo and other various items. We also got all their clothes that had been hung out at their campsite, so they were running around in their underwear. We set up an ambush that night waiting for them to come back but they never did. Besides myself, Darryl Noli, Bruce Aaron, Rick Marshall, Larry Sterzik, maybe Jim Davis and Jerry Brenke as well as a guy from Guam named Lorenzo, were on this RIF.

My time in Charlie Company was one of the greatest periods of my life. With all the complaining and bitching, through the very hot dry weather when we had little water and the wet season when would run low on ammo and share what little food we had between us and were socked in with no resupply possible, it was a valuable experience that I would not have missed for anything. Getting off that Huey and hitting the ground in a new AO and feeling your stomach knotted up not knowing what to expect or as bad as it was when we would lose someone, either KIA or WIA, I am still glad that I was able to be there and experience it.

The people in Charlie Co. were a fabulous bunch of guys that I could never forget. The fact that we got serve under the leadership of Zippo was just an added bonus that made the whole thing that much more impressive and long lasting. I have often compared my experience in Vietnam to eating very hot, spicy food for a long time and returning to the “world” was like taking all the spice away making everything very bland. It took a long time to get over that feeling and I don’t think I have completely gotten over that feeling, even today. I feel proud today when I hear people talking about veterans (of all wars) to know that when it was time to go, I went. Great experience in dealing with life and death – but with no regrets for having been or served in that place we called “Nam”.