(July 1969 to July 1970)

Thank you for the photo. I have a few photos from C 158th and C 1/506th. I was with C 1/506th from july 1969 till february 1970 at which time I was transfered to C 158th. I left country in july 1970. I am attaching the photo files.

You are very right about one platoon not knowing what the next platoon or even next squad is doing.  I have started reading the story. What I'll do if you agree is give you "my" take on what I saw and what I was told happened at the time.

First off, I was in the 4th platoon which was created on Hamburger hill. Ivo Pillot was either our platoon leader or squad leader. Ivo was the only man in the platoon or squad to have made it through the Hamburger hill fight.  We did call him pilot.  I joined the company on Hamburger Hill in late July.  The 4th platoon patrolled the area until we were sent with a bulldozer and a couple of APC's to make a new "road" off of Hamburger to the valley florms2oor.  I think we did this for one or two days.  Then we were lifted to Berchtesgaden. We were told the rest of the company made heavy contact on 996. We were told the company was pulled off of 996 and B52's were to make an air strike on the hill.  After that, the 4th platoon along with the rest of the company would make a combat assault on the hill and a 30 hour raid. Most of us only took two or three meals.

I remember that the LZ on 996 was very small. We pulled security for the engineers who were planting C4 in order to increase the LZ size.  One of the other platoons started moving along the ridge and got into a fire fight. I understood the point man was KIA.  Then, as I understood it, another platoon took the lead and got into a fire fight and again their point man was killed.
Then it was our turn.

We followed the trail until we came to what I believe was a large bomb crater in the middle of the ridge. We split up; our squad went left and the other right. The right side ran into a machine gun.  Those of us on the left saw nothing.  I fired a few rounds down the left side of the hill just in case.  I was facing down the left side of the hill and then another platoon walked in front of us along the side of the ridge to flank the NVA.  At that time the NVA start walking mortar fire up the hill towards us.  Someone said the rounds were coming from Hamburger hill. I have no idea what direction was what.  Anyway we were told to pull back to where we had started.  As I start back the machine gun opened up on me.  A large tree next to me took the rounds.  All I remember is bark flying everywhere.  I did a very low crawl back up the side of the trail.  We then waited till dark to recover the bodies. I was right next to two dead NVA that night. Boy did they stink.  I swear you could hear the insects eating on them.  I was one of the guys told to recover the bodies.  You know how dark it was that night.  We felt our way to the KIA's.  I know we thought we had three KIA's, but I can't remember if all three were to be recovered or one was already recovered.  We got one in the poncho and started back with him. I was told the guys checking the bodies had to feel for wounds because of the darkness.  The next thing we know one of the KIA's started screaming. The guy was laying face down, wounded, all that time. When they turned him over the screaming started. I think everyone just about shit themselves.

I spent the rest of the night next to my dead NVA friends.  I was told that one of our KIA's and one our WIA's was hit by the machine gun and the other KIA was killed by our own machine gunner playing "John Wayne."  These where not my words because I did not see what happened to them.

I don't remember much after that first day 4th platoon landed on 996. What I do remember is the next day going down the side of the ridge to the left facing down the trail. After that I remember getting water and C's dumped from a UH1H. The water came in artillery canisters.  I remember taking a break when all of a sudden here comes a soldier with a dog moving very fast to the rear. I didn't know we had a dog.  Someone said they were taking the dog to rear because they didn't want the dog to get shot - meaning the Army did not care if we got blown away but save the dog at all costs. I remember being on one side of a ridge while aircraft dropped bombs on the other side.  It seemed like the booms were no more than 100 yards away if not closer. My time line is completely screwed up as far as what date things happened.  But after reading the story I now know that on Aug 12 when Colletto was killed, we were not at Currahee.  Did they call Colletto "so nice?"  We had heard that he was killed in a dry stream bed.  One of the guys started crying and saying they killed "so nice!"  The guy really fell apart. That must have been John Torves that was medevac'd on Aug 13.  After that, all I remember is leaving. The LZ was on the side of a hill with a bunker full of mortar rounds nearby. There were four of us left to be picked up but they ran out of helicopters. So we had to wait for them to drop the other guy off and come back for us.

I always thought we went to Currahee right after 996 but now I remember the airstrip on the valley floor. There were large bomb craters full of water. Some of the guys went swimming in them.