WHO ARE THESE GUYS
By Glen McCrary
Any inaccuracies are truly unintentional and are a result of the passing of thirty-six years. Corrections and comments are welcomed.
The following tale not so much a war story as one of twists and turns and coincidences that resulted in this Soldier’s journey from one unit to another and full circle back again.
On or about 1 August 1970 somewhere in the boondocks of South Vietnam:
At the time I had been in country since May serving with E Co. (Recon Platoon) 2/5, 1st. Air Cavalry. As the Recon Platoon for the Battalion we spent the majority of our time in the bush with an occasional stand down at various fire support bases or Quan Loi. The duration of our missions necessitated that the platoon periodically be re-supplied in the field by Helicopter (Log Bird). While I don’t recall the exact intervals for re-supply, I would guess Log Day occurred approximately once a week. In addition to the necessities required to sustain a force of approximateious soldiers were a Ranger/LRRP Team from H. Company assigned to perform a “stay behind operation”. It was a well-known fact that our field units were prime suppliers to the VC and NVA. The discarded items considered to be trash by the GIs were valuable commodities to the enemy. In addition to food and other supplies that were carelessly abandoned there was always the possibility that documentation identifying the unit or their intentions may also be thoughtlessly left behind.
We were instructed to consolidate all of the debris (the bait) resulting from the re-supplying activity into a centralized location and then to prepare to saddle-up and move out. The Ranger Team would take up a concealed position and “stay behind” to observe and attempt a prisoner snatch. In closing the Lt. asked for a volunteers to remain behind with the Ranger Team. While I was no stranger to contact I was more accustomed to a friendly force of twenty some odd men, not seven or eight. Nonetheless I nervously stepped ring the bamboo just above our heads weren’t exciting enough there was more to come. The commotion from the firefight disturbed a division-sized element of fire ants that boiled from the ground and immediately commenced to attacking some of the Team members, myself included.
Man!!…Rounds sizzling overhead…. fire ants making a meal of my exposed flesh…I thought, what am I doing here, had I not learned a thing about volunteering?
In a matter of minuets, which at the time seemed like an hour, the small battle subsided. The TL directed the Team to move up to evaluate the results. At that point what moments before was a killing zone became a hospital zone as the Team did everything possible to save the life of their determined opponent. All attempts failed as the courageous VC had sustained a fatal chest wound.
Further examination of the ambush site revealed a heavy blood trail leading off into the bush indicating that the first VC was not as fortunate as first thought. In an attempt to track our Recon felt that we could raise our performance level with additional training. Being a young aggressive First Lt. with stateside Ranger Training his first choice for our additional training was the in-country course at, you guessed it, H. Company.
Sgt. Al Rapp and myself were chosen to be the first from the unit to attend and reported for training on or about 4 October 1970. Having been in the boonies for most of our five months in-country we were unaccustomed to the harassment that accompanied the training but recognized the value of the lessons and were determined to successfully complete the course.
After completing the course and the required training missions we had developed a strong appreciation for the small unit tactics and more so for the professionalism and dedication of the men of H Co. and discussed requesting transfers to the unit. In addition to our admiration of the unit rumor had it that the 2/5 was scheduled to stand-down, which would result in the dismantling of Echo Recon.
By Glen McCrary
We need some Vietnam War Stories!