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Author Topic: Ken Jensen Stories  (Read 23870 times)
Huyen
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« on: October 13, 2007, 02:14:18 AM »

I was Infantry Platoon Leader for 1st Platoon, D Co (off and on). Helped form D Co in July '67 at Phuoc Vinh. Was wounded in elbow in Sep of 67 while on "Thunder Road" mine clearing operation and shipped to Japan for healing. Returned to country in Dec '67. Was again hospitalized Dec 29th '67 for about 10 days after attack in Quan Loi. Returned to duty as XO of the company for a short period (about a week) then again took over 1st Platoon in late Jan 68, Fought in battle of An My Feb 1st and 2nd '68 and finally med evaced back to the states after being shot thru the leg and chest about 3 clicks S.W. of Tu Doc on Feb 15th 1968.

Is there anyone out there that served with me in Delta Company?

KEN JENSEN
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2007, 02:17:39 AM »

Yes I was part of the Delta Company "Packets". Left Tacoma Wa. Jun 30th 1967 on a SLOW BOAT to Vietnam (U.S.N.S GEIGER). Arrived July 21st 1967 in Vung Tau (I think). We had about 1600 to 1700 troops on board that were to form up 4th rifle companies. Most of these troops were assigned to the "Big Red One" (1st Inf Division).

One of the neat things about this boat ride was that our tour of duty started when we left U.S. waters (June 30th 1967), so the first 21 or so days spent on the boat were free days spent in Vietnam.
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2007, 02:18:18 AM »

Miss Siagon

You asked about contact with "Locals". I had very little contact with "friendly" locals. Most of my contact was with Charles and/or suspected villages that supported Charles. Have been shot at by 7 and 8 yr old kids and women (young girls). And Villages that were so called "friendly" we couldn't return fire into even tho we were taking wounded. What a situation.

Can very well understand why My Lai happened - one does get frustrated. Don't get me wrong, I think the My Lai incident was handled wrong by the Capt and Lt. running the operation (murder of innocent folks - war or no war is wrong).


KEN
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2007, 02:18:59 AM »

Miss Siagon you asked:
Ken, did you listen to AFVN while in country?

hmmm only radio I listened to was my "pric" (PRC25). I was out in the "BOONIES" most the time or in recovery in the hospital. When I got a chance to be in the rear I GOT DRUNK!

KEN
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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2007, 02:20:09 AM »

Quote
Originally Posted by Boonierat 
Ken, I'm curious to know which part of the RVN you saw. The 1st Brigade was based at Phuoc Vinh so I guess your unit operated all along Highway 13 between Lai Khe and the plantations around An Loc-Quan Loi and Loc Ninh?



You got it about right - Draw a line from Siagon to Bu Dop and I covered a lot of ground on both sides of that line. Most of the stuff was left (West) of the line though.

Fought major stuff in Bu Dop, An My, Tu Doc. A lot of incidental fire fights and ambushes sweeping around Phuoc Vinh and Quan Loi and of course Hwy 13 "Thunder Road". Most stuff was west of "Thunder Road"
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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2007, 02:25:15 AM »

Miss Siagon wanted some war stories and since there is a bit of information regarding the attack on Phuoc Vinh in July 1967 which I disagree with (the enemy killed stats) what is posted there (see 40 yrs Ago Today thread - posting 783 on page 53).

My adventure regarding this attack follows:

PHUOC VINH INDOCTRINATION
All we did, the first few days at Phuoc Vinh, was to get our basic combat supplies (to include steel pot, flak jacket, and weapons) and go through a few orientations, organized into Platoon assignments, and was shown (walked thru) our defensive perimeter positions and what we should do if we came under attack. At this time we only had one experienced officer, the XO, who was a 1st Lt and one experienced Master Sgt. The first three nights we learned, and was adjusting to, the basic night time sounds of war - a few small arms fire out in the distance - the firing of H & I’s (harass and intermittent - outgoing mortar and artillery rounds). These sounds seemed to go on all night, but I got used to them, knowing they were outgoing rounds.



MY FOURTH NIGHT AT PHUOC VINH
It was the monsoon season in Vietnam and rain/mud was our common companion. During the first few nights we would clean up and go to bed in regular army cots like it was normally done back in the world (shorts and T-shirt). About two or three in the morning I heard this very loud explosion that woke me up - “Is that incoming or outgoing”? I dumbly yelled! Next I heard a lot of yelling INCOMING, INCOMING! I proceeded real fast to grab my glasses, steel pot, shower shoes, and flash light and ran to the back tent exit which was right next to my bunk. I knew there was a sandbagged bunker about 20' from the rear exit of our tent. I was about half way to the bunker when a large ROCKET explosion went off real close to me and the concussion of the explosion picked me up and threw me about 10' to the side entrance of the bunker. The concussion had also knocked off my steel pot, glasses, and shower shoes. Man, unbelievably I was ok! I low crawled like hell to the bunker entrance, while still on my belly, about six guys stepped on top of me trying to get into the bunker. Once in the bunker I yelled, “F@%K! JUST LIKE THE MOVIES, ONLY IT’S REAL”! I turned my flashlight on and seen that the Capt (the new D Company Commander, Capt Deblois) was right beside me, and all of the new Platoon Leaders (Lt’s) and Platoon Sgt’s were also in this same bunker, along with the cooks and some Vietnamese mess help (about 6 young ladies). Upon further observation, there was also a young soldier in the bunker starting to make out with one of the Vietnamese girls while the chit was still popping outside the bunker - typical young GI trying to get a piece when and wherever he could. After about five min in this safe bunker, there was this angry dumbfounded face sticking into our safe little bunker entrance. The angry person behind this face was fully combat ready; the angry face was that of our experienced XO (1st Lt), yelling at all our asses to get the hell out of the bunker and collect our men and defend the perimeter positions. We all looked at each other with “STUPID” written on all our foreheads, thinking the same thing - oh yeah, we are the Command Leadership of this brand new Company.

On the way to gather up all my men I went through the back entrance of our tent and grabbed a steel pot, combat webbing (harness pre-supplied with water, grenades and ammo) and my weapon (M16) – didn’t have time to find a flak jacket or a 2nd pair of glasses.

Now at this time, we have not yet been issued any radios to communicate with. I’m on the defensive perimeter with what I needed to fight with - but I’m still in my T-shirt and shorts, barefoot, and have no glasses. We were almost ankle deep in mud and the rain was pouring down. In my efforts to count all my men, in order to provide a “heads up” status to the Company Commander, I had to use my RTO as a message runner between me and my Squad leaders and me and the CO. Well I’m standing up trying to get control of things while small arms fire was coming in to our positions. I looked around and seen all these little blobs of mud flying up all around me (and I say to my Platoon Sgt. “WHAT THEY HELL THEY DOING - THROWING ROCKS AT US”! My Platoon Sgt., on his belly in the mud, answered “SIR YOU BETTER GET DOWN - THOSE ARE RIFLE GRENADES”. Hell I didn’t have my glasses on, it was raining like hell, and the mud was so deep it was absorbing the small explosions that rifle grenades make when landing in deep mud. Well you know what I said “AH CHIT!” I hit the mud face down.

WELCOME TO VIETNAM - PHUOC VINH STYLE
The local VC’s had just welcomed the new Delta Companies to the 1st Inf. Div. During the attack, there was a lot of green and red traces flying in all directions - different types of explosions going off, USAF fighter strikes along with Army Gun Ships blazing away at Charlie who was attacking our perimeter defenses. Things got quiet in about an hour or so and we stayed at our positions till daylight.

Come daylight, I went looking for my glasses and CLOTHS. Found my glasses, and steel pot just outside the tent entrance along with half of a single shower shoe (never found the other half or the other matching shower shoe). My Platoon Medic came up to me and noticed that I had been bleeding from the forehead right above my nose between the eyes. He got out his tweezers and pulled out a piece of shrapnel from my forehead. He said “Sir, you qualify for a Purple Heart”. Told him “to shove it - I’ve had worse picking my nose!” SURE WISH I HAD KNOWN WHAT SEN. JOHN KERRY KNEW ABOUT RECEIVING THREE PURPLE HEARTS!

We didn’t lose anyone in our company that night; however; The short timers hootch, very close to our Company - made of wood with cement floors - took a direct rocket hit and killed about 10 that were scheduled to go home within the next few days.

The rumors that went around about enemy killed that night was somewhere around 50 VC. Here's the irony - One of the VC was a Lieutenant, and he was the Phouc Vinh local Vietnamese that was hired to work on the base (the base BARBER)! Notice the word WAS.

I NEVER AGAIN went to sleep in Nam UNLESS I WAS FULLY DRESSED AND COMBAT READY!


KEN JENSEN
1st Platoon Leader, Delta Company, 1/28th "BLACK LIONS"
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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2007, 02:26:59 AM »

My QUAN LOI Adventure (Dec 67) 1/28th Platoon Leader

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This is for Miss Siagon and all you interested folks.


Upon being released 4 Dec, 1967 from Camp Zama, Japan hospital with my Medical Profile 2, Elbow wound, I was placed on full duty status. I received flight orders back to Ton Son Nhut AFB, RVN, (verbal and/or in writing - unknown - I don’t have a copy of the orders and I don’t remember).

FROM MEMORY
I’m assuming the date of my arrival back to Nam was either Dec 5th or Dec 6th, 1967. I do remember seeing and talking with Capt Drexler (my old CO from my Ft. Benning assignment as a Basic Training Officer) upon my arrival at Ton Son Nhut . Capt Drexler was just arriving for his first tour in Vietnam - I thought "now here's a flake that will get people killed" - we spent about 10 minutes talking because I had just arranged for a Chopper “Hop” back to 1/28th, which to my surprise, was now in Quan Loi. Sometime after Sept 17, ‘67 and before Dec 6th, ‘67 the Battalion’s base camp had moved from Phuoc Vinh to Quan Loi.

At Quan Loi (Dec 6th or 7th ’67) I found the 1/28th Battalion Personnel Office (S1) almost empty - I bumped into Capt Deblois (my previous 1/28th, D Company CO - my boss when I was wounded in the Left Elbow back in Sept). He was back in base camp doing some administrative work. He told me D Company was out near the Cambodian border and I should come out and meet the new folks. I told him NO thank you, I’ll wait here for the S1 in order to get my new assignment.

I expected to be assigned to S3 (Operations) because I had spent my time in the MUD (Rice Paddies), Rubber Trees, and JUNGLE as a Platoon Leader, and I also had a Medical Profile of 2. He then told me the Battalion S1 was also out in the field and wouldn’t be back for awhile. Capt Deblois talked me into going out to the field (near Cambodian border) - oh my, what a mistake! After we had Choppered into the location where D Company was located, Capt Deblois introduced me to the Lt that was leading my old Platoon; Capt Deblois excused himself and said he was going to go and talk with the S1. I chatted with this Lt. for a few minutes than had a short re-union with some of my old troops. Capt Deblois returned and called me over to talk to me in private, and said he was going to fire a couple of Lt’s and put me back in charge of my old Platoon! “NO! NO! NO!” I said; “Let me talk to the S1, I have a Medical Profile of 2 and can not fully extend my left arm!".

Capt Deblois said “To late, it was a done deal”. He further said, we would be here at this location for a few more days and that he was being promoted to Major (that’s why I had run into him at Quan Loi), he was going to be attached to the Division Band, and (because he had bumped into me) I was to take over the Company when we returned to Quan Loi base camp. “Hmmmmm”, I thought, “me, a 1st Lt.. commanding an Infantry Combat Company (during combat operations) would be a SMART career move”. So stupid ass me agreed

Sure enough, Capt Deblois had fired a couple of Lt’s (after talking to the S1 and before talking to me in private) and one of them was the Lt. I had just chatted with . These folks got on the Chooper that just brought me to this site (near Cambodian border - I later found out we were at Bu Dop), and off they went in that beautiful “egg beater”, that was supposed to be taking me out of there.

I’m guessing that sometime around Dec 20th ‘67 we returned to Quan Loi, and sure enough again, Capt Debolis was promoted to Major and left to play music (or whatever), and I assumed Command of D Company.

Sometime between Dec 20th ‘67 and Dec 24th ‘67, I was briefed that we would be going out on another operation shortly after Christmas, and as the CO of D Company I would be taking D Company out for this operation.

Quan Loi style Merry Christmas greetings from “Charlie” came during the night of Christmas Eve by popping a few incoming Mortars and mixed small arms fire our way. Nothing big, but while attempting to find a covered bunker, in the middle of the night, I found an incomplete construction of a bunker that didn’t have a cover. I found this sucker by running into it, and fell into this deep hole; tore the chit out of my left knee.

I walked around for a few days after Christmas and my left knee swelled up to about 1/2 the size of a basketball and it hurt like hell and I could barely walk. My mind was so wrapped up about taking the Company out on operation I tried to tough it out but failed. So I reported in to the Battalion Medical office.

The Battalion Medical Officer and myself went and seen the Battalion Commander and told him I wouldn’t be able to take D Company out on the next operation. The Battalion Commander order me to go to the Hospital (* note * have medical records dated Dec 29, '67) where I spent approximately 10 days in traction waiting for the swelling of my left knee to go down and to regain my walking capability.

Upon my return back to the Battalion’s location at Quan Loi (about 8 January ‘68), I discovered that I had been replaced as D Company Commander by a Capt Richard L. Carr Jr, and I would take over the duties as D Company XO. I thought “well there goes my friggin career”. I performed the XO duties for a week or two then I was order to take over my old Platoon again - this was sometime in mid or late Jan ‘68. “Aaaaah Chit”, whatever happened to my Medical Profile 2 consideration, and my nice S3 job?

A little background: I had been previously briefed by Battalion that Capt Carr had come from a Mech Unit out of Europe and had little to no experience in Jungle Warfare and I was expected to guide and instruct him because of my previous experience with the Battalion and D Company. In addition, the Battalion had an un-written policy to stay off roads and trails UNLESS absolutely necessary for the mission. Due to my experience, I (and most of the men in my Platoon that were experienced) had learned and knew, this policy was very sound and concurred with it.

The Company had been assigned to pull a security sweep outside Quan Loi’s base camp - this was to be an all day adventure and Capt Carr had been ordered (by Battalion) to be back before the 1900 curfew. I firmly believe this was critical for the security of the Base camp but I also believed this was a training and Company familiarization exercise for Capt Carr.

Now we had been out humping our way through some pretty thick jungle for the past 6 or 7 hrs when Capt Carr decided (about 2 hrs before curfew) that it was time to head for home. Now my Platoon had been running Point for the Company all day (we had been cutting through pretty thick jungle growth and was tired). I informed Capt Carr (over the horn - Radio) there was no way we would make it back in time unless we back-tracked through the same area we had already cut our way through. He stated he didn’t want to do that. So, I then suggested that we should prepare to spend the night and build an NDP and notify Battalion where we were so Battalion H&I’s (Harass and Intermittent Fire) would not wipe us out. Now Capt Carr, over the horn, was getting a little pissed at me and told me to head for this small cart path/trail we had previously, cautiously, crossed about a half hour ago, and it would take us straight back to Base camp.


Over the horn I refused to take my Platoon and his Company down that trail. Man did this ever piss Capt Carr off and he came storming up to my Point position where I was waiting with about six of my men around me. He began to chew out my ass and gave me a “direct” order, and if I refused, he would court-martial me. Oh boy, there goes my career again! I told Capt Carr I would take his Company down the trail, but “if anyone got hurt I was going to personally shoot him, and if I couldn’t, my men will shoot you for me”! - I think I got his attention, because he looked around at the 6 men that were watching and smiling at this dog and pony show - he just walked off back to his proper position within the company.


I moved my Platoon out to find this trail. Upon reaching the trail, I stopped my Platoon and re-organized my Platoon’s tactical formation as follows:
Me and my number one M60 machine gunner, FRED HAAS, would be first and stay together. Four more men would follow - well spaced apart - one of these four would be HAAS’s ammo bearer. Then my other M60 machine gunner, then my Platoon Sgt, and then the rest of the Platoon - all well spaced apart. This is a very ABNORMAL Platoon formation. To much fire power and leadership at front of the Platoon formation.

Now this was really ass hole pucker time; the trail was about 10 to 12 feet across with heavy jungle growth on both sides, and we had about 2,500 meters to go. As we proceeded, we spotted numerous VC bunkers built along both sides of this trail. Thank GOD they were empty, and we made it safely back to Base camp before the 1900 curfew. Now under most circumstances, we would have popped a grenade or two into each on of the VC bunkers; however I advised against this, because it would give warning to possibly enemy positions ahead of us that might not be empty.

Capt Carr was happy and he did apologize to me, because he had been kept informed about the existence of, and he personally saw, all the VC bunkers I had warned him about, and he thought my advice regarding roads and trails AND not blowing the bunkers was sound; BUT he had some good Intel about the bunkers to report back to Battalion and he achieved his 1900 curfew. My thoughts at the time were he would look good on his first training mission, (whoopty friggin do! - the dumb **** - jeopardizing his company like he did). Needless to say he didn’t have me court-martialed.


KEN
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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2007, 02:28:00 AM »

Pay Officer - Vietnam Style

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PAY OFFICER DUTIES
While at Phuoc Vinh sometime in Aug or Sep of 1967 I was given an extra duty of pay officer. Now when you have this duty in the states you can get a couple of guards. Not so in the Nam, for me anyway (your on your own – no guards detailed for this chore). Now I had to pay enlisted troops for most the Battalion that were at Phuoc Vinh, in the field, assigned/detached elsewhere, in jail, and in the hospital; so the amount of MPC’s that was provided was between $100,000 and $200,000 (can’t remember how much now). Along with pay rosters and MPC’s I had envelopes, stamps, and money orders. Oh boy, now I’m a Postal Clerk with all this stuff neatly placed into a Sandbag.

My first problem was to figure out how I was going to accomplish this task. For the guard situation, I could go to my own unit and pick up a couple of guards. I decided against that. The troops needed the base camp rest. So I decided to increase my personal armory by checking out a Shotgun with double-ot shot (12 gauge with 00 shot). Now this sucker will chop down a small tree with about 10 small ball bearings for each round. I figured this weapon, along with my M16 and .45, could handle about anything.

I got my shotgun (loaded) and ready, sandbag (with money) over my shoulder and began walking down this hard laterite (red clay) road with shotgun pointed down along the side of my right leg. BOOM, my right foot goes up about 12 inches and I hit the ground because I thought incoming mortar rounds. I looked up and a couple of troops were laughing like hell. The shotgun had accidentally fired one of those ball bearing rounds, just missing my right heel, and blew my foot off the ground with laterite flying all around me. My foot was fine, but that sucker made about a 4 inch deep hole in that hard ass laterite. End of shotgun! Checked that muther back in.

After paying most the troops at Phuoc Vinh, I had to obtain chopper hops to other locations to find the remainder of the troops. The total task took me about 4 days to accomplish. I brought back about 75% of the cash because most troops purchased money orders to send home.

Later (a different month) I head that another Lieutenant that was assigned this same duty was sent home. Here’s the story I heard about this poor sucker. When he went out to the field to pay a Company he had his stuff (money orders, rosters, MPC’s etc.) at a folding table and was paying the troops when all of a sudden they came under attack. He ran for cover leaving all his stuff (MPC’s and money orders) at the table. As he was under cover in the bunker, he then remembered the money. Back out he went to retrieve all the stuff while the chit was still coming in. After the attack was over, he began paying again and then they came under attack again before he had finished paying. As before he ran for cover. However. this time a mortar round made a direct hit on his table and all the stuff was blown to hell. He couldn’t account for all the MPC’s and money orders so he was immediately put under investigation and sent home till it was all resolved. Have no idea as to whatever happened to him.
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« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2007, 02:28:38 AM »

Quote
Originally Posted by RadioResearcher 
Ken --

Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your well-turned stories of the grunt life. I hope it does you good in telling them. This is one respectful REMF, for the chit you guys went through. I was Radio Research - AKA Army Security Agency, AKA signals intelligence - with the Americal at Chu Lai. (Your RR supporting unit would have been the 337th Radio Research Co, at Lai Khe and Di An.) Same war, different fight. We did our best to give you guys G2 on enemy whereabouts through morse and voice radio intercept and analysis and radio direction finding.-- Radio Researcher


Interesting RR,
In my other life, age 17 I joined the Air Force. Was trained as a Morse Intercept and Non-Morse Intercept (Radio Teletype). Spent 2 yrs in Alaska during the "Cold War" 1959 - 1961; intercepting the Russians both in High Speed Morse and Radio Teletype. Was assigned to xxxx RGM. Top Secret Crypto clearence. When debriefed was told I couldn't talk about the stuff or go to specific countries for 20yrs. After thinking about it a little, I sorta blanked out the unit name above because it was still an active unit in 1987, and I don't know the status of the unit today. Probably doesn't matter; hell the Russians use to send us "Merry Christmas" greetings along with many of the names of folks assigned to specific shifts within this unit. They already knew who and what we were doing. The only folks that didn't know were U.S. folks (both military and citizens) not included in the "need to know" arena.

Joined the Army in 1964. In the Army as an enlisted man, I was married and had my wife and kids with me in Germany. They wouldn't let me travel to Berlin. I went to OCS in 1966 from Germany and became an Infantry 2nd Lt.

hehe! Was really surprised when I got orders to Vietnam as an INFANTRY Platoon Leader. Damn 20yrs hadn't gone by yet.


KEN
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« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2007, 02:30:52 AM »

Quote
In my other life, age 17 I joined the Air Force. Was trained as a Morse Intercept and Non-Morse Intercept (Radio Teletype). 


Small world. So, you were Air Force Security Service.

Quote
Spent 2 yrs in Alaska during the "Cold War" 1959 - 1961 


We (ASA) had our main operation at Shemya.

Quote
Top Secret Crypto clearence. 


Same tickets here.

Quote
When debriefed was told I couldn't talk about the stuff or go to specific countries for 20yrs. After thinking about it a little, I sorta blanked out the unit name above because it was still an active unit in 1987, and I don't know the status of the unit today. 


By my time, the time interval had been reduced to one year! I guess they figured of what was in your head of value was perishable in that time! Today, I use the book The Most Secret War - Army Signals Intelligence in Vietnam as a guide as to what can be discussed (http://www.amazon.com/Most-Secret-Wa...830435&sr=8-3). This was published by the Army Intelligence and Security Command in 2003, so a lot of the mission was protected until fairly recently. It feels good to finally be able to talk about what we did there.
 
Quote
In the Army as an enlisted man, I was married and had my wife and kids with me in Germany. They wouldn't let me travel to Berlin


More small world. I was married and had my wife and one kid (born while was at Chu Lai) with me in Germany after the Nam. By my time, I was able to carry double-wrapped classified goods with me on the overnight troop train to Berlin for a briefing I was giving at ASAFS Berlin. Civilian clothes on the TDY orders. My wife and son came along for the ride. We got a pullman compartment because I was "carrying". Was supposed to keep the window shade down all night, but copped a peek at a Russian (could tell by the cap) on a train platform enroute. Dim light, empty platform, except for the Russian stalking back and forth - classic Cold War.

-- RR
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« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2007, 02:32:25 AM »

Quote
Originally Posted by RadioResearcher 
Small world. So, you were Air Force Security Service.
uote:


We wern't designated as such. However we did work directly for NSA.

Quote
Originally Posted by RadioResearcher 
We (ASA) had our main operation at Shemya.


Our unit had a remote site at Shemya.

Quote
Originally Posted by RadioResearcher 
Same tickets here. By my time, the time interval had been reduced to one year!


I was debrifed in 1961.

Was in Germany 7th Army Engineers 1965 to Apr 1966 then went to OCS. HEHE - Only needed a Secret then - some folks had problems - I flew thru this processing - my records were located at 10th District OSI, San Antonio Tx.



KEN
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« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2007, 02:33:24 AM »

A Couple Of Ambush Snippets

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AMBUSH – TWO PRISONERS
While at Phuoc Vinh, sometime in Aug 1967, I was assigned to take my Platoon out on ambush along side a jungle cart path about 1500 meters from Phuoc Vinh’s outer perimeter. At this point in time, the civilian curfew around Phuoc Vinh was between the hours of 1900 and 0700. This meant, so the rumor goes, that we owned the jungle during the day and Charlie owned the jungle at night. I was to be in position by 1900 hrs; this is because H&I’s (Harass and Intermittent Artillery and Mortar Fire) start any time after 1900, and Battalion didn’t want to have anyone drop any rounds on their own.

I selected two squads to go out on this ambush, minus two M79 Grenadiers, but including two M60 Machine Gunners. Briefed all as to the location and how to act once in position (limited to no talking – whisper only if necessary, no sleeping).

All went well; got into position, claymores out, guns in place, reported back to Battalion. About 10 at night it started; SNORING, nudging, LOUD whispers; hehe other strange noises. Well you guessed it, we didn’t surprise any Charlies on the cart path that night. However just about daybreak, about 0630 or so – not dark not daylight, and before breaking down the ambush site, I took my 1st Squad Leader with me to perform an inspection of the cart path (intel purposes). We’re out there, on our knees, inspecting the path and a black pajama clad person comes around a bend in the trail about 10 meters away from us.

I jump to my feet, weapon in hand, and am about to blow this person away; but I noticed it was a fairly young girl about 10 or 11, so I held my fire and motioned for her to come forward with hands in the air. Now all this stuff is happening pretty fast; I notice my Sgt (1st Squad Leader) is standing there like a dummy with NO WEAPON! I, dumbfounded asked, “where’s your weapon”? He responds – “back there”. The dumb chit left his weapon at his ambush position. Next, here comes another black pajama clad person around the bend in the path, and he is walking very fast/semi running and yelling, and he has something in his hand (to dark yet to make out what it was). As he got closer I could not see that it was only a sickle so I didn’t blow him away just yet. After a lot of threats between him and I – neither one of us understanding the other – I convinced him to throw down the sickle and put his hands in the air (??kaka-dau seemed to have worked).

I had these two prisoners tied up (hands only) and reported back to Battalion that we had captured two Vietnamese. After breaking down the ambush site, we proceeded through the jungle back to Phuoc Vinh.

The perimeter of Phuoc Vinh (like most base camps) is mined with a lot of barbed razor wire surrounding the perimeter. About 100 meters before reaching the outer perimeter of our base camp, I had the prisoners blind folded so they couldn’t see how to get through our mine field. Now sometime while moving through the jungle, these two prisoners had lost their sandals and both were now barefooted and their feet were bleeding. As we maneuvered our way through the razor wire, that surrounded the base camp, these two prisoners would suffer many more cuts to their legs and feet. We turned our prisoners over to MP’s and I was debriefed by S1 (Intel) and S3 (Opns).

About four hours later I got word that our prisoners had been released because they were local village folks, (a father and daughter), not VC suspects, and were only guilty of jumping the gun on curfew (leaving to early for work). I have thanked God many times for stopping me from blowing these folks away. However, I don’t think we won the “hearts and minds” of these two. Or maybe we did, because they weren’t dead.


AMBUSH – TRAGEDY
Bu Dop, sometime in early/mid Dec 1967.
I was about 50 meters away when I spotted a Sgt performing a weapons check of an ambush patrol just prior to going out on ambush. As he inspected the side-arm weapon of a Grenadier (.45 Automatic) the slide on the .45 slipped and the weapon accidentally fired. Problem was that the weapon was not pointed skyward but right at the chest of the Grenadier. End of story.
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« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2007, 02:34:01 AM »

COUPLE OF GRENADE SNIPPETS - 1st Platoon Leader D Co. 1/28th

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U.S. HAND GRENADES
The safety pin on American hand grenades used in Vietnam was like a large “cotter pin”. The “eye” of this cotter pin was large enough to get a small finger inside. Consequently when moving through thick brush, found in jungles, the “eye” would sometimes get caught in the brush and accidentally cause the safety pin to be pulled; accidentally setting off the grenade. This type of accident did cause many deaths and injuries in Vietnam.

Every infantry troop wore a combat harness when going out on a mission. Anywhere from TWO or more grenades (smoke and concussion) were secured on the two front shoulder straps of the combat harness. These combat harnesses would also hold ammunition, water, flashlight, first aid supplies, claymore mines and any other thing a typical GI had to, or wanted to, take when going out on a mission. It was the responsibility of each individual to insure his equipment was safely secured to this harness. In addition, it was the responsibility of others around to keep an eye out for each other’s safety status as to the gear on each other’s combat harnesses (especially the grenades).

When grenades were issued there was a small bend on the extreme end of each of the cotter pin’s two prongs. These small bends would prevent the safety pin from slipping out of the hole that secured the trigger for the grenade. We would re-bend the two prongs so they would wrap around the top of the grenades. This made it more difficult to pull the safety pin when you wanted to use the grenade, but it sure helped in preventing accidental discharge of the grenades.

In our unit (1/28th), when we had to be inserted by chopper, we would load the choppers in what was termed a “chalk” formation (I’ve also heard the term “stick” used). A flying zig-zag staggered line of five choppers made up a full chalk. A full chalk would normally come into the pick up area and lift one Platoon of about 40 combat loaded men (about 8 men per chopper), loading 4 men on each side of a chopper at the same time. Consequently, the formation of the troops on the ground, awaiting pick up, had to be such to fit the formation of the choppers. The troops were spread apart in groups of 4 to fit the formation.

During one of these insertion pick ups a large explosion occurred with a cloud of smoke and dirt rising at least 30’ into the air. Everyone started yelling “INCOMING” but there seemed to be only one major explosion. When the dust settled one of the groups of 4 men was gone. Each one of the men in the group was carrying grenades, claymores and ammo on their harnesses. It was concluded that a grenade must have somehow accidentally fell off one of the troops harnesses and exploded. The exploding grenade thereby caused all this group’s grenades, ammo and claymores to go off all at once (like a small ammo dump getting hit).

VC HAND GRENADES
I was able to get my hands on two un-exploded VC hand grenades. I had managed to disarm these grenades and was going to take them home with me to make a couple of lamps for my children (had 3 very young boys under 4 waiting for me to return home).

To disarm these grenades I first visually studied them. The metal fragmentation body was similar to American grenades but much smaller – I would guess about 20% less than the size of American grenades. However, these grenades had hollowed out lathed wooden handles about 1” in diameter and about 6” long.

One end of the handle of this type of VC grenade was attached to the metal fragmentation body by way of outside wooden threads that screwed into the top of the metal body of the grenade. The connection of the threads of the wooden handle and metal body had been sealed with wax. The other opened end of the handle had inside wooden threads that were used to screw in a wooden “plug type” cover for the handle.

I carefully unscrewed the top cover from the handle and inside this hollow wooden handle was about a 6” curled up string sticking out of a glob of packed wax on the inside bottom of the hollow handle. I figured all the wax was there to seal the grenade so the powder inside the grenade wouldn’t get wet. I also figured that Charlie armed this grenade by pulling on the string, which I figured was attached to a delayed detonator embedded beneath the glob of wax that sealed the string inside the handle.

Being very careful not to pull the string which I had un-curled; I removed as much wax as I could from both inside and outside the grenade. I than soaked the grenade in water for three days hoping to get all the powder as wet as I could. Then I found a rubber tree and stood behind it with my arms wrapped around the tree holding the grenade. I than closed my eyes, pinned my head against the rubber tree, and carefully unscrewed the bottom part of the handle away from the metal fragmentation portion of the grenade. I now had a handle in one hand and the metal frag portion in the other. Sill behind the tree, I carefully laid both items on the ground. After I walked around the tree to look at the two separated items, I could see the very loose string still attached to the detonator; so I cut the string and slipped the detonator out of the frag portion of the grenade. Repeated the same process for the other grenade.

I now became the proud owner of two dis-armed ChiCom grenades that I could take home with me. Well, sad story. When I was wounded for the last time and med’evaced out to the states all my belongings were somehow LOST. Never ever seen any of my stuff, or those two damn grenades, again.


KEN
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« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2007, 02:34:40 AM »

WATERMELON Snippet - 1st Platoon Leader, D Co. 1/28th

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Bar anything else, the most valuable things in war is ammo and water – in that order.

I found the watermelons in Vietnam were about the size and shape of American cantaloupes. We had been warned not to eat local melons, of any type, because rumor had it that Charlie would sometimes use hypodermic needles to inject poison into them and leave them out in the open just waiting for an American GI to help himself.

When searching our third Village at the end of a very hot day I was out of water and very very thirsty. I spotted a very nice looking uncut watermelon sitting on this table inside a hooch. Upon careful inspection of this delicious looking morsel……………..

Over the years it has bothered me that I had helped myself to this poor villager’s melon. Strange isn’t it?


KEN
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« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2007, 02:36:28 AM »

WATER BUFFALO Snippet - 1st Platoon Leader, D Co. 1/28th

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Water buffalo were the beast of burden for the Vietnamese people. The folks tending the rice paddies would always use these animals while tending their paddies. You could always spot little kids beating/coaching/steering these animals with a stick and/or riding on the backs of these beasts. One had the impressions that these were fairly docile animals because the way they were cared for and used by the local folks and kids. However, let a GI get within the smelling distance of these creatures and you would think the GI was waving a red cape in the middle of a bullring hollering TORO TORO!

When these beasts were not in use, the locals would sometime pen these animals up in the center of a road/path that went through their village. By center I mean the PENS were located between rows of hoochs with about 5 meters from a hooch on one side of the road/path, and about another 5 meters from another hooch directly across from the first hooch. The pens themselves were about 5 meters square and dug about one or two meters deep, forming a bull pit. The pit was corralled off with small to medium tree limbs.

Heard a story once that a GI had shot a water buffalo with an M79 Grenade round, that hadn’t yet armed, and the round went right through the midsection of the beast and it hardly phased the beast.

Anyway, one day we were searching this village (the folks had skipped town). The only thing left in the village were the animals (dogs, chickens, pigs, and penned up water buffalo). One of my troops was about 5 meters in front of me walking between a hooch and a bull pin that contained a very pissed off water buffalo. This beast jumped out of the pit, broke the corral fence, and was inches away from the troop before receiving an M16 bullet between the eyes. Water buffalo instantly dropped with one horn barely missing the mid-section of my troop. Troop scared – I’m laughing – troop pissed at me for laughing.

Friggin war; had to report the killing of one water buffalo. Naturally management was pissed off. How we ever gonna win the “hearts and minds”?.


KEN
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