During my tour in Vietnam, the opportunity to operate with other military units was commonplace. Our battalion was used as reactionary force in the 3 corps AO. This meant we could and would be sent on missions that had us working hand in hand with any unit that needed help or our expertise in infantry tactics.
TET offensive was going strong and it was our job to cut off routes of entry into the logistics base at Long Binh. We were being used as Calvary as we were attached to the 11 ACR. This attachment gave our unit great mobility and hitting power. When the word came down, we could be placed in blocking force positions at a very short notice.
Our patrolling was constant as the NVA was everywhere and the need to find, fix, and destroy them was on the forefront of our minds. The orders came down for our unit to be placed on a road that was at a higher elevation than the surrounding area. This road leads directly into the long binh base, and our job was to see that no NVA could use it to move men and materials at a rapid pace. Around the road was thick jungle and a village was located below the hill and running parallel with the road.
The high ground gave us a grand view of the surrounding area, thus giving us a great defensive advantage in case of attack. Our unit carried a 90mm recoilless rifle and this was placed on an over hang that ran parallel to the road and facing the Ville down below. On the other side of the road was an m60 machine gun emplacement. The placement of these weapons was covering the most likely avenue of approach if attacked by the enemy.
Our company (B) conducted active patrols in the surrounding jungle of our positions. These patrols were both offensive and defensive in nature. Our unit was very adapt at this sort of thing, it was our forte`. On our patrols we encountered little enemy contact, but we gained a lot of knowledge of our AO. We Thought.
On one dark moonless night noises were heard below our positions. The company was put on full alert and all positions were manned. We waited for the onslaught. All weapons were charged and noise and light discipline was in effect. Closer and closer the sound of branches cracking and breaking reached are alert ears. The LT softly gave the command to toss grenades at the sound below our positions. The sound of the spoons from the grenades could be heard in the night, followed by explosions piercing the silent night.
All was quiet, not a sound came from the cordite smelling jungle below. Alert status was maintained throughout the night. Just before the break of dawn, the LT called for a patrol. I was picked for this mission and with my m16A1 in hand our patrol started gingerly down the slope from our positions.
Once at the bottom we were contacted by radio and the LT who asked the question, what is the body count. The reply was there is a body count of twelve monkeys. We had fragged a family of primates looking for a late night snack. All they got for their troubles was hot lead. Our position took a ribbing from the rest of the company, but we took it in stride. Later on that night we were privy to some fire works when some NVA unit got caught in the open and got smoked by nearby airpower and arty. Our Company Commander told us that the enemy suffered many casualties from the action. A hunter killer team detected their infiltration towards Long Binh. All we could say was thank God, because we would have had a hell of a time taking care of those guys.
Alert” Alert” was the word that came filtering down the line. There was to be a fast moving element of friendlys headed our way. Our task was to make sure the road through our position was open and that no civilian traffic was there to hinder the rapid approaching element.
No word of who the element was that was headed our way stopped us from doing our traffic control job. When a cart, motorcycle or bus full of Vietnamese came our way, they were first checked and sent on their way with a deedee moa, which means get going quickly. When the word came that the element was close, all traffic on the road half mile ahead and beyond our position was halted.
Off in the distance you could see a fast cloud of road dust headed our way. In an instant the cloud was apron us. I could see that they were m113 APC moving like bats out of hell. I was standing by the side of the road when the first apc whizzed past. The apc commander waved to me in passing and I returned the favor. It was then I noticed that the element was not an American CAV unit, but were from the land down under Australia. This was the first Aussies that I had seen in Vietnam. How did I know they were Australian? Each apc had stenciled on its front side a image of a kangaroo.
Later on I found out that the Aussie were headed towards a NVA unit that had been detected. I heard that they made contact and made mince meat of the nva infantry unit they came in contact with. I learned later through questioning of the company commander that a number of countries from SEATO had some type of elements with us in Vietnam. Seeing those APC zoom through our positions that day has made a lasting impression in my memory.Military history of Australia during the Vietnam War (Wikipedia)
William R. Hayes.
After I posted this story I got to thinking, whatever happened to those guys? I found John on the internet and asked him for any information about this encounter. He replied with:
Hi Roland, I must apologise for not getting back to you sooner as life has been a bit hectic over the past couple of weeks. Thank you for the patches they are very much appreciated. I posted a request on one of the forums for information surrounding the details you supplied for meeting in Feb 1968 and one of the Cav members from that era has responded with the information listed below and a web address you may care to check out. Cheers John ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Re(2): February 1968 IP: 220.127.116.11 Posted on 1/5/2010 at 23:33:39 by Charlie H Location: Bien Hoa and Long Khanh provinces, 55 km NNW of 1ATF base. On the morning of the 25th Feb 68, 108 Fd Bty and 106 Fd Bty were airlifted by Chinooks to FSB HARRISON YT 1617. FSB HARRISON had been secured by 7 RAR and then assault lands FSPB HARRISON. 2 RAR deploy to FSPB . A Sqn 3 Cav Regt and 4 Fd Regt(-) deploy to FSPBANDERSEN. On the 28th B Bty 2/35th Arty US arrived at FSpB ANDERSEN. 2 RAR and 7 RAR commence operations in Bn AOs. One Coy 2 RAR to defend FSPB ANDERSEN. 3 RAR to remain at 1 ATF Base (NUI DAT) for defence of base. Results: Casualties: Own: KIA 7, DOW 3, WIA 75; VC: KIA 145, wounded/escaped 110, PW 5. Captured were 9 crew-served weapons, 94 small arms, 13 rocket launchers, five radio transmitters; destroyed were a large quantity of rockets, claymores, grenades, mortar bombs, mines and explosives as well as 3500 lbs of rice. Remarks: 1ATF was maintained through a detachment of 1ALSG deployed into Long Binh, supplying a forward Task Force Maintenance Area in the AO. FSB HARRISON - YT 16-17 FSB, in War Zone D, 7 km NW of FSPB ANDERSEN, 17 km ENE of Bien Hoa, 8 km N of QL-1 and 55 km NW of NUI DAT. 161 Bty , RNZA (Martin’s Bty 13May67-14Apr68) firebase set here 11- 13Feb68. Bien Hoa, III Corps. FSB ANDERSEN - YT 20-12 FSB, in War Zone D, 22 km due E of Bien Hoa, 2 km N of QL-1 and 7 km SE of FSPB HARRISON. Deliberately sited on a low bull- dozed hill astride a VC main avenue of communication and attacked 3 times during Tet 68 as a result. On 18Feb68, following 150 round mortar barrage, 2 waves of VC attacked FSPB ANDERSEN resulting in 8 Aussie KIA and 22 WIA. It was also attacked 20Feb68 and 28Feb68. 161 Bty , RNZA (Martin’s Bty 13May67-14Apr68) firebase set here 13Feb-1Mar68, and 13Feb-1Mar68 under Hitching’s. 3 RAR TF tactical HQ, A Trp of A Sqdn, 3d US Cav, Eng Trp and medium howitzers of B Bty 2d/35th US Arty here during those battles. Bien Hoa Prov, III Corps. Artillery Support: On the morning of the 24th Arty Tac and 131 Radar deployed by air to FSB ANDERSEN, 108 Fd Bty and 106 Fd Bty and RHQ moved north by road convoy on Route 15 and Route 1 to FSB ANDERSEN YT 2012. 2 RAR and 7 RAR were deployed to secure the FSB. Casualties: Own; 17 KIA, 1 NZ KIA, 57 WIA, 8 NZ WIA, 1 US KIA, 6 US WIA http://www.ausvets.com.au/ On Right hand side of page, under Australians At War, click on Vietnam Next page that comes up, on right click on 1968