The company landed in a dry rice patty located just outside of a Viet Ville. We were exercising our power and might using the technique called Eagle Flights. These insertions using helicopters caught a many NVA/VC by complete surprise, in other words, being caught with their pants down. This was no different, "Thank GOD”.
After our chopper touched the ground, my company began to enter the outskirts of the village we were to search. The search of the ville had the company spread out in a wedge formation. This formation gave the security of flank protection as we swept the village.
The company was nearing the edge of our clearing operation, when a shot rang out. The company was now on full combat alert and the NCO began to shout orders. The company broke down into squad size search elements and a vigorous hunt for the shooter began.
My squad leader began to place men in 2 man observation posts. The position he placed me was at the edge of a clearing in an old NVA/VC foxhole. I had an M16A1 and my foxhole-shearing buddy had a M79 grenade launcher. We were told by Sarg, that we were to stay in this position and keep and eye out for the enemy while the rest of the company continued to look for the enemy.
I thought to myself, of what a great opportunity for me to relax and watch the others head off into the jungle on this hot humid day. I was placed in charge of the other PVT so I gave him the area he was to scan and I placed myself in a position where we had a 360 degrees field of vision. Off in the distance shots could be heard. I began to feel all alone as I began to wonder what the company was doing and was any one hit by the shots being fired.
I turned to the other guy in my foxhole and said keep down and keep alert. He asked me if I knew what was going on? My reply was no but we may soon get the skinny when the Sergeant returns. I turned back to my position and began to scan my area of responsibility
Something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. I hungered down and had my foxhole companion do the same. My eyes followed the movement and my heart skipped a beat when I saw a female dressed in the usual peasant black pajamas. The woman was hunched over and walking at a brisk pace at the edge of a hedgerow. I continued to follow the women with my eyes with my hand on the trigger of my M16A1. This is when I noticed the woman was carrying a SKS carbine. Here was the sniper, the first enemy I had the opportunity to get the drop on.
I patted my partner on the shoulder and pointed out the target to him. While doing this I placed my weapon on semi automatic (selector switch, safe, semi auto full automatic) and raised it to a firing position and let it rip.
The female VC started to make all kind of gyrations and movements to avoid the 5.56mm rounds streaking her way. The women fell down and to my amazement arose to her feet and took off like a squalled cat and disappeared into the surrounding brushes.
My platoon Sgt came running over to our position to check out what was all the firing was about. I told the SGT what happened and with this information he called the CO on the horn. We were given instructions to hold until the rest of the company could get in position. Once the company was in place, the Company Commander came over to talk out the situation with me.
The commander had a scout dog team come over to me and I showed the dog handler where the contact took place. With this information given out the commander stated that the dog handler and I had to go and check out the contact AO.
Leading the way, I gingerly walked into the open field towards the line of hedges and trees. As I stepped into the open, I felt like eyes of the enemy were on me and burning a hole right through my body. All I could think of was the possibility of land mines, and ambushes, as I got closer to the line of cover.
Once at the spot of contact the dog and the handler took over with the search. Found was matted grass and a few bloodstains. Our little group searched and found nothing. It was surmised that there had to be some type of escape tunnel around the area. After searching and finding nothing but air, our small group headed back across the open field and reunited with the rest of the company.
Back at the company CP I was a fielded questions about the previous contact. I was asked what type of weapon did I see, what was the attire worn and why I did not put my weapon on rock and roll or full automatic.
After all the questions had been answered the company struck out and began the continuation of our mission. To this day I wonder about that women sniper and if she survived the war in her country and continued on with her life to raise a family and live in the sweet bliss of peace. War is a "Bitch".
A Link to a review of Vietnamese Women at War: Fighting for Ho Chi Minh and the Revolution by Sandra C. Taylor
The story continues.
WM Roland Hayes.