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Operation Eager Pursuit Dai Loc Pass 1/7's Area USS Valley Forge Miscellaneous

Operation Eager Pursuit I & II

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Some of the guys went up the berm and discovered a booby trap in the vegetation, and while they discussed how to disarm it, someone set it off.  Boom!

Probably 60mm Mortar Squad, Hotel Company, 26th Marines

I can't make out who is in this photo (maybe the 60mm mortar squad), but it was taken by a large ten-foot berm of earth, left and outside of view, where a train track had been.  Not far behind the photographer was a river.  Some of the guys went up the berm and discovered a booby trap in the vegetation, and while they discussed how to disarm it, someone set it off.  Boom!  About five or six were wounded, and stretcher bearers were called for. Being somewhat curious I went, and helped bring them down on ponchos, and set them in the dried rice paddy for the corpsman to attend. One Marine had a small hole in every square inch of his body it seemed, but no limbs missing or gaping wounds. They were choppered out.  In the course of the day the CO had mortars dropped on an abandoned bunker on the other side of the berm, and someone said he reported several VC killed to his credit.  As a matter of fact, I hear we Americans killed the entire North Vietnamese Army several times over the course of the war.

Beer and soda rations were flown in along with our C-rations, and we were given two beers and two sodas apiece; and it you can believe it, not all Marines drank beer and traded their beers for sodas.  Good place for teenagers to get a buzz - and I was.

Shortly after dusk, tracer rounds began to zip over the top of the train berm where some of our guys were dug in, and incoming fire came from our side of the berm too.   It was an L-shaped attack, and many, feeling a bit emboldened by their four beers, started yelling at the enemy, and they at us.  Our machine guns opened up, a short firefight ensued, and a guy on the berm was hit in the abdomen.  They carried him down to the rice paddy in the dark and called for a medevac helicopter.  While we waited, those around the wounded comforted him as best they could, reassured him he would be okay, and asked if he had a photo album or anything else in his pack he wanted them to look after.  As the minutes passed, he quieted down as if he was going into shock or dying, and then we heard the sound of choppers, but couldn't see a thing.  They circled above in the dark, and one older guy, Lurch, (23-24), stood up with a small strobe light held high as the Statue of Liberty, to show the chopper where to land.  As one helicopter circled above as guard, the other swooped in and picked up the casualty.  I don't know if he made it or not.

It was probably the next day some of us went to the river.  Perhaps it was seasonally swollen and was a couple of hundred yards wide.  Having lots of experience in competitive swimming, I swam out a bit and thought I would dive under the water if the VC started shooting, and swim safely back to shore - or that's the way it goes in movies.  Many years later, I understood the rivers in Vietnam were not only used for boat travel but were the handy sewers of the cities and villages. Oh well, nothing that a few GI issued halazone purification tablets couldn't fix, and the rice paddy water we filled our canteens with from time to time.  I also have heard the locals made personal and regular fertilizer contributions to the rice paddies.  Yummm! (6/6/2011) 

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The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen.