Two RFs are killed by a satchel charge
This is my recollection of the events that happened to CAP 2-7-2 on March 28, 1971.
Steve Maynor, Doug Squire and I had been bugging the actual, Sgt. John Page, to let Steve lead the three of us on a night ambush. He finally gave in, probably with strong reservations. We also had three RF’s with us.
Steve led us to the grave mounds north of the Big Island; I think we called them The Bird Mounds. We set up in a large concrete grave site and waited. It seems as if one or more of our sister CAP units had contact. In any event there was a lot of illumination and our RF’s became highly agitated. So Sgt. Page radioed us to return as soon as everything quieted down.
When we returned to the ville on the Big Island, going down pitch black alleyways, Steve stopped for what seemed like an eternity. He thought he heard something, but it was so dark no one could see anything!
Finally we made it back to the main ambush site, which was at a place we called the House of Doors. It was a series of houses formed in a ‘L’ shape that all had covered porches we could sleep under. The Vietnamese troops were supposed to watch the village side, while the Marines kept watch toward the open fields.
I was on watch, out away from the houses, overlooking the trail that encircled most of the Big Island. I was facing the rice paddies, feeling very exposed with only a large bush to hide behind. Suddenly, there was the most godawful explosion.
I got on the radio and reported that we were under attack. Before I could finish, here came a bunch of chicom grenades! Just like the scared boot that I really was I threw the handset down and tried to crawl into an ant hole! Sgt. Page told me to get some illumination in there so I got back on the horn and requested illumination.
About then here comes more chicoms and down goes the handset and I’m looking for cover that did not exist. By now the Lieutenant was on the other end and I will always remember what he said: “Talk to me son, talk to me. Don’t leave the radio, calm down and tell me what’s happening out there so I can help you.”
Meanwhile Sgt. Page had Frenchy Pelletier go see what our counterparts were doing. He could not find any of them, probably because they were gone leaving only two to keep watch, and even they were asleep. Then Frenchy looked into the house where the first large explosion had occurred (later determined to be a satchel charge). All he could see was body parts all over from the two dead RFs.
Frenchy came running, saying “They’re all dead, they’re all dead!” Just what I did not need to hear. So I passed this bit of erroneous information along to the Lieutenant. While all this was going on the other Marines had been throwing frags into the big rice paddy to our south and west, thinking the VC had crawled through the rice and were out there!
About this time the VC had set up a loudspeaker somewhere in the back of our AO. Out comes “Marine you die! Marine you die!” and other Vietnamese garbage that we could not understand. Finally here comes our brave counterparts straggling back in. They loaded up the two bodies, and we moved closer to Highway 1 (the red line). Later that morning we asked one of the RF’s what the VC on the loudspeaker had been saying.
He said the VC were saying they knew they had killed two RFs and if the RFs did not turn on the Marines and kill us they knew where we were and would come and kill everyone! Needless to say, they didn’t get the job done.
Posted on May 2, 2000