Dodd, Recon Platoon, 2/35th Infantry 4th Infantry Division
It was hot, the hottest time of the year in the Central Highlands of
Vietnam. The lush green foliage and beautiful rivers and creeks were
now burnt up and dry. Water to the grunts in the field was now being
sent out in big black rubber blivets. The water was always warm and
you could taste the rubber of the blivet.
Contacts with the enemy for the Recon platoon had been sporadic in
April and no large contacts had happened since an all day firefight
on March 29th. The platoon had a few new members including a new
platoon leader who were settling into there roles and everything was
getting monotonous. As crazy as this may seem being on alert all the
time in the bush becomes hard tiring work and the veterans of the
platoon would almost wish for something to happen so to release the
pent up anxieties that build up.
Our Platoon Leader got the call, find a suitable LZ. We were going
into the firebase for a few days rest. Everyone's spirits picked up.
Even though it was just a few days living in a bunker and getting
one hot meal a day, It was a release from the discipline necessary
to survive in the bush. Our only responsibility on these stand downs
was night bunker guard, and the cleaning of our weapons and
We found a suitable LZ and the choppers took us in. It was mid
morning when we arrived. We were assigned a couple of bunkers on the
perimeter. Some of the guys took their shirts off, some sat on top
of the bunkers with their boots off. We had mail call and everyone
was occupied with that for a while. Most everyone emptied their gear
from their rucks. It was scattered everywhere. It felt good to be
able to talk and laugh out loud. Then the RTO shouted out "Delta
just hit the shit!"
We all quieted down and listened to the radio. We could here the
Delta RTO yelling in his mike, but we couldn't understand him
because the sound of Ak's on full auto were drowning him out.
Delta Company was the hard luck company of our unit. They had lost
the most men in the Chu-Pa Mountains in March and we had reinforced
them 3 or more times. A few minutes later our Platoon Sergeant Jim
Tibbt came running to our bunker. He yelled," saddle up were going
to help Delta. Then he said Lt. Winn (our old platoon leader) is
already on his way out there. There CO was shot and they were
sending Lt. Winn out there to replace him and he wanted Recon out
there with him.
We gathered our gear, as fast as we could and rushed to the chopper
pad. The choppers weren't there yet so again we gathered around the
radio, and listened.
The Chopper set him down in a clearing just outside a woodline. He
began to make his way into the woodline toward the sound of the
firefight in front of him. He could hear the sporadic sniper fire
being fired on Delta Company as he went. The lieutenant moved thru
over 300 meters of this sniper fire to the heart of the firefight.
He ascertained when he got there that the company was completely
disorganized and spread out over a 400-meter area. The lead platoon
was pinned down in an open area the troops were spread out on the
ground. The snipers from the other side of the clearing were still
firing at the exposed troops. The troops for the most part were not
firing back. They had several wounded and KIA's. He immediately took
charge of the Company. He started reorganizing platoons and
personally directed the evacuation of over 20 wounded soldiers.
The choppers set the Recon Platoon down in a clearing to one side of
the firefight. We to had about 300 meters to get to the heart of the
contact. We moved as fast as possible in almost a full out run the
300 meters to the area. We came up to the side of the clearing the
Delta platoon was pinned down in. We could see Lt. Winn Moving thru
these men ordering them to fire into the woodline ahead of them.
Lt. Winn then had our platoon leader order us on line across the
clearing. I carried the M60 I was ordered to start firing into the
trees to cover our movement I started shooting and moving along with
the rest of the platoon across the clearing. We then began moving
forward in spots stepping over the soldiers on the ground. Some of
them who were not wounded began firing with us. After what seemed
like a minute or two of this we were ordered to cease-fire. There
was no return fire we had broken the NVA ambush.
The Lieutenant then sent out security and the rest of us began
helping this Company. The Lieutenant then put the two rifle platoons
left in this Company under the command of two Recon squad leaders.
We began treating and evacuating the wounded members and KIA's to an
area the choppers could land in.
We were then re-supplied there, as was Delta Company. We spent the
night there with them. The next morning we left them. The Lieutenant
and what was left of D Company were flown into the firebase. We went
to see if we could find the NVA in the area. It was back to work as
usual. So much for a break.
Delta Company had 5 men killed that day, and over 20 men wounded
First Lieutenant Charles R. Winn was awarded a Silver Star for that
day. I think he deserved even more!