Monday, May 27, 2019

Operation Harvest Moon Vietnam

”On the 10th, General Henderson ordered Utter to drive east, and Dorsey to push northeast, LtCol. Robert T.Henifin's 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines were to be heli-lifted into the area and the avenue of escape for the VC to the south was to be closed. At 1100 "Fox" Company was heli-lifted to a landing zone near the hamlet of Cam La, the helicopters came under 12.7mm machine gun fire from Hill 407 and the Marines in the landing zone were kept under continuous machine gun and mortar fire. Since the rest of the Battalion landed West because of the intense ground fire, LtCol. Utter's Battalion was ordered to move South to aid the hard hit unit. "Echo" Company finally reached the stranded unit but was hit hard on its right flank; the Marines managed to join forces but sustained casualties of 20 dead and over 80 wounded for the day. As darkness fell on the battlefield that day, General Walt relieved General Henderson, and BrigGen. Jonas M. Platt became head of Task Force DELTA”

A personal vignette from Operation Harvest Moon for Memorial Day 2019.

After recovering in Japan from wounds sustained in Operation Starlite I was reassigned to Echo Company 2/7 under LtCol. Utter.

We were ordered to proceed into the rice paddies, at least 3 football fields across, to aid Fox company and to recover dead and wounded marines.  “Fox” company was pinned down about halfway across.  We ran in waves through the foot deep water in the paddies  seeking cover in the next 3 foot high dyke. There we’d wait ‘til enemy fire subsided then jump up and over the dyke and race to the next dyke.  Some marines of our platoon were 2 dykes behind us.  One of the marines was a sgt. who was 1 week from rotating back to CONUS.  He looked reluctant, with fear, to advance, but with encouragement from myself and those on either side of me he made it and planted himself face first against the dyke beside me.  Since time has dulled, if not erased, many details and names of my wartime experience I”ll call the Sgt. Jose.

We were told to hold our position because air support and artillery were on the way.  Within minutes we could hear and feel shrapnel, like a hail storm, hitting the water all around us; tunk, spit, tunk spit, tunk.  As I waited to feel the searing pain I was sure was imminent I probably thought; “mother-fucker, here it comes. I’m gonna die in this godforsaken hell hole half way around the world from home, and from fucking friendly fire.  Fuck!”  I couldn’t plaster myself any closer to the dyke in front of me without becoming mud itself.  After an eternity which was, in actuality, only a few minutes the tunking stopped; I felt nothing, and I was still alive.  Simultaneously the marine immediately next to me and actually touching my right shoulder began yelling; help me, help me Doc, I’m fucking hit, I’m fucking hit.  I asked, while checking him over for blood and other signs of injury, “where are you hit?  Goddammit, where are you hit?”  Quickly I realized he had no injury and talked him down from his hysteria.

Then, as I turned my attention to Jose who’d been against my left shoulder, saying “are you ok sarge, are you hit anywhere?” I pulled him away from the dyke.  Dead eyes stared back at me.