When i arrived in Nam, I was assigned to first Renascence Battalion. I had no idea what this unit was all about, but soon found out. After being initially assigned to H&S Company, I first thought, Okay cool. I’ll stay in the rear with the gear, until I found out the only reason I wasn’t assigned to a letter company was because as a radio operator, I hadn’t had any special recon training. The next step was a ten day course in what a recon Marine was all,about. I learned navigation, repelling, patrolling and what ever the regular recon ranger learned over 6-8 weeks back in the states, for me and a few others, it as just that 10 days. The day I finished that training, I was sent to Alpha Company. A few days later, I was in a helicopter landing in a remote area of Vietnam. As the primary radio operator, I knew the basics but what to do was some thing I would only learn with experience.
After we landed, someone in my team yelled gooks. The patrol leader told me to notify the choppers we had gooks in the LZ. OK, that wasn’t a problem. I could do that. But then he said to ask the choppers if they see where the gooks are. Give the choppers their direction from us. What, I didn’t even see the VC. How was I to tell them where they where? The team leader grabbed the handset from me and took over the communications. Well, there was no exchange of gun fire so we went Oscar Mike and quickly de de moued, and left the area. But that wasn’t the first contact I’m talking about. That came about an hour later. We were heading down a ravine to what we could hear below us as a babbling brook. We stopped to take a break when from behind us, a rifle shot. The trail we were on was winding and we couldn’t see our tail end Charlie. The team leader want back to see what the shot was and while he was gone, a second shot rang out. A few minutes later he returned and told us a VC walked up on the rear end and out tail end Charlie, shot him The second shot was our corpsman finishing the wounded VC off.
We continued down the trail until we reached the stream below. As our point man began to cross , our team leader grabbed him pulling him back. I didn’t know what was going on until he signaled us to be quiet. Pointed to he s eyes and then across the stream. There was, an enemy base camp not more than 10 feet away. There were gooks everywhere. I saw this guy cleaning a weapon and another cooking over a fire. They were walking around and I wanted to shit my pants. I may have been new, but I knew we were moments away from being spotted. The team leader knew that as well. He signaled us to pick a target and wait for him to shot first. We still had the surprise and if we were going to survive this, we needed that surprise. I picked this tall gook as he slowly walked across their base camp heading for what appeared to be a cave behind a huge rock. When the firing started, I pulled of two rounds and hit my target, the VC’s head. I watched him fall and then with all the shooting, I closed my eyes for a moment, but never stopped pulling the trigger. We began leapfrogging back as the enemy struggled to regain there senses. As we did, I took up a second position and looked for a target. Everyone else was still shooting. The enemy had all taken cover but I spotted one VC crawling trying reach safety. I yelled out, one of them was still alive and someone in our team yelled back, kill him, so I did. With a new magazine, I fired at him and watched his body jerk as the 5.56 rounds tore him apart.
Over the next several hours and enemy chased and there were more contacts. They chased us until we finally broke contact just before darkness covered us. The rest of the patrol was pretty much what recon was supposed to be, find the enemy and report back to battalion their location and numbers. But that first contact would not be my last.