A Day Of Jungle Fighting In The Republic Of Vietnam July 1968
We had been called back to relieve the Marines because casualties were mounting for them too. It was called the Iron Triangle and the jungle was not a nice place for any of us. Many men had been wiped out from the army division and then they brought the marines to take over. They didn’t fare any better because the enemy knew their territory better than anyone else and so we went back as ordered.I had my doubts that I would make it back alive. I had seen so many young eighteen, nineteen and twenty year olds loose their lives in that jungle. It wasn’t like any other battles we had encountered before, no sir, this jungle stunk with odor of the dead. I had chills crawling up my spine when I knew I had to return there, it was nothing anybody had ever seen before.It was some day in early July in the Republic of Vietnam when we headed into the jungle. I remember that we were about fourty men when we took off into the dense vegetation after the helicopters had dropped us off about a couple of clicks from the jungle.We tried to keep our distance from each other, but the jungle had a way of making the person disappear right in front of you if you didn’t keep up. That and the sounds around you that are so creepy that it scares you every moment you are in there.Soon as we waded into the arms of the jungle we could sense the presence of the enemy just watching our every move. We would stop every so often and stand still and it was like whoever was around us would stop too. We signaled at each other with our hands to keep our eyes open because the enemy was lurking in their familar territory. The sweat on our foreheads was the indication of how fearful we were of being there.After about two hours of checking our navigational equipment to make sure we knew where we were at, we stopped. The foot steps from the enemy could be heard closer to us and louder, and we knew then that we were being driven to the place they wanted us to. If was no longer us heading to the place we had been assigned to search and engage our enemy, it was more of finding a place we could defend ourselves.We set up a few trip wires to alert us just how fast they were tracking us. We figured that we could take of few of them out and slow them down. We knew we could not engage right then because we needed to set up a perimeter that we could defend or else we would get overrun. It was like a horror movie as we tried to pave our own way and away from their trap. My instincts told me that they already knew how they were going to fight us.We knew they would find out trip wires, they were clever, but we also had a few tricks up our sleves. I had learned to fake the trip wires that were attached to the blasting caps because they knew how to avoid them. It was the secondary wire that was well hidden with the real blasting caps in the claymore mines that would alert them that they had been had. They only had a few moments to ponder their deaths before they would be blown up.And sure enough, just like clock work, one of the claymores went off. We heard it go off and it gave us a precise time of how far back they were. The vietcong would look after their casualties and give us a few more minutes to shift our direction in their anticipation of knowing that we knew of their means of explotions of how they would counter our move. It was a cat and mouse game between the bait and the trap, it just depended on who was who.We headed east and made sure we left signs of direction. It was a tactic of deversion for the time being. After half a click or so we would shift again north and so on and so forth. It could be fatal to step into the trap they had set for us and our hope was not to over react in the counter manuvers. We checked our compasses continuelessly.It was clear to us that our time was running out, we couldn’t penetrate the majestice jungle with the equipment on our backs because it was slowing us down. Soon we found a spot we thought we could make a stand. Our perimeter was set up to allow us a clear view of the approaching enemy, but even that was not good enough. We knew of their hidden tunnels and their mastery of them. Nothing was ever safe with their tactics and unbelievable will to win at all cost.We left a little window as a back door. It was not for a retreat, but for some of us to slip through and try to flank them if need be. It was dangerous, risky, but experience made us aware of the many possibilities. The dense folage could help us just as well as hinder our fighting.The sun didn’t shine very brightly under the cover of the jungle and the late hour didn’t help either. The nasty flies, mosquitos and other creatures made their presence felt as we laid as still as possible while the night made our fears multiply by the power to ten. We could feel how close they were and knew they were planning their attack. We knew the delay was not justing planning for the encounter, but to make us nervous and to give them the precise location of each and every man.We had already talked it out amongst ourselves about not moving and not reacting to the trip flares and claymores going off. They would go off, but if we over reacted they would make us use up all our ammunition on a few of their men. The new soldiers assigned to us were educated about what and how the enemy would trip and trick us.The night vision scopes were only so good under the very few light from the stars that was needed for them. We were ordered not to move too much anyways because the battle would be intense and trying to spot them would take a lot of energy, time and it could compromise our positions. I knew it would be hard for some rookie to keep their cool, hell, not even some veterans had the patience to hold from opening up and firing back too early. Semi atomatic was our best choice because the rapid fire could attract too much attention. These were things I had learned and passed on.There was no time to piss, or shit either. It could make noise, attract flies, or emit odors that the enemy could use against us. It would be a long night before the attack, it was the way of the jungle guerilla warfare that was in store for some that had not fought in the jungle.