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Vietnam War Diary - Me and Johnny Vann
01-20-2020, 02:23 AM, (This post was last modified: 01-23-2020, 08:21 PM by Martin Timothy.)
#3
RE: Vietnam War Diary - Me and Johnny Vann
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Quote:At about 11 pm on the night of Feb. 17, 1970 while D Company was in situ at Nui Dat between operations we were woken and ordered to get into our combat gear including helmets and flack jackets, while a troop of M113 Armored Personal Carriers were to take us to the Dinh Co Monastery at the foot of the Long Hai Hills, where a platoon from B Company that had engaged a group of enemy were under seige.

The enemy group they had fired upon were a forward party from a much larger force .. we arrived in situ before daybreak and took up positions between the salt marsh and the hills near Firebase Isa, which guarded the south eastern access to the Firestone Trail named after the Firestone Tire Company's failed attempt to establish a rubber plantation in the area which went by the monastery and onward to well established enemy positions in the hills.

The enemy abandoned the siege and dispersed when they smelled the diesel fumes from the 113's, and heard the engines of the Centurion tanks that sped to the scene, another company from 8 Battalion similarly mounted in tracks had located itself at the north western approach between the hills and the sea, another company of mounted infantry closed the road between the hill country and the Long Dien rice fields.

Which meant a large force of enemy was at large in the sandy scrub country with nowhere to go, since the line at Dinh Co had held while the mounds of enemy bodies there attested to their desperate attempts to get back to the hills.

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Quote:We started moving about 7:30 am in line abreast with tanks, enemy RPG fire and satchel charges took two M113's out of the line as we advanced across the formidable minefield that surrounded the enemy positions. Then forming up in line abreast one of our Sergeants who was a mine clearance expert who had deemed an area safe, was guiding down a helicopter that had arrived to retrieve Trooper Carlyle's body and to convey the wounded to hospital.

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Quote:He stepped onto a mine and was killed instantly the APC with the dead and wounded went over and dropped its ramp to retrieve his body, at this time a series of explosions coming from an entirely unexpected quarter rocked the battlefield, a helicopter was sent to investigate whence the pilot reported a group of enemy had stumbled onto their own mines in what appeared to be an attempt to escape to the hills, he reported seeing about eight dead with their weapons scattered all about.

No attempt was made to recover the weapons or to land for fear of mine .. the cut and thrust had been going on since about 11:00 the previous night and the tracks needed to be refueled, so we went the twenty or so clicks back to Nui Dat at high speed dropping the dead off at the morgue and the wounded at the hospital, we were not allowed to leave the vehicles and as soon as they were refueled we sped back and took our position in the line while the next group went in, until everyone was fuelled and ammo'd up.

Since there had been a considerable amount of firing thru the night continuing thru into the morning, about midday everyone was right to go a couple of celebrities had turned up one was combat cameraman Neil Davis who was a "war junkie" from Tasmania, he was up on the back of an APC a couple of our officers walked over and spoke to him never mind we were in a minefield, he was polite at first then distant and aloof, then came the order to move and we advanced up the Firestone trail.

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Quote:Straight away there was firing and rocket grenades from the enemy positions, while hot spent shells rained down inside the vehicle as the crew commander responded with his twin thirty caliber machine guns. There was an enormous explosion and the interior of the vehicle I was in filled with dust, even as an M16 Jumping Jack mine of the type which which caused over 57 per cent of Australian casualties in Vietnam exploded beneath the tracks.

After about a kilometer the commander dropped his ramp, whence we were to get out and proceed on foot with the tanks, the carriers were to continue at high speed until they linked with the mounted company at the north western end of the redoubt, the vehicle I had been in was blown up whence the crew commander was killed .. proceeding then on foot along where the tank treads had marked the ground.

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Quote:Some of the tanks they brought in were Centurions with a bulldozer blade called L5's which simply graded a road as they went and bulldozed the enemy out of their bunkers, bodies rolling along with the dirt and stuff.

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Quote:To my right a Viet Cong officer and an enlisted man were peering thru a weapons slit at ground level I, leveled my L2A1 7.62 mm automatic rifle then held fire as a fella from A Company stepped straight into the line of fire .. continuing on another troop of M113 carriers arrived and we were told to get in.

They took us further on and dropped us at the foot of one of the foothills leading up to the main range, whence we were to obtain the summit and dig in to prevent any enemy that might bug out from the camp reaching the spur. We proceeded under sporadic enemy rifle fire gaining the summit and securing the area by placing rifle and machine gun groups at various positions.

The Lieutenant said we should cool off a bit and since most of us had not had anything to eat since the day before we should make a cuppa .. I thought that was a good idea and shucked my gear off and got my bush stove going to brew tea, I heard Vietnamese voices - the radio op was with the Boss and the Sergeant having a confab about it all.

We were on the rocky summit of a small hill overlooking the Firestone valley everywhere was overgrown with bamboo, taking a look I decided to take a better look and moved around the other side of a massive boulder, and found I was looking straight down at a hidden path that went the full length of the spur, the way was well traveled and just a little further up the flared snout of a 20 mm anti aircraft gun was poking thru the bamboo!

I needed hand grenades there were two in the webbing I had taken off back where my tea water was bubbling merrily away about four meters around the other side of the boulders, that was when the sh*t hit the fan so to speak .. the plan re the enemy decamping from the bunkers where the tanks had plowed thru had been proven correct.

However some infantry mounted the 113's that had closed in from the north west had spotted them and were chasing them thru the scrub and up our hill, whence the infantry and cavalry gunners were pouring devastating fire after them, the Lt. was on the radio screaming that we were under fire and in danger of being over run, when a MG slug caught him liketty split between the shoulder blades.

He was a naturally swarthy individual and he turned a seasick shade of green, I removed his shirt and saw frothy blood bubbling thru a wound about thirty mm across that the tissue beneath had almost closed, that is a "sucking chest wound", I placed the palm of my hand flat over the wound and was relieved when he took a clear breath in and his color improved dramatically.

We were still under fire and I dragged him into a large bomb crater that was there, removing the waterproof outer cover of a shell dressing with one hand and my teeth, being sure that no mouth material touched the inner sterile surface, placing it over the wound and taping the whole dressing over then put another smaller dressing Frank Sinatra style into his armpit for luck.

Thus employed tracer fire had set the bamboo on fire making the aforementioned hidden paths untenable, the enemy on the path took to the scub as it were and passed right by, I had dressings and bandages spread everywhere and was working hard, movement caught my eye and two enemy soldiers who looked they were on a walk in the park stopped by.

They seemed exited to see a combat medic hard at it, they were joined by a few more until there were about five watching when one of their NCO's, who looked like the same dude I had seen in the enemy camp appeared, and told them to never mind what I was doing and to keep moving they were all heavily armed and I just kept working.

Trying to keep the airtight bandage in place ..the sticking plaster would not stick to his clammy skin just then during a lull in the firing one of our Corporals appeared, he said he had a man down up ahead and I told him to bring him in, he said the man was immobile and requested that I go to his aid, I applied a dry bandage the airtight dressing and another man bound it in place, while I went to see the guy that was down further up.

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Quote:Rock hopping all the way because of mines the gunners on the APC's in the valley below saw it all and opened fire .. glancing downward bright white and yellow tracer was arcing upward toward our position, the guy who had been hit was on his own about seventy meters up range, his upper body was sheltered behind a low rock not his legs however which had taken multiple hits.

He had lost some blood and his bones were shattered, that he had not by then bled to death meant he was salvageable .. we waited until the fire storm abated a little, he was conscious and I told him I had a casualty clearing station up yonder and that was where we were going, he had no use of his legs and he looped both hands around my neck and I skull dragged him back to where we were going .. when we got there I left his boots and strides on and just bound both his legs together.

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Quote:When the medivac chopper arrived I placed him onto a stokes litter and saw him winched aboard with the seriously injured Lt there were another twelve or so walking wounded, I was hit in the left shoulder, back and legs with machine gun fire and shrapnel and still have a 5.56 mm slug embedded in my right hand .. while thus engaged elsewhere on the battlefield mines had exploded and another nine Australians were killed.

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RE: Vietnam War Diary - Me and Johnny Vann - by Martin Timothy - 01-20-2020, 02:23 AM

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