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These Colors Didnít Run

Here are some photos of the Tomahawk flag that I helped put up when it was new and took it down a day or two after Tomahawk was over run in June.

It means alot to me...........it is my only keep sake that I was able to bring back. I was wounded in the Ashau in July and all of my other things, like war souvenirs, weren't sent with me when I was medivaced to Japan. The only reason I still have it is because I had carried it in my personal box (7.62 ammo box) with some tapes and a few letters.

All of the damage to the flag is battle damage.......the flag was new when I and some of the guys put up the pole at the CP, some time around early May. We didn't have any rope to tie it to the pole so the only thing we had to do the job, was a cord from a poncho liner which you can still see is attached on the upper left corner.

 

 

I never knew how many men were KIA that night and I would like to know more about the Guardsmen that were there. I'll try to keep this story brief.

My stay at Tomahawk

I was sent to Tomahawk some time in early May with 3rd Plt. 1/327. We had been pulling ambushes in the Loc Nock cemetery area, about 10 clicks south, and going to Tomahawk was a good relief from humping.

When we got there some of the bunkers were already there (don't know who built them) but we needed more. We spent the next month building bunkers out of empty 105 shell boxes filled with dirt, 12 X 12 timbers, PSP for the roofs, and sand bags.

We built the CP and about 4 other bunkers around the eastern side of the hill. We also made a shower and one latrine.

I remember thinking that humping might have been a better deal, it was hot and dirty work. We made guard positions, put out Claymores, Phu gas barrels, trip flairs and constatina wire around the perimeter.

The orininal Tomahawk was built in a bad spot, it was sort of a saddle with the artillery guns in the saddle, but its weakest point was on the west side of the hill which ran off at a slight slope up to the mountains "Charlie country". The rest of it was a steep hill that could be easily defended.

There were only two bunkers up there in a gap, if I remember right. I vividly remember being sent up there for night guard duty and I never wanted to pull that post again! I'm no rocket scientist but it didn't take a PHD to know that if Charlie wanted to take the hill that was where he would come calling. In fact we had a LP just outside the wire that NO ONE WANTED TO BE ASSIGNED TO.

Everything went along fine for awhile, we felt that the hill was about as well defended as we could make it. The artillery was due any day,we were pretty happy because we had our shower, good bunkers and at least one hot meal a day.

One night, I guess some time after midnight,either in late May or early June, I was on guard duty on top of the bunker on the south/eastern corner of the hill facing the mountains on the other side of Highway 1 overlooking the railroad tunnel. As I said, we were really content about then, real laid back, I was standing guard in a "T "shirt and my underwear and bare foot, what can I say, they woke me up and it was hot, besides nothing had happened in a month, RIGHT.

All at once I see a flash on the side of the hill across the highway. Charlie had been trying to blow up the railroad bridge just south of Tomahawk for some time and that is what I thought was happening.

We had been given one of those new star light scopes that had a lens about 8" in diameter and mounted on a tri-pod, they said it cost $9,000 and we had better take care of it or they would take it your of our pay!

I remember thinking "I'll find you, you SOB" I stood up and turned on the scope and was knocked on my ass by a rocket that hit a stack of empty 105 boxes that were stacked up on the right side of the bunker. I was still in the dumb ass mode and jumped back up to try to find this clown when another explosion went off by the latrine over by the LZ.

About that time It dawned on me that we were under attack and I had better take cover. I dove to the rear of the bunker where there was about a two foot dip where a trail led to the bunker door. I felt that a rocket couldn't get me there.......then I heard it.........that "POOMP, POOMP" sound, the little guy in my head was saying MORTARS, MORTARS!! I knew that I was screwed if one got even close.

I began to scramble as fast as I could down the trail to the bunker door so I could get inside. As I got to the door I run head long into Gomer (I don't remember his real name) trying to come out!! After some choice words like "get the F#@K out of the way!!" I made it into the door only to remember that I had left my 16 on the roof !! I went back out to get it and by now the perimeter was opening up on the side of the hill coming up to the top. I threw my 16 to my shoulder, flipped the switch to full auto and pulled the trigger........nothing !! the clip must have dropped out when I drug it off the roof. This was NOT my bunker, Not my hooch. I had no idea where to find any more clips......mine were about 50 yards away and mortars were falling like rain, or at least it seemed like it to me.

So there I stand, half naked, no shoes, with a rifle BUT no bullets in the middle of what I thought was surely going to be a human wave attack! After what seemed like an eternity, but was only a few minutes, I became aware that the human wave attack wasn't coming and that the M60 to my right was firing at the wrong place....down the hill....the rocket had come from the other side of the highway. I scurried over there and convinced the gunner "Gentle Ben" to let me fire the gun because I had seen the gook fire the first rocket.

I started firing at the spot only to watch my rounds fall harmlessly at the edge of highway 1.........they were well out of range of a 60. The attack only lasted about 30 minutes at the most, and the rest of the night passed with only our mad minute, keep them honest, drills.

The next morning Army intelligence came out to survey the damage and "back azimuth" the 60mm tail fins to determine where they were fired from. Next they talked to me about the first rocket. I told them that I saw the flash from the first rocket that hit beside my bunker and pointed to the side of the hill the other side of Hwy. 1. After a few minutes one of the investigators came up carrying the tail fin of what he said was a B-40 rocket and told me that I was wrong that a B-40 didn't have that much range, was I sure that it wasn't fired from the edge of the Hwy.

Being the stubborn 21 year old that I was, my answer was something like, "I know what I saw and it came from the side of the hill", he said something about "cherry" and I said something about "REMFS" and it was left at that, until right before we were sent to the Ashaw they found me again at Eagle Beach and told me that they had just found out that Charlie had come up with a booster for B-40's and that I probably was right.

In retrospect, I know that Charlie was just getting the range to their target that night. In fact Intelligence should have figured that one out.......the artillery wasn't even there at that time.

A week or so went by and the great day arrived......the Artillery group arrived with their 155 mobile guns and alot of heavy track vehicles, each with a 50 caliber on top. We were real excited because not only did we get to use some of the 50's that would reach out and touch someone, but we also got three hot meals a day. One of the first things I did was set up a 50 on the same bunker and test fired it at the spot where I saw the B-40 fired from...............NO PROBLEM! 50's are sweet.

The guard guys were great and they pitched in to build a six seated latrine and set up more defensive positions. We thought, what in the hell is a National Guard unit doing here? We weren't about to look a gift horse in the mouth........they had everything. They even got the Seabees to asphalt the LZ so the dust wouldn't blow everywhere when a chopper came in.

About two or three weeks went by and I was on road guard down by Hwy.1 and one of the local kids that hung around named "Speedy" told me in pigeon English "Three days you go mountain Loc Nock yes?" I thought, this is weird!, so I told the CO and they (I guess Intelligence) came out and picked him up.........saw him later just before we went for a battalion stand down at Eagle Beach.

Sure as S % # T in a few days we were told that we were going on a mission, and that a line Co. (the 2/502) had just came out of the Ashaw was going to take our place as security force.......they could use the three hots a day.

We were trucked to Phu Loc, then we humped to the old bombed out school house. There we met up with a company of Arvin's and were CA'ed to the mountain top just east of Loc Noc!! Speedy was right......I guess that should tell you something.

After we recon'ed down the mountain (another story) we were in the valley east of Loc Noc at our NDP when we saw the attack on Tomahawk that night.

I remember it too well. I remember feeling so helpless because we were at least 8-10 clicks away and there was no way for us to get there in the dark.......we just had to sit there and watch as the flairs were going off and Gun ships circled over Tomahawk, including Puff. The next day we humped out to Hwy.1 and were trucked back to Tomahawk.

The rest I don't like to remember except for a burned out jeep by the CP and looking into the bunker up at the LP. We were leaving and I looked back and saw the flag still flying and I wasn't going to let some Gook come back and take it so I cut it down and put it in my personal box and carried it until I was hit in the Ashau in July.
End of story.

I would like to say that Monday Morning Quarter Backing is easy now but, I know that we were being prepped that night in early June and that little Speedy knew more than he should have. I have always felt that had we been there, as defense force, instead of being in the mountains. Things would have turned out different. We knew that the hill had a bad weak spot.....the LP, but we knew about it. We had been prepped and we were on our guard.........I had even quit standing guard in my underwear. The guys that replaced us (if they ever got there?) had just come out of the Ashau to three hots and a shower, so I know they were feeling like they had gone on an "in country R&R".

I'm not saying anything bad about whoever relieved us.....it is just your nature to relax when you have a shower and hot meals after humping the boonies.

Everything I have written is the truth to the best of my memory, but don't hold me to the exact dates and times.........you know how time changes some things, but these memories will be with me the rest of my life.

In Nam you really didn't keep up with the date until you got short, and I was no where near to being short.

Dave A. Shade
D Co. 1/327 3rd plt.
4/69-7/69

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