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Mountain Tales

I was a rifleman and frequent pointman for A Co. 1/502/1st plt. 2nd squad. It was in November 1968 in the I Corp out of LZ Sally. We were operating in the mountains out of Firebase T-Bone. They would send us out in platoon size patrols into these mountains.

It is some of the thickest vegetation I have ever seen. On this particular patrol, we were operating on a trail through the mountains. They said it went right on to North Vietnam. It had been traveled for thousands of years and cut about eight or ten feet into the mountains. It was like walking in a ditch. It was a pretty dangerous path to follow.

We had stopped for awhile and then got orders to send a squad another click or so on down this trail. Of course I was in the lucky squad that got to go. I was on slackman for this patrol. We had just got to going good when we received incoming automatic weapons fire. We returned fire and threw a few grenades in their direction. There was no further firing and no one had been hit, so we moved on down the trail.

We went a good ways down this trail deeper into the mountains. I believe it was nine of us on this patrol. We finally stopped and set up a perimeter. The Lt. had come with us and I don't think he was much older than the rest of us. He was a good soldier and frequently asked the opinions of us Sp/4s and Sgt's about what we were doing and how we thought best to do it. He was highly respected by us and a fine leader. I'm sorry I can't even remember his name.

I felt like we were in the bowels of Hell. We knew that these mountains were hiding hundreds maybe thousands of enemy soldiers. It was getting late in the evening and we all thought we would be going back to the rest of our platoon.

The Lt. checked in and then informed us that we would be spending the night in this place. He made a good decision and told us that we would move away from this trail and set up in a safer position. The night was uneventful and we made it back to the platoon the next morning. The next evening the platoon was together and we set up a perimeter on the trail. John Bivona and I had gone out and set up our claymore mines and moved back into our position. Woody was on guard for our position while John and I were eating our C rations.

Woody all of sudden opened fire. John and I grabbed our weapons and started firing into the trees and bushes. We decided to blow our claymores and picked up our detonators to blow them. We mashed the clickers and nothing happened. The firing stopped and Woody said he had got one of them. We moved out to check his body when another one ran from behind a tree. He was shot by our Vietnamese scout. The first one that had been shot was dead. The second one was wounded.

We got him and the scout began questioning him. He told him that we were going to let him die if he didn't talk. He told the scout that there were 400 NVA and 300 VC five hours down the trail. We called for a medivac and they came and hoisted him up out the trees.

We went out and checked to see why our claymores hadn't blown and the enemy had cut the wires to the blasting caps on both of them.

The next day we were set up on this trail and one enemy soldier walked right into our kill zone and was blown away with a claymore mine.

I had 40 days left incountry when this happened. I was glad to get back to T-bone.

The next night the B-52s came and shook the mountain we were on. They must have found those 700 enemy soldiers our prisoner had told us about.

This was just some everyday life for the infantry of the 101st Airborne Division.

Charles "Country" Cole