Hey! We're over here!
by David N. Muxo
Every once in a while
Company B would stand down to a forward fire base. Usually that meant a few days
of rest and guard duty on the perimeter. But it also meant that we were available
for whatever nutso patrol the fire base commander thought he needed. These patrols
were supposed to be supported from the fire base. In other words, we would stay
close enough to be supported by mortar, but far enough out to be his "eyes and
ears" looking for would-be attackers.
On this particular occasion 3rd Squad was chosen. I would like to think that it
was because of our professionalism and "Can Do!" spirit. I would like to, but I
can't. We were the rebels. The CO didn't like us, the LT tolerated us, and the
Army didn't know about us. There was no way the folks back home were going to read
about the squad who held off five thousand screaming NVA with only their bayonets!
We intended to go home in one piece, preferably breathing.
Now don't get me wrong. We did our duty, and we were good at what we did. We could
navigate and ambush and die just as well as anybody else. But we weren't actively
looking for a Medal of Honor. We adhered to the George Patton theory of warfare.
It was not our duty to die for our country, but to make the other poor bastard
die for his! So we were careful, and took into account how we would survive to
fight another day. Unfortunately all of our officers weren't as prudent as we were,
and so we were the "rebels."
Anyway, 3rd Squad was sent out. The LT told me to take the guys and go up to the
hill overlooking the fire base and look around. We were five guys, no machine gun.
It was supposed to be a day trip, a walk in the park. So we packed up and headed
Nothing remarkable happened the first day. That's right, after we got out there
the fire base commander decided we needed to stay out overnight. No problem, we
were traveling light and didn't dig in. We found a nice clump of bamboo after
dark. Everything was peaceful. Just a bunch of Boy Scouts on a hike back in the world.
Early the next morning we heard some movement not more than thirty or forty yards
away. I called in and we kept our heads down. The commander passed the word, find
out who they were and call back. So that's what we were doing when the VC (turned
out that's who they were) started firing a recoilless rifle at the base. They
didn't know we were there, of course. I called in again and told the RTO on the
other end that I had the enemy force in sight, and that I could direct mortar or
artillery fire. What should I do?
I was told "Get off the radio! Can't you see we're being attacked!" Well, I was
not a quitter, and I wasn't going to be told to kiss off when I could do something,
so I called in again. They didn't even answer! Well, we had a choice. We could
attack a superior force (there were a lot more of them than there were of us)
without hope of support from the fire base, or we could live to fight another day.
It wasn't a hard choice for the 3rd Squad. We would have to put off the Medals of
Honor for a while.
So we decided to figure out how to distract the enemy from their target without
becomming recoilless rifle fodder ourselves. I wish I could tell you that we did,
but before we came up with anything the attack was over, and they were bugging
out. We decided to do the same, knowing that the artillery was not far behind,
and we didn't want to get killed by our own artillery.
After moving a safe distance I called in again. I halfway thought that the CO
would tell us to follow the enemy force, but I had forgotten that the CO didn't
believe that we had even seen them. We were told to come on in, and we did.
Well, that day I learned that there is no justice in the army. We were reamed
royally for not reporting the enemy position. What kind of soldiers were we anyway?
We didn't care. We were the 3rd squad. What could they expect?