Meeting A Former Enemy Soldier
By David Wright
K Troop 1966, M Company 1966-67, M Company 1968-69
During my second tour with M Company in 1969 I had an unusual encounter. My unit was set up at Bandit Hill to provide security for the Squadron Command Post. I had just lay down to try to get some sleep when the crew member who was on watch told me that the First Sergeant wanted me on the radio. When I answered the radio, the First Sergeant told me that I was to report to the Squadron Commander, LTC Doyle, at the TOC (Tactical Operation Center). As I put on my helmet, flak vest and weapon, I began to wonder what the Squadron Commander wanted with me.
LTC Doyle and I had served together in 1966 and 1967 with the 11th Cav. He, at the time, was a Major and the Squadron S3. As I entered the TOC, I saw LTC Doyle, the S2 Officer, SGT Sahn (the Vietnamese interpreter) and a Tiger Scout. I did not know the Scout but would soon find out who he was. LTC Doyle asked me if I remembered the ambush at Soui Cat in May 1967. I told him I would never forget it. He then asked me what I would do if he could introduce me to someone who had possibly fired the first round at my tank. They had been talking with the Scout about some of the battles that he had taken part in as a VC. When he mentioned Soui Cat, LTC Doyle stopped him and called for me. He told me to ask the Scout anything I wanted to so as to determine that he had actually taken part in the ambush. I told SGT Sahn to get a pencil and paper, and have the Scout draw the ambush site as he had seen it.
After a few minutes, the Scout handed the paper to me. As I studied the drawing, I soon realized that he had taken part in the ambush. He had drawn the ambush exactly as it had happened. He had fired the first round at my tank, and when asked what had happened next, he said that my return fire had killed the gun crew and wounded him. We continued to talk for the better part of an hour. During that conversation we found out the reason he had "Chou Hoi'd." The VC had killed his brother because he wouldn't join the local VC unit. The Scout informed LTC Doyle that he wanted to work with M Company as a Scout. He turned out to be a real "Tiger." With his knowledge of the area and the VC unit, M Company was able to locate and destroy a large amount of "Charlie's" supplies.
As I was getting ready to return to my tank, the Scout stood up. In very broken English, he apologized for his actions during the ambush. He then offered his hand in friendship. What was I to do? Here I was with a loaded weapon on my hip and a former enemy soldier, who had tried to kill me, was asking for my forgiveness. The question still remains, could I have shot him right there in the TOC?