Mistake Uno #1. Anyhow, we got the damn thing mounted. We did all right at the firing range (boonies). Blew the shit out every tree over 4 ft high. Had a blast, except for the noise. Man, I mean that sob could put out the decibels.
Mistake #2. Did you notice how big the bullet was!!! It may look larger than life but I'm only 5'2". It was large. Well, where do you think we stored the ammo? Anywhere we could tie it down. Remember, the shocks on a 'track' wasn't by Midas. I guess the point I'm trying to make, is you loaded the rifle up and hoped you only needed one shot be cause those bullets weighed like 50 Lbs. So, rapid fire was out of the question and you didn't carry a lot of rounds.
Mistake #3. Almost fatal. Do you remember how a mounted ambush patrol was set up? You would circle the wagons, facing outwards then back up to almost touching rear ends.
Well, troopers if you never fired a recoilless rifle, this how it works. First, why do you think they called it recoilless? My friend it's actually a damn Rocket. And the blowback is tremendous. It's actually a rocket taking off parallel to the ground.
Any way, we're on this mounted ambush patrol and the track with rifle thought (how many times did you hear that) they spotted activity ahead. When they fired that damn rifle, they should have yelled fire in the hole because the back blast seemed like we were at Cape Canaveral. It blew just about everybody off the track in the rear and to both sides.
You could hear troopers running around yelling, "don't shoot", "don't shoot" while trying figure out just what happen to them and how to remount their tracks.
'Charlie' could of have had field day had he been there or maybe he was too astonished to do anything.
After that patrol, the rifle was banned from action (ambush type). It got to be such a pain. Everytime we made a hard turn the track would come off. That's great in battle! As matter of fact, we moth balled it at some base camp. I think we picked up some Thompson's and grease guns for it. That's another story!
Spc/4 H. W. Terry
In November 1969 2/11 ACR was providing security for Rome Plows opening
a road along the Cambodian border. In the middle of the day we were ordered to form
a wagon wheel in the middle of the cut. Wer we about to experience a huge daylight
attack? No, it was Joe Dimagio and two helicopters full of baseball players
and the Baseball Commissioner. There they were about as far out in the boonies
as you could get. I grew up with Joe as my baseball hero. He has held an even more
special position ever since.
In February 1969, I was serving my second tour of Vietnam with M Company, 3rd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry. One day we were informed that we would be moving out to support the 1st Cavalry Division near the Song Be bridge. The only route into the area was along a two-lane concrete highway that the jungle had overtaken. We only had a well trodden footpath to follow. About two and a-half miles from the LZ that we were going to, the lead tank hit a mine. It was damaged, but repairable, so we towed the tank on into the LZ. As we arrived at the LZ we were greeted by several "Sky-soldiers." They offered us cold beer and sodas, which we gladly accepted, and a friendship was quickly formed.
Later that day I was informed that myself and the Platoon SGT were to set up a mounted ambush on the road to Song Be bridge. We moved into position and were setting up our claymores when a platoon of "Sky-soldiers" came by. They were setting up an ambush patrol in front of my position. I asked them if they still wanted me to set out the claymores and they okayed it. A few minutes later, a couple of the men from the platoon came up to my tank and asked if I could spare some water. They said they only had a couple of canteens to fill and would only fill them half way. I told them to bring all of their canteens and fill them completely up. When I informed them that I had eight, five gallon cans of water, they ran back to get the remainder of the canteens. I asked them if the wanted some C-rations to go with their LRRP's and they quickly agreed, especially when they found out that I had sixteen cases on board my tank. I was told by the patrol leader to sleep good that night because they were going to make sure that I was covered all night.
The offer didn't last long because I heard on the radio that the "Thunder Run" to the bridge had been hit while it was returning to the LZ. The Platoon SGT and I were the closest to the ambush site and immediately pulled out to make the run to the ambush site. As we were in route, we heard that some of the "Sky-soldiers" on board had been wounded and needed to be evacuated. The one vehicle in the "Thunder Run" did not have enough firepower to cover an LZ for the med-evac. As the Platoon SGT and I rolled into the ambush zone, we started firing everything we had. We slowly moved and fired until he was on one side of the track and I was on the other. As night was falling rapidly, we called for the "Dust-off" and provided cover for the wounded to be evacuated. We remained in position all night. The next morning, the "Sky-soldiers" sent out a recon team to check the area. Our tank guns had cleared an area about two hundred yards off the road. The recon team found blood trails and signs that bodies had been dragged off. Nothing else happened after the ambush and the remainder of the days with the "Sky-soldiers" went by pretty quickly. As our tank company departed the LZ, the Cav waved a sad farewell. We would later work with the "Sky-soldiers" out of Quan Loi, An Loc and Phouc Phen.
The friendship that was developed at Song Be may never be rekindled as strong as it was then, but I can still see the looks on the faces of the soldiers that I gave water and C-rations to. They could not believe that I had so much on board my tank. They soon realized that my tank was my home away from home, my ruck-sack, my sleeping quarters, and my foxhole to fight from, all rolled into one. I'll never forget those "Sky-soldiers". In 1993, I met some of those "Sky-soldiers" at the 1st Cavalry Division Reunion in Killeen, Texas. They remembered the "Iron-Cav" and made me an honorary member of their platoon.
David E. Wright
K Troop, 1966
M Co, 1966-67
M Co, 1968-69
I served in A Co, 1/8, 1st Cav Div from Apr 69 to March '70, took my 30-day (actually, 36 days, but what the s---were they going to do to me?), and went to Div rear at Bien Hoa, until March '71 when I derosed/ hit CA/ was discharged/ went back to Mom & Dad in FL, WITHOUT having to pull funky stateside duty!
At some point in '69, I think it was around Aug or Sep, we rode "piggy back" with some unit of the 11th for about 30 days. This is what I want to talk about AND salute all you CRAZY SOBS who served (and ESPECIALLY your comrades who did NOT come back with you AND those who DID, prematurely!!!!!!!!!) in the 11th!!!
FIRST impression - you dudes did NOT seem to be worried about ANNOUNCING
your presence and your
arrival! Went against all I had been taught in infantry training.
SECOND impression - I learned NOT to ride on TOP of APCs after I got to see the effect of a good sized mine on them. The very concept of actually riding INSIDE of one of those beasts nauseates me. (of course, these dudes we rode with carried so MUCH ammo/Cs/water, etc. in the innards of the APCs that I couldn't see how many of us could even fit in there! I RODE ON ONE OF THE M-48s UP FRONT AFTER THAT EXPERIENCE!!! And, STILL got to experience running over a mine! Knocked me off the rear end of the tank. CRAZY assed folks in this armor business!
THIRD impression - Me Dad was a physician. His partner left his first year in medical school in Switzerland 7 Dec 41, returned to the USA, joined the Army and was in Armor following Patton into Germany. Louie was one of my best "pen-pals" while I was in Viet Nam, ESPECIALLY when I would write him my observations about these crazy-assed nuts in this 11th Armored Cav unit we infantrymen were hitching a ride with!!! I want you dudes to know that, according to Dr. Louie Moore, in Naples, FL, ARMOR CRAZIES in Viet Nam were JUST EXACTLY LIKE they were in WWII sweeping across Europe!
I noticed, quickly, that the Armor Dudes carried a LOT of water with them! They even
had those nifty canvas
shower bags with the adjustable nozzle, would hang them on the barrel of the tanks and SHOWER AWAY! They had supplies of DRY SOCKS, lots of them. ALL of them had peaches & pound cake, nobody was arm wrestling over the most desireable Cs of all times!!!
One night, while we were set up like a wagon train, I spotted an Armor Dude going into the back end of an APC. I noticed an unfamiliar (for Viet Nam) light flicker. I went over and knocked, they invited me in to watch a bit of TV!!! Jeez, out in the field? Looked like about a 5-6" screen, B&W, and they were watching the American TV channel in Saigon??? Dr. Moore wasn't amazed at any of this, except that they hadn't the TV, BUT did have a tube-type AM/SW radio so they could listen to State-side baseball games!!!
FOURTH impression - You Armor Dudes ARE FLAKY when it comes to ambushes!!! We GRUNTS learned the wisdom of covering our tracks, setting up QUIETLY and unloading on the Dinks. You ARMOR NUTS just fire up the LOUDEST APC, PLOW out into the bush for a click or so AND DARE the DINKS TO COME AROUND!!! Bizarre.
FIFTH impression - You Dudes may be NUTS, but you were some of the finest
troopers I ever hope to meet!
Whatever you guys had, you were willing to share it with us. We had s---to share with you guys and you STILL
seemed to like us!
THAT's enough of "impressions". I could go on for the rest of the night. Something more serious, and I really have NO idea of where we were (somewhere around the Parrot's Beak?), we were riding with the 11th and some kind of emergency order came down that another unit of the 11th had been ambushed and we HAD to get there ASAP! When we got there, (REMEMBER, I am going from my OWN observations & memories here) it was OVER. I remember 2 tanks which had dead crew inside. Your Dudes did NOT want us grunts to pull them out. Your guys did their duty and it was probably the most SOLEMN occasion I have EVER witnessed!!!
I'm hoping one of yours can tell me the when & what of what I saw.
Also, along with those crazy-assed chopper pilots who supported and the F-100
pilots who supported us, you
CRAZY-ASSED 11th ARMORED CAV DUDES are welcome to s---on my living room carpet ANY TIME!!!
Robert A. Alexander, D.V.M.
Stroll through a Mine FieldA
Stroll through a Mine Field I was part of the 541st MID, I
was an Interrogator/Linguist. One day while accompaning the medics on a MedCap, I received
a radio call. I was almost too shocked to say hello..........nobody EVER called me over
radio. My shock worsened when I discovered that it was the Squadron Commander, LTC Duke. Since there were no interpreters left for him to use, he requested that I proceed to an ARVN base and make liaison with the unit stationed there. AND, he sent me his personal helicopter! When we arrived at the ARVN base, we landed outside the wire and I went around the concertina looking for an entrance to the base. The wire seemed to be in the shape of a circle with me in the inside. I could see the ARVN soldiers waving at me while I tried to get inside. Finally, finding no gate, we took off and landed in another spot. When I got inside the camp, the Commander of the base asked me with concern: WHY I WAS WALKING AROUND HIS MINEFIELD. Talk about your pucker factor.
Thank You Comments: Greetings from Delta troop, 1/9th Air Cav - Rat Patrol: I was in 'Nam from Aug '69 to Jan '70. On Sept.14, in Song Be area. We were ambushed on the main highway south of Song Be. We were pinned down for quite a few hours. I've never had the chance to thank "Tufts unit" (that's all I knew them by) for pulling us out and the fire support. They saved us.I've always described them as looking like Jesus Christ coming over the hill, fifties blazing. It was a very harrowing experience watching the APC's, jets, cobra gunships, artillery, everything! But the worm turned when you guys pulled in. Another fellow and myself, along with one of your APC's were the last ones out. We drove a jeep out of the kill zone with 3 flat tires with small arms rounds hitting the front fenders, scaring the hell out of both of us. Anyway, I've always wanted to thank "Tufts" unit at Song Be on the 14 of Sept., 1969. You guys did GOOD! I was wounded Jan.3, 1970 at Phouc Vinh and so ended my Viet experience. Thank you once again.
Steve Butler - Delta Troop - 1/9th Air Cav.
Box 148 Loon Lake, Sk. Canada S0M 1L0 e-mail -
To continue with the "Tales" go HERE