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11 November 2019

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john t

Thank you.

turcopolier

All

There were 93 US KIA in the two battles of Ramadi. pl

mbrenner

Pat

What normally is the ratio of killed to wounded in combat such as this these days?

Haralambos

Colonel Lang,
This description brings tears to my eyes as well yours in that battle. It graphically demonstrates the difference between auctoritas and podestas as well as much more. Thank you for sharing, remembering, and reminding us.

Booby

Col.

I found the NVA to be a very worthy foe. I learned of the "hold them by the belt buckle" tactic the hard way. Just south of the DMZ one of our companies stumbled into a Regimental CP. The Marines were driven back by AK & MG fire. The Marines laid down in the elephant grass about 50m in front of the forward bunkers while we ran air support "danger close". After 3 flights of snake & napalm, the company assaulted again just before dark and was met again with heavy fire. We evacuated our wounded & settled in for the night. When we moved forward the next morning the scorched bunkers were empty. Trails in the grass showed that when the Marines pulled back 50m, the NVA had crawled forward about 35m. After observing a very close air strike, the NVA had crawled back into their buckers & thwarted our second assault. Discipline & guts.

Happy Memorial Day

Medicine Man

Thank you, Col. It is our loss that you never intend to release all of your memoirs, but reading this I can understand your reluctance.

Jesus wept, 52 killed and 70 maimed all because one man was a self-regarding asshole.

turcopolier

mbrenner

Military medicine got steadily better throughout the 20th Century so the ratio of killed to wounded became lower and lower. Medevac helicopters and forward surgical hospitals made a big difference, but the 52 KIA here in tis one company were killed outright on the field of battle. I do not know how many of the WIA died of their wounds. Remember there were a lot of casualties in the other units of our encirclement. The NVA had a widely distributed system of underground hospitals supplied through the Laos/Cambodia corridor (HCM Trail) but they had to live long enough to be carried to them. I agree with Booby that the NVA were a remarkably tough and dedicated enemy. pl

turcopolier

All

BTW, I have looked at this place in Google Earth. The Vietnamese government has built a widespread network of hydroelectric dams in the highlands since the war. As a result the site of this combat is buried under a prosperous Vietnamese town. This is one of the few instances of the outright defeat of US forces in the field in the war, along with the loss of Lang Vei SF camp and LZ Albany. At Song Be a few miles away there are actual memorials to the protracted battle in February-March 1969 but not at this place. pl

SteveG

Just finished watching an hour PBS episode
about James "Maggie" Magellas the most
decorated soldier in the history of the 82nd
Airborne. To paraphrase" How could I send
young 18 and 19 year olds to lead and I stay
in the rear. " A remarkable man for anytime,
he is still alive at 98. That we would have more
like him in all fields of endeavor.

FND

Thank you Colonel. That story really brings it home to me. I was on a somewhat similar disastrous mission during the 1972 NVA Easter offensive. The NVA had taken Quang Tri City, and we were inserting South Vietnamese soldiers at key points around the city of Quang Tri to cut off supplies. Unfortunately, I can't tell you anything about the tactical situation on this particular mission. I was but a WO1 front seat co-pilot gunner in a Cobra gunship at the time. On this particular mission, we (about 10 gunships as I recall) were gun cover for a US Marine insertion of South Vietnamese marines. There were I think about 15 CH-54 Jolly Greens full of the marines. At that time, because of the SA-7 heat-seekers, we had to fly low level. We took massive fire beginning at least 8 or 10 klicks out from the LZ, and then the LZ was hot. The US Marine pilots told us at least half of the troops were dead or wounded from ground fire before they ever got to the LZ. Two of the Jolly Greens went down. Actually, I never made it to the LZ. About 3 kicks out my pilot was hit and the command ship directed us back to the staging area for the pilot to be attended to. His wound turned out to be superficial and he was ok. Like I said, I don't know anything about the tactical situation, but surely there must have been an intelligence failure. Either that, or they felt the risk was worth the prize. They eventually re-took Quang Tri, but it was several months later.

FND

Oops. That's the CH-53 Jolly Green, not CH-54, which was the heavy lift cargo helicopter. Old age is hell.

ex-PFC Chuck

Thank you for posting this. Never having been in combat it is humbling to read what others have endured, and in this as in many other situations having done so under incompetent leadership.

Aka

all,
found this article that described the life of a VC (I think he may have joined to fight the french ) fighter who joined the fight in 1950s and fought until the end.

Although the article has been written with a sense of humor in mind, I thought it was a worthy read.

http://kenmoremoggillrsl.org/viet-cong-soldier-describes-life-in-war/

Aka

Booby,
I would say they were desperate. Did whatever they thought would get a edge over the US troops. Considering the number of casualties they took, they never had a easy life.

LeaNder

Indeed interesting, Aka. But strictly no surprise. ...

I encountered the same respect as Pat's shows here for his "battle counterpart", for loss of a better term, among war correspondents for the ones killed reporting for the other side. ...

FND's comment above triggered memories of their stories and images combined with Pat's story.

Were Jolly Green's the type of helicopters that did not only carry materials but also journalists occasionally?

I may be mistaken but that was my basic google impression while looking into military terms.

LeaNder

"I was but a WO1 front seat co-pilot gunner in a Cobra gunship at the time."

WO1? Would there be backseat gunners too.

"At that time, because of the SA-7 heat-seekers, we had to fly low level. We took massive fire beginning at least 8 or 10 klicks out from the LZ, and then the LZ was hot."

My guess at klicks or kicks, which you use later suggests a distance from a battlefield LZ to an LZ with a slightly longer "life-span" then the battlefield LZ.

Got that completely wrong. Kicks, klicks?

Sounds like a dangerous missing anyway. You have to be low to target MANPAD's or whatever it was, but this also endangers you heavily.

Did I get this wrong too, completely?

Aka

mbrenner,
I remember CNN saying that it is 1500:1 in 2001 or 2003 (in the beginning of the war on terror). May be they have revised it by now.

turcopolier

LeAnder

A "click" is US Army slang for a kilometer. A "WO1" is a warrant officer. That is a rank between the enlisted ranks and the commissioned officers, lieutenants and up. The US Army and US Marine Corps have warrant officer pilots as well as commissioned officer pilots. These last are normally the commanders. "LZ" means "Landing Zone." This is the place where the south Vietnamese Marines in this story were to be landed. pl

Booby

FND

In the late '60's a Marine LtCol., William Corson, published a book "The Betrayal" criticizing US strategy & tactics in VN. In the final chapter he hypothesized that the Soviet Union could dramatically change the helicopter war in VN any time they wished by giving the NVA the Strela shoulder fired AA missile. In the Easter Offensive, the Soviets played that card. Helo & OV-10 losses in the Quang Tri area were devastating & forced an immediate change of helo tactics. Fly low or die. It took us a decade to develop effective counter-measures to these missiles.

Years later I had a SNCO who worked for me who had crewed a CH-46 inserting VN Marines along the coast north of Quang Tri during '72. The LZ brief warned of a "dead" NVA tank in the LZ. As his AC landed beside the "dead" tank, he saw the turret turn & he was looking down the barrel. The tank fired; but, either it was too close to the helo or the thin aluminum skin of the helo didn't activate the fuse & the round went through his AC as a solid shot.

turcopolier

booby

I was in VN in '72 and remember the advent of the SA-7. as an immediate expedient defense we threw thermite grenades out the doors when we saw one fired. I don't know if that worked well, but I am still here. I also remember seeing an NVA team fir an RPG at a Cobra. The missile did not arm and went right through the boom. pl

LeaNder

Thanks Pat.

I looked up LZ. But I understand that LZ could have both a longer existence, or exist for a slightly longer time then a single LZ for a specific battle. In which case the first type of LZ would be the starting base? Like LZ "Buttons"?

More specifically were only "2/5 Cav" based at "Buttons" and the others were "inserted (?)/were brought in" later, as support? Or was the whole 5 cav, I understand, located there?

turcopolier

LeAnder

In the largely helicopter transported war an LZ could be either a semi-permanent base for aircraft as well as a convenient place where troops could be billeted and supplied or the place where troops would be landed by air in a single operation as in the Quang Tri story. LZ Buttons was named for some officer's girl friend. I think she was a Red Cross girl in Saigon. 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment just happened to be based at LZ Buttons just then. During the VN period US Army infantry and cavalry fighting as infantry were organized by battalions. The regiment, as in this case, 5th Cavalry, only existed as a tradition. Armored Cavalry sxisted as a whole regiment and the 11th Cavalry in VN (the Black Horse) were a formidable group. The US Marines, who, I am sure you know are not part of the Army still had regimental formations. pl

LeaNder

Thanks for the patience Pat, or more patience then the ones asking me to shut up would have anyway.

apparently more "LZ Buttons" memories here:
http://usastruck.com/tag/lz-buttons/

not sure if you take me for a ride concerning the naming of buttons, but then, it's not really important.

Booby

turcopolier

One lucky Cobra crew. Usually when a helo & an RPG met, it was catastrophic for the helo. I hated being shot at with RPG's because the projectile moved slow enough that you could see them coming. Time moves real slowly when you see one coming. I've had them pass through my rotor disc & still don't understand how the projectile could make it through without hitting or being hit by a rotor blade.

A CH-46 from my squadron became a part of Marine Corps history after being hit by an RPG on Mutter's Ridge, just below the DMZ. The climax of the novel "Matterhorn" was based on this incident. A Company was assaulting a hill that was an abandoned Marine LZ. The NVA were fighting from the old Marine bunkers. The CH-46 was departing a neighboring hill with Medevacs when it was hit in the aft pylon by an RPG & burst into flames. The pilot saw a LZ directly below him & shot an emergency landing. The pilot was unaware that the NVA held the hill & the Marines were assaulting the hill & engaged in close combat. The NVA were startled by a flaming CH-46 crashing on them & their defense was disrupted. Some NVA climbed aboard the burning helo & were trying to take the 50 caliber machine guns. There was a gunfight between the crew & the NVA in the cabin of the helo. The Marines won & the NVA abandoned the hill. The Grunts gave our squadron credit for capturing the hill - a 1st & only in Marine Corps history.

Tyler

This was a good remembrance. I'm sure the men there appreciated what you did for them.

Enjoy your Memorial Day, folks.

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