EXCERPT FROM “HEIRS OF HONOR” – ‘BORDER BATTLES’


 

“…The day they went for it, we left camp at 0600 and moved north, toward the jungle on the other side of the small high valley.  Our camp overlooked the open ground to the north.  The eastern side of the camp allowed a view of a jagged boulder covered slope, so steep, large bodies of men could not effectively climb it, nor would they want to be caught trying.  To the south and west, our camp guarded the road climbing out of the main valley.  The road climbed into the highlands, a two hundred yard wide swath of defoliated growth, burnt black by napalm.  Visibility prevented surprises.  The Army hated surprises, so the Vietnamese countryside felt much better to us with a giant black scar of burnt poisoned land, on each side of our supply road.  It snaked north to other camps and firebases.  It ended up north where Giap cut it, during the siege of Khe Sanh.  The road was our sacred river for men and supplies.  Our life’s blood that must be protected or we’d all whither, and die.  Our camp was fairly safe, dominating the high ground for three and a half of its’ four sides, and guarding the road and two valleys.  If a man stood at the gate facing west, a klick beyond the road his left eye would see Cambodia, his right Laos, and if he went due west two klicks, he’d be standing on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

The strategic importance of controlling the area around our camp was obvious to the lowest private in the Army, so the brass, in its’ infinite wisdom, left the defense of our camp to its’ formidable terrain, and sixty-one officers and men of the first Special Forces Group.  Naturally, we supported Command’s position with enthusiastic confidence, actually believing we were up to the task.  Every man in our camp had heard the criticism of the army engineers who designed the camp, because they forgot to include alternate gates.  The camp had one gate large enough to allow trucks through.  The others were small walking gates, on the south side.  But we weren’t worried because we knew, it was inconceivable the gooks would try and break into an American camp.  What we didn’t know was the leadership of the NVA didn’t rule out the option of attacking an American base; the poor little bastards didn’t know it was inconceivable.  They were about to show us arrogance was a lousy defense….”

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