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Clever NVA Devils

Clever NVA Devils

Those of us of certain ages, and who were mostly, somewhat, or just occasionally 'in the rear with the gear and the beer and the Generals in Viet Nam' may recall, along with the Stars and Stripes, and Navy Times, a freebie 'newspaper' entitled 'The Sea Tiger'… didn't think about it at the time, but the 'Sea' may have been some PAO's cutesy idea for 'South East Asia'. (Marine Corps Times, as a separate entity, didn't come along until later… I'm guessing in the 1980's or later…) This publication was of the same size and format as the others, and covered mostly items for and about IIIMAF (Third Marine Amphibious Force). In any field of endeavor, there are those who 'know'… and those who THINK they know… To the point, in July of '66, we (K/3/5) along with a whole bunch of otherunits, were involved in Operation Hastings. History buffs will recognize the tie to the (English) Battle of Hastings… some 900 years earlier… and either from unintentional irony, or cleverness on some G-3's part, the name was chosen… maybe because the Commanding General of the forces involved was General English…

We had come ashore earlier in Operation Deckhouse II, being from the SLF (Special Landing Force), and segued (great word, that… learned from watching Johnny Carson) into Hastings. A day or so in, without much contact, we were moving through tertiary (3-layer) jungle, and came upon some NVA gear… initially, just some 'chogie poles' and some spun aluminum cooking pans. The word was passed back, and instructions to move on through, then hold up came back up from the CP group, as the Skipper wanted to exam this find. One of the curiouser items in this collection were the hand-made separators between the various size pans, which were made to 'nest' inside the others, and the whole stack enclosed by some lashing… one stack to each end of the chogie pole. These separators were about 3 inches in diameter, woven of rattan in a circle, with what looked like two popsicle sticks in a cross arrangement inside the circle. The way everything fit, it was pretty obvious that this was some ol' country boy's version of an anti-rattle device to keep those pots and pans quiet when on the move. (A bit latter, one of the 1st Platoon's flankers found what turned out to be an entire NVA 320B Division battalion's cache of haversacks… another story for another time on the contents thereof)… which brings us back to the Sea Tiger later on… prominent on the front page was a picture of a Marine with a captured AK-47… holding one of those ring with a cross inside pot separators over the barrel… and the blurb said those clever NVA devils had devised a simple sight device for anti-aircraft fire!… Could be, but I'd think in the middle of the Bn mess kit would be an odd place to tote one's anti-aircraft sights… will admit, the gizmo had some slight similarity to the ring sights on the AA guns on ships, but actually using it by holding it while firing from the shoulder was a bit of a stretch…

The picture was originally shot in B/W with a 'half-frame' camera, which used 35MM film, but took two pictures per frame. The camera looked to be stainless steel, and was small enough to fit in a utlity blouse pocket. It belonged to (then) 2nd Lt Robert Rosenau (on the right of the tree), and the picture was taken during Operation Hastings. One of the Marines in the background I can identify only as 'Ben', and I think he was of Cuban extraction. Rosie and I are using my pocket saw, which was a gnarly sharp piece of wire with teeth on it, and a ring on each end (much like a grenade ring). It could be coiled up and carried quite handily. We are cutting timbers to make a roof over our hole… having gotten into sort of a contest in the platoon to see who could come up with the most elaborate position. The round boonie covers in the picture until a few days earlier, had belonged to some North Vietnamesse Army grunts…


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