In The Wrong Place!

In The Wrong Place!

It must of been in the late spring because it was “TOO HOT” by morning. The Platoon Lt. called a squad and myself to accompanied him to investigate an incident between two Marine Companies. Apparently, a squad had been sent out to set up an ambush on a village for the first part of their mission and then move down to and across the river in order to set up another ambush next to the river. The second squad from a different company was ordered to set up outside the village and attack the VC/NVA as they left the area next the day. Intelligence had assured them that the village was a “hot bed” (you might say) of VC/NVA activity.

Well, everything went according to plan with the squad on the ambush setting up after dark and in the right place. However, unknown to them, the squad that was sent to attack the village at sunrise was to be in place by midnight. Honestly, no one understood why this squad was required to be there that long before the attack. The Intelligence Unit was not forthcoming with their thoughts on the matter (go figure–right?). Now comes the part where this well thought out plan takes a turn, the ambush squad moves out like they were told to; however, when they got to the river the Squad Leader in charge of these men decided that the river was running too fast and deep (it rains in VietNam—a lot!). So in accordance with S.O.P., they connect the Radio Operator on watch at Bn. back in An Hoa to let him know of their situation and the necessary change that was going to be made to their orders. They let it be known that this squad would be returning to the village where they had set up their first ambush and settled in for the rest of the night. It’s now midnight, the attack squad leaves their lines and process to their jump off point for their mission. Wait! Why didn’t the Bn. Radio Operator tell them of the presents of the other squad of Marines? Well, apparently he was a sleep on his watch! Actually, he did fell to sleep on his watch.

The next morning comes and the ambush squad is gathering their things to make ready to move out for their company position. The attack squad sees this action and getting excited about their luck at catching so many VC/NVA off guard. Some would think that maybe Intelligence got it right this time. We were never able to clearly find out about who fired the first shot but it was fired and “all hell breaks lose” between these two squads of Marines. It was a very intense firefight for a few minutes. When the Squad Leader called-up the 3.5 rocket—I was never sure why this unit would have brought a long something like that. My guess was that it was sent to them for this attack and the squad was reinforced with exera men—so why not fire it off and get rid of those rounds as fast as possible (you might have guess—I’m grunt). The rounds are too heavy to hump back to the company. Anyways, the ambush squad heard this order and figured that the only people who would use this fire power in a firefight would be other Marines. This is what saved this squad from some serious injuries. They were able to identify themselves to the other squad and put a stop to this fight.

The finding of this investigation was that the Bn Radio Operator failed to make note of the changes during his watch and neither of the squads were found at fault for what had happen. The problem is that this was not the only incident that occurred to my company. It has always amazed me how just one person in the chain not doing their job can put so many at risk. I have from time to time stop to think about how many situations or incidents Marines find themselves dealing with without other Americans knowing anything about it. The Navy Seals must have a pretty good P.R. person working for them—I guess.

As always, this is a true story—“Sh– you not”!

May peace be with you. Semper Fi

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!


  • C. Stoney Brook

    No name of the poster, no date of action and no unit, all suggesting this may be a re-telling of a sea story. The format looks like a re-post of someone else’s story


    I do not suggest this did not happen in nam I know it did ! I just do not buy this guys story! If in fact this birdbrains story is true,which I highly fn doubt, then the poor RO was a scapegoat!! I know I was only an “Ammo Humper” but that is my take on this story A Mosely Wpns plt E 2/1 69-69

  • SGT. Billy Richardson

    I don’t know what happens these days but I can tell you that Marine grunts are well aware of this happening in Vietnam. I was there with 3/9/3 where we roamed all over Quang Tri Province and the surrounding areas in 66-67 and we saw it happen on several occasions and people died from it. On one of these occasions, it was the fault of the squad leader. He just got off course and walked into a Marine ambush. I do not know what the cause was on the other occasions we heard about. War is not a pretty thing and unfortunately for those involved, sometimes chit happens. I was fortunate enough to make it back. For those who didn’t, may God grant them peace. I will never forget them.

  • Cpl. TC Mosher

    “It happens” more than is reported. Recall how a patrol from another platoon walked in front of our LP. Lucky for them the grenades thrown at them were wet from monsoon rains. It was written off as “they got lost”. Our CAC ambush patrol was almost a target. No coordination between our people and the Grunt unit in the area. We made our Alpha and Brovo patrols up a month in advance so no reason for them not to know. We were also very, very familiar with our t.o.a.r. Lucky for us they had a sniper with one of those fancy Starlite scopes. He identified us and we went pasted them. I would bet Charlie knew where we where that night!



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