Khe Sanh Rats Admin |

By: Doug Lennon

This story is for all the Marines that served at the Seige of Khe Sanh. As you can remember there was a lot of boredom, if you weren’t filling sand bags with that nice red clay or going on water runs and moving the ammo dumps around so the NVA could not just fire and knock them out. I’m sure you all remember the rat problem we had.

One day our guys decided to have some fun. We made a ring of fire using kerosene made some traps to catch some rats. Once we caught them we would douse them with the kerosene and throw them into the ring of fire. The other thing is at night in our underground bunkers we would put some cheese and crackers from our tasty C-Rations in the middle of floor, then wait to hear for the rats and when there was one moving around one of us would turn on the flash light and shine on it. The rest of us jar heads would throw our K-bars at the rats. You all remember we were more afraid of getting bit by a rat than being hit with incoming.

I can remember walking guard duty one night and went over by the garbage hole that the engineers would dig and I shined my flash light down there, and I seen rats as big as cats. So ending this story there are many memories to share such as where were you the day we got hit with 1300 incoming rounds. I also enjoyed playing back ally bridge for pennies to pass the time away. I was an artillery fire direction control man with the 13th Marines

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


I was at An Hoa 68/69 with 2/11. The rats were the size of cats. We also did the Rat Races until one of them still on fire ran into ammo bunker full of 105 ammo.

DOC Lemke,

Christmas 68 my outfit, Delta 1/9 was at a FSB by the Rockpile. I was sleeping until I felt something chewing on my hair. I turned on a flash light and saw the biggest rat I have ever seen! Tried to hit him with my e-tool but missed. One of the other guys in my squad got him a couple of days later. I guess we shouldn’t have left out the cookies my girlfriend sent us!

John Mason E 2/27 D1/9 68-69,

I was in Comm Section. 1st Shore Party Bn., at Chu Lai (’66-67) and we had a problem with rats. As we slept, rats would run across our legs or chests, and one Marine awoke to find a rat nibbling on the callus on his toes. Our corpsmen adopted a black & white pup that they rescued from the Popular Forces who perceived it as a menu item. One night we heard the pup cry out in pain and we emerged from the tents to see the pup covered in attacking rats. We weren’t quick enough to save the pup, which was badly bitten and bleeding. Thereafter, as never before, we made a sport of rat elimination by making a competition of it; which section caught/killed the most rats, who trapped or killed the largest rat. We couldn’t fire a weapon in the battalion area, of course, but we threw knives, stabbed them when we could, one creative fellow used a blowgun he’d ordered by mail, another a slingshot. Rats were abundant in nearby villages, with a reported upsurge in cases of bubonic plague, and those Marines who weren’t current on their plague shots were brought up-to-date. Boxes of food and candy sent from the folks back home were often raided, so we learned to store edibles in empty ammo boxes. Over time, we didn’t rid ourselves entirely of the rats but we definitely put a dent in the population. All this was 49-50 years ago but, after all this time, I am still a dedicated varmint (vermin) shooter.

Edward J. Palumbo,

I was at Camp Carroll with Charlie 1/12. This was after the siege at Khe Sahn. We came in from an LZ one evening too late to hit the mess hall, so we had c-rations in the tent. We left a pile of empty cans. It was my night off of the gun, so I slept in the tent that night. Middle of the night I hear the rats going through our trash. I think I will scare them and shine my flashlight on them to my surprise they came straight for the light. I threw the flashlight in the air and pulled the blanket over my head. One landed on my forehead and another on my chest, thank god they kept on going. I slept with my head under the covers from then on.

David Hannah,

Trust me Chu Lai marine gurnt unit we had Tons of Rats even had a story in the stars and strips about it. just glad I wasnt sent up to your place brother, my good friend was there (Ron Rainer) dont know his unit. Semper FI

David Hennion,

I never saw rats, but then I was never inside the wire. I don’t know whether or not that was the better place to be. Life was very hard outside the wire. Lima 3 / 4

Roger Cox,

We were standing lines at Vandergrift and I got attacked one night by one of those monsters as I was sleeping. Damn thing tried to chew my finger off. In the morning I went to sick bay and was told I would have to take the rabies shots. They gave me one every day for two weeks and then had me come back and take one once a week for two weeks. Sixteen shots in all. The syringe was very small but they were given in my belly in the area around my naval just under the skin and I remember they were very painful. Several years later I was at the doctor’s office and I told them I had taken the rabies shots while I was in Vietnam. The doctor told me that rats do not carry rabies and the shots were unnecessary. So, as it turned out, I took all those shots for nothing. The life of a Marine, right?

Bill T,

Arrived Khe Sanh day before Tet 1968. All hell busted out at 0200/0300 next a.m. That started the “fun times” for 77 days. Yes, I remember the rats too, damn nasty little M.F.’s. If the VC or NVA didn’t get ya, the 4 legged furry vermin just might. Always something to worry about. I was w/F/2nd/26th. Would like to hear from anyone else from Fox company or Khe Sanh. Don’t do Facebook or any other. Semper Fi !!

Gary Ross,

Scuttlebutt had it that the reason Khe Sanh was shut down was the fear of Bubonic Plague would breakout

Sgt Angelo J Manos,

To this day I can not stand the smell of corn beef hash. While in Khe Sanh They would ship us #10 cans of corn beef hash, Warfarin and loads of little wax papers to to put out for bait. Also the Air Force guys in there bunker took out the projectiles for the M16 shells, melted wax to for the projectiles to shoot them at night.

DuWayne K. Mueller,

We were in bunkers at CamLo, one of our guys was bitten by a rat. They ordered him to have rabbi shots, thirteen of them, in his belly. He had a six pack, and no belly fat. The shots were very painful, for him. When he was near the completion, of his thirteen shots. We were notified from the rear that the rats, in Vietnam, did not carry rabbies. Boy was he pissed.


Thank you Marines for adding more details about the rats! I had always heard about Khe Sanh and decided it was time for me to read more about it! Therefore, I bought the book “Last Stand at Khe Sahn” by Gregg Jones.I could not put the book down until I finished. As Leatherneck said, the book is a “Classic.” Now I understand what my late Marine and and his friends discussed , and yes, I heard about the rats!

Karen Balske,

Depending on how they were killed or wounded, blasts sometimes strips the clothing right off the body; or the Corpsmem were trying to figure out how to treat the wounds; also many of us did not wear, or have, skivvies.

Wilfred J Clifford,

During a typical rocket attack on the base camp, I was running toward my platoon area and as I was passing by a demolished bunker I heard a ungodly “screaming” sound; pausing, and worried shitless, I flashed my flashlight into the debirs and Christ, what a relief to see two rats running in circles along the inside edges, round and round they went, didn’t take the time to shoot them, as it turned out I had plenty to keep me busy with some seriously wounded Marines. I don’t care much (actially at all) for the mindless torture of any life.

Wilfred J Clifford,

I was Btry. Gunnery Sgt. of “Bastard Bravo” in Phu Bai. (Viet Nam 67-68) . I I was transferred to Lima (Lucky Lima). Some time later Bravo Btry. went to Khe Sanh. Even later Lima moved to Dong Ha. We were part of the operation that went to Khe Sanh to help or get them out. The place being surrounded had pretty much been over at that time although the artillery fire was frequent and ambushes on our supply convoy were still a real treat. Here is something I still don’t know.anything about. I’ve always wondered about and maybe someone can answer for me. One of the times our resupply convoy got hit I was not in the convoy but was watching the trucks and troops return. They got hit real hard. Air support was called in. In the returning trucks I saw several bodies in a pile in the back of one of the trucks and all of the bodies were naked. They were white skinned and black skinned. I say that because they didn’t look like NVA or VC. I’ve often wondered why were they naked. If anyone can answer this for me or if we served together any place I’d like to hear from you. I am

Don Myers, MSgt. USMC/Retired,

I was at Camp Carroll during TET and The Siege at Khe Sahn. I worked the radios in the command bunker for HQ Bn 4th Marines, I have vivid recollections of the 1300 round day, we took 120+ the same day, trying to keep the guns at Camp Carrol from being effective, that didn’t work!

Dick Grover E4,

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