Skip to content

Khe Sanh Rats

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!

Previous article Finally


DOC Lemke - June 11, 2020

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.

John Mason E 2/27 D1/9 68-69 - June 11, 2020

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!

Edward J. Palumbo - June 11, 2020

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.

David Hannah - June 11, 2020

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 Hennion - June 11, 2020

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

Roger Cox - June 11, 2020

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

Bill T - June 11, 2020

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?

Gary Ross - June 11, 2020

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 !!

Sgt Angelo J Manos - June 11, 2020

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

DuWayne K. Mueller - June 11, 2020

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.

Leave a comment

* Required fields