Golf Co., 2nd. Bn. 5th.Marine Regiment, 1st. Marine Division out of AnHoa the unit was on Liberty Bridge for our normal rotation. I don’t recall how long we stayed in this one area but I think it was week or two (help if you know). The company Corpsmen tested the river for bathing and reported that it contaminated so bad that we should not use it even to take a shower with. So the company CO made us stop cleaning with it. Bear with me, I mention this for a reason.
We were due to move back to AnHoa for three days at the end of this rotation so most of us didn’t mind smelling for just a little longer—I know some of you know what I mean. On the day we were to load up on trucks and return to the firebase, the unit got a message the Intelligence that a large force of NVA and VC were moving in to position to attack the RVN (south vietnamese army)compound located on a hill next to Liberty Bridge. We were ordered to move on to the hill and set up positions around this compound. The Intelligence unit didn’t know when this attack was going to take place; so using my unit made sense to someone because we weren’t scheduled to doing anything—just taking a break in the rear.
So, we move up on this pile dirt with the RVN compound behind us and a South Vietnamese village to our one side. Our Corpsmen explained that we needed to be careful about cleaning our hands and faces as often as we could due to the fact that our position on this hill was the same as sitting on a garage dumb. I’m here to tell ya that guys started coming down with some pretty ugly things after just a couple of days. I’m sure some of you Marines have seen this before; there was a change in people. As example, there was three of us eating c-rations and watching the company that had taken over the bridge. All of sudden there was explosion on the road. We could see that someone had tripped a booby-trap and had been thrown into the wire. We just sat there eating these c-rations and showing no emotions for what we had just witness. I mean we were in a bad place physically and mentally. A Vietnamese’s bus hit a “box mine” sending it into the air killing everyone on it (people would ride all over the bus) and we didn’t react to this terrible situation at all. It was just another day, another bad luck for someone else.
The attack never came. We were ordered to move out to the brush. We saddled-up and started out to our next position. We had managed to cover about 500 meters when guys started dropping from everything that was possible to catch on that garage pile. The CO (1st.Lt) got on the radio and informed Bn. of our condition. The person on the other end wanted to know if it was really that bad (not kidding). The “Old Man” stated that “if we remain in our position much longer then I will be promoted to squad leader” . After a few minutes, we were ordered to march back to AnHoa. Once again, the CO explained our situation and the simple fact that we were in no shape to make it that far on our own. We were put on trucks and sent back to AnHoa for the three days.
I waited to voice my concerns until I was in the showers and the water coming off my head was the color of mud (again, not kidding). I was mad! And said so to everyone around me; which included the Bn.CO who was using the shower next to me (I didn’t realize he was there). He never said a word to me but then again he saw for himself how dirty and sick we all were.
Good times! It was good thing that we were young and health otherwise things might have turned out different for all of us. Allow me to add that no one ever complained about what was expected of us or what we had to do. I don’t remember the Lt’s name who was the CO at the time but he’s one of those Marines you don’t forget—a leader. Semper Fi. my friends.