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Typhoon Bess

Typhoon Bess

USMC operations orders for 2 September 1968, indicate that Lima Company 2/26 was on a clearing operations in the mountains of the Hai Van pass. On the 4th of September 1968, Typhoon Bess struck the coast of Vietnam. Lima was at the highest point in the mountains and took two serious WIA in a ambush. The only option was to return to the base of the mountain to evacuate our wounded. I was had been attached to Lima as the Scout Observer from Charlie Battery 1/13. Charlie had positioned on the beach at the edge of the mountains to support Lima during the 7 day operation. I went to the ambush site with my radio as my radio operator Trosper was sick and contacted Bravo’s Commanding Officer. I explained about the ambush and the only option open to us. I asked for a fire mission and indicated danger close right away. The CO told me that the battery was almost under water from the tidal surge and that all aiming stakes were gone and that the very best gunner the battery had would use his distant aiming point. All I asked was that he did the best he could. For over an hour I adjusted fire onto the bunker where the machine gun was located, all rounds impacted within 100 feet of where I was adjusting the fire. Lima was able to in the middle of a Typhoon move back down the mountain in 5 hours and ambulances were waiting for our wounded.

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JOHN BRUNGER - September 28, 2023

I was with 1st Aviation as a crew chief on the OH 6A. We were not told the typhoon was coming. Army leaders were low-life bastards. I was waist deep in water within minutes. Scared hell out of me. I was right on the coast. By the NEXT month, I was in a field hospital at Vung Tau for a month with no health care personal. Lucky to be home. Regards to all that served.

Danny Allen - January 30, 2023

I was at first bridge coming up from Lang Co ville past old train station. Just three of us. I was former 0331 guns transferred to S2 Scouts. India Co.3/26, Lt. Foley and Gunny wanted my two Chieu Hoi( former VC) scouts removed from train station because,when one of my scouts was allowed overnight pass to Lang Co ville…he " swapped" his M16 for an AK-47 while in ville! Co. sent me and 2 scouts to first bridge at pass and put us out. Told me to " guard" the bridge. No radio, no support,nothing. Just us three alone in that sector. I told my scouts to stay off of bridge, because we had to move up and down road during convoys. When Bess hit..we were on side of cover. Didn’t have any holes dug..just hunkered down on side of road. Typhoon hit, all we had between us and it were ponchos. I tried to stand up in 80 mph wind, spun me around until I could lower my arms and get back down. Stayed like that for two days! 100 man NVA sapper team in area somewhere and Pass was closed. After typhoon, soaked and tired, tried to eat a cold C’rat. Sniper almost took my ear off,( even though been shot at more than once, you never forget the sound of a specific round meant for you). I went one way, can of " mthrfkrs" went opposite. Finally crashed that night was awaken by a loud explosion and a gigantic plume of flame going straight up for at least 100 ft or more! I was lifted straight up along with it. Like a dream, I was going up as I was watching the fire go straight up!! When I hit the ground, stood up put my rifle on full automatic and stared into the dark. I was tired ,frustrated and be damned if I was running away. More angry than scared. I thought, “Lord I’ll be home in a second” but was determined to take some of these mofos with me. Total dead silence..not a sound. Could not believe after blowing the bridge, they didn’t roll over the three of us. Next day, finally had a unit bring their asses onto Pass to " check it out". Probably surprised we were still alive. It was a trip even then. Attempted to " patch" bridge, first vehicle to come through, a fully loaded SHELL OIL truck. Got bogged down, then (I don’t think you can say gooks Charlie dropped mortar rounds but couldnt hit truck with their trajectory. A boot Lt. told me to go to the truck( after mortar fire) and tell the Vietnamese driver to move the truck. I told him, “Sir all due respect me telling him to move that truck is not going to get the truck unstuck”!! Kept thinking to myself in all this insanity..I am " short" due to get out of this hellhole. If I had been in the Army like many of my hometown buddies, I would be home now. This was at end of my 13th month!! After all the sh*t at Khe Sanh and the Hills, now this. Two ONTOS showed up from Lang Co side and fired flechette rounds toward top of hill. Yellow smoke everywhere. Fired alot of rounds. It was quiet after that. Snipers started up again. Damn was I ever gonna make it outta here?? Medevaced me because I had blisters on bottom of my foot but just to the train station below Pass (Lt tried to send me on operation as pointman even with blistered foot but Corpsman nixed it..kept telling him I was just a few days left incountry..WTF!!).. Few days later..took me to HDQTRS and flew me to DaNang. Like an episode of Twilight Zone!!!! Saw the Lt years later at Khe Sanh reunion, was gonna unload on him, but thought " f**k it", I’m alive.. let it go!! Sat with him and his wife at Khe Sanh reunion. Oh yeah .after action mention of bridge convenient. Would have to get report from Ontos unit.

Jim Breslin - September 5, 2022

I was in A Btry., 1st LAAM Bn. on hill 724 in Hai Van Pass when the typhoon hit. Blew down many of the structures on the hill. We lived in bunkers until the Seabees rebuilt the hill. We slept in bunkers most of the time anyway as we were on guard duty 30 days on, 1 day off. Semper Fi.

GY/SGT Larry “Beaver” Gore - May 31, 2020

I was with H&S Co, 3/26 assigned to India Co. as their 81mm mortar F.O. in September 1968. India had Highway 1 security from midway down the north side of Hai Van pass to the bridge at Lang Co. I was with 2nd platoon up in the pass just above route 1 when Typhoon Bess hit. All we had was fighting holes, one tent and a bunker facing up the ridge. First the winds hit and the tent went flying up the ridge and over the top of the ridge crest. Next the rains came in sideways and flooded the bunker and fighting holes that we couldn’t bail them out. If you tried to move and slipped and fell you could slide down the slope across Highway 1 and the railroad into the South China Sea. Three days later 2nd platoon had to marched down to Lang Co. because Bess had washed out Highway 1 in a number of places making it impassable except by foot. Lang Co village took a massive tidal surge. The original bridge causeway had been wiped out and 81’s and 106’s had to evacuate to the railroad station. It took the Engineers a little over a week to repair Highway 1, the bridge, Lang Co and railroad station from all the damage. Don’t want to be caught outside ever again in a typhoon or hurricane.

Bill Correia - May 31, 2020

According to the Command Chronology of 2/26 they were in the Camp Carroll area during the time mentioned above. Lima Company. 3/26 was in the Hai Van area and trying to locate an enemy mortar position north of the pass and east of Highway 1. At the time I was the squad leader of 2nd squad, 1st Plt. Lima Company. The point element did run into a meeting engagement and did suffer 2 WIA’s. The weather precluded a medevac so we had to carry our wounded out of the mountains down to South Vietnamese position on Highway 1. Part way down the ridgeline we ran into a dirt road which lead made the footing somewhat easier even though we were in rainwater over our ankles on a sloping road. Never experienced the much rain. The French used the word “crachin” to describe this particular type of rain which swirled like fog but you could actually see the raindrops suspended in the air as they swirled back and forth around you. Pretty dangerous patrolling in this stuff because one minute you couldn’t see two feet in front of you and the next moment you might be in the clear for 20 yards.

Leonard Long - May 31, 2020

I was with H&S co. 1stFSR/FLC 67-68!

Top Pro USMC ’64-’84 - May 31, 2020

I think perhaps that 49 years has caused some slight malfunctions in your memory. Lima Co. would be part of 3/26 vice 2/26. If you were attached to Lima from Charlie 1/13 why were you talking to the CO of Bravo regarding a fire mission. I suppose they could just be typographical errors, and the fog of trying to remember details of so many years ago. I was with H&S 2/26 when we first went into RVN in 1966. Than in 1969, I was a Platoon Sergeant for the Provisional Rifle Co. 1st FSR/FLC when we were tasked with providing security for part of Hai Van Pass. Regardless of the time frame, riding out a typhoon while taking fire and being ambushed is no walk in the park. Well done, Marine! I’m sure that everyone appreciated your efforts in support of the task at hand. Semper Fi!!!

Tony Mastriani - May 31, 2020

I believe this is the typhoon that hit LZ Stud that time of year. I was on a TRC-97 shot on the East side of the air strip. The rain water was filling the bulldozed trench in which the van was located. In the middle of the storm, I was throwing sandbags into the trench in an effort to dissipate water. I picked up one bag and was staring at a big rat. The rat was smarter than me. He jumped onto the bang of the trench. I jumped into four feet of cold water.

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