Never on Sunday

I read this story and i though i'd share it with you guys.The story is about MACV-SOG Recon missions.

NVA Hits Spike Team Idaho in Laos
By: John “Tilt” Stryker Meyers

Target: E-4.

Command and Control: MACV-SOG.

Area of Operations: Laos.

Codename: Prairie Fire

Mission: Primary--General recon.

Secondary--Find major NVA POW underground complex where U.S. POWs are held. Complex located near major intersection of Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos.

Alternate--Cancel mission if opportunity to capture live NVA soldier arises.

Target Team: Spike Team (ST) Idaho.

Date: 6 October 1968

Launch site: Phu Bai, FOB #1, South Vietnam

Insertion Aircraft: Vietnamese-piloted Sikorsky H-34 helicopters. Kingbees.

Lead Ship: 10-U.S. team leader, 11-U.S. assistant team leader and 01-Vietnamese team leader.

Second Ship: 12-3rd American, 02-team interpreter and 03-point man, Vietnamese team.

Third Ship: Backup.

Assets on site: two A1E Skyraiders, one 0-2 covey, two UH-1B Huey gunships and Phantom F-4s on call.

I always though Sunday was a good day not to run missions, especially when the target area was in the deadly Prairie Fire AO (area of operation).

However, for several days prior to 6 October 1968, the weather had been cloudy and uncertain, which prevented any Forward Operating Base (FOB)-1 teams in Phu Bai from launching into Laos AO. FOB-1 sat along Highway 1, north of Phu Bai airport, on the north side of an ARVN training compound, just south of the tiny village of Phu Luong, about 10 miles south of Hue.

When there were no teams on the ground, the brass in Saigon got nervous. Hence, in the mornings the first thing the team leaders did was to check the mountains west of Phu Bai. If they were clear, the brass would try to get a team or a Hatchet Force inserted in Prairie Fire.

On Saturday, 5 October 1968, the weather had broken enough for ST Idaho One Zero (U.S. team leader) Staff Sergeant Donald W “Don” Wolken to fly over a VR (visual reconnaissance) over the target area. Wile Wolken was flying, Sau (the Vietnamese team leader) and I inspected the team.

Sunday morning, the weather was crystal clear, nary a cloud in the sky. Wolken and Sau quickly inspected the team: each American carried a minimum of 25 magazines for their CAR-15s, the Vietnamese carried 20 magazines. Wolken and I both carried sawed-off M-79s, 21 HE rounds and one tear gas round. Wolken also carried a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol with a suppressor. I carried the PRC-25 radio and a bunch of hand grenades, while Robinson and the Vietnamese carried several claymore mines and extra batteries for the PRC-25. Sau and all Americans carried URC-10 emergency radio also.

Shortly before we left, the team posed for a photograph, over the strong protests of Sau and our interpreter Hiep. They said we’d jinx the mission.

A few minutes later, we were on the H-34s flying west on the hour-plus flight to Laos. Those long flights to the target area were peaceful and memorable because we were flying high, where the air was cooler, looking at the dark, lush greens of the jungle. From 4,000 feet, South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were beautiful. During these flights, I often thought about my grandfather’s farm in Belle Mead, New Jersey.

As the H-34s churned westward, my vision always seemed better, aided by the adrenaline that was flowing, anticipating the unknown. Once over Laos, the doorgunners test-fired their .30-caliber machine guns.

Then, the Kingbees went into a dying swan spiral, spinning madly toward the earth. The G-force pushed my stomach upward into my chest. At the last second, the pilot flared out and hovered a few feet off the ground. The right wheel of the Kingbee touched the bomb crater that was our LZ. While we were descending, Wolken sat in the door, looking at the LZ itself. I squatted behind him, with my hand on his left shoulder, watching the perimeter of the LZ for any enemy movement.

Now the blood was pounding through our veins.

As the Kingbee wheel again touched the lip of the bomb crater, Wolken jumped out and promptly disappeared in the elephant grass. I followed. When I landed on the crater, I started slipping down the outside lip. The angle alongside the hill was much steeper than I had realized and the ground was muddy and slippery. I started rolling down the hill, the same way Wolken had. Robinson and the Vietnamese successfully landed on the crater’s lip and laughed at Wolken and me. It took us several minutes to rejoin the team.

I radioed Sergeant First Class Robert “Spider” Parks, who was flying overhead in the 0-2 Covey, and told him that we were OK. Spider said he’d stand by for 10 more minutes before releasing the assets. Ten minutes later I broke squelch three times for the final team OK.

As we moved away from the LZ, Phouc was walking point, with Sau behind him. Wolken was third in line. I was behind him, Robinson was behind me while Hiep brought up the rear. We took a break as Phouc, Sau and Wolken applied mud to their bee stings.

About half an hour later, Phouc signaled that he heard a lot of activity in front of him. Within seconds we all heard the noise. At first, we thought it was an NVA regiment charging toward us. I got behind a log and pulled a pin from an M26 frag grenade, only to realize that we were being overrun by a chattering group of monkeys.

Rest Of Story

For those who might be interested in reading more on MACV-SOG the website is: MACV-SOG

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