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Old 09-17-2013, 07:10 PM
Martin Timothy Martin Timothy is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 714
Default MT in Vietnam

Originally Posted by Martin Timothy
I served in Vietnam as an an Infantry Medic with 8th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment, from November 1969 until November 1970, whence I like Adolph Hitler achieved the rank of Lance Corporal!

My call sign was Starlight Grey Four Two .. after a couple days of lectures we were told to prepare for a cross country jaunt with the Cavalry, we would be heading up country in M113 Armored Personnel Carriers, to rendezvous with another armored detachment that had tanks.

Lance Corporal Normie Rowe an Australian pop music man, who sold plenty of records until he was drafted was Commander of the vehicle I was in, he had about ten days hair on his face, and had gone to the trouble of lacing his boots from the outside in, he told us that he was on "happy pills," they were issued when a soldier had only fourteen days to go in country.

We did not leave Nui Dat the main Australian base until about three in the afternoon, we traveled out of the main gate turning right on to a macadam road, the view was across about three kilometers of rice fields then densely forested foothills, and a jungle covered hill with a couple of summits and saddles,

Called Nui Dinh from the east, Nui Thi from the west, and the Nui Thi Vai’s in operational terms, known colloquially in Australian Army slang as The Warbies or Warburton Mountain, a large rocky outcrop visible from the road was said to be used for target practice by artillery units.

Going up the road it was great, we were sitting on top of the carriers in the breeze, civilian traffic was a logging truck with a big log hauler and a couple of motor bikes. We only stayed on the road for about two K’s, then turning right took to the countryside going right thru some undulating bush country, then across someone’s coffee grove, the driver took out one complete row of coffee trees,
Normie looked a bit pained, and the driver a tad sheepish… Until we wiped out this guy’s coffee trees we had been more or less well behaved, not that we had been there that long. We crashed thru some more bush land and caught up with the tanks, and another couple of tracked vehicles called AMC’s, which are M113 carriers minus turret with an 81mm mortar tube inside, the cavalry guys were laid back on camp chairs.

The coffee pot was on, and music was being played inside the AMC’s.. three Centurion tanks were in triangular formation, each could fire across a one hundred and twenty degree arc, the AMC’s were situated between them.

We were told to place Claymore mines in front of our positions, then to place our machine gun and rifle groups as per our Infantry training, by this time it was nearly dark, and by the time we had put our minefield out and sighted the guns it was dark.

The Cav said now that we were there they were knocking off, they told us that we did not have to provide a picket on our weaponry, and that the fifty caliber MG’s on the Tracks, as we called the Cav M113’s, were the only weapons to be manned round the clock. We asked about the tankies, what they were gonna do and were told to keep out of other peoples business, barbecue’s out the bush is what, they had a barbecue going.

I got a crash course in operating a .50 Cal from a cavalryman who seemed in on something, we were not allowed to cook up or light up our bush stoves to brew tea or coffee, muted laughter and the sfwit sound of ring pull cans, and the giveaway smell of the Barbie coming from the Armored Corps camp, mingled with the night in the forest, grey and white long tailed monkeys were in the branches of the trees.

Barking lizards and fireflies, then at eleven o’clock I man the .50 Cal atop the AMC for a two hour picket, going off at one am, only just settling down to get a bit of sleep maybe when all hell broke loose, one of the tanks fired his 84mm turret gun, then for about a full minute tank and machine gun fire, we did not know what was going on.

The vehicles the cavalry were manning were pouring fire into the jungle, they shouted at us to fire our Claymores, we told them we were reluctant to do so since we had not seen any enemy, and after all the fuss we wanted them in case there was a counter attack. They had a man with a bit of rank with them and he said to fire them, so we fired them, then they said get a bit of sleep ..we went off their roster after that.

In the morning they said not to do a clearing patrol, because of the danger of unexploded ammo from the night before, we just packed up and left, arriving back at the Aussie base in time for breakfast.

Above, Vu Van Hai ex Haiphong in North Vietnam, he deserted the North Vietnamese Army, and bore arms against his own ppl for American dollar$, he was attached to 11 Platoon as a "Bushman Scout" .. the NVA Field Gendarmerie apprehended and brought to Court Martial and execution, at least some of his fellows!

We went on operations after about nine days in country, to a place called the Courtney Rubber Plantation, twenty two K’s north of Nui Dat astride the border of Phoc Tuy and Long Khan provinces, it had been the scene of numerous Australian battles and fire fights, and our time there was to be no different.

I was in Eleven Platoon D Company, we went into action about six days into the operation, bursts of weapons fire, laughter and the sound of digging had betrayed the place where an enemy unit was digging in, building bunkers in the forested area adjacent to the rubber plantation.

Taking regular compass sightings on the weapons fire and the digging noise, one female comrade’s laughter carrying a long way, then we were ordered to meet up with Company HQ and another platoon and proceed to contact. Approaching the grid reference where there had been firing coming from, trees had been cut off maybe 300mm up from the ground, and a handful of dirt had been put on the raw stumps as camouflage, then you are real close…

A burst of automatic fire breaks the tension, someone calls for a medic an engineer with Company HQ has a serious groin wound, he has taken the full burst upward, he had trodden into the entrance of an enemy bunker. The platoon in front of us went thru a contact drill and took two more hits, a machine gun group consisting of the gunner and his offsider both seriously wounded, their medic was using his skills with the two company medics trying to keep the engineer alive.

Someone says have you guys got a medic down there, and Sgt ----- tells me to attend to their wounded people, I follow our line up to the ten platoon men, and they tell me their men have taken hits, enemy fire is coming from numerous points in the jungle, Lt. from 10 platoon orders no firing unless you have a direct target,
This provoked quite a bit of enemy fire and he says, “I told you not to fire,” to an MG group from 11 platoon, the gunner tells him, “tell him about it, he’s firing at me and Mac,” Privates ----- and -----.

I find Corporal ----- from 10 pl, I tell him I was told he had men down, beside him is the body of Pte Wooley from Tasmania, his head is a mass of blood and mud and stuff like that, just then firing erupts from our front, I push Wooley’s body from his position behind a low anthill he protests and I tell him “sorry mate, I thought you were dead.”

The machine gunner Private Gould was dead, his body hung up in the jungle vines hit by now with repeated bursts of enemy fire. I get to work on Pte Wooley, he had a scalp wound that had caused a lot of bleeding, an AK47 round had creased the top of his head, firing was intermittently coming from the enemy positions, and Cpl ----- went forward without his weapon to recover Pte Gould’s body, he is a big guy and him crashing thru the bush alerted the defenders,

Firing was from directly in front, I could see the exhaust coming from the enemy soldier’s weapon, and fired two short bursts from an AR15 at where I reckoned the firer’s head was, no more firing came from that position.

So on and on, we pulled out of that position after recovering the body, stayed up late and put it on a chopper, another helicopter had arrived earlier on for the wounded, the pilot would not take a K, as we pulled out so did they, the enemy fire was coming from further away, they were firing back at us as they departed.

Back into the enemy position in the morning, deserted except for the body of the man I had fired at, his weapon was splintered and pierced where the automatic rifle fire had struck, Command said Eleven Platoon should stay in situ and be ready and waiting for any enemy who might come along.

On December 20 along comes a group of enemy, the Australian sentry fires at the first of a group who depart firing back as they did so, a clearing patrol found nothing, throughout the remainder of the day the sound of a man in pain alerted the defenders that a wounded man lay beyond our perimeter.

On and thru the night his moans excited the pity of Pte ----- who called for a medic to go forward to his aid, Lieutenant ----- refused, early in the morning he came personally to the Lieutenant, and said he would guide the medic to the man’s location that he had pinpointed thru the night.

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