CONVOY AMBUSH CASE STUDIES by Rich Killblane

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papabear

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Red...where ya been Bro??
You and the Lady need to head on over here to the hooch and we'll kidnap Beav and Danny and get into all kinds of chit before the Gathering!!
 

CARNAC

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Exception information to share. I'm impressed by this article and just spent 1 hour skimming through it until I can read it in detail. Awesome--THANKS.
 

KaiserM109

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Did you happen to notice that none of those pictures or interviews were south of Saigon? That’s because the only time reporters or anyone else observing went down in the Delta was Bob Hope and Ann Margret in December, 1968.

I drove lead truck on a dozen or so convoys and I helped retrieve a lot of scrap metal off of QL-4, and none of that is depicted in any case studies.

We were not allowed to armor up our trucks. The only protection I had on my M37 was the spare tire mounted on my door, a layer of sandbags on the floor and an old flak jacket I sat on. I carried an XM16 that I didn’t trust, along with 4 Bandelier’s of ammo in case I got stuck in a ditch. The whole 18 mo. I was there, I tried to trade the ARVNs for either an M14 or an M1 Garand so that I might have a chance of hitting a 300 meter target. I drove M37s, M35s and my favorite an M109, the biggest of all targets and the only one they never hit.

I had a good buddy from Hazard, KY who drove an M151 and was often the first vehicle through the gates in the morning. One evening he took off his helmet in the barracks and noticed the camo cover had a frayed spot. He separated the liner and the pot and there was a .30 cal. bullet that had gone in the front of the pot at a 45 degree angle and skidded half way around to the back between the pot and the liner. He made it home with only an accidentally inflicted gunshot wound.

PS Sorry if I sound a little bitter.
 
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73m819

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Just finished reading this, at times, a VERY HARD read, I was at some of the places talked about and it STILL paints a perfect picture in my head of those places.

THANK YOU for posting this.
 

ducer

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Wow what a good read! I was too young to know much about Viet Nam at the time but now I am learning why my cousins and other vets I know will not talk about it. That gave me a good lesson on painfull memories.
Thank you for your service! Welcome home!

Denny
 

Robo McDuff

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Wow what a good read! I was too young to know much about Viet Nam at the time but now I am learning why my cousins and other vets I know will not talk about it. That gave me a good lesson on painfull memories.
Thank you for your service! Welcome home!

Denny
My father and his brother were at the wrong time in the wrong place in WW II; on Java (at that time still Dutch) when the Japanese landed. They were mobilized as common soldiers and almost immediately made POW. Spent all the war in the infamous camps along the Burma railroad and finally ended in Changi POW camp. My mother was a nurse during and after the war and in autumn 1945 helped repatriate the POWs on board the pre-war Dutch ocean liners (she was on the SS Johann de Witt, with rank of lieutenant). My parents married in Singapore and went back together. According my mother and my older siblings, until his death in 1962, my father NEVER spoke about that period but EVERY night woke up in nightmares being back there.

His brother after the war actually went to work in Japan for one of the larger Dutch trading companies. In the late 60s, he could choose to become Director of the US head office or the Dutch head office. He choose the Dutch office. The main reason was that his wife was American and as such their two sons almost certainly would be drafted into the Vietnam war. Having seen what can happen in that region, he kindly declined to risk his sons to a similar or worse fate as he and my father had met.

Skimmed the text, need more time to really sit down and read it, thanks for posting.
 

KaiserM109

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There is no doubt that the men driving or riding in the gun trucks deserve a big hand. From me “Welcome home, Brother”.

In every battle scenario, there’s a group of unsung heroes and I’d like to tack a story on the end of this thread.

In Vietnam some of the unsung heroes would be the guys that maintained the roads. In late ’67 a CH-47 Chinook helicopter took small arms fire while carrying a sling full of 105mm howitzer ammunition to a FSB south of Saigon and lost one engine. It had to release the load in order to avoid crashing. A recovery team rushed in to collect the ammunition, but it had grown legs and walked off into the jungle.

For the next 6 months we, the Ninth Infantry Division, either dug up or inadvertently detonated that 100+ rounds of ammunition on the roads. A 105mm round buried 8” would make a crater 20’ wide and 5’ deep. South of Saigon it was the 15[SUP]th[/SUP] Combat Engineers (CEB) that did two things to combat that, we had mine sweep teams that went out at first light to clear the roads with hand-held metal detectors, a long, ugly walk. Our guys found at least 80%. It was up to a fleet of 5 ton dumps to fill holes in from the other 20% so that the convoys could go through.

Early in the ’68 Tet Offensive Charlie dropped the main bridge on QL-4 five clicks south of Saigon. This caused a serious problem because we could not transport enough fuel and ammunition in the air and that bridge was a bottleneck. Good strategy on Charlie’s part.

Our Delta Company spanned it with a pontoon bridge. However, that was heavy runoff time following the monsoons and the current was so strong that they couldn’t sufficiently anchor the bridge to the shore. The reports say that they went to Saigon and got a ship’s anchor and dropped it in the river, but the truth is that a captain in the 15[SUP]th[/SUP] CEB made a battlefield decision. He looked at the long line of trucks waiting to go south and ordered a D8 dozer onto a barge. They spooled out its cable, attached it to the middle of the bridge and drove it off the barge into the water.

Our main base camp, Dong Tam, was about 2 miles by 1 mile. If you’re curious, you can Google Earth it and still see its boundaries. Fifteenth Combat Engineers’ battalion area was less than 10% of that area, including our motor pool, but we caught 80% of the 82mm mortars because Charlie wanted to shut down QL-4 and we were keeping it open. One night they hit us particularly hard and the next day every man in the unit was in the motor pool fixing tires and other damage. Our biggest loss was 4 mo-gasser bridge trucks. Luckily for me, my M37 was between two deuces and only lost one windshield glass and the spare tire, but I spent several hours helping the operators of the deuces get back on the road.

Our gun truck was an M37 with an M2 mounted in the back. The poor little truck, in spite of its ¼ ton of sandbags, would lean severely when they fired broad side. For a few days we had a 40mm grenade launcher recovered from a downed Cobra mounted on an M151, but the Provost Marshal took exception to it one morning as the mine sweep team went out. We weren’t allowed to armor-up any more than stacking sandbags in our trucks and a wire cutter on our front bumpers. Besides, we didn’t have the steel to do it.

We had 4 M113 tracks with napalm cannons instead of M2s, but there was rarely more than 1 protecting the mine sweep teams or the fleet of 5 tons and front loaders that followed the first convoy down QL-4. A lot of my stuff was lost in a mortar attack, or I could show you pictures of 5 ton dumps and 5 ton tractors with the front axle in the cab. A 105 round on a front wheel would role the truck up like the lid on a sardine can. The assistant driver usually rode in the back because of that.

A last note: in the 9[SUP]th[/SUP] Infantry Division, none of those guys got a Combat Infantry Badge because they weren’t infantrymen. They told us many times in training that our first MOS was rifleman, but I guess they didn’t mean it.

I don’t want to steal the glory from those guys. Most of them were draftees while I enlisted so that I could choose my MOS. I was a surveyor and knew how to hide and duck. On the occasions when that wasn’t enough, I got lucky. I am proud to say that I served with those guys and was proud to honor some of them at the Wall a few years ago.

PS If you're wondering about my signature, after my first tour I transfered to the 1st Bn., 11th Field Artillery where I served with some of the best cannon-cockers in the world. Col. Houser would accept nothing but your best effort and once stood behind me when I refused a direct order under combat conditions.
 
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