Wednesday, April 26, 2006

08/11/1965. Hill 65

Newspapers back then said C Company of the 173rd Airborne was ambushed that day in Vietnam. But that ain't exactly what happened at all.

See... Operation Hump was a search operation that began on November 5th. Charlie didn't find C Company on that hill... C Company dropped in his lap. Trouble was... those 30 or so paratroopers didn't mean to find 1200 VC. At least not all at once.

One of the proudest days of US Military History involved Hill 65.. when just 3 companies of Paratroopers held off three massive human wave type charges by the VC. Literally hundreds of VC were killed and wounded. In a press conference after the battle for Hill 65 was long over, the US service men answered some questions from the Saigon Press... when asked about "Being Ambushed" and other such nonsense... One sergeant... Sgt Bryant simply said, "I figure the Viet Cong would have been able to hold roll call the next morning in a telephone booth."

One of the great characters of that era was General Westmorland. This was a soldier's general. After the fight, which was likely the America's biggest engagement during the war, he stood toe to toe with many of the soldiers who fought at Hill 65. He would start out by asking them if they fired their weapon. All but one responded in the affirmative. The one negative simply said, "Sir, I'm a Grenadier, I was so damn busy firing a M60 Machine Gun, a M16 Rifle and my 45, I never got to my Grenade Launcher."

Near the end of the day the General was grilling one soldier with a speech impediment... the poor boy was gettin' a little flustered until the General asked him how he knew he killed the enemy. The boy went calm and sat... flat as can be...without so much as a stutter, "Because I got his blood all over me."

What happens when 1200 well trained VC try to take a hill from 50 or so pissed off Americans?

They fail.

A few months from now... in early November... think about the 173. Drink a beer for C Company... And piss on anyone who says the US got its butt kicked in Vietnam.

The 173D had no idea who they were facing that day... but you can bet your butt... the VC knew exactly who they fought on Hill 65.

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