B Coy 2nd Tour
Late afternoon on the 6th June
1969 our Platoon (6 Platoon B Company), set up
night a harbour on the edge of the rubber
plantation east of the village of Binh Ba. As
M60's were placed at
4, 8 and 12 o'clock and we each took our turn
during the night for sentry duty of a couple of
hours per two men.
It was raining slightly, just enough to give yet another
uncomfortable night, so I had put up my hootchie, then foolishly
removed my boots after I'd done my turn on sentry. This was
something I'd not done before and was never to do again.
We had a rude awakening at daylight, when
a force of NVA soldiers approached our position. Most of us were
asleep, (me included) when our sentry on the
M60 exchanged 'waves' with the
NVA. Realisation dawned and I was woken by the sound of our
sentry belting out rounds on the machine gun and a hard kick
from my 'bed mate' Peter Wardrope.
Not the best time to have your boots off
... but they were ... and I returned fire with a couple of
magazines from my
M16. I recall the green flash from the
RPG's (Rocket Propelled Grenades) and
the sound of shrapnel into the rubber trees. I have no idea how
long this lasted, but long enough to be scared.
eventually dragged my boots on, (laces still undone) and with
other platoon members walked up to the area where we had been
attacked from by the NVA. No bodies, no blood trail and as none
of our platoon had been killed or wounded, assumed that the NVA
like us, had all fired too high. I found this amazing, but guess
that's what can happen in the heat of the moment.
Wind the clock
forward nearly 35 years !
We happen to live on a golf course, and between the 10th green
and our backyard are the remnants of a pine forest. With a bit
of imagination, they are like a Rubber Plantation, especially at
around 2:00 - 3:00am.
Just before Xmas, I'm having another
sleepless night as many vets will understand. You can't help but
look at those pine trees and imagine another time and another
place you thought was long gone. Eventually, I decided to go to
bed again and undid my shoe laces. In looking down at my shoes,
laces undone, for a gut wrenching split second I was zapped back
Binh Ba at that same time and place
and my heart raced with all the uncomfortable feelings that I
had on the morning of June 7th nearly 35 years ago!
ONCE WE WERE SOLDIERS