April 23, 1969
Volunteering for LRRP duty was a major decision. The Army had put me in the infantry. The
Army had put me in Vietnam. The Army had put me in harms way. But now, I put myself in
LRRP’s is an acronym for Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol and was pronounced like "Lerps"
Sometimes in writings we were called LRP’s other time LRRP’s. LRRP is the defensive form of the word. The second "R" stood for reconnaissance and meant we were to gather intelligence about an enemy force. LRP is the offensive form of the word and drops the word reconnaissance. This means our purpose was to seek out and deter the enemy any way possible.
Receive mission - As team leader, I would report to BTOC (Battalion Tactical Operation Command). The Major would assign me a 2 kilometer square area (just over a square mile) to work. I was told why they were interested in learning about the area and what they expected might be in the area.
Research mission - I was given access to all the intelligence on the area. I could learn about any known bunker complexes, trails, and contacts that had been made in the area. I would get to fly over the area and pick out possible insertion and extraction points, while getting a general understanding of the lay of the land.
Prepare - Preparing for the mission included briefing the 3 other men that would go with me of what I had learned about the mission. We packed our gear. I would return to BTOC for a final briefing on anything new. I would preset 8 artillery locations that I could fire with a simple code word. I was given a code book to use to send coordinates and messages that were not radio safe.
Insertion - The insertion requires several helicopters. Normally two or three gun ships would fly across the intended landing zone and try to draw fire from anyone that might be close to the LZ.
With the helicopters buzzing the tree tops and distracting the enemy, the insertion helicopter would fly into the LZ and drop the team as quickly as possible and then join the other helicopters as they distract the enemy until we can blend into the jungle.
Mission - Missions normally lasted three or four nights. We moved during the day and would sleep in a different place each night. We normally ate twice a day. At night we sleep in shifts. Normally sleep 3 hours and then set up 1 hour. We were required to check in every two hours during the day and every hour at night.
Extraction - Sometimes we were picked up by the same helicopters that inserted another team. Because we were on the ground and could secure the LZ we could be picked up by a single helicopter. The routine was to make radio contact with the helicopter. When we could see or hear the helicopter we would throw a smoke grenade on the ground where we wanted him to land. When the pilot saw the smoke he would tell us the color of the smoke. Once we confirmed he was seeing the right color of smoke he would get as close to the ground as possible and we would climb aboard and enjoy the ride back to camp.
Rest - After a good night sleep we would start the cycle over again.
One of the rewards for being a LRRP was after 6 months I would get a sham job. If I could survive to the middle of September, I could be a base camp commando until I returned to the world in January.
After writing these stories, I learned the definition of a LRRP evolved during the Vietnam years. Some LRRP members went through a rigourous in country RECONDO school. Some teams had as many as 17 members and were often accompanied by local guides. When our Brigade LRRP's were dissolved in October, 1969 our teams were transferred to K Company of the 75th Infantry.
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