June 19, 1969
NOW YOU SEE IT; NOW YOU DON'T

It was 3AM, and a voice said "Sarge, wake up the Major wants to see you up at BTOC". I was used to being woken up every three hours in the field, but this wasn’t suppose to happen between missions. Half asleep, half mad , and half dressed, I walked up the hill in the middle of the night to see the Major.

When I walked in the Major quickly escorted me to the receivers for the sensing devices we had planted in the bunker complex. I did not know how to interpret the receivers, but this was the first time I had seen them with so many lights blinking on and off. I felt a rush of adrenaline run through my body as I woke up completely.

The Major explained the enemy would try to have everyone inside the complex before sunrise. The artillery unit that test fired into the complex was notified and they would begin firing a half hour before sunrise. The spotter pilot had been contacted and he would be ready to direct a bomb attack on the complex. An infantry unit would go in to secure the complex. My teams job would be to guide the infantry unit to the complex.

I walked back down to my tent and woke up the rest of my team. I went over the mission with them and we started packing. I could hear in the distance the continual barrage of artillery fire being sent to the complex.

Once packed I walked back up to the BTOC for further instructions. When I arrived everyone was monitoring the radio as the spotter pilot was directing the jets and their bombs. As the spotter continued to announce "On Target" as each plane unloaded it payload I was ready to celebrate our victory.

We would go in first like a regular insertion, but rather than hide we would secure the LZ while other helicopters brought in over 30 more infantry soldiers. From the air it was obvious that the jungle had been scarred by the artillery and bombs. As I watched the gun ships fly over the bunker complex there was no sign of gun fire. As I wondered if all the fight had been taken out of the enemy, I had a vision of what I might see when I walk into the complex. It bothered me to see a single NVA soldier die on the highway. Could I now see over 300 dead soldiers and still enjoy the thrill of victory. This was a large military force, surly they wouldn’t travel with woman and children. As I began to feel sick inside I sent up a quick prayer for God to prepare me for what I was about to see.

The insertion went well, but the additional helicopters and soldiers made so much noise, my team was nervous about loosing the element of secrecy that we cherished as LRRP’s. While half the infantry unit secured the LZ and set up mortar support, my team and the rest of the infantry unit moved to the complex.

The complex was on the side of a hill and was about the size of a city block. When we reached the complex, the accuracy of the bombs and artillery was incredible. So many trees and tree limbs were down that it was almost impossible to walk through the complex. The ground was pitted with craters formed by the bombs and high explosive artillery rounds. The complex had been totally demolished, but something was missing. There were no bodies. Maybe they were buried in the bunkers, but there were no packs, supplies or any other signs that humans had moved in.

We turned the area over to the infantry unit and my team returned to Mary Lou. I reported to the Major that we had found nothing. We speculated if the wind or animals may have set off the sensing devices.

Later, I was told that the infantry unit found over 80 bodies in the complex. I was never sure if it was answered prayer or justification for an obviously expensive mission.


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