June 2-8, 1969
The Major explained to us that Military Intelligence indicated that a full NVA
regiment was expected to cross the highway. Even under the cover of darkness,
this would be a risky move for the enemy. My mission was to be inserted into the
area where the regiment was expected to move and watch for any advance party
In two days we had found nothing but mosquitoes and leeches. On the third day one of my men developed a very serious tooth ache. We were beginning to feel pretty secure that we owned the property and had very little to fear.
We found a suitable LZ and waited. When the helicopter arrived our ailing troop climbed aboard and the rest of us went into hiding as if we had just been inserted. After an hour and everything still quiet we decided to start moving.
We had not gone a hundred yards when we realized we had entered an NVA bunker complex. The front of the bunkers were so well camouflaged we had no idea they were bunkers until we were inside the perimeter and noticed the entrance at the back.
Fortunately for us the complex appeared to be empty. We slipped back into the brush and watched the area for another hour without seeing any movement. As our comfort level increased that we were alone, we started exploring the complex. It appeared to be new and never used. In just a few minutes we identified over 50 bunkers. We knew we had found the future home of the NVA Regiment.
We found a night location that was outside of the bunker complex, but close enough to hear should anyone move in overnight. The next morning we returned to the complex. We provided the artillery units with the coordinates for the complex and then we climbed into the bunkers while the artillery units fired a few test smoke rounds to verify they had the range.
Next a spotter plane was sent to the complex. With the use of signal mirrors we showed the pilot the perimeter of the complex so he could recognize it from the air. Our job done, we walked down to the highway and thumbed a ride back to Mary Lou on a military truck.
The Major wanted to debrief us immediately when we arrived in Mary Lou. It was a festive mood, we couldn’t stop talking about the size of the bunker complex. If the Military Intelligence was correct , we had an NVA regiment in our cross hairs. All we needed now was to know when to pull the trigger.
I suggested to the Major that I had seen a demonstration of some devices that could be planted in the ground and would send out a signal when anyone walked near the device. I was told the device cost about as much as a new chevy, but this might be the perfect situation.
The next day the Major told me he had checked around and located the devices I had seen. He told me a specialist would arrive the next day with five of the devices and he wanted my team to take the specialist to the complex to install them.
The specialist turned out to be the soldier that demonstrated the devices to me a couple of months earlier. He confided that he was a lot more comfortable in front of a class room than as the 4th member of a LRRP team. I assured him everything would be OK it would only be an afternoon mission.
The gun ships crisscrossed over the complex and everything appeared quite. We were inserted at the same spot we had met the dustoff a couple days before. Again we went into hiding until we were confident that everything was quiet. We approached the complex cautiously and entered only after we were comfortable that it was still empty.
The specialist did his job quickly. We walked around the devices until the team at Mary Lou was confident that everything was working properly. The helicopters returned to pick us up. The trap was set. If we could take out this regiments command and control it would take them over a year to recover. We would bring peace to this small area for awhile anyway.
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