September 13-16, 1969
RELAY MISSION

We had two LRRP teams going into areas where the terrain would interfere with radio transmissions. For their safety my team would be sent to a deserted fire base on a high mountain peak and serve as a radio relay.

I had several concerns about doing a relay mission:

  • Landing on the highest peak within 25 miles could not be disguised.
  • Where we landed is where we would stay.
  • The mountain top was bare having been cleared for a firebase.
  • Any troops following the mountain ridges would be channeled to our position.
The mission required us to carry extra supplies.
  • A backup radio.
  • Extra batteries to keep the radios working.
  • Extra water.
Since we had more than we could carry on our backs, the helicopter landed and we quickly unloaded the helicopter. We ran to a deserted bunker and waited to see if there would be a response to our arrival.

Once we felt secure we placed some C-4 explosives on top of the bunker and inserted a timer fuse into the explosive. We stacked the rest of our supplies around the explosives. If we were forced to leave, we would grab what we could and pull the pin on the timer to destroy everything we left behind.

We were also equipped with a device that worked like a spool of thread. We wrapped the thread completely around the fire base about one foot from the ground. Should someone walk into the thread and brake the line, a small alarm would warn us of the danger. We found an old lawn chair so the person on duty could sit and listen to the radio and monitor the perimeter wire.

As the sun went down I looked around. I could see for miles in every direction. As I looked around it dawned on me that I could not see a single city, road, telephone pole or anything that was man made. I couldnít help but wonder if this is what the world looked like to Adam.

One team member was in a lawn chair, the other three of us were laying on top the bunker as happy as lizards on a hot rock. It was a pretty day and we were content to listen to the silence on the radio. We had concluded if we had any unexpected company, they would come from either the north or the south where there were saddles leading to minor peaks below us. But, the sound we had just heard came from the east. As we quickly looked at each other in hopes the sound was only in our heads, the perimeter alarm wire went off. The sound came from the side of the mountain just below our sight range. My heart raced as I released the safety on my rifle and took a defensive position behind some bunkers. I collected my hand grenades and prepared for battle.

We held our breath for an hour waiting for the next move, but all was quiet. We took a vote and decided it was time for us to check out the sound. My men covered me as I crawled to the next bunker about 10 meters away. We in turn covered each other until we were in position to look down the side of the mountain. Nothing seemed to be out of place. One of my men moved down to the perimeter wire and started looking for the break that set of the alarm. He finally found the break and we were relieved to discover it was caused by a stack of sandbags that had chosen this moment in history to collapse.

The next morning I was on duty as the sun came up. It only took a few minutes for the sun to burn off the morning fog. I stood up on the bunker and found myself on a small island in the midst of the clouds. As the sun reflected off the top of the clouds I found myself standing above the clouds. It was beautiful.

When it was time to leave we gathered our gear. We had found a whole case of unused toilet paper left behind at the fire base. Since we didnít have to use the explosive with the timing device we thought it might be fun to blow up the case of toilet paper when the helicopter ask for us to pop smoke. We were in radio contact with the extraction helicopter. When we had him in sight we knew he would be asking for smoke so we pulled the pin on the timer and hid behind a bunker and waited for the fun to begin. We waited and waited. The helicopter requested smoke and still nothing happened. The helicopter was ready. We were ready and we had a live explosive right where the helicopter was to land. We didnít dare walk up to it to see what went wrong so we continued to hide.

As the helicopter got closer we had to confess our stupidity and directed the helicopter away from our mountain top. We finally tossed a grenade and destroyed our self made booby trap. Now ready to do things by the book, we popped smoke and the helicopter returned to pick us up.


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©1997 C. Warren Gallion
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