Operation Diamond Head
The choppers flew 3 squads of 1st platoon of the 25th Infantry into a large clearing late Friday afternoon and we got to work setting up a Forward Observation Base. By morning our defences were in place but so were the VC mortars and their spotters. We had intermittent incoming mortar fire from the first rays of dawn’s light.
1030hours and the sections were sent out on mission. 3rd Squad were set to hunting in the ‘bad lands’, the area known to be crawling with Victor Charlie. We knew he was there but could 3rd catch him? 2nd Squad was set to patrol the area just outside the firebase, the hope was that they’d pick off any sappers attempting to get in the wire. 1st had the arduous task of hiking into the boonies to search and destroy. Search out the enemy and his tunnels, when found knock em out. All were tasked with keeping an eye out for those damned mortars.
1100hours gunfire could be heard in the distance, it sounded like it came from the direction of 1st but damned radios were silent. 2nd came in shortly after and bolstered our meagre defences for a time.
1108hours black pyjamas were spotted on the road just outside the FOB and Evans with a couple o grunts were sent to investigate but turned up nothing, if they were VC they’d melted into the brush.
As all this was happening more gunfire was heard in the direction of the crossroads but was out of site of the FOB, it was assumed to be 2nd returning from their patrol.
1110hours 1st Squad return with a VC captive, sadly it wasn’t a high priority target but they reported 4 more dead, one of which was. You win some you lose some. The exchange between 1st Squads Lt and the Captain went something like…
Capt. Hellbrect “What ya got for me boys?”
1st’s Lt “Got you a gook Captain”
Capt. Hellbrect “Ah shit he’s just a fuckin’ grunt you dumb fucks, process ‘em and send him up the line so he’s some other poor assholes problem”
1115hours 1st merged into the defences along side 2nd, they sent an observation element down to watch the crossroads for further enemy activity.
1120hours 2nd were pulled off the perimeter for their next briefing, they were to follow in 1st’s footsteps and take a long hike to find those damned tunnels.
1125hours More black PJ’s seen on the road by the gate, Sergeant Thompson and a couple o grunts were sent to investigate, a misunderstanding later and the “grenade” he was flashing turned out to be a tin cup. He got one in the chest and one in the brainpan, that’ll teach the dumb gook to wave something “grenade like” at US troopers. Still the trooper responsible is on report and will be on latrine duty for a week.
1135hours 2nd radio in, reporting that they have found an NVA battalion flag. They were ordered to return to base with their booty ASAP, as we knew it would raise the whole platoons morale.
1148hours 2nd were popping smoke to show the direction of return through the bush to avoid friendly fire.
1150hours Private Cleverly presented the Capt. with a 272nd Regiment North Vietnam flag. Whole squad put in for a commendation.
1153hours 1st were being briefed on their next objectives and long hike patrol route.
1158hours 1st’s briefing was cut short when 4 more pyjamas were spotted moving up the road towards the gate. 1st rushed to intercept them.
1200hours the dinks were complaining about having there fields napalmed, they shouldn’t have been feeding the enemy then. 1st sent 3 of them away but brought one to the Capt. as he was wearing a NVA belt and they were suspicious, Capt. promptly turned round and told them all to fuck off. They head back out on their original mission.
1204hours 3rd radio in contact
1206hours 3rd’s walking wounded return to base.
1213hours 3rd’s wounded patched up and sent back out with orders to capture high priority targets.
1217hours 3rd radio that they need assistance.
Capt. Hellbrect “Fucks sake, someone go give them damn fools a hand”
I order 2nd to race to 3rd’s aid.
1224hours 2nd and 3rd return
1230hours having been resupplied and patched up 3rd are sent straight back out.
1238hours 1st return and 2nd take their place sweeping the bush for those damned elusive tunnels.
1320hours we hear whistles in the distance followed by that distinctive whine of incoming mortar rounds. As we hit the bunkers the VC hit us from the direction of the river. Wave after wave of NVA hit our wire; we hold ‘em back. While our attention was locked on that assault VC sappers had crawled through the wire from the direction of the crossroads and started causing bloody chaos. Just as we wiped out the last o those sneaky dinks the NVA hit us from every direction. It was utter madness, mortar rounds landing randomly, PKM rounds whizzing through the base as AK’s blared at our bunkers. I ran back and forth under constant fire to assess the situation all along our wire as the radio was all but drowned out by the noise. 3rd return just at the last minute and miss nearly all the ‘fun’.
1420hours as fast as the assault had begun so it ended with the damned elusive gooks sloping off to disappear down those bloody tunnels and out of reach of our artillery.
1435hours 1st are sent back on the long hike patrol, while 3rd are sent to the French plantation area to ‘disrupt’ VC activity while also trying to ‘rouse’ the French mercs to fight the VC more. 2nd remained to guard the FOB.
1510hours 1st came back in but they’d forgotten their radio so 1st’s Lt and 2nd were sent back out to find it before the VC did!
1517hours 3rd radio that they have taken up a defensive observation position.
1545hours elements of 1st are sent to rendezvous with 3rd before returning for the night.
The North Vietnamese forces having burnt themselves out on their assault mostly left us alone for the rest of that day as we hunkered down.
Overnight we came under heavy mortar bombardment and it really took its toll. By morning 1st and 2nd squad had sustained heavy losses, including 1st’s Lt so they were amalgamated into one unit, from here on referred to as 2nd.
1020hours this time 2nd were sent into the VC controlled area to search for more tunnels, while 3rd were sent to sweep the US controlled area for the same.
1030hours a few sappers got into the wire but caused minimum disruption and no casualties. They were probably just testing our defences after the previous nights shelling.
1035hours 2nd make contact with a large NVA force and get embroiled in a fire fight.
1040hours as 3rd were being radioed to move to support 2nd more sappers got into the wire just as I was doing my rounds. One the slopey-eyed fucks managed to land a grenade next to me but I dived clear just in time, still not in time enough, I took a chunk of shrapnel in the arm.
1050hours 3rd return to camp while 2nd continue their sweep.
1055hours 3rd are sent out to do a circuit of the base to try and flush out any VC sappers.
1100hours 2nd get themselves pinned down under fire between French forces holed up in a Nissan hut and NVA forces on top a hill.
1103hours 3rd are redirected to pull 2nd’s fat out of the fire by assaulting the NVA from the direction of the area coined ‘palisade’ due to the ridge lines natural resemblance to a palisade.
1115hours Capt.Hellbrect radioed 3rd for a sitrep, all enemies dead and troops checking bodies.
1117hours while returning to their original task 3rd stumble over a VC tunnel. After a cursory inspection by the ‘rats’ in their squad the entrance is mined and collapsed.
1120hours the sappers are back firing intermittent rounds into the base.
1125hours we called 3rd back to sweep the area of the firebase and take down those damned pesky bastards.
1130hours reports from our aerial spotters of enemy movement in a near by Ville, 3rd were ordered to turn around, before even getting close to the FOB, to investigate.
1140hours the sappers are finally spotted in the wire, in the ensuing fire fight Sgt Tim Thompson lost a finger but I patched him back up and he was straight back in the fight.
1145hours elements of 2nd return to base and are sent into the bush to flush out those damned sappers.
1150hours as 2nds element opened up on the sapper’s flank we hit with everything we had. Sgt Thompson and I rushed the position to clear any more dug in dinks. We found 3 dead, 1 of whom was an NVA officer.
1150hours more sappers hit us from the other direction, the gate, while our backs were turned.
1157hours 3rd radio that they have spotted armed VC in the Ville they move to eliminate them. After a brief search prisoners are taken and the place is torched to deny it to the enemy.
1204hours I take a round through my other arm in the 1st salvo of incoming fire from a fresh group of sappers. As I crawl to cover our boys do their duty and royally fuck the gooks shit right up.
1205hours 3rd are ordered to return to base in a direction that will catch the sappers in the rear.
1208hours 3rd flush out the sappers and returning to base are debriefed. They found a cache of arms, killed 8 VC and found intel on those blasted tunnels as well as the location of another Ville supplying the enemy.
1210hours 3rd are being rotated out as 2nd return, just as more VC grenade’s come over the wire.
1215hours 2nd do a quick sweep of the wire before themselves going out on their own search and destroy mission. Leaving the base very lightly defended.
1245hours reports of angry French mercs on the warpath to recover a stolen battalion flag. 2nd are ordered to intercept them in the hope they can stop them massacring a whole Ville, hearts and minds and all that bull. They never miss the French soldiers and the massacre of Bhang Duc Ville goes unpunished.
1305hours units return to base and are immediately sent back out to sweep a new area for those damned tunnels.
1320hours onward the FOB comes under constant sniper fire.
1340hours my helmet stopped a round saving my life, just as our foe rushed the wire. The Capt. and I managed to repel some just as our arty finally got its act together. They landed a few incendiary rounds just outside of danger close, watching those little fucks dance around as the willy pete did its work was a site to behold but it was a moment I couldn’t savour. A sniper managed to get our medic! Medic Chilli was out at the gate alone, the bulk of our forces having moved to counter the adversaries’ attack. I ran the hundred yards across open ground, sniper’s bullets pinging around me, sending up clouds of dust as they hit the dirt around me. As I dove into cover next to him I looked for the wound but it wasn’t even a scratch, didn’t even need a bloody bandage and I had to run back under fire! Capt. Hellbrect has put me forward for a commendation.
1345hours 2nd return and are thrown straight onto perimeter duty.
1350hours 3rd return, straight away filling the gaps left in our lines.
1355hours the NVA and VC make a combined assault on the FOB with everything they’ve got. I get off an awesome grenade throw as the Capt. starts shouting orders. High Command has decided in their infinite wisdom we’ve done enough damage.
1400hours whup whup whup whup! Chopper support swoops in like an avenging angel. It smashes any strength our nemesis has left. As the gunships lay down rocket fire and strafe the tree line with M60’s the Huey’s land, airlifting us out of yet another patch of blood stained jungle.
Was it worth it, only the Generals can answer that but we fought and died for the freedom of this distant land, our dead will be remembered, if only by we select few now soaring over the tree tops back to the relative safety of our firebase and a hot shower.