In an exchange with Doc Smith about the events of Feb 65, I had commented on taking some sniper fire as we tried to link up with a 502nd wire team at a major drainage ditch alongside the rice paddies.
A Brigade HQ Signal Platoon wire team tried to lay commo wire out to the area, but the locals, rushing past, beat their water buffalo on the flanks, warning us about "beaucoup VC", pointing back the way we were going. Sure enough, by the time we got to the linkup point at the ditch, sections of the wire behind us were gone.
Doc Smith described what was happening on the far side of the ditch...."What a small world. I was in that wire team.... Actually, we were a recon patrol but because of manpower shortage we were asked to lay wire that day. We had just crossed a small bridge which spanned one of the irrigation ditches and we stopped for a smoke break... as we sat there we heard gunfire start up in front of us.... we thought that another unit might be getting ambushed so we started towards the treeline (600 or 700 yds in front of us) to help them out.... They were firing at us. We ended up be pinned down there for about five hours before they could bring up enough firepower to get us out.... The battle went on for quite a few days after that.... I got med-evac'ed to Nha Trang with gunshot wounds to the right thigh....and later sent home... the date was Feb. 2, 1966... I remember it well.... I, too, am glad we are both here... I was really lucky that day...How the bullets missed the femoral artery I'll never know. The doctors were amazed..... If the artery had been severed I, most likely, would have bled to death; as I was the medic..... I am not sure lucky is the right word butI don't know how else to say it.....but, it was a ticket home...."
The HQ wire team was at the link up point with an engineer detachment and a Cav gun jeep when sniper fire opened up across the paddies, firing right across the refugees streaming out of the fields. As I stood there, an occasional bullet plunking into the mud, (My pride wants to say I was searching for the sniper, but a casual observer would probably say I was gawking.) an Engineer NCO wisely suggested I join him and the others in the ditch while the gun jeep fired on the sniper. I wish I knew where Bowen was now to get his impression of what was said and done, but I recall the Sergeant's words as being something like.. "Lieutenant, get the fuck down in the ditch."
I don't remember if we had gotten the word that the 502nd wire team ("the recon team" in Doc's words) had been ambushed at that point or not, but regardless, the Cav gunner kept the area hot with his M-60 and a A1E began working the houses out in front of us over, between them eventually silencing the sniper.
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