After Action Report - 35 years on
August 16, 2006 - After Action Report As usual at 10:00AM our group started:
It started out with the usual banter and chitter chatter, with us each in turn telling of what had happened since our last session with each of us patients re-counting our highs and lows of the last fortnight, we all have our own troubles and share them as a common bond as well as our nightmares/memories from Vietnam.
As I sat and listened in turn to each of my fellow Vets my mind drifted. It is hard for me even all this time after the events of Vietnam to talk of what I have seen or the things that I had to do in order to stay alive.
Although meant to help these meetings more often or not trigger memories that I wish I could forget. I know I am not the only one out of the group who feels like this.
Writing here is a kind of release in a way,
I'm no writer never wanted to be never will be but in its own way it helps.
The long months spent as a L.R.R.P. with the ARVN Army reporting of fire-fights and artillery used along with the KIA; WIA or POWs Reports being true by count.
It was a well-known fact, that if the Arvin were loosing they would put up a white flag and surrender to the Cong in fear of Death.
In the bush you learn to understand every sound no matter how slight or loud.
Every order has its on source or beginning.
Every impression on the earth, the bent or broken twigs or grass.
Your eyes move scanning the hedgerows and villages for activity.
You learnt the face of fear not only their fear of you but also their fear of the Cong.
You didn't kick or pick up anything C Ration cans being the worst.
Always check those vines on that one tree?
Were they tied?
Why does only one tree have them?
Why is that patch of growth lower than the rest around it?
After being here you know the signs 'Stay away' there could be Punjie sticks dipped in human shit and urine.
You were always vigilant for trip wires so hard to see but with a slow deliberate soft touch from the toe of your boot you learn to feel.
You pass the word back with simple deliberate movements.
Your arm extends straight up finger extending out making a downward motion for the man behind you to see, and he in turn does the same for the man behind him making sure he sees your sign.
Your ears become sensitive to the sounds of the jungle.
Going through the bush on recon you would know when you were getting close to a hamlet or hiding area of the cong because of their child like tone of voice.
You'd take out your Binoculars careful not to let them reflect the suns light, for this my friend is like a cigarette glowing in the dark being seen at up to hundreds of yards distance.
You learnt to eat like Charlie.
We always used nookmon to season our food this way your body took up the odour that Charlie was used to and he paid it no mind to it.
You'd wear fatigues until they rotted off you.
Keep that one set dirty when you go to a firebase. Then when you went back out a day or two later you could regain the stink of the jungle.
I never used soap for over eleven months except when I was in a rear area or at some ones firebase but being sure to get smell off when heading back out into the bush. We always had the commo section save us their plastic bags to keep our socks dry at least two pair per team member and letter material.
Every thought you had should be of and for survival while in the bush. When you go to sleep wash you'd clear your mind of all thoughts except those around you and learn that when you don't hear them something is about to happen a very quietly tap the boot of the closest man to you.
You would always Pre plot targets around you even in your avenue of retreat. Set these targets up with FDC and call them by coded name or number. Never use directs numerical listing. Skip like 69 17 3 98 designating your targets. I always fired my left or right flank first then a 'Fire for effect' on my real target then
Drop 50 repeat fire for effect only if I knew we were going to be clear of that impact area.
When I used this method I only let the LT , when I had one, know what was going on, unless we were with our own Army group.
This Method of Defence got, me awarded the Army commendation Medal from my CO who was a Ranger.
Still to this day in 2006, no matter where I' am I must sit when in unfamiliar places in a place I have easy access out of the room. When we would go hunting mushrooms in the forest back in the early 70's most of the people with us thought I was nuts for my actions, looking over logs before stepping over them side stepping depressions in the ground and many other things only they noticed for it was automatic with me no fore thought.
I Think the Doctor called it hyper vigilance.
Stay Alert Stay Alive !!!
Was one of our mottos and it say's it all no matter where you are or what you are doing.
Some who read this will think it's all gibberish, but believe me, it is true, but the ones that were there are going know this and understand it.