Mission Number 6

Posted on February 14, 2010


    Monkey Mountain.  To the best of my recollections it was called Monkey Mountain. I know it was one of our last missions in the “High I Corps” or northern part of South Vietnam.  We were told that the Air Force was going to drop a very large bomb on top of this mountain set to detonate above ground. We were to be inserted into the area to see just how big a Landing Zone (LZ) this bomb could make. We were also to check out the area because it had been rumored that this was part of the trail used to take POW’s to North Vietnam.

Within two hours of being inserted, the clouds and rains moved in. After setting up a perimeter we started setting up our base camp. Our shelters consisted of two-man tents made of two shelter halves. A tent the size of a “Pup Tent”. We placed our tents under trees that had already fallen because  even though the bomb made a large LZ it also damaged a lot of trees that continued to fall for days.

We were suppose to be on top of that mountain for three days and then picked up by helicopters and flown back to base camp.  “C” Rations were our staple for food. We had each been issued “C” Rations for three days. Not all “C” Rats are created equal. We would keep what we liked and bury the rest. The clouds and rains would not let us be extracted so on the fourth day we dug up what we had buried.

The weather was so bad that no helicopter could make it to the top of  the mountain to pick us up or resupply us. Finally on the fifth or sixth day a young Lieutenant name James Ungaro had his scout helicopter stripped and loaded with “C” Rats, water, ammo and batteries for our radios. He flew at tree top level very slowly up the mountain. As we were talking him in to our location the clouds separated and he dropped down. As quickly as the supplies could be unloaded, he popped back up. As he did, the clouds came back. Lt Ungaro was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions.

We hadn’t found a whole lot on top of that mountain. We had one man who had a leech crawl into his mouth while he slept. In the morning, his jaw was badly swollen. He had that small circle inside his mouth where the leech had attached itself.

Finally we were told that we would have to walk down that mountain because the helicopters still couldn’t get to us. The walk was a long one. It took all day to get to the bottom. I remember one incident. Roger Maddox was a machine gunner. He was walking in front of me. He turned around and started walking towards me. He kept making a Pfiff sound. I asked him what was his problem. All he would do is make that sound. Then I saw the leech on his bottom lip. Everytime the leech would raise its head to try to get into Roger’s  mouth, Roger would blow it back out. I took the leech off his lip and we continued down the mountain. When we reached the bottom we saw the helicopters coming. Instead of picking us up they dropped off some “C” Rations and said they would be back in the morning to get us.

To me, the mission accomplished one thing. There were so many leeches on top of that mountain, for years I would wake up from the night mare of frying leeches because I had nothing else to eat.

A 10,000 lb “Daisy Culler” was dropped to create the LZ. It sheered and splintered the trees several feet from the ground. The LZ was a large depression surrounded by a long perimeter. At best, it was a bad position to defend. Fortunately, we were with elements of Delta Troop. Their three 81 mm mortal tubes would be critical to the defense of this position. We set up an antenna as a relay for an infantry unit in the area we had come to support. And it began raining. The Monsoon rain was unforgiving and unrelenting. Lieutenant Ungaro not only risked his life to resupply us, but he evacuated at least one casualty. One of our grenadiers had been wounded by a M79 round that bounced off a tree and hit him. It was still raining on the tenth day, when we were ordered to walk off the mountain. All excess munitions and the tubes were destroyed. We slipped on the rocks of the stream bed we followed, and leaches rained down on us from the foliage above. About half way down the mountain, we came upon an NVA Regular. He was sitting at a small fire, reading. When he pulled up his poncho, for whatever reason, an M-60 cut him down. An M79 shot gun round missed him entirely. We walked past his body. It laid flung back on a tree trunk and blood ran out his mouth. A “death card” had been left on the corpse as a token. As we continued, we passed out replacements coming up the stream bed. At the end of the day we reached bottom. I collapsed and slept until morning, when a Chinook came in to pick up the Delta troopers. Our acting Blue, a captain from staff who spent exactly 30 days with the Blues, remarked that we had “come in as cavalry, and would go out as cavalry.” So we sat down and waited for the Charlie Troop lift ships to arrive. On returning to Camp Evans, I reported to the aid station because I was covered with leach bites. Thereafter, I cleaned my weapon and myself. That afternoon, the Blues were ordered to report to the flight line for yet another mission. Only a few of us bothered to go down. The mission was cancelled and assigned to another troop. Physically at least, we were in no shape for another combat assault.

Posted in: Missions