Chapter 4


IT SEEMED that my luck was still holding out because as we arrived at Tay Ninh we were informed that the enemy had mortared their position the previous night. We stayed at this perimeter only one night without incident, but after we moved out to what was to become the largest operation of the war at that time, we got word that Tay Ninh was hit again by enemy action.

Not only did one have to contend with heat, humidity, elephant grass, and the enemy, but in the jungle there were thorn bushes of sorts that we would refer to as "wait-a-minute" bushes. They were bamboo thorn bushes that resembled a hack saw blade. If you were unlucky enough to encounter it, you would have to reverse your course to free yourself. If that wasn't bad enough, there were the ever-present large red ants: they were so large, I was convinced they lived on gunpowder.

Since this book has to do mostly with friendly forces, and how they acted and reacted to rapidly changing phases of the battle, I felt I should inject a portion from the enemy's perspective.

We learned some things to throw the enemy off and keep him from finding out how many casualties he might be inflicting on us. One such tactic was to call out the medic's name, instead of using the word "MEDIC" since they became accustomed to that medical term.

It was revealed through an interpreter that one of the Viet Cong who had participated in the assault was Rifleman Van Khrak of the 272nd Viet Cong Regiment. The following was his experience:

Several days before the start of the battle, American forces from the 196th Light Infantry Brigade had found one of our big rice caches with more than 1,000 tons in a storage area south of War Zone C, located in 111 Corps. This was the biggest one they had discovered and was enough to feed a whole VC Division (15,000-19,000 Troops) for 222 days. Our officers were greatly angered, and became more so when they learned that one of the American Companies (about 150 Troops) was hunting in the jungle for other caches. When we were ordered to attack this Company, we did not know that there were large enemy forces in the surrounding areas. We were told we would meet with only light resistance, and that the Company hunting for the rice did not wish to fight. That was wrong. I was one of the many who believed this until we engaged the Company and then enemy reinforcements on November 1st. They fought like devils. That night we launched an assault from the bunkers. I was in the second wave. It was very dark and the jungle was thick except for our fire lines. Our orders were to fire at anyone we saw or heard moving around, even at the risk of hitting our own men, because the enemy forces had to be wiped out at all cost.
Copyright © 2000 Marion L. Ellard - All Rights Reserved