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13 Aug 67 Ivy Leaf

Breather Hole Leads Platoon to Viet Cong

DUC PHO—A small breather hole in the side of a rice paddy dike was the first sign that Charlie was In the area.

First Lieutenant Homer Krout II, platoon leader of the reconnaissance platoon, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, immediately established a perimeter and began searching the area.

Conducting an early morning combat assault, the recon platoon was following an agent who said he could lead them to a tunnel complex where several VC were hiding.

Arriving at the location it appeared that the agent was mistaken. "My men began searching the area," related 1LT Krout. "At first we couldn’t find anything. Then one of my men saw the breather hole."

After the perimeter had been established, the recon men began to enlarge the hole. Suddenly, four grenades were hurled from the tunnel. Diving for cover, no one was injured as the tedious battle to dislodge the entrenched enemy began. The ensuing fight resulted in eight enemy killed and four weapons captured.

Next, the Vietnamese agent reported that he knew where another tunnel was located. Once again the Ivymen were off searching for the hidden enemy.

"We arrived in the area about 2:30 p.m. but were unable to find a tunnel,’ stated ILT Krout. "We were ready to give up the hunt when the Vietnamese agent became suspicious of a basket with bamboo shoots growing from it. He moved the basket and revealed the entrance to a tunnel."

A search of the area, however, revealed the tunnel was empty.

Heading back to a landing zone, the platoon was ready to load on the lift ships and the day was about over — they thought.

As the choppers were coming in, two VC sprang from a spider hole next to the LZ. While throwing grenades at the infantrymen they attempted to escape across a rice paddy. Somewhat surprised, the riflemen whirled around and ended the escape attempt.

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