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29 Dec 68 Ivy Leaf

‘Cacti Green’ Down Tiger

By PFC John Uhlar

HUNTING PARTY - Members of a patrol from D Company, 35th Infantry pose with an 8-foot long tiger they killed in the mountains east of Pleiku. The soldiers, on a night patrol when the tiger began stalking them, shot the cat after waiting nervously until it came within three meters of their position. (USA Photo by PFC John Uhlar)

CAMP ENARI — Big game hunters spend lavish sums of money for high-powered rifles, hunting attire and knowledgeable guides to fill their trophy rooms with game.

Private First Class Joe Barber of Detroit, and Private First Class Bob Luster of Tiffon, Ohio, members of a patrol front Company D, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry, commanded by Captain Ernest P. Hotart of Bryan, Tex., may never make the big game hunter status.

But they will have pictures and relics of a 400-pound male tiger which would surely make big game sportsmen green with envy.

While working in support of the 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Donald W. Moreau of Leavenworth, Kari., the patrol was to secure an area along Highway 19-E.

Patrol leader First Lieutenant James Tefteller of Gilmer, Tex., had placed his men in their positions. After five hours of jungle quiet, PFC Gilmer and Luster spotted movement far to their right flank.

"We both thought the movement was coming from a stray water buffalo," stated PFC Barber, "so we held our fire In order to continue the mission."

More than an hour passed and the movement in the brush continued in circles around the position of the two Ivymen.

"The noise came closer," said PFC Luster, "but we still could not distinguish what it was. It was about three meters away when we first saw it was a tiger," he exclaimed.

Without much time to think, the two men opened fire on the now crouched jungle cat. Five full magazines were emptied into the cat as it leaped toward the men and then fell back, dead.

In the morning, the unusual KIA was carted back to Black-hawk Firebase where infantry and cavalrymen marveled at more than seven feet of tiger.

Tiger suits in the jungles of Vietnam have become a common sight, however, when it is still on the tiger it can be a nightmare as two Ivymen now know.

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