Cacti Green Kills Six In Late Night Contact
SP4 CRAIG MACGOWAN
Contributor Roger Stitt was also in this
OASIS — "I lived ten lifetimes in
about five minutes" was the way Private First Class Joe C. Crowley of
Upton, Mass., described the late-night contact with a company-sized NVA Rocket
Transportation group by the Famous 4th’s Company B, 1st Battalion, 35th
The action near Firebase Lily netted the "Fighting Gypsies" one
detainee, six enemy dead, four 122mm rocket warheads and other miscellaneous
enemy equipment including rucksacks and an AK47.
"We were, going to move to the west from our night location when a
helicopter flew over and received some ground fire," explained 3rd Platoon
Leader, First Lieutenant John C. Kelly of Bayside, N.Y.
"That evening, instead of closing on the rest of the company, we were
to set up three individual platoon-sized look-outs.
"I set up furthest away from a village to the east on a trail running
into the village."
That set the stage for the triangular-shaped contact by Bravo Company,
with the 3rd Platoon facing the trail.
Private First Class Joe Crowley, the man who initiated the action, was
concealed in a bamboo thicket.
"I was on guard. I looked down at my watch — 11 p.m. I looked back
up and there they were — NVA passing by my position about six feet away,
moving in column down the trail.
"At first I thought It was only a squad, but after a few minutes I
had counted 40... then 62.
"I lived ten lifetimes ‘in about five minutes."
When he was certain all the enemy had passed, PFC Crowley sprung the trap
by throwing hand grenades at the tail of the enemy column.
Further up the line Sergeant Stanley Synstenlien of Ashby, Mass., was
alerted by the noise of the passing enemy. They were heavily loaded, carrying
rucksacks, small arms — mostly AK-47s slung over their shoulders.
"You could hear the water sloshing in their canteens," recalled
the Ivy sergeant.
"They were carrying 122mm rocket warheads and every third man was
carrying a rocket booster or an 82mm mortar tube."