Cacti War Stories
Edited by Wiley "Tiny" Dodd
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Day From Hell
by John Morgan
3 April 1968
In late March 1968 Delta 2/35th was C/A'd in to replace Alpha 2/35th who had taken numerous casualties in a battle for hill 1062. As Battalion RTO for Delta I was in the first Group of Choppers that landed. I was to find out that one of my close buddies from Draft Day in Oakland, Ca. had been KIA. (Robert Kline Jr.) It was not a great way to start your day. On April 2 we moved on the Hill and started taking enemy fire. We were ordered to pull back and called in airstrikes to include Napalm. The bombing and artillery continued through April 2. It is now April 3 and we are working with the local CIDG as we move out to secure Hill 1062.
As we are moving up the Hill the CIDG are frequently stopping us as they uncover Booby traps that have been placed on the trail. One of the bad habits the Army had was we tended to stay on the main trails and not to the sides. If we had not had the locals with us it could have been very disastrous for us. They were to uncover as many as five Booby Traps that morning. It is closing in on noon and except for the Booby Traps uncovered it has been smooth sailing. In a few short minutes that was all to change.
Our point man has peaked the Hill and we are moving forward when All Hell breaks lose. Even after all the bombing we had done the NVA and VC were waiting sitting in ambush just waiting for us and we walked right into it. Our Point Man was killed instantly (it would be a couple of more days before we could get to him). Our lead platoon was getting mauled by the enemy in what would result in two more being killed and numerous being wounded. I called in for Gunships to support us as the casualties continued to mount and our ammunition started getting low. I called for medi-vac and resupplies.
As we pulled the wounded out of danger I had one man die in my arms. For the new Medic this was his first death he would see and he had a hard and difficult time with it. I had to slap him back into reality and remind him that we had to work on the wounded not the KIA's. This was the hardest part for us, as we did not have time to reflect on those who were killed during the battle. It was "keep on fighting" or become a casualty.
As we prepared to pull back to bring in new air strikes I heard our number two point man moaning. I was told a medic had tried to get to him but was wounded and nobody else had tried. Knowing we were going to bring in some major strikes in the area, I knew I could not leave him behind. I took off my Pack and radio grabbed a M-79 Launcher fired a round, which was a waste of time, and came to the conclusion that I would have to run like Hell to get to him and get him out. As I took off I slid on my side next to him and looked over my shoulder as the bullets hit the ground real close to me. It was like a scene out of a movie only there wasn't anything fake about these bullets. I hooked my arm underneath his arm and pulled him that 100 or so feet to safety. (It is amazing what adrenaline can do for you). As the Medic and I started to work on him we realized the seriousness of his injuries when we wrapped him our fists went inside the small of his back. As we checked further we found that he had had both testicles shot off. When we put him on the Chopper he was still some how breathing. (It would be 38 years later before I would find out that he had died enroute to Pleiku. Thanks to our website.)
Later that day after we had brought in air support and artillery we had pulled back to what we thought was a secure area. Unknown to us there was still one of our Spotter Planes flying around. I heard an explosion near us and thought here we go again. We were sitting behind a large tree with some CIDG's when to more spotter rockets hit the backside of the tree we were sitting behind. We now knew our plane was shooting at us. I was on the radio to our Battalion Commander cussing him out, He was still in his chopper flying over the combat zone, and letting him know that if that plane made one more pass at us we were going to shoot his ASS down. Amazingly he got the message from whomever and was suddenly gone and of course no Military Unit took responsibility for the Spotter Plane.
We ended up taking four KIA's and numerous wounded that day. When we did get to our Point Man a few days later he was burnt beyond recognition and we had to place tree limbs in his body bag. The hardest thing was not being able to retrieve our point man and then when we did, to have to send him home to a closed casket funeral.
Six weeks later this Hill would come back to haunt me again.
HHC/D co 2/35