War Stories

Walking point had something for Everybody

by Charles Cooper

Walking Point
Charles Cooper

Walking point had something for everybody.

We were in a sandy area, Ratcliff was walking point. He stepped on the edge of a punji pit. The side collapsed. He did a slow motion Splits into the hole, shoving the sand in front of him. The sand buried the spikes.

Romero was point man. He was wearing two bandoliers. A sniper round went through four M16 Magazines and stopped in his belt buckle. All it did was knock the wind out of him and give him a bruise. I'll bet he still has that belt buckle.

Mckimmy, was walking point. A sniper round just clipped his upper lip and put a horizontal notch in one tooth. That was a bloody mess.

Art smith was point. We were in knee high grass. He saw something and stepped Back. He jammed a punji stake into his calf. I never did find out what he saw.

Ron Hopkins was the pointman. He stepped on a mine. Only the blasting cap went off. What are the chances of that? It blew a chunk out of his boot heel. He thought I'd shot him. He was pissed off and heading my way. I swore I hadn't shot him in the boot or anywhere else. We started digging around and up came the mine. It got bigger every time I thought about it. Now, all I can say is It would have taken us both out.

I was walking point. We were going along a rice paddy dike. I walked up on a three foot banded krait. It was all coiled up, enjoying the sun. I used my M16 and flicked it off to the left into the water. It came swimming back, head high out of the water. I flicked it to the left, again. It swam back again. Third time I flicked it to the right, it kept swimming to the right. They have some mean snakes in this country. I heard the reason the Vietnamese shuffle their feet when they walk is that if you kick a cobra, it will go into the bushes, if you step on a cobra it will bite you. I never wanted to put that to the test.

Powell was the point man. We were following a mountain trail. We stopped for break just where the trail bent back around the mountain. When we got our canteens out, four NVAs came jogging down the trail, guns at port arms. Their point man came around the bend. He spotted Powell and froze. His three buddies pancaked behind him. Powell grabbed his rifle and squeezed the trigger. Nothing happened he hadn't used his forward bolt assist to chamber the round. Powell jumped into the bushes behind him and yelled "get 'em Harden". Harden had his M16 on full automatic. He ended up sending a 20 round burst over their heads. This must have scared their point man, he dropped his AK47. All four turned around, and headed back the way they came. We were up to speed by now and were ready to chase after them. Lt Gladis stopped us. He attempted to call in an artillery strike. After 5 minutes he still couldn't get an OK on a fire mission. Finally he just told them to forget it we'd just push on through.

It turned out there was a LRRP team in the area. They were probably watching the whole thing and laughing at us. Neither side lost anyone that day. We got credit for capturing a weapon.