by Keith Krauss
I was drafted on February 14th, 1968 and 1 year later Feb 14th, 1969 I was involved in my first fire fight.
We were walking down a trail and we heard some shots and started to run off trail. One of the guys stuck out his foot while on the trail we all know what he was trying to do. (He wanted to get sent home from injury). That was one occurrence I remember.
Another time I remember one guy was leaning on his gun, he leaned it against his foot and the gun went off. At first I thought we were under attack. He took of his boot and the bullet went between his toes. That was a close call for him. He didn't get hurt at all, but scared the heck out of all of us.
On June 21, 1969 I was a squad Sargent and we took a break in an open field. We heard artillery going off in the distance. Someone yelled we have a short round, someone said dig a fox hole- we couldn't dig anything because the ground was too rocky. So I looked up at the tree line and could see all the trees getting blown apart. I was looking ahead and saw SSGT Freitas kneeling next to his RTO calling in the rounds, and everybody else had their heads on the ground. After all the firing, heard yelling that someone got hit, they called in the chopper to get him out of here. I was about 200 feet behind SSGT Freitas and had a clear view of him. Last I saw SSGT Freitas he was getting put into the Medevacked chopper. I could hear all the shrapnel buzzing the air and knew it was not going to be good if someone got injured. SSGT Freitas was looking out for the rest of us while we were hugging the ground. He died a real Hero!
Another time I remember we were walking over this ridge line and what looked like NVA Soldiers taking a break by a creek. They didn't see us, so we set up a machine gun, we called back to find out if there were any friendly people in the area. A few guys stayed by the gun, while I went back to get the rest of the squad to get them on the line. Then our RTO called headquarters and they said to start firing right away. Though we weren't ready, we started to scramble and get in line. We shot a few of them, didn't get them all, but we could have gotten more if we waited and had all the men in place. I do remember reading about this fire fight in the Stars and Stripes.
As my tour was ending after a year we were going through the same areas as I started off in the beginning of my tour. One place had half of a gasoline tank from an airplane stuck in the ground and I remember that from months ago, going past the same place. We all took pictures of it because it was a big thrill!
Submitted by Keith Krauss- SGT B1/35th