War Stories

Tracking big Foot

by Joe Soga

Tracking Bigfoot in Vietnam 1969 By Joe Soga - Bravo 2/35th.

Well as was the case for my unit Bravo Company 2/35th., we were out looking for the enemy again. It was our job to find them before they could carry out their plans to attack us. We were someplace in the highlands of Vietnam. No towns or villages, just jungle. We were working along a trail and came upon a bamboo grove. It was medium size bamboo. As we worked our way through it, we encountered a small stream with a good flow of water. The stream ran alongside a steep embankment. This area of the stream was still covered by the tall bamboo which made it cooler than the surrounding jungle temperature. What we found there were large cages constructed out of bamboo. The stream ran through these cages on one side. At first, we thought that they were holding cells for any GIs, who may have been captured by the NVA. There were no other NVA signs in the area. No foot prints other than the ones we made. Then we saw them. Large animal tracks on the side of the stream, which lead away from the bamboo grove. The tracks headed back into the surrounding jungle. Our CO, called our finding into Battalion and we were given orders to follow the tracks, until we caught up with the animal or animals that made them.

We tracked the animal the rest of that day and all of the next day. On the third day we found ourselves getting closer to this large animal, which left a trail of broken tree branches and saplings in its wake. The tops of the trees were bare of foliage, as though they had been eaten. Our point man was the only one who caught a glimpse of the animals as they took off running. They must have smelled him. Back in those days, personal hygiene was not a priority. The point man reported that he saw a group of elephants. No one was riding them and they were not carrying any enemy supplies as we had thought. It turned out to be a small group of wild Asian elephants. We had seen elephants before in Vietnam, used by the local Montagnard. We also knew that the North Vietnamese used them to carry supplies along the Ho Chi Minh trail. To come across a group of wild elephants was rare.

I still think about those bamboo cages in that bamboo grove. Were they constructed by the NVA or did the Montagnard use them to hide their elephants from the NVA? I guess we will never know for sure. Even though there was a war going on in Vietnam, there were wild still wild animals that survived the carnage.