War Stories

My Less Dangerous Assignment

by Vaughn Brauer
Sep 69 - Jan 69

During my second tour, I commanded D Co 2/35th from September 1968 until January 1969. During that time the Company had no contact with the enemy. When I left the company, I was assigned to the Brigade S-3 section and ran the Tactical Operations Center. Working in a highly sandbagged bunker protected by MPs and surrounded by a large force securing LV Oasis, I was living large with a tent, cot and mattress and three hots a day. At some point an ARVN Ranger unit started an operation in our AO. We sent out an LT and radio operator to accompany them. Their primary job was to keep us informed of where they were so we wouldn't set up any artillery or air strikes in their area. After about a week, we got word that the operation was ending so we sent out a LOH to bring back our guys. Within about 3 hours after their return, we got word that the operation had been extended for three more days. The S3 yelled "OK Brauer, it's your turn". I ran back to my tent, filled my ruck sack with C-Rations, water, and other goodies and rushed to the Heliport. The Lt who had just returned was in the front seat next to the pilot so I jumped in the back behind the pilot and stuffed my ruck sack under my seat and away we went. We stopped at one on the BN CPs, picked up a radio operator and went off in search of the ARVNs. I had no commo but the LT and pilot were trying to contact the US Advisors who were with the ARVNs. No response. We kept flying around the area where they had last been. No radio contact and no sight of them. Suddenly three shots rang out. I felt the LOH shudder and start to descend into a large open area. When the LOH landed, I leaped out of my seat just as the pilot exited his seat in front of me. His helmet was off and blood was streaming down the side of his head and neck. As I leaned down to help him up, I noticed fuel running out of the bottom of the LOH. I yelled to everyone to get away from the chopper. We got the pilot away to a safe distance where we had some cover. All the while I'm wondering how many bad guys are out there and how far away they are. Luckily, the pilot had sent out a Mayday and activated the emergency transponder and in a very short time the air was full of helicopters carrying an immediate reaction force. The area was secured, the pilot evacuated and I was flown back to the Oasis. I tossed my ruck sack under my bed and went back to work (never did find out what happened to the ARVNs). After about three days I noticed a strange odor in my tent. I opened up my ruck sack and discovered an absolute mess. Food splattered everywhere. It turned out the first round went through the windscreen of the LOH, through the pilot's helmet and grazed the side of his head. The second round went through the bottom of the LOH, fuel cell, floor, my ruck sack, three cans of rations and ended up stuck in a can of peanut butter. The rest of my second tour was uneventful and I still have a special feeling toward peanut butter.