Mike McFerrin writes:
I remember the Op since I was keeping close tabs on the company. I felt guilty about being
in An Hoa and my worst case fear had already materialized. The previous platoon commander
(pc) had screwed up while in a booby trap area and there were two KIA's and I believe two
emergencies and the one priority was the pc himself. This occurred during the last week of
April a day or two after I was sent into An Hoa to begin the Regimental research.
The only salvation from this incident was that I knew Blackman would be Platoon Commander
for a while. This was good for the platoon. But it was tempered with the fact that I knew
the pc wouldn't have performed the maneuver that caused the booby trap to be hit if I had
been there. The pc was scared to death of booby traps and would always defer to me when we
were in such an area. In fact, I would take over his position in the column behind the
point squad to get us through. And even if he hadn't, I would have without a doubt yelled
at the point as soon as I saw them starting to use the dike to cross the paddy and
whenever I would have yelled at him when he stopped the column in the rice paddy so he
could go the front. I obviously had no proper respect but would have "tried" to
be nice with something like, "Hey, we got the whole fucking platoon out in the open,
Lieutenant. Why don't we get them on up in there with those other guys before you check
In this case, without me there, he was the one who actually caused the booby trap to be
hit. They were in a column crossing a paddy on a double dike (two parallel dikes with a
small canal in between them). They, of course, shouldn't have been on the dike at all. But
they were properly spaced and casualties would have been limited if they had hit it while
moving like this.
Then the pc decided to stop the column. This stopping of the column caused a lot of the
spacing to be eliminated as each person got a step or two closer to the person in front of
them as the word moved back and action was taken. Sort of an accordion closing effect. The
word had been passed back about something the point had seen while moving into the
treeline and he decided to stop the column and go up to personally see whatever it was.
Never mind that the majority of the platoon was strung out across the paddy in the open
and never mind that to move up to the front would require several people to move off the
path of those that had gone in front of them (the path that was clear of booby traps). I
am absolutely sure that these things never entered his mind. What was in his mind was that
as a Lieutenant he was surely smarter than anybody out there and would be better able to
assess whatever it was up there and he would take this opportunity to show everybody the
truth of this.
He leaped to the other parallel dike to move up to the front and ordered his radioman to
do the same thing. It was during these first few steps that the radioman stepped on the
probable 105 round (the reports said a 155 because of the damage to the radioman and the
number of people hit but the circumstances and the "bunching" caused the number
of casualties and I believe that a 105 can blow a man in half as well as a 155). The
Lieutenant, the radioman, the squad leader of the point squad, the corpsman, and at least
one other went down.
I was in the company office quite a bit during the first few days of May but was becoming
adjusted to the fact that I was not going to be out there and that SGT Blackman as the
Platoon Commander was the best that I could hope for. Things had not yet begun to heat up
in An Hoa so I sort of thought the war was over for me.
Within 30 days my view of this would begin to change. An Hoa under daily rocket barrages
and ground attacks one to three times a week was not the bush but had its own way of
wearing you down. I can remember feeling the same way when under mortar attack in the
bush. There is not a whole lot of things you can do about a mortar round screaming in on
you. You can kill ten gooks and it is not going to change a thing. You can dive for this
cover or that cover. But in the end that mortar round is going to hit wherever it is
headed and if its where you are, that's it.
By the end of July I felt like I had been in the bush for two months. My nerves were
frazzled. The ground attacks were disconcerting simply because of the size of the base.
When the gooks got in the wire it became disproportionately weird because you had no idea
where they had actually come in when the word was passed. Compared to a company perimeter
in the bush, An Hoa was New York City.
Anyway, I have done my time in Le Thap and the Phu Nhuans. Without a doubt the Phu Nhuans
were full of VC and well connected to the NVA in the area.
Grady Rainbow writes: "Yeah thanks, I remember the Op. Things got a little hazy from
time to time and the After Action report doesn't really clear all the details. This was
the Op were L/Cpl. Michael (Dutch) Lenehan was recommended for the Bronze Star for
capturing (3) high ranking VC. I remember the night moves and the "face