Mike Company               

Third Battalion, Fifth Marines

RVN, 1966 -1971
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A Mike Company memory of Hastings, by Richard Golbeck

Preface: My story deals with a routine recon patrol in our sector of responsibilty that occurred days after India Company's engagement. At the beginning of the story, I stated that we were assigned to scout out the top of a mountain "in the vicinity" of where India had been hit. This is more or less conjecture on my part, because I'm assuming that the whole battalion was operating in an area in where we were in close proximity to each other. We had heard of India's plight, and were hunting the bastards down. It wasn't a rescue mission. The chronology of this event in no way diminishes the revenge we inflicted for India. My conjecture was that all the companies operating in an area of close proximity was correct since Lima and Kilo were "trekking" to India's position also.

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Last night I spent two hours agonizing over the "I"3/5 website, and
recollections of Operation Hastings. We had heard that India had been badly mauled in a mortar attack. I'm going to relate one of my personal war stories to you, and then add it to the "I"3/5 website. Those troopers from India Co. that made it out of Hastings are probably unaware that this took place, and might find some solace in the revenge we inflicted on the N.V.A. I think this incident took place around the fifth or sixth day into Hastings. I know that Hastings took place before Brad was in country and you guys may not be familiar with it, but let me assure you, it was a bloody affair. On this fifth day of Hastings, first platoon of "M" company was assigned to scout out the top of some hill in the vicinity of where India had been hit.
Intel had word that a mortar platoon of N.V.A. were in the area. I was in first platoon, first squad, first fire team, and we were always the point it seemed. I preferred being point man, and after awhile, I just naturally assumed that position, and that of tunnel rat also. On this occasion our fireteam led the way up this hill. We proceeded slowly and stealthily. It was quite a hump, very thick jungle. As we neared the top, I remember everything was quite still, no wind, the heat was suffocating. Our fireteam now was nearing the summit while the rest of the platoon was wound far down the mountain in a long single file behind us. All at once a noise broke the stillness! It was the sound, the unmistakable sound of someone pounding something, or hammering a post or large stake into the ground! As soon as the sound shattered the silence, we all stood there staring at each other in silent and excited bewilderment! We halted the platoon, and Cpl.Travis Barlow, Lcpl James Danner, Pfc. Dennis Romball, and myself went up for a closer look. Cpl. Barlow led the four man recon to the edge of the summit and he peered up over the edge first, then signaled to us "ENEMY IN SIGHT"!! The four of us then crowded up to the edge of the summit next to Barlow to get a glimpse of our elusive foes. There they were setting up aiming stakes for their mortars, and they were aiming them in on our company down in the valley at the base of this mountain we were on. The sight of the enemy sent an adrenaline rush through me I can't begin to put into words! I raised my M-14 and was aiming in
on the one closest to us, when Barlow put his hand around the barrel and shook his head no. He was thinking, I was reacting without thinking. Had our four man recon team engaged the enemy at that point with the entire platoon wound down the mountain in single file, we never could have brought an effective volume of fire against the enemy that was still unaware of our presence even though we were just a few meters away from them. We descended and rejoined the main column, passed the word down to Lt. J.D. Murray, who then immediately radioed Company Commander Capt. Pettengill and informed him of the possibility of imminent attack. From what I heard after we got down from the mountain,as soon as the C.O. passed the word, that there were nothing but assholes and elbows flying as they took cover! As we withdrew from the mountain, an airstrike ensued along with an artillery barrage. The Phantoms were coming in at treetop level, the roar from their engines was awesome and deafening! The N.V.A. never knew what hit them! The following day 2nd or 3rd platoon went up to the top of the mountain and found a dozen mangled motar tubes, and many more mangled gooks! I rationalized that there couldn't have been a whole lot of N.V.A. mortar platoons in the area, and that the one we snuck up on was probably the one that mangled "I" Co. I sure hope it was!!