Mike & H&S Companies 

Third Battalion, Fifth Marines

Veterans of the Vietnam War
Home Up Grenade Duel Ambush Cornmeal Scout NVA Base Camp Recollections


Recollections from Earl Gerheim

Earl was kind enough to allow us to post some memories he has of events that occured around the time of December of '67 to April 1968. These were occasioned by a request for info from Ron McCarville from Kilo Company. As a professional correspondent and a hell of a writer we asked for any other recollections he might have involving Mike or India. He was kind enough to add some memories of the Houston series of Operations.

Debbe passed on your recollection of some events when we were along the Bowling Alley in the vicinity of Lang Co. I don't think I was there when the two casualties were brought in. I might be able to fill in a few blanks, however.
Lima Co. was sent to Hue in the third week of Feb. They wound up, I believe, along the south side of the Citadel. When the battle was over, there were only about 25 guys left to return to Phu Bai. The CO immediately had them dispatched on a sweep into the hills West of Phu Bai. They were ambushed and suffered a couple of casualties. One was Doc Sinor, who later was transferred to the 2nd Platoon of Kilo Co. Doc was hit in the arm with grenade fragments.
Mike Co. was involved in the NVA base camp battle in late April , not too long before we took off south for Operations Allen Brook and Mameluke Thrust. I still recall how half-starved and dehydrated the Mike Co. survivors of that five-day battle were when we took off South. As you might recall, they had a lot of heat casualties and, coupled with a booby trap tripped by the battalion casualty reporter while getting medevac numbers of the heat casualties, left them about 25 strong. 
Those two wounded men you mention were taken to Lang Co probably because it was the nearest 3/5 unit with a corpsman. At one time, the battalion BAS was at Phu Gia Pass, where India Co. was at the time, along with a mess tent from which the battalion attempted to provide at least one hot meal a day for as many men as possible.
The battalion was strung out between Phu Bai and Hai Van Pass for about two months before going south. During that time I was with a lot of other units on ops - Delta, 1/27, E 2/5, E 2/3 - because we just didn't have that many correspondents. In between those ops, I'd always make it back to 3/5, which was an effort because, until Kilo got to Lang Co, it was hard to track down units because they were moving around so much.

We are always referring to actions around Hai Van Pass, the Bowling Alley, Lang Co and all the other spots between Hai Van and Phu Bai where 3/5 operated. Operation Houston was the name of the actions. When I rotated I had Operations Houston I, II, III and IV in my record book. The goal of the Houston operations was to keep Route One opened and also to provide security for the Army engineers who worked on and maintained that stretch of road. 

-- As I've mentioned before, 3/5 was strung out along a long stretch and the companies moved around a lot. I recall being with Mike Co. at a ville called something like Thua Lu. A Chieu Hoi had told us an NVA Co. was going to try to attack a nearby bridge so we set up an ambush by the river. The NVA never showed up and I remember it as being the coldest night I ever spent in Vietnam. Resupply was a problem at times. The battalion CP was at the ville with Mike and I noticed when I checked with the S-2 about something that LtCol Rockey and SgtMaj Hanson were sharing a C-ration meal.
I usually got to Danang two days a month and would load up a seabag with canned goods from the Hill 327 PX to supplement C-rats and also make up for the slop laughingly called chow that the Task Force X-Ray messhall would produce in Phu Bai. I had a large can of pineapple rings which I broke out and shared with some of the Mike Co. guys. I didn't have to ask anyone if they wanted some.

-- Both India and Mike were on Operation Auburn, a bloodbath that started Dec. 28, 1967 on Go Noi Island. I went in with Echo 2/3, known as Rent-A-Battalion because it was a Third Div outfit under the operational control of the 1stMar Div. The plan was for Echo to go in first, followed by India and Mike. Echo tripped a massive ambush by a VC Main Force unit augmented by NVA. In the initial contact Echo suffered Nine KIA and 5 WIA. By day's end, the company had 17 KIA and something like 35 WIA. 
Because of the heavy fire, India and Mike was landed far to the west of where we were. I got hit by AK-47 fire while another Marine and I were trying to carry a casualty to cover. We formed a defensive position. Later up came a platoon from India commanded by Lt. Corr. Corr was a really nice guy who used to kid around with me about my putting rolls of film in ammo pounches. Moments later, he was shot in the chest and killed.
While near the LZ with the rest of the casualities, I noticed Capt. Mitchell, the Mike CO, meeting with LtCol Rockey. My thought was the Mike Co. was here, too. I spent 23 days on the USS Sanctuary before getting back to RVN. Mitchell commanded Mike at least through August, if I recall correctly.