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INTO THE GREAT UNKNOWN, THE OTHER HEART OF DARKNESS—CAMBODIA
Our mission was to become the northernmost company of the 1st Air Cavalry Division in Cambodia. Our target was NVA supply bases believed to be in NVA Base Area 351 (the Belly). We had limited maps and aerial photography since we had been forbidden to cross the Cambodian border before, except in “hot pursuit.” My company was directed to be the lead company for the combat assault on Cambodia.
However, our battalion commander changed our mission, based on his observations from his chopper, noticing new roads going under the jungle canopy. A Cobra pilot spotted NVA trucks and troops and eliminated them. More trails were leading into the jungle that suggested that NVA supply depots were in that vicinity. We were diverted to FSB Myron to load up on Hueys and be inserted into the jungle, 500 meters north of yesterday’s contact.
I always went on the first Huey in and the last one out of any insertion. When we landed, I put my old platoon on point in single file until we found blood trails and then made first contact with the enemy. Upon contact, we formed an on-line assault formation and moved forward. Then the NVA opened fire. Our on-line assault formation was right at the NVA advance spider holes (shallow fox holes), forcing the NVA to attempt to pull back.
As the NVA was attempting to retreat, our FO (forward observer) directed artillery fire right on top of their retreating men. Our grenades took out their shallow bunkers. During their deployment, my platoon found caches of weapons and ammunition lying directly on the ground. The enemy fought fiercely against my men, firing from all sides simultaneously. Our forward observer was busy coordinating the fire from 105mm howitzers from FSB Myron, and Cobra Attack Helicopters were unleashing their mini cannons and 20mm rockets. I was beginning to recognize that we had uncovered a major enemy arms and food cache that the NVA was not going to surrender without a major fight. Because we had stumbled into it, we were not organized to withstand a major enemy assault. Somehow, I was going to have to get our company back in position to deal with the prospect of a major counterattack.
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