One day while out on a platoon size patrol we started taking fire, nothing major, just a few Gooks letting us know that we were not welcomed in this area, as some areas were much worst than others.
One thing about LT. Spivey was he was easily distinguishable from the rest of the Marines but he was in charge, so he did what he felt was right.
He was one of the shortest guy's that we had, and was the only Marine who wore shorts. At least on that day, he had shorts on and carried a 45 cal. Semi automatic pistol as if he were some gun slinger from the old west.
One day two kooks showed themselves for just an instant, really close to the squad and the Lt. took off after those two VC in hot pursuit, lucky for him that somehow he lost them or he stopped short of the ambush or the kill zone when he noticed that he was alone as no one followed this running back from Alabama is my guess, but who knows? So he had managed his way back to the platoon alive and in one piece, as he never went that far but he was feeling his oats, like a race horse after the race as he was all pumped up with adrenalin, sweating more than the rest of us.
I told him right there, sir, "you can't just take off like that and chase those guy's because most of the time it's a setup for an ambush, we are surprised that you're still alive, while He said," that I can take care of myself and why didn't anyone follow me?" We did yell out to you, to stop, but you just wanted to score a couple of kills. I told him you can't go after them on their terms as your just asking for trouble. Isn't obvious to you that most of the time day or night we cannot find any one of them, and all of a sudden two show up out of the clear blue, like, oh ,oh, you caught me but no one could get off a shot, why is that? sometimes they will fire at us and duck out of sight behind a tree line, we seen them for a second but we still have no idea what they looked like as they gave us no target but if anyone goes on the chase it could be their last chase.
They know were in the area and they can set up all sorts of surprises, so they lure us into that direction by showing themselves for just an instant, for the reason to get us to go in that direction and then disappearing just like they were never even there. Spider holes were everywhere, these are holes with a cover that are below the ground surface, some are very small while others can accommodate more than a few people. It's protection from the weather as long as those holes can drain or don't flood but those holes are a better alternative against aerial airstrikes, napalm mortars, artillery, ground fire, as a good comfort zone from the heat or rain.
It's a safe house usually near a trail but off the beaten path in the brush, not someplace where you would accidentally run across it and even if you stood right on top of it, you would never know it, unless the cover got lose from erosion. We would walk right over those holes on sweeps and the next thing you know someone got shot and no one knew where that shot came from, this made those VC just about invisible. Four VC in four different locations like N, E, S, W, spread out one thousand yards apart could virtually drive us out of an area. What we needed were dogs and some platoons had one but we didn't, while I was there.
On day, I heard that Lt. Harley Spivey got killed, I never knew the real true story but I heard someone say that he got shot right between the eyes while chasing, it's possible but I wasn't there. So, how good was this information, I had no clue. I wasn't surprised hearing that news as those young officers were hard to keep around because they never liked hearing any good advice from those of us who were not as educated as those OCS guys who played on some sports program, that paid for their degree, I guess?
The Gooks had a way to make it look like, "ops" we been had, but it was just a trick as to make themselves look vulnerable, when in fact it was a suckers play as to get someone to chase them right into an ambush just before it got dark, near a river with a steep bank that covered most of that country.
There were many places like this where they knew if they jumped into that river because they had been compromised, that a tunnel entrance was there deep under that river bank with a vine or anything they could hang on too and pull themselves in very fast from the moving currant. Explosives, like M- 26 fragmentation hand grenades would get tossed in the water hoping that the shock alone would kill them. Then once inside that river bank where we would most-likely be standing directly over them as they were only about ten feet away and down while we were searching the river for a body that wasn't there as it probably floated down stream..
Once inside they would pull in that vine back in so far so no one else could use it for easy access and follow them in that tunnel as the currant would run hard if it was raining.
They had a setup like beavers with another exit to dry land. If you managed to follow them into there den, they would probably shoot you in the head the minute that you came up for some air as there was only room for only one person to get through at a time. They could just shoot you or the next guy and anyone else that came in their domain,so we had this problem that very few of us knew at that time, including the sp00n. Picture this, you find the entrance and struggle to get in and your running out of air, you finally come up for air and there is a weapon pointed at your head point blank right between your eyes .Bang, Bang and before you even realize your about to die, your already dead.
The reason I know this information is because I caught one Gook coming out of the dry side of one of these tunnels one morning as I was hidden close by. I spent that previous night there not very far away from the dry entrance or exit, that I never knew was there. I didn't know he was there either as we both were surprised to see each other. We usually had two guys in one position but we would had been spaced too far apart as we were a blocking force at this time along one side of this river.
We decided that one guy about twenty five yards apart was better than two guys fifty yards apart as that's a lot of room to sneak thru. So while laying there in the brush not moving I heard something and it was this VC.
coming out of this hole as we noticed each other really fast as he disappeared and I went in right after him which was something I didn't normally do but this time, he had no time to surprise me as I had the advantage which was hardly never the case.
I was apprehensive about going in but his trail was so hot that I couldn't help myself and I followed him right in as opportunities like this one were very rare. .I could barely fit as my wide shoulders were the problem but I managed to go in and down and a 90 degree turn to the left as that was the hardest part to manage and then down into a small room where there was nothing there but one of our WW 2 carbines and a small pool of water where I could barely see some light coming from the river as the Sun just came up a couple of hours before. It was obviously the river so I wasn't going in the water where that VC had gone, so I managed to get my way back out which wasn't that easy as my heart was pounding away with my adrenaline was flowing in full gear.
That was the first tunnel that I ever went into but it wasn't the last. When I got back outside the difference in the temperature was about twenty degrees or more as I thought that we Marines should use this strategy but trying to give anyone with rank any good information, was not taken kindly. Web took the heat for anything that went wrong because they gave the order or I should say," the order was passed down from the top. While if things went smooth, the credit and promotions went too those at the top, with all their hard work planing all this strategy , they earned it, Right?
I heard a lot of commotion going on after I had got out of that tunnel and I was glad that the squad was still there as they could have left not knowing where I had gone, as I didn't have time to inform anyone that I was going under ground. They were still there watching the gook swimming across that river and probably never
knew why or where did that VC come from? We had one of those Chew Hoy's who were like enemy defector probably working for both sides as a spy We had the advantage of great sea rations? and better cigarettes at two dollars a carton. Their favorite cigarettes were Salem and Newport menthol. One pack of these kinds of smokes could give you the clap, instantly
While this VC that was swimming across this river one squad was all bunch up there on that river bank and either LT. Joiner or Lt. Butts was telling that interpreter what to say, as the VC just kept swimming ignoring the commands. Come back we just want to question you, and the VC just kept swimming as the currant was moving steady, so the Lt. said, "don't kill him just shoot him in the arm," and someone shot him in the arm and that VC was still swimming with one arm as if nothing was going to stop him. I was in disbelief.
Come back and we will give you medical aid and the VC was like a machine and was almost on the other side as what happened next was unbelievable. That Gook swimming with one arm flipped us the bird with his only one good arm and the order was given to finish him and it seemed like everyone shot at this guy except me. I
was in shock watching all this unfold as I felt personally responsible for his death because I flush him out. No one ever knew that information, so now you all know.
I never could forget this VC who I see everyday who was young like me The respect that I gained for this guy and these people because of this incident was starting to change the way I was viewing this war and there were too many things about this war that I was told, that were not true. These soldiers were dedicated, they had heart, what they lacked in size they made up in speed, stealth, survival skills, and dedication to their Country. I learned more from the Enemy than any training that I ever had to complete in the Corps.
I started feeling like a criminal, attacking people in South Vietnam, burning down their villages because they were sympathizers for their comrades from North Vietnam who they would still have to deal with once we were gone. We should have been fighting in North Vietnam all this time instead of waiting around like sitting ducks as daytime patrols so if the scorching heat didn't kill us, those snipers or mines did most of the killing. Waiting for an attack on some insignificant base that never meant a thing except for being a giant target easy to hit, we were fighting a losing battle in a war on their terms while making more enemies and they knew it.
We had rules to follow, they didn't! We were easy to find and very predictable as we constantly made the the same mistakes over and over as we didn't seem to learn anything with some exceptions of course. The enemy was very hard to find and very unpredictable and they could dig up our duds, like 250 pound bombs and move them or cut up the heavier 500 pound bombs.
These were used to make many more mines or booby traps that could kill us in areas where the enemy seldom were, so talk about wasting our time losing our lives attacking Hills or Villages only to leave and abandon those places after Marines died for nothing, this was what was going on, what kind of strategy or policy did we have here? None, Zero! We had orders to follow not knowing who gave those orders while we were bullied into following any order of insanity that made no sense what-so-ever.
It seemed at times like we were the enemies, as many Marines would be prosecuted for petty stuff in a war zone as if we were still State side where those games were played every day where you had to suck up and get your nose brown.
Our troops were the best but our instructions were the worst. Even though I was a kid, it didn't take me very long to figure out that what I was seeing in this War was a farce and I started losing my drive called motivation because nothing seemed to make any sense, and I was told just do your job, and keep your opinion to yourself. It's one thing to lie and say were winning, and that Orange Agent only kills foliage, but burning villages I thought was criminal as I burned one Hootch and I was the last one.The end for me was that defective rifle,
I kept quiet all these years felling like an outcast not just from the Military side but also from the public civilian side later. Where I was viewed by both sides, as a non-conforming troubled person, without any support of loyalty from either side while spreading the biggest lie of all, We support our troops?
Edgar A. Goulet (sp00n)