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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think sometimes we become too involved with the serious side of things, whether they be home, business or finiancial. I like to break out occasionaly and remember some of the things I have done or participated in in the past that make me smile. Some of them didn't make me smile at the time and a few potentialy could have caused damage. Fortunately none did.

Maybe some of you remember the days in the military that fit this description?

I was involved in the aerial surveillance for an operation in Vietnam that was designed to remove the rain forest so the VC couldn't hide. Large aircraft were used to spray 2,4,D on a specific area of the jungle to defoliate it. This was done 3 times over a 45 day period to insure all vegetation was killed and dry. Then a flight of B-52s dropped a "bunch" of incendiaries to ignite the jungle and burn it off. We flew infrared missions over the fire to determine the success of the mission. Let's add this up. You take dry vegetation. Intense heat rising. 100% humidity. What do you have? One of the largest and shortest thunderstorms you have ever seen. Rained the fire out in less than 45 minutes.

Well, that didn't work!
 

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Jim, thanks for sharing! Your post about this and also the monkeys in the trees really puts "intelligence" in "Military Intelligence!"

Although the guys shooting at the monkeys probably were not thinking it was funny at the time....
 

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Just think how much easier it would have been with FLIR/or better IR than you had. With the technoligy we have now! So much wasted time/money could have been avoided. Shoot Charlie would have never came out of his holes -cause when he did he would have died -the Trail would have been a death trap!! Just ask the Taliban/Al Qauda:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
No, he would have been just as safe. We could find him, we weren't allowed to shoot him. Most of his activities in the ARVN 3 Corps area took place in Laos or Cambodia.

However:

We discovered an area on the Cambodian side of the border that had some unusual activity. There were a series of huts being built along a road leading out of VietNam. The first hut was a matter of just a few feet from the border. Special Forces reconned and reported that it was a VC R & R center. Fight at night on the VietNam side of the border and at daylight cross the border and be able to chill out in safety because we were not allowed to cross the border.
After they built the 28th hut, the construction was called to the attention of the Commanding General. He told us we could not engage because of the location.
Lucky for us, a B-52 bomber strike was scheduled for the Parrots Beak area and they were given the wrong radar vector by the airforce radar. All of those bombs landed by mistake on the Cambod side of the border along a little road.
The Official apology to the Cambodian Govt was on it's way before the first bomb landed.
 

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Our first shakey steps to use infrared had some surprises. We used a flight of B52s to eradicate a troup of monkeys near the Trail. Poor animals did not how to dig tunnels and took it on the nose. The LRP that went in for a head count did not know what to put in the report!
 

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"50 confirmed KIA....... affilliation and nationality unknown",
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I had a 2nd Lt. come to me with some handheld camera photographs of hundreds of tubular items stacked under some trees in the jungle near 25th Inf area. With the measurement capabilities we had we determined that they were exactly the right size for the VC rocket strorage tubes. We had been having some trouble with rocket attacks so this appeared to be a viable target for the Inf to take.
The Lt and I went to my boss, a Major, and then to his boss, a Bird Col, and then to his boss, a One star. We all agreed that this was a good target. I coordinated the intelligence reports with the Divisional G-2 and set up the strike. I remember telling him it would be a walk in the park and they would find the rockets "ricked up like cord wood".
They sent two inf battalions and a mech battalion.
I got a call from the maddest man I have ever talked to on the telephone. He pointed out that the reason the tubes were "ricked up like cord wood" is that hey were cord wood.
They had carried out a picture perfect encirclement of a charcoal burning operation.
The General chewed the Col who chewed the Major who chewed me. I told the Lt to go somewhere and die.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Two weeks later he ran into my office with a handfull of photos. "Capt'n Capt'n" he yelled "look what I got".
I told him nothing he could possibly have would interest me since I still could not sit comfortably.
He was persuasive and got me to look at pictures of what appeared to be a roof line hidden in the jungle in a free fire zone.
With great trepredation I took him and the photos to the Major. You can imagine the reaction. Again we sold the idea and the three of us went to the Col. After much pleading he agreed to put one of his nightly interdicition (strikes put in on "suspected" enemy locations) bomber strikes on the location, but would not under any circumstance tell the General what we were doing.
To make a long story shorter, the area blew up and burned for days. Estimated 100 truck loads of ammo in a huge semi-underground bunker.

My next story will concern the 125 NVA Heavy Transportation Battalion (Elephant).
 

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You know, I reckon that we all have heard about what rolls downhill, but I expect that all of the brass ought to have had the lesson that I had as a young second balloon.

Several several years ago....My 31 year old platoon daddy(Iused to give him stuff about being old-how about that?) Lined out for me a plan, that looked great, met the objective, trained the soldiers, took care of the soldiers, ect. This man was good, and I smartly saw the wisdom in his plan, and pitched to the Captain.

The Captain was less than impressed, and needless to say, I left wearing my a** for a hat. I was a bit upset, not the way that a young butter bar needs to begin his day.

Well, as it began to roll down hill, SFC C. kind of Laughed, and said, "well Sir, you screwed up, you trusted me." I was about to cloud up and rain on my man there, when he taught me the lesson of the day.

" Seriously, Lieutenant, that was a good plan, and regardless of what the Captian says, I think it is still a good plan. I suggested it to you in an attempt to make the you, me, and the unit succeed, and in my mind, it would have worked.......but, when you accept the plan, it BECOMES YOUR PLAN, and your responsibility. That is one of the reasons why you are here."

If the one star had SFC C, as a platoon dad back in the day, reckon he would not have been so crazy about hanging somebody, and would have said to himself, "I saw rockets, too."

God Bless the NCO.

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
My mentor NCO was Master Sgt Key.
He braced to attention in front of my desk the second day I was in Germany and asked permission to speak. Since I was terrified of him and everyone that had been in for more than a couple of months, I said Yes.
He told me he thought I had potential and if I would let him , he would make an officer out of me. Best thing that ever happened to me in the Army. Saved my butt on many occasions.
 

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Old war stories!

Glad to see you commissioned types give some credit to them that wore stripes. Took a couple of butter bars under the wing myself, and they turned out to be excellent individuals and pretty good officers. Taught a couple of them to reload, and this old E-8 still hunts with a couple of them who hung it up with eagles on the collar. In reverse, had a couple of experiances with some that had no potential, and helped them find their way out of the military one way or the other befor they screwed up troops, or the mission. Good talking with ya! An old 1/Sgt!
 

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Ran into more than my share of butter bars. Most of them were the 90 wounder (blunder) type. Bout the only ones I got along with were the Annapolis grads. Somebody there told them they coundent walk on water, and they dint know anything till an enlisted taught them something. More than once had to explain to the ole man why I insulted one of the 90 day blunders by telling him I had socks that were older than he was. Had a mustang commander on a destroyer that woundent even let a butter bar set at the table with him. He started out at the bottom of the totem pole like the rest of us, made chief gunners mate then went LDO making Commander (as high as he could go). He spent 8 yrs in the Pentagon before somebody caught up with him. He knew everybody there was to know. Full Capts. use to give him a wide berth, cause he could get them transfered to someplace that they would have to pipe sunlight to them. Best CO I ever had in over 20 yrs in the Navy.

Gun Runner
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I know many of the new 2nd Lts had some inflated idea of their worth but most of the ones I associated with became good officers. We had more trouble with West Point grads than anyone else. One of the better young officers was a Texas A & M grad. Good man.

I was told early on that I could get away with trying to "work" senior officers and senior NCOs but to lay off of the WPO.(Warrant Officers Protective Association) They probably have more power over the careers of officers than any other group. Our Personnel Warrant (W-4) was the most feared individual in our unit. He had supposedly sent a young Capt to a weather station in North Africa in a previous unit.

When I went on active duty (61) we had a large group of old, bitter E-5s, E-6s and Captains. Most of them retired rather than go to VietNam. Helped the quality of the army a bunch. When VietNam heated up they took troops from us by the truckload. We lost every mess Sgt over E-5 in one weekend. Instead of replacements, they sent us stripes. Did some wild promotions. One out standing soldier went fro E-5 to E-7 in 90 days.

My Battalion commander went to his superiors and had our unit declared "non-combat ready". We had a Lt Col (Commander) 1 Capt (me) as S-1, S-2, S-3. 1 Capt Supply and Service Battery Commander, 1 2nt Lt Communications and Hqs, A, B, and C Batterys were commanded by 2 Lts. No NCO's over E-7 and they were newly promoted. We didn't even have enough trained drivers to move the unit. Pretty pathetic mess.
 

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Top Nichols, and all,

I think we are fortunate to have served with men that cared about us, cared about the unit, and the Army. These old time NCOs knew that if they didn't try to do something constructive with the young soldiers, commissioned or enlisted, then in the future it would be somebody else's much bigger problem, and their pride and professionalism kept that from happening.

The combination for success is then serving with individuals that display these qualities, and not being too full of oneself to listen to the people that have been around and have done the work. I have had mentors, commissioned and enlisted, but the ones that had the most impact were senior NCOs. You guys get the credit because you earned it.

Probably the one that deserves most of the credit (or blame) for me is 1SG W. He would solicit my "advice" on some topic, get me into his office, and school was in session.

I was always glad to give advice. Normally it was "well, yes.....", and "I see your point"....and my personal favorite...."I agree wholeheartedly". I wonder if that old man has any idea how much me giving him advice has helped me along, and what impact it has had on my soldiers in the 15 or so years since.

God bless the NCO.

Steve
 
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