4:45 | Stuart Jamison recalls observing the reality and immediacy of death as his unit assaults a Viet Cong company during the Second Phase Tet Offensive.
Keywords : radio shot casualties
Stuart Jamison recalls meeting Lt. Hetherington, Staff Sgt. Pinkham, Maj. Huynhl, Sgt. Maj. Tau and 200 hostile Viet Cong on his first day on the job as an advisor to Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) soldiers at Xa Xiem.
Stuart Jamison describes the effects of napalm on the enemy and the landscape during the Vietnam War.
Stuart Jamison talks about a time his unit cornered a Viet Cong Main Force Battalion during the Tet Offensive.
Stuart Jamison discusses the toll that casualties take on infantry units during combat.
Stuart Jamison talks about going into a particulary dangerous area of Vietnam and finding trouble.
Stuart Jamison remembers being caught behind a palm tree trunk while being fired upon by a Viet Cong.
Stuart Jamison describes treating a wounded fellow advisor in the open during heavy fire from Viet Cong forces on February, 18 during the Tet Offensive.
Stuart Jamison recounts the destruction of his battalion on February 26, 1968.
Stuart Jamison recalls the sights and sounds from patrolling the Korean Demilitarized Zone during the Cold War.
Incredible pictures from Stuart Jamison's experience in Xa Xiem and Rach Gia.
The opening pages of Stuart Jamison's gripping account of the life and death of his ARVN unit in Vietnam.
Stuart Jamison recounts his days in Xa Xiem during New Year's Eve and meeting his fellow officers, as well as coming face to face with death for the first time.
Stuart Jamison's dynamic account of the first day of the Tet Offensive, as well as the asssault on Rach Gia.
Stuart Jamison and his unit battle Viet Cong troops around Rach Gia and find themselves with a scared VC prisoner.
Stuart Jamison's personal account of a raid on a Vietnamese village to drive out the Viet Cong.
After some R&R in Hawaii, Jim Benson had duty with the battalion operations staff. This soon grew tiresome and he longed to get back into the field and command a platoon again. He was able to do that and more before he left Vietnam.
The RPG that severed Joe McDonald’s foot didn’t kill him. The machine gun fire that hit him as he still tried to help others didn’t kill him. The grenade taped to his hand might have killed him if the VC had found his hiding place.
In Vietnam, the stress was just the beginning. Jim Benson describes the emotional states of the grunt on the ground in Vietnam. The lessons he learned and the qualities in men he admired are valuable to him.
His platoon was defending the Tu Cau Bridge when a Viet Cong came walking down the road right toward the machine gun emplacement. "Chu hoi," came the cry from the injured Vietnamese fighter and Jim Benson took him in and questioned him. A successful operation followed, marred only by some errant artillery shells that killed some civilians. This enraged his medic, who was not allowed to remain and treat the wounded.
In a letter home, Tommy Clack expressed his worry that something bad was going to happen and it did when his unit engaged the NVA near the Cambodian border. He saw the enemy soldier stand and fire the RPG that changed his life forever.
As Marine Captain Ron Christmas fought to regain the city of Hue, he found the enemy adept at concealment and surprise. Every soldier in a spider hole was armed with a rifle and a RPG launcher. He also encountered a nun with an AK-47. His action during this time earned him the Navy Cross.
After failing for three days to ambush a Viet Cong supply run, Jim Benson's unit was finally getting some sleep when word came, Charlie was moving. He reached the scene and, following a blood trail, he was just turning back when someone spotted a cave entrance. Part 2 of 2.
On Go Noi Island, a Marine company would secure an area, the bulldozers would clear it up to that point, and the Marines would advance some more. After his company's week was done, Jim Benson was going to warn the relieving officers and Amtrac drivers to take a different trail because he had smelled the enemy's pungent fish sauce on the trail. He was too late.
It was the Sands of Iwo Jima with John Wayne that inspired Jim Benson enough to leave a job he loved, coaching high school football, and join the Marines. It was 1968 so it was certain he would go to Vietnam. After the new Lieutenant recovered from the heat when he walked off the plane, he was assigned a platoon. He was surprised at what supplies were being packed for patrol.
When the River Rats made the ocean run to fill up the fuel bladder they would carry upriver, it was party time. Through trading with sailors, they acquired the streaks, lobster and beer they need for a decent beach affair. After a night beside the South China Sea, it was up to Cambodia to deliver the goods.
It was his first patrol as a platoon leader and they were only a thousand yards out when Jim Benson encountered his first booby trap. He thought, is it this bad here? He found out that his platoon was not very disciplined, not even using flank security when moving. That all changed, but not before he lost a promising young corporal who ignored a basic rule.
After his Vietnam tour, Galen Foster returned to Fort Benning. He went from slogging through the jungle with muddy boots to spit and polish. He was assigned to an honor guard unit. One day his unit was sent to help a film crew and he wound up being in the film The Green Berets. He did not re-enlist and he reveals his only regret over that.
When he flew into Vietnam, John Wilhite could hear mortar fire as they landed. The men scrambled out of the plane and took cover in drainage ditches. They weren't even armed, so it was quite a welcome to Vietnam. The first stop was the mess hall where the food wasn't quite cooked and the cooks were missing.
The Provincial Reconnaissance Unit men were a rough bunch. They were locals recruited by the CIA to help identify and eliminate Viet Cong and they were working with Jim Benson's Marine platoon. After a successful ambush, he was disturbed to find what the PRU's did with the enemy bodies. What he found following a blood trail made him distrust his own eyesight.
John Weinig flew the A-1 Skyraider out of Pleiku in the central highlands of Vietnam. The missions were either close support for units on the ground or search and rescue missions. They were in the air every day, even if just waiting for a call.
Jim Benson's mission was to hold and guard the Tu Cau bridge. The work load on his men was heavy and he details the routine of patrols and ambushes, both day and night, that left the Marines exhausted. At the same time, he had to constantly train new replacements who had no combat knowledge.
They tried not to have any more than three boats together on the river, says John Wilhite, a member of the River Rats, a transportation company. Once when they had six in a line, the enemy detonated a thousand pound bomb underneath the second one. The boats were carrying fuel bladders and the resulting blast blew the water out of the river at that point. Less effective were the homemade rockets that were like big fireworks.
The platoon had just moved from the point position to the back of the column. Platoon leader Jim Benson walked up the column to speak to the next platoon's leader when the Viet Cong attacked and he was pinned down. One man rose to the occasion, Private Dewey, the unit's misfit.
The missions were continuous, one after the other. When they were out, they were totally alone, nowhere near any installations, so the River Rats had their food dropped right onto the boat by helicopter. John Wilhite's weapon was the M-60 machine gun and he used it both on the boat and in defensive positions on shore. Once, he overheated it and the breach popped up and smacked him in the face.
It was already late and Jim Benson had a river crossing to deal with. Once there, he called for the rope, a vital piece of gear for the crossing. Private Dewey had forgotten the rope. Private Dewey was a train wreck, but when the shooting started, he was the man you wanted by your side. The next day, after a sleepless night with the listening post reporting movement, they made a startling discovery.
Jim Benson had been in the field for a long time getting thin on K-rations, It only took a few beers to get him looped and that's exactly what happened on the next R&R. Good thing he had an excellent sergeant looking out for him.
Platoon Leader Jim Benson loved to have Private Dewey around in a firefight but he was also the company misfit. When a new battalion commander took the reins, he laid down the law about accidental discharges. As the unit formed up in the field during an operation, the commander was standing right there when Dewey approached, the M79 Grenade Launcher in his hand.
Jim Benson figured out that the Viet Cong were going into a village at night to visit women there so he came up with a good technique to get them coming out in the morning. Snipers would hide all night and set up before dawn to pick them off. This was working but two of the snipers got in trouble one morning and he set off with Doc Hargett to find them
They had good intelligence from the Vietnamese that the Viet Cong were making a supply run down from their mountain base. Jim Benson's platoon got to the area, set up an ambush, and waited. They never came. They didn't come the next day either and the sleep deprived platoon went out for a third try. Part 1 of 2.