8:33 | 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.
Keywords : Ron Christmas Hue Tet Offensive Navy Cross spider hole AK-47 B-40 rocket launcher RPG Willie Peter round mortar flag hospital human intelligence VC Viet Cong nun tank armor
Naval ROTC graduate Ron Christmas took a Marine commission and headed to Camp LeJeune where he learned basic facts of leadership. One is that you share all hardships with your men. Another, unique to the Marines, is that everyone is trained as a rifleman.
Platoon leader Ron Christmas was a stickler for training, even on his first deployment, and all his men who were up for promotion passed their test. From the Mediterranean, he went to the Caribbean, where a beautiful sunset changed his life.
When Ron Christmas was assigned to the Marine Barracks in Washington, he was surrounded by tradition at the Marines' oldest post. It was there that he met Blackie, a most unusual member of the garrison.
When Ron Christmas was assigned to Vietnam, he was so excited to be going that he studied the Vietnamese language at his own expense. When he arrived in country, he reluctantly took the command of a service company.
New Company commander Ron Christmas found lax discipline when he arrived at An Hoa base. This was something he could fix because he loved training, that and his 106mm recoilless rifle.
When Gen. Westmoreland decided to move around and reinforce certain units in Operation Checkers, Captain Ron Christmas found himself just outside of the city of Hue in a camp where hostiles owned the high ground.
Believing there would be an uprising among the populace, Ho Chi Minh and Gen. Giap planned a general offensive for the Tet New Year in 1968. There was no uprising, but Ron Christmas would see some of the nastiest fighting of the war as a result.
What Marine Captain Ron Christmas knew, as he assembled a relief convoy, was that action was reported in Hue. What he and others didn’t know was that the North Vietnamese Army had infiltrated the entire city.
Marines were trained for jungle warfare in Vietnam, but Captain Ron Christmas found himself in a house-to-house urban battle in Hue. He prevailed using lance corporal ingenuity and PFC power, along a handy 106mm recoilless rifle.
As Ron Christmas fought to capture the Capitol building in the battle for Hue, the sight of an enemy flag angered him. Even though it was forbidden, as soon as he secured the site, he raised an American flag to boost the morale of his men.
Always looking for a bit of humor for relief, Captain Ron Christmas and his men had some fun in a posh toy room in a captured mansion. What they found in another well appointed house was an eye-opening stash of brandy. Both were great morale boosters.
Ordered to take ground across a bridge in Hue, Captain Ron Christmas used a barrage of smoke rounds to cover a dash across the span. After holding long enough to move across vital units, he found that his men were disappointed they had to withdraw.
It was Friday the Thirteenth when a North Vietnamese soldier fired an RPG at Ron Christmas. Dodging a direct hit, his legs were wounded badly enough to cause his evacuation. Unfortunately, he became lost in the medical system.
Ron Christmas tells the story of a Marine who kept getting wounded, and kept returning to battle because he couldn't desert the men that he considered to be his brothers. That, he says, is the true meaning of Semper Fidelis.
Under the rules of the Marine Corps at the time, Ron Christmas should have been discharged after he was wounded in Vietnam. As he recovered his strength, he was able to avoid a medical exam until he got in line with some inductees.
Marine Ron Christmas reflects on the basic principles of urban warfare, which he learned on the fly in the battle for Hue. He felt blessed in his later career as he received many rewarding assignments.
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 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.
Battalion commander Ralph Puckett recounts the story of a night long attack by Viet Cong and NVA Regulars on a position held by one of his companies. He was grateful they had a Forward Observer to co-ordinate artillery support and helicopters for resupply, things he lacked in Korea. For his leadership during this attack, Puckett was awarded a second Distinguished Service Cross.
It was nearly time to go home and Ralph Puckett was trying to rally his successor's spirits while showing him around the battalion's operations. Rely on your experienced men, that was his key point. His homecoming was bittersweet because his father was very ill but he was joyous to be reunited with his wife and children.
Jim Wilson explains the team structure of a Special Forces unit. He was a team leader in Vietnam, working to convince people that Communism was not beneficial for them. He says they were succeeding, until the government intervened, not the South Vietnamese government, the American government. While living and fighting with the Montagnard people, he made them a solemn promise.
He already had a pretty significant career, but Ralph Puckett went to Vietnam as a battalion commander and didn't waste any time getting into the field. His first matter of business was to assure his unit commanders that he had their backs.
George bailey describes Ash and Trash missions. He describes these missions as beneficial and excellent learning tools that aiding him in learning how to manage the use of an aircraft. He also gives an overall inside look at his experience in Vietnam and the different locations he traveled to.
Through his four tours in Vietnam, Special Forces Team Leader Jim Wilson got very good at his job. It helped that he loved the country and the people, even taking a Montagnard girl for his bride. He developed a healthy respect for his main adversaries, the North Vietnamese Army.
It was better to put men in the field and leave them there. That was the philosophy of Battalion commander Ralph Puckett in Vietnam, where some commanders inserted and then quickly withdrew their troops. When the operation was over, the reward was beer and steak and ice cream. Being prepared was very important to him and he illustrates that principle with a story about some soldiers who were not.
A warrior studies the country and the culture he will be operating in, says Green Beret Jim Wilson. This led him to attend Vietnamese festivals and study martial arts in Buddhist temples, as well as living with Montagnards with his team. His only regret? The pullout ordered from above.
The Green Berets thought they were protecting the Montagnard people, but it turned out to be the other way around. Jim Wilson was adopted by them in a ceremony and says that they were like family. For four years, he was one of them. Their weapons were AK-47's. The distinctive sound of an American weapon would have focused enemy fire right on them.
Robert Goddard describes raids into North Vietnam and the devastation caused by the Miniguns, M60 Machine Gun and 2.75" rockets being fired from his Huey UH-1D. Robert tells stories of rescue missions to extract Navy SEALs and Green Berets as well as the constant fear of contaminated fuel.
George bailey Briefly addresses interservice rivalry between the army and the Air force. He also explains what a “slick” pilot is and shares a story in which, while on his first mission, he was shot in the tail boom.
After seven years of military school and four years at the Citadel, it was assured that Jim Wilson would serve in the military, but it was his desire to challenge himself that led him to Special Forces. The rigorous training produced elite troops with elite skills, skills that would be needed in Vietnam.
After completing Mobile Riverine Force Training in California, Terry Sater is sent to Vietnam and assigned to the River Assault Squadron 13 River Division 131. As a 20mm gun operator, Terry describes being ambushed while serving aboard an armored Troop Carrier in the Mekong Delta.
After leaving Vietnam, Robert Goddard reflects on the comradery he developed with his fellow soldiers. In addition, Robert talks about the movie Good Morning Vietnam and how he use to listen to the Armed Forces Radio while flying combat missions over North Vietnam.
Green Beret Jim Wilson recalls his first combat experience in Vietnam during which his eight man A-Team harassed a division of the enemy. Stealth was a big part of their work and he reveals why his team had an extra advantage. His specialty was Psychological Warfare and one of his tactics involved sneaking into an enemy camp and leaving a single feather.