6:38 | It was hard to find the enemy. Charlie would disappear into his holes and only come out once the Marines of Mike company had left. Richard Jackson's men tried probing the ground with sharp sticks, but they broke too easily. What they needed was steel. Thus was born the "Mike Spike." Part 1 of 2.
Keywords : Richard Jackson Vietnam North Vietnamese Army (NVA) Viet Cong (VC) tunnels spider hole Amtrac booby traps Punji Stick Mike Spike
He was going to try out for the Baltimore Colts but he also had a military obligation. Richard Jackson figured the hardy regimen of the Marines would improve his chances with the team so he joined and sought a commission.
He'd made a decision to always take training seriously and learn as much as he could about what he would face in the field, and when Richard Jackson got to Vietnam, it saved his life. As he was walking on patrol, he heard a click, something he'd heard in training, but this time, it was for real.
The first time he came under fire, it was rockets coming out of the DMZ. Richard Jackson got as deep into the foxhole as he could and the thought occurred to him, why the hell did I volunteer to come to Vietnam?
The Colonel told him he was going to take over Mike company. Get over there and straighten it out. Richard Jackson was glad to have a command and he got to Cam Lo by nightfall. He had just settled in when the NVA gave him a welcome.
To beat a guerrilla force, you had to become like them. That was one of Richard Jackson's realizations when he commanded a company of Marines up near the DMZ. He describes a life defining moment during a firefight, when he realized what it would take to be successful in this war.
His company command at the Cua Viet River was just the way Richard Jackson liked it. He was given free reign to take care of his area. He describes the tactics he used to fight the enemy and recalls one memorable fight in which his men and an NVA unit charged at each other in darkness.
While a visiting General looked on, the Marines of Mike company were using their improvised steel spikes to probe for booby traps and hiding holes. He was about to get an eyeful. Company commander Richard Jackson describes that incident and another, in which the Mike Spike was instrumental in locating the enemy. Part 2 of 2.
Company commander Richard Jackson tried to be as unpredictable as he could with his Marines, following no set pattern and changing tactics constantly. This worked so well that his unit received praise from up the chain of command.
When he was company commander at Cua Viet, Richard Jackson had great success in keeping the area clear of enemy. After his combat commands were finished and he was a staff officer, he was asked to visit the replacement unit and advise them. His journey there and back was worthy of a Hollywood movie.
Richard Jackson describes two very close calls he had in Vietnam, both involving Viet Cong guerrillas who emerged from holes in the ground.
It was his last combat operation. Richard Jackson's company of Marines was to be the lead attack company on an assault against the NVA near the DMZ. During the battle, he called in every kind of supporting fire available to penetrate a fortified village.
Richard Jackson recalls the time when he was stuck in a helicopter with a general observing the battle field while his company of Marines were getting battered down below. When he finally got down to the ground, he repositioned the unit with a mad dash downhill from their exposed position.
He'd considered having a longer career in the Marines, but when Richard Jackson returned from Vietnam, he decided to move on. The lessons he learned there would animate and inspire his business career.
Richard Jackson was enjoying football games at Camp Lejeune. His battalion was on alert when the word went out to deploy. Thinking it was another exercise, he was astonished to find himself on a plane to Cuba. Unknown to him, the Cuban Missile Crisis was in full swing. He made a fateful decision on that flight.
His first three year hitch was up and he was going to leave the Marine Corps, but he was offered an assignment in Hawaii. Not wanting to pass up a post in paradise, Richard Jackson accepted. After attending an elite jungle warfare school, he decided to advance his career, he needed some combat experience, so he put his name in for Vietnam.
During his second tour in Vietnam, Mike DiRocco would be performing many of the same duties, but this time they would be focusing on preparing the people to defend themselves as the Americans prepared to withdraw from Southeast Asia. He wouldn’t leave the country unscathed, though.
The destroyer had been off the coast of Vietnam for about a month when tragedy hit. One of the five inch gun mounts exploded in a freak accident. Al Stiles describes the chaotic aftermath as the sailors rushed to contain the fire and prevent further explosions.
It was over a hundred degrees and there was a garbage strike when Tom Grissom arrived in Saigon. After he got used to the aroma, he had to get used to a new kind of war, a war in which there were no battle lines and anyone could be an enemy. He had a desk job, but even in the compound where high ranking officers lived, there were booby traps.
Transportation officer Tom Pemberton's first job in Vietnam was at Tan Son Nhut Air Base taking care of cargo. Later, the Army inherited responsibility for the Saigon port from the Navy and he moved to that location. During the offloading of tanks from a ship, a crew member forgot some basic safety, with expensive results.
With one five inch gun mount out of commission, the USS Manley returned to duty off the coast of Vietnam. Al Stiles recalls the tragic death of a crewman from a sudden heart attack and, as the crew was getting over that, another bizarre accident caused the explosion of a second gun mount. Lightning had struck twice.
Curtis James returned from Vietnam to an assignment as director of personnel at Parris Island. This was the last post for the Marine Corps staff officer. His favorite was the Pentagon, where he initiated a brand new office to coordinate military crisis response.
During his first tour of Vietnam, medic Franklin Monroe was happy to be issued a .45 because it could get pretty dangerous when the compound was attacked. Eventually he sought out some heavier weaponry. He recalls those firefights and also the traumatic time a soldier stepped on a mine.
While transiting the Mediterranean, the USS Manley stopped in Crete, where the crew got some liberty and a taste of the local beverage, ouzo. Al Stiles recalls the potentially embarrassing departure from the port which became an apparently graceful bit of ship handling.
After he moved back to the Hanoi Hilton, Ellis was actually elected by his fellow prisoners to be one of their French professors following one prisoner's demand to have a custom education program put in place. He mentions how he moved around a lot before his eventual release on March 14, 1973.
During the second deployment of the USS Manley to Vietnam, the destroyer was called on to use its guns to breach the wall in the old city of Hue without harming the palace within. Two other ships had failed, but Al Stiles directed the fire that accomplished the mission. The Manley was getting a reputation as the go-to destroyer for precise fire.
Curtis James was the first officer in charge of a Pentagon effort to manage crises during the Cold War. It was a brand new office inside the giant headquarters and, after running that for a while, he served in Vietnam at MACV in Saigon, managing the logistics of the war effort.
Collins describes in detail what it was like to finally be allowed to return home, from the final sign out of the prisoner of war camp to the ride back and touching back down on American soil. Sadly, his wife was fairly cold to him when he got back. He gives his final reflections and words of advice to generations forthcoming.
In 1965, the first Marines were landing in Vietnam and that fall Andy Boyko would be one of them. Stationed at ASP-1 (Ammunition Supply Point), he was tasked with protecting the ammo dump as American forces began to set up in country. After a few months, he’d get some of his first incoming, and then the war would take a serious turn.
Ellis talks about the type of propaganda he heard in Hanoi, Vietnam all the time. In fact, the Lieutenant Colonel who was cooperating too much with the enemy only made things worse for the other prisoners when he helped aid in the spreading of the propaganda. During this time, Senator John McCain was captured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam as well.
Mike DiRocco joined the Army specifically to join Special Forces, and if they weren’t going to take him, he didn’t want to stick around. As expected, they were looking for only the most serious individuals to fill their ranks, and the standards were set high.
Collins talks about his all important assignment to the Air Force Academy, training the first three classes, and what that was like for him as an instructor. He recounts one particular student who preferred not to be there, and Collins had a back and forth with the student's mother about it.
Ellis shares more miscellaneous stories of his days as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. He covers what he and the other prisoners did from day to day, as well as the first laugh they all shared together. Since everyone was on edge all the time, it had been three whole months in captivity before they felt comfortable enough to laugh with each other.
The Marine tank unit, along with some Marine infantry, was sweeping north when they encountered Viet Cong, who were well hidden in a trench. It was there that Milo Plank witnessed the heroics of Cpl. Robert O'Malley, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during this battle.
Andy Boyko was one of the first troops in Vietnam, but by the time he'd go on his second tour, the entire war had changed. The fighting was fiercer, and the enemy more intense. He describes the tenacity by which the VC and NVA fought against the Americans.
At the POW camp in Son Tay, Vietnam, Ellis had to do plenty of different jobs to essentially clean up after himself and the other prisoners, and would rotate jobs frequently. After two whole years of being there, he got to write a letter back home to let them know he was okay. He remembers a few unfortunate death stories from the POW camp, and a few where some men attempted to escape. He himself never attempted escape, though.
After Ellis was captured, he was put in a barn-like building. During that time the North Vietnamese had a "political pep-rally" to celebrate the capture of these American pilots, and it was the duty of their guards to make sure that they got to Hanoi.
Being embedded into the deep jungles of Southeast Asia, Mike DiRocco and a dozen other Americans were tasked with defeating the Viet Cong with the help of the native tribes of Montagnards. To assist them, they were supplied using the CIA’s clandestine airline, Air America.