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.
Collins tells stories of how that one nice North Vietnamese gentleman continued to help him by bringing him small things like snacks, water, and eventually even beer. The guards demanded to know who was the most 'senior' out of the American prisoners captured. Even though Collins wasn't the most senior, he selflessly took the fall for it every day.
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.
It was a while before the Army could conduct a hoist rescue mission to get Knisely and his co-pilot out of enemy territory. After he was rescued, he was admitted into the 85th Hospital for his ankle injuries. While in recovery he was approached by an Army clerk to get out of the Army, to which he declined, fought to stay in and tried to get back on flight status.
After his first round of training, Collins reported to Nellis Air Force Base for advanced jet gunnery school. Unfortunately, he injured his back in the middle of his training. Despite that hiccup, he was tasked with training the first three classes and working base operations. While trying to apply for a regular position in the Air Force, there was one stubborn man who wouldn't let him finish the process.
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 rivers were vital pathways for the movement of enemy personnel, arms, and supplies, so monitoring them at all times was crucial to maintain security in the area. To do that, patrolling the rivers at night was a necessary part of the job. Phil Mayrand describes the terror of moving at night, where the deep foliage kept everything concealed in darkness.
While locked away in a POW camp, Ellis says that the guards were armed around the clock with AK-47s, but were not allowed to hurt prisoners unless they tried to directly escape. He does remember one time, however, when a prisoner got in deep trouble for crafting a makeshift American flag inside his prison cell.
Upon the request of the NVA running the prisoner of war camp, Collins was asked to form a choir along with other musically inclined prisoners. While they were practicing, they set it up so that there was a hidden message for the American audience watching; spilling information about the POWs.
Ben Knisely was born in Indiana on a farm, but moved to Osprey, Florida at a very young age. His father was a Corpsman in the US Navy. After attending the University of South Florida, Knisely went to Fort Sam Houston for basic training as part of the Medical Service Corps. Following that he went to Fort Wolters for flight training, where he remembers having engine trouble during a solo flight.
He arrived in the middle of the monsoon season. Everywhere was deep mud, but Henry Templin learned that you could travel a little and it would be hot and dry. He started as an ammo bearer and quarreled with the gunner in his squad, which was why he was glad to transfer to a rifle squad.
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.
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.
Collins went to command staff school, where he got to fly the F-104 Starfighter airplanes. He also remembers that it was around this time that the Cuban missile crisis was going on. Soon after, he became so good at flying the F-104s that he became the instructor pilot for incoming trainees.
Roger Cox wasn't flying that day, but another helicopter pilot from his unit ran into an ambush when he popped over a hill and the enemy on the ground were waiting for him. He was shot up pretty good, but managed to make it back to base where Cox got him to smile about it.
When his return date from Europe was coming up, Collins decided to fly the giant F-105 planes as his next military chapter. He flew over Japan and was sent to Southeast Asia after. He spent some time in Takhli, Thailand, where he constantly had to check his boots for snakes before putting them on.
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.
Colonel Quincy Collins was born in Winnsboro, South Carolina. His father was in the furniture business and had three separate locations across the country before becoming a member of the Civil Air Patrol during WWII. Collins wound up going to The Citadel for school since he had some connections there through music departments.
Neville Kirby was born in Coronado, California. Her father served in the Army in both the Pacific and Europe, and she also had siblings who served in the military. When she was old enough she went through years of nursing school, then decided that she wanted to join the military herself as a nurse. She went to San Antonio, Texas for her basic training, then to Fort Carson to continue her medical training for the Army.
Collins went to military school at The Citadel. Upon being admitted, he immediately sought out the school's band and auditioned for that. He talks about the types of tests he had to take to get into the Air Force, and how he was instructed to report to Sampson Air Force Base in New York afterwards.
Kirby gives the specifics of her basic training, and what her trip over to Vietnam was like once she volunteered. She was sent to Phu Bai, Vietnam the day after Christmas. She talks about the different people she worked with and what her day to day living conditions were like.
Roger Cox was woefully unaware of the wider world when he was plunked down in Vietnam as a wide eyed nineteen year old. Why was there a swastika on that building? Why the strange reaction from one of the workers on the base when he met her on the street?
On Christmas Eve of 1965, Collins and all of the other POWs in his area, were moved around to their respective cells of one or two people each. He remembers trying to communicate with men in other cells, which proved to be harder than it sounds. Eventually, they were regrouped again in Hanoi, Vietnam into groups of five men per cell.
Lee Ellis concludes his vast amount of stories from Vietnam to share all the things he learned from being held captive in a prisoner of war camp for so long. He describes what leadership is to him, and how you can still have influence on the people around you even if you aren't the one in charge.
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.
After he was done with his time at the Air Force Academy, Collins flew over to Europe. He talks about his first few days there, as well as becoming camp commander. Later on, he would go to be interviewed to be an aid for General Frank Everest.
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.
Collins talks about his crazy interview with General Frank Everest, and how he got the job almost instantly because of how well they connected. Around this time, his first son was born. After the General retired, he went to chief of staff school at Maxwell Air Force Base.