Bu Gia Map
Late in April 1970
I had been out with Echo Recon for hardly more a month at most, but was now used to the routine.
The routine patrol…the “poppy”; out & back, hopefully without any trouble. Point man, in this case, the Stallion. R. Springer followed by Cossey as back up, then a rifleman, Hammonds with the M-60. Delmer with the M-79, an RTO & several riflemen walking drag; watching to see if anyone was following. In the other squad it would have been Dob on point, followed by Cossell & Suzie. Martin on the M-60. I believe Rock was RTO. Douma & Turkey were riflemen. When the whole platoon was in file, moving to a new objective, one squad would take the point followed by the Hqs. Squad with the Lt., in this case, Jenkins. Also a medic (Chico or Doc Schramm), Mother as battalion RTO, an FO (Hutch or Wayne Roe). Platoon Sgt was Fred Corn, but a new E6, Leigh Livermore had joined Recon also. Roxy, Twardowski & I were riflemen in Cossey’s squad, but Ski and I carried the radio at times. The first time I met Coz he handed me the radio & said, “Carry this.” Just another 25 lbs. I believe it was about this time that Bob Hayden had returned from Sniper school.
We were also accompanied by three Kit Carson Scouts. All Cambodes; Chau Saon, Chau Slne, and Duong Sol. They were all related. Chau Saon & Chau Slne being uncles to Sol.
Unexpectedly one day, we were instructed to get to a suitable LZ on the double. We were being “extracted” by helicopter to assemble with the rest of the battalion. The old hands were excited & convinced that the battalion was headed for “stand down”. A chance to clean up, relax & take a well earned breather & of course, drink beer. They said the only time the battalion had assembled in the past was for stand down.
Well, we were flown to an old French grass/dirt airstrip at a town called Bu Gia Map. What a name! (Boo Gee Ma) We weren’t going on stand down at all. We were to assault the border sanctuaries in Cambodia along with our whole Brigade, the 25th Inf. & the 11th Armored Cav.
Bu Gia Map is in Viet Nam’s former Binh Long province near the border with Cambodia in an area known as the Fishhook. The Cambodian border juts into VN there like a sharp point. And as the crow flies, the point is not more than 80 miles from Saigon. American intel indicated the southern communist Hqs. was in this area. That would be COSVN-Central Office for South Vietnam. The command & control for all of the communist forces in south Viet Nam.
As dusk fell, everyone found a place to sleep scattered around the airstrip. The weather was good & we could rest on our gear without having to rig shelters. Everyone talked quietly about the prospects for tomorrow. I have to admit I had no more profound thoughts, than, “Damn! We’re in for it now!” And forget the hot showers & beer. I was excited to be taking part in a major operation & the prospect of taking on the NVA in battle. I had enough experience to feel comfortable in my role as infantryman, but without any illusions…I just wanted to survive.
Just at dark there was a single rifle shot! Everyone who wasn’t already down, immediately dropped. What’s going on? As it turned out one Skytrooper was not going with us. Word spread through the resting soldiers; someone shot himself in the foot!
Well the outlook did look dicey & l’m sure the short timers were apprehensive. Looking back at that moment now & trying to remember who was there…I wondered how many had been wounded in the following two months? Please add to the list/comment if I am leaving anyone one out.
Robert Cossey ( X 2 )
Terry Fauquher ( X 3 counting previous wounds in VN )
Leon Anderson (Friendly Fire)
David Browning (Friendly Fire)
“Ski” Twardowski (X 2)
Of those who joined Recon later.
Matthew McGough (Lt.)
“Kansas” Howard McMicheal
“Red” Daniel Gadwa
Even though Tim “Salty” Brown was not in Recon that day, l’m certain he would have been at Bu Gia Map with Bravo Co.