May 30, 1970 near O Rang
Anyone who was there on that rain soaked ridge in Cambodia will, of course, never forget. They would never forget seeing the RPG’s and stick grenades that came flying from the treeline when the shooting started, or the way the Cobra gunships came diving in firing rockets, multi-barreled gatling guns (“miniguns”), and cannons.
Doc Schramm has related his memories from that day to me many times. I admit what he says is true…
Cossey’s squad was on point that day and those guys (me included) were in a tight spot. We had just crossed over an exposed ridge on part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. And we were simply looking for a place to hide out and spend the night. We walked into an NVA “O.P.” -Observation Post- or defensive position bordering a bunker complex. And we were now exposed in a grassy area below the ridge. Hard to say how many NVA there were. There were plenty of grenades flying.
I’ve told the story before on this blog in VC Knife, but I left out Doc’s favorite part. My M-16 had jammed with a smashed cartridge case wedged behind the bolt and I couldn’t get it out. Martin was up front with his M-60 and I started linking fresh belts to his machine gun as he fired long bursts into the treeline. Coz had fired most of his AK ammo and took the grenade launcher away from Delmer, who was hiding in the grass. I took Cossey’s AK with the one mag left and ran back down the trail to get more M-60 ammo. I should mention this was a time filled with great emotion; I was God’s own desperate man on earth, but also filled with the joy of being alive. I stop when I see Doc.
Bird: Doc, let me have your peashooter! You can have the AK! (Doc looked doubtful)
Doc: How much ammo is there? (Looking at the AK)
Bird: There’s one mag.
I was a desperate man and having a working rifle with a 30 round magazine in it was comforting to me. It hadn’t occurred to me that it might well be empty. I took the mag out…there were two rounds, assuming one in the chamber…that makes three. OK, it doesn’t look like a very good trade. Doc, it’s for the greater good, the survival of Brer Bird for one. There’s no time to ‘splain that shit right now!
Can I get a witness?
So that day, May 30, 1970, Mark Schramm gave his U.S. gov’t issue weapon, a clean, well oiled M16 rifle to Specialist E4 David Adams. With 400 rounds of ammo, I might add! He then received a Chinese made weapon, an AK-47 of questionable value & 3 rounds of ammo.
The fight went on, the war went on. Earlier that day, Tim “Salty” Brown had been killed in action. LT (Szczebak), Coz, Martin and Ski were wounded in that firefight on the ridge near a nameless Montagnard village. LT was the only one requiring medavac. The day can be remembered for many reasons; Salty’s unexplained behavior and wound, Mother hauling him back to our perimeter and Doc’s valiant attempt to save him. My first face to face encounter with the NVA. I was lucky. We were lucky. Lucky it was raining harder than one can imagine and lulling the gook lookout into dropping his guard. The “Blue Max”, the gunships flying out in that soup. Wow, they can fly in this stuff! And they dive out of the sky like bombers coming in …pounding the NVA! The Cambode scout, Sol, running up the trail to Cossey’s squad with more M-60 ammo. It needs to be remembered for all those things, but also remember the medic who carried more ammo than some infantrymen and gave it up for the greater good.