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Book captures tales of Vietnam War battles

by ROGER GREGORY Contributing Writer
| November 23, 2022 1:00 AM

There is a book out, "Battles in the Monsoon". I had purchased in 2005, now reading for the second time.

One thing on the plus sign of getting old and forgetting things, is that I read books like this and it is all new to me. The book was by S.L.A. Marshall and was printed in 1967. It is probably the best first-hand reporting that I have read or seen on battles in Vietnam.

It takes place over a three-month period of time in 1966, the time I was there. Only this action was up north in the highlands, while I was down south. It talks of being in jungle so thick with overgrowth and trees, you couldn’t see 5 yards. In one case, a soldier was being shot at from just 10 feet away, and he didn’t the person shooting.

An example for those who aren’t familiar with the military, on May 23, the troops were lifted out of their base camp at An Khe. They went well loaded, every man carried ten full magazines of ammo, four fragmentation grenades, one claymore mine and one trip flare. In addition six meals of C rations (these were from World War II of which we had eaten for a couple of months when we got there). Counting his rifle, bayonet, water and extra socks, etc, each man was carrying about 55 pounds — and this was in extreme heat.

Led by 2nd. Lt. Holland, the platoon  walked through the jungle for 30 minutes to reach the ambush site. They finished setting up their ambush at 2030, Sgt. Holland saw the enemy first, they were not more than 30 feet away, walking right toward them.

They blew off two claymores and threw grenades. After that it got quiet, in the morning, they were to supervise the body count and retrieve weapons,  but it was hard to do. Most of the bodies had been blown apart by the blast. Arms, legs, and heads had been scattered over a wide space. But they figured, 15 of the NVA had walked into their ambush as they picked up 15 rifles.  Only one American had been wounded in the action. This was a successful ambush, others did not go so well.

Roger Gregory is a Vietnam veteran, serving in the 1st Infantry Division, and is business owner in Priest River.

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