Ed "Spooky" Nored
RVN Sep 69 - Sep 70
(note: if you click on the day it will take you to the copy of the "Daily Officers Log" for that day)
10-8-69 (1st day in the boonies)
(Nored) Eklund, Doyle and myself have gone from Quan Loi to L.Z. Deb and have finally arrived at L.Z. Jerrie ( see photos above) where we hook up with Delta company. We moved off the copter and walked over to the dirt burm that stood about 4-5 feet high and encircled the entire base. We were told by someone to wait here and that our company would soon be landing. A small amount of time passed when off to our left in the horizon the faint "wop wop" sound of helicopters could be heard. They soon appeared one by one popping up over the tree line and began landing about 100 feet from us. Dismounting from the copters and walking towards the burm was the filthiest bunch of bums I had ever seen. They all had this alien look about them. Their packs and equipment seem to be growing out of them. Nobody looked or carried their gear the same. Many had beards and all of them walked like old men slouched over to counter the enormous weight that grew from their backs. Their clothes were ripped and torn soiled with dirt, spotted with mud and soaked with sweat. Their dark tanned skin was spotted with a varied amount of soars cuts and lacerations mingled with healing scabs. And standing among them with gleaming white skin and brand new, fresh from Oakland Army base, fatigues was 3 of the newest guys you'd ever seen. "Cherries", "F.N.G.'s", "Fanugies" whatever nickname you want to use we were to Delta company the fucking new guys.
"Where you from back in the world?" Was what we heard mostly from a variety of the guys. Everybody was hoping to find somebody from his own hometown. I was extremely nervous that day and the days to follow. I think everybody hated being a new guy. I was told by someone that I was going to 3rd platoon and someone yelled to a guy named "Tennessee" to come on over and get the new guy. I believe he told Doug Gorton or Loren Dolge to baby-sit me the first few days out in the bush. About an hour later we boarded some copters and took off for the bush. I was sitting on the floor in the center doing my best not to look like a new guy. But there was no way around it I reeked of "newness". Soon the copter headed for the jungle below and sunk below the tree line into a large clearing. I remember another copter to our rear beginning to land. The people on the sides of the copter had exited and I vary nervously worked my way to the edge of the doorway swung my legs around and over the side realizing the copter hadn't landed but instead was hovering about 6-8 feet off the ground which was covered with about 4 feet of grass. I placed my feet on the skids of the bird and was also conscious of the fact that I was doing all of this very slowly. I looked over the side then looked at the door gunner at my left hoping he might tell me to wait while we lowered the bird a little lower. His facial expression and hand gesture was quite clear and I jumped to the grass below, which of course had 3 feet of water in it. But I didn't fall. To this day I remember saying "don't fall Ed!" I all ready felt a fool with new clothes on. I wasn't about to let these guys see me fall flat on my face the first day out. Even with the pack on my back and blast of wind coming from the main rotor blade of the copter as it took off I managed to keep standing. As I took a quick glance around I didn't see anyone and started to become quite alarmed and mad at my baby sitter with I soon spotted a figure in the tree line gesturing to me. I sloshed my way over to him and soon the company was moving in a single file thru the bush. As we moved along breaking the bush I was clumsy and seem to catch my gear on everything. I remember I was in a mild state of disbelief. I looked around at the other guys and the environment in which I had been absorbed and could not honestly believe that this was what I had to look forward to in my remaining 11 months. It was getting dark fast and we finally came to a location where we formed a parameter and set up our night location. (night-lo). Unfortunately our side of the parameter was on the side of a hill. They told me it was getting to late to start showing me the night routine and I would not even have to pull guard that night. I simply ate a can of food, blew up my air mattress and tried to sleep. It started to rain later and I did not have a hooch up or even knew how to make one. I simply pulled my rubber poncho over me and did my best to keep dry. All night I dreamed about anything and everything. Man I was miserable and depressed and felt quite alone. I didn't know any of these guys. I was scared of screwing up. Scared maybe someone else would get killed due to some stupid mistake I would make. After all that training I felt at that moment that I didn't know a damn thing.
(Nored) Delta Company saddles up heavy and moves out about 08:15. We move till we come to a stream. Its about 0900. We form a parameter and fill our canteens. We saddle up and move out again. I believe at some time we moved onto a trail. At about 1000 the point man opens up with a short burst of fire. No one has to tell me to hit the ground. I'm already there. I can barely move though, because I still have the pack on. Looking much like a turtle or at least that's how I felt. The point man has had what they simply call a "meeting" with the enemy. You will read of this circumstance many times in the diary and in the Duty Officers Logs. The majority of the time the enemy turns and gets the hell out of the area. He has no idea what he has run into or how big the size of our force is. The problem is he may retreat back down the trail to a bunker complex and if the size of his force is big enough they'll wait for us there and take us on having the advantage of being in a defensive position and familiar terrain. No further contact is made as we moved down the trail. We eventually found a storage hooch with 1500 lbs of rice and salt. We poured kerosene over it and burned it up. See photo below.
10-10-69 Boonies. (log day) Log bird is Chicken Man 172
(Nored) This info is both from memory, my letters and the Duty Officers Log. At some point today the company gets logged. ( See all 3 photos below taken during the log ) The company is still on a main trail and at 1055 as we move down it a meeting or ambush takes place with 4-8 of the enemy and a fire fight erupts. An enemy claymore type mine may have been detonated. The DOL reports Delta company has 2 wounded in action. The wounds may have been superficial since there was no request for a medavac logged in the DOL. The enemy broke contact and departed the area. Delta moves down the trail till we find a good sized ammo cache. See entry # 26 on the DOL for list of explosives in cache. I am fairly certain we blew up the cache the next morning.
(DOL / Charly Co.) Elsewhere in our A.O. Our sister company, "C" Charlie, was busy being airlifted out of the bush when one of the lift birds crashes. Steve Wilson of Charlie remembers the following." We had to cut a landing zone out of the jungle for the lift birds to come in. It was very tight for the pilots. They came in and had to hover and then drop straight down. One of the birds hit a tree with its tail and then Boom! It came crashing down and then later I think it burst into flames. It was my first time putting people in body bags." DOL lists 4 KIA and 2 WIA. Charly company eventually made it to Quan Loi and went on a 3 day R&R at the V.I.P. center at Quan Loi.
Oct.10th. continued. It is getting late in the day. I do not remember if we had stayed close to the cache or had moved a short distance away. We set up our night lo in an area with tall trees with scattered ground vegetation. It was quite easy to clear a spot to sleep. During the process of putting out our trip flares I accidentally set one off. It popped like a firecracker and began glowing brightly. This was a huge mistake. In seconds it was kicked out. I will always remember the looks of the 3rd. platoon men. All letting me know with tacit looks how they felt about me being careless. We settled down for the night and all was quiet until artillery rounds began whistling over our location and impacting a short distance away. This started about 22-2300. A short time passed and we could hear a Huey orbiting high above us. It began dropping flares over us, casting eerie shadows among the trees. Then jet fighters showed up and began making bomb, gun and rocket firing runs over our head on the same area that arty was firing at. I'm sure that the flares being dropped on our location was to make sure the pilots knew where the friendly forces were at and also as a reference point. As I laid there on the air mattress it was very exciting to listen to all of it. It lasted till about 0100 and then all went quiet. Over the years I had wondered what it had all been about .Looking at the DOL for Oct. 10th. All of the shelling may have had something to do with item # 27. The famous 1/9th Cav. has 3 helicopters down. It mentions a lift ship and 2 LOH birds (nicknamed "loach") have gone down and 2 squads are in contact. One or more was brought down by G/A (ground to air fire). All of the fire support may have been in support of these 1/9th units fighting to secure their wounded and dead around the downed copters. Another reason for the arty and air strikes may have been that an accumulation of intelligence and contacts with U.S. forces had lead to the conclusion that a large concentration of N.V.A. were in a particular area and justified a good hit.
(Nored) The company returns to the enemies ammo bunker/cache and sets explosives. When it came time to blow it and word was passed around to put your helmet on and find cover, I remember being concerned. Since I didn't have any experience in being around things that "blew up" I looked around to see what others were doing to prepare. As it turned out my concern was bigger then the explosion. One big boom and it was over. We immediately returned to more hunting, searching and patrolling. Later in the day our platoon got lost and one of us had to bang 2 of our helmets together once or twice so the guys back at the patrol base could guide us back in.
(Nored) The company saddles up heavy and moves down a trail that we have been working. We come to a stream and set up a parameter and everyone takes their turn at filling their canteens. After this task is completed our platoon (3 rd ) moves down the trail. (to date I can't remember if we moved out heavy or were simply going out on a patrol light.) My squad was right behind the point squad as we continued down the enemy trail. From my letters and memory I remember only that gunfire was heard up front as the enemy opened up on the point squad. (Jeff Croston says he remembers a claymore type mine being detonated on the trail with nobody getting hurt.) All of us hit the ground. The point squad is returning fire. Lying there on the trail I glanced over to Doug Gorton (Also known as "Gorty" or "Dirty Doug".) who is lying on the trail about 10 to 15 feet away. I watched as tracer bullets (that's the type that glow red.) traveled about 15 inches above his head. Crossing the trail at an angle. I looked at Doug and he looked at me but I don't think he realized what had happened. I remember the bullet looked like it was traveling in slow motion. Word was passed back to us to get ready to move and a second later I followed Doug as he got up following the man ahead of him. We moved off to the left of the trail. No more gunfire could be heard as we moved up. We stayed spread out and all of us were slouched over. Believe me when the shooting starts if we physically could have run or waked and still have kept our chins an inch off the ground we would have. The sharp crack of the enemies weapon was heard again and all of us hit the ground and opened fire. Without even thinking I went thru 3 magazines just firing into the bush. I never did see the enemy but the sound of his AK47, that miserable "crack" sound it made, made a lasting impression on everyone who has heard it. We soon formed a parameter and called the artillery and gun ships in. We suffered no casualties that day nor do I believe we killed any enemy. All I was happy with was knowing I did what I was supposed to do and didn't freeze up. My confidence factor rose quite a bit that day.
The DOL provides this additional information after the shooting stopped. We moved into the bunker complex and found 6 bunkers, 8 bikes and a small bike repair hooch filled with bike parts. We destroyed all except one bike. I dont know for sure but we might have kept one bike and shipped it out on the next log.
10-13-69 Boonies / Log day. Designated log bird is "Ghostrider # 912. The number of people in Delta company at this time is 88 (entry 28).
(Nored) We are still on the enemy trail and continue till we find another bunker complex. Among the bunkers we find a hooch with 9 bicycles under the thatched roof. We find another 16 tied to a tree. Explosives are set and we destroy the bikes. We then proceeded with getting resupplied. (From undated letter to parents. which also mentions finding the ammo cache earlier.)
(Nored/DOL) Between 0930 and 1200 Delta company was extracted from the field and taken to Ellen where they were transferred to Chinooks and flown to Quan Loi for parameter guard. 14 sorties with the "Hueys" and then 3 sorties with the Chinooks.
10-15-69 D company Quan-Loi
10-16-69 D company Quan-Loi
(Nored) The next 10 color photos from slides are from Arlyn Perkey of 3rd platoon. All were taken at Quan Loi as Delta pulled quard duty on the parameter surrounding the base.
10-17-69 D company Quan-Loi
(Nored) My squad ( Tennasee's)gets to pull security for the mine sweepers. There was a road that left the compound at Quan Loi that went to the dumps. It ran outside the parameter, so every morning the engineers had the job of making sure it was clear of mines that the local V.C. may have planted.
10-18-69 D company Quan-Loi
10-19-69 D company Quan-Loi
Company was pulled off guard and wen on rest and recuperation "R and R"
(Nored) The following is what I remember about the R&R at Quan Loi. At Quan Loi there was a small area built among the rubber trees that was called the V.I.P. Center. The Rest & Recuperation, R&R, lasted between 48 to 72 hours. During that period we were off duty. I believe all our weapons were collected and checked by the company weapons personal. It was also a good idea not to have weapons around with so many drunken soldiers. We did not have to pull guard at night which was rare during our tour. There was one prostitute made available and I'm sure she returned to her village (most likely An Loc) a very rich person. We were able to sleep on cots. That was a luxury and the food was hot and not out of a can. At least not directly. They showed "stag" (porn) movies outside at night. The area was surrounded by a fence. For the most part it was ,as with all R&Rs ,a time to blow off steam. I had just joined the company and did not appreciate nor deserve it as much as the rest of the old timers of Delta Company. These R&Rs also gave a soldier a break from good old Army "bullshit". No body told you what to do nor were you required to do anything. Being in any branch of the service such time is greatly appreciated and highly cherished. I'm sure there are no statistics on the subject but I am certain "Army Bullshit" alone has been responsible for many mental casualties in war or peace time.
(Nored) Below. Arlyn Perkey provides 6 photos of color slides taken at the Company R&R at Quan Loi.
10-20-69 D company Quan-Loi
(Arlyn Perkey) SQUAD LEADERSHIP - FROM A PFC'S PERSPECTIVE - If there is any one position that is critical to the viable function of an infantry combat platoon, it is the squad leader. I arrived in Vietnam as a PFC and left 5 ˝ months later as a PFC. My experience comes from being led by 2 good squad leaders (Jim Hughes and Marcel Gorre). * At times, the squad leader must play the role of the gentle counselor who tells people who have screwed up they will do better the next time. At other times he must forcefully tell them what they must do, and how things are going to be. Through all of this, the squad leader, in a combat situation, must be highly respected and hopefully, well liked. The platoon sergeant and platoon leader might be hated, but the squad leader must be "one of the men," while being a respected leader. That is a dual role that some people are not able to fulfill. * The following are examples of how Jim Hughes accomplished that dual role in providing leadership to me. Both events happened relatively soon after joining the company, during that critical transition time from "cherry" to accepted member of the squad. Each event shows a different style of leadership. The first one is gentle counsel. The second one is the blunt, firm "just do it." * Event 1: We were patrolling single file as usual when another platoon in the company came in contact with the enemy, exchanging fire. We widely spaced ourselves along a trail, presumably to intercept the gooks if they came our way. I was the last person along this line. When the firing from the enemy and the other platoon stopped I could hear people moving through the bush. They came pretty close. I couldn't see them. They were close enough that if I would have fired, they would have returned fired. I didn't fire, I let them go. * Before I left the world, I received counsel from an old World War II vet who I held in high esteem. He advised me to do my duty. However, remember, "you won't do anybody any good dead. One of the duties of a good soldier is to try to stay alive." I thought that was good advice, and I tried to follow it. In this case, however, after mulling that advice over, I felt that I had not done my duty, I should have fired. When Jim Hughes and I were alone, I told him about what happened. He asked, "Have you told anyone else about this?" I said "no." He said "OK, don't! Keep your mouth shut, don't say a word to anyone. And, the next time, just do it." At the time, I thought he was concerned about top leadership finding out about it. In hind sight, I think he was much more concerned about integrating me into the squad and having me accepted by the other men. I was still basically a cherry. People didn't know how I would respond under fire. Knowing about this might make them really skeptical. In order for that mutual dependence to exist, people have to believe that when push comes to shove, you will do what is needed, and pull that trigger. The next time, I did. To me, this was the kind, gentle side of his leadership that was telling me I would get it right the next time. * Event 2: Not much later ( sometime in early August) the old 4th Platoon (Weapons Platoon) was disbanded. We were absorbed into 3rd Platoon as the 3-2 squad. When we were logged, the 81 mm was exchanged for an M-60 machine gun. Coincidently, I had asked Jim to have the armorer take a look at my M-16 because I didn't think it was performing right. He said yes. When he came back, he said the armorer had looked at it and that it had to go to the rear for attention. He asked, "Would you like to carry the M-60 machine gun?" I said "no, I really don't want to do that." He looked at me and said "you want a weapon don't you?" I said yes. He said "well, there it is," pointing to the machine gun sitting on the ground. I understood loud and clear. He did say later that if I carried it for 2 months he would rotate it to someone else. When the 2 months was up, I didn't ask for it to be passed to anyone else. That is how I came to carry the machine gun from that day in August until Dec. 9. However, more importantly, this shows how Jim handled two different situations with me. I maintained great respect for him, and I liked him. I even shared red licorice with him when I received a "care" package from home. We split the Salem cigarettes at log time with no fussing, and when there was chocolate milk to be had, he let me know. This was Jim's firmer hand of leadership, but still diplomatic enough to maintain the human relationship so critical to a squad in a combat zone. * The above leadership style was in stark contrast to what I had experienced in the Army back in the world.
10-21-69 Delta company leaves the R&R center and is airlifted by Chinook to Ellen where they board Hueys and make another combat assault back into the bush. The 14 photos below capture some of the events.
(Nored) We found some bunkers along with some equipment, shovels, picks etc. No gooks. We are working close to the Song Be river. We killed a snake today and I saw a spider the size of my hand. During one of the past nights I accidentally stuck my hand in a pile of ants. It still hurts for the bites. A Cobra gunship is firing its rockets and machine guns across the river and some of it landed pretty close.
(Nored) Delta company continues working the enemy trails close to the Song Be River and the infiltration route named the Serges Jungle Highway . Click on "Maps" at bottom of page. The following summary of what we found on Oct. 26th is provided by the Duty Officers Log (DOL). We found 1400 lbs. of rice in 7 200 lb bags, 24 bicycles, one 15x8 bicycle repair shop and assorted bike parts. (go to page 5 to see an illustration how bikes were utilized to move supplys). The bikes had the brand name "Pacific" on them. All food and equipment was destroyed.
10-27-69 Boonies Log day. log bird: Ghost Rider 377
(Nored) My letter mentions that "Tennessee" has gone in for a 3 day pass.(letter date 28th.Oct.).
Nored/DOL. The company continues to the work the enemies trail system. The DOL provided the following info. D finds one bunker with overhead cover, table, chairs and one bike. Later on the company came across 2 enemy soldiers recently buried.
The Killer Team
I can't put a specific date as to when the killer team was formed but I do remember word being passed around to everyone in the company that a squad size (about 10 men) unit was being formed. This team would do a lot of dirty work out in the "bush". They would walk point down trails and set up ambushes. Their reward for doing this was not having to do any details while in the rear and on the artillery base (LZ's), such as K.P. or shit detail or build bunkers etc. The also did not have to pull guard at night. It was purely on a volunteer basis. I and the vast majority of the company were quite willing to do just about everything we were ordered to do in Nam. Most of us felt we were taking enough chances during our daily routine and were not compelled to "go out of our way" to join a group that was to take even higher risks. 7 or 8 people did volunteer for it and Delta company had their Killer team. "Gator" from our platoon (3rd) joined up, a Sgt. Bill Belcher from 1 st platoon and several others who I cant remember, nor knew at the time, were led by the oldest man in the company. Our "Top" Sgt. (webmaster note: this was Top Haney.) Top meaning the highest-ranking N.C.O. in the company. I remember one day as we moved out from our patrol base we had used all day, the Killer team took up a position in a bomb crater, which was in the center of our parameter. They ran out several claymore mines but no trip flares. The rest of the company moved out and they stayed behind hoping to ambush gooks that were suspected of following. They didn't set up any hooch's of course they just laid there all night and waited. The company moved out to set up a night 10 not far away.
It rained that night and my thoughts were of those guys lying cut there all alone. Lying in the mud waiting and watching. Staring into the black jungle night and wondering like the rest of us "What the hell am I doing here?" The night passed and in the morning they rejoined us at our location.
From Arlyn Perkey:
Killer Team ---- Oscar Gains, (aka Squirrel), also joined the Killer Team. I remember that some in the platoon tried to talk him out of it to no avail. To us this was clearly taking an additional risk. The ironic thing about this for me is that on Dec. 9, as I lay on the ground after being wounded, I remember when the rest of the platoon was moving up, Squirrel walked by me and looked down at me laying there. He didn't say anything, but had a surprised look on his face. He had made the decision to take additional risk, but who ended up on the ground wounded? Me. And sometimes, so it went in Vietnam.
(Nored) The company was on an enemy trail. We had a parameter set up and the C.O. sent the Killer team down the trail to check things out before the entire company moved out. About 10 minutes passed when word was quickly passed around the parameter that the team had spotted one of the enemy and was following him down the trail. A few minutes had passed when gun fire could be heard from there location. We listened intently as we acknowledged to one another the different weapons being fired. The enemies AK-47, the American M-16s and then "Gators" M-14. (The' M-14 was the Armys older rifle that was replaced by the M-16. Gator for some reason preferred to carry the older weapon.) The enemy soldier that had been followed was most likely on guard duty on the trail about 150 to 200 feet from a bunker complex. Placed there as an early warning for him. For some reason he left his position and headed back towards the complex. That's when the point man ,who I'm pretty sure was "Gator" spotted him. When the team realized they were heading into some bunkers they moved off the trail and slowly moved in. "Gator" spotted one gook swinging in his hammock a few feet from a bunker. He took aim 'and opened fire killing the soldier. Both sides opened fire and for about 10 to 15 minutes there was an exchange. "Top" made his way to the bunker closest to the now empty hammock, the dead NVA soldier lying on the ground beneath it and threw a hand grenade into the bunker. This killed one soldier inside. The enemy withdrew from the area. The Killer Team had one wounded. He was hit in the shoulder. The med-a-vac copter took him away about 40 minutes later. I'm fairly certain they used the jungle penetrator (That was a chair fastened to the end of a cable. The chair was designed to crash thru the canopy of the jungle when lowered by the med-a-vac chopper hovering above.) After this was done the Killer team rejoined the company.
DOL information confirms the jungle penetrater with rigid litter was used to lift out our wounded man shot in shoulder. Evac took place between 1615 and 1635. Though no name was given his roster # 160 was. (Nored) I remember that the wia was a new guy.
(Nored) The company saddles up and moves back to the bunker complex where the previous days fight took place. We found 8 bicycles and 8 packs. They dragged the one soldier out of the bunker and began searching the bodies. I remember very well "Gator" coming over to where 3rd plt. was and showing us some of the pictures he had taken off one of the bodies. They were snapshots of family and one of a young girl, perhaps a sister or a girl friend. I could only think of the same snapshots that I carried and the rest of us carried. The soldiers killed were our age or younger. I remember feeling quite depressed as I stood and watched "Gator". I never reached a point where I hated the enemy. They were here because their government had sent them here and we were here because ours had done the same. I was very sure that those 2 dead NVA didn't want to be here any more then we did. I couldn't help but feel sorry for everybody.
"Gator liked where he was and what he was doing and despite what we might have thought about him if you had to spend the night out in the bush with only 5 people, "Gator" would have been on your list. But I guess what scared us all about "Gator" was that we would turn into someone like him. If we had taken casualties on a daily basis we would have all had to reach within our-selves and turn up the "Gator" that dwelled within us.
DOL reports that a man in another unit, radio call sign "Bright Night", has a man who has accidentally shot himself in the foot.
DOL information provides list of items found when 3rd platoon moved into bunker complex where previous days contact took place. See log entry # 35..
10-31-69 "Log Day" From DOL. Assigned Log bird is Ghost rider 139.
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