Operation: Hump

This is a re-post from our November, 2009 post regarding this week. Other Military bloggers covering today: Blackfive

On November 5th, 1965 the 173rd Airborne Brigade deployed on a Search & Destroy mission in to War Zone “D” north of Bien Hoa. Also involved was the 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment ; 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry; and the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Divisions . The name of the operation, ironically, signified the units halfway point in their tour of the Vietnam war.

They encountered little action and minimal resistance until the morning of November 8th when they were ambushed by over 1,200 of the Peoples Liberation Army Forces, North Vietnamese Forces

Encountering heavy weapons fire, the unit deployed troops in several areas around a hill top called Hill 65.

What ensued has been written about in song and poems.

Lawrence Joel, a medic, was the first living black man since the Spanish-American War to receive the United States Medal of Honor for saving so many lives in the midst of battle that day.

48 US Paratroopers died in the conflict, and over 400 North Vietnamese were killed.

D ZONE

Written by SP4 Joseph M. Kenny, the B Company, lst Battalion 503D Infantry artillery team radio operator (RTO) from Battery C, 3D Battalion, 319th Artillery, 173D Airborne Brigade

Beneath the canopy of green,

Flitting shadows make their way,

In silent files they furtively steal,

Looking, searching for their prey,

Muffled footfalls barely heard above

other muted sounds,

Of an armed band moving, through the

heart of “Cong’s” home grounds.

Back again in the D Zone and it’s been

said and heard,

“Charlie” shares exclusive rights with

the One-Seventy-Third.

Of course it’s hotly contested,

And real estate’s on a rising cost,

With payment made on either side,

In blood and sweat long lost.

But now it’s push on and on,

Through swamp and tough terrain,

With salty sweat searing your eyes,

And a roaring in your brain,

A burning feeling in your chest,

And each breath a gasp of air.

But it’s move and push and drive,

Until you’ve found “Charlies” lair.

Maybe soon they’ll call a halt,,

And you’ll slip to the mucky ground,

Grateful to pick the leeches off,

And pass the smokes around.

But now it’s bamboo thicket,

And lurking, snagging vine,

While up ahead the point man,

Searching for some sign

Of elusive, wily “Charlie,”

The guy we’re looking for.

And back in line some joker quips,

“Hell of a way to fight a war.”

A rifle shot cracks out.

Like the rap of a conductor’s baton

That start’s an overture,

And willing or not it’s on.

2

Fire is answered with fire,

A crescendo quickly reached,

And “Charlie” breaks and runs,

As his line of defense is breached.

The ensuing silence is unearthly,

Still there’s ringing in your ears,

And guys are tending the wounded,

Soothing their unspoken fears.

Here and there’s a still, still shape,

Who’ll never walk D Zone again.

Their names to be struck from the rolls,

With one stroke of a shaking pen.

The call comes down to saddle up,

We’ll soon be on our way,

For we’ve a goodly stretch to cover,

Before the end of day.

The guys no longer look tired,

They’ve a determined look of eye

As they scan the shrouded flanks

And treetops that hide the sky.

Now as I write I feel pride,

Proud that I have served

With the “Sky Soldiers” of Company B,

First of the Five-0-Third.

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