|June 6, 1969|
May 12th 1969
attack on Quan Loi there were several changes made to the west perimeter. Where
platoon had been; that area was bulldozed flat to allow Alpha Battery an
unobstructed view of the green line, and a clear field of fire. However, one or
two underground bunkers to the west of HHB 6/27th were left intact. The
guard bunker # 8 in
HHB 6/27th compound was rebuilt about 20 feet to the north of the original
position. The bunker was built sturdier and a chain link fence (RPG wire) was
put up in front of the bunker to detonate RPG's before they could impact the
bunker. The forward firing port had a swivel mount added for an M-60.
The story I am about to tell is in two parts. The first will be told using information received from a Chou Hoi. I don't recall his name (if I ever knew it) so I will call him Lo Kim for this story. The second will be what I remember and what I was told by others there in Quan Loi that night.
On the afternoon of June 5th 1969, the Quan
Loi base camp was surrounded by VC and NVA in preparation for an attack that
would begin some time after midnight. On the west side of the perimeter Lo Kim
and his comrades were preparing to move on the camp. At about 5:00 p.m. he and
the other sappers started to move down the hill from the
rubber trees to the
valley floor. He knew that the sappers on the east side of the perimeter were
doing the same. He also knew this would be a night to remember, for this is what
he had been training for since he had been selected as a sapper. Now all that
training would be put to the test. He was going to need all the courage and
skill he had.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!! “Wait we are not ready yet, the rockets are too early. The Americans will kill us all, we have no cover.” As the battle begin Lo Kim and the others fought with fury, but as it went on he could see that if he continued the fight he would not live to see the sunrise. Two weeks earlier he had been in this area on a recon mission and remembered seeing an underground bunker. If he could make it there he would be able to wait out the fight. As he made his way to the bunker he hoped he had not been seen - but he had been seen.
At 8:00 on the evening of June 5th 1969, I started my new job as night Message
Center clerk. I had asked for the job about a week earlier and only found out
that day I had gotten it. This meant that my regular position on night guard
duty would be filled by someone else. I was eager to get started and learn all
my duties, so I was spending a lot of time with the tele-type operator on duty.
We had recently gotten new FM teletype rigs, and unlike the old AM rigs these were not underground. This meant there were sandbags on all sides, and on the top of the rig cutting down on the amount of sound you could hear.
Sometime after midnight I was in the rig with the operator (whose name I can not recall) online with the other battery's when we heard the muffled sound of incoming rockets. Service Battery relayed that somewhere on Long Bin they were getting hit and they had to get off the air. We advised him that we too were getting hit and signed off. As I stepped out of the rig I heard the sound of small arms, and I knew we were under another ground attack.
At almost the same instant I heard someone calling for the medic. Not long after that I saw someone moving behind the mess hall. With the light of flares I could see it was one of our guys and I asked "who got zapped?" His answered took me by surprise. "Brupbacher," he yelled back. I thought he would say someone got some shrapnel or some other minor injury. No, one of our comrades had been killed. “This was for real.” Later I talked to b-son (I don't recall his given name) and he told me that an RPG had hit the chain link fence and went off like it was supposed to, but a piece of shrapnel had caught Brupbacher in the head. He said that he had just bent down to get another belt for the M60 when it happened.
About an hour after it started I was told to report to the C.P. as I was on reactionary force. When I got there it I was soon joined by Sgt. Barnett (Barnny). We sat on the steps for a while and then 1st Sgt. Anderson and Jerry Suchoki came from the bunker #8 area and said they needed someone to get in the jeep and go with them. I took about two steps and was almost run over by Sgt Barnett jumping into the jeep. They sped off, and returned about ten minutes later. I was told that an NVA had been spotted going into one of the bunkers just the other side of our perimeter. Barnny told me that when they arrived the 1st Sgt. threw three grenades down the bunker but only one went off.
As the night went on we were able to keep them out of the compound, but just as on May 12th, the fighting was everywhere. Again Puff was there and could do nothing but drop flares. As the flares made everything bright, they also made the shadows dance which made everything have that strange surreal look.
By morning I found myself on bunker #8. The gun fire was almost at a standstill. The Infantry was clearing the area between us and the perimeter road. That's when I noticed a pair of hands coming out of the bunker and handing over an AK47. Then I begin to look around at all the enemy bodies lying on the ground. I could see that a lot of those enemy killed were trying to pull their friends back through the wire. They had used the chutes from the flairs that Puff had dropped and tied them to one and sometimes two of there fallen comrades. The number of enemy killed was great, but this time we lost very few men. HHB 6/27th, however, lost a good friend that night, though, in Robert Brupbacher’s death.
After about a week or so the Chou Hoi (Lo Kim) gave a demonstration of how sappers do what they do. It was very interesting to watch, but it was also chilling to see and realize how easy it was for him to get through the wire. I never felt really secure in Quan Loi or anywhere else in Vietnam again.
|Roger Mallory Then and Now|