Before May 12, 1969 - Quan Loi, Vietnam
To get to the story of May 12, 1969, I have to go back to an incident that occurred shortly before that morning. I spent a lot of time on Old Bunker 8. It was our primary Bunker just in front of HHB and I, like most of us, was usually there when I wasn't in the tower by the Main Gate where the road to An Loc was. One night Huffman and I had a hunch for some reason or other, and we asked Sgt Anderson if we could go out on guard duty that night. He said yes, that we could man Bunker 8, but we couldn't get any time off the next day. Huff drove the helpers to and from An Loc, and almost everything at the Motor Pool was dead-lined for repairs. I remember we worked a lot of nights taking parts off of one vehicle to put on another so we could keep running the convoys to Long Binh. Hwy 13 took a heavy toll on our 2 1/2's. When Huff dropped off the VN help in An Loc he drove flat out on the return trip. He got fired at on several occasions and we had bullet holes and shot out tires more than a few times. The trucks were taking a beating, not to mention a few that got hit by rockets and mortars at the Motor Pool.

So anyway, we went to Bunker 8, and wondered why we had a weird feeling. I was just about done with my second tour and Huff was on his first, but he said he was coming back for another, and I see from the website, he did. Well, as it was then, we had a lot of new people pulling guard that night and we felt a little nervous. I never did this before or since, but Huff I and felt something - Strange but true.

Just as it was beginning to get dark Huff and I saw a reflection by the wire where the 55 gallon drum was. That's the one that was filled with jet fuel and some other goodies. It was like Napalm, or it was Napalm. Huffman was looking through the starlight scope and then he handed it over to me. I looked at him and he looked at me. He said, “What do you see, Zak? “ I said, “Three ‘gooks’”. He said, “Me too”. We had an M-60 at our bunker and I always joined three belts together. We always checked each round to make sure none were dented and that they were on the links properly. We had a few jams at the firing range because of dented ammo and some of the rounds weren't seated properly on the links. I figured it was well worth the time as I didn't want to be trying to fix a jam if we had a ground attack. That’s also why we linked up a few extra boxes of ammo. Believe me; I would keep firing till a round cooked off, or the barrel melted. I had managed to build quite an arsenal during my stay in VN, but that's another story.

We had plenty of extra ammo for the M-60 and M14's, and a lot of grenades and I always carried my 45 caliber with extra clips - So we were in good shape that night. Getting back to the story - We radioed in our report to HQ's. They said “Do Not Fire!” I had the targets zeroed and my finger on the trigger and said “What????” They said there was an ambush patrol out just 500 meters from our position. I looked out and spotted them to our left. The VC were maybe 150 meters almost directly in front of us. I reported that I spotted the patrol, and they were not in the line of fire. They said an officer was on his way to our position from the 1st Infantry Division to evaluate the situation. I couldn't believe it. Now it's almost dark. I keep my eye on the VC and a finger on the trigger and Huff and I are shakin’ our heads.

The officer comes down shortly and said “it was his boys out there and he wanted to be sure”, so he looks and says “Okay, fine”. It's dark now but that doesn't matter because I got plenty of Ammo, and I know there's no way I'm going to hit anything but the Gooks. Wrong!!!! The Officer tells me I can't fire the M-60 but I should use a Grenade Launcher. Sure, no problem, except we don't have one. I yelled over to the bunker next to us and they said “Sure, what are you shooting at”. I tell them and they look at me like I'm nuts. The reason no one else fired at them is, believe it or not, no one else spotted them..... What also amazed me was the VC didn't move from that position. They pointed to the guns in Alpha Battery, several times.

They must have been on recon, because they never fired a shot. If they did, orders or not it was goodbye.
So now it's dark and I load the M-79 and I try to figure out where they are in the darkness. Huffman aligns the starlight scope next to the M-79 and I let a round go. He said one was down and one was limping and one was running. I fired a second round where he pointed and then there was only one. He ran right into the ambush patrol who were already alerted.

We wanted to blow the Napalm from the very beginning, but there were guards in a bunker too close to it. What they found on the VC verified that they were recon, and they had a map of the location of the guns in Alpha Battery, Bunker 8, the bunker and the Tower by Alpha Battery and the Mortar Platoon Area.

We were told the ambush patrol got the last one. I don't know if they meant he was killed or taken prisoner for interrogation. I don't remember any gun-fire so maybe they were told to take him alive if possible. What strikes me as odd is I didn't see any weapons on them. Maybe they had side arms but no rifles or RPG's. I figured if they got that close and they got spotted, that they could have at least let a few rounds go. Believe me, I'm glad they didn't.

For the next few days or weeks, I forget exactly, I remember the perimeter was being probed almost nightly. Many a time someone fired at movement in our sector and on one occasion there was someone seen running by the wire after a few shots were fired at him or her. There was never any return fire. It was all us. We checked the wire in the morning and everything looked intact. We all knew that all these probes had a reason and we figured it was a matter of time before they tried something they hadn't tried before. We figured it had to be Alpha Battery’s guns they wanted taken out. The Mortar Platoon was there in front, Old Bunker 8, the Bunker next to the Tower and the Tower itself. That's the way we all saw it, and the maps showed that’s exactly as I was told. Unfortunately they got inside that night and that's where my story begins of what I remember of Quan Loi May12, 1969.
Edmund F. Eddy "Zak" Zakrzewski    Then  and  Now     Continue to May 12 Story

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