Camp Vinh Gia


54 years ago, September 1966, I was the SGT E-5 Demolition Sergeant on Detachment A-422 (Camp Vinh Gia), Company D (Detachment C-4), 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), in the Mekong Delta (IV Corps) of South Vietnam.
I had just returned from my most hated place on earth, our outpost at Giang Thanh, to work on the decaying defensive setup around Camp Vinh Gia.
You know how they say that “white men can’t jump?” I say bullshit! Toward the end of one day of checking our minefield in the moat (stomach deep this time), I spotted something swimming around me. I jumped up and down, swatting at the water, probably looking like a man who had just lost his mind. SP4 Greene (our newly arrived Light Weapons Leader) was on the camp berm, maintaining a watch over me to keep me safe, since I was weaponless while in the water. I yelled to him that I thought a small snake was swimming in a circle around me. I was not exactly calm about the situation, knowing of the existence of numerous venomous snakes in the region. After a while the “snake” disappeared. I scanned the water around me but couldn’t see it. I nervously finished my project, and immediately waded into camp heading to my room to get into some dry clothes.
When I pulled off my pants, there was something stuck to my leg. I had never seen anything like it. It was large (at least a couple inches long and close to an inch in diameter), brown, and squishy, slimy soft. I figured it was probably a leech. Although I knew that leeches were not poisonous, and were not considered to be dangerous, I thankfully remembered from training back at Bragg that leeches should not be yanked off, because that could cause the leech to vomit harmful bacteria into the wound.
I went out into the team house and showed the team. They confirmed that it was a leech, and it had been having a major feast on my blood, engorging himself. A leech will attach itself to its victim, it’s teeth burrowed deep into the skin, then inject a blood thinning anticoagulant solution into its target, followed by sucking the blood out of the subject. This one had plenty of time to fill himself with my blood.
SSG Hunter (team Medical Supervisor, also newly arrived) sprayed some insect repellent on the leech, causing it to fall to the floor. Blood began spurting all over the place, from my wound and from the leech. The floor in my room became a bloody mess. My leg wouldn’t stop bleeding. Hunter placed a substance over my wound that slowed the bleeding, but it didn’t stop it completely. It continued bleeding for quite a few hours. It left a permanent scar. SSG Hunter was another foreign-born member of our team (besides 1LT deGyurky), having been born in Scotland.
We received another new team member that month, SSG James Smith, who became the team Radio Operator Supervisor. He had come from the 8th Special Forces Group, in Panama. SFC Woods (Light Weapons Leader) returned to the States, having served his year in Nam, and SGT Walker (Radio Operator Supervisor) was transferred to the B detachment (B-42 in Chau Doc).
After finishing with the Claymores, I proceeded to dig a continuation of the camp moat, using explosives. Almost all our camp was surrounded by water (either moat or canal), except a small section in the northeast corner. I had ordered some shape charges and military dynamite, which thankfully arrived without too much delay. I used the shape charges to blow deep narrow holes in the ground. I then lowered primed sticks of dynamite into the holes. After placing the correct amount of charges in each hole and filling the holes with packed dirt (to tamp the charges and direct the explosive force down and outward), I detonated the system using electric blasting caps, and an electric blasting machine. The result was a perfect continuation of the existing moat, with much less physical work than if done by hand.
From my book #4 (SLURP SENDS! A Green Beret’s Experiences in Vietnam Book 4), of my four-book set of “SLURP SENDS!” Books #1 (“SLURP SENDS! On Becoming a Green Beret Book 1”), #2 (SLURP SENDS! Experiences of an A-Team Green Beret Book 2”), #3 (“SLURP SENDS! Experiences of a Green Beret in Vietnam Book 3”), and #4 are available on Amazon, or from me.
PHOTOS: Leech (Internet photo) / SSG Hunter (team Medical Supervisor) fishing from the back deck of our teamhouse, inside camp, at Vinh Gia / Me wiring a shape charge for detonation; teammate Mike Greene (team Weapons Leader) looking on / The resulting explosions (my photos).


  1. My dad was at Vinh Gia in 1966. I am going through and scanning all of his pictures and would love to share them with you and maybe get some more information if you have it. I’m not sure what his rank was when he was there but his name is Robert (Bob) Neilson.


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