By Richard H Dick James
54 years ago, March 1967, I was the Staff Sergeant E-6 Demolition Sergeant on Detachment A-422 (Vinh Gia), Company D (Detachment C-4), 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), in the western Mekong Delta (IV Corps) of South Vietnam, 2,000 meters south of the Cambodian border. I was on my 6-month voluntary extension in Vietnam. During the month of March our camp was credited with six VC KIA (killed in action) and two WIA (wounded in action), with only two of our Vietnamese CIDG (Civilian Irregular Defense Group, aka VN “mercenaries”) troops WIA.
Colonel “Splash” Kelly (our Den Mother up in Nha Trang headquarters) flew in to personally congratulate us for our successful operations and kills. VC activity had increased during the month. Four of the VC KIA were killed during a night ambush that caught a VC company off guard.
On that operation we captured a VC flag (red and blue, with a white five-pointed star in the center), and a red cloth banner. The banner had a white hammer & sickle in the middle and a black & white cloth photo of Ho Chi Minh on the bottom right corner. Printing in yellow, on the banner, said “Phan Thuong Thi-Dua” (Award Competition) “Danh Du” (With Honor) “Chi-Bo Don-Vi C802” (Party Cell of Unit 802nd Battalion).
The 802nd Battalion was part of the VC D-2 Regiment. The banner had four bullet holes in it, from one bullet going through it. It had been folded, and placed in the KIA VC’s backpack, thus the multiple holes. The VC had even more holes in him than the banner. He was a bloody mess. Our camp had an excellent reputation with the enemy as a camp that maintained good security, and ran a lot of overnight operations. On the night we captured the flag, just before the ambush was sprung, one of the VC was overheard saying, “We had better spread out here, because we are entering the area where the ambushes start.” He spoke too late. On the war front 9,015 enemy troops were killed by allied forces during the month of March 1967, the highest one-month enemy kill count in South Vietnam since the war began. On one of the patrols CPT Morris (our team Commanding Officer) was advising, they had the VC on the run. CPT Morris had managed to get the help of a U.S. Air Force FAC (Forward Air Controller, flying a Cessna single-engine O-1 “Bird Dog”). The FAC was keeping good track of the VC unit’s movements and relaying them to CPT Morris. At one point the VC crossed a district line. That pointed out a fallacy about the way the war was fought. Any time we neared a district line we were ordered to get permission from the District Chief in that district before continuing. The FAC pilot advised CPT Morris of the fact that he had just crossed the district line and needed to obtain permission from that district’s District Chief before proceeding. CPT Morris, knowing that the delay could cause losing contact with the VC, feigned not receiving the message. When the FAC pilot repeated the message, CPT Morris stated that he was losing radio reception and could not understand the message, continuing to chase the VC. The FAC pilot tried repeatedly to contact CPT Morris, with no success. We heard the radio transmissions on our camp radio, listening intently to every word, and cheering CPT Morris with all our gusto, at the same time knowing he was receiving and understanding every word of the pilot’s messages, but not wanting to comply. The VC got away, but not for lack of CPT Morris trying to catch them. CPT Morris was the SF officer I most admired in my six years in SF. He was a great leader and a fantastic soldier’s officer. He was part of our family. We would follow him anywhere, yet he was a true friend at the same time. Over my lifetime I have tried to pattern my life somewhat after his. Prior to joining the Army, he had been a gold prospector (traveling the world) and a rodeo rider. He was in very good shape and kept very active. He wouldn’t ask us to do anything he wouldn’t be willing to do. One time, CPT Morris was in Can Tho (C-team headquarters) and walked into the C-Team NCO Club with one of our team members, planning to share a few drinks and b.s. some. The C-Team Sergeant Major found out that CPT Morris was in the NCO Club and proceeded to march over to the NCO club and tell CPT Morris that he was not permitted in the NCO Club, and needed to go to the Officers Club instead. CPT Morris replied that he was in the NCO Club to relax with his teammate, an NCO, and had no intentions of going to the Officers Club. The conversation became heated, but the Sergeant Major finally gave up. We loved it! I had an instance at camp where I was singing the Beatles song “Yellow Submarine.” CPT Morris made the mistake of announcing that he hated that song. He should never have admitted that. One of my joys became getting his goat by singing “We all live in a yellow submarine ♪♫♪ ……..” His immediate reaction was always, “Slurp, you continue singing that, and I will send you on a one-man patrol to the Cambodian border.” Occasionally, SSG Smith (Radio Operator) would join in for a double dose of harassment. It never failed to work. 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: Colonel Kelly at our camp / Captured flag, banner, and weapon / CPT Morris (my photos).SLURP SENDS!