Last time I wrote about Brady and one of his miss-adventures you guys asked for more. So today I thought I would share a few stories he told from his time in Vietnam.
The first post about Brady is immediately below for those who haven’t seen it yet.
I thought today I would tell several little short stories Brady related to me starting from his earliest days after being drafted. After being processed and starting his basic training one of the SGTs asked Brady’s group if anyone wanted to earn their military drivers license. Brady, a life long lovers of cars and racing told me he was quick to raise his hand hoping to be able to drive around various Army vehicles. He then related that he learned a lesson. He spent the rest of the week pushing around a wheel barrow full of sandbags for his enthusiasm.
After going through all of his various training from basic to airborne school and then ranger school Brady found himself in Vietnam. He was assigned to a small ranger team attached to the 199th Brigade.
Brady told me that before getting to Vietnam the three things that worried him most other than the enemy , was poison snakes, poison bugs and the M16. Having heard all manner of exaggerated horror stories no doubt aimed to scare him by vets he encountered, he was afraid to use the M16 in combat. So in his first days he volunteered to carry the M60 on his team.
His first time out on ambush patrol did not start off well. As the chopper hovered over a rice patty, Brady jumped out before it go lower and promptly sunk up to his nipples in mud. The rest of the veteran team waited until the chopper was lower and got off, and ran into the tree line. There they waited for nearly an hour to make sure they were not observed and about to get attacked while Brady baked in the sun stuck in mud. Once they team decided it was safe they came back and pulled him out.
That night was the big night and after setting up on a trail for their ambush, the Viet Cong arrived. Brady told me , visions of Audie Murphy flashed in his head as he got ready. It was his job to kick off the ambush as the M60 gunner and to use his words ” I was gonna end the war that night by God!”
It didn’t work out that way. When they got in the kill zone, Brady pressed the trigger on his M60 and …pow!. One round fired. He quickly hand cycled the M60 again and ..pow!.. one round. The ambush was ruined as the commies vanished. Apparently while cleaning the M60 the night before making sure it would be extra clean, Brady had missed some vital mistake he made. Rendering the belt fed machine gun a single shot rifle. “I got a serious lecture about the care and PM of the M60 machine gun after that one.”
As time went on, Brady found the M16 wasn’t what he was told. In fact he found that it was very reliable, durable and accurate. He loved it. Eventually becoming the teams quasi-sniper, Brady was issued a suppressor for his M16.
On another ambush patrol one night, Brady and his team came upon a small group of Vietcong cooking around a fire and enjoying heroin. Not exactly the revolution’s crack troops apparently. Once everything was ready, it was up to Brady once again kick off the ambush with his suppressed M16 in an attempt to use it to get more than one before things went crazy. Brady lined up on a VC with his back to him and took aim at the back of his head.
At the shot, Brady recalled that the man across from his target was immediately splattered across his face with his pals brains. The now dead man pitched face first into the cooking fire while the rest of the VC stared in shock and confusion as he started on the rest and the balance of his team opened up. He speculated they were too doped up to realize what was going on before it was too late.
My favorite story was about his week stay on a firebase at one point. The base had a betting pool where every day a name was drawn and whoever it was allowed to take one shot from a M2 browning on a tripod at a target close to a mile away.
Way off in the distance was a Vietnamese straw hut that double as a brothel. every morning a vietcong soldier would come out at about the same time. He would put his shirt on, stretch and stand there and wave at the firebase mocking it. While he did this, the lucky soldier whose name was drawn would take a shot with the .50BMG in an attempt to hit him. Whoever hit would win the money. Brady said that it had become the major sport of the base with artillery observers and engineers carefully plotting on maps ,taking readings of wind and weather. All trying to have the range and ballistics of the 50 figured just right to win the cash. No one made the shot while Brady was there but the show repeated every morning. Brady figured that as small as the straw hut was, the Viets where actually picking it up and moving it several hundred feet to the left or right or forward etc during the night. Being in wide open flat land in the southern part of the country with few other huts around it was hard to tell.
While at the same firebase one night an attack occurred. Brady manned the same M2 and let loose. Forgetting a fuel bladder full of JP4 was temporarily stored just outside the wire. Luckily the next it was assumed that the enemy blew it up with a RPG. Brady knew better though but kept his mouth shut.
On a downer note. Brady had been married and had a new son. After his 1 year tour he would have had to stay in the Army on state side duty for a time. He was offered a choice of staying in combat for 6 more months and then being able to leave the Army immediately or going home and spending nearly another year on stateside duty . Brady opted for the 6 months of combat duty so he could get back to his new wife and son quicker. After being pinned in a muddy water filled shell crater by a sniper for 24 hours and even having the heel of his boot shot off he got back to base only to get a letter from his wife telling him she was leaving him and taking the boy. Brady did not tell me much of the horrific things he no doubt saw but that had to have been the low point of the war for him. After he was home he met a wonderful lady and has been married since with the close call of the Model 41 grips.
Brady is one of those guys who saves everything. One of those things in the pair of jungle boots he had on in that muddy shell crater. The right one with the heel shot partly off. I have seen and held those boots in my own hands and its a reminder of how close my mentor came.
If you like this , let me know and I will continue sharing stories about Brady and my time with him.