By Richard H Dick James
54 years ago, April 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. Everybody in camp seemed to know that we would be departing Vinh Gia, turning it over to the Vietnamese Special Forces team in a couple months.
I decided it was about time to demolish all the captured VC explosive weapons, as well as our “dud” recoilless rifle and mortar rounds. There was a large crater not far outside camp, that was perfect for the job. I placed all the “junk” in the crater and placed a block of C-4 plastic explosives on top of the lot. I wired the C-4 electrically, ran a long length of electric firing wire from the crater to the nearest camp berm, connected the two electrical wires to my hand-operated electrical generator, yelled “FIRE IN THE HOLE, FIRE IN THE HOLE, FIRE IN THE HOLE,” and rotated the generator handle hard, in a clockwise direction. There was a large ball of orange and yellow flame, followed by a good-sized mushroom cloud. Job accomplished.
We were having a lot of problems with our interpreters. Our chief interpreter kept spending five days at a time on “one-day leaves.” We couldn’t fire him because we only had one other interpreter, who didn’t understand English very well. We were also having increasing theft problems. I guess the Vietnamese CIDG (Civilian Irregular Defense Group, aka our “mercenaries”) figured things would go downhill shortly when we turned over the camp to the Vietnamese Special Forces team.
Theft of supplies, as well as our personal items, got pretty bad. To make matters worse, when they were caught the LLDB (Luc Luong Doc Biet, aka Vietnamese Special Forces) released them with no punishment. If the item was worth anything the LLDB kept it. Our reaction was to cease doing any favors for the camp Vietnamese, CIDG or LLDB. Our team was so shorthanded and pressed for time to accomplish our jobs that we decided to return SSG Smith and SGT Greene from the Giang Thanh FOB (Forward Operating Base) on 10 April and not replace them, leaving the FOB without an American SF presence. That was the first time since I had arrived, almost a year prior, that Giang Thanh didn’t have an American SF presence. Shortly after returning to Vinh Gia, SGT Greene passed out and had to be medevaced to the hospital in Saigon. 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: Destroying the explosive items, and my “mushroom cloud.” (my photos)SLURP SENDS!