Plei Djereng,
Pleiku Province, Vietnam
November 1966

Company A
1st Bn, 22nd Infantry (1/22)
4th Infantry Division


Three Church is where we operated out of, many know that name rather than Three Tango; we worked directly with the Special Forces.

Captain said we were going on a mission to locate a battalion of NVA who had been wasting our base camps ... something does not look right since we have been given an azimuth to follow. Seems if they were looking for them, they would not tell us the direction to go.

Heard the point men on the radio say they saw bootprints with water still seeping in them, so they know we are here and going to be set up; better be taking up position, don't make any sense to keep going if we are where their outpost was at, means they are close.

Captain said to set up a perimeter, has that same gut feeling we are as close as we had better get. Not much daylight left.

Bringing the artillery in close, got a hot dog Forward Observer who says he can turn around and call it in backwards, no need for that, dummy hit a foxhole, don't need the NVA when we are doing a job on ourselves, last night it was mistaken identity.

Here comes the mortars, amazing nobody got hit, really raked our perimeter good. Captain said to brace for an attack since that is how it goes, first the mortars, then it all cuts loose.

Heard the outpost say to get ready, they are coming, and there are thousands of them, lost radio contact. Hear our other outpost cut loose with the machine gun, Sgt. Reed went into shock, all he can say is "O no, O no!"

Got the artillery going, something wrong as it is going farther out instead of coming in closer. Captain has started calling it in himself.

Heard a pilot on the radio asking what was going on, says he is in area (location being near a Special Forces camp in the area near Plei Djereng) and saw us in trouble, has a full load and can buy us some time, has an accent, Australian, not even our own air support. Had to call off the artillery since he is coming in low.

The Aussie pilot (Powell) nailed with rockets, 500 lb bomb, and several sweeps with his mounted machine gun, not an exaggeration to say he came in so low they could have hit him with a rock and may well have had a few holes put in his aircraft since, in the clearing, he came in below treetop level and slow, just took a lot of balls to do that...and in the dark of this evening attack!

Heard our air support, need our location to get layout of battle area, had somebody fire tracers from the center of the perimeter to see where we are at, never so glad to see those guys, almost all of us out of ammo and could not have held out two minutes longer.

Really did a job on those dudes, everything on fire from the napalm, cooked many of them in front of us, no more enemy fire coming in.

Attack seems to be over. Said they will keep the perimeter lit up all night with illumination and want a body count at first light.

Man hit by our artillery is bleeding to death, captain trying to get him evacuated but no choppers will come in, action too hot and heavy. Captain said forget it since he just died.

Never prayed like that before in my life, plum scared to death, told God I was not going to promise anything since he knows what happened the last time, please help us, please help us. Had to be honest, may not deserve anything good, just asking for help and can only promise I will try to play it straight.

Kind of strange that all that stuff reminded me of something in the Bible, Israel against the world and don't stand a chance, and that is when God steps in the scene so they know who delivered them and kept His Word to do that, kind of like when God used the enemy to punish His own house because of idolatry and stuff, and then He proceeded to restore.

Captain agreed that we almost had it, seems to have taken the starch out of a lot of hot dogs, bet I ain't the only one who cut through all the stuff and got connected. Wonder how long I will straighten up this time. Makes me mad that it don't last very long.

NVA unit was said to be division size, also found body of Chinese regular the next morning, who was not carried off, wearing black PJs.

LTC Paul Braim was shot by mistake at Regular Hill Base Camp by a private cleaning his rifle, replaced by Major Tom Rozelle.

Powell flew with Wing Commander V.J. Hill in perfecting the use of the Canberra for close-in, air-to-ground support, both with the 7th Air Force. A good project for anybody would be to learn more about Commander Hill and, if he is still around, may be the only individual who can fill in the blanks regarding this event in December.

Bulldog Drummond was killed on May 19,1967; and Powell was killed on May 17, 1968. Drummond was a FAC pilot who Powell replaced; both were killed one year apart after they returned to Australia, both freak accidents. Drummond was well known in the 4th Division by ground troops, always came in with his plane shot up but never crashed.

Looking for others of Alpha Company to offer more detail, like the OP, who was caught in the crossfire, shot in both legs, climbed a tree, and survived all the napalm, rockets, and bombs. The outpost gave us warning of the attack, but only one survived.

Only other of Alpha located is (SFC) Bob Deruntz, who jumped in my foxhole when the shooting started ... time to come out of the cave and find our company even though half of us were killed on February 16, 1967, under Capt. Keuker in being caught in an ambush when baited out of the Regular Hill Base Camp -- just kept dumping mortar fire on us until we went out to get them.

"Regular Hill" -- 46 men killed in ambush of 2/16/67

Sit In A Circle--1993

Can not live with this stuff eating me up, not able to function as a human, wasted life, can't do anything about it, kicks our ass while we sleep and wake up crazy.

Afraid to be around people, hard for anybody to understand what goes on and not able to explain it, things connect to all that stuff and just go haywire, do not even know my own mind anymore. Hate everything and almost everybody. Still have that unanswered question that if we have all been had, then where do we go to collect the kiss we never got.

Long Beach Veteran's Hospital, Psychiatric Division
Session #1

I am a fully registered head case, too sane to be hospitalized and too nuts to hold a regular job.

Was told to attend the sessions for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, have a lady shrink by the name of Dr. Susan who picks our brains apart. May as well go ahead since it is getting worse, weird dreams magnify that stuff and changes things around, need to understand what is going on.

Only one guy in the room reading a book; I said something just to make conversation, and he just looked wide-eyed and slowly moved his head up and down; dude is a regular patient in the psycho ward, never know when they will flip out and do weird stuff, wonder what the rest of these people will be like, not sure I want to be here, starting to think about the movie about the Coo Coo Nest. Bet that lady doctor will be a flake, hate shrinks anyhow.

Already don't like being here, sat us all in a circle, and we introduced outselves one by one and most don't care who you are or where you been. Seems everybody wants to unload all the stuff they hate, don't matter what it is since most are bitter about everything, some more than others.

Hard to look at these guys and see them so disconnected like being off in their own world and not able to connect with the real one, starting to be like that with me, did not know it was all building up over the years and why I acted the way I did and shut everybody out in not trusting anybody no matter who they are, maybe one guy who had an honest concern and gave a lot of attention to me when he had a few thousand people to deal with in his hippie church, easy to see counterfeit when you have genuine guys like that who just live what they teach, no reason to try and help me and seems like he is taking instructions from higher up not to let me get away, almost got this fish landed but not in the boat yet and scared to death to trust anybody, even God.

Next session with that shrink better be more than what it was this time, seems that everybody looks inward to get out of a mess and only have their own selves they care about, oriented to themselves and not really caring about anybody else who is hurting, nobody going to make it that way, and bad news to all be looking to that lady shrink as a bleeping hero, looks like she needs some time alone with a cowboy to get back to where things are simple, will give it one more shot and forget about this place if it is like today. Librarian seems to have better stuff than the shrink.

One Flew Out Of The Coo Coo Nest
Session #2

Came in early to get something for this ulcer, lot of people here, really sad to see the hopeless faces and life gone out of these old timers from WW2 and Korea, had to make an appointment for next week to see a doctor and get a good check up of the whole bod, knowing it has taken a lot of abuse.

Went into the canteen, bothers me a lot to see Vietnamese people working in there, can not look at them, just go nuts.

Went to the library where the lady who runs it is a vet from Korea, retired nurse in a MASH unit, very loving person, ought to have her in charge of the PTSD group instead of a shrink who picks our brain apart and has nothing to offer but stuff that they are still trying to figure out, don't think they even had a name for it when all that stuff was going on that did not go away and thought I was just losing my mind or something.

Had to sit in a circle again, one lady was a Marine and a P.O.W. in a Japanese prison camp, used as a sex slave, still tries to encourage others and thinks she had a tougher time than all of us. Everyone seems like they are off in the distance or here and somewhere else at the same time.

Sat next to a guy by the name of Pat who is all messed up from Agent Orange and in a wheel chair, has little control of his body like people with Palsy but his speech is clear, wears a cap with Lucifer written on it. Seems goodhearted but don't know about that cap, maybe just a joke or something. Good to hear the different people relate things rather than hearing an empty lecture from the shrink.

Saw Pat in the library; he is an assistant librarian at the hospital, and that lady treats him like she was his mother, still think she should be the one in charge of the group rather than someone who knows it all and stands off at a distance and just throws out a tow rope but not caring enough to be in the fire with someone and getting through it all together.


Died of heart attack in 1994, told nurses minutes before
that he would be happy for God to bring him home.

Copyright © 1997 by Lou Talley, All Rights Reserved

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