Now How The Hell Did That Happen.

I was a Field Artillery Officer assigned to a General Support unit in Vietnam.  What that meant was there were no units that we fired for all the time.   We were assigned in different areas to give additional fires to other Artillery units that needed some additional help.  The only problem with that was from time to time the Field Artillery Brigade would levy us for an officer to go out on short missions.  I had the distinct pleasure of duty of going out with an Army of Vietnam unit that was training a Montagnard unit.  I also went out with an Australian unit conducting Basic Training.  I did a short stint with a Mechanized Unit and a short stint with an Aviation unit.  The strangest and longest assignment was with the 3Bn, 503 Abn Aka 173rd Abn.  There was a kid from Augusta, Kansas that went home when his Dad had a heart attack.  While there he developed Malaria and what was supposed to be a week or two turned into 6 weeks. 

We were north of Saigon in the mountains and there was a reported build up of North Vietnamese regulars and we were put in there to search and destroy them.  We criss crossed the area with three other Companies and to my knowledge we never made any significant contact.  The only KIA's we reported was when someone said that on one of their trips back into the old night position, there was a lot of stuff we had put in a trash holes dug back up.  I told the commander that we should put an artillery ambush on our position after our next resupply.  I did that and when our scouts went back there were numerous blood trails that led to a grave a couple of kilometers from the fired upon location.  There were three or four bodies in there but they were not NVA regulars, probably a local band of Viet Cong.

Sometime in the next week, we were making our way across a large valley when an Aerial Observer reported that there was a convoy of elephants that looked very loaded down with arms and ammunition.  Our Battalion spread the three companies out in a blocking position and sent in a company from another battalion in behind the pack train to drive them to our location and ambush. 

Everything went as planned and sometime about five hours after the operation began, the troops that were behind the elephants closed into our position.  Somewhere out there in the jungle, those darned elephants just disappeared.  I am pretty sure that they didn't go up over the side of the mountains on each side of the valley and somehow their trackers lost the trail of the elephants. 

I was all ready to get at least one elephant kills but nothing, nada, zip zilch was ever turned up.  No how the heck did that happen?  I am pretty sure that they didn't go down into some tunnel complex.  Oh well, Elephants one, US Army Abn - Zero.


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