Words From Above
Ca Mau, 1969

by: Barry J. Feig

 

1969 - Advisory Team #80 at Ca Mau (formerly An Xuyen Province, since renamed): SP/4, Advisory Team #80, Signal Detachment - The second week in-country found me learning my Signal Corps duties in the TOC at MACV Advisory Team #80 located in Ca Mau, RVN (AN Xuyen Province capital). Nothing had happened up 'till then, and as any good (and mindless) "greenie" I was getting impatient to see some action.

 

WHOOSH . . . WHAM! What the . . ?!!

WHOOSH . . . BANG!!! (much louder) What was that?!!

Spec/4 Martinez leaned over with a strained expression on his face and illuminated my poor unresponsive brain with a simple word---"rockets!"

 

PFC Vernon Neale, Ca Mau, RVN

My buddy PFC Vernon Neale from Detroit (photo right) was calling in from "Playboy" Guard Tower hollering that the rockets were close to coming right through his tower and that one had hit right behind our commo bunker.

A couple more SLAMMMS!!! later and it was all over ... white knuckle flight #1 was over, and the strained smiles began to break out as there didn't appear to be anything else going on.

 

Rocket impact crater
At dawn the real story came out: Captain Prince, one of our finest field commanders (later, Major), had been awakened by the first rocket and started his reflex moves to get to a bunker when he heard a loud voice tell him to stay put! He hesitated and lay flat on his bunk in the small wooden hooch he called home. He did not sit up and grab gear! He did not roll out onto the floor! He just laid there as the second rocket hit a concrete pylon holding up our perimeter fence. The pylon was about five yards from Prince's hooch. Shrapnel spray went through the thin wood walls and exited through the opposite side---above and below Prince's bunk!

(Photo right: mortar crater shows mud splashed on Captain Prince's place where shrapnel went through above and below his bunk.)
 
Had Captain Prince reacted normally, he'd never have made Major! Obviously, there was no one else around who had yelled at him to stay still.
 
Barry J. Feig
Formerly of Det#3, Co D, 52nd Signal Bn
 
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