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LZ Bronco
11th Light Inf. Bde. Americal Division

1969

© (2001) by LtC Adrian Fitzpatrick (R),
CPT Adrian M. Fitzpatrick 1969-1970
Headquarters, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry
11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division

 

We had just come down from a sweep off the mountains out behind Duc Pho, LZ Bronco home of the 11th Light Inf. Bde. Americal Division.  We had been airlifted out the day prior to the highest hill mass in the area. We had conducted a sweep approximately one quarter of the way down the first day and then night laagered with the company in tact. I was CO of D/1/20 and we were operating as a company. I had just taken over the company about three weeks before and was still in the process of getting to know everybody.  One thing I saw right away there were some troopers in the unit who were very brave if not fool hardy.  They were for the most part veterans of at least six months in the field and they were a confident bunch, and that worried me some because when you get over confident you can forget how tough your opponent can be or how wily and dangerous.

The second day we completed our sweep down out of the mountains and when we reached the low land and rice patties it was getting dark.  We had seen hide nor hair of Charlie and that worried me a lot because I knew there were plenty of them around. We had just arrived at our temporary laager before we moved into our permanent night laager.  We would do that just after dark.We had just set up a defensive perimeter when out of nowhere we see two VC in uniform with weapons and they are no more than 50 meters away next to a tree line.  As soon as the VC were seen and some of my people had given the alert they vanished right at the tree line.  Several rounds were fired at them. The first thing I know I have pandemonium with most of two platoons taking off on foot after the VC, so I took off after them to establish some order.  When we got to the tree line we could see the reason they appeared and disappeared so easily.  There was a sunken path right at the tree line and it disappeared around a bend after about 100 meters. As soon as I saw that sunken road and the bend in the path I knew what it was, it was the perfect place for an ambush and the two VC were merely the bait. When I came through the program to acclimatize new replacements at Chu Lai, conducted by Americal Division, we were briefed on tactics Charlie had been using recently.  This was one of the first tactics mentioned and it had been used on the Marines in the DMZ several times effectively. I started shouting in my loudest most authoritative voice for everybody to get back to the night laager, NOW.  I did not want anybody to get near that bend in the trail.  No one did and that night I got my Artillery Observer to call some H&I in the area of the bend in the trail.  After one volley of perhaps ten rounds was fired and impacted in that area we were sure we could hear screams. Since it was, from the actual night laager, probably a klick away we could not be sure.  But the next week one of our company's swept through that area and they found bloody bandages and bloody uniform parts in behind that bend in the sunken path. The in country orientation had paid off for me and saved many casualties and probably saved me as a company commander.

LtC Adrian Fitzpatrick (R),
CPT Adrian M. Fitzpatrick 1969-1970
Headquarters, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry
11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division

Read about the 1969 Christmas Card then Capt Fitzpatrick received from
Nguyen Van Thieu, president of South Vietnam.

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