MINES!

by: William Dean
© Copyright (1999)

 
 

Camp Evans, near abandoned Firebase Sword - My name is William Dean and I was a 20 year old 1st Lt with 1st plat. Co D 3/187th Abn Inf, 101st Ab Div, RVN, Aug 8, 1970. My platoon was on patrol outside Camp Evans near abandoned Firebase Sword. In preparing for the coming night operation, I had been directed to establish three ambush locations. With a platoon of 18 troops it was kind of hard to do but we split into three squads. As we separated and moved out I was with 1st squad, my RTO "Wimpy", our medic "Doc", Sgt Harvey, Sgt Latham, and Raymer, our M60 man.
      We had chosen a site 2 klicks from our daytime position and moved out an hour before dark. We used one of the many old tank trails left by the Cav when they were in the area. As was my norm I walked 3rd in line. We reached our night spot and I directed Sgt Laytham to move off the trail about 30 yards into the waist high grass. As we reached that point he made a right turn so as to make our line parallel to the trail. I had dropped my ruck and was talking to each squad member as they past. My RTO was standing next to me when there was an explosion and I found myself laying flat about 10 feet from where I had been. I stood and moved back to my ruck. Wimpy was on the ground unconscious. My left hand was numb and bent back. I could not see from my left eye and could see blood on my fatigue shirt. I sat on my pack as Sgt Harvey came running in from the trail, he had been walking rear. Neither of us knew what had happened but I told him to check everybody.
      As Harvey moved off I reached over to Wimpy an found the radio handset. I called the CO and told him we had been hit and that all packs were down. His immediate response was for me to change to battalion freq an call for med-evac. Before I could do that I heard urgent radio calls from my our two squads saying they had overheard an were moving to us. In minutes I had contacted medevac and they were coming. I also could hear the squads approaching, calling out in the dusk to let us know who and where they were.
      As I sat there Sgt Harvey returned to say that Latham, Doc And Raymer were down hard and they he was not sure Doc or Raymer would make it. As we spoke the other squads moved in and began setting up security and doing what they could for us. I heard the evac birds approaching and they called wanting to know the type contact we had had and how long ago. I told them that we had hit a mine or booby trap and that we had secured the LZ. With that, Sgt Harvey turned on his strobe light an moved to the trail.
      I sat and watched as the 1st bird landed and then watched as my platoon members were loaded aboard an then watched the bird lift. My thoughts were "Wait, I'm hurt too", but before I knew it a second bird sat down and I was being carried aboard. Sgt Latham had also been placed on this bird. As we flew toward Camp Evans I felt no pain and could only hope that I would be Okay.
      Upon landing we were rushed inside the evac center and all my clothes cut off. A medic was doing a quick check of me and I could see blood between my legs. I asked if everything was ok down there and with a quick pull and look he said "Yeah man, they're fine." My chest had several small holes in it and breathing was hard. Within minutes I was back on a copter heading south to the 85th Evac Hospital near Hue. The doors were open and being naked I became very cold. The medic kept yelling at me to stay awake but I could only feel the cold.
      Again we landed and I was rushed into a building. A doctor looked me over and sent me to X-ray. They lifted me onto the table and the medics moved me around for different xray shoots. I felt weak and then I threw up. It was thick, foamy and red. I looked at the medic, and knowing he'd have to clean it up told him that I was sorry. His reply "Hell man, you're the hurt one, don't worry." I was moved into an operating room and was put under.
      Sgt Latham was at the same hospital. He improved and was shipped home. The others had been flown elsewhere. I was told that Doc and Raymer died. I hated that---Raymer had a new son that he had never seen. Years later I visited the "Moving Vietnam Wall" but could only find Raymers name.
      Many American boys became men in Vietnam. Many never got to grow up. Those of us that God allowed to return must not ever forget those that gave that last full measure to the friends, families and Country. God bless this country and all who have served her.

Some of my Camp Evans 1970 in-country photos follow:

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1) Sgt John Fako (KIA 10-15-70) and "Zero" in mountains near Fire Base Rakkasan.

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2) My RTO "Wimpy" (WIA) and another platoon member reading mail
from home after resupply in mountains near Fire Base Rakkasan.

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3) A little game of cards to kill some time.

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4) Weapons, helmets and boots setup for memorial services
in Battalion area 3/187th at Camp Evans, June 70.

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5) Same memorial service as prior photo

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6) Mortar platoon and security positions near railroad bridge
over Song Bo river just south of Camp Evans.

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7) Photo taken as copter lands at Song Bo River railroad bridge.

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8) Members of mortar platoon Co E 3/187th as resupply-birds leaves security
emplacement at Railroad Bridge over Song Bo river near Camp Evans.
(Hey ... what'a bout ME---I mean---Us!)

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9) Self photo: [editor's insert: Butt] Ugly, ain't I!

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10) PFC Carroll Raymer (KIA 8-8-70) sacked out in abandoned
house in abandoned village North of Camp Evans

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11) Me and platoon member near copter pad in
Bn area getting ready to head back to bush.

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12) Being platoon leader meant I didn't have much to carry.

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13) Me getting Captain bars May 71 at Ft. Bragg, NC. I was now
with 5th Special Forces Group. I had jut turned 21 in February.

 
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