Convoy, Ashau Valley!

A three-quarter ton truck in lead hit a Chinese Tank Mine!

by: Dennis Byrnes
101st Airborne Division, 3rd Bn 187th Abn Inf, Co D, 1970
© 2005

"Medic!" - "Doc" or "Mo" are the only names I knew this brother by. "Mo" because it was short for his surname Moreau and "Doc" for the obvious reason. We were both assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, 3rd Bn 187th Abn Inf, Co D in 1970.

Our platoon had just finished pulling bunker duty at a firebase. Before we returned to the boonies our platoon was assigned to escort an eight inch howitzer on tracks up a road to get into position to fire into the A Shau Valley. There was a three quarter ton truck in the lead. There were two APC's in front and behind the howitzer.

The first day we started down the road we had engineers doing mine sweeps as we started out. The sun was shining as the day began but as dusk approached it had begun to rain. The rain storm and cloud cover had cut visibility down to nothing by the time it was night time.

We had thrown up some low profile poncho tents good enough to keep three of us out of the rain. That night was the first time I really got to spend any time getting to know "Doc". He was a little older than most of us and was married with two children. We had mail call that day and he received a letter from home which had the first pictures of his newborn child which he was seeing for the first time. We passed the pictures around and he talked about his family.

It rained hard most of the night but by morning it had ended. The second day of escort there were no engineers sent to do mine sweeps and we formed up to move out. We arranged ourselves in two squads on top of each APC. "Mo" and I were on the rear APC behind the howitzer. He was sitting next to me on the left rear corner of the APC.

Not long after we had pulled out, the three quarter ton truck in the lead hit what I now know was a Chinese Tank Mine. The driver and the guy riding shotgun in the truck were both injured and the holler came immediately "medic."

 "Doc" grabbed his bag and leaped over the side. As fast as he was over the edge, an explosive blast came back up over the side. "Mo" had landed directly on top of a second Chinese Tank Mine. The file pulled off the road and we were instructed to lay low until it was determined what type of contact we were in.

After it was decided we were not under any direct fire, we were told to begin clover-leafing the area. I asked "Zero," Spc4 Nilla, what we were doing and he said, "We're looking for "Doc's" arms and legs man. We never did find them. There was only about enough to fill about a half a body bag that day.

Something changed for me that day, I cried like a baby and then shut down for the rest of my tour. I can only imagine how badly he was missed by his family and closest friends.

Here's to you Thomas Michael Moreau, my fallen brother, you gave your all trying to rush to the aid of your wounded brothers.

Dennis M. Byrnes

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