While on patrol since early morning on a trail in the Ashau Valley, we encountered some small arms fire at our point. We were told to pull back 100 meters so support fire could drop a few rounds ahead of us. To pull back 100 meters with a company size group would have taken an hour or more. We walked for about 10-15 minutes.
We were walking along side of a stream which crossed the path often, some places the stream was 3 ft wide a 3 ft deep and in other places the stream was 15 ft wide and 3 inches deep. We dropped and laid back on our rucks in a wider area around where the water that was shallow and waited.
I remember hearing the mortars coming out of the tube from up on some fire base. Sound travels well in a quiet jungle.
Myself and others remember the sound of artillery volleys going off.
The first round landed about 50 meters out, then a second one was closer. I got my ass up and sat in a walk up dug up the bank of the stream. SSGT sat next to me and a few seconds later one hit right in front of us and a torso with a red smoke grenade popped flew through the air and landed on the SSGT next to me. He let out the most blood chilling scream ever I’ve ever heard. They kept exploding all around us and then the artillery hit a little ways off from our position.
I got up with my ears ringing and started to run up the trail to tell the command group to check fire. As I was running I had to cross the stream and as I went to jump a foot landed in the water in front of me. I thought a foot that small must be Scott’s… he was only 5’3′ our tunnel rat. I later found out it was not his.
When I got to the command group the Capt and 1st SGT were down as well as a few others. They had things under control so I ran back to my squad. The plt Leader LT Phillip Benn, his RTO Roger Link, my squad leader Sgt Phillip Krek, Glen Hubbard, John Barns and Hoyle Terry were dead. There were numbers of wounded laying around. In the meantime the NVA were probing us.
We set up some kind of perimeter to protect the rest of the guys. Nothing happened later from the enemy.
It was a bloody mess, chain saws had to be dropped in. Some of the guys were climbing trees to bend them over in order to rip them down with their bare hands before the saws came.
The brigade commander Col John Cushman dropped in to take out some wounded. I was on the last ship out, I lost my hearing in my one ear and only had a small cut on my forehead. In all 13 troopers died, some died of their wounds in Japan, 22 were wounded. 2nd squad 2nd platoon took the worst hit…
Some of us think this was covered up, notice no record of March 26 or 27 on the Daily Brigade Report. About 5 years ago I met the man who conducted the investigation of the event and he tried to convince me that the base plate slipped on the 4.2 mortars. I asked why did the artillery hit as well?
He asked “What artillery?”
We went back and forth, however other troopers remember the big guns raining down too.
From that day on I promised myself that I would reach out to the families of the Hero Brothers of mine, to tell them what great soldiers and people they were. As 47 years went by every one got older and I did not forget them. On Memorial Day 2015 I was driving my son Josh back to school near Boston when I saw a sign for the Massachusetts Vietnam Memorial on US 90.
We stopped in and the rest is history, the idea for our book was conceived.
I hope my brothers forgive me for taking so long to honor them. Two of them never saw the children that their wives had. That was the worst day of my life and the main reason I decided to publish the book “Fallen Never Forgotten: Vietnam Memorials in the USA”
RIP MY BROTHERS, MAY GOD BLESS YOU,,,,AATW,,,,AIRBORNE ALL THE WAY
Sgt Ronny Ymbras
B Co 1/502 Inf
101st Abn Div
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