Scroll down to watch “Platoon Mates Discuss Vietnam Jungle Combat During TET” video


The Vietnam war was a confusing whirlwind of hidden dangers, jungle hazards, and a resourceful enemy. In this video two-platoon mates from the 101st Airborne Division discuss their experiences together in the Vietnam War.

Ronny and Harry served in a company whose casualty rate (KIA and wounded) was over 90 percent, these Vietnam veterans each received two purple hearts as well as Bronze Stars and Air Medal awards. But most of all they survived to tell the stories of the TET offensive and the jungles of Southeast Asia.

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TRANSCRIPT – Transcript and Subtitles are generated automatically by YouTube and may contain errors.

all right here we are harry and uh fort
campbell tell us about this picture and
where you are located
could you see this picture
okay this is a picture a bunch of us had
these mohawks and what we did
yeah we uh
tried to
the attitude and the
i guess physical appearance of the guys
who jumped in normandy in world war ii
with on the first airborne the fivo
deuce on the left i’m in the center top
harry’s on the right next to me
what a close-knit bunch of guys we had
harry we were we were a good close-knit
bunch of guys and those of us that
survived still are
let’s get back to vietnam yeah with with
the uh
experience when we landed in tanzania
and trucked up to benoit
yeah then we went to kuchi
uh with the 25th over there tell us
about that with the uh 11th army cavalry
a little bit of experience there well we
had a mission with the 11th armored cav
that are now fort irwin california
uh with their tanks i think about 45 46
and uh in heavy jungle and we
busted our way through it
and uh
i don’t think i’d want to do that again
i don’t like tanks
the michelin rubber plantation
yes yeah and the worst thing about
riding on an apc
was when those
rising on top yeah man that’s it
when when you hit these trees and the
red ass came down on you oh my god i
never got naked so fast in my life
because no matter what you did you
couldn’t get rid of them they’re down
your neck they’re up your sleeves
even though your pants were like
they didn’t want blousing rubbers but to
heck with that in the jungle you know so
it was nuts man that was the worst that
was that was bad yeah you’d strip off
your clothes and everybody started
patting you down as hard as they could
i know
but in the meantime
i think there was more
that could get you
beside a
a mortar rpg or a aks round they were
like jungle rats there were step and
half snakes there were leeches there was
malaria there was dysentery there was
like i had tigers and elephants too
oh my gosh
how many people you know got affected
with something else
did you hear that what’s that how many
people do you know that got affected by
something other than
the wounds of battle
well uh geez i don’t know
that’s a tough question yeah it was like
uh it was a circus man something
happened it’s every you had to take your
water pills your malaria pills whatever
they were
and stay with the leeches with the
cigarette remember burns burning uh
leeches out with the cigarettes
yeah every every day or two we had more
and more guys wounded and every once in
a while somebody killed
oh yeah
that was sad
they came the big day i’m glad you
missed it was a big bad thing actually
yeah i don’t know people know about it
but we lost a lot of guys we lost one
third of our company
with uh
13 guys being killed and 22 guys being
out of uh a company of about a hundred
guys so that was 30
33 guys or so uh
by our own mortise that was march 26
1968. not a good experience not a good
what happened with your second purple
well that’s uh
we were
airlifted out of uh
an afternoon with not a whole lot
into an area it was supposed to be
secured nobody there but it turned out
there were
and uh just before dark they hit us they
hit us hard
and uh we were completely surrounded
i managed to last about an hour before i
got shot in the side half dozen times
oh yes i remember that yeah yeah i mean
i recall that actually i have this uh
one one february 11th that was what was
the second time
well the second time i got wounded was
on the the deuce and i had to grow up
when was the first one i’m sorry
well the first and uh
oh god
oh uh on the fifth of february i got
in the uh
or not shot but uh we’ll do with a
shrapnel from a mortar in the back
ah okay i didn’t get a purple heart for
that good don’t worry about that
you had you got you do man you got home
video i’m going to tell you about the
february february we awoke to a mortar
in attack
17 wounded in our platoon
we killed over a hundred guys tacobon
uh howe
edwards hellrod mullis plant
all but 14 guys yeah they all got
wounded that day
artillery came came in and then we
chopped out and set up another defensive
uh perimeter
i uh night the night defensive printer i
kept the diary there
anything every day you want to know
harry i could uh
try to give you the best information i
but uh
not a good book to keep
so let’s tell harry tell us about the
first mission we went on the coochie
what happened with the uh big bird
coming down well our first mission was
on the 27th of december we came there on
the 13th
so two weeks uh getting ready for it
we went out and spent an afternoon
walking around south vietnam
and we started up a trail up into the
hobo woods
uh company a went one path on the pat of
the uh trail and we went on the other
the enemy was in between us and they
opened up on both companies and we had a
god-awful firefight with each other
and uh
bob bocus and i were told to go in and
coordinate with the other company so we
went through the enemy territory and
ended up getting down on the ground
right beside the enemy machine gun about
five feet away in the bush
and uh a chopper from the 25th infantry
division came in and
started flying low and slow over our
heads trying to help us
and they managed to see me and i pointed
out the bush where the enemy machine gun
was and he said he was going to beat it
up and the next thing i knew the
helicopter exploded and
all four guys died
yeah i remember i remember the next day
or two i wasn’t quite sure what day it
was i could always look that up
uh then we had to go out and recover
the bodies
yeah and that was uh man that was a
that was a hell of an initiation to uh i
remember running down the trail and
getting down like running down the trail
on my hands and knees
to uh
like a gorilla i guess and uh
you never hear the one that hits you but
the one that goes by pew pew pew
noise wisdom by your head
sounds like these
man if there is about your knee you
don’t hear them they’re too low you know
what i mean but oh yeah man it was not
good harry
that was good that they were bad shots
the uh well sometimes they just fired up
you know just let a magazine go you know
what i mean
how about wait a second forget the rug
how about sex 42 days without seeing the
you missed that for that
normal school season yeah
it was miserable
sleeping in the rain sleeping in the mud
wearing field jackets
yeah it was either real hot or real cold
yeah you know it’s weird people don’t
know people think vietnam is a hot
jungle place but in the meantime we had
we had
a t-shirt on
a jungle sweater
a fatigue shirt and a field jacket
to try to keep warm there you go
that’s my man harry and for a while we
had flak fast
yeah oh yeah right yeah yeah
harry we got a picture of you up here
sitting on a rice paddy smoking a
cigarette with your m16 bro yeah i was
looking good
you took that picture and i took a
picture and you took a picture of me let
me see the same picture
yeah you took the one with me i took the
one with you how about that there you go
look at all the stuff we’re wearing here
we’re wearing uh
we got the field jacket on you can see
uh the uh
what you call it uh
oh my arm is wet we’re sitting on a dike
in a wet rice wet rice paddy the reason
i say wet because sometimes they were
and then there’s plenty of ammo patches
and grenades and gas masks and uh you
name it
thank you so much for that picture harry
it’s like my
my uh
uh trademark
i appreciate that
there you go there’s that picture
uh first combat assault
i’ll send that picture to you man
in the meantime
tell us about tell us about what you
remember about that first firefight we
had not with the
helicopter going down when we went down
into uh when the company got ambushed or
was it a c company yes c company
all i know is they uh they had a
god-awful number of guys wounded by
booby traps that day
we were lucky
yeah we went overnight with that there’s
a there’s a log
uh do you know there’s a 502 infantry
log history that uh
uh a trooper put up there since uh
day one that the hunter first went into
everything that happened every day for
every unit
i need a copy of that okay i’ll send you
his name
in the meantime tell us about 98 nine
well that ambushes are the worst part of
don’t sleep at night i’m i’m up every
night all night
it just scares the crap out of you
you know harry i was so afraid at times
i thought that the enemy could hear my
heart beating
or your breath
yeah well i don’t know about my breath
they could probably smell that
but my heart was thumping so loud
i just i swear i thought they would hear
it like from 20 50 feet away whatever
the night ambushes were not nice
yeah we had a couple that were very
decisive we oh really i don’t mean that
i mean the whole attitude about it yeah
oh my goodness yeah we had a great plan
we did man the guy we did great you know
what we kicked some ass we do
and like the papers the the press
they they wrote it down like we like we
were the bad guys first of all and then
then we got our ass kicked well man we
we had enough casualties
of our own
but it we tripled quadruple the amount
of casualties and the weapons that we
out of the field from the enemy
including some serious
you know two-man weapons
i think we had
27 guys killed in our company during
that time
yeah we actually had a 90
mortality rate no not mortality
you know
injured injure or killed correct w-i-a
okay 97
but that also meant some guys got
wounded three or four times
that’s right but that wasn’t like every
every guy in a hundred man company 97
got wounded it could have been 60 guys
got wounded but a couple of them got
wounded two three four times
yeah there were a number of us they got
wounded several times yeah i got hit
four times but only two purple hearts
yeah well you should ride up man you
should go get them
you want some help
yeah oh by the way thank god i want to
congratulate you for trying to get
albania small that congressional medal
of honor
oh yeah i i tried
i got your letters here it’s really
harry uh albania small harry tell the
we on the i think it was the 21st of
uh we did a maneuver where we
pivoted and wheeled to the left the
whole company pivoted and first platoon
got shot up real bad in in uh in a enemy
we tried to get in two of them and
rescue him albania’s small went in seven
times and pulled the guy out each time
and then uh
i managed to go in the other side to get
three guys out but uh
it was a bad situation a bad situation
but in the meantime
back at base camp being reading up for
the medal of honor a mortar came in and
blew his arm off
yeah they they pulled him out of the
when he got uh put him for the medal of
honor and he went to the rear
was playing horseshoes and the
mortar round went off in the distance a
piece of shrapnel came by and cut his
arm off mid forearm and his hand was
still attached to the horseshoe
did he get a ringer no stop
he should have got the medal of honor
yes i agree you’re no kidding you’re not
yeah absolutely right that’s not good
uh happened to a lot of people though
and very heroic
wars people cared for each other so much
there were guys you know what bothered
me most about that war too that when
they said there was a lot of racism
hey man we didn’t care who was who we
were like
we were more than brothers
with everybody in our car but we didn’t
have that kind of problem in the
paratroopers we were all highly
motivated that’s true yeah we weren’t
yeah but then we got started to get
infiltrated with i would
infiltrate it sounds like a bad thing uh
a lot of our replacements
yeah of course yeah we were the last set
of paratroopers yeah 101st
and yeah i’ll tell you what uh some of
they just weren’t
as gung-ho as we were
wrong with that they were just
people got drafted
and got put in our units but
we were kind of animalistic and and
gonna go with things uh
they just didn’t hold up i actually
had an issue with one guy dropping 81
millimeter mortar rounds on the trail
he didn’t want to carry them
and uh i had to tell them
if i saw it again something
might happen
which was not good
besides they’d turn around and use it on
exactly oh yeah no problem
it was just a bad scene
i heard a little rumor
that you had some experience flying a
i did
tell us about that we went over on
operation eagle thrust on the 12th of
december 67
and when we landed at wake island
the guys were kind of tired and sleeping
in the back i went up to the front of
the airplane and the pilot invited me to
fly the airplane so i sat down in the
right seat took the yoke and
flew the airplane nobody else had
controls for 15 minutes up at 35 000
feet thanks a lot harry
i’ll tell you what with a bunch of
paratroopers on board i think they would
have jumped without the shoot if they
knew you were flying that plane that’s
why i kept it secret for 50 years
oh my goodness gracious you’re too much
we’re gonna after a minute oh tell us
about ted how crazy ted was at first
well ted was real bad we uh we the
trainings down south was nothing
compared to tent
they we uh for one thing we were
fighting the north vietnamese regulars
and they were real soldiers
and they fought hard and they they took
a lot of us out
but uh
every day something happened we’d lose a
few more guys every day either wounded
or killed
that was no picnic all right all right
thank you very much
i want to thank you so much harry for
being a second guest on this show
the veterans live and uh
continued success of what you do with
your bird uh your dove factory
and uh
i think it’s a nice thing to have for
people’s funerals give them some peace
and uh respect
and uh
please stay in touch with us no matter
how you can and we’ll be swapping emails
or texts whatever or messages
and uh we’ll go from there good luck
with your show man any last words you’d
like to say
just good luck with your show
i appreciate that so much man all right
ladies and gentlemen thank you harry
we’ll catch you next time