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War Stories

LRRP Extraction Charcoal Kiln - 67

Tom Fleming

Another Memorable LRRP Mission occuring in late November or early December 1967


For this mission the Long Range Reconnasiance Patrol was under the Operational Control of D Troop. The mission was to place a patrol team in an over watch position of a north south trail two kilometers west of Dau Tieng. D Troop deployed a command and control UH-1C, insertion/extraction UH-1D and two UH-1C gunships to control and conduct the LRRP and the insertion/extraction. The LRRP Mission Control Station and D troop Command and Control were collocated in a GP Medium Tent alongside the north south air strip

The team was a five man team led by SSG Turner a newly assigned LRRP who was on his first tour coming from FT Benning where had been a Ranger Instructor. He was an impressive looking individual tall, very muscular and aggressive looking. You could tell he had been into body building.

The location for the insertion was worked out in the usual fashion e.g. High over flight in D Troop’s C & C so as not to attract attention to the mission. The location for insertion was an opening in the jungle back from the trail about 200 meters which provided the team the ability to move forward to an opening alongside the road where they could observe traffic from about 50 yard back. Alongside the road/trail at the point of their observation post was a large brick kiln that had once been used as a charcoal kiln . The insertion went as planned at last light with no enemy contact.

The next day the team started reporting a steady stream of porters pushing bicycles heading south. As their SOP called for they described in detail the appearance and actions of all people they saw. These individuals were porters not soldiers and they proceeded on their way un alarmed. The next day the procession of porters and bicycles commenced as the sun came up. About mid morning the pattern of movement changed and the procession stopped for a while. When the movement began again it was armed individual who acted nervous. The team was queered and asked if they had been compromised. The answer was no soon thereafter the armed traffic was going in both directions and the team reported that they heard wood chopping ( a sign that the enemy was cutting poles to probe for a reconnaissance team).

The team leader was again asked if the team had been compromised. SSG Turner's response after being pressed on the issue by the D Troop Commander, was that he had moved forward to the charcoal kiln and climbed inside, was observing the trail from about 20 meters and he stated that an individual had looked at him but he was sure he thought he was a VC. SSG Turner is an African American. With that response the extraction trigger was pulled.

The opening around the Charcoal kiln was not suitable for helicopter extraction so the alternate extraction plan was put into effect. The 2/12 Mech Infantry had a troop standing by for base camp defense and they had been alerted at the first indication that the team may have been compromised. The Mechanized infantry company raced out the gate to the west toward Tay Ninh and took a right at the first road intersection (the trail/Road the LRRP Team had been over watching). The lead platoon raced up the road without regard for mines or ambush and arrived at the LRRP teams position just as the VC were commencing an assault. The LRRP Team hopped in the lowered ramp and the infantry backed away firing all of their weapons, turned around in a fusillade of miss aimed RPGs and promptly returned to base camp. D Troop pounded the area with gunship fire followed by an artillery barrage. No visual sighting of enemy casualties was made.