A Fraternity Was
Born Out Of Pride And Endurance
SGT. WILLIAM K. BOE,
From an Article that
appeared in "The Armored Sentinel, Fort Hood, Texas",
Friday, October 4, 1968.
In Bowler's Green, the service club, the EM and NCO clubs, groups of Old
Ironsides soldiers sit and discuss experiences they shared in Vietnam.
Sp4 Robert Smith, Temple, Tex., and Sp4 Eddie Bolton, Memphis, Tenn., both
now with Co. C, 2nd Bn., 46th Inf., remember a hill called
LZ Brillo Pad
and what was required to hold it.
They were both wounded
defending it from North Vietnamese Regulars (NVA) in May 1968 and with a
great feeling of pride recall what happened and how their units reacted to
"Incoming! incoming!-All stations, incoming!" sounded over the radio and the
bearded occupants of the bunker crouched lower to the floor and waited for
the explosions they knew were to come.
For a week the men of
Co.D, Ist Bn., 14th
Inf., 4th Inf. Div.,
had lived in the flimsy bunkers during constant Communist bombardment of
rockets, mortars, and recoilless rifle fire.
were on an important fire base near the Cambodian border named LZ Brillo
Pad, a fire base that blocked main infiltration routes into the rich
Vietnam central highlands area and the provincial capital of Kontum City.
The North Vietnamese Army had tried to take Kontum during the Tet Offensive
and had failed. Now Brillo Pad blocked another mass infiltration toward the
Each man grimaced as the expected enemy mortar rounds exploded across the
face of the hill. They listened, waited, their sleepless eyes staring
at each other. Then they heard the distinct, distant "Pluk --
pluk" from the valley and the surrounding ridge and knew somewhere hidden in
the mountainous jungle, the Communists were dropping 82mm mortar rounds into
The Americans counted the number of "Pluks" and waited. After the
expected number of enemy rounds hit, the men pushed out the sandbags
protecting the bunker entrance and made quick repairs on their shelter, then
dived back into the bunker when they heard more rounds dropped into the
Despite the heavy bombardment, Brillo Pad was not totally on the defensive.
The artillerymen still braved incoming rounds to fire counter battery fire
with their artillery pieces.
Five-man reconnaissance squads would sneak through the trench lines and, in
the concealment of the morning fog, would leave the perimeter and patrol the
dense jungle around the hill.
Patience and courage led the squads as they crawled through the thickets
trying to locate the enemy's positions.
Often they would lie still for an hour and listen to movement in the brush
only a few feet away.
Sweat soaked their fatigues as they shot azimuths and plotted suspected
mortar positions. They were outnumbered in an enemy infested area,
determined to be a spur in the NVA's side.
They found trails and booby-trapped them, set trip flares for early warning
devices, destroyed hidden enemy supplies and plotted where the Reds were
concentrating their strength.
In the dimming light of day they returned to the perimeter.
Night brought a battle of nerves.
A trip flare glowed from within a clump of bamboo down the side of the
hill and two infantryman exchanged glances neither could see.
Both knew the "little man" was on his way. There was a dull explosion
from a thicket and a smile formed on the defender's lips. The booby
traps had been well placed.
In the cover and concealment of the nightly mortar attack, bamboo TNT
filled bangalore torpedoes were tossed into the barb wire, blasting an
opening into the perimeter.
Alert eyes peered through a rifle port and spotted movement illuminated by
the fading glare of a trip flare.
Hands reached for claymore mine detonating devices, fists tightened,
and the explosions along the barb wire ended the enemy threat.
The rest of the night was quiet except for periodic artillery fire hitting
around the perimeter from support fire bases and the occasional "blup" from
an M79 grenade launcher.
Air strikes on surrounding hills became daily procedure, yet rocket and
mortar rounds continued to slam into the hill. Several nights the NVA would
rake the bunker line with devastating fire from Chicom .51 caliber machine
guns and the infantrymen would fire back from the trenches.
Red tracers flashed back and forth between the bunker line and the jungle
during the nightly fire fights.
Some nights mini-gun firing Air Force AC47 Dragonships lazily circled the
hill, sending a continuous red streak of 7.62mm fire down on the
The greatest asset of the infantryman, a sense of humor, was plentiful
during every mortar attack -- every meal of C-rations. The
bearded men could always laugh at themselves, the situation or even death.
One night the B-52's came and the bombs walked across the valley and ridge
lines and night became a red sunset.
The major threat to Brillo Pad was over and a fraternity had been born
consisting of men like Bolton and Smith.
A fraternity of pride and endurance was born among the hill's
defenders and a satisfaction in knowing they had withstood the intensity of
the enemy's attack and emerged the victor.