Bravo Company - 1969-70
Photos from Rick Ericksen
Forward Observer's RTO, A Battery, 2/9th Artillery

Read his Recollections at the bottom of this page...
 

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[1]  Rick Ericksen, Lt. Joe Hannigan,  [2]  Unknown,  [3]  Vietnamese farmer in rice season
[4]  Rick Ericksen, Unknown,  [5]  Lt. Joe Hannigan, Rick Ericksen

[6]  Huey,  [7]  Unknown,  [8]  Unknown,  [9]  Unknown,  [10]  Lt. Joe Hannigan (bottom right), rest Unknown

[11]  Unknown,  [12]  Unknown,  [13]  Capt., Rick Ericksen  [14]  Rick Ericksen and "C" Rations  [15]  Unknown

[16]  Unknown,  [17]  Unknown,  [18]  Rick Ericksen,  [19]  Rick Ericksen,  [20]  Unknown

[21]  Unknown,  [22]  Unknown on patrol,  [23]  Rick Ericksen RTO,  [24]  Lt. Joe Hannigan, Rick Ericksen  [25]  Unknown

[26]  Caribou landing?,  [27]  Lt. Joe Mallia, Rick Ericksen,  [28]  Vietnamese children,  [29]  Huey landing,  [30]  Rick Ericksen with M-60

[31] Rick Ericksen,  [32]  Unknown on patrol, [33]  M-60 machine gun,  [34]  Rick Ericksen,  [35]  Unknown, Rick Ericksen

 

Recollections of Rick Ericksen --

I was attached to Bravo Company, 1/14th Inf. on two occasions. When I first arrived in country on Feb. 69  after in-country training etc., I was convoyed out to LZ Mary Lou and flown out to my first firebase somewhere due north of LZ Mary Lou.  We flew for about 15 minutes till we came upon a really big hill top and that's where I was dropped off.  I was met by the "A" Battery BC and he introduced himself to me and two other new guys. He gave us a little welcome speech and then went on to tell us about the unit and other things.  Somewhere in his conversation, he mentioned something about working/using a radio. He was more or less looking for someone to operate it.  Then he switched gears and went on about other details but eventually he came back to the subject of the radio.  I guess he was looking for one of us to say something so guess who…Ya, I was the Dummy who got curious and said I thought I could handle it.  But what he did not let on was it was a portable, PRC-25 better known as a Prick-25.  I found out later why it got its name especially when he told me to meet him next morning at the chopper pad.  When I arrived, he had the radio, a rucksack, C-Rations, and canteens of water etc. all packed and ready to go.  He then showed me how the radio worked.  Once he was satisfied I was OK to operate it and understood it, he packed it in the large compartment of the rucksack and lashed it down and closed it up along with all of the food & water.  That's when he lowered the boom on me and told me it went on my back and when the chopper came in, he told me to get on because I was going for another ride to join up with the 1/14th Infantry and replacing the RTO who was with the FO party.  I know, never volunteer for anything.  Shame on me for trying to help out.

The Forward Observer was a very young Lieutenant, about 21, who had recently graduated from OCS and was now the FO.  His Call sign was Arc Light.  I can't remember his actual name, but he was one Hot Shit and Gung Ho as ever.  He told me to just hang loose and settle in and he would get around to talking to me later.  I started talking to one of the guys and he asked me if I wanted to see some dead Dinks.  I said sure. We walked out about 50 yards or so from their line, and in the high grass of a small meadow were bodies everywhere.  He told me it happened yesterday.  And no sooner had he said this then he turned and started running back towards the berm.  Some of the guys started yelling at me to get down.  I heard a peculiar noise in the background and started walking back, and the yelling got louder.  Next I heard a "Bloomp" and crunch again like a tree crashing to the ground.  I started walking faster and with the third "Bloomp", I heard a sound like the crack/bang of lightning and thunder and saw a tree on the far side of the meadow blow up.  I started running for my life.  As I made it back to the line, I heard someone yell, "OPEN UP."  That's when all hell broke loose.  As you probably figured out, Charlie was walking in mortars from a small hill above us.  I asked the guy closest to me what the hell was going on and what were they firing at.  He said, "Just shoot, they are coming."  I asked who and before he could utter another word he took a direct hit from an AK round.  I felt something hit me in the face and block my vision for a second.  As I wiped it away, I saw that half his face was gone.  I went totally apeshit and panicked.  But before I could get up and run, two other guys grabbed me and slammed me to the ground and held me down and said don't get up or try and run or you going to join the guy who just got hit.  After a few minutes they pulled me to my knees, told me to start shooting, and keep shooting in the same direction everyone else was.  So I did what I was told.  I could hear what sounded like supersonic bumble bees whizzing by us.   But we were lucky - no one else got hit.  And then it was over - it lasted about 15-20 minutes but seemed to take a lot longer.  I was told that this happened nearly every day.  Later we "saddled up" and started up a trail up to two adjoining hills.  We made contact four more times on the way up, losing two guys right in front of the track I was riding in when it took a direct hit from an RPG.

Later we reached the top of the first of the two hills and were told to set up for the rest of the day and night.  We would take the upper hill the next day.  Next morning, my FO called in an Arty strike on the hill above to soften it up just in case they were waiting again for us.  These were hardcore NVA with khaki uniforms and pith helmets and AK's.  After the Arty prep, a squad of grunts, along with one tank, went to recon the second hill.  They had been gone fifteen minutes when we heard small arms automatic weapons fire.  After another half hour the squad  returned and reported the enemy had "di di mau'd" and left only Dink behind to stall them.  The tank commander was showing a Polaroid picture he took of the Dink, who, he said, kept firing right to the point where he ran over him.  All I could make out was a pile of goo with an AK sticking out of it.

I stayed in the field for about a month and then returned to the firebase and my gun crew.

Several months later I volunteered to go back out as RTO with the Grunts after the battle of LZ St. George, and I remained with Bravo company, 1/14th until April, 1970 when I finally received my orders to go home.  On my first assignment to the 1/14th we were stationed just south of Dak To, and working near Chu Pa Mountain.  When I rejoined B Co. we moved a lot, to as far south as Ban Me Thout, to An Khe, and to other LZs.  We fought almost every day, and long and hard.  Hardly a day that went by that we did not make contact, and one fire fight followed another.  I carried the radio for the 2/9th Artillery's Forward Observer Lt. Joe Hannigan until he stepped on a punjii stake and was Medevac'd to the rear.  By that time I was a Sergeant, and was given the responsibilities of Forward Observer until a replacement could be found. 
I sometimes wonder how I made it out of there alive.  We were losing guys like flies.  God only knows, and I thank him for it every day.

 

 

 

Acknowledgements:
1/14th Infantry Vietnam Photos:  Bravo Company - 1969-70 - Rick Ericksen
Copyright © 2013  14th Infantry Regiment Association
Pictures Copyright © 2013  Rick Ericksen
Last modified: February 05, 2016