14th Infantry Press Coverage: July 1970... by Stephen Heck
Above all else, a tour in Vietnam builds a great degree of patience. In recent action, south of the Mang Guang pass, three Viet Cong displayed a lack of this trait when they walked into what they thought was an abandoned firebase. Instead, they met with a fatal reception given by Ivymen of the Reconnaissance Platoon of the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry.
The closing down of the battalion firebase, Landing Zone Nutmeg, required a security force to be in the area in order to protect against any surprise moves by the enemy. Setting up on a knoll northeast of the firebase, the Reconnaissance Platoon watched as the last elements on the firebase were extracted.
Within 10 minutes, a three-man observation post (OP) from the platoon noticed several individuals moving into the perimeter of the abandoned firebase.
"Five VC came walking through the perimeter from the opposite end just like they didn't have a care in the world", said Sgt. Larry Bonnett of White River Junction, Vt. "They had even slung the AK rifles they were carrying. Obviously, they figured no one was there." Wearing the typical, informal VC uniform of shorts, sandals and faded khaki shirt, the enemy soldiers spread out over the firebase, combing the area for any items left behind by the departing Americans.
"They moved across the firebase like they were on a police call", said Pfc. Glenn Torres of Kansas City, Missouri. "They were picking up bars of soap and even an old worn-out pair of combat boots."
When the scavengers came within 30 meters of the OP, the Dragons opened up with M16 fire. The rest of the platoon quickly moved up to join the action. Minutes later 3 dead enemy soldiers lay in front of the American position.
"These VC must have lived in the area. We had found several hootches and chickens in the past few days', said Pfc. Tony O'Dell of Cobles, Michigan. "They were probably looking for food on the firebase because the day before we had a great chicken dinner at their expense."
Our thanks to Stephen Heck for providing these newspaper articles as published in "Stars & Stripes", "The Ivy Leaf" and "The Army Reporter".