The Naked Warriors
Of course, now looking back over the many years no one that I remember had
heard of “Murphy’s Law” at the time, but some of us had the opportunity to
learn about it on the battlefield.
Two thousand years ago the Celtic warriors went to battle naked and so did my squad in August 1967. On that eventful day, Bravo Company moved on foot from Highway 1 along the north side of the Bong Son River and at a location about two kilometers from the South China Sea, we established blocking force positions facing the river. Several kilometers south of the Bong Son River, other units from our battalion were conducting a coordinated sweep and pushing the enemy toward our positions. So our mission was to be ready to engage the enemy as they crossed the river from the south.
These Bravo Company blocking positions extended along the riverbank for several hundred meters and facing the Bong Son River. It was a beautiful day as I recall, hot but not too hot, and along the riverbank there was plenty of shade from coconut trees and large bushes covered the large white sand dunes to our rear. It was mid-afternoon when a group of us from Cheyenne couldn’t resist the temptation of a little swim. The river was wide and moved slowly, the water was deep and cool, and immediately in front of our positions was a little sand island about 10-12 meters from the bank of the river, temporarily our own little sand island. It was all very enchanting with the warm sun, the little sand island, the shade of our position and the beautiful blue river flowing gently before us on its way to the South China Sea.
It was also very peaceful and there was not a sound from the far side of the river. So we stripped off our uniforms and headed the few meters for the river. Some of us swam in the deep water near the bank, some made it to the sand island and others had blown up their air mattress’s to float to the island…some said, I think, it will be good place to dig positions for the night…but that is another story.
Well, here is where Murphy’s Law hit us. As we were enjoying our swim and the warm sun, rounds fired from several AK-47 automatic rifles hit the trees and bushes on the shore just behind us! What the heck! We were expecting the enemy to come toward us from the far side of the river and now we are being attacked from our rear!
Without any hesitation we swam or paddled to the shore, grabbed our weapons (M-16 automatic rifles, M-79 grenade launchers and the M-60 machine gun), and stark naked charged up the banks returning the fire. At times like this it is not an option to put on our uniforms and you can just imagine this grotesque situation with our naked M-60 machine gun operator running forward yelling frantically “feed me”, and being trailed by an equally naked assistant holding an ammo belt and trying to snap it on to the few rounds dangling from the M-60.
Looking back, I must admit that those of us armed with M-16s or M-79s, with extra ammo belts strung across our chests, probably looked very distressed as we charged naked toward the sand dunes to our rear. But this was nothing when compared to our miserable and pathetic looking M-60 machine gun crew. They certainly did not look anything like Audie Murphy as they charged naked toward the sand dunes, dodging palm laden ground in bare feet and at the same time, trying to fasten a new belt of ammo to the dangling link. Quickly realizing the AK-47 had stopped and that we were doing much more damage to our feet than we could hope to impose on the enemy, our imposing group pulled up, as horses being brought to a quick stop in western movies. Our naked counterattack must have scared the hell out of the enemy attackers because they swiftly withdrew like diseased sand mites. And for us young warriors, the lesson we learned was Murphy’s law – anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
Well, as they say in basketball, “no harm no foul”.
Prepared by Fred Fish.
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