TAM KY, AMBUSHED.........1967
By: Pat "Beanie" Camunes
Tam Ky, Vietnam in the early hours of the forthcoming day. A platoon moves out and in its lead is our squad that consists of seven men that have committed themselves to self-preservation at what ever the cost. A trusted and seasoned combat pointman is leading our way and we trustfully and re-insurely follow in his footsteps. Trust and experience are what keep our squad maintaining a discipline and combined confidence in whatever we are destined to encounter.
Our slow and seamless quiet advance is suddenly and abruptly halted as a large explosion is set off in our forward advance by a well placed and hidden mine. Several other explosions follow as command detonated mines are set off as well as chicom or Chinese designed grenades are tossed amongst our troops.......We suddenly and unexpectantly find ourselves as the victims of an enemy's ambush.
Our training and time in country has caused us to retaliate without hesitation. An immediate onslaught of heavy firepower is let loose from our troops seeking cover as squad and platoon leaders scramble to organize an unsuccesful counter attack. The onsault of heavy enemy caliber rounds is just too heavy and any movement on our part at this time would only mean more casualties.
Deadly sounds of the weapons involved are heard from both sides but not enough to hide the whine of that all too close piece of death seeking your presence. An unforgettable sense of survival is instilled and all fear is instinctively drawn away, not only for yourself but also for the remaining members of your unit. Many separate unrecorded acts of heroism occur throughout our unit being attacked. We will not let ourselves be taken down without a fight.
Unforgettably, the sounds of this battle are instilled into the deepest and not knowingly accessible parts of our minds. . . . . The incoming rounds that penetrate heavy foliage shattering tree limps and tree bark above and around you. . . . . The ricocheting or rounds or shrapnel that penetrates the ground around you covering you with dirt and bits of broken rock. . . . . . And the all-unforgiving sound of rounds hitting flesh, bone and blood of your comrades and yourself and the cries of helplessness as a vital wound forbids someone to defend himself.
The ambush ends as abruptly as it started. We are left at full alert while trying to tend to our wounded and dying. The dead are unceremoniously moved to a hastily cleared landing zone in order for our medivac to pick them up after retrieving our wounded. There is no time for mourning, good-byes or recognition of the accomplishments of these men being choppered out this day. We are still in dangerous territory and a deadly situation and we must commit ourselves to being the professionals that we were trained to be.
This is all well said and done but none of this is remembered or acknowledged until twenty plus years later. Memories awaken in the dark of the night and the guilt of so many years of not remembering slowly sinks in. There is that guilty feeling of not having felt the loss of a fellow combatant at the time or the compassion that should have been afforded him . . . . . . . . . . and I pray every night to the Almighty, that he forgive me for my uncaring at this difficult time and recognize the awareness that I now endure by.
APVNV © Pat(Beanie)Camunes
D/4/31 196th Light Infantry Brigade
Tay Ninh, SVN 3rd Corp 12/'66 - 04/'67
Tam Ky, SVN 1st Corp 04/'67 - 12/ 67