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War Stories

Cu Chi - 1966

Marshall Huckaby - LRRP

Marshall gives us a clear description of how the Cu Chi base camp began, how it continued through the war and how it ended

I don’t know what we expected, but the blast of stifling, musty, hot air gave us a sobering introduction to Viet Nam. The “bravado” that we developed in the annual 5 1/2 day training at the Division’s Special Asian Warfare Training and Orientation Center (SAWTOC) scarcely prepared me for the realism that I now faced.

As part of the battalions advanced team, I had flown 5 days in one C-124 from Hickam, AFB, with two jeeps and 2 3/4 ton trucks with trailers. We drove off to join other parts of the division in it’s new home as the 25th Infantry Division began its 25th year of service and, once again, division troops were in combat.

“Hells Half Acre” was a peanut field around which a ditch had been dug by the 65th Engineers ditch digging machine. Home was two shelter halves with a poncho on the top and one the ground. I had built these before, but then it was only for a couple of weeks and I didn’t have all my “stuff” with me. We had a lister bag available for water, and all the dust, rain, bugs, rats, C-rats, and “spider-holes” we wanted.

The Engineers had dug a hole for a water purification unit and a shower point. Standing in line to use a GP medium tent in which a mobile shower unit had been set up was well worth the effort. The unit showers, wing tanks, and 55 gallon drum showers weren’t to appear for a while.

The first few nights were spent in the ditch as occasional motor rounds and green tracers crossed the area. Later we just lay where we were unless we had guard duty. It wasn’t that we were becoming braver, it was that we were developing early stages of the bone tired, live for today, attitude that we all have felt.

There wasn’t a large PX or clubs, the roads were dusty until it rained and then it was a quagmire that slowed supplies, floated our stuff, and filled the “fighting” trenches with water. The VC were still “popping up” in many places especially in the Wolfhound area.

It was under these circumstances that men like yourselves answered the call for a special need, to work with limited resources, limited experience in the techniques needed, and with limited understanding of the nature of their missions.

The 25th Division LRRPS were assigned to D Troop 3/4 Cav and had the honor of having RECONDO #1 come from among our ranks. SGT Irvin Hermann was the number one graduate of RECONDO CLASS NUMBER ONE!
Classes 1, 2, & 3, had 25 members from the 25th Division graduate from the school. I guess that our unit took the point from the start.

We were used and “misused” quite a bit. There were some interesting missions however. We went on an aerial recon and “found” some sampans.

We used the sampans to setup an ambush south of “Ann Margaret” in hopes of catching the “bad guys” who took random pot shots at the bunker protecting the bailey bridge. Like many of our missions, it was a good idea at the time.

The days I spent with the LRRPS provided me with a sense of fulfillment that I didn’t have with another unit. I returned for two more tours in ‘Nam, and like I said the days with the LRRPS were the best. I went through CU CHI in ‘69 and was surprised to see how much it had grown.

On my third tour, I served as an adviser with the 18th ARVN Div, and had the opportunity to go through Cu Chi again in ’71. Boy had the Vietnamese torn every thing down.

I guess it was symbolic? I saw both the birth, the vitality, and the demise of a fighting base of operation for one of the Army’s fightingest Divisions. The NVA and VC may have it now, but they sure as heck didn’t get it from us!

Marshall C. Huckaby. 1SG (Retired) LRRP 66.-67, Recondo # 111