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War Stories

Hobo Woods 29 Jan 1968

by Dennis Pfoor 24 May 2011

see also Battle of the Hobo Woods


My name is Dennis Pforr. I was an M-60 Machine Gunner with the 2nd squad Aero Rifles Platoon 3/4 Cav D Troop 25th Infantry Division.

Sgt Dawson was my squad leader, Sgt Picket my Platoon leader and Lt Mosenthal my company leader.

On January 29th our company was air-lifted to a horse shoe clearing in the Hobo Woods. The chopper did not set down, we jumped off because of the tall grass. We started walking into the horse shoe clearing. 1st squad on our left towards the tree line, 3rd & 4th squads to the right and behind us.

When 1st squad reached the tree line, there was an eruption of gunfire like I had never heard before. Bullets were hitting the dirt in front of me and whizzing by my ears. I looked to my right  and left and didn't see a soul: but I saw a bomb crater and hollered "Do you have room in there for me?' A number of voices  said "Yes get in here." so in I went. I don't remember if I was firing at that time.

The Medic was treating Lt Mosenthal for a bullet wound to the abdomen. Avery was on my left, Sgt Dawson on my right, Sgt Pickett on his right and Lt Mosenthal behind me at the bottom of the crater.

I continued fire up and down the tree line about 1 foot off the ground to try and keep their heads down. Sometime later a couple of men who had been wounded jumped into the crater. I don't know who they were. Somewhere during this time, I looked  at Sgt Pickett as he raised up to fire his weapon, he received a bullet through his head. That image will never leave me.

The battle went on all day with gunships making runs on the tree line. As we ran short of ammunition, choppers dropped some ammo to us. Although seriously wounded, Lt Mosenthal was continually on the radio in contact with the gun ships and ground troops that were trying to rescue us. He could not contact one of his own squads that was behind us in the deep grass. There was no way to know if they were dead or alive, as their radio had been shot up and they had no way to make contact.

An Eagle flight of choppers (Wolfhounds I believe) landed a ways off and had to fight their way in to rescue us. The fighting calmed down around dark, but they kept flare ships going into the night. We were pulled out around 2-3 AM on January 30th. We were taken back to Wolfhounds command post. After a couple hours rest, we went back at day break for a sweep of the area, and to pick up our dead. On our sweep of the area, I saw lots of concrete bunkers and communication wire strung from bunker to bunker.

What an operation. 40 Years later, I found out it was a regiment of NVA. We continued our sweep out to the bomb crater to pick up our dead. All of a sudden, Barry McFarland (I believe was his name) hollered, "Drop the rifle." He was pointing into the grass. I ran over to see he was pointing his M-16 at a NVA soldier. The soldier was pointing his weapon at Barry. It was a stand off. Neither fired as someone grabbed the rifle from the NVA. They took him away, we picked up our dead, loading everyone on the choppers for the ride back to Chu Chi.

That was the start of my knowing someone, who knew someone, who knew someone, to get me transferred to the gun ships as a door gunner. Three months later, that became a reality. Now I was a flying duck instead of a sitting duck.

Hope this finds you all well, hope to see you at some reunion.