February 1, 1968
In the predawn darkness as Mike Company prepared to leave Hill 65, there was a series of explosions out by the river. While we were being attacked, India Company sent out a platoon to set up an ambush. A young Lieutenant led 25 Marines to the same area where the sampans had ferried the NVA across the river.
The retreating NVA were dragging their dead and wounded to the river crossing. They planned to escape the same way they had come in. It was slow going through the heavy mud in the paddy, and it was critical for them to get to the river before dawn. They walked into the trap.
The explosions were claymore mines set up to initiate the ambush. Once the trap was sprung, the platoon opened fire. The fight was quick and one way; it was over in less than a minute.
India Company tallied 88 enemy KIA at the river and added 20 more by sweeping the area hit with ARTY the night before. They captured two wounded prisoners and rounded up many documents and weapons.
Mike Company swept the paddy below Hill 65 and counted 105 enemy KIA. The big gun firing from the PF headquarters was a 12.7-cal machine gun on wheels. It was a gruesome scene with bodies placed in several big piles.
The fire missions from the night before netted 150 NVA dead. The Recon unit flying over Hill 65 had sprung an ARTY ambush. Sergeant Paige told me the Recon team went by the name “Rummage.” Documents captured identified all the KIA’s as members of the 2nd NVA Division. Incredibly, there were no casualties on Hill 65.
Relationships came and went in Vietnam. Private Mott and I were together from sundown on January 30th to sunrise on January 31st. In those twelve hours we bonded as a team and fought through the night. He was a Black kid from Memphis, addicted to war. Getting “Lit Up” was his drug. He wasn’t old enough to buy a drink on Beale Street or cast a vote in an election, but he did his patriotic duty to God, Country and Corps.
WILLIAM L MOTT
Private First Class
September 14, 1949 to January 29, 1969