Arizona territory had been quiet for a while. The activity during the TET offensive had the NVA/VC on their heels. Just after breakfast our guns started a close range fire mission. We could tell by the sound from the smaller powder charges and could hear and see the rounds detonating in a tree line across the river. Adjustments in fire were made by direct observation from the top of our CP.
Just as the fire mission ended, two F-8 Crusaders started high altitude dives and unloaded a huge barrage of 20mm cannon fire. On the third run, 500 pound bombs were dropped, and the concussions could be felt on Hill 65. A total of eight bombs exploded on the target, only a half mile away. I filmed the bombing with a used Super-8 movie camera purchased for $40.
As the jets flew off, Huey Cobra helicopters buzzed overhead and fired into the still smoking tree line. Behind the Huey’s came the CH46 Sea Knight helicopters (five), loaded with troops. The Marines assaulted the tree line and still received incoming small arms fire.
This battle evolved all day with many more air strikes and troops being inserted into the area. By nightfall it was official: “Operation Rock” was underway. The combined forces of the 7th Marines were now combing through Arizona territory.
With all the activity in the field, the mess hall slowed down, and we had less mouths to feed. We took advantage of the change of pace by teaching Cobby some basic cooking skills. He was a good student and enjoyed the mess hall environment. Soup was his first specialty and was a hit in the outposts with his rendition of beef barley. Sumo teased him about “beginner’s luck.”