A large convoy of 20 trucks was scheduled to make the run to Thuong Duc. They were lined up at the base of Hill 65, waiting for the sweep teams to clear the road. A platoon from India Company joined the convoy for security. Everything went according to plan, and the convoy was “handed off” to the 1/7 Marines at the halfway point. As the security platoon was returning to Hill 65, the convoy was ambushed.
Reversing direction, the India Marines headed back to the ambush location and made contact with the enemy force. The initial ambush turned into a full-scale battle. As the skirmish progressed, India Company was pinned down and slowly running out of ammo for the machine guns. A call for reinforcements went out, and a “Reactionary Force” was sent in to join the firefight and bring additional ammo.
One of our mess men, “Aggie,” was leaving for CONUS the next day , and he asked my permission to join the troops and carry the extra ammo . . . it was after lunch, and he had finished his duties. I knew I couldn’t stop him as the Marines in trouble were his close friends. He looked at me with pleading eyes, and I said, “Aggie, you are done for the day, it’s been nice working with you.” He raced out the door and saddled up his gear to unite with the reaction platoon.
During dinner we observed four Huey Cobras heading toward Hill 52 and assumed it was in support of the convoy. I told Reb to make another batch of Carolina chowder (100 portions) in case the battle-weary Marines returned after dinner.
They did finally return at 2000 so we fed them chowder and listened to their battle stories: When the reactionary force arrived with extra men and ammo, the NVA/VC retreated across the river into Arizona Territory and were met by the approaching 5th Marines. The Hueys arrived and lit up the region with rockets and mini-guns.
Meanwhile, India Company cleared the area and returned with many captured weapons and a body count of 19 NVA/VC KIA. The convoy finally reached Thuong Duc but lost 2 trucks and 4 WIA in the process.
Aggie made it back unscathed and volunteered to help serve the chowder. He was still pumped up with adrenaline, and I wondered how long before he would return to Vietnam for more action (he was addicted). We never saw Aggie again.