Charlie Ridge

Tuesday, June 11, 1968

West of Hill 65 loomed Charlie Ridge.  The mountains were steep (over 1,000 feet) with rocky crags, boulders and outcroppings which stretched more than 10 miles long (off the map).  Much of the time the top of the ridge was covered in clouds and mist.  It was a natural barrier and refuge for the enemy.  After every heavy rain, waterfalls and streams would flow down the mountain into the rice fields providing nutrient-filled irrigation for crops.  Dikes and canals channeled the water to where it was needed.

The villes along Route 4 at the base of Charlie Ridge benefited from this runoff, and rice was the main crop.  The people were “unfriendly.”  Many along the route had been forced off their land in Arizona Territory.  The local VC units were made up of these men and women.  They were familiar with the lay of the land and could move quickly, knowing the hidden trails in the region.  It was their home field advantage, and their uniforms were black pajamas.

Children living along the route were not only victims of the war, but in many cases, willing participants in it.  They collected fuel (wood) from Charlie Ridge daily and delivered cooked meals to VC units in the area.

Some grids on the map were “off limits” to artillery because we didn’t want to inflict civilian casualties.  The concentration of women and children made everything more difficult.  A Grunt Sergeant told it this way:  “When we approach a ville, all the small children start crying.  Their Mama-Sans pinch them to make the babies cry, announcing our presence.  To Marines, it’s confirmation of VC in the area.”  The local population stayed because there was nowhere else to go.

Next Edition:  Troop Surge

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