Thursday, June 27, 1968
Just before lunch we noticed a dirt cloud rising from Route 4 near Hill 52. There were no vehicles, and it was hard to see what was causing the disturbance. Slowly it moved toward us like a rolling wave.
With rifles shouldered, a Company of ARVN Rangers were on a forced march. There were two columns on either side of the road, and they seemed to be dragging their feet as they walked. The formation turned into the schoolyard and took a break for lunch. The cement-reinforced water well was their apparent destination (water we wouldn’t drink).
Captain Cavagnol invited them to enter our compound, and we had a friendly meeting. They seemed to be well trained and as Marines would say, “Squared Away.” The Gunny passed out our C-rats, and the negotiations began . . . the Rangers were offering to trade their dried packaged rations for ours.
A small group huddled around my hooch, admiring the design, and asked if they could sit in my dirt recliner. It was an amicable exchange, and I ended up with a ration of shrimp with rice noodles. After re-hydrating the foil pouch, I added a small pack of dried seasoning and mixed it together. The ground spicy Asian peppers made the food so hot I couldn’t eat it. The Rangers got a big laugh out of the situation and gave me another pouch as a token of friendship. I chuckled as they left and wondered how they would like the Ham and Muthers I had traded.
The ARVN continued their march, crossing the cement bridge into Thuong Duc. They stayed on Route 4, moving through the river valley toward the northwest. We followed the movement by the cloud of dust . . . stealth was not a part of the Rangers’ indoctrination.
Next Edition: MEDCAP II