Prelude: Jan. 29-30-Hints of impending trouble began to appear the night of Jan. 29-30 as units in the region encountered small arms and light mortar contact. Reports filtered in of more serious incidents in other parts of Vietnam. By mid-morning on the 30th, MACV headquarters flashed a fateful message to all commands: "The Tet Truce was terminated."
This announcement was confirmed by further news of an enemy buildup in the Long Binh-Bien Hoa area, about five miles down the road from 9th Division headquarters at Bearcat. A platoon of the 2d Mechanized Battalion, 47th Infantry was summoned to II Field Force headquarters at Long Binh as a security element. Throughout the late afternoon and the next morning, intelligence sources indicated an increasing threat to the sprawling Long Binh-Bien Hoa complex. (from the 9th Infantry Division's magazine The Octofoil, Vol. 1, No. 2,, from early 1968.)
My story starts on the night of January 30th, just after midnight I was on my way out to one of our guard towers on the perimeter to pull my shift. All of a sudden the VC/NVA outside the perimeter started firing at me with a .51 caliber machine gun, I could see the green tracers going right past my head. I guess I was silhouetted against the lights inside the perimeter and some NVA got anxious at seeing such a clear target and fired. Right then all hell broke loose. Later on my buddies would tease me about actually starting TET as everything was quiet until I headed out to the perimeter.
I never got to our guard tower; I instead ran back to one of the rifle bunkers and dove in. There was already a black soldier in the bunker and I started to return some fire. I then decided it might be better to get down for a while as the incoming rockets and mortars were getting really heavy. So I laid there next to this guy and it wasn't to much longer when all of a sudden there was an tremendous explosion next to my head and I couldn't hear a thing. In the concussion from the explosion, the guy next to me had squeezed the trigger on his M-14 and just about blew my head off. Well I thought I'd better get out of there ASAP as I was not real happy with this guy right then. There were enough people trying to kill me and they didn't need his help. So I went off to another bunker.
Every so often I would take an incoming round and then return fire with my M-14. I could see the machine gun in the adjacent bunker was really working out. When a gun ship came in and started to fire directly over me towards the perimeter I decided to get out of there. I was afraid he was making to good of a target for the NVA so I went over to help the gunner in the machine gun bunker. I believe the machine gunner was fellow ADA man SP4 Gary Spainhower who I think came from Arkansas. We exchanged tracer fire "red for green" the rest of the night. We were both scared as hell and were happy to see daylight.
- MSG Larry F. O'Neill
Next: The Battle At Widows Village