Jack Martin asks if any of the brothers remember anything about a cattle drive, sometime in 1967.
If any of you subscibe to The First Screaming Eagles in Viet Nam look at Vol5 #4 pg2&3 there are two pictures of said cattle drive. I was with 1st plt Cobra during drive. Luckily we had a few Texans on hand that knew something about cattle. The Water buffalo were another story. It was quite a trip down the Song Ve river valley to say the least.
When I was C Company Commander in June or July 1967 working west of Chu Lai the entire 1st Bde was engaged in an operation to clear a valley of all people, 1000 head of cattle and lots of rice etc. During that time the Air Force flying in 3-Vs of 3 C-123s each sprayed us with Agent Orange. There was no triple canopy we were out in the open in a valley with grass and cattle. We were all soaked. I know it was Agent Orange because they told us in the pre-brief that our objective was to destroy the entire valley and its ability to grow anything or sustain life. I Had the opportunity to fly over this valley some months later and it looked like the face of the moon. So there are lots of these stories and the VA will not listen to any of them.
We had a trooper in A/2/327 get attacked by one of them water cows on that drive and I wish I could remember the brother’s name. They had to EVAC him to the rear to get patched up. If he was walking point there wasn’t a water buffalo in Nam that was safe after that.
Water Buffalo were/are bad tempered beasts. It amazed me that little kids could control them with a switch. I don’t think they liked the smell of Grunts. One of A 2/327th Platoon’s squads killed one near Nuoc Ngot Bridge after it charged them. The army paid the farmer for the beast.
That comment by Doc Charlie is a truism. When we went from Phan Rang to War Zone C to replace an ARVN Regiment that had been overrun in the Michelin Rubber Plantation, my platoon set up in a tree line after a fire fight from a large paddy area moving into a Hospital complex. I went outside the perimeter to discolor the environment and was in the basic squat when on of those land tanks came crashing through the brush. I stopped about 15 meters (play on spelling here) looked, snorted and I was then moving in front of the line, a white streak in the night. Sgt. Roberts shot the thing, it stopped, flicked a tail (finger) and walked away. I think it was then that Porter, one of our thump gunners slammed an HE into it. It died, but not slowly.
Thank You, Be Safe, Enjoy Life, Live Long, and Prosper, and Good-By:
Henry B. Morton
We also had a run-in with a “squad” of them Dink Bison. We were on a trail just south of Troui Bridge I believe it was, just as it was getting dark and we were hi-balling it to our ambush site. Well, this cantankerous bunch was using the same trail going back the opposite way! They were ticked at us, and we were ticked at them! I hated walking those trails when it got dark and these stupid buff’s had the nerve to stand right in our way threatening us! Dummies couldn’t see we were loaded for bear, I guess. After quite a long standoff, they finally scattered every which way and we were able to proceed. But we decided the better part of valor was to forego our original destination now that darkness had fallen and fell into an impromptu ambush where NO body knew where we was at.
B Co 2/327th
Staying Alert, staying Alive. so far.
Reference the water buffalo, I lost a man from C Co 2/327th during a fire fight when a water buffalo charged our north flank and gored him in the lower back and severed his spine. They were very temperamental at best and just down right mean at worst.
Just thought I’d add another water buffalo story to those going around. I don’t remember exactly where (probably Phan Rang or Phan Thiet). One of our platoon Sgts., Willie Sigler, aka. “Big Daddy” decided he would fire-up a water buffalo near a defensive position that we setting up in. The poor animal was tethered in pit (dug into the ground like a ramp, where the animal was below ground level, probably for protection or whatever). He stood in front of the pit and fired one round from an M-16 into the beast head and it was then that the buffalo decided to evacuate his stall. At that time Big Daddy emptied a full clip at the buffalo while trying to get out of the way, needless to say the buffalo was still running when last seen and Big Daddy had run for cover. It was right comical after the fact, but I guess when you have a ton or so of snorting, bucking beast headed toward you, it wasn’t funny. Maybe some other B/2/327th troopers will remember this incident.
James M. Boan
B/2/327th Jul ’67-Sept.’68
Yes I will always remember that cattle drive in 67 I was helping in getting some of the cattle rounded up, and I see this grass hut that they put the cattle in…and I proceeded to go in and I saw this small one and I said to my self.. no big deal I can handle this one.. so I went to get the little one..:-)…and then the back of my hair stood up and I turned around and there was the largest Water Buffalo, female that I ever saw…and she was not two happy..:-)..I looked around and saw a small window and bailed out and hit the ground hard…not a good (PLF) ha ha ha… and the rest of the men were busting a gut laughing. So much for my rounding up cattle.
I don’t know if it is the same one Tiger’s had but that one was a BALLUP, I remember Viets were doing a good job and some jackass had to bring in a chopper than the cattle went 360 degree’s. Had a good laugh anyways.
These cows weren’t water buffalo, these cows were regular cows, I couldn’t say what breed they were, but they weren’t water buffalo. We were responsible for moving them an uncertain distance, over about a 3 day time period. Our turn on guard, we herded the cows. It sure was spooky sleeping on the ground, not far from where we had them herded up.
I just read Jungle Jims comments about being in a valley that we were clearing in June or July of 67. I was there and remember moving the animals and civilians out of there. The valley was sprayed with that agent orange shit or something. Jungle Jim is right on about that. I believe we were sprayed more than that time too.
“AIRBORNE ALL THE WAY”
C & A COMPANIES 2/327
I was with A/2/327 2nd platoon and was involved with a cattle drive in the Song Ve Valley ( I think ) we were relocating the people and belongings. We had some CIDGs along to help. I remember the cattle breaking back through our lines for the umteenth time and someone started shooting them, Ate well that night. Also had a water buff stand us down and this little kid about 7 comes out and and grabs it by the ring in its nose and whip the s— out of it with a little switch and lead it off.
Before the subject of the ’67 Cattle drive dies, here are some war stories from 2nd Plat, C-1/327.
1. As we were driving some of the cattle on the first day, SGT Sandy Santoro (a good New York boy) drifted over to me and doing his best John Wayne and stated” “If my mother knew I was this close to a cow, she would scream!” Sandy was from so deep in the big city, I don’t think he had seen green grass until he got to Basic Training.
2. We figured out that the cows were good for carrying rucks as we loop two together by the shoulder straps and tossed them, like saddlebags, across the easiest going cow we could find. Just don’t even think about that with a water buffalo.
3. Ever wonder how a scrawny 6-year old Vietnamese kid with a switch could beat the daylights out of a 1500 pound water buffalo and drive it anywhere; but a 230-pound GI with an M-16 did not impress the water buffalo.
4. We were driving a herd through a narrow defile between those little mounds in the flatlands. A whole squad passed through safely, but the first cow through set off a single shot booby trap. The herd did a 180-degree turn in the air and stampeded in the opposite direction. Stomped the daylights out of about 6 or 7 troopers who could not get out of the way. We delayed the cattle drive for about two hours while we again rounded up the cattle.
5. Our supporting Chinook helos carried several loads of cattle out of the valley and then somebody had the bright idea to carry out a couple of water buffalo. A little Vietnamese boy drove the buffalo up the ramp of the Chinook and was letting the crew chief tie up the buffalo. The water buffalo suddenly took great exception to the situation and began to kick and thrash about. Before the crew could get the Vietnamese kid around and in the front door, the buffalo had damaged three hydraulic lines and a valve. The platoon spent that afternoon and evening securing a busted CH-47, knowing that every VC for miles around would love to RPG a Chinook. Right at dusk the rotor types repaired the Chinook, repaired; and we set off to catch up with the cattle drive.
My 2 ¢ about how the buffalo kids were able to control the big beasts. I think that from birth the animal was cared for by the kids and was part of the family. I think the Buffs like all animals associate certain smells with friend & foe. Grunts/Boonie Rats smelled different (usually stank) and that caused their fear/aggression. The Water Buffalo’s African cousin the Cape Buffalo is considered the most dangerous African game animal. When you add up fear that provokes the defensive action of a charge instead of flight to a ton of meat and those massive horns, GI you got a problem!