by Dale “Hannibal” Hansen
Remember in training, there were always classes about this and that?
“Hello, I’m Sergeant Black and I’ll be your principal instructor for the next fifty minutes.” Remember that?
We were working around the A Shau (imagine that) probably around September ’68. On a previous resupply they had sent out a 1/4 pound of TNT for each and every one of us to carry. In addition, we were already humping C4 and det. (detonation) cord. We were way up in the mountains. It was cold, foggy, we were hungry, low on water and I wanted my mommy. Since the jungle was at least triple canopy (maybe even quintuple canopy . . . anyway, some thick stuff) there was no chance of being resupplied. Apparently, walking down, over, or around the mountain looking for a suitable hole in the roof wasn’t an option. And since we were all carrying massive quantities of explosives on our persons, “Ford,” had a better idea. The word was given. We were going to “blow” an LZ!
Everyone spread out placing claims on their tree (or trees, if they were small enough or you had extra dynamite) wrapping det. cord around them and placing charges against the trunks. You talk about a cluster f#@k! Here we are, with our fifty minutes of principal instruction, setting charges, inserting blasting caps and running wire back to our claymore clickers. I don’t think we even qualified for the blind leading the blind. Soon, everyone was happy with their work and excitingly ran to their own personal hidey hole. I tell ya, we must have entertained every gook in the valley. Somehow the “Explosion Master” must have known Charlie had his popcorn and drink and was settled in to watch the show ’cause he started yelling, “fire in the hole . . . fire in the hole . . . fire in the hole!” With precision never before witnessed on planet Earth, we all mashed our clickers. (Have ya’ll seen that new Zorro Movie? There’s a scene in it where they blow up the mine. Well, that’s about the best analogy I can give you on what this looked like.) Friggin’ rocks, dirt, trees all flying due north. Looked like something in slow motion. I remember looking straight up over my head through the smoke. Just hanging there like a bad hangover was MY TREE, at least the major portion of it. I had so expertly placed my charges that I blew the whole damn thing out of the ground nearly in one piece and now that friggin’ thing was headed straight south at a phenomenal speed right for me and my hidey hole! I felt like a deer in the head lights of a car. I started to run one way, then another, finally diving back in my hole just in time. That thing missed me by about five feet and most certainly would have ruined my entire afternoon.
Seems like when the smoke finally cleared, there still wasn’t a hole large enough to launch a bottle rocket, let alone land a slick.
Again, my memory ain’t so pretty good, but I’m guessing we never tried to “blow” another LZ after that. Doc, Hawk, you BOTH were there and must remember.