Recovering Fallen Brothers
by Roger J. Morris
I was a SSG Acting Platoon Leader and we were operating out of Fire Base Veghel. I don’t recall the exact date, but it was shortly after Cobra 1/327th discovered the trucks and howitzers. We were told that a sister element, either the Tigers or LRRPs, had been in heavy contact and had taken several casualties. They had to leave behind some of their KIA when they departed the area. It was our job to make the recovery. A sad job but a task that no one complained about. It was law that we did not leave our brothers behind. We either carried them with us or returned to get them as quickly as possible.
We moved to the location of the firefight on the side of a ridge and discovered the graves. The NVA had buried them and, when we recovered them, we discovered that they had been buried with their weapons. A good indication that the enemy was well armed and did not need our M16s.
We had just prepared the bodies for travel and my RTO, Roberto Campos, was calling the Company Commander to inform him that we had successfully recovered the bodies and were moving to rejoin the Company.
At that moment the NVA opened fire from well placed bunkers and spider holes. The enemy positions were so well concealed that they were not detected when we secured the area. They had waited the entire time to better catch us unaware. They succeeded.
Campos and I were kneeling beside a tree informing the Commander of our contact as the rest of the platoon immediately returned fire. One NVA soldier appeared about twenty feet from us and fired a B40 at us. The rocket hit a tree right beside me and exploded. The tree must have taken the majority of the shrapnel because none hit me. The concussion from the explosion knocked me at least five meters down the hill, tearing the radio handset from my hand. I was completely disoriented but I remember Campos firing and dragging me further down the hill out of the line of fire.
I was scraped and bleeding from bits of the tree, and could not hear well for several hours.
Members of the platoon were able to knock out at least two of the bunkers before we withdrew and called in fire support on the enemy positions.
We were successful in recovering our lost brothers.