"Give it to the breeze...
Glowing in the sun...
Fire away...
Let our colors fly..."

(from Rally Round the Flag Boys,
a Civil War song)

by Robert Tracy
in Photoshop



by Harold R. Blunk

On 28 May 1968

Statement from PFC. HAROLD R. BLUNK , Artillery Forward Observer on the infamous Foxtrot Ridge. (Crow’s Nest) On 28 May 1968.

I was the forward observer for artillery on Foxtrot Ridge. The company was set up on the ridge.   I was positioned up on what was called the Crow’s Nest.   Around 2330 movement was spotted in the valley south of the company on the ridge.   I called a fire mission in on the movement that was spotted in the starlight scope up on the Crow’s Nest.  I adjusted the artillery onto the NVA and fired for effect.

Approximately 20 minutes later all hell broke loose.  We were now engaged in heavy fire with RPG’S and small arms.  I was up on the Crow’s Nest with one gun team and a total of 13 Marines.  Our holes were very shallow, as the ground was very hard to dig.  In spite of all the fire, I managed to resume my fire mission, call in more fire missions, adjust the artillery all around our perimeter (the crow’s nest), coordinate the adjustments with the forward observer with the company CP on the ridge.  This went on all-night long.  At first we just tossed grenades down at the NVA as to not give away our exact positions.  Then they hit us head on.

Some parts around the Crow’s Nest were very steep.  The one path that led right to us had a claymore on it.  When the enemy fire became so intense I yelled to blow the claymore.  We got down in our holes as far as we could and I remember the Marine next to me trying to blow the claymore.  He pulled in the wire only to find it had been cut. 

At times the enemy fire was so intense that we would have to get down in our hole as far as possible. At one point a machinegun was trained on our hole and the dirt on the edge of our hole was being hit by machine rounds and coming in on us.  We answered back by holding up our rifles and firing.  Obviously, I was on the perimeter fighting the NVA and calling artillery adjustments and at the same time illumination was also being called in and adjusted.

When daylight finally arrived I found myself staring down the barrel of a machine gun 20 feet in front of us.  My map had bullet holes in it and everything was shot up.  I got up to retrieve the machinegun.  When I stood , I walked forward  and I saw an enemy soldier next to the machine gun.  I fired my M-16.  One round came out , kicked up the dirt between his legs and then it jammed.  Both of us turned and ran back to our positions.   Another Marine crawled out and pulled the machine gun back to our position.  At this point all the artillery had stopped as fixed wing was on station.  The forward air controller attached to Foxtrot was an enlisted man who talked to the A0 on station directing the fixed wing.  I remember working with this radio operator helping to coordinate the air strikes around the Crow’s nest and the south side of the ridge.  The AO told us there were NVA between the Crow’s Nest and the ridge.

This now left me free from adjusting artillery. I then got up, checked our perimeter and found a Marine dead in a hole.  Another Marine was lying down next to the hole.  I helped the Marine get the dead Marine out of the hole so he could get in it.  I also found my radio operator to be hurting and I tried to see where he was hit.  I couldn’t find any bleeding.  He was just scared and hurting inside. All this time I was being shot at by the NVA.  Whenever we got up and gave the NVA a target, they shot at it.  I was very low on ammunition, as was everyone else.  Then a grenade came at us out of the elephant grass right in front of our hole. The Marine next to me was hit in the neck by the explosion. We pulled him into the hole and administered first aid.  Then all hell broke loose again as the enemy made another effort to take our position. The Marine that was hit in the neck picked up his rifle and fought back.

Looking down on the company, I knew that if the Crow’s Nest fell the company could not hold the ridge.  With ammunition running low I knew we could not hold our position if the enemy continued to attack us.  There was talk on the radio of re-supplying the whole company with ammunition.  It was so steep and there were NVA between the Crow’s Nest and the ridge that I knew we could not be re-supplied.  The company on the ridge was also under attack.  I could see how they might be completely overrun and we would be the only ones left.  I announced to all Marines up in the Crow’s Nest that we would take as many of the enemy with us as we could.  I really did feel that there wasn’t anyway we were going to live through this.  Mike Nicholson remembers hearing those words. 

I,  for one, couldn’t sit and wait for the NVA to attack us again.  I asked for volunteers to go outside our perimeter.  I can remember everyone on the Crow’s Nest looking at me with a dead stare and nobody said a word.  Then a black Marine said, "I’ll go with you"  in a very low voice.  I never thought of it this way, but I guess it was a counterattack.  Some counterattack!  With two Marines the NVA would not stand a chance.  We crouched down and went out.  Fortunately for us and unfortunately for the NVA, we came up to a bomb crater just past our perimeter.  We were on the NVA right flank of the bomb crater.  They had RPG's, 2 launchers, and gun ammo, etc.  They had not seen us or heard us so I took careful aim and started to fire.  I hit 2 NVA, one right after the other taking them both out.  I went into the bomb crater with the other Marine.  There alongside the two dead NVA was one wounded.  I took him out as well.  I picked up an AK 47.  The ground began to jump all around us. The NVA on the neighboring hillside had spotted us and began firing.  We ran back to our position.  I can remember how the ground was jumping up all around us.  I dove into the hole and used the dead Marine as cover. 

Once I collected my thoughts I realized how much ammunition  was back in that bomb crater.  I had captured an AK 47, but we needed ammunition for the captured machine gun and the AK 47.  It wasn’t long before that the black Marine and myself were back out there. When we reached the bomb crater, all I could see was the ammunition. I started gathering up machine gun ammo and magazines.  Then something grabbed at me.  It was an NVA.  I put my thumb in his throat so hard that it hurt for a month, the black Marine opened up on him with the M-14 on automatic.  Once again the NVA were closing in on the bomb crater and opened up on us. 

We started to run back to our perimeter, but this time I stopped and turned back.  I fired at the NVA hitting two of them.  They sort of jumped in the air and then fell to the ground. The rest of them hit the deck.  I returned to the perimeter with the ammo that I had set out to capture.  Now at least we had something to fight back with.  We then removed the M-60’s 7.62 rounds from the belt and loaded them into the M-14 magazines. With extra ammo, I began to fire at the NVA on the neighboring ridgeline. 

You need to know that when the sun came up we were being fired upon by the neighboring ridge lines to the extent that my binoculars were shot in one lens .  I know for a fact that a round went right between myself and the Marine next to me.  I heard the round in my right ear he heard it in his left.

With what was left of my binoculars I spotted NVA by the trees on the neighboring ridge.  The Marine next to me watched through the binoculars as I picked one of them off.   He confirmed the kill.  From the Crow’s Nest, we could see how the NVA had captured half the Ridge including the LZ.  The NVA were running all around the ridge. I could see them firing rounds into the holes at that end of the perimeter. I fired the AK 47 at the NVA. The company heard the crack of the AK over their heads and thought that the Crow’s nest had fallen. We informed them by radio of what we were doing.  When the company was burned off the ridge we could see the NVA down in the valley south of the ridge.  I fired down at the NVA to discourage them from assaulting up the hill.

We on the Crow’s nest would have never been able to hold it if it hadn’t been for all the Marines that never gave up their will to fight.  Like the Marine that was hit in the neck and when the NVA started to come at us again he got up to fight.  The many acts of individual heroism that each Marine performed made it possible for us to hold our position.

When Echo Company came up to relieve us, a Gunnery Sergeant came with a squad to the Crow’s nest.  I informed the Gunnery Sergeant about the bomb crater and how I believed the NVA were now in it and ready to fight back.  Later I came to find out that Echo Company tried a squad rush on the bomb crater and took their first casualty.  I also learned later that the NVA were trying to wheel a 51 caliber up to the Crow’s nest. The Gunnery Sgt. told me that I had been relieved and to get out of there.  I was none too happy to obey his order.

After a few days Ralph Larsen our Company Gunnery Sergeant told me that there was talk of writing up the Marines in the Crow’s nest for a Silver Star.  I informed him that one of our Marines didn’t fight.  I was referring to my radio operator.  He was new, but still I couldn’t see him getting a medal for what he didn’t do.  I never heard another thing about it until an officer returning from R&R informed me that a Silver Star was waiting for me in the rear.  I never heard another word about it and I just let it go at that.

The biggest honor was as an attachment to the company being asked to present the AK 47 to the battalion commander of 2/3 on behalf of the company.

Later I served with Echo Company as their observer for artillery.  On one occasion we were being mortared everyday.  Sometimes we were on the move or in our holes.  It got to the point that everyday we were taking casualties.  We were on the move and a round landed next to me tearing up my 782 gear and knocking me over. 

The following morning before we moved out I could hear the Pops coming.  As rounds exploded, I had enough.  There wasn’t anything that anyone else could do to stop this but me.  I  got out of my hole and looked out to the trees in the direction of the Pops.  There I could see some smoke.  I immediately called in the fire mission.  More rounds started to explode around me but I seemed to be floating on air or it just didn’t matter.  I couldn’t see where my rounds were landing so I worked around the perimeter and even climbed up in a tree.  Seeing then were the 105 rounds were landing, I made a correction and fired for effect the 105 rounds set off secondary explosions.  I can only tell you that we were never mortared again after that. 

I can recall being up in the tree looking down at the Marines and how hopelessly they were in their holes.  Before Foxtrot Ridge I was mortared and a round went in the hole with four other Marines.  I really didn’t want to repeat that I guess.  Right after this happened,  Capt. Russell, the company commander, told me never to pull a stunt like that again. He instructed me to get in my hole and stay there if we were mortared again.  As I stated, earlier we were never mortared again after that so I didn’t have to worry about obeying his orders.

I spent 13 months with an additional six months extension overseas.  Most of this was spent out in the field with second battalion third Marines as a forward observer for artillery B battery 12th Marines.  During this time, I called in many fire missions under fire with pinpoint accuracy.  I always knew where we were on the map.  I excelled in map reading.

By working I Corps for the length of time that I did, I knew the area and what had happened there previously where other companies had made contact or had been ambushed.  I knew bunkers and the trenches of the enemy.  I also had firsthand experience where I had been ambushed or made contact with the enemy.  For this and other reasons I chose to stay out in the field.  Towards the end of my extension I was called back to run fire direction control center at Cam Lo.  I believe that I did an excellent job of doing this.  With all the experience that I had out in the field I knew how important it was to supply artillery in support of the Marines in the field.  I would take the night watches because it seemed that was the time when the NVA would strike the most.  I also trained many people on the fine art of calling in artillery and coached many F.O.’s.

Chris Gentry was up on the Crow’s Nest with me .

Ralph Larsen was our Company Gunnery Sergeant on the ridge

Harold got his Silver Star on 24 July 2001!


Addition:  After I wrote about Foxtrot  Ridge, my mind started to remember more.  Sometime in the middle of the night the NVA pulled back into the elephant grass.  We could not see them but we knew they were there.  We started to yell, "Come out because tonight you're going to die!" and all kinds of crazy things.  A few days later, I was talking to some of the Marines who were on The Ridge.  They told me how desperate they felt and how they heard noises from the Crow's Nest.  At that point, they thought the Crow's Nest had been overrun and the NVA were celebrating.  Then they realized it was us yelling at the NVA.  One Marine told me, he felt the whole company was uplifted by hearing us yelling at the NVA. 


I also recall how concerned I was over how many more rounds I had left in my magazine.  Was it two or ten?  It makes a difference when there is a lot of enemy out there.  When we captured the enemy machinegun, there was only the ammunition in the weapon.  They would hit us and then there would be a break.  Looking back it seems that they were pulling back the wounded, weapons, ammunition and anything else that was useful to them.  When I first went to retrieve the machine gun, there were bodies but no weapons or ammunition.  I also recall the fixed wing hitting the NVA in that valley where we first called in the fire mission and seeing helmets and structures flying in the air.

 Note:  When Harold signed up for another tour of duty in Vietnam, his family protested.  His uncle even wrote

to the Congressman, Honorable Harold R. Collier.  To state Mr. Collier's word:  "Lance Corporal Blunk is a fine example of the young men upon whom our country's future depends.  He, on his own volition, extended his tour in Vietnam.  He may have extended his tour through a strong sense of duty, or to receive the incentives made possible by the United States Congress to retain experienced Marines where they are needed.  The reason for extending his tour is known by Lance Corporal Blunk.  Since it was his decision to make, the Marine Corp will not interfere."

Harold, on the ridge, May 27, 1968

The night before The Battle Of Foxtrot Ridge





More Pages:

Harold's Nam 2

Harold's Nam 3

Harold's Nam 4

Harold's Nam 5

Harold's Nam 6

Never To Be Forgotten-John Winslow

KIA July 30, 1969

Harold's Silver Star


BRAVO 1/12


I wish to express a deep "Thank You" to Robert Tracy for letting me use his graphic at the top of this page!

And Thank You Robert for redoing Harold's picture on his home page.

He has a wonderful site.  Please do yourself a favor and visit him by clicking on the link below!


It is titled:

Reflected Glory
by Robert Tracy
in Photoshop

Frames by:

All other graphics are by Dovesong.

I do not know who did the Silver Star Graphic.

I will gladly give you credit if you let me know.