"Give it to the breeze...
Glowing in the sun...
Let our colors fly..."
(from Rally Round the Flag Boys,
a Civil War song)
by Robert Tracy
THE BATTLE OF FOXTROT RIDGE
by Harold R. Blunk
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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:
by Robert Tracy
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.