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Pow Mission 
LTC Fischer called me to his office to tell me there had been a report of American POW's being held in Mo Duc province. There had been confirmed sightings of these POW's by American units operating close by. He said that intelligence reported that the VC would be bringing the POW's into villages along the Red Ball, and Recon had to take this opportunity to try to rescue them. The VC wanted the locals to see the Americans being degraded to score big political points for themselves. Fischer said that Recon would work in conjunction with the ARVN's to try to recover the POW's. The plan was to intercept the VC before they came into the village of Chau Me. We were instructed to use hand to hand combat until we secured the Americans. To say the least, I was quite concerned about this plan. Just because we were going to use hand to hand didn't mean the VC would. I made sure all my men had their K-bar knives. Knife to body seemed better than hand to hand.
We moved into the village just before dark where we met up with the ARVN soldiers for this "secret" mission. All the kids in the village knew exactly why we were there. Several of them asked if they could go along to help free the Americans, so I knew before we even started that security had been breached and our chances of succeeding were slim. After dark we worked our way west toward the mountains where the VC would come from. There were ten of my men and six ARVN's. I really didn't want the ARVN's with us, but it was a political decision and out of my control. The original information about this situation had come from the Vietnamese and they felt entitled to participate.
The Entire area between
 Chau Me and the mountains was rice paddies except for a dirt creek bed that was concealed by trees along its banks. That was the way they would come. We found a good location along the creek bank and set up for the night.
It was a well-lit night and we could see
clearly for several yards. I had mixed emotions about this ambush. It was different from any I had ever been on. The thought of engaging in hand to hand combat was much more frightening than our usual tactics of blowing claymores, throwing grenades, and firing our rifles. We were ready to pounce on the VC if they came down the creek bed. I really wanted to liberate the Americans, but also I knew the  chances of coming out of this type of combat unscathed were nil.

           It was a tense night.

   We had placed our rifles on the ground and had our K-bar knives at the ready. I made sure each man knew where the others were located. The night crept on. Every sound piqued our interest. It was a very scary night indeed, but finally the sun rose and we had survived another night in Vietnam. We hadn't seen a sign of the VC. I was both relieved and disappointed at the same time. I'm sure they had been warned. If the ARVN's hadn't been involved we probably would have made contact that night. Recovering American prisoners would have been something special. We would have gladly taken our chances with the VC for a chance to free one of our own even though we might have been totally wiped out in the effort. At any rate, it was one of the most intense nights I spent in Vietnam.                                       Lt. Warren T Waterbury

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Last modified: May 16, 2006