“Regulars” utilize darkness to kill ten

By SP4 Terry Williamson

 LZ DOTTIE (198th Inf. Bde. IO) – A well trained unit of the 23rd Division’s 198th Infantry
Brigade took advantage of darkness, a well-placed illumination round, rain, and the confusion of
an enemy element, to kill 10 Viet Cong in a recent contact southeast of Chu Lai.

 A platoon from Company C, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry was sent on an after dark mission to
check out what was believed to be a deserted village.  The village was not there, but an enemy
way station was, and 10 Viet Cong were killed by the “Regulars.”

 “It was so dark that I couldn’t see anything in front of me, and when I felt that we were
getting close to our objective, I kept lying down on the ground to see if I could silhouette any
kind of mevement or structure in the little light that there was,” said Staff Sergeant Wayne L.
Bowers of Newport, Ore., acting platoon leader.

 The “Regulars” didn’t have any real indication that they were close to an enemy element,
but they knew they were getting close to their objective.  SSG Bowers decided to take it slow,
and he began crawling forward to see if he could find anything before his element advanced.

 “I knew I was where I was supposed to be, but I hadn’t seen anything,” said the sergeant.
“Then all of sudden I caught a glimpse of a make-shift shelter, and I heard a sound come from
someone sleeping inside.”

 SSG Bowers began crawling back to his element to inform them of the situation.  His
reverse crawl was even quieter and slower than his first effort.  The sergeant began positioning his
men on line in front of the small structure.  A heavy rain started just as the “Regulars” began their
movement to their positions, and covered up all sounds of movement.

 “I left a small group back to secure our packs, and to serve as a blocking force,” said SSG
Bowers.  “Then I radioed back to our main element and asked for an illumination round in exactly
one minute.  That would give me enough time to get back in position.”

 The illumination round was right on time and directly over the objective, and a sleepy Viet
Cong slipped his head out to see what was going on.  A cry of “Dung Lai” was called by the
“Regulars”, but several VC began trying to evade even though the night had turned to day.

 “We saw some of them carrying weapons, so we opened fire on them,” said the sergeant.
“They were so confused and surprised that they never returned fire.”

 When the firing ended, the “Regulars” swept the area, and found that there was no
deserted village, but that they had found an enemy way-station which consisted of a lean-to
covering the entrance of a small tunnel.

 Ten Viet Cong were killed by the accurate fire of the “Regulars”.  Captured in the action
were one AK-47 rifle, 10 packs, and 20,000 piasters which apparently was to be used to buy
supplies for the enemy element. [End of article from the Americal Division newspaper]

 [Additional details of the incident are revealed in the official S2/S3/S5 Journal, dated 1
December 1970, that was created at the 1st Bn 6th Inf TOC at LZ Dottie.  The Journal is now
stored in the military documents collection at the National Archives II, College Park, MD:

Item No. 14   0345   At approximately 0320 hours, C Co. reported that its C25 element [2nd
platoon] in the vicinity of BS 669 945 after crossing a rice paddy heard voices and snoring.  The
element leader investigated and found one hootch hidden in the tree line with military age males
sleeping in it.  C25 engaged at a proximity of three meters.  Negative return fire.  Results were 8
VC KIA, and 1 VC female WIA captured.  She says she is a nurse and that there were ten VC  in
the hootch from the “135 element.”  C Co found 10 packs, documents, 1 M16, toe popper booby
traps, two transistor radios, chi com grenades, and 1 AK 47.  Artillery illumination was fired and
HE requested.  Also 4.2" illumination. (Bonsach).[paraphrased from the official document]

 During the incident SSG Bowers had crawled to within six feet of a sleeping VC sentry
who was leaning against a tree as he was guarding the hootch.  SSG Bowers returned and
reported his find to 1st Lt Johnston, who was accompanying the element.  While the officer and
several others crawled on line to within three meters of the hootch, SSG Bowers turned his
attention on the sentry.  When the illumination round burst overhead, SSG Bowers shot the
sentry.  Unfortunately, the illumination round was extinguished as it descended.  As the VC
shouted to each other and attempted to escape in the darkness, the soldiers on line only a few feet
away opened fire.  The nurse survived the fusillade, her wounds were bandaged, and an urgent
dust off  medivac was requested for her.  She died before it arrived.

 Subsequently, 1st Lt Johnston recommended that SSG Bowers receive the Bronze Star
with “V” device for his brave conduct in the incident.  The attack also appeared to have had a
demoralizing effect on the VC who no longer felt safe at night.  Over the next several weeks of
December 1970, several dozen VC surrendered as part of the Chu Hoi program in the 1st Bn 6th
Inf area of operations.]

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