LRRP s In Action
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Over the course of the previous year, the Co.
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They were not to take suicidal risks, but opportunities to hit the enemy now superceded purely reconnaissance-type missions. The teams would have first call on available artillery and air support, and were not reluctant to use it. Many missions, like those the LRRPs were to conduct around Phu Loi, were relatively short-range; but with the numerous enemy movements near major allied bases, long-range, heli-borne missions were being used less frequently—and the enemy was no longer either elusive or only out in the hinterlands.
But initially, neither team was spotting enemy troops nor any signs indicating heavy NVA movement through the area.
US Army Rangers & LRRP Units 1942–87
Nothing happened. Half of the team climbed up into the structure, which being about five feet off of the paddy, afforded them an excellent field of vision to the paddies all round their position. The starlight scope gave them unrestricted visibility for several hundred yards in all directions, and they began observation shifts. They settled in for the night to see what might develop. The enemy returned fire, but after several more exchanges, was able to break contact, finally disappearing back into the woodline and Dog Leg.
The team had no casualties and they were not able to ascertain enemy losses, if any. Luse and Liesure quickly conferred, decided to call it a night, and determined to get some sleep then meet later in the morning to plan the next patrol. On the morning of 11 May, the teams conferred further, decided that the NVA were basically stuck in their same infiltration patterns past Phu Loi heading toward Saigon, and that the crossing point over the rice paddies between Dog Leg and An My still offered their NVA units the quickest passage southward.
Artillery and air support would provide the main punch, but the LRRPs could give a good accounting of themselves in a direct firefight as well. That night they departed the Phu Loi perimeter, taking a different route out to the graveyard than they had the previous night. When approximately meters from the graveyard, the teams halted while Luse and Liesure scanned the grave monument which would again be their observation post OP for the night.
After scoping it and the surrounding area for ten minutes, seeing no movement or suspicious shapes, they starting the point man moving cautiously toward their objective. Reaching the monument at approximately hours, the teams quickly formed a small circular perimeter around the grave monument, intending to put claymore mines around their position.
Each team member was assigned a portion of the perimeter as his primary security zone, and a rotating watch shift was set up among them for manning the starlight scopes up in the grave monument. Even with just the ambient light, the scopes afforded them remarkably clear vision out to several hundred yards, albeit in the ghostly green light inherent with the starlight scope. The enemy was starting to cross on the exact same trail they had used on both the 31 January and 10 May encounters with Team 2. He also told them to hold their rounds until he called for the firing to commence, as he wanted to get as many of the enemy as possible into the open rice paddies and cut off their line of retreat back into the treeline from which they were now emerging.
The truck, which could now be seen to be carrying what appeared to be a With over of the enemy now well into the open rice paddy area and the column emerging from the treeline starting to thin, Luse called for the FDC to give him a spotting round, and he would adjust from there. The first five rounds burst like a string of giant firecrackers overhead of the tail end of the enemy column, the airbursts exploding downward, showering them with shrapnel.
One artillery tube was now constantly firing illumination rounds over the enemy formation.
The enemy troops were now lying in the rice paddies, but without overhead shelter they were defenseless against the deadly shells bursting just over their heads all along their formation. The artillery, now joined by a battery of 4.
US Army Rangers & LRRP Units 1942–87
Meanwhile, the enemy truck somehow managed to turn round and get back into the woodline, heading south back toward Dog Leg. It was still barely visible just inside the woodline, but as it was now so close to the village, no artillery rounds could be directed onto it. Wanting nonetheless to get the truck and the Join the LRRA!
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