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The Mission
By Mike Smith | Published  02/15/2006 | Vietnam | Rating:
Mike Smith
Mike Smith Served Active Duty 1969-1972. 

View all articles by Mike Smith
The Mission

The mission is to strike deep into the enemy camp. The enemy is a treacherous, traitorous terrorist who is responsible for the death of many comrades-in-arms, and for the torture of those buddies who were captured.

The first step is to develop a plan of action. Decide on a goal and work out the necessary tactics to get it done. Do the necessary recon. Do the necessary preparation. Refine the plan. Prepare again. Recon again.

The day comes, and the mission is a go. Insertion goes as planned. The recon and preparation have paid off, and you find yourself in the enemy camp. Did that guy just look at you funny? Just keep your poker face and maintain your cool. This is your first look at the layout of the camp and the security. Take your time. Make final adjustments to the plan. Now is the time to plan for any contingency that may pop up.

It's getting close to zero hour. If they haven't spotted you by now, they probably won't. Keep your face down and act like everyone around you. Control your breathing. Control your heartrate. Don't wipe the sweat off your palms.

It would be easy to just walk out of the camp. Get up to pee and just keep walking. Nobody would notice. Nobody except you and all those dead brothers. Those dead brothers who gave their lives, their futures, everything, so you can live. Maybe walking away really isn't an option.

Just a few more seconds now. Each step of the plan has fallen into place. Each contingency has been covered. It's time.

You pull the trigger on the mission. All Hell is about to break loose. The final step of the mission, indeed, of any mission, is to evade the enemy. So what do you do? Do you surrender, or do you evade?

 

 

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A CAP consisted, usually, of 8 or 9 Marines. Each night we divided into 2 ambush sites, with 4 or 5 Marines in each site, along with a few local militiamen. Each ambush had an M-79 grenade launcher and an M-60 machine gun. Both of these weapons were feared and hated by the enemy because of the damage they inflicted. The enemy was trained to concentrate his fire on the muzzle blast of our machine guns. Our tactic for machine guns was to fire and move, fire and move. A stationary machine gun without cover was an invitation to concentrated enemy fire.

Another tactic we used was to send out small killer teams. 2 or 3 Marines would leave the ambush site well after dark and snoop around the village. A killer team was often referred to as a snoop & poop. Stealth was a necessity. Shoulder fired weapons were generally not carried because a) they can make unexpected noise, b) they are large enough to reflect moonlight, and c) they are awkward to carry while running or crawling through the underbrush.The weapon of choice was a .45 cal pistol with 2 magazines.

Being so lightly armed, it was imperative that, when contact was made, the team immediately run from the enemy. The object was less killing the enemy than letting him know that he should avoid our village.

As a machine gunner and a frequent KT leader, it is ingrained in my make-up to strike and move, strike and move. I don't have to think about it, it is automatic.

 

 

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That is why I ran out of the building after I spit on Hanoi Jane. I could have walked up to a police officer and surrendered, but if I had, I would have been surrounded by 900 Fonda supporters with no way to defend myself. So, I ran outside, around the corner, and stopped. I put my hands in the air and waited for the police officers to catch up.

I would have preferred to evade and escape. There was a day when I could and would have outrun a 25 year old officer. That day is long past, though. I would have preferreed for "the spitter" to remain anonymous, but since that wasn't possible, I don't mind taking the heat.

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