Friendly Fire

by SP4 Robert Scheurer (11B)



While on various operations in Vietnam as an infantryman (11B20) between 16 November 1968 to 16 November 1969 with A Company 1st Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mech.) at LZ Sharon in Quang Tri Province in I Corps. I participated in numerous firefights and also experienced friendly fire on two separate occasions.

One such incident follows: I was walking point somewhere up near the DMZ. When I walked point I always wore an NVA officer’s soft cap. I figured this would give me a one or two second edge against them. I can remember the mountaintop was completely bare and barren as airstrikes had leveled everything. I came near the top of the mountain and suddenly there were hundreds of bullets whizzing by my body. I hit the ground and a LOH helicopter had opened up on me, probably thinking I was a NVA soldier. I remember seconds after this incident my company commander screamed up the hill and said, ". . . Schuerer get that goddamn hat off your head!" I know that he was trying to save my life and I really appreciated it. That friendly fire almost killed me, and still haunts me to this day.

Another friendly fire incident follows: While out on another mission, I went out on an ambush one night. As we moved down to our position near a beautiful river we were engaged with automatic weapons fire from across the river. I dove behind a tree as the bullets whizzed by my head. Countless rounds of automatic weapons were being fired, and being the RTO at the time, I called for artillery support. Then I heard the company commander scream on the horn, "Cease fire, cease fire!" As it turned out, McCoy's Boys [the Hunter Killer Team] from our company had opened up on us by mistake. They evidently weren't where they were supposed to be. Later, unfortunately, my company commander reprimanded me for not using the proper protocol on the radio despite receiving friendly fire, and again almost getting "killed in action".

Although not friendly fire, another incident follows: We set up away from the company. I spotted a double-wide tank trail and I set up two claymore mines with a tripwire crossing both trails. We set up about quarter mile away and during the middle of the night we heard a loud explosion. On the radio we were told to get a body count. So in the middle of the night the six of us made our way back to the ambush area, and all the guys were mad as hell, and were cursing, because it put us in danger. As we low-crawled towards the location, we could see bodies on both side of the tank trail. As we got closer we saw the bodies of four wild boars. The adults had to be 250 pounds each and the two smaller ones about 100 pounds each. The next day, local villagers took three of them and we barbecued one whole pig for the entire day.

This last incident caused me to think; were they trying to kill us? Why would they send six guys into the bush in the middle of the night for a body count? Suppose we ran into a platoon or company of NVA regulars? I still remember the fear on the faces of the men in our squad, as we low-crawled up to this area by the light of the full moon. This event also haunts today. We were just pawns to be used in a stupid and senseless war; for what -- fucking body counts.




Charles  Ames

(Best viewed at 1024x768 resolution & medium text size)