Vietnam Recon Units were used to minimize troop presence so they would be less noticeable.
Seems logical to send out small forces of men to patrol or scout areas. Our assignments or missions were outlined by headquarters.
We were the 2nd of the 27th Recon Platoon known as the C.R.I.P.’s. (Combined Reconnaissance Intelligence Platoon). Operational from 1967 to 1969.
In the beginning the original platoon did more mix patrols with Vietnamese soldiers. In early 1968 that job was mostly left to MACV (Military Assistance Command Vietnam)
Being stationed in Bao Trai was a little escape from the war most of the time, when you weren’t on a mission. The facts about being stationed in an old French Outpost and only a mile or less from Cambodia never left you with much doubt, you were in a war zone.
Our missions varied from routine patrols hoping to stumble into movement by VC (Vietcong) or the NVA (North Vietnamese Army). The patrols were confined to grids and we would systematically work through a grid and once our sector was cleared we would start all over again.
It was never really the same. Odd how you think covering hamlets and rice paddies
and woods in the same sector wouldn’t seem familiar. Our escape routes were somewhat planned but a large force of VC strategically placed can change your exit strategy.
Our location was selected because it was one of the least secure areas. The 25th Infantry Division did the heavy lifting. They were the ones that were supposed to engage the enemy. Our job find them and sick the bad boys on them that had all the fire power.
Just like changing seasons in the states “Real World” as GI’s called it, and for good reason. The rainy season or monsoon was a muddy mess. Think about wading in water up to your waste that used to be ankle deep in other months. Leeches as big as your fingers. Latching onto your skin and sucking the blood out of you. 10 or 12 of those hooked up made you make sure your pants were secure around your boots!
Patrols often gave us glimpses of movement, changes in livestock, rice stocks and other tell tale signs of VC or NVA activity. If an area had to large a stockpile we knew something was up. They were feeding more than just their families.
Checking areas along the Oriental River (Vam Co Dong River) always made everyone nervous and on higher alert. This was Charlie’s backyard and we were using his swing set. We were disrupting their activity that normally would be covered by the forests and swamps.
One of the guys caring an M-60 machine gun started to slide down the edge of a bomb crater some 30 feet across filled with water. He handed off the machine gun and another member reached out and gave him a hand back on solid ground. Wet always wet during the monsoon season. It was easy to find a place to swim!
Vietnam Recon Units were one of the key sources of Intelligence verification methods of villager information. We will be posting many more articles on the daily life of a Recon Platoon Member.