Those who stayed at Charlie
The story of John Paul Vann gives the overview, but doesn't give much attention to "Charlie". The Seattle Post story you've read, and my epoetryworld.com sector titled Viet Nam is my version and it expands as the info from other sources comes in. The Vietnamese have a classic song which is quit good: "Those who stayed at Charlie", it is played in Viet Nam and anywhere where the Vietnamese live. The song laments the war dead and their was a prize winning Vietnamese book. The Presidio Press asked me to write a book many years ago, but I didn't have time.
The significance of "Charlie" is it slowed the NVA timetable by several days, chewed up the one regiment of the 320th NVA Division (Victors of Diem Ven Pho), and employed B-52 boxes tactically for the 1st time (300 meters from friendlies). John Paul Vann noted and used the same "danger close" tactics a few days post Charlie in the battle for Kontum.
Jack, for your file of info, LTC Pete Kama was the brigade advisor for the "Rocket Ridge" battles. He had come direct from MACV Hqs, where he was the Commander's aide. He had a direct link to the General, and he used it to change the direction of the battle. More B-52's deployed and proximity drop restrictions lifted. When I called for B-52's, I would always move my map location back. Pete figured out what I was doing. My ground location never changed. The paratroopers were told to hold their helmets on to their heads, get down low and open their mouths. They knew a B-52 strike was coming. The ground would shake and rumble, the shrapnel would come in very hot and burn, but not wound if they followed instructions. It was very effective as the NVA hugged the enemy at the 300 meter "safe' range.
My translation of the song is on my web site www.epoetryworld.com toward the middle of the Viet Nam section.
Of interest also is my poem "Forward Air Controller's" which is now inscribed on a monument dedicated to the lost FAC's. It is in Colorado Springs, and I was one of the guess speakers followed by a "missing man" fly over. A very impressive ceremony and monument.
John J Duffy
John Duffy <John J Duffy
Santa Cruz, CA USA - Friday, April 03, 2009 at 20:02:06 (PDT)