George Worthy
George Worthy

Last week I wrote a little to explain why Special Forces are such revered soldiers. It is because they have studied small unit warfare for at least three months back at Fort Bragg, the home of Special Forces. This is where they earn the right to wear the Green Beret. I might mention that they go through a vigorous period of 12 weeks of physical and mental training that was not for the faint at heart. They learn about the area of operations they may be sent to and are assigned to a SF Team.

Dewy was assigned to my “A” Site and was an excellent addition to our team. This is a little incident that we thought should have been printed in his hometown newspaper, but my superior said no. Jealous I guess. Dewy had been trained as a light weapons expert. That was his primary MOS, or Military Occupational Specialty. He was not an infantryman as most soldiers were in Vietnam.

That is important because you see there is one medal that is earned while in a combat zone that every infantryman wants to wear home. It is the “Combat Infantryman’s Badge.” It means you have trained as an infantryman and served in a combat unit during a war. Every combat soldier wanted one. Dewy was no different.

After arriving at our Site, he volunteered for every patrol that came up. Usually you only have to go on every other patrol, but Dewy wanted that CIB really bad. You couldn’t blame him. As of the date of his arrival to our site, he had never been involved in the field. Here is his story of those fateful days.

One day while he was just fooling around he decided to walk into town. Pleku was a good-sized city and had every type of store you could ask for, of course it was always hot. He decided to stop and have a beer. He was not supposed to go into a bar, but as I said it was really hot.

As he had been in Pleku for eight days, and like most red-blooded men he enjoyed a cold beer on a hot day. The bar he picked also had an assortment of young ladies that helped soldiers spend their money. He actually stayed a little longer than he should have and it started to get dark. Even brave men knew not to be out after dark in this or any other city in Vietnam. He said the girls begged him to stay the night. He said he decided to stay when he heard small arms being discharged. 

He was not supposed to carry a gun, and as such he had no method of defense. The girls guided him into the back of the bar and he was told to get under a bed in case the people shooting guns came in looking for any Americans. To help you understand, this was the night of TET 1968. TET is a huge holiday in Vietnam, the Viet Cong used this day to initiate the largest attack of the Vietnam War.

Dewy was kept from discovery by the young ladies who would have been shot along with him if they had found him there. He stayed until dawn of the third day. He had seen North Vietnamese tanks rolling down the street and soldiers had been in the bar asking if any Americans were there.

Dewy stayed there for two days before the tanks rolled out of town. They had shot up most every bar in Pleku and Dewy had been reported “missing in action.” He gave all the money he had on him to the young ladies that risked their own lives to save him, as he jumped on the next jeep rolling through town. Of course he caught hell, but a chewing out was the worst.

The next day he was shipped out to Trang Phuc, which was how he got to our Site and why he volunteered to go on the next patrol. It was Dewy, myself and two Vietnamese Special Forces soldiers that walked out the next morning to search for any Viet Cong in the area. We walked about 15 kilometers from our camp when one of the Montagnard soldiers said, through the interpreter, that there were footprints of North Vietnamese soldiers. You can see why we loved these people. 

So I accompanied him to the trail where the footprints were. I ordered the Montagnard leader to set up an ambush and I climbed up a nearby hill with my interpreter and the Vietnamese Special Forces men that had come with us. Dewy asked if he could remain with this force as he was still looking to see some action. I walked wide of the prints and was told by the Montagnard leader that the village nearby was a supply point for the North Vietnamese in the area.

So, I walked off the trail to where the ambush was to take place. I told all the men using hand signals only until we knew how many were in the village. After the men were set, I climbed back up the hill and waited. About one hour later the scouts returned and said they were retuning from the village. All of a sudden the air erupted in gunfire as the Montagnard soldiers opened fire. If you ever watched an ambush on TV it wasn’t much different. 

The Montagnard literally hated the Vietnamese, so there were only wounded or killed North Vietnamese soldiers. Dewy had done a great job directing fire from down on the flat where the ambush took place. He led a few of our Montagnard soldiers after the wounded that were trying to escape. He radioed me to ask if he should follow the yards as they took off after any survivors. I told him to return as he had earned his CIB.

God Bless.

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Gonzales columnist George Worthy may be reached at [email protected].


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