by Melissa LaScaleia
“On June 8, we made contact with the enemy again. I was wounded that day; I got hit with shrapnel in the back. I was out of the field for two weeks.
Then I went back to the field and we got into more action. By this time, they’re really hitting us heavily all over. They’re hitting the companies around the firebase and on top of the firebase.
On July 22, my company was on a foothill right around firebase Ripcord. There were 76 of us. And in the morning, 400 North Vietnamese attacked us from three sides of the hill. We fought them for six hours.
They started by hitting us with mortars— a grenade type of explosive. As we dove off the sides of the hill, they were coming up. To give you an idea of what it was like, the hill we were on was so small that the Vietnamese on one side of the hill were throwing grenades at us and they were landing over us and hitting their own men on the other side.
One of the medics got hit on the ground, and as I was running over to help him, an explosion went off that knocked me about twenty feet away. I was a little shocked, but I was okay. I got up and ran back up the hill. And then I got hit in the arm with a piece of shrapnel. A medic came over to me, and started bandaging me up quickly, and I ran up the hill again, and that’s when I got wounded in the ankle. At that point, a guy grabbed me and said, ‘Get down, they’re dropping bombs on us.’
The North Vietnamese just kept coming. There were another four hundred Vietnamese right behind the first. We were overrun. So my captain called in air strikes from cobra gunships to drop bombs right over us, to hit the North Vietnamese. As they were dropping the last of the bombs right on us, the North Vietnamese were running away.
By the time it was over, out of the 76 of us, there were 14 dead and 56 wounded. Now it’s night, and we were on a hilltop so thick with trees, that there’s no way helicopters can come in to land and get us out.
We were surrounded by the enemy in the jungle with barely a dozen men that could fight. There were Navy ships off the coast that shot illumination flares into the sky so we could see, and the canisters from those flares were falling all night from the sky, and we had to keep cover from getting hit with them.
At 6am, I could hear the helicopters coming from Delta company. They got dropped off on another hilltop nearby, and had to march to us. When they got there, they blew explosives on all the trees so the helicopters could land. At the same time they were picking us up, they were evacuating firebase Ripcord.