"One helluva way to start your tour of
Sp4 Rick Ericksen arrives in Nam, reports in at LZ Mary Lou....and the
I had just
arrived at LZ Mary Lou and got off the truck/convoy and asked a guy who looked
like he was from there where I could find my unit. He said head straight down
the road. When you come to a line of containers/Conex's, on just the other side
of that is a row of tents. He said just look for your unit's name/insignia
above the opening.
As I rounded the containers, I heard two men running really
hard from my right. As I turned to look, they went flying by me. There was
this black guy/GI with a look of anger on his face and he was frothing around
the mouth like a mad man. I froze up instantly as he was aiming his M16 at
what first looked like me, but was actually pointing at the two men that
were running away. He let of two quick bursts and dropped both of them in
their tracks. One was not moving and the other was just moaning and rolling
around. He then refocused back on me. Just about the same time, a guy came
from his right and behind him from a bunker. He immediately swung to where the
guy was coming from and let go with another burst. At this point his M16 went
dry and he turned and ran up the road towards the gate. Next thing I know is
someone gave me a shove forward and yelled out, "Stop that MF'er, he's crazy.
He shot the LT. .... he's dead and he wounded the sergeant. At that point I guess
instinct took over cause I remember pulling a mag out and locked & loaded
and started running after the guy and was joined by two other guys who came
out of nowhere along side me.
road leading back to the gate was full of trucks that I had just arrived on
and other GI's were milling about. Suddenly the guy popped out from between
one and that's when all hell broke loose. He spotted us the same instant we
spotted him and he opened up on us. We returned fire meanwhile taking cover
in the drainage ditches alongside the road. He then made a run for it, dodging
between and behind the trucks and we in pursuit trading fire as we went. It
seemed like forever but we were headed straight for the gate and I could now
see the MP's at the gate turning to bear on us with there 16's & 60's. I
knew then if we did not end this soon, it was going to be an all out firefight with
our own guys who had no idea what the hell was going on. I grabbed the two
guys in the ditch and made a hasty plan. I told them I just got here and this
is not what I expected or planned on and did not want to go out this way.
So, let's break on three and spread out so we could draw his fire in three
different directions. It would make it easier to move and not give him one target to
bear on. I remember all the time though, hearing the supersonic sound of
bullets whizzing over head.
soon as I heard a break in the shooting, I gave the
command to break out and move. One guy went to the opposite side of the road
and the other laid flat in the middle and myself stayed put in the drainage
ditch on the right. When he saw the guy on the left side, he stood up in the
middle of one of the trucks. Suddenly he broke out in the middle of the road
and winged a few shots and started running up the road. I remember as we
opened up on him, he turned once to return fire and then as he turned back and
ran forward, there was a burst of three M16's going off all at once. He
dropped in the middle of the road and his weapon went flying forward. I jumped
up with the other two guys in close pursuit, but I was the first one to reach
him. He was screaming at the top of his lungs and rolling around. When I finally got to him, he was face down.
I grabbed his shirt by the shoulder
and flipped him over. He had this big wound in his left shoulder, one of
the rounds hit him high and blew out his whole shoulder. It was really nasty.
Before I knew it, there was several MP's standing over us telling us to put
weapons down. At that point they pulled us up and handcuffed all of us. Next
thing I know, there are medics working on this guy and putting him into
an ambulance. That's the last time I ever saw him. Next thing we are loaded
into a jeep and taken to MP HQ's to sort this out.
they sorted the whole thing out and got all of the stories straight, they cut
us loose. I never did find out what happened to the shooter but I was told
later by some guys who knew who he was that they had just come back from
two very nasty operations. One I believe was the Chu-Pa mountain and the other was
Dak To north of Mary Lou in Kontum Province. They were up against the 141st NVA
regiment; they were seasoned hard core regulars. They were in heavy contact
and lost a lot of guys in both of these operations and he managed to survive
both. When he was ordered back out again to the same areas he said he had
enough and then they told him he had no choice. So I guess that is what set him
off and he went bullshit and started going crazy and so it went.
was my "welcome" to Vietnam and to the 2/9th Arty.
by Rick Ericksen
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