A BATTLE ON LZ IKE AS TOLD BY A LISTENING POST TROOPER

This article was written by Douglas Crow who served with D/2/5, 1st Cav.  This is an example of the excellent stories that are stored in the minds of soldiers who served their country so bravely.  Most of the books written about war are either written by brass or taken from military reports.  Doug’s article gives this account from the eyes and ears of a grunt.  No other person can tell Doug’s story as well as he has told it.  Thanks to Douglas for the article and a special thanks for his courage and dedication to our nation.

  

     One afternoon around June 18th of 1969, D Co, 2/5, 1st Cav moved into LZ Ike. That night, Ike was hit hard with at least 3 platoons of NVA; one from the South and others from the Southwest and North.

  I was chosen for an LP post outside the perimeter and just inward from the jungle’s edge. At dusk, we went out to our positions equipped with M16s, a PRC 25 radio, grenades, claymore mines, and M60s. We set up temporary posts: digging shallow foxholes, arming claymores and establishing radio contact with Ike’s command.

     Between 1:30 to 2:00 AM, a single grenade exploded about 20 feet towards the LZ followed by an eruption of small arms, artillery and rocket fire. Red tracers zinged over us from both directions. I grabbed my helmet and rifle and jumped for cover.

     The enemy units had slipped by our posts undetected. They must have observed us from the jungle, as we later discovered that the claymores had been disarmed.

     When Ike erupted, an NVA unit had wedged between us and the LZ. The result was a nightmarish half hour of not knowing whether we were going to get rocketed by the NVA, accidentally mortared or shot by our own at the perimeter. The rear element of the wedged platoon pinned us down with AK47 fire while the enemy fired B40 rockets at us from the jungle: a most miserable crossfire indeed.

     After nearly 30 mad minutes, the NVA set up a mortar just inside the jungle and to our left front. Each mortar round fired continued to impact closer and closer. Our RTO estimated the tube location, called in Ike’s mortars and silenced the NVA mortar.

     A temporary ceasefire was called and we ran for Ike’s cover. Rather than moving straight towards the LZ through the compromised NVA unit, we ran around to the West gate. About halfway to the gate, a prone NVA trooper emptied his AK47 at the ten of us. We all dove for cover and eliminated the enemy troop. How on earth we all escaped that deadly AK47 arc I’ll never know. The only explanation, other than divine intervention, was that the AK47 shells went between us! We again got to our feet and weren’t stopped until we met Ike’s West gate.

     Inside Ike, we took up positions and started blasting away at the jungle. From around 3:00 AM until before daybreak, Ike maintained a steady rate of fire, including 105 mm artillery direct fire flechette rounds. One of our troopers atop a bunker failed to heed artillery’s direct fire alert and was killed. There were reports of hand-to-hand combat replete with rifle butts and bayonets at the LZ’s berm-line and at least one attempt to resupply Ike with class five failed because of withering enemy fire.  

     After a morning ceasefire, a recon patrol was organized to collect intel. The carnage was grim outside Ike. Each NVA trooper we found was carrying B40 rockets, satchel charges or chi-com grenades. Some toted bags of marijuana.

     Though riddled and roughed-up, Ike remained resolute and ready after yet another attempt to overrun it.

 Douglas Crow

 Posted by Randall at 10/20/2010 12:07 PM

16 thoughts on “A BATTLE ON LZ IKE AS TOLD BY A LISTENING POST TROOPER”

  1. 10/20/2010 1:13 PM Sgt Otto wrote:
    I was wounded on June 20, 1969 at LZ IKE. I have read the after action report, well what I could make out in the copy of the report I received from Doug(company commander of “C” company) and see that we were attached by a reinforced Battalion of NVA, about 600. My bunkers were the two to the left of the log opening as you entered the LZ from the north I believe, the one to the right of the opening was overrun. Sgt White returned with his squad untouched and I requested he help me defend my bunker as I had no M16, but just a grenade. I have more to tell and maybe I will post it here for all the IKE survivors of June 18, 19, 20th 1969. Thanks for telling what we both lived through.

  2. 3/12/2011 1:08 PM robert cammann wrote:
    I also was at those same bunkers, 1/6 area,just to the left of the log pad rd.I only had a wk. w/ the co. so I didn’t really get to know anyone very well.My squad leader(sgt) was killed the 1st nite,I had just gotten off gaurd duty w/ him a 1/2 hr. before we were overrun. Don’t remember his name but he had just gotten his 1st letter from his girlfriend that day.1/6 plt. wasn’t totally wiped out . We had 7 guys left ; me (Bob Cammann) & s Steve Brookshire had a week w/ the co. I seem to recall a Sgt. Mac being made Plt. leader cause we lost everyone.

  3. 10/21/2010 3:27 AM srg wrote:
    If the ak rounds went between the 10 of you that WAS devine intervention. My son Dan ser.w/2nd 508th 82nd abn inf afghanistan his platoon was ambushed somewhere near pakistani border. Dan said it was a perfect ambush a classic L, the sun was in thier eyes and it should have been a slaughter. est. enemy strenght between 35-50 al quadea armed with 3 chinese heavy mac.guns-countless rpgs and ak47’s. When it was over and the cordite drifted like a cloud over the battlefield…Not one soldier from his platoon was dead. One man had a small piece of rock hit him in the shoulder leaving a bruise. Dan’s gunner was stuck in the turret so Dan dismounted his vehicle & took positon between attackers & his buddy. He said he watched tracers from the chinese machine guns coming directly to them SWERVING away at the last minute. the same thing with the rpgs w/several actually bouncing off the ground in front of them failing to detonate then sailing off harmlessly in the air to land behind them.
    The martyrs of islam were not so fortunate suffering 10 dead on the battlefield-numerous drag trails-& 17 afghan “farmers” w/ACCIDENTAL gunshot wounds showed up within an hour at a local hosp. where they were treated then promptly taken prisoner. allah must have been on r&r that day. Meanwhile back in the states Momma & Daddy were on their knees nearly 24/7. The result for the soldiers of 2/508th Charlie co…Every man without exception knew that they KNEW… SOMETHING happened out there that man cannot explain.
    Boys from all walks of life and levels of faith & non-faith came to the same conclusion:

  4. 12/14/2010 8:38 AM ed kittle wrote:
    I think everyone remembers lz ike on the 18,19,20 of june 1969 differently. I would have a different story to tell, but I was a medic back then. If remembered right all of 16 platoon of d co 2/5 1st cav was lost on that first day and on the second day attack 1/2 of 36 was lost as the last nite of fighting we had gooks inside the bunker perimeter.

  5. 1/2/2011 11:22 PM Sgt Otto wrote:
    Please send me any details of June 20 1969 at LZ Ike. I am at ifo1@verizon.net. I was 3rd platoon, 3rd squad leader of D company 2/5 1st Air Cav.

  6. 1/13/2011 7:58 AM a doc wrote:
    I, too, was on LZ Ike when it was hit on june 18, 1969. That first night companyD lost all of 16 platoon, which were wiped out by a platoon on NVA and 26 platoon killed all 20 plus zappers that were trying to sneak in on that side and the next day was quiet and then on the early morning of the 20th of June 1969 the reinforced batallion hit from the 105 and 36 side and took out half of 36. The 105s were firing into our own bunkers with beehive rounds and there was a little hand to hand combat, but we did beat then back and the next day cleanup started. At the same time we were hit on LZ Ike the companies in the field were being hit also. After that action they removed us to a temp. LZ somewhere in Quan Loi and then sent us to Song Be bridge to regroup, which was suppose to be a secure no fire zone. This lasted very shortly because we lost a trooper in that area.

  7. 3/12/2011 12:50 PM robert cammann wrote:
    I was 1 week w/ D2/5,1/6 when we went into l/z Ike. Between the 18th& 20th 1/6/ went from 37 men to 7 men. Steve(Hoss) Brookshire & I; Robert Cammann(New Yawk), had 1 week w/Co.I sent an e/mail to richards w/ some of what I remember. I’ll send another w/ more details, I already remember stuff I didn’t include.The cleanup the 20th consisted of bulldozing a huge hole outside the l/z, lining it w/ lime & policing up dead bodies & throwing them in there. 134 or 137 were buried there. The stench made me puke. Me & brookshire carried in a chu hoi from outside the l/z. His stomach was gone & he was screaming like hell. We thought the guys were gonna jump & beat him to death.

  8. 1/20/2011 11:38 AM Michael L DeHart wrote:
    Echo Co. was also on LZ Ike June 18th, 19th and 20th. I was their SSG. and hurt on the 20th in a rocket blast that killed our medic. Echo lost three just that night. I’d like any additional info you guys may remember. We have a reunion coming up this year.

  9. 3/12/2011 12:33 PM robert cammann wrote:
    I sent an e/mail to you. The stories from guys who were there are interesting eye openers & perspectives on a tragic circumstance. God bless to all. I have a few more comments that I didn’t include in my original. I’ll pass them along at a later date. This is therapy for me. It’s been 40 years pent up in my noggin’.

  10. 8/12/2011 12:16 AM Doug Crow wrote:
    I salute everyone you served at LZ Ike. This troop is especially thankful to our Lord and savior who brought us through those fields of fire. I also would particularly like to thank the black RTO of that expedition who wore the 11th Armored Cavalry “Blackhorse” Regimental arms. His artillery calls rendered the NVA mortarmen neutral.

  11. 2/27/2013 3:05 PM Dan Cooper wrote:
    I arrived in Vietnam April 69 and assigned 1/77th Atry which just moved onto LZ Ike with 2/5 th. I look back a lot of nights thinking of all the brave guys I served with. I was working ammo detail when a young man asked to use my shirt, a short time later he flew aback in with one of his guys covered with it. Few days later another man was killed when a log rolled back over his dozers. L.Z. Caroline came under attack and we shot all night with a charge 7, I recall trading off our newer M 60 with a grunt buddy who,s was getting worn out. I have never seen or been around so many brave men in all my life. Bullets were bouncing off our Howitzer when raised it to shoot . One guns Ammon bunker was hit and the gun chief was burned real bad putting out the fire , Doc covered him up with mud . A fellow who worked in T.O.C.went out to fill a generator and was killed by a mortar round ( I was told ) I recall him talking to us about his family back home. A lot of crazy stuff happening fast. B 40,s screaming across the L.Z. , AK rounds bouncing off our tubes. We shot all the H.E. we had direct fire, then shot gas , illimation , firecracker ( round with Granada type explosives ) and some guns shot Bee Hive. The Black Hats directed Huey’s in to take out the wounded, there was just smoke everywhere. One thing I will never forget was watching. The Cobra gunships shooting it out with 3 – 50 cal machine guns for the ingest time. I took a pretty good thump on my head so if I have and excuse for not having all my fact straight. The day after , I went out on the perimeter and took several pictures of the N.V.A. In the wire. I was then sent on K.P . When I way he’d all the bodies come by on mules and buried on the North side of the L.Z. I was as scared as I could have possible have been during my first stay on Ike. During the attack, I asked our Lord to watch over me and I would follow him to the end. To this day I thank him for watching over me and being my Lord and savior. I reflect back at times , looking at my pictures, chasing rats, the little U.S.O. Show we had and the visit by some football players. We were on Ike several weeks till we got the call to saddle up. We cut up all the sandbags and destroyed the place, then headed out. Several moths later, we went back to Ike, which was built up again by Arty Btry. We again came under attack. I recall a couple 155’s being brought in , since Instill have the pictures of them shooting. I extended to months to get 5, so this put me into the time frame of going into Cambodia at the end of April, first of may. I remember setting jump our shooting stacks when a helicopter hit the only tree in the L.Z, it just happened to be near of 105. Short time later , thump. thump and I craw under the trail of our gun. All of a sudden a trip goes off on the far end of the L.Z., I see this guy diving through the air, just as a grunt hits him with a claymore. I am not to sure of the L.Z,s name but

  12. 7/31/2013 3:50 PM Steve Nelson wrote:
    I arrived in Viet Nam in early Sept 69 and arrived on LZ Ike on Sept 12th. I was assigned to the 2/8 1st Cav division, blue 5 mortar pit. I remember spending that day filling sand bags and stacking 81mm mortar rounds. That evening around 9-10 p.m. the 1st wave attack started. I remember ducking into a culvert for a few minutes as rounds were exploding all around and then we climbed out and went the mortars. I was on one knee removing the safety pins and handling them to another guy who dropped them into the tube. We were dropping them one after another on charge 1 at the tree line on the South side of the base. A short time later I felt what seemed like a mule kicking me in the back and went face down into the mud. After some time I asked one of the guys to check my back as I really was not feeling much pain at that time. He looked under my flak jacket and said holy Sh**! While this was going on I heard others screaming and the Sgt. yelling that he could not see. It was later determined that the VC had mapped out our mortar pits and our 105’s.

    We decided we had to move and I crawled out of the pit and another guy helped me to the medical tent. The doctor looked at me and several other guys, one of which was missing part of his head but was alive and pointed to him and said priority one, he looked at me and said priority two. I thought I was toast. I too prayed to God and told him that if he got me through this I would follow him faithfully. Wee took of on the 1st medevac with tracer rounds all around us but made it to the hospital at Ciou Chi (sp) I later heard that the 2nd chopper was shot down in the jungle. Later that night the VC over ran the base and the GI’s retreated into the jungle. The next morning after a visit from a Snoopy gun ship they retook the base. Our unit eventually ended up restaging with what was left of the 2/8 at the Song Be Bridge North of Saigon. From there we moved on to Phoc Vinh. I would love to hear from anyone who was on LZ Ike that night as to this day I don’t really know/remember much else.

  13. My memory is not great but I do remember us abandoning Ike in April 69 . Received my final wound 2 days later. When did we move back into Ike? D2/5 Bob Allendorf.

  14. My name is Russ Montgomery,I was in E recon,ist Cav,2/8 inJuly,august,and September on LZ Ike.I was supposed to go to LZ Becky,but they were overun in a ground attack,the day I was to go,so I was assigned to Ike,instead.A few days after I got there.a chopper dropped us ,recon,off at Becky,to check the place out.The nva,was gone,by then.The day after a ground attack,in September,4 of us were picked to go on listening post.That night a mortar round landed on our position,and all 4 of us were wounded.A piece of shrapnel,cut the cord on our radio,and we couldn’t call in to the LZ.The next day,a search party found us,and we were all medivact to Cu Chi.I survived,but spent the next 8 months in army hospitals,in Japan and Denver.I feel blessed to make it,after seeing the carnage,in the hospitals,I’ll tell you.

    1. Russ, did you know Mike Kilgore? He was the platoon sgt for Recon. Mike lives in Virginia. He comes to our reunions every year. Our next reunion will be in October at Florence Alabama. We are a very close knit group and have been meeting every year since 1995.

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