Aero-Rifle Platoon Spots, Destroys Enemy Bunkers

The following story was published in “The Screaming Eagle” some time during 1969.

LZ SALLY – Recently the Aero-Rifle Platoon of C Trp., 2nd Sqdrn, 17th Cav., ran into a situation that an officer called a “model of how the Cav. should work.”

The platoon operating with helicopter surveillance, was reconnoitering about seven miles south of Phu Bai.

“We were walking along a ridgeline when a LOH spotted a bunker complex just below us,” said Lt. Dave Sawyers of Oradel, N.J., the platoon leader.

Sawyers was not eager to use a trail leading to the bunker, so he sent the Kit Carson Scout and a squad leader to clear a new approach.

The two men got within 25 meters of the bunker when the scout reported that he was sure there were enemy inside.

“We hadn’t got any fire, though,” said Sgt. Richard Feigel of Grand Rapids, Mich., the squad leader. “I guess with the LOH overhead they couldn’t hear us moving in.”

Feigel called his squad down and put five men on line.

“The squad started firing into the air vents of the bunkers, and I had fired up three magazines before we got any return fire,” Feigel said.

As the firefight grew in intensity the squad threw three grenades on the 10 or 12 enemy soldiers who ran out of the bunkers to form a supporting position.

Finally the squad withdrew and called in gunships and Aerial Rocket Artillery, and a company of riflemen.

Within 30 minutes A Co., 2nd Bn., 502nd Abn. Inf., combat assaulted into the area, and the Aero-Rifle platoon was extracted.

Since it was growing dark, A Company set up a defensive perimeter and sent out night patrols.

At first light the area was swept, and the bodies of six dead NVA were found. According to Sawyer, the action was a “model” cavalry engagement.

“It’s our job to be constantly on the move and try to find the enemy and then let regular riflemen come in and conduct a sweep,” he said. “And that’s exactly how this contact turned out.”