NVA AWOL's Captured

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

CAMP EAGLE – Four NVA soldiers, AWOL from their unit and trying to get back to North Vietnam, were intercepted by aviators and Infantrymen of C Trp., 2nd Sqdn. (Ambl.), 17th Cav. in a well coordinated Air-Cav operation.

Lt. Allen M. Szpila of Cumberland, Rhode Island, was piloting his scout ship back from a reconnaissance mission over the A Shau Valley when his gunner, Spec. 5 Jay E. Weimer, spotted two NVA crossing a river about 17 miles southwest of Hue.

“We swept down the river and saw one man tring to float across the stream and another standing on the banks,” recounted Spzila. “When we reached a low altitude, the man on the bank opened up on us with AK fire.”

Weimer and the LOH crew chief, Staff Sgt. Lorenzo H. Rehberg of Vero Beach, Fla., shot and killed both men, and headed back to the river as soon as we had refueled.

Arriving back at the scene, the LOH crew spotted an NVA rucksack in the brush along the river bank. Dropping down to pick up the pack, a third NVA was detected lying low in the brush.

Intent on capturing the enemy soldier alive, Szpila called for C Troop’s aero-rifle platoon. While the troopers rushed to his location, Szpila briefed them on the location of the enemy soldier.

Crew chief Rehberg joined the Infantrymen on the ground and led them to the hidden NVA about 50 meters away. “The platoon’s Kit Carson scout was calling for the man to surrender,” recalled Rehberg, “when a fourth NVA opened up on us.”

The C Troop soldiers quickly silenced this new enemy threat and the other enemy surrendered. The prisoner revealed to his captors that he and his friends had deserted to return to the north because they were hungry and tired of fighting.