Submitted by: David Vinyard.
I got your E-mail telling me that you had signed me up. I noticed that you didn't have anything on the Charlie CAPs. As memory serves me the Charlie CAPS were made up of four CAP units and headquarters. Company headquarters for the Charlie CAPs was located at the base of Hill 37 with Charlie 1 about two miles south, Charlie 2 about 2 miles East, Charlie 3 About 2 miles North, and finally Charlie 4 was South West of Hill 65, which was five or six miles West of Hill 37.
In October of 1967, a unit of approximately 120-200 Vet Cong hit CAP Charlie 1. During the full moon night, the Sappers had come through the wire on the East side of the unit and moved around to the North East corner. They came in with RPGs and satchel charges and left behind comm. wire for others to follow the path that they had cut through the wire. As soon as the moon went down, about 0200 hours they hit the far North bunker with RPGs and then began to work their way down the bunkers on the East side. One Marine was KIA with the first RPG, he never got out of his cot. The Vet Cong worked their way to the far South East bunker and a Marine was wounded in that bunker. We later learned that he was knock unconscious by an RPG and as the VC came into his bunker they shot him three time at point blank range. Fortunately for him the rounds went in his front under the skin and then came out of his back, never hitting any vital organs, it just wasn't his time.
As the VC worked their way down the East side of the compound they also attempted to work down the West Side of the unit. What they didn't know was there was a small pond right behind the far North bunker. When they attempted to come around it they encounter the pond and it slowed their progress enough for the guys in the radio shack to recover from their shock and start fighting back. Sgt. Woods the CAP leader and another Marine, I don't remember who engaged them at about 50 foot and stopped their progress at the North end of the compound.
Mean while LCpl Jerry Troche was manning the M-60 in a crow’s nest atop the far South West bunker. With withering fire he single handedly stop the progress of the VC from moving around the South end of the compound. If the VC had been able to get around the South end or the North end of the compound they would have completely overrun the unit. He tried to roust the VC from the SE bunker but couldn't quite reach it with grenades. Thank God because unknown to him a wounded Marine was laying on the floor of the bunker with three bullet holes in him. From that bunker the VC shot several RPGs at Jerry but they missed the crow’s nest. They did hit the bunker and killed three PFs. that were inside. All three of them had as they had been instructed put on their gas mask. CS was a planned part of the defenses of the compound; but it was never used.
Before the attack the VC had set up a recoilless rifle out side of the wire on the North end of the compound. With that they fired at the tower that was South of the gate at the North West corner of the unit. Ray Conn was on top of the roof of the tower with a 50cal Machine Gun. Several rounds of the Recoilless rifle hit the tower but it didn't stop Ray from using the 50. He was slowed down considerably when small arms rounds went through the receiver of the 50 and the cocking handle was shot off. Ray fired the 50 as a single shot to help roust the VC from bunkers that they had over run on the East side of the compound. Ray was cocking the 50 with a short stub that was left of the cocking handle to fire each round. He also used his M-16 to great affect. He also threw grenades; but he hadn’t folded the cotter keys down so he just ripped the ring right out of the pin and the spoon wasn’t allowed to fly free. We found several grenades with the ring gone but the pin still in. Adrenaline makes yah pretty stout. We tried to cock the 50 with the stub that Ray had used to cock the gun and couldn’t do it,
When the battle started Sgt Woods sent out a distress call to the grunt company that was a few miles to the South. It was a little unorthodox. He got on the radio without using a call sigh of any kind and simply said, “HELP! HELP we are being over run.”
In the end the VC were expelled from the compound. The grunt company to the south sent a reaction force to help evict them from the premises.
The Marines in the unit were very lucky to have survived. The plan of the VC was well thought out and executed. The only things that kept them from over running the unit were:
As a side note the PFs were basically ineffective in the battle. Many were trying to hide.
I arrived at CAP Charlie 1 the next day to replace the KIA and wounded.