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In the accounts written about the events leading up to the attack on Fire Support Base Ike in October and November, 1969,  I tried to avoid the use of personal pronouns, as the story of Tall Comanche is the story of an infantry company, not the story of individuals. But we all have our own personal stories from the events. I would like to take a few moments to recall some of the more vivid recollections I have from the main battle on the night of 3 & 4 Nov. 

I was attached to C/2/5 CAV as the FO along with Charlie Dickey, my recon sergeant, and Gary Armstrong, my RTO. We were all assigned to A/1/77 FA. Charlie and Gary were both wounded, along with several Tall Comanche troopers, in the RPG ambush that occurred at the PZ on the morning of November 3rd.

I had just gone to sleep in one of the CP bunkers when the first incoming rounds hit. As soon as I got outside I started my calls for fire and requested that “Max” be bounced. (Webmaster note:  Max was short for Blue Max, the call sign of the helicopter gunships of the 2nd Battalion, 20th Artillery - the aerial rocket artillery.)  Almost immediately the POL point was hit and exploded. Within minutes I got a call from Blue Max 28 Delta 2 that his section had been bounced out of Tay Ninh and was inbound to our location. About two minutes later Delta 2 called and said “I can see a fire base on fire, is that you?” Assuring him that it was us, his replay was “Well that sure makes you easy to find in the dark”. As the Delta 2 section arrived on station he advised me that they were armed with nails and mini-guns. These were the perfect weapons for soft targets. I advised him of the friendly locations and how I wanted them to make their runs. The section came screaming down right into the enemy fire. They made several runs and delivered withering fire on the NVA. I believe that their support was invaluable to our success that night. If any of the crews of the 2/20th ARA read this, I want to thank them for that night and all of other the times that they bailed us out.

While I was adjusting fire, the operations sergeant from the TOC (Note: Tactical Operations Center) went running behind me. He stopped and came back to tell me that just behind the bunker to my left was one of our troopers who had been killed. I told him I would check it out as son as I got a chance. When I got a break I went behind the bunker. There was no body, only a pair of legs wedged in the corner of two bunkers. There was no time to check further and I went back to calling fire. Several hours later when the NVA were in retreat I went back to the body. Upon closer examination I saw that the only clothing was a pair of shorts and on the feet were Ho Chi Minh slicks. I gave a great sigh of relief. Apparently this was a sapper who had gotten to far forward and was killed by his own artillery barrage. It did show that the NVA penetration had gotten all the way to the CP. 

Late in the fight I took a detail with a re-supply of ammunition to the 2/6 platoon. Two things stood out to me. One, the number of dud chicom grenades lying around. I had always heard that they were not very good but we were very lucky that they were so poor. Second, the number of dead NVA lying around. With my rifle ready I would kick them to make sure they were dead. In some cases rigor mortis had already occurred. The guys on the FEBA berm did one hell of a job. 

On 18 Nov. LZ Jamie came under attack. When I realized that we were likely to be hit I put on my helmet and flack jacket. While heading back to the CP I heard the NVA mortar tube popping. I started running for the CP. The very first round in hit the mast of a two-niner-two. The blast picked me up and threw me tail over teakettle through the air and slammed me against the CP bunker. After shaking off the shock I got up and was immediately slammed again. This time I had the good sense not to try and stand up again. I bellied up to the bunker and pulled a wooden bench over the top of me. After what seemed like an eternity but was probably only ten or fifteen seconds the mortar strikes were walked to another part of Ike. I was then able to get up and initiate my calls for fire. I did suffer some light shrapnel wounds to my legs. 

In conclusion, let me make a few remarks. I have not mentioned any casualty figures because I am not sure what they are. I am pretty sure we only suffered one friendly KIA on the 3rd and 4th.  I just don’t know how many wounded we suffered but it was a significant number. I have a number in mind for enemy KIA but I don’t know if is correct. I do know this, the NVA suffered heavy, heavy losses that night. 

Thirty-two years has passed since that battle. Some details have become lost and some have become embellished. (The older I get the better I was.) None of us can fully know what all happened that night and those weeks. We were each so busy fighting the fight that was in our face that we could not know what was happening next to us.  I invite anybody to submit his experience and to feel free to correct or amplify any thing I have written. Every man there has a great story to tell.

It was an honor and privilege to serve with Tall Comanche. I thank every one of you for making me a part of the company.

1 Lt. Dan Bertram
Birth Control 28
LKA Head Beagle 28 

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