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The Rocket's Red Glare   --- A Story About Friendly Fire 

In November, 1966, we were on the Cambodian border.  I was in 1st Squad, 1st Platoon.  We made a Combat Assault into the jungle against what was thought to be a North Vietnamese Army Regiment or larger.  As our Hueys were about to land, the door gunner told us it was a hot LZ.  They were taking fire.  They called in jets to work the place over a bit and they too took fire.  So they worked the area over with artillery.  The two gun ships got in front of us about 500 to 1000 yards out.   The gun ships then made a run,  then we went in with our gun ships.  As we hit the ground, we moved out and secured the perimeter.  After about 10 to 15 minutes,  Lt. Stein and Sgt. Meisel our Platoon Sgt. started yelling,  "Get into the woods!"  "Run for your life -- get into the woods!"  I had malaria, which I should have gone in for, but didn't, so I was burning up with fever but knew I had to keep moving and fast.  As I was running through the jungle I saw two gunships making a bank.   They were going to make an attack on us.  I ran like hell with the other guys.  I looked back and could see the ships were making their "Gun Run."  I told myself, "You are going to get it now,  Denny!"  

VA-ROOM, VA-ROOM  Rockets screeched past my left, then to my right and then overhead.  The horrible thundering screeching sound of  rockets going over you and to the side of you is enough to make you loose control of all body functions.  Only guys who have experienced it will know what I'm talking about.   I could hear the rat-a-tat-tat of the M-60s on the gunships opening up on us guys.  I tripped over something and looked up to see bullets striking into a tree and tearing it up several feet in front of me.  If I hadn't tripped, those rounds would have torn me up like that tree.   Then I saw other rockets going up higher and higher at an angle.  The bullets started going higher too.  The choppers must have gotten the word that they were shooting at their own guys and broken off the attack.

I saw LT. Stein and SGT Meisel (sp?) yelling on the radios.  I guess they got through to those choppers.

We all looked around to see if anyone got hit.  We yelled, "Anyone get hit?"  Then we heard, "Over here!" and  someone started to yell, "Help!"  We went over to him and he was under a big tree like a pine that a rocket hit knocking the top of it down on him.  I took out my machete and started cutting limbs off to get the tree off him.  Other guys were chopping at it too.  We got him out and he didn't have a scratch.  What a Lucky guy!  I think his name was McCoy, but I can't remember for sure.

We came under an other attack by our own rockets later, only that time nine guys were wounded.  I'll tell that story another time.   Today they call this friendly fire.  We called it something else. 

Dennis P. Henzi 

1st Platoon, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry

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Updated April 19, 2001