One Good Deal After Another (continued)
The novelty of a Battalion Landing Team operating within the DMZ proper, attracted a reasonable number of senior officers. All were interested in what we were doing and all had the same guidance. “Be careful.”
There were other interesting aspects of our mini-campaign in the DMZ. Not mentioned in the Command Chronology was the one night “cease fire” that had been arranged at the Paris Peace Talks. It happened sometime during mid-October. I could not believe it when told about it by regiment over the regimental tactical radio net. The instructions were quite specific … we were told that the cease fire would start at a specific hour in the evening and would end, I believe, at midnight. I did not think the cease fire would hold and did not want us to be the ones caught in a surprise attack by an NVA commander who might not have gotten the word.
At the appointed hour, everything went silent. It was surreal. No artillery. No attack aircraft bustling along overhead on the way to do mayhem. Nothing. Then in the distance, the distinctive sound of a 4 engine Marine KC – 130 aircraft. As he drew closer, it was clear that he was flying low level along the Ben Hai River taking photos, one after another. The photography was made possible by the biggest and brightest “flash bulb” available, a strobe light.
Flash! Roar! Gone! A night photo reconnaissance aircraft flashes an intense strobe light to illuminate the area above BLT 2/26 for night photography. The film would be rushed back to a secure base for processing and interpretation, and the information gleaned used to protect us and target our enemies. As soon as it passed, the jungle became quiet again. Photograph by Thomas H. Roadley.
He whipped overhead and was gone. Nobody shot at him, nothing happened. I suppose the photos were sent to Paris or at least a summary description of the photos was sent. The silence returned after the 130 passed and I had time to think about peace and how nice it would be to go home.
It still amazes me to think that the cease fire stood up. When the sun came up, both sides went back to work.