Jim Anton Remembers LZ Margo (continued)
Up the Mountain
We started the long climb up the mountain early in the morning. We followed well used trails deeper into the canopy. It wasn't lost on us why the trails were so well worn. But it beat having to hack our way through the jungle with machetes like we had outside the Rockpile.
Contact was sporadic. Enough to keep us alert but not enough to prompt an all out firefight. Late in the day the terrain leveled out and we dug in. This would be home for the next few days.
Now that we were staying put they began to probe us more aggressively. Just before full dark I was in the hole alone while the other two guys got a bite to eat.
I saw a blur off to my right front as an NVA soldier jumped up and threw something at me. It hit about two feet in front of me. I hugged the dirt pile left from digging and waited for the explosion. Nothing. Waited a bit longer and still nothing.
I finally reached out and felt around. It was a baseball sized rock. Sometimes a rock and sometimes a grenade. They were trying to draw fire to see where our machine guns were. They'd send out a couple guys. One to draw fire and one to try and map our positions. If they knew where the guns were they'd try to take them out with RPGs.
I was slightly tempted to light up my rock thrower but had been trained well enough to leave the gun silent.
I'm not sure how many days we were dug in there. More than three I think but five seems too many.
Nights were interesting. They started beating drums around full dark. Guys called them death drums. Periodically one of them would scream, "Marine you die!" Oddly it didn't bother me. I slept well when I wasn't on watch. I figured if they were serious about hitting us they probably would have been really quiet first.
Days passed with patrols and LPs (listening posts). We lost one guy to an ambush. We had to tie C4 to trees and blow a couple down to clear a spot for a chopper to get the body out. We didn't get resupplied either. I was running low on C rations. I remember a couple mornings when I'd have just a tin of jelly for breakfast. Lunch was the tin of peanut butter. In the evening I'd try to heat up something.
Water was a bigger problem. Water became precious. We'd stretch our ponchos at night hoping rain would collect on them.
On our final night on that mountain I thought they might be planning an assault so I crept forward after dark and set a trip wire to a flare. Anybody coming straight at me would be lit up. Around 2 AM I heard running feet and my flare lit up. At least three guys running right at me. I flipped off the safety but didn't fire. Didn't look right. Thank God I held fire. It was our LP coming in.
They were pretty shook up. They'd had dozens of NVA soldiers walking all around them starting right after they set up. But we didn't get hit that night. We'd send out three guys with a radio to sit and watch for enemy activity.
I tried to avoid LP duty when I could. You're to watch, listen, and report. You're not to fire unless fired upon. I never liked that part of it.