Jim Anton Remembers LZ Margo
by Private First Class Jim Anton
Echo Company, BLT 2/26
(The vivid memories of LZ Margo below were written in emails from Jim Anton to his daughter Kelly, who edited them and is letting us quote them on our website.)
"In August 2013 my father was diagnosed with stage IV cancer, he was told that he only had 6-12 months. Those doctors underestimated my father's determination and grit. He didn't know what giving up or tapping out meant, and he never had as the following story will show you.
"Understand, that my dad and I talked about his time in Vietnam when I was a teen, and after, but he always kept the worst memories, and the worst pain back, held it to himself."
daughter of PFC James "Jim" Anton,"F" Company, BLT 2/26
Time to Go Hunting
Early September saw us transitioning into a Battalion Landing Team, which meant our rear base was a navy ship. I was aboard the Princeton for the most part. We made a number of amphibious landings in Mike boats (the WW2 landing crafts). A couple were in really rough weather. Those boats really rock.
Then we moved into the Rockpile and guarded the perimeter and ran patrols. Some mine sweeps to Camp Carroll and back. Tiring and sometimes nerve wracking but largely uneventful. We moved down to Carroll in a driving cold rain and got ready for Operation Lancaster 2.
The battalion began lifting off early in the morning around Sept 11. Echo would be last in. Eventually 20 of us ran onto a Sea Knight and off we went beating our way above rolling jungle. Then we hit the LZ. The usual noise and smoke and confusion that's any hot LZ.
Pilots didn't want to touch down so hovered about 20 feet off the ground and we jumped. Normally hitting jungle is mushy or springy. Margo was solid rock. 70 pounds on my back and it felt like my knees both went as I hit.
We fanned out hugging rock until directed to our area. We'd be interior defense or palace guard I heard. Our area was a long ravine with a spring at the far end. I was at the open end of the ravine closer to the actual landing area and farthest from the water hole.
We started digging in. I tried with my e-tool and pick and got nowhere. So I dug in instead of down. I tore into the side of the ravine where it had eroded a bit. I made myself a nice little cave. Grabbed a bite to eat and sat around. Thought this was where we'd be for awhile. Not so.
Around noon Echo saddled up and headed down off the mountain and into the triple canopy jungle. It was time to go hunting.
So we started the long trek off Margo, transitioning from artillery blown trees and rock to dense jungle.
At the bottom if the mountain we hit the Cam Lo River and waded across. The water was fast and fairly clear and about waist deep. Rising up from the river the jungle changed to triple canopy. Trees over 100 feet tall blocking out any direct sunlight. And very steamy.
It was like walking through a terrarium.