Corporal Charles House led his Marine Recon patrol through thick undergrowth under the jungle canopy forty feet above. The country was Vietnam and the year was 1968.
Team Dublin City had been inserted three days prior, North of Phu Bai to reconnoiter the area for signs of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troop buildups, with a secondary mission of identifying possible enemy bunkers, trench lines, or caches for possible airstrikes. After days of patrolling the 1st Recon Battalion Marines were tired and out of water. House halted his men and put them into a security position so that they could refill their canteens at a waterfall that dropped into a small pool and turned into a stream.
After about thirty minutes, House looked over at one of his men, Lance Corporal Perry Gordon, as he put on his cartridge belt. Suddenly, House saw the oddest expression wash over the young Marine’s face.
“What the shit?” House thought to himself.
Gordon could hardly believe his eyes. At first he thought the man he saw standing in the stream was one of his teammates filling up his canteen, but quickly discounted that thought as they had already done that. He describes the person he saw stating, “he wore knee-length dark green pants. Across his chest was a red sash like the kind beauty contestants wear. It looked to be made of silkish ao dai material. Maybe he wore it to keep the VC from firing on him.” Moreover, he was clearly Caucasian. “His brown hair was close-cropped but long on top,” the way the VC wore their hair.
The two white men looked at one another for what seemed like a long moment. An AK-47 rifle was slung across the stranger’s back. Gordon’s rifle lay on the ground next to him. The white Viet Cong turned as a North Vietnamese came walking up from a boulder behind him.
Gordon lunged for his rifle.
The Recon Marine opened fire with his M16, firing approximately five to eight rounds at the white man dressed like the Viet Cong. The White Cong was flung backward into the stream and yelled, “Help me!” in clear, unaccented English. The Marines then opened fire in unison. Lance Corporal Wilkin’s M16 jammed so he hurled several M-26 fragmentation grenades toward the enemy as two more came from around the boulder in front of the patrol. The Marines estimated a total enemy force of about 25 Viet Cong. Gordon dropped an expended magazine and slammed home a fresh one before continuing to fire. Meanwhile, another Marine opened up with his M79 grenade launcher.
Both parties broke contact with one another, but a few hours later the Marines ran into an ambush. Their point man, Private First Class Brown, was killed. As he staggered backward under sustained enemy fire, Brown knocked down the second Marine in the order of movement and saved his life from further enemy gunfire. Gordon reported that then, “Corporal House wasted the gook who got Brown.” The Marines next radioed for fast movers and helicopter gunships to rake the area with gunfire and bombing runs.
The patrol was finally extracted by helicopter; the Marines hoisted out of the dense jungle foliage. On the ride back to Phu Bai, the Marines spoke to one another about the white VC they had encountered. The Marines were still in a state of shock over the event. “I felt bad about it at first,” Gordon said. “But I decided that it was either him or me. Even if I’m not too hot about killing VC, I’d kill another American like that, one who was working for them.”
Corporal House wrote in his After Action Report, obtained by SOFREP, about the incident and how they encountered a white man collaborating with the VC. The Marines reported that they had killed him in the firefight. All of the facts reported by the Marines that day stand the test of time except this single one. It is incredibly difficult to ascertain what did or did not happen in the heat of battle and considering that the white VC went down amidst a hail of gunfire, it is understandable that the Marines reached this conclusion.
However, it turned out that he was very much alive.
Read the rest at SOFREP.com