Experiences of other Charlie Company Troopers
You do NOT have to be a Company Commander or Platoon Leader to have your
experience put on this page. I am hoping that some of my fellow grunts will send
their stories or experiences to be published here. Mine are all thru the site.
James (Jim) L. Poor, Company Commander, C-1/8, Sept 10, 1967 Thru Feb 21, 1968.
I joined the Jumping Mustangs in July 1967. Following the Charm School in An Khe, I went to LZ English and met LTC Wilbur Jenkins, the
Battalion Commander. He told me I was going to be the S-1 and that I should take care of the troopers paperwork, make sure they got their mail
and keep the companies as equal as possible in strength. He then told me my first job as the new S-1 was to go to the clearing station and identify a
young trooper whose body had just been brought in. I will never forget standing beside that boy, looking at his face and the small hole in his chest
and feeling so helpless, anguished and scared. I wish I knew his name and Company.
In September, 1967, LTC Jenkins called me to the TOC and thanked me for my work as S-1, told me to move from HHC to Company C. He
scheduled the change of command for the next day. I went to the C Co tent, picked a weapon, met the staff and started wondering what I was in
As I accepted the Company Flag from Cpt Zdrojewski, I felt a level of pride that surpassed even my marriage day and birth of my children. I was
about to lead American soldiers into combat, an honor extended to very few leaders. After the Flag ceremony, Cpt Ski said a few farewells while
LTC Jenkins briefed me on what he wanted accomplished. They got on the CC and flew away. As I looked around at the dozens of eyes looking at
me, the awesomeness of what was happening to me set in. I think for a second I was terrified. I remember thinking to myself, What should I do
now? Someone, I don't remember who, whispered to me that we should probably move out of the clearing and start toward the valley floor.
The next six months seem to blur in my memory. Several faces and incidents are burned into my memory, all with a positive slant. Our successes
over those months gave me a feeling of invincibility. I remember in February 1968, following our big battle in which we stood off two NVA
Battalions, an incident with a howitzer round that made me feel I had become a danger to myself and those around me. I told LTC Dubia, for the
sake of those fine men who kept me safe, I should probably be replaced before I caused someone to get hurt unnecessarily.
I received several awards while serving as the Co C Commander. I have worn those with pride over the years. I tell those who ask how I got them
that they are actually Unit Awards and as the Company Commander I get to wear them in honor of the 100+ men who really earned them. Unit
awards are time consuming and difficult to prepare. Individual awards are simple. Many times Commanders were recognized for their unit
accomplishments rather than individual heroism. I count myself as one of those.
I did not really realize how fortunate I/we were until I went back to Vietnam in 69/70 and served as a G-2/Division Recon Co advisor for the 23d
ARVN Division. In the heaviest firefight with Co C, I felt in control and secure. I slept well at night. I knew I was surrounded by brave and
dedicated men who cared for each other. With the ARVN, that sense of security simply was not there.
Those 6 months in command of Charlie Company will always stand as the greatest period of my life. The greatest epitaph a man could have is "I
led American men into combat, they fought bravely, and most of them made it home".
It is with a sad heart that I must report that Col. James L. Poor (Ret.) has passed on to Fielder's Green.
Eugene D. Colgan, 1968 - 1969.
I joined the CAV in the beginning of April 1968, and returned home the last week in March 1969. During that period I had the honor and distinct
privilege to command two companies in the Jumping Mustangs. After a few months in G-3 at Camp Evans I joined 1/8 CAV at LZ SHARON in
Echo Company, 1st Battalion 8th Cavalry Ramrod, September 1968 - November 1968.
The Battalion rear was on LZ SHARON and the Battalion was working out of LZ ANN. E Company's RECON Platoon was responsible for a portion
of the LZ's perimeter, and the mortars and surveillance sections were in general support for the Battalion. The RECON Platoon would CA (Combat
Assault) out each day and patrol the hills and draws between LZ ANN and the A SHAW Valley. Life was good. The NVA had not fully recovered
from the hard fights in the Valley and Khe Sanh and the excitement and actions we encountered were small unit fights, 2 or 3 uglies or small group
stragglers. We did a lot of day and night ambushes and search and destroy patrols. I was blessed with a squared away First Sergeant who had
everything under control. I also had a strong RECON Platoon Leader (1Lt David Hadly) and Sergeant who took me under his wing and taught me
what is was like to fight, survive and win in the "Enchanted Forest". Sgt Joe "Rock" Musial was a great mentor, a solid warrior and an outstanding
combat leader. Echo RECON humped those hills every day. We would CA on to a hill top, walk down into the valley, check out the draws and trails,
climb back up over the ridge line, back into another valley and on, and on. The hills were steep enough that if you lost your footing, you could roll
100 or more feet or until you hit or grabbed something. Some days we patrolled from first light to dark and never covered over a kilometer of map
distance. On an up and down basis we went 5 - 10 K's through heavy cover. I remember turning LZ ANN over to the USMC. I was impressed with
the Marine haircuts and clean uniforms. I looked at my RECON guys and realized we were a pretty messy group, but we were going back to LZ
SHARON and showers and clean uniforms would be the order of the day. The company left Quang Tri City by C-130 for Tay Ninh and the sea leg
departed Wunder Beach with 3-4 CONEX containers. It took about 2 days to clean up the company area at our new rear home of Tay Ninh. Early
one morning the Battalion CA'd out to secure and build LZ MUSTANG in War Zone "C". This was a CA! 24 slicks, 6 guns, 4 White-birds and a 30+
minute prep that started with 2000-pound daisy cutters, 175/8 inch Arty, 10 plus minutes of 155mm and 105 mm Arty, and the Cobras finishing up
with 2.75 rockets, mini-guns and then the lift birds door guns. The RECON Platoon was responsible for securing the northern point of the new LZ,
and then moving out to the north on a Recon patrol once the rifle companys had closed the LZ and the Arty and Engineers had started to sling in.
The whole LZ area was smoke and dust. The lift birds were in two staggered trails, Echo Company RECON had 5 or 6 birds, I was on the second or
third bird in one of the trails, a rifle company and I can't remember which one had the rest of the assault lift. When we entered the smoke and
dust at about 50 - 100 feet, the visibility went to about 30 feet and I saw the tail rotor of the bird in front of us, we were about to have a mid-air!
Things got flaky, and birds started doing strange things as they tried to get down without hitting one another. I remember seeing a troop standing
on a skid of a bird across from us fall off and drop into the dust. It flashed through my head that we just had our first casualty. We got on the
ground, organized our sector, and I went looking for the troop I saw fall out of the bird. The LZ in our area was a series of deep bomb craters and
the ground was loose sand. As I skirted the lip of one of the craters I saw a troop climbing up the side to get out of the crater. This was the Snuffy
that fell off the skid. Can't remember a name, but this was him. He said he hit feet first on the lip of the crater, rolled down one side, almost up
the other side and settled in the bottom as a pile of equipment and dirt. A little shaken, really dirty, but OK. LZ Mustang was established, we
pushed the jungle out a few meters, put up a dirt berm, built some bunkers and strung the wire. War Zone "C" was a different life. Someone had
forgotten to tell the NVA that we were the CAV and they should fear and avoid us. The fights got hard and frequent. This was not the I Corps we
left where we had beat down the NVA/VC over a series of tough battles. We were starting new with a different, hard enemy and we had to earn our
spurs each day. The big change here was long term established bunker complexes with well-organized NVA formations that ranged from squad
through regiment. It seems that a day and sometimes an hour would not go by without a contact. The Mustangs were earning their combat pay. At
some time in November, LTC Adams informed me I was moving to Charlie Company and LT Hadly, the RECON Platoon Leader was taking Echo. I
remember getting my kit, saying later to the guys and getting on a bird to join Charlie in the "Enchanted Forest". They had had a sharp contact
the day before and a new first Sergeant and myself were joining the company.
Charlie Company, Bright Knight, November 1968 - March 1969.
War Zone "C", the excitement continued, contacts during the day; movement at night, well traveled trails and large bunker complexes. There was
not a doubt that we had moved into a very restrictive neighborhood and the local residents were not happy with us. It seems like we stayed in
contact. Around the 24-25th of November we CA'd into an area with D Company. The mission was to move to a grid and look around. This was one
of those "transmitter of unknown origin missions" that would come from Brigade or Division. We moved from the LZ and found the grid. Trails,
almost roads covered by the canopy, commo wire, fighting positions and lots of evidence that someone was at home. We spliced into the commo
wire and the Kit Carson told us they knew we were here and were tracking us. "D" (Rain Cloud) was having a similar experience a hundred or so
yards to our right in very heavy cover. We each had dog teams working the point with 3 or so cover folks in the point team. Around 1300 the Bright
Knight dog alerted and MG's, RPG's and ChiCom claymores opened up on us. A bad experience that cost both companies good men. We spent 2
nights and 3 days surrounded by a large NVA force. The morning of the third day we were able to recover our dead, which were lying in front of
bunkers hidden in bamboo thickets from the first exchange. We fought our way out to a PZ and ran a final extraction. Cpl Wayne Rogers, PFC
Richard Hammett and 1LT Gordy De Garmo were KIA in this action. Gordy had been in country less then 30 days and with "C" company about 5
days. 2nd Platoon took the blunt of this action. For 2 days and nights the platoon leader was a young, experienced E-4, the rest of the leadership
had been evacuated. I wish I could remember that trooper's name. A Mortar platoon troop was a real hero, carrying ammo to the contact point and
dragging back the wounded. Another name I can't remember. 1SGT Thane Alley was a blessing. Fearless and tough. He loved his troops and
worked hard taking care of them. In an ammo kick out he blocked a box of 7.62 from landing on me with his arm. The arm was cracked and he
could have gone out on a medevac. He stayed with Bright Knight and had the arm treated when we got back to MUSTANG. As Tom Helminger told
me in an e-mail as we reminisced, "you had to be tough to be in the CAV; and you had to be tough and lucky to survive in 2-6 (2nd Platoon)". With
two rifle companies in a bad way, the Battalion put "C" company on FSB Saint Barbara to rebuild. I Believe "D" stayed on MUSTANG. To put this
in prospective, when "C" & "D" CA'd into this contact we each used 28 lift ships for the CA's. The final extraction took both companies out on 26
total birds. It was on Saint Barbara that we received replacements, and three new Lt.'s. Lt. Pete Brown (WIA Feb - 69) took 1-6, Ed McMillan 2-6,
and Skip Renshaw (KIA 13 Apr 69) 3-6. We patrolled and trained the new guys for about 3-4 days before we went back into War Zone "C" and the
fun began again. Some time in December '68 the battalion moved to an area near the Vam Coa Tay River and built LZ TRACY. We worked the
area from the West Side of the river to Cambodia. This was near the Parrots Beak and was light jungle and high grass and tidal wet lands. A
welcome change from the triple canopy heavy jungle of War Zone "C". It was during this time we linked up with the Navy and started the
NAVCAV operations. It was really nice to ride on the boats and go ashore occasionally to hunt for caches. It beat the 10-minute helicopter ride to a
CA and then 10 - 15 days of beating the bush before you CA'd somewhere else. The boats would drop us off and meet us somewhere or come back
and get us. Not bad. It was during this period that we built LZ ELROD (named for Red Elrod, Pig Iron 6, KIA in Jan 69) in IV CORPS on an old
French Canal just a few clicks from the Parrots Beak and Cambodia. The BoBo Canal passed East of the LZ and we had some good luck ambushing
that area. All and all when compared to where we had been this was not bad duty. We took some hits, but for the most part we gave better then we
received. ELROD was hit one evening just after last light, but as luck would have it Top Alley had traded for some steaks and we had invited the
Navy crews that we worked with to a cook out. When the NVA attacked we had 6 gunboats tied up at the LZ and more automatic weapons and
firepower then anyone had a right to expect. Mark up another one for the NAVCAV. I DEROS'd at the end of March '69. The company was still
working around the rivers but the contacts were getting heavier. We were hurting the NVA and making life hard on them as they tried to get their
folks south and east to Saigon. I believed I turned the company over to a CPT Fitzgerald. Looking back at my time with the Jumping Mustangs, I
can say I was truly blessed with the caliber of Troops I had the pleasure of serving with. We were a tight knit group with esprit and a sense of
mission. In every sense the Mustangs represented the best and brightest America had to offer and each of them did their duty and served with
Eugene D. Colgan COL. USA
If you are a former member of Charlie Company and you have a story or
experience that you would like to have on this site, please sent it to me,
along with your name and when you were with Charlie Company by
clicking on the C.I.B.