- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Zenith Press; First edition (April 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0760338019
- ISBN-13: 978-0760338018
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 60 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,147,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Road of 10,000 Pains: The Destruction of the 2nd NVA Division by the U.S. Marines, 1967 Hardcover – April 1, 2010
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“Road of 10,000 Pains is a very good book. And its author is not only a good writer, but a wise one who, having interviewed countless veterans of the fighting, provides the necessary narration that binds it together. His judiciously selected quotes make this account one of the best books about the Vietnam War to date.” —Leatherneck magazine
From the Inside Flap
The NVA came at Murray’s men by the score: in a whirlwind of violence, hard on the heels of mortars that mushroomed across the knoll, throwing hot, sharp steel in every direction; within lanes, marked by tracers of Soviet-made machine guns and small arms that chain-sawed every bush, sapling, and blade of grass to stubble; in platoon formation, firing from the hip; in squads, firing and maneuvering their three-man fire teams; singly, men orphaned by the Marines’ return fire but still on their feet and attacking. The NVA kept coming at the Marines in a flood, like water from a burst dam, flowing around the strong positions, threatening to carry away the weak, and then trying to come together on the far side, attempting to isolate and surround small clumps of resistance—and they nearly succeeded. Had it not been for the outstanding courage of the individual Marines and their close air support, the entire company would most likely have been butchered on the knoll.
—from The Road of 10,000 Pains
Praise for Road of 10,000 Pains
Road of 10,000 Pains has the first and only accurate description of Foxtrot Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine’s combat operation on 21 April 1967 that evolved into Operation Union. Otto Lehrack vividly captures the intensity and close combat during the initial fight as well as the determination of individual Marines to continue to fight against vastly superior NVA forces.
—Maj. Gen. (ret.) Gene Deegan, CO, F/2/1
Just when you thought no more could be said about the Marine’s Vietnam War, author and oral historian Otto Lehrack, once again, breaks new ground about the high-intensity ground combat in I Corps.
—Charles D. Melson, Chief Historian, U.S. Marine Corps
A first-class contribution to Vietnam literature by someone who appreciates combat from the ground level. Based upon extensive research and personal knowledge, Road of 10,000 Pains is combat history at its best, a testimony to the raw courage of U.S. Marines. This is a must-read for everyone interested in small-unit actions in Vietnam.
—Dr. Alexander S. Cochran, Vietnam veteran and historian,
former Horner Chair of Military Theory, Marine Corps University
Que Son Valley was a strategic campaign and watershed event of the Vietnam War. Today, however, it’s relatively unknown and forgotten. But those Marines who fought its brutal battles remember Que Son. They remember the sacrifices and the scars of war, but so do they remember the camaraderie and friendships. Author Otto Lehrack’s account of the Que Son Valley campaign is a testament to those Marines who courageously committed themselves to one another and to “The Valley.”
—Maj. Gen. (ret.) John H. Admire,
former Commanding General, 1st Marine Division
Top customer reviews
As Captain Reese’s company radioman I was in contact with 1st, 2d and 3d platoons in the initial days of Swift. The day before Bravo Company left Hill 51 to join Delta Company September 3d, I and Cpl Cox the Battalion radio operator for Captain Reese, were listening in on the action Delta Company was engaged in. Cox had more experience at the company level than I had and alerted me to be ready to move out to reinforce Delta. I was skeptical. There were no such orders rumored or planned, but sure enough the following morning Bravo mounted out. Surprisingly, Captain Reese would be with us. I say surprisingly because he had delivered a farewell speech to the Marines of Bravo Company only a few days earlier at a company formation. Among several things he said he also thanked them for their outstanding performance under his leadership. He was preparing to head home to his family having served his tour in Vietnam. Operation Swift changed all that. He led us out of the base and toward Delta on the morning of September 4th. I still recall the move, the Song Ly Ly (pron. Lee Lee), the initial casualties—and finally enemy contact.
* * *
Day 1 (Sept. 4): Second Platoon Bravo lead the company across the Ly Ly River while the rest of Bravo, and it’s Command section (Captain Reese and his radiomen) followed in two columns toward the river. Radio communication between Cpl Crandall (radioman for Lt. Brakeen*, 2d Platoon) and me was clear and stark. A jet in support of a downed helicopter had just fired rockets at Second Platoon. Six marines were hit, four were killed instantly. Two more marines died shortly after that, within minutes of the initial alert from Crandall. This is what I remember.
* Author of the book A Night Drive. John Brakeen. Publish America, 2009. Interestingly PP. 74-76 and PP. 97-98 are very possibly a description of the action wherein Sgt. Rodney Davis died resulting in him being awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
I informed Captain Reese. There was some back and forth over the radio. The rest of the company proceeded to the Ly Ly River in two columns with a narrow rice paddy in between. I was with the column on the right, approaching the river; Captain Reese was across from me, his column was to my left. The columns were about one car lane width apart. As we approached the river, shortly after the rocket attack, a Huey helicopter closed in perpendicular to Bravo’s two columns from my right, tipped its nose toward the ground and let off a long burst of machine gun fire across both columns. Everyone dove to the ground and covered as the Helicopter passed by—Captain Reese yelled out, “Is anyone hurt?” No. Bravo got up and proceeded to the river once more. 2d Platoon needed reinforcement.
Within seconds the helicopter circled around and repeated its run. This time Captain Reese got up, while I and everyone else hugged the rice paddy dikes for dear life. Captain Reese attempted to wave off the second strafing run, machine gun bullets were ripping through the air and the dirt only inches from each man, across the paddy and through the second column. I watched the tracers and dirt flying up. I heard/felt the sickening sound of the rotor blades beating the air close overhead. The ground smacked with the drill of bullets inches away. As the helicopter flew its second run, there, alone waving his arms skyward was Captain Reese. The helicopter came around a third time, we felt the fear. This time the helicopter didn’t fire, it just flew by—Captain Reese had saved us from further strikes. Miraculously, no one was hit with the exception of a splintered wooden pack board that pressed into one man’s neck, but there was not even a scratch, or broken skin. We proceeded to cross the river. On the other side was a jumble of activity and I recall parts of it as follows:
A Delta Company Lieutenant came stumbling up to Captain Reese, muddy, crying and mumbling. I recall Captain Reese sternly reminding this platoon leader to pull himself together, he had a responsibility to the men under him and to focus—words to that effect. I also recall Captain Reese delivering this message in rather harsh terms. The Lieutenant stumbled off. I lost track of him.
There was a female enemy combatant. She seemed to be VC by her outfit—pajama-like. She’d been shot, her arm dangling and her words were an incoherent jumble. It sounded like Vietnamese mixed with delirium. She was clearly hurting and unable to control her pain. At this point Captain Reese had lost several marines to enemy action along with several to friendly fire—he was in a “busy” mood and short on leisurely decision making. He told some marines that the girl was dying and to get rid of her so he could focus. They hauled her off out of our view.
Over the course of the day I only recall a jumble of events, dead NVA in a machine gun bunker, the marine who took them out was dead. I believe (not sure) his name was Kinkle. He was remarkable among Bravo Marines, I was told, for being in country at the age of 17. I was further told that his mother had him pulled out of Vietnam by petitioning a Congressman. Finally, I was told, Kinkle turned 18 back in the States and got himself right back into Bravo in time for Swift and in time to save his fellow marines before he was killed. He was a small teenager physically but was a hero among his fellow marines. I was told this. I did not know him. I may have spoken to him casually prior to him leaving country. I do not recall exactly. He was in 2d Platoon. Other’s from that platoon can confirm or deny what I was told. At any rate, I can attest to the following: the bunker, Kinkle was reported to have taken out, had two dead enemy soldiers at the bottom and as I peered over the edge I clearly saw the color of grey brains and reddish intestines along with powdered skull bone, but very little blood. The bunker was one of those manicured ditches with straight walls, squared edges and there seemed to be a tunnel at the bottom—I did not check this out. The bunker was at least five feet deep and four by five feet wide.
There were many wounded and dead marines along with dead enemy that first day, with piles of enemy weapons. Some of their weapons, over the next three days, were M-16s and M-79s. Some of their gear and ammo was brand new out of the box.
I recall that Cpl Claise carried a gas launcher and with it had slowed/diverted an assault. During his movements he’d seen an enemy pop his head out of a side hole on a trail and killed him. Next, Claise told me that he wondered who threw a rock at his head in a gun fight only to discover a bullet had knocked his helmet off ripping through the side and part way around. The bullet exited leaving him unharmed. He took the helmet home when he rotated.
There was more activity, but as night fell so didn’t my understanding of what was going on. Things were a muddle but we were alive—those of us who’d made it this far. Through the nights of September 4-6 there was the flicker of fire light and shadows dancing, marines forming a perimeter, the occasional helicopter or jet run, orders to stay down, ammo up, where is so-n-so. We were all skittish of air and artillery support, that first day, due to our previous casualties, and if anything flew close to us, conversation often stopped and glances back and forth ensured. In one case I and everyone around me, scrambled into what we referred to as a VC bunker—a dry mud “safe room” in the middle of a grass and bamboo hut (aka hooch).
* * *
Day 2 (Sept 5th): The next day brought more action. I recall walking, with Captain Reese and Cpl Cox, the Battalion radio operator, to a high flat garden area overlooking rice paddies. As marines were setting in, the three of us stood in a garden row observing Bravo setting in positions. The garden had no plants just empty furrows. These furrows were broader than American gardens. They are approximately a foot apart with mounds also about a foot wide. Suddenly, a machine gun swept the area. The three of us dove down between the furrows. This saved our lives; the furrows allowed us to get low, the machine gun forced us down. Right behind the machine gun burst a mortar exploded one furrow away from us—about a foot away—but we were protected because there was about a foot of raised dirt between us and the explosion. We were all blown up, yelling involuntary as the wind was knocked out of us—slammed up and down by the concussion. The shrapnel flew harmlessly over us. If not for laying flat due to the machine gun sweeping over the area we’d all have probably taken a fatal hit by the mortar round. This would have resulted in a dead CO along with his two radiomen—quite a coup for the enemy. But we were lucky, and not for the first or last time. We jumped up and ran for better cover and found it. At the time I did not realize that my cartridge belt with it's Colt .45 and magazines had been knocked off in the explosion. I now found myself on Operation Swift without a weapon!* Our guys set in and returned fire, and things quieted down. Later, I recall two young children asking for nuoc (water). I gave them some while a cameraman took pictures. The thought has occurred to me that somewhere there is, or used to be, a video of me on Operation Swift.
Later that night Bravo set in and dug fox holes. Each watch would dig through their entire watch. The fox holes became better as the night wore on. Somewhere just beyond the CP men were digging and discovered they were in a grave yard when they began to smell dead bodies that had been buried only to be uncovered in a war as troops dug in for protection.
One of the weird things that happened that night was spotting UFOs. This is how strange perceptions became. None of us had encountered fighting like this and at night things went bump in the dark and all sorts of weirdness ensued in the minds of many. Perhaps the UFOs would descend and put a stop to war on earth? It turned out that the so-called UFOs were, in fact, small parachutes with burnt out flairs being fired then coming down. They drifted silently and were unannounced—it surprised us. They did have a saucer shape.
I saw three prisoners over the course of the day. Two were NVA hard corps and one may have been a VC. He was separate from the other two. The two NVA were blind folded and I noticed one could see, and was trying hard to see what was happening. I recall they were bound, hands behind their backs, and left in the middle of a perimeter of sorts. They looked scared—I had to move on. By evening, in that garden we were blown up in, the third prisoner was put all by himself. An ARVN soldier took great notice of him and by morning of the 6th, we woke up to find Mr. VC with his throat cut and the ARVN gone—this is all I can recall. No one particularly seemed to care. Who cut the VC’s throat was all the speculation, no one really knew. I no longer can recall what happened to the two NVA. One or both may have been evacuated, or shot. I’m not sure. As day broke and officers from other units arrived on scene with Col. Hilgartener and Captain Reese, I recall one thing Hilgartener said, “You can see what kind of night we had by the depth of the foxholes.” We almost never dug foxholes. Ours were quite deep by morning.
*There were weapons available if I needed one. I don't recall, but I may have picked up an M-16, or someone handed me another .45. In the morning I went back to look for my own pistol. I ran into a fellow boot camp buddy, Cpl Musanti. He came up to me with the belt, pistol and magazines attached, in his hand and said, "Man I knew this was yours. I thought you were dead." He shoved them into my midsection hard and said, "Don't loose these again unless you are dead." I tried to explain, but he stomped off waving his hands and shaking his head.
* * *
<b>Day 3 (Sept. 6th):</b> This was the worse day for Captain Reese’s Bravo Company—it would never be the same after today. Initially, I and some others, apart from Captain Reese, found ourselves beyond a road that later became a point of return to friendly lines for those who found themselves forward of our position. It was here that I stood with two others looking toward the enemy—as yet unseen but not unnoticed; bullets began kicking up around us. We retreated calmly, not all that alarmed—this was nothing new to anyone who had some grunt experience over the months in Vietnam. Bullets kicking up weren’t as scary to us as one might imagine. Later, others in that vicinity would report what happened to them with far less of a cavalier attitude than I felt at the time—for them the bullets became far more deadly.
<b>After falling back from the bullets kicking up there was a column, I now found myself in.</b> It came to a halt. Cpl Grant came running by with a machine gun—he was tapped to be the new gunner, the former gunner (Dash?) was dead and his A-Gunner (Manny Castro) was wounded he mentioned in passing--he did not mention the names. I have added them in. We exchanged a few words, “Coming through,” “get some,” etc. Soon, there was small arms fire up ahead. The column moved forward, stopped, moved, stopped, then backed up. There unannounced lay Cpl Grant from Palos Verde, California as dead as could be. Only moments before we’d exchanged words. What seemed very strange was that we were standing calmly where Grant had been shot moments before--he faced withering fire. We now stood there and experienced only calmness. He was dead, we were alive. We moved soberly past Grant and I linked up once more with Captain Reese, Cpl Cox and a couple of other Marines. If I had to guess, I’d say a gunny and a Sgt of some rank, important to Captain Reese’s CP—I really don’t recall very well. We settled in a ditch and chatter between Reese and Hilgartener ensued over Cpl Cox’s radio. It was around this time that 1st and 3d platoons were trying to maneuver. 2d was in place—this is what I recall. Again, I was not concerned with tactics; I was relaying and communicating between the CP and the platoon operators.
<b>As time passed by there was a lot of small arms fire off in the distance.</b> Captain Reese told me to tell 2d Platoon to stop wasting rounds. The firing died down. Communication between Reese and his platoons, and Reese and the battalion went on. Firing picked up again in the 2d platoon area. Reese yelled for me to tell 2d Platoon to stop wasting rounds. As I spoke with Cpl Crandall, 2d Platoon radioman, he said, “We're not firing it’s the NVA and they are online and assaulting.” With great disbelief he repeated to me that, “They are actually online and assaulting.” I was stunned. I passed the word to Captain Reese. He yelled back to tell them to return fire—this was not necessary, only a reaction. Shortly, after some radio talk Captain Reese said, “They’ll overrun us anytime, we’re not gonna die like rats in a hole let’s get out of here [and move back to a better position]. There I was with a radio and a .45 expecting an assault by an Asian Horde. My thoughts were totally calm. I also thought, “Now I understand how the men at the Alamo felt.” In fact, I have never known a more blissful peace. I read something like this years later from a Japanese commander who referred to his similar experience on Iwo Jima as “beautiful emptiness.”
<b>Time continued to pass. I do not recall much that happened over the next several minutes. I do recall the last order </b>Captain Reese gave to me, “I want you to stay here while I scout around and see what’s going on.” He took my map and pointed, “Contact First Platoon and tell them to come back along this road.” He pointed on the map and left. I began trying to contact all the platoons but it was not easy. When the assaults began, and men were pinned down, the radio became useless. Everyone with a radio began keying in and desperately calling for corpsman, for help, etc. Some of the men on the radio were apparently not used to it and held the hand key down forgetting to let up so someone could respond, or they repeated requests rapidly over and over not allowing anyone to answer back. I do recall someone asking where the perimeter was set up. I was not so sure there was one but I was able to pass on the order from Captain Reese to pull back along “the road.” This was the road I had rounds kicking up around me, the road Grant was dead alongside, and the road that would lead back to some defense against the enemy. Bravo was in for a long night. In time Captain Reese didn’t return so I began looking around for him; Cpl Cox, a CP, or something. The rest is a muddle with only pictures of events through the night that followed: wounded, dying, dead, helicopters coming in/out, and occasional shouts to get down. In all my recollections of that night I do not recall making contact with anyone I knew. Perhaps I did but do not recall it. There were no UFOs and no grave digging but it was still a strange experience; ironies, surprises, danger and confusion.<font color="#FF0000"><b>*</b></font>
<font color="#FF0000"><b>*</b></font><font size="2">I recall coming upon a marine who'd been placed near a group of wounded marines awaiting evacuation to the rear. He was having some sort of convulsion. I wanted to move him near the evacuation group but needed help. A marine stumbled by and I asked him for help. He looked down at the wounded marine and said, "I can't. I just can't." He stumbled off. </font>
* * *
<b>Over a course of three days Captain Reese watched as Bravo Company,</b> which he loved, get cut up by friendly fire; attacked by rockets, Huey machine guns, a short round from artillery, and then there was the enemy. Men he knew and loved were dying all around him. Bravo was the premier company in 1/5 under Captain Reese—if you believed all the things the battalion CO, and others, would say to us in formations. I can tell you seeing his men dead and others suffering was very painful to him. But he continued to function professionally and with composure through all that I had witnessed—up until the time he rushed out beyond our lines to help a wounded marine. It’s a mark of the desperate situation Bravo was in that it was down to the company commander to rush forward and try to help carry his men to safety. It’s also the mark of the man on a human level to forget rank and position and try to help. I often wonder if he told me to stay put because he knew where he was going would be risking my life, being with him. It was as though he felt that he would be risking his life but didn’t want to risk another of his men. I’ll never know the answer to that. It seems Captain Reese died in a car accident around 1983.
<b>When I came up to him after he’d been shot</b> I recall his words to me simply, “Hello Mac.” I asked how he was doing. He said “I’m OK.” He had just suffered a wound, which would result in permanent health problems later in life; days past his rotation date, helping one of his marines get inside friendly lines, which were barely holding. If I wanted to see a hero on Operation Swift—there were many—I’d have to look no further than Captain Reese who, only days before, had given a farewell speech to his company with thoughts of a safe return home to his friends and family in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas, after outstanding service to his country.
* * *
Some anomalies in the book I wish to address.
Page 160: Huron was the 3rd squad leader in 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, not Delta—RE: Confirmed by Ben Drollinger his 1st Platoon Commander. On this very page the author suggests one of Bravo’s men is out there a day before Col. Hilgartener ordered Bravo Company to move out. Concerning Huron’s experience (Sept. 6th): 
I saw Huron immediately after he returned to Bravo lines. Coming face-to-face with the enemy, his M-16 jammed; the enemy’s AK-47 was out of ammo. The enemy soldier immediately snapped his bayonet out and charged Huron—this is what Huron described to me during our brief exchange. Huron got past the guy and ran back to our lines. I asked him if he killed the NVA. Huron was a karate expert, it seemed a natural question to me. He said, “Hey! I just wanted to get past the guy. I’m two days past my rotation date I shouldn’t even be here!” He stomped off.
Page 201: The author mentions an incident where an artillery short round hits “a gunny and Sgt. Varda Smith who died.” Ironically, I recall Captain Reese conferring with others about things being a mess out there (my words not his) saying, “All we need is a short round to top it off." Within seconds of that, there was a short round. The author gives little notice to the friendly fire Bravo suffered, on three separate occasions, while mentioning 3/5’s Huey strafing (possibly confused with 1/5?) where no one was hurt. But we can’t be sure, there are no references as to where this information came from.
Page 221: A picture of Rodney Davis has him incorrectly in Kilo, 3/5. He was in Bravo, 1/5. No mention of him being in Bravo. A page or two before and after mentions him, as the author presents events in 2d Platoon. The author is not clear about 1/5 or 3/5. Only the picture clearly (but erroneously) mentions Davis in K, 3/5.
Page 226: Crandall says our skipper was Lt. McInturf. I once mentioned this to McInturf, he said, “I wasn’t Bravo CO.” Maybe I’m mis-remembering my conversation with Mac (in Huston some years back, unrelated to the book or Crandall) or maybe Crandall has it wrong? And Crandall also says “once more” Bravo CO? I don’t recall McInturf ever being Bravo CO prior to Swift. McInturf did organize Bravo a bit after Reese, during Swift but insisted he was not Bravo’s CO when I asked him.
Page 228: Wrong on two accounts.
• Hipkins was not found with his legs cut off or shot in both wrists and forehead, as Crandall is attributed as having described. I saw Hipkins dead, but all in one piece.
• PFC Baker, next to Hipkins and Crisp—at the area where the bodies were being staged for evacuation—had been shot through the wrists and into his forehead as though he was shielding himself as someone put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. There was no mutilation of either marine.
 This information was provided by Ben Drollinger by phone in Jan. 2016. He was 1st Platoon Commander on Operation Swift and later acting CO of Bravo Company after Captain Reese was wounded.
* * *
Looking back on (Pages 157-229) there are peculiarities in the book surrounding the author's presentation of Bravo:
• At the end of a chapter on 1/5, a Medal of Honor recipient from B, 1/5 is labeled a member of K, 3/5 (Page 221). Previously noted.
• Also at the end, after a rousing fight/struggle to stay alive by B, 1/5, there’s a short blurb about 3/5 killing 300 NVA according to local Farmers. (Page 229). Hardly a reliable source. For some reason the author put a dodgy 3/5 accomplishment inside a section about 1/5. How many enemy were killed by B, 1/5 goes there, in my opinion. 
 Why it’s important to be able to read an author’s source. On (Page 229) the author writes:
“On September 7, Farmers told the Marines that the NVA
lost more than 300 killed in action where the 3rd Battalion,
5th Marines were fighting the day before.”
But on Page 18 in 3/5's Command Chronology, paragraph #4 below is different: (PDF) 3D BN, 5TH MARINES, COMMAND CHRONOLOGY,1-Sep-67 - dated 9/1/1967 Document No. 1201049028:
#4. On the 7th of September, local farmers in the area of
Hill 43 were "telling stories of the NVA suffering 300 lost
men on the hill”, and carried “so many away.”
“Telling stories,” “Lost men,” and carried “so many away” doesn’t mean “300 killed in action.” My training as an interrogator and as a student of history alerts me to the author’s claim about these facts. His assertion might not stand up in court.
Between the book, the command chronologies, the “War of Attrition” that Westmoreland conducted, the habit of claiming KIA “Probables” where success in the war was judged by body count—I could argue a case of possible inflation, exaggeration, speculation and a lot of puffed up attaboys—and not just in the author’s book but in the command chronologies themselves. The chronologies don’t really match what I experienced—how about the reader? At best Command Chronologies try to put order to chaos leave out details on friendly fire and include probable KIAs and WIAs as standard practice. Even when I was 19, and a rookie in VN, I never liked the idea of probable-counts because they’re probably wrong. You won’t find out 3/5’s BN CO was relieved by who, or why, or any descriptive friendly fire incidences. You might see a different BN CO with dates of command, but no details. These are just some of the problems in the book and Chronologies.
Example 1(re: the farmers): Any interrogator would ask the farmers what they mean by “Lost men?” An Interrogator would pin down things like how many killed vs. who was carried away; dead (some of those killed), wounded, prisoners?
Example 2: “Telling stories?” What was the context of the telling? What kind of stories? Did the stories mean fact, fiction (speculation), or the farmer's fear of the Marines who who spoke to them? In fact, how does one know they didn’t make the stories up to make the Marines happy? Did 3/5 go and count the bodies?
Additionally, people are translating two languages. Lost in Vietnamese or English might be different. The person translating can misunderstand. The reader of _The Road of 10,000 Pains_ will not know, because the wording in the command chronology isn’t clear, yet the author of the book provides his own interpretation—he’s telling you want to think. Why didn’t the command chronology say, "300 KIA?" Why is the word lost used in the report? A probable answer is because the S-2, or whoever, writing the report refused to speculate on what the farmer's meant by the word lost and could not go back and clear it up. But the author does both: speculates, and clears it up. He then puts it in his book. But, it isn't what the farmers are attributed as having said in the chronology. An intellectually honest author would also say "300 lost men" not "lost more than 300 killed in action." He would also refer to the document that he got the information from, and in my opinion would not have included a 3/5 "accomplishment" in a segment about 1/5. And, isn't 300 suspicious? Not 295 or 311, but exactly 300? The author might have admitted to the reader that the numbers aren't necessarily accurate, in a notation.
* * *
• Concerning Operation Union: On (Page 86) B, 1/5 moves out, leaving Lieutenant Moore’s lines open on the right flank? I was in Bravo, 1st Platoon and recall setting in, then being told to move out. It certainly seemed to be an unorthodox move. It would be fair to Bravo and 1/5 for the author to supply some follow-up to this since the he saw fit to put the incident in there in the first place. But he isn’t forthcoming. The incident is incomplete—why? There may have been a sound reason for what happened but we don’t know from the author. I was told Col Hilgartener wanted the unit in place elsewhere for a blocking force to trap escaping enemy. 
 Conversation with Ben Drollinger by phone, Jan. 2016. Bravo was needed for a blocking force.
In my own reading of the Command Chronologies I can find no reference to the fact that Bravo and Delta linked up—at least officially. Another piece of information without any notation or followup.
On another score, Col. Hilgartener had used unusual tactics before on Operation Cochise. As I recall, in that operation, the battalion moved south of Hill 51 and continued south past Nui Loc Son. After seemingly headed in that direction for some time, the battalion suddenly punched west into Laos by helicopter. We surprised the enemy. During this maneuver Bravo came upon an NVA combat base hastily evacuated. In one place, deep in the jungle, we crossed a simple bridge constructed of helicopter rotor blades. We were deep in so-called Indian Country, and surprised a lot of people Because Col. Hilgartener did the unexpected.
* * *
For a real good paper chase of _10,000 Pains_ try lining up the command chronologies with the book. (Page 56) Lt. Kenny Moore is talking to [India Company Commander] Capt. Stackpole. Lt. More is in Delta, 1/5 as near as I can tell (Page 78). There is, as yet, no attachment, operational or otherwise, that I can find in the chronology of OPN. Union I, on May 5th—and it is not clear that the date and the event happened at the same time because Company D is noted in the chronology as being attached by the 12th. I can find no reference of any kind in the chronologies of 3/5 or 1/5 about Bravo being set in with Lt. Moore’s platoon, of Delta Company. Perhaps it’s somewhere else—like an oral history blurb that I have yet to uncover?
* * *
Go to www.network54.com/Forum/655132
This book puts that bond in better perspective when it shows the dedication of the leaders, both non-coms and officers, to their men. It is this that makes men willing to follow others into battle and, more imortantly, to lead themselves, if they survive long enough.
A special thanks for the stats at the end. They encourage me to get the source data but this will help refute some long-time friends positions (and relatives) on "the unfairness" of our military services.
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