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American Sheepdog Online CCW Resource Magazine - A urban encounter in Vietnam with lessons for Today or the near future
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  • A urban encounter in Vietnam with lessons for Today or the near future

    My battle duty in Vietnam varied from Firebase Doty south of Chu Lai
    to a bunker line in Phu Bai. All were dangerous but the most deadly
    area was unquestionably ops in the City of Danang. We were fighting a
    MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) without any MOUT
    training. Some of the lessons there are worthwhile in this country,
    especially along the Mexican Border. I quickly learned which weapons
    were effective and which were not. Much of the time I carried a
    M1911 .45 that I "purchased" as a back-up for an M-16 that had jammed
    in a firefight. I worked on the .45 and eventually made it reliable.

    The first lessons are:

    1. Carry a back-up weapon such as a pistol with a rifle. (this is
    repeated again)
    2. Fire the weapons you have often and be very comfortable with them
    3. Wear clothing that allows you to carry lots of ammo. Cargo
    pockets on some military trousers allow you to carry 8 - 30 round
    4. Do not carry a pistol only (See "1" above)
    5. Have a friend back you up ALL OF THE TIME
    6. Carry 3 magazines of pistol ammo and 8 magazines MINIMUM in any
    hostile environment
    7. Always work with a "new weapon", it may not be reliable out of the

    My unit picked up a whore outside of a Armored Cav Cantonment. A
    fight broke out between ARVN Rangers and U.S. Troops. We opened fire
    at night with two 12 ga. shotguns and my .45. There were no hits at
    night. The range was too far and a .45 and a 12 ga. is not
    particularly effective past 25-50 meters.

    1. A pistol and a 12 ga. are largely ineffective past 25 meters.
    2. Night fights with shotguns and pistols in not always successful.
    I had previously shot infiltrators (a.k.a. sappers) with a M-16
    successfully at night in a CQB fight with open sights
    3. Most weapons fire high at night, aim about knee level with an
    imaginary yard stick on the rear sight to the front sight. Night
    shooting without night vision gear is problematical at night.
    Practice, and practice some more in the dark without lights. Add a
    Surelight or equivalent to your weapon. We did not have them.

    I put the whore in a 1/4 ton (a.k.a jeep) and something hit the tire.
    Someone yelled FRAG (grenade) and I bailed out waiting for the
    explosion. It was a 40 mm CS from a M79 from the ARVN Ranger Compound.

    1. Be alert when the battle or event seems over. It may not be over.
    2. Practice moving in any strange event and let your reaction be
    based on training and a mental plan. When the unplanned event
    happens, you will have time to react, not to think and than act.
    3. Reload a partially empty magazine whenever possible, don't take a
    1/2 empty weapon into a fight even if a fight doesn't seem probable.
    See "1" because it may not over.

    The whore split and crossed a road and ran into Pacific Architects and
    Engineers Compound Building. I ran after her with only my .45. She
    was being secured by three South Vietnamese (former ARVN's) guards.
    They had no attention of letting her go back to us. They had three
    M-16s vs. one .45. I grabbed the whore and used her as a living body
    armor (i.e. she was between me and the South Vietnamese). I kept my .
    45 cocked and ready to fire. There M-16's were leveled at me. I
    backed out alive with her not knowing why no body had fired. I
    realized (after the fact) that a very tough and reliable NCO in my
    company was backing me up with a 12 ga. Ranges were under 10 meters
    in a lighted room (CQB Ranges).

    1. Think before you react. My reaction nearly got me killed.
    2. Make sure you have a very good back up who has trained and worked
    with you. I had an NCO with a 12 ga. backing me up and he had another
    team member backing him up with another 12 ga. This is layers of
    defense. Be prepared for the worst and train and practice often for
    this. We did that daily in a combat zone. They also carried a gas
    mask bag of at least 40-60 12 ga. shells each. They had also
    reloaded. We worked together often enough that we "automatically"
    went into a team mode without being told to do so.
    3. Don't stay in a bad situation even if armed. We didn't and lived
    to fight another day. Go to a safe place quickly.

    After that situation, the .45 went to the role of back-up instead of
    primary weapon. I "acquired" a CAR 15 (short barrel M-16). I carried
    8 - 30 round magazines with it and one in the rifle.

    1. A pistol should be a back-up weapon only in a bad situation. A
    pistol should not be the primary weapon.
    2. Carry more ammunition than you need.
    3. Never load a 30 round magazine with more than 28 rounds with a
    4. Consider a M1A SOCOM 16 or a M-4 type weapon for CQB. They are
    many times better than any pistol
    5. Consider having one mag of tracers to mark targets for others.
    This works well.
    6. Clean and lube your weapon DAILY whether it needs it or not. I
    had a well maintained M-16 jam in a firefight on its 8th -30 round
    magazine. How would a dirty weapon have performed?
    7. No weapon even when well maintained is ever 100% reliable. Read
    "1" above.
    8. Use good reliable ammo if a fight is probable or possible. Train
    with the ammo you carry. A hit with a FMJ bullet that is reliable is
    much better than a SP or HP bullet that jams and never fires. In my
    view much of the current surplus foreign ammo is of questionable
    value. Lake City is the Gold Standard for reliable military type
    weapon ammo.

    This was a single night in urban combat and should have good lessons
    learned that I keep with me now decades after that fight. From my
    perspective, all of these are reasonable if you think that you will
    potentially be in a bad situation.

    Best Regards,

    Lafayette, LA
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Eccentric's Avatar
      Eccentric -
      Good info. I knew about the problems with the M-16s there, nobody I knew who was there ever mentioned shotguns, didn't know they used them there.
    1. Cottonmouth's Avatar
      Cottonmouth -
      Good info. fellow Louisiana man. I live in Ponchatoula, La., and I want to thank you for your service in Viet Nam.

    1. tntboomgone's Avatar
      tntboomgone -
      It's a lot better to hear it from someone else as advice is free. Experience has to be paid for in some manner. Usually when events happen they happen very fast & unexpected. Sure glad to hear you made it out in one piece.

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