SFC Michael G. Stahl, USASF (Ret.)
The Life and Times of
MY FIRST PATROL (August 1967)
Crossing the Song Tran (Tran River), heading west into Indian territory.
When I was trained, I can remember the DI's yelling at us (their normal mode on
communication) to spread out. The reason this is standard military procedure can
be seen here. One hand grenade or mortar round can take out one hell of a lot
more men when they are too close together. Of course, there is the other problem
that when the force is 100 men in column, there's way to much distance between
the front and back of the column.
Okay. Look very
carefully at this
photo. What's your
optical conclusion?
Are we going up hill,
down hill or level?
Our second day humping through the mountains. This dude is NOT SF. He was a CI (counter
intelligence) man who was spending some time at Tien Phouc. He wanted a little time in the
field and we let him go along. You might note that he is carrying an M-1 carbine and knows
enough (unlike me at that time) to tape two magazines together. But he used masking tape. We
used black electrical tape for everything.
What the hell could have I been so happy about. Well, I'd been in the field for 2 days and was still
alive. And we were taking a break at last.
I'd swear, he said the trail was right here a day ago. Damned rain forest!
Or maybe it's here . . .
Screw the damned trail. We'll find it later.
Okay. So we couldn't find the trail. We don't have to tell them that. Here's what we'll do. We'll
blame it on that CI leg.
Back to 'civilazation' at last.
You might notice that after humping through mountains and rain forest for 3 days, one does not
feel like moving around a lot. This photo was taken 1 1/2 hours after the one above.
This series of photos was taken on my first patrol which only lasted 3 days. I was taken out by our commo man SSG John Dicky. There was a reporter at the camp doing an article for the 5th's magazine The Green Beret. There was also an army CI (counter intelligence) dude hanging around the camp. They both wanted to go on an op so lucky me.

This was a real learning experience for me. The first thing I noticed while we were moving was all the noise the CIDG were making. Equipment rattling from the point man to the tail gunner. When I asked John about this, he told me it was an agreement between our guys and the other guys.

Our guys would usually make enough noise to let the VC a mile ahead know we were coming and they'd get the hell out of the way. Everybody was happy and no on got hurt.

Except as Tet of 1968, proved, the VC/NVA could not be trusted.