By Jim Regan

Shortly after arriving at E Co., 52nd Inf, LRRPS, and being notified that I was now the First Sergeant, I told the Ol man "I aint no First Sergeant, I'm a Platoon Sergeant." Soon after that I went to Bien Hoa and recruited a Real First Sergeant. Airborne, Ranger, Special Forces. I was then able to take over the First Field Platoon. After a crash course, no pun here, w/ LT. McKenzie, I learned how to read a map from 2000 feet, and generally the "Drill" for; preparation, insertion, support, and extraction of the LRRP Teams (usually five or six man teams.)

In order for me to have any sense of belonging, me and the CO decided that I needed to go on a mission w/ a Team. He selected Team 33. Sgt Grady was the TL. I reported to him and told him that he had a Newbie for his next mission. He was quite surprised when I told him that it was me! I also told him that I was going with him as a Team member and not as the Platoon Sergeant. You are the boss, I told him. I think he enjoyed that part of it.

Well, we get a Warning order and prepare for the mission. Get all our briefings and are rehearsing things like Immediate Action drills, and back briefing each other so that we all know every aspect of the mission. We're scheduled for a three day mission in the Divarty Ao. The other Team Members were; W. Jones, Harry Elston, and I think maybe Bruce Judkins, but not sure. I was assigned the job of Rear Scout.

The insertion is text book and we move quickly off the LZ. Commo is good, security is tight. No sounds after the Birds leave the area. We move out and begin our search for telltale signs of the enemy. The area had been used by troops many years ago. We found old, rusty, clips of .30 Cal ammo, from M-1 Rifles along a stream. The heat is intense, the discipline of the Team is tremendous. I begin to think that they are putting on a show for me. I soon realize that this is the way they did business ALL the time! We make several security halts and don't find much of interest. Not even a trail to set up on and monitor. We lager down for the night. All is quiet until I hear a weird sound! It's the sound of some kind of "CALL." At first I think that it is human, and then discover that it is the infamous "LIZARD," calling out his; raucous, two word, obscene, screech. He entertains us for a while and I struggle to keep from laughing. The night passes peacefully. Rested and chowed down, we begin our reconnoitering shortly after daybreak.

Commo has been good throughout the mission. We get a call to move to a Pick up Zone (PZ.) Seems as if the mission is terminated. As we wait for the extraction, there is no sign of the Team members slacking off in their security or paying attention to what's going on! The Extraction Bird arrives, smoke is out, and we hustle for the bird. Off we go and back to Phuoc Vinh. They meet us with a "Mule" at the pad and we get back to the Company area, safe and sound. After the debrief, we get our gear squared away, clean up and have a critique by Sergeant Grady. The CO had met us as we tooled into the Company area. He stood there with a cigar in his mouth and gave me a "mile wide" grin. I think I felt as if I had just graduated from something.

Later that day, while sitting with the Ol Man, he tells me that Sergeant Grady says that I did a good job out there. That's all I needed. He then told me that he and Sergeant Grady already knew that the mission would be curtailed the next day. I was not surprised since I had other Teams to honcho and no Platoon Leader to take up the slack.

As I went back to my duties with the Platoon, I had a different sense of priorities. I had experienced some, and only some of the emotions of the LRRP Teams in the Bush! It was as if I was really accepted by the members of the platoon. They grew to trust me as I inserted or extracted them. My degree of respect and admiration continued to grow as I worked with these LRRPS/Rangers. All my years of training had only partially prepared me for this assignment. I am still amazed at the toughness and dedication of my LRRPS/Rangers. I was truly proud to be one of them.


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