Fight for Hill 1154
Written by Jack "Doc" Broz.

This is March 1969 on LZ Argonne - Hill 1154, located near the border with Laos. It had been abandoned by us and now was occupied by the North Vietnamese.
On 21 March 1969, Delta Company made a helicopter assault to retake the LZ. Delta managed to take the LZ with heavy casualties. Among the dead was the Battalion Commander,
Lt/Col George Thomas Sargent Jr., who was killed in the assault.

Alpha Company was on LZ Sparrow Hawk. This meant we were ready to board helicopters and go to assist any unit in trouble in our area within 30 minutes. The call came and we
boarded the helicopters and were taken to a landing zone near LZ Argonne. I was sitting next to the door gunner and I remember him turning to me and saying,
"Pass the word: when we touch down, get out... the LZ may be hot... we won't stay long". They didn't stay long! Sitting where I was meant I would be one of the
last off the helicopter. The back wheels touched down the ramp opened and the Marines started getting off and the helicopter started going back up.
I had a five foot drop by the time I got to the ramp.

It took us a couple days to get to Argonne. I was with the patrol that went into the LZ to get supplies. I remember seeing a Huey Helicopter sitting on the hill.
It was full of bullet holes and there was a bloody flight helmet in the front seat. We went back into the jungle to make camp. We were set up on what was called a 'finger'
or ridge line off LZ Argonne. Opposite us was another finger that had a point called 'Hill 1154' in the middle of it. It was on this hill that intelligence said there was a NVA machine gun
and mortar that were firing at Argonne. Our job the next morning would be to go down the valley between the two fingers, up the other side, locate the NVA positions and destroy them.

We were all nervous that night. For most of us, while we had been mortared and rocketed, we had not yet been in a major fire fight. We knew that the next day
we would find the enemy and some of us would not see another sunset. The next morning, just before dawn we started to get up and get our stuff together.
No one was talking, we knew that some would die today and you could cut the tension with a knife. Then exactly at 6am one of the Marines turned his
transistor radio on and cranked the volume up full power. We heard GOOOOOOOOOOD Moooooorning Vi-et Nam! As the Armed Forces Viet Nam radio station signed on the air.

It broke the tension and we all laughed. It didn't make any difference, the enemy knew we were there and we knew they were there. If just was a matter of us finding each other.
I don't remember what time we started moving down the hill, I think it was around 9am. Our platoon, 1st Plt, was in the lead. You couldn't see more than 1 or 2 guys
in front of you or behind you - the bush was that dense. Suddenly bullets began crashing through the trees above our heads. We hit the deck and tried to see what was happening.
I instinctively pulled out my pistol and took cover behind a tree. I started to move and bullets smashed into the tree inches from my face, splinters hit me but didn't break the skin.
I looked to the other side and saw a figure dressed in green fatigues running away from us. I pointed my pistol at him, but before I could fire, the Marines on either side of
me opened up with their rifles. He disappeared in an explosion of shattered leaves and branches. We formed up and began to move forward again. Things were happening so fast
I'm not sure what our next move was. What I remember was that we're still in the lead, with 2nd and 3rd Plts behind us.

As we moved forward I saw one of our new guys sitting beside the trail. I never knew his name, I stopped and examined him, he had been hit many times in both legs, he was in shock.

I have to explain here.

In this situation, my duty was to stay with my Marines who were moving forward. I couldn't stay and treat his wounds without being left behind. I had to keep going and hope
that the corpsmen coming up behind would be able to help him. All I could do was look him in the eyes and say, 'I'm sorry' and keep going. I still see his face today, but I never knew his name.

There was firing going on in front of me and I kept moving towards it. Suddenly a hand reached up out of a hole and grabbed me by the leg. It was L/Cpl Barry.
He yelled, 'Doc, get your butt down' and pulled me into the hole with him. It was a NVA foxhole. In the bottom of the hole was a NVA belt with two grenades attached to it.
We both wanted it as a souvenir but thought it was booby trapped so we left it along. At that point the Skipper called for air support. We didn't learn until later,
but what we had run into was a NVA base camp set up between the two hills. We ran right into it. The planes came in and dropped bombs and napalm. They were so close that
we could see the pilots, felt the heat from the fires and had a few guys wounded by the shrapnel from the bombs. The Captain, the Skipper, gave a rather unique order for Viet Nam.
He ordered all the platoons to get 'on line'. The basic shoulder to shoulder, we moved down the hill firing at everything that moved. Then the Skipper ordered a halt and called for artillery.

The word was passed to get down as three 175mm rounds were coming in. You could hear the shells ripping through the air as they came over head. We heard the first one hit in front of us.
The second one hit in front of us. Then we heard an explosion behind us. Because of the belief that the NVA could pronounce the words 'Doc', 'Medic' and 'Corpsman' these terms were
not to be used in calling for help. Our 'call sign' was 'Raymond' and if help was needed you called 'Raymond up'. After the explosion the call came, 'Corpsmen up. All Corpsmen up'.
I think I was the closest Corpsman to where the call came from. I grabbed my gear and went running towards the calls. What I found was that the third 175 had landed near our weapons platoon.
They had formed a perimeter and were guarding the wounded. The first man I came to was Sgt Ski (Leonard William Labowski). He was sitting upright by a tree or rock or something.
His head was down and he didn't look badly hit. I laid him down and opened his flak jacket to see where he had been hit. His chest was gone. A large piece of shrapnel had entered his back
and since his flak jacket wasn't zipped shut the force opened up the jacket and then it flopped closed. Then I moved to a black mortar man. I could see that he had a bad fracture of his left leg,
and I could see the bone. I put a dressing over the wound to stop the bleeding and began cutting branches to make a splint. He had a k-bar and since I lost my knife near LZ Pete, I asked if I could have his.
He said, 'take what you need Doc'. I used the K-bar to make the splint and stuck the knife in my flak jacket. The next guy I saw was the big red headed engineer. He had a minor wound
somewhere around his crotch. He just kept screaming that his balls were shot off and there was nothing anyone could say to him to convince him that he would be okay. I don't remember how many we treated.
But we had so many wounded and dead now, it was almost 4 or 5pm, that the Skipper decided to make camp and wait until tomorrow to continue.

A patrol from Argonne was being sent to get our wounded and take them back up the hill.
We were in the process of setting up for the night when the NVA got behind us and opened fire. We beat them off but had more wounded, I reached the
Company Gunny who had been hit in the chest. He had a sucking chest wound. I sealed the wound and put a pressure dressing on it. The other corpsmen took care
of the other serious wounded. The Skipper had a slug hit him in the helmet. It went around between his helmet and the liner. Gave him a headache but didn't hurt him.
Now we had to go up the hill with the wounded with what we had or they would die if we didn't get them out. It was getting dark when we started up towards Argonne.
It was tough going. We had to cut a trail wide enough to carry the stretchers through. I stayed with the Gunny telling him that we were getting him out and he would be okay.
It was hard and he was dropped a couple of times. I remember in the dark, one of the Marines called the XO by his name without using Lt. in front of it.
The XO tore into him and told him that he was Lt. (?) and he better not forget it. The guy was just trying to keep the XO from being singled out as being an officer.
I was ticked, I responded to every thing the XO said with 'yes sir' and didn't care if the NVA realized he was an officer.

To make a long story short, it took us what seemed like hours to get to the top of that hill. When we finally got there, we heard the sound of choppers inbound.

I don't remember if I was with Sgt. Plummer or who, the two of us dropped into a hole and pulled our poncho liners over our heads to protect us against the dust being blown up by the choppers.

We both fell asleep. In the morning we found ourselves in an ammo dump.

That's what I remember about the fight for 1154. A couple of days later we went down the finger to 1154 and it was abandoned. That night was the ambush.

That's what I remember doing. What do you remember?

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