I had forgotten the Bravery Of Sp4 Mullins that engagement. I believe the article I named in the subject line is reporting on the ambush that Bounty Hunter got nailed in on 22 Feb 69. You guys remember the laborious climb up An Khe pass How the loaded semi’s would creep along in 2nd gear, doing 10 mph! Once they hit the top of the climb… look out baby those gears and under/over trans case were jamming each in the next highest sot and as fast as humanly possible! Then the trucks would accordion down that road for a few miles before regaining the semblance of a convoy. Well, charlie had set up and dug in aways down from the peak. I guess he figured to get the trucks when the drivers were somewhat relieved from chugging up that pass or they knew the bounty hunter would be solo for that stretch.
You see, the quad 50’s had a serious flaw in the design. The turret and 50 cal barrels were not able to angle down close enough to protect the area closest to road. I forget the distance. but whatever it was, made them vulnerable alone. We were assigned backup that day. We had a Deuce and a half with 2 M60’s. Myself and Teddy Adamopolous (from Chicago) Rick Dietz (IOWA) was the driver. We also had a sp5 lifer nco in charge (I guess). I still smile when I think of him although for the life of me I do not remember his name. He was from the south, black guy. All he talked about was getting out and enjoying that check every month … it was quite entertaining actually… the little time he had left in …so he could retire. He did not like the turn of events that were about to befall us at all!!
We were about 3/4 of the way up the pass (we didn’t stay right behind the BH but not too far behind) when the Convoy LT in his Jeep , with a gunner in the back (M60), rolled up next to us and was on the radio at the same time I believe. The convoy was hit and the Bounty hunter was stuck in the kill Zone. Well Rick did some magic with those gear boxes and as the engine gained rpms and the truck picked up speed, he passed whatever trucks were ahead as they were being told by the LT to stop, our adrenalin was spiking and we were getting guns, ammo and balls prepared for action. I remember coming around that turn and seeing a wall of gunsmoke and I believe there was a truck on fire in front of the BH. Those 50’s were singing like an opera star and a sound to fill the spirit The Driver had been wounded, I believe there were 3 men in that crew beside the driver. Those 50s used a lot of ammo and the ammo boxes were outside the turret next to the guns. So while one person manned the guns inside the turret the other 2 kept them loaded. I’m not 100 percent sure but I think one of those guys bought the farm at the first onslaught. I know the driver was badly wounded. I also know that the other ammo loader was behind the armor plating froze, not loading the guns. Mullins was firing those 50’s climbimg out, just as we arrived, thank god, to reload and climb back in. I don’t know what would have happened if we hadn’t arrived then. Not that ANYTHING was stopping Mullins! I’m sure he was wanting some payback in a big way. We pulled up as close as we could get and just rained down the rounds fast and furious as possible. I saw the heads disappearing fast. Then the LT and his gunner rolled right in there as well and I take my hat off to those guys. That LT did not have to go in there! He was shot in the neck for doing so. He was awarded the Silver Star for that act of bravery. I know that I was so pumped up, and wanting to make sure no one else was gonna catch hell from those sob’s, that I was firing the M650 almost non-stop… certainly not in bursts of 4-5 rounds of THAT I AM SURE!! IT WAS NOT LONG BEFORE THOSE TRACERS WERE COMING OUT LIKE A BARREL FULL OF ROCKETS ON THE 4TH of JULY, GOING IN EVERY DIRECTION EXCEPT REVERSE THANK GOD!! I also want to thank God for being on a truck with plenty of extra barrels. When I pulled the first barrel off the front sight was so hot that it bent like licorice when I grabbed it with the asbestos glove. I mean it bent right down to the barrel almost. The cylinder inside was welded to the shaft once I allowed it to stop as well lol.
Well, I think Mullins felt he got the payback or perhaps the fact that he was now HIT HIMSELF WITH 2 ROUNDS, because he finally hopped out of the turret and scooted the driver over so he could get them. and us. the hell out of there. Because we were not moving while they were still stuck there, no matter what the SP5 was shouting.. no no Rick was not having any of THAT!! Although I didn’t believe there could have been a roach crawling around those fields and still be breathing. There are a few “scenes” stuck in my mind forever. When we first rolled around that bend and I thought oh shit are we going IN to that… Mullins climbing out of that turret. (and the loss of my favorite Opera singer). although I could not look for long because I had to keep those bastards pinned down or dead. I remember looking over at our SP5, he was lying down with the grenade launcher… loading one rpg after the other`.. just lobing them in the direction of the enemy and I’m sure the noise helped our shock and awe factor! lollol Ted, Rick and myself laughed over that scene for the remainder of our tours lol I still do. Everyone received medals and I know Mullins deserved all they have to give. And the LT showed was a leader is suppose to be. He was brand new also I remember.
I think we did just what all you guys did whenever it was necessary. We did get a new truck out of the deal and I traded in the M60 for that beautiful 50 c al. Rick named it The Boot. Another unsung hero. It takes balls to be the one driving into the melee. and he got that m16 working almost as fast as he shifted gears. Rick Dietz… Salt of the Earth!
Another thing I would like to say. Those drivers that sat behind the wheel of those trucks, 12-1`4 sometimes 16 hrs and I’m talking 7 days a week 52 weeks They had to keep driving those rigs and needed both hands and all their stamina to just get through each day. When the convoy was hit they felt like the ducks gliding by in the shooting gallery at the fair. They could not even defend themselves because they had to drive!! Those my friends were the real heros of Ambush Alley in my opinion. I would have chosen the gun truck and being able to fight back every time.
Guntrucks of Ambush Alley . The publication is on here I’ll try and get link and post it as well .. here it is.
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I added the images of the commendation today. I struggled with the do it or not do it for awhile. I recent;y heard they were using Guntrucks again in some of the conflicts they face today. I also think it won’t be long before we are all just this… memories, stories and the past. Who will see this then? Maybe another kid in the same spot we were in and it might give them something that helps. Can’t hurt. Hope I don’t sound like braggard. They are also the only images that survived my life, if you know what I mean lol – John