Following the bloody QRF mission to save the LRRPs on Thanksgiving, the squad had a few days to regroup, recover, then get back into light patrolling. The day after Thanksgiving, another Huey was shot down near the Cambodian border, then everything went quiet, no contact for several days. On a hunch, the Brigade S-3 (Operations Officer) threw a few patrols back to the east, and trouble was immediately found. Particularly perplexing was the fact the brigade was not only running into the customary local VC, but several NVA had been killed or captured. What are they doing to the east of us, particularly so near the scheduled Christmas cease fire? The ARVN, to the north at Kham Duc, are reporting a buildup to their south as well.
The brigade has been pushing patrols further and further east, trying to determine the extent of the problem. It's 7 December 1967 and the squad is on point towards the village of Kao San, pretty much at the eastern edge of the brigade's area of operations, heading in the direction of the two other major US bases, Kontum and An Khe. The squad is on point for all of Alpha Company, having just rotated up front. It's approximately 0930, and they've been on the move since 0645.
Banaszak screams to the rest of the squad: "Bradley, take Kolb and Clack right, Ham, take Thomas and Grossman left, we've got big trouble up ahead!"
The NVA suffer 14 KIA, a 12.7mm HMG, an 82mm mortar, and several tons of food and ammo. Banaszak's lucky streak continues: he picked up a bit of shrapnel, but not bad enough to require evac, as did Ham and Kolb. Thomas wasn't too bad either, they want to keep aboard base until 12 December, and Bradshaw took shrapnel all over his body, enough that they're sending him to China Beach until 23 December. However, one of the 'cherries,' Grossman, bought it, and, regretfully, trusty old Sgt Russell, with half a dozen Purple Hearts already, was also killed in action.
The squad is having a rough time, unable to keep any veterans around in its key positions, with Banaszak the only real continuity. One wonders how long his lucky streak can last...
In any case, Alpha Company returns to Dak To with irrefutable proof the NVA have slipped past the US/ARVN border posts and are massing in the interior. But Christmas is coming, and things wind down for a happy, quiet holiday season.