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A general is just as good or just as bad as the troops under his command make him.

-- General Douglas MacArthur
Watermelon Raid6336 Reads  Printer-friendly page

Vietnam Our fireteam (Det8), was staging off the Hunderton County (LST-838) and out of the Rach Gia short strip. We had been flying combat ops between Long Xuyen and Rach Gia and had spotted about a half acre of (VC) watermelons growing on a flat spot above a village which was along a river.

George Decker(GT) and I were the gunners on the the heavily armed lead gunship. After checking the area for enemy, our pilot took us down, landed at the edge of the patch, while the trail bird flew high cover for us. GT, being from Louisiana, knew his watermelons and said they looked ripe. I was GT's nugget and was being trained by him, so whatever he said or did was right.

As we landed, we both jumped out of the right door to confiscate some of those enemy round, basketball sized melons. With no one in sight, we headed for the center of the patch where GT says the best ones would be.

After gathering up five or six each we started back for the bird, when out of no where came this old betel nut chewing Granny Mamasan (VC of course), with bright red juice (betel nut juice) flowing from her mouth. With flying hair, and a crazed look on her face, she was armed with a wooden three pronged, curved pitchfork, and came at us screaming. GT, with fear on his face yelled, "BACK TO THE BIRD!" as we were being pursued by this viscious enemy. We dropped many of the melons as we retreated in face of the enemy attack.

Quick thinking GT started throwing Piasters from his flight suit pocket and I did the same, throwing all the money I had. The rotor wash of the turning blades caught the money and blew it everywhere. She stopped her advance and started grabbing for the money, so we made our escape. We two brave SEAWOLF gunners jumped in the bird like a couple of whipped whinning dogs. The pilot had the helo hovering for a quick get away as we got in, for he doesn't want to have to explain that we all had been hurt and the gunship destroyed by one old Mamasan while we were stealing watermelons. As we got airborne, Mamasan stoped gathering up the money and shook her pitchfork at GT.

When the shaking and fear subsided, GT and I started badmouthing old Mamasan like a couple of guys on the block that had their butts kicked and the butt kicker was now gone. We got all brave and bad telling each other what we would have done to Mamasan had she kept coming. I think we ended up with five melons that cost us 30 or 40 dollars. Needless to say, we never did that again.

Note: by Bill Rutledge


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Re: Watermelon Raid
by Anonymous
on Mar 09, 2003
In 1968/69, after a stint with the 1st Infantry, I did time on an Army MAT team in the Mekong Delta in Kien Phong Province, just east of Long Xuyen. We had beaucoup watermelons, but they came down from Cambodia and were perfectly round like a basketball.

So you were a HAL(3) door gunner. Our team worked a lot with both the Seawolves and PBR's. The Seawolves were a pair out of Vinh Long. I still have some photos of them. They had mounted a .50 cal. Tail boom numbers of their gunships were 304 and 305.

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