Bravo Company: One Day in May

From mid May to the final days of July Bravo 1/7 was among the First Cavalry units who fought in the 1970 invasion of Cambodia. On or about 20 May Bravo’s 2nd and 4th platoons guarded the packs and gear of 1st and 3rd platoons, who, while on patrol, walked into a bunker complex. Bob Shearer, a sergeant in fourth platoon, has shared with Medic an audio recording of that days combat radio traffic.

The recording was done on a portable cassette recorder, possibly by Bob’s RTO Kurt Brown. Once home, Bob converted the cassette to 7” reel tape. In 2017 audio techs converted the tape to digital files, which Bob has spent hours transcribing. Occasionally, squelch and hissing obscure the audio.

Click here for the audio file (there is a two or three second delay).

For the transcript (below, and PDF), the grunt call signs are:

Otter 1-3: CO Captain Robert Albright.
7-3: Lt. Leland Hyslop (1st platoon)
7-3 Delta:  either another squad leader or his platoon Sgt. 8-8: Lt. Nelson (3rd platoon)

Two Hunter Killer Air Support Teams were present during ground contact. Project 2-2, the high bird, likely a Cobra gunship, possibly another Cobra, and a low bird (or LOH). Project 2-6 team was similar and came in to relieve Project 2-2.

Here is the transcription, with tape time at left.

0:00   Sound technician is heard confused as to whether it was working – over the early part of this part of the tape. Albright (1-3) can be heard with platoon leaders and giving air support grid locations.

6:07   Project 29 coordinating with Otter 1-3 as to location of our troops.

7:20   going back to bomb crater for kick out or handout (most likely ammo and/or smokes).

8:28   Shearer relaying to Bob Cancio (RTO for CO) that 8-8 is trying to do commo check.

8:40   attempts to coordinate elements via “rounds in the air.”

9:25   we’re going in to see if we got anything…

10:19  “Project 2-9 in the area, pop smoke” “where do you want us to work?”

11:00  “Project 2-9, be advised…being cut out by someone else on the same push….”

11:00  Project 2-9, wants red leg cut off.

11:45  Project 2-9 wants to know approximate location of other friendlies.

12:30 Project 2-9 wants 8-8 to pop smoke.

14:15  “4-3 is coming into the NDP”… (a heads up to those in defensive perimeter where CP and 4th platoon are guarding gear).

15:54  7-3 needs more smokes. LOH offers to drop some.

18:42  4-3 enters perimeter.

19:00  1-3 telling them to move in & if any kind of fire to back off & we’ll try again.

19:56  Project 2-9 calling Otter 1-3.

20:02  Blood trail spotted to the east (by LOH) on the trail.

20:21  recon by fire.

20:50  (combat humor in the background from bystanders to the taping- guy being smart ass) from one of the guys that just came in “when I heard the metal click I immediately hugged the ground”…

20:59   Shearer in background asking about “one recon by fire you guys put out, is the automatic (ambush) still set?”

21:30  Project 2-9 describes enemy.

22:00  ten people spotted on the trail (weak signal).

22:16 7-3  (Hyslop) tells Project 2-9 to “be my guest” (hosing them).

22:25  Hunter Killer team rolling on them – M-79’s and mini guns…

22:55 7-3  “sweeping now.”

23:42 7-3  “Roger, be advised, them rounds went right in on their head.”

1-3  “what rounds,  7-3 “the tubes and the ARA.”

1-3  “you got some gooks?”

7-3  “haven’t got that far yet.”

Heavy artillery sounds in background.

24:44  Shearer giving play by play to guys in DP as to what’s going on…

25:35  elements doing another recon by fire….B-40’s , “I’m pulling back, them bastards are still in there”, burn them bastards” (calling for napalm) Albright advises them to pull back. He will contact RASH and burn them.

26:20 “burnt my belly with napalm jelly, diddy bop,” stress relief from bystanders.

27:39  “we’re taking automatic fire and bravo 40 fire from that damned location…I’m gonna put out more smoke, pull back and I want you to cream the hell outa that country.”

28:50 – 29:33  heavy chopper noise, sounds like mini-guns.

29:38  “not seen like this since ‘66” (possibly a comment by someone in the background of the recorder.

30:15  comments about burned area.

30:35  2 platoon’s merging – coordinating.

30:48  heavy rocket sounds “right in on their head, good job”

31:23  F104’s on strafing runs.

31:47   sound of 500 pound bombs.

32:27  going back in to “mark,” might be fixed wing (RASH) or LOH with WP rockets?

34:37  hard bombs in, again.

36:45  Wilson Picket {white phosphorous} on last contact area – “looked pretty good.”

37:40  more hard bombs, 40 mike mike, cannons, Cobras and mini guns, napalm. sounds like they’re all taking turns on the targets.

40:00 1-6  Albright (?) wants quick sweep, can hear fixed wing (maybe an OV-10 or push-pull spotter plane).

41:50  Albright: “might have fried them a little bit”… “need more ammo Class 5. ” (two platoons are sharing)

43:20  Hunter Killer team leader advises “gooks are on your frequency” …”chattering away like crazy.”


top image: Enemy bunker discovered on patrol. photo credit: Arturo Rodriquez, Bravo 1/7, 1969.

all photos courtesy of LZ Bravo

1/7  S-2 report for 20 May 1970