|Tom Miller's Account of Harvest Moon - December
Well we touched the 40th mark this 18 December 2005 day. I trust
that you (all the 1965 2/7 Marines) know where you were back then
either in or near Ky Phu. Yes, it was a crappy day wasn't it I
remember the night before Jack Swender and I slept in a school yard
while it rained. This was nothing new as it had rained everyday of
Harvest Moon from 8 December when we were driven in 6 Bys to
Tam Ky Provencial Headquarters for staging. The operation got off
to a bad start as they didn't have enough trucks to haul us all up
there in one convoy so they made two trips. My partner, Jack
Swender, and I were in the first round. About half of our Tactical Air
Control Party was with us.
As I said, it rained as we bedded down for the night. In fact, it rained
all night and I would just be dozing off when a small river of rain
would cascade off the poncho and find its way to run down my
back. I was then awake for the better part of the next hour until it
repeated itself over and over. I as well as everyone else in Golf and
Foxtrot who were near us, didn't get much sleep.?
I got up about 0500 and helped get a metal barrel or I should say 55
gal drum blazzing with the help of other communications people
(wire and radio) and some gel from "flames". We found out just how
bad one of our TAC Party member's, Tom Wardrop, feet were from
immerision foot. We were told he would be flown out later that
morning along with 40 or so other Marines also with foot immerision.
By 0600, the rain had let up a bit and the sky in the east was just
starting to lighten. By 0630, the Sun was coming up to a bright red
sunrise. I remember saying, "Red sky in the morning, a sailors
warning." To that I got some foul words about sailors and how they
were. I don't remember just what I had for breakfast but I'm sure it
wasn't "Ham and muthers". I along with several others warmed our
tired, wet and cold bodies infront of the 55 gallon drum.
We were told that we would move out at 0800 hours but that was
pushed back until 0900 or slightly later if I remember right. Finally,
we started out looking forward to getting to Hwy. 1 and back to Chu
Lai. Golf was on the point followed by the command group led by
Lt/Colonel Leon Utter. They were followed by Foxtrot's 1st and 2nd
Platoons and then H&S and the Aux. Command Group with the Bn.
XO, Chaplain, Doctor Meda and Penta and others. The 3rd Platoon
of Foxtrot and finally bringing up the rear guard was Hotel 2/9 who
had replaced Echo 2/7 after the first few days.
A few hours later we stopped to let the helicopters pick up Tom and
the others and take the our to a ship so their feet could be treated.
This would be the last I would see of Tom as he was KIA on March
4, 1966 during Operation Utah. The removal of these troops meant
we were more mobile they said. Could have fooled me as my feet
hurt like hell and it was a pain in the butt to walk but, many others
were in the same boat and we got by.
Jack and I had a quick bite to eat during a rest period about noon
thirty near an abondand pagota just west of Ky Phu. Golf Company
had gone past and through Ky Phu and were busy trying to
eliminate the "snipers" east of town. We sat there for about 30
minutes relaxing when the word came down to "Move out double
time" which means run like hell. We had heard some small arms fire
as we approached Ky Phu but didn't think much about it as we were
resting. The gun fire intensified and now, as we move into Ky Phu (a
small market town located 15 west of Tam Ky) we began to hear
The 1st and 2nd Platoon as well as all of Golf Company were in front
of us. As Golf took up shooting positions, Foxtrot moved past them
and headed to the east. We were to the rear of them and infront of
the Aux Group.
I spotted a black clad figure running south of us about 50 yards and
drew my 45 Cal pistol. I fired 3 shots at him and either hit him in the
front of the head or rear don't know which or maybe he fell as I
squeezed off the third round. He went down with his arms frailling.
Those would be my last shots at another human and I'm happy I
truely don't know if I killed him or not. If not, I scared the doggy
do-do out of him.
Jack and I along with 5 or 6 other were the last to make it into the
town. The rest (H&S Co, Aux Group, 3rd Platoon Fox and far behind
H/2/9) were stuck trapped in the paddies to the west of town behind
the paddy dikes. We proceeded to the eastern side of town, dropped
our packs with a group of Marines and then went from house to
house looking for any enemy who might have hid there waiting to
Not finding anything more than a 50 year old man. This guy we took
along and kicked through a few doors as we figured it was better
him getting killed should there be VC inside one of the huts rather
than us. Finding none, we headed back west and ended up near
where we entered the town.
There near the western crossroads was a corpsman treating a black
Marine who wasn't in the best of condition. We talked to him for a
short time borrowed his bandoleer box of machine gun ammo and
proceeded to the largest house in town with two Lts (one was the
XO of Foxtrot Company and the other was Foxtrot's 3rd Platoon
leader, Steve Kesselring.)
The four of us entered the house and found a rear kitchen were we
set up our shooting area. Steve, the XO and I stripped out the
rounds from the bandoleer of the machine gun rounds. It was a
crappy job and the metal jackets cut the hell out of the fingers. Jack
did the initial shooting and after a while Steve took some shots.
We had a beautiful field of fire and took out maybe a dozen of the
little buggers as they came over a rise from the river to the south.
Some were headed towards the firefight with Golf and the others
were heading west to try and over run H&S and that group in the
paddys. H/2/9 was in their own fire fight further to the west. Jack
managed to keep this line of VC semi-pinned down for a while.
We must have "P.O.ed" the VC because the brought in a 57mm
recoiless rifle (the kind that they go after armor with) and with one
shot through our back door ended our little shooting gallery. The
blast was about 2 feet from my back on a wall. It killed Jack, and
wounded the rest of us.
We ended up placing Jack's lifeless body in the front room and
moved out of the house to the northern part of the town. About 15
minutes later Foxtrot swept the town and routed the advancing VC
who were looking to cut 2/7 in two and took the battle on the
western side for that day. Golf mopped up the VC to the east of Ky
Phu and got the retreating and out of the picture. It was a crappy
day for all involved.
I was finally placed on a medevac helicopter (this was after dusk and
I was the last [as I usually am] to leave Ky Phu). The Marines of 2/7
and H/2/9 finally consolidated in Ky Phu and stacked the bodies of
107 VC in a pile. There were reports that said the villagers counted
over 400 VC killed that day but many were hauled away by the other
VC. Whatever the count, it was a hell of a lot of VC and far to many
Marines killed in Ky Phu.
For those of you that made it, say a prayer for those that didn't that
day - I believe there were 17 of our Marines including my partner
Jack Swender and my Las Pulgas, California bunkmate, Corporal
Karlin who was killed at the initial blast that also killed the CO of 2/9.
This was the last major battle of 1965. As the years went on there
would be many more battles, fire fights and skirmishes where over
58,000 good American men and women would die. Be proud of what
you did as you were following the directions of good leaders who
were following the directions of??????