A Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry 25th ID - Vietnam

Personal Experience Narratives (War Stories)

"A Day at the Race Track - May 27, 1968"
by Rick Avant - 1968

    I was one of the A Troopers wounded on May 27th in Saigon at the Phu Tho Race Track. My story of that day's battle was only a small part of the action. I was TC of A-17 and my recollection follows this introduction. By the time I was dusted off for my wounds that day I had killed 3 VC, two of which were a recoilless rifle team that nearly took us out.  This was a part of my stressor letter  I submitted to the VA for my claim. The 57MM recoilless I took out is shown in this photo of LT. Nishimura & the captured weapons.

     On May 27th, 1968 we got orders to proceed to a race track where the Viet Cong had been spotted by scout helicopters. A Troop got into a line formation as we were taking sniper fire. Nothing heavy, but menacing just the same. We returned fire into a tree line. This area was strewn with trees laying down which had been Rome Plowed. After we got in a line, we started to move forward slowly. The bee zip sounds and popping of the rounds going by us was increasing as we moved forward. They were occasionally smacking the turret and the TC Cupola. Suddenly rounds started smacking all around me, one hitting my ammo belt which I had laying across the cupola and pieces of shrapnel splattered my face. My left eye lid was pinned open by shrapnel and some pieces are stuck in the bridge of my nose. I could feel warm blood running down my face. I told the driver to stop. I looked down to my right and next to my tank there is this hole under these tree roots which made a perfect bunker. I saw these flashes and popping sounds coming from under the roots and suddenly I could see the face of the VC soldier who was shooting at me. I can still see his face with his brown kakis uniform and pith helmet like it was yesterday.  He was drawing a bead on me with an AK-47 and I drop down inside the cupola. I figure I might be surrounded and they could board my tank at any time. So I quickly started grabbing grenades that I kept inside the cupola and started tossing them out of the top of the TC hatch. You could hear them bouncing and clanging off the side of the tank as they cascaded down to the ground next to the tank where I had just seen the soldier shooting at me. I tossed 6 or 7 grenades out of my hatch and they were exploding down on the side of the tank and on the ground. I came up out of the cupola and it seemed my grenades had killed the Viet Cong soldier. We could hear LT on the radio yelling to maintain our line. I told the driver to start moving forward again.

     It didn't seem long and my driver stops the tank and called over the intercom that there are some Viet Cong to the front of the tank under some more tree roots and they had a Recoilless Rifle. My loader, Pvt. Harbaugh and myself spotted the Recoilless Rifle team at about the same time. Harbaugh started shooting at them with his M-16 but he only shot our searchlight full of holes. As I depressed the main gun, I told Harbaugh to get down inside and get ready to switch off the main gun safety. I depressed the cannon down as far as it would go and told him to switch off the safety. The main gun fired but we were too close and the gun wouldn't depress far enough, so the canister pellets went over their heads. I could see the VC were not hit and are almost ready to fire point blank at us. I excitedly started yelling at the driver; "Back up!, Back Up!, Back Up!". Harbaugh announced; "Up!", meaning the next main gun round was loaded and I yelled at him to switch off the safety again (the safety is switched back on between shots and loading) and while we were still moving backwards I fired the next round. This time I hit the target and my driver yelled; "You got them." I killed them all. My face is pretty bloody and blood was getting into my eyes blurring my vision. I called the LT and told him I was hit in the face and he called a dust off for me. A few days later, I was told that the VC were dead and the Recoilless Rifle had a big hole blown in it. The recoilless rifle is on the right side in the photo above along with other battlefield weapons recovered after the battle.

Rick Avant
A17 1968

Webmaster's Note:  General Westmoreland, Commander, US Military Assistance Command Vietnam, sent a personal congratulatory message to A & C Troop for the May 27, 1968 action, a copy of which is in the 25th Division Foundation archives.
     "Fighting west of Phu Tho Race Track the night of 26 May and continuing through 27 May has taken a heavy toll of enemy forces. Hearty congratulations to 4/23 Inf and to A and C Troops, 3/4 Cav for outstanding combat professionalism."

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