Communication Sergeants Bill Poole and Ronald L. “Robbie”
Robertson [SF-List] were picked to tote radios on a mission
to re-enforce an SF Camp that was under siege. Robbie had
joined us in April. This operation happened after Charging
Charlie became Delta’s Commander. Delta’s pilots had to fly
the mission. An American unit was supposed to have provided
all chopper support for that job, but their pilots were not
allowed off the ground because of the fog. Delta had to
wait for their own choppers to get there from Nha Trang.
Delta pilots flew up the road between the trees because the
fog was so thick, but they made it.
They landed a short distance from the camp and the troops
hiked from there. Our troops were ambushed enroute. That’s
to be expected in a situation like that.
Bill and Robbie were pinned down in a ditch along the road.
Bill raised up to move up the hill and was shot high in the
upper shoulder and the bullet lodged against his shoulder
blade. The impact of the bullet rolled Bill head-over-heels
backwards. When Bill was shot, his M-16 was set on full
automatic. The safety on the M-16 Assault Rifle has three
positions, Safe, Fire & Automatic Fire which the enlisted
men quickly nick-named “Slow, Fast and Awful Fast.” Bill
held the trigger down as he flipped backwards. In the
process, Bill shot Robbie in the tip of his big toe. It
just barely cut the tip of it, but Robbie dropped his rifle,
leaped up right in the middle of that damn fire-fight with
bullets flying all around, grabbed his foot with both hands,
and hopped around in the middle of the road cursing Bill for
all he was worth. Bill was lying flat on his back in the
ditch watching all of this and really felt bad so he
apologized to Robbie. Robbie finally took cover before he
was shot for real. [Bill got out after this hitch and the
last that I heard, he was a high-ranking civil servant in
communications for the US State Department. I last saw
Robbie in 1974 at the Presidio of Monterey where he was
studying a dialect of Chinese at the Department of Defense
Language Institute. In November 1997, I talked to Robbie on
the internet and discovered that not only did he live to
retirement, but he now lives in Thailand.
While our ARVN Rangers were breaking through the ambush, the
SF Captain on the A Team that was working with the Rangers
was shot through the forehead by a .50 caliber . A .50
caliber bullet does a lot of damage to anything it hits,
especially a skull. When they took the nest, they found
the dead VC gunner handcuffed to the machine gun.
Apparently, he was not a hard-core volunteer. Our
politicians were just playing at war, but Sir Charles wasn’
t—Sir Charles was playing for keeps.
When my tour was about up, Charging Charlie sent for me.
When I reported to him, he asked, “Sergeant Valentine, why
don’t you extend and stay with me.” I told him, “No thank
you sir. You’re going to get this outfit wiped out!” He
just laughed and I headed out the door for Fort Bragg and A
Company, 3d Group. That was in December 1965.
Don "Val" Valentine