Army Green Beret and SOG vet, Ken Bird relates his experience in Operation Dewey Canyon.
Shawn, what I remember was the name Dewey Canyon was never discussed or I did not know about the total aspects of what was going on.
Dewey Canyon was mostly a Marine Corps operation hunting NVA in several areas near the border with Laos which began early 69 CCN infiltrated Recon teams in Laos in support of Dewey Canyon operations toward the end of the Marine operations in March CCN Exploitation team was tasked to link up with two Recon Teams to give them support due to enemy contact. That’s all I was told on the day we were inserted, I was a squad leader and had 6 men and myself on one King Bee. Three other king Bees were ahead of us. I remember we were about to hover over a grassy area and just as we were going to exit, the door gunner grabbed me and stopped me. He gave me a signal we immediately flew away, and I could not find out why we did not infil.
The first three choppers infield, but they assumed my chopper did also. I was told they looked around the area but could not find us. My squad and I was reported missing to CCN. In the meantime finally we landed at FOB Phu Bai a SGM Mackintosh a red-headed big guy approached me and told me we would be taken back to the AO Immediately. I never found out why the king bee left without inserting us. I remember the SGM saying stay strong.
We departed same king Bee and inserted we met the team near some huge bomb craters old and before I could sit down I was told to take my squad and run point up a ridge line up hill. We moved very slowly due to thick grass, I was concerned my point man was taking a lot of time moving. After an hour or so I was told by SFC Big Black Sergeant, forgot his name, what’s taking so long I then decided to take point myself and pushed through up the mountain finally totally exhausted, and with no water. I broke through to a high speed trail. Looking at a huge bunker built on the trail. I reported the bunker to CO and was told to secure the area. No enemy sighting but could see bunker was used recently cooking fire and canteen cup was observed on the floor of bunker.
Then was told to continue to a thick wooded area where we set up security. However, before I could take a break I was told to take three men and move on the trail north for 200 meters. I left immediately and along the trail we found several piles of AK brass. I recovered them, and
we did not see or hear anyone during the 200 meters up and back. By the time I arrived back at the CP I remember asking for some water . Then BOOM just to my right an indig not from my squad stepped on a mine. Then another indie stepped on another mine near the first. One of his toes on his foot was split open exposing his toebones. The other, his heel was pushed up into his leg. They stepped on an M14 toe popper set their by past Recon teams.
Immediately looking around the decision was made to cut a LZ large enough for a CH47. After a while I Remember getting pretty dry and dizzy. I approached the CO and after spending all day moving point I said I am not feeling OK .Next thing I remember I was in the back of a CH47 with the two indig next to me. A crew chief bending over me asking me where I was hit. I yelled back, not hit. Then next we took off and remembered being taken off the chopper and later found out a Marine med station near Khe San. I woke up in a bunker with a IV and someone on a strecher on top and someone below me.
I had no weapon or ruck and my stabo harness was gone. I was asked who I was and what unit I was from. All I said was CCN Danang. Cannot remember how I was picked up but ended up back at CCN.
As I was recovering in my room with SGT Sanderfield, my roommate, was not there. I remember S1 entered my room he asked where is Jones belongings?
I pointed to his bunk. Several people began taking everything away. I asked what’s up. I was told Sanderfield Jones was KIA on the same mission I was on. I found out later he was sent in with others to replace us and made enemy contact and was KIA along with another member. Also, I remember a SGM strap hanger was wounded on the extraction. He was black older SGM.
Jones was a good Man, his father was a 06 Air force. He was married with kids. Jones ordered a Randal knife and he was happy to finally receive it. I was shown his knife, an AK round hit the handle and mushroomed out. I hope his family received it. RIP. Later on I learned about Dewey Canyon lasting several months when 3rd or 9th Marine asked for SOG support which CCN was given several missions in support. Dewey Canyon ended Mid March 69