Hill 425 Page 1
NOTE: With a couple
pictures on these pages
my personal property. The others belong to friends who have given
me permission to post them here. None can be used without permission.
Hill 425 was actually the high point on
a long, curved narrow ridgeline that dropped off steeply on both sides of the
trail that ran along the top. It sort-of divided the "Arizona Territory"
and Antenna Valley from the next valley on one side and "Alligator Lake"
was on the other. Behind it was
another series of hills and ridges that led off into the distance. Our
team first came across Hill 425 in about the middle of August 1967. We were
probably the first recon team to climb that ridgeline (at least in quite some
time) and, as we got to the top, we found it heavily vegetated with short to
medium height trees and thick underbrush. We determined it to be an
excellent observation point for detecting enemy movement on three sides and we
recommended it be considered for a semi-permanent OP.
This picture was taken from my
machine-gun position. The gun is set up at the point where the trail
begins to descend down the back of the hill toward the next series of hills.
You have to look quite closely to even discern where the trail is due to the
This is PFC Majewski (I seem to remember his
first name as Robert but not certain). This was his first patrol and he
was understandably a little nervous. As you can tell, it had rained the
night before and was still drizzling early that morning.
This is another picture of PFC Majewski in his position. At the bottom of the picture you can see an assortment of our combat gear and the M-60. The little American flag on the rock is mine. It was given to me by another Recon Marine when he left and I carried it on every patrol. It was made of silk and I had spread it out there hoping to get it to dry a bit before putting it back in the pocket of my jungle jacket.
A closer pic of the flag. It has some silk fringe around the perimeter of the flag but it was starting to get a bit frayed (I still have it).
This seems to be the only surviving picture I have of our next trip to Hill425. By this time, it had become a semi-permanent OP but, when we got there, it was unoccupied and we had to sweep it for booby traps. This time, I had set the machine-gun up on the other end of the crest, actually about 30 meters down the other side. As you can see, there is still a fair amount of foliage around but definitely not as much as the first time here in July. I had set my poncho up to make a small hootch of sorts to protect from the sun and the machine-gun is pointing out from it and across a small valley to the next hill. You can also see the impact craters from the 105mm howitzer rounds that we called in "danger-close."
In that action the previous night, Stick Nelson was wounded by the concussion of one of the closer of the artillery rounds and we had to call for a med evac. It was a bit of a hairy evac as it was pitch-black and we had to direct the helo in by sound. As it got close, the pilot turned on it's million+ candlepower landing light, bathing SGT Thomas and the radio operator (Mike Bell) in brilliant light for all to see (including our NVA visitors). Luckily, we got Stick evac'd without incident.
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