Elephant Valley Page 1
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Elephant Valley was situated northwest of Danang. In fact, from one of the first hills at the mouth of the valley, you can see Danang Bay and, with a spotting scope or good binoculars, could even see Camp Reasoner. The actual valley, however, ran for several miles in a generally westerly direction and once past the mouth of the valley, it was difficult to see much of anything more than 10-20 meters away. It supposedly got its name from the fact the VC and NVA units used Elephants to pack their supplies and heavy weapons in the valley. I never saw any (though we did occasionally come across droppings) but other recon teams sent in sighting reports on them.
In addition to being heavily vegetated, the ridgelines that formed the sides of the valley were particularly steep and rocky. It was also home to one of the highest peaks in the area, Dong Den. Dong Den was another of those permanent sites for Recon. It wasn't really used as an OP because there was such thick vegetation right up to the ridgeline but, like the old French Resort on Ba Na in Happy Valley, due to its height it was used as a radio relay site and there was always a signals team up there with a recon team as security. So far, I've only located two pictures taken in Elephant Valley, both taken in May 67. I'm sure I have some pictures taken up on Dong Den but I haven't found them yet.
This is a shot of my "pig" set up on the trail we had just used to climb yet another of the endless ridges in the valley. The term "pig" was quite lovingly used to identify the M-60 machine-gun. At over 20 pounds not counting the ammo, it was quite heavy to lug around. However, unlike the infamous M-16, I knew that every time I pulled the trigger, it would fire. The ammunition was also heavy and it came in linked-belts of 100 rounds that could be clipped together endlessly. I usually carried a 20-round belt in the gun when we were moving and about 6-7 of the 100-round belts myself. I would then distribute 1-2 more belts to each team member to carry. While the ammo was heavy, none of the team members ever grumbled when I wanted to pass out a couple extra belts of ammo for a patrol on a potentially dangerous patrol.
This shot was taken at about the same place (the M-60 is just out of the bottom of the frame). I am consulting the map I carried in a small plastic bag to see where we were. The yellow dirt area behind my has an interesting story. After a brief rest, we moved around the black volcanic rock just behind me (that one of the guys M-16 is resting on) and over that bare dirt area. About half the team had passed over the top when one of the guys spotted three little metal prongs sticking out of the dirt. The patrol immediately stopped in its tracks and we began to scan the area around us and fount three more.
These were the dreaded "Bouncing-Betty" anti-personnel mines and half the team had walked over one without detonating it. After carefully withdrawing the patrol back behind these rocks, a couple of the guys went with me to check them out. We carefully dug around it (the ground was really hard) and figured that the rain that fell after the enemy had emplaced the mines packed hard enough around them to not allow the plunger to fall when it was stepped on. We found that there was what looked like a 250 pound bomb under the Bouncing-Betty and we stopped right there. We then withdrew and plotted the hilltop on the map for an air strike to detonate the mines after we were a safe distance away.
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