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Red Devils Ambush Sampans
by Sp4 Carl Bach

   A recent evening found Company A of the 1/508th in their night defensive position along one of the numerous waterways southwest of Long Bien. The fourth platoon set up a “nightingale” (night ambush) approximately 700 meters from the remainder of the company.
   SP4 Frank A. Cuane, West Collingswood, N.J., spotted four sampans moving downstream. He yelled, “La De,” (“Come Here”) but they continued. Cunane then opened fire on the insurgents and initiated the contact that was to last an entire night.
   PSG* Michael L. Milton, Oakland, Calif., moved from his position into the water directly in front of the sampans, continued to move forward and managed to sink one of the boats himself. He then returned to his position and reported the situation to his company commander.
   1LT David R.E. Hale, acting CO, immediately moved his command post to one of the MP boats. He then deployed the second platoon to follow him. Both boats received hostile fire on their journey downstream. Arriving at the initial point of contact, Hale consolidated his forces and moved them into position.
   A Company’s “Red Devil’s” began to spray the area with a tremendous volume of fire. Air support was called in, and two Cobras responded to the call. While the gunships reconnoitered the area, “Spooky”** arrived to light up the skies with flares. Another sampan was sunk at A Company’s location and Bien Hoa artillery was alerted. The gunships spotted 15 additional sampans about 1200 meters upstream. They went into action and expended their entire ordnance a total of five times. The combined effort was accredited with a body count of 19 and a total of 29 sampans sunk or captured.

[Diablo, December 31, 2018]

*PSG = Platoon Sergeant

**"Spooky" - an AC-47 gunship aka "Puff, the Magic Dragon"

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