Strike Force Widow Makers: The True Story of Firebase Ripcord

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July 23, 1970, 11:45 hours 

Mortar rounds rained down on us continuously, starting at sunrise. We hadn’t slept the previous night because the business of life and death were upon us. Now those mortar rounds were erupting like little volcanoes. But instead of hot lava rocks, they were hot pieces of shrapnel that whizzed by us in every direction. 

RPG’s, 75mm recoilless rounds joined in the endless phalanx. Rounds from the NVA’s 51 caliber heavy machine guns and small arms fire from AK-47s were as constant as a swarm of bees flying past our heads, and eating up the hill around us. It was if the Gates of Hell had opened to advertise that we were now open for business. Sappers and a large number of enemy troops had penetrated our perimeter and had overrun the CP like a colony of angry, red army ants. Colonel Lucas was killed instantly. The last of our platoon fought valiantly, firing continuously in a rearward action, leapfrogging toward the LZ to get on one of the last choppers off of Ripcord. 

We fought hard making our way through the thick haze of cordite smoke that was tearing up my eyes and burning my throat. Then word came down that we were giving up the firebase. 


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