August 17th of 1968, the 1/50th was moved from it's LZ Uplift Area of Operations (AO) to
Camp Radcliff (An Khe) and tasked with the mission of security for Highway 19, roughly the
area which runs between the An Khe and Mang Yang Passes. Multiple sites were defended by
the battalion including Camp Radcliff itself as well as the bridges , strong points and
pump stations for the pipeline which roughly paralleled highway 19 in the AO. As Former
Battalion Commander Jim Woodall recalled (Jim being the Battalion Executive Officer at the
time), the 173rd Airborne Brigade, to which the 1/50th was attached, directed that more
ambush operations be conducted.
Commanding Officer LTC John B.
Carter, sometime in the late summer or very early fall of 1968, tasked SFC Eldridge
Holloway (Pictured at right) with formation of a platoon to conduct ambushes
and other operations within the AO. Preference (but not prerequisite) was given to
Ranger and Airborne Qualified volunteers from throughout the battalion. SFC Holloway
was highly regarded by the men of the new unit. The unit took on the name "Short
Range Ambush Platoon" or "SRAP" and was also known, in the beginning
months, as "Holloway's Raiders". Members of the SRAP Platoon
remained assigned to their regular 50th Infantry Line Companies, but
served with this temporary Ambush Platoon. The Platoon was never an
"Official" unit nor part of the Vietnam "Order of Battle".
Although strictly "Provisional", this unit was extremely effective during it's relatively short existence.
According to the unit's first Forward Observer (FO), Richard
"Rick" Hambley, the acronym "SRAP" was originally derived from
"Search Recon and Ambush Platoon". This was later modified to "Shore Range
Area Patrol" after higher command elements wanted a different "slant" for
press releases. According to former SRAP Member Glen "Nick" Nicholls, the
SRAP moniker was finally derived from his suggested "Short Range Ambush Platoon"
which most honor as the final acronym for the platoon.
The various Battalion Histories now
in our possession do not "nail down" the unit's inception date, but the earliest
account mentions a cordon and search operation on October 23rd, 1968. The first referenced
ambush takes place on November 10th, 1968, on the Song Ba River...with a raft transporting
4 or 5 NVA being engaged. The swift river currents carried the raft some distance away and
by the time it was retrieved, the dead and/or wounded enemy had been removed. There
was substantial blood (evidence of a successful ambush) on the raft. Most notable of the
SRAP contacts was on March 21st, 1969, near Pump Station 8. Seven SRAP men were wounded in
a fierce firefight with an unknown size enemy element. Only one enemy KHA was found, but
those who were there reported many blood trails discovered in the ensuing daylight,
indicating heavy enemy casualties. Former SRAP Member Rick Rajner has informed us that
this VC/NVA body count indicated in Battalion Records is wrong...and that enemy bodies
filled a deuce-and-a-half truck after the battle and the bodies were dumped at a nearby
village. Read Rick Rajner's hair-raising account of the Ambush on the War Stories page. Visit
the Association Map file for
the Vicinity which includes photos of the Mang Yang Pass and the Daily Staff Journal for
March 21st of 1969.
One former SRAP member, John
Smerdon, relates in his personal
account of the unit: "Once we started operating, most insertions were
heliborne...although we did a few APC insertions along QL 19. The basic SRAP ambush
consisted of thirty-six Claymore Antipersonnel Mines, six M-60 machine guns and twelve
M-16's. Most people also carried 45's. Everyone had their own personal preference on types
of grenades. M-60 gunners carried six hundred rounds, while the rest of the platoon each
carried two hundred extra rounds for the M-60. This was a minimum load that was usually
exceeded." Rick Hambley, Forward Observer from the 2nd of the 17th
Artillery recalls a night patrol with SRAP in this personal
On April 13th of 1969 the 1/50th
returned to the LZ Uplift Area of Operations. During this time SRAP conducted amphibious
operations, setting up Patrol Base Carol on the Dam Tra O
Lake. With the Battalion now under the command of LTC James R. Woodall (Who named
the base after his daughter ) rafts and airboats were used extensively by the
Platoon. SRAP Operations on Lake Dam Tra O proved effective in denying the lake to
the enemy as a safe haven and route of escape. Read another personal
account by Rick Rajner about an Ambush at An Lac on the lake in June of 1969. SRAP
disbanded operations before the Battalion moved to Phan Thiet in the fall of 1969.
Photos below are of the Short Range
Ambush Platoon, all are original 1/50th member photos.
Other SRAP Member Photos:
John Smerdon, Glen L. "Nick" Nicholls, Rick Hambley
|1LT Floyd J. Carter, III
||1LT Curtis E. Harper
|1LT Albert L. Parsley, Jr.
||1LT Leon E. Walker, Jr.
|SP4 Jesse Camarena
||PFC Brian D.
Church (Attached - Forward Observer)
|SP4 Sheldon L.
Canter - Medic
||PFC Gene Dodd
|SP4 Samuel Carnell
|SP4 Theodore Clark
||PFC Harley D.
|SP4 Gale B. "Bruce" Cowan
Hickman (Attached - Forward Observer)
|SP4 Larry Decker
||PFC Lester R.
|SP4 Samuel Dunnell
||PFC David M. Light
|SP4 Timothy Fox
|SP4 Terry L. Gouge
||PFC Robert Maxwell
|SP4 Brian Greenlee
||PFC Timothy Mallon
|SP4 William Holly
||PFC Raymond Olsen
|SP4 James C. Jolley - Medic
||PFC Ronald Owens
|SP4 Edward R. Kalima
||PFC Jerry L.
||PFC Richard A.
|SP4 Joseph F. Mlinac
||PFC Richard G.
|SP4 Glen L.
||PFC David M.
|SP4 Gregory K.
||PFC Robert Sollars
|SP4 William Powers
||PFC Andrew J.
|SP4 Daniel B.
||PFC James A.
|SP4 Ventura F.
Rodriguez - Medic
||PFC Brian F.
|SP4 John E. Smerdon
||PFC Michael J.
||PFC Richard D. Van
||PFC Richard Warner
This list is "informal" and should not be
considered "definitive" of SRAP Personnel. If you recall members not listed
here, please Contact the Website Committee. The
Association of the 1/50th generally tends to err on the side of "inclusion"
RATHER than "omission" with all of our personnel lists. Thanks to all who
contributed information for our SRAP page.
©2003, ichiban1.org. All Rights
Reserved. Ichiban1.org is the website of the Association of the 1st Battalion 50th
Infantry. The Association reserves the right to accept, reject or edit in its sole
discretion any submitted material. Jim Sheppard, Association Historian.
Please review our posted Copyright Policy.
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