General for a Day
Copyright 2002: Rigo Ordaz. All rights
reserved. (Copy permission at bottom)
The ROK Capital Division (called Tigers) was
based in Binh Dinh Province from 29 Sep 65-10 Mar 73 and headquartered
at Qui Nhon. Elements of the division were based around teh area,
including one outpost between LZ Uplift and Phu Cat. The 1st Battalion
(Mechanized), 50th Infantry participated in a number of joint operations
with the South Koreans, including one on 19-23 April 1968 around
the village of Ky Son north of Qui Nhon called Operation Mang Ho
Eleven with the ROK Tigers, B Company of the 1/69th Armor and B
Company 1/50th. Another joint operation, Operatrion Vulture, where
A/1/50 teamed up with the ROK Tigers, was described in the 173rd
newspaper. 1/50 soldiers who participated in these joint operations
received the unofficial honor of wearing the Tiger patch.
In one of our operations in 1968 just before relocating from Uplift
to An Khe, we had the opportunity of working with the Korean Tiger
Division. In this particular mission, we were operating just west
of one of their base camps, southwest of Phu My. We had just crossed
a stream and we were about 100 meters up a small hill, when an APC
hit a mine.
They were shaken up but nobody got hurt. The APC, however, sustained
damage to two wheels and the track. A VTR came to retrieve the APC
back to Uplift, about 35 miles away. I teamed up with another APC
and was given the mission of escorting the VTR, the downed track,
and two more APCs for security back to Uplift.
I was crossing the stream when a commanding officer from a chopper
called on my frequency saying not to cross the stream at the same
place. I had kept my eye on the stream and I knew the VC had not planted
any mines in that short while. I knew that crossing was safe. I called
him back saying that I knew what I was doing, and that if he wanted
to come down and do my job he was welcome to it. I suddenly realized
I could be in big trouble by what I said, but was very relieved when
his last transmission was just, "Roger Out".
It was getting late in the day and we were directed to stay at the
Korean base camp for the night. We pulled in to their base camp and
they already knew we were coming. A little group of Koreans milled
around the APCs checking them out. One of them climbed inside to get
a closer look. While checking out the Fifty Caliber, one of them pressed
the butterfly trigger and let off a round. I ran to the other track
and was ready to scold somebody. The Korean took off running. Their
commanding officer rushed to the APC and was ready to let us have
it, when I stopped him and told him it was one of his troops that
He called his troop to formation, scolded them and yelled at them
in Korean. Suddenly the one that let the round off stepped forward.
The commanding officer approached him, scolded him in Korean and slapped
him about five times. The Korean soldier was at attention all the
time and showed no emotion. He dismissed the troop and told something
to the Korean soldier, at which time he took off running double time.
The commanding officer walked to where I was at and very apologetic
invited me to eat dinner with him. At the center of the base camp
was an open field, and in the center a kiosk. We walked over to the
kiosk where they set a table with a white tablecloth, real silverware
and also chopsticks. "Do you like Korean food, sir," he
asked. I told him that I had never tasted Korean food. "Oh, you
will like it sir, it is better than Vietnamese food," he answered
with a big smile.
He beckoned the soldier he had slapped earlier, told him something,
and the soldier again took off double timing. Soon he was back with
a record player and some records. He had classical music and even
some Spanish music. That soldier spent all that evening running and
bringing him things for me. "I like Spanish music very much,
"he added. They kept bringing plates upon plates of food. I had
a big juicy steak, lobster, Korean food and good wine. When we finished
we smoked some real good cigars and sipped on the fine wine.
The next morning, before we departed, he saluted me, we shook hands
and he said " Come and visit us anytime sir." I assured
him I would.
I felt like a General that day. I didn't impersonate an officer, I
just didn't tell him my rank, and as we all know many officers and
enlisted men did not wear their rank insignia in the field. I guess
he would have a fit if he ever found out that the officer he invited
to dinner was nothing but a SP4. Even though I was a squad leader
I was never promoted to SGT E-5 until I got back to the world.
In another tour to Korea, I got hooked on tasty Korean food, but nothing
will taste as good as the day I stopped eating C rations and ate like
a General for one day. Bon Appetite, Sir!
© Rigo Ordaz, 2002-2005.
All Rights reserved.
This article may not be downloaded,
copied or used in any manner without the express written permission
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