My Hypothesis

of the events surrounding

June 2, 1969

 

 

There were several discrepancies in the Battalion daily journal as to what I observed and heard. 

June 3,1969

  1. We discovered a freshly dug grave in one of the bunkers.  This grave was opened and it was reported to contain the body of a Chinese soldier.  The journal reflects that an NVA soldier was found in the grave.  Those who saw the corpse stated that he was larger than the average Vietnamese.  I assume his uniform was different from other NVA solders as he was identified as being a Chinese soldier.  Dirt samples from under the dead soldier's fingernails were taken for the purpose of tracing his route to Vietnam.
  2. There was no mention of the discovery of a gas container found in the bunker complex.   Captain Hottell asked the men (via radio) to read the information which was written on the canister.  I thought to myself how are they going to read foreign writing.  Almost immediately the men started to read back to Captain Hottell the information and he informed them that it was nerve gas.
  3. There was no mention in the journal about the rice (over a ton), salmon or the milk which was found.

I was sitting by the three radios being used by the C.P. when the transmissions regarding the above items 1 and 2 took place.  I personally observed Captain Hottell speaking on the radio and heard him identify the canister of gas as being nerve gas.  I provided the instrument from my field surgical kit with which they were able to remove the dirt from under the dead soldier's fingernails. 

At the time of the discovery, with a naive outlook of a young man who had just turned 20, I assumed that the tank of gas belonged to the NVA.  Today, with a little more life experience under my belt and looking at the physical evidence of the other items in the bunkers, I have come to a different conclusion:

  1. The gas canister came from the docks around Saigon, as did the rice, can milk, and salmon.
  2. The Chinese Soldier was there to verify the contents of the cylinder and help to provide safe transport back to North Vietnam or China for propaganda or research purposes.
  3. Our Intelligence knew the general area where the stolen supplies were being kept through intercepted radio communications and operatives.  That's why we were the first American troops in the area in 4 years or possibly ever..
  4. The Army chose two of their best company commanders to be in charge of the operation.  Captain Walter J. Marm had previous combat experience and was awarded the Medal of Honor on his first tour in Vietnam.  Captain John Alexander Hottell was a "company man".  He was a graduate of West Point, a Rhodes scholar, Ranger qualified and his father was an Army Colonel.
  5. All digging ceased immediately following the discovery of the cylinder as we had located our objective.  (I asked Captain Hottell if we were going to continue digging in the bunkers?  I thought we were looking for a body count.  Captain Hottell responded we got what we are looking for.....you can go ahead and dig if you want.)

 

(Featuring 60's music and AFVN snippets)

 

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