A walk through The Arizona Territory.

Before I share this story I would like to explain that I wrote these in order to deal with my PTSD. I also thought my family might be interested in learning why I “seem different” to them by sharing some of my experiences. Which is why the stories were written as they were. Those combat Marines who served in Vietnam might remember that we were not very popular back home. I wrote about 50 stories—they are true—they happen to me—I remember every one like it happen yesterday and for awhile these experiences changed my way of thinking, feeling, and interacting with others (including my family). I found that the VA has an excellent treatment program that worked me. “Thank you my brothers and Semper Fi.”

There was a part of Golf Co. 2/5 A.O. (Area of Observation) that was called a “Free Fire Ozone”; which meant that if you found anyone there consider them VC/NVA and you were allowed to fire on them without receiving clearance from Battalion before hand. This wonderland was called the Arizona Territory because it was like the Wild West once you entered in to it. There was never any doubt about having connect of some kind with the “bad guys”. It was a flat plane area with a huge mountain range on one side and a “blue line” (a river) on the other and boxed in by the road on the ends. The area was all elephant grass with a few tree lines and without a rice paddy in sight (that I can remember ).
The company was stationed on Liberty Bridge the day the 3rd. Platoon was ordered to enter in to the Arizona. In the briefing by our Lt. , we were told to take as much ammo as we were able to carry and smoke grenades to mark our position for the medivac choppers. We were told to expect a firefight and a high causality rate once we cross the blue line—I’m not sure what the percentage was but it was uncomfortably high. We assume that this bright cheerful news was coming from Bn. Intelligence . So at dawn’s early light , we put on our gear, grab our weapons and set out for what a lot of us thought might be our last patrol on Mother Earth.

In the first hour, we found a 250 lb. bomb which we “blew in place”. The interesting thing about this is that we moved about 500 to 600 meters away from it before it was set off. We could feel the force of that bomb even at that distance. Next, a few bunkers were discovered by the point squad and we got to get rid of some C-4 (too heavy to carry any ways). And then, we humped for a while without seeing any of the outlaws (VC/NVA) we were told to expect. At one point, one of the guys shot at a dog (he missed) that was running lose in the area; which caused our anxiety to jump back up. By this time, it was getting to be another hot day in Vietnam and none of us brought food to eat so that we could carry extra ammo and must needed water. We came out of a tree line in to an open area when we got hit from behind. The fourth squad turned to return fire when our right flank started receiving fire and then the left side opened up. The third squad turned right, the second squad turned left and the point squad charged forward in order to get us a way out of this box shape ambush.

I was humping the radio for the Platoon Lt. and was position in the middle of everyone. We got down for cover. The Lt. got out his map and started calling in a fire mission from our fire base. The VC/NVA apparently had not counted on our response to this box shape ambush because the firefight didn’t last more than 15 mins.. The only causality we had was one of the radio operators got shot in the hand. The first squad manage to over run the outlaws (VC/NVA) to our front killing all them. When the first squad entered in to a village (that was to suppose to there) they found a 50 lbs. bag of rice from “Tennessee Sympathizers”. Our Platoon Sargent was from the green state of Tennessee and caught hell from everyone for this. As for myself, I had a couple of rounds hit in the dirt in front of me—there is something about that radio that caused the VC/NVA to always shot at me. I started to think that they had something personal against me.

Footnote: I need to add that getting in to a Box Shape Ambush is very rare and Marines are taught how to fight their way out of an ambush—which I’m very grateful to have learned that lesson. Also, a company size patrol went in to the Arizona a few weeks after us and found a fully equipped hospital with doctors and nurses working on some VC/NVA—I always like to think that my platoon put them there as a result of that day.

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39 thoughts on “A walk through The Arizona Territory.”

    1. Robert, I don’t usually ready a lot of the stories, read this one and now I remember why I don’t. this story is so puffed to make things seem more than they really are. Boot camp is the only platoon were I saw 4 squads in a platoon. How did you see the rounds hit in the Elephant Grass, I am sorry that you suffer from PTSD and glad that you found an outlet to deal with it, but may I just say, tell it like it really was and not with the colorful bullshit, because people who haven’t been there, believe it and even some who have been there believe it too. Not trying to run anyone down just my opinion. Murray 1371 in country Dec66 to Aug68 back May 69 to Aug69 went with 1/9, 2/9, 3/9, 2/26 and others many operations. PS I blew a 250lbs bomb and bigger, also many bunkers, and it was just a Normal Day.

      1. i have been reading grit stories for many years, way before the so called new format, I have never ever commented ever! I just cannot let this one pass. I was Hotel 2/5 from Dec 1969 untill we left country in Jan-Feb 1971 and probably humped the same area ( TAO) Tactical Area of Operation , not area of observation. The area that Robert h is referring to sounds like close proximity to Liberty Bridge on the Phu Loc (6) side of the river. The only time this was free fire was at night! there were way too many friendlies in that area. As a matter of fact there was a refugee camp in that area and some small hamlets where the locals would walk back and forth to the river to fish and get water wash etc. part of our job was to keep them secure. night time was a different story. The Dai-loc side toward Goi Noi Island was different. Now the 250 lb bomb if able call EOD or at least a bomb tech. sometime we might have to blow it, but a bomb tech could easily tell if it was armed or not. So you strung almost 2,000 feet of cap wire to blow this thing? or did you light a fuse and run like hell. i remember someone finding a hospital but it was closer to charlie ridge. I think you are a shit burning wana be, probly an office pog wana be. I won,t be as kind as Murray. I have been 100% P&T PTSD since 1992 could not even keepa job so just stop. I want to know more about your time wth 2/5 sounds like we were there same time Here is my email write me harveywade219@yahoo.com So were you a 0341 mortar or a radioman. Platoon lt? What platoon? Was it H&S ? What was his name? You remember everthig right? but you couldnt remember when you finised boot camp write me i have more to say

        1. Desiderata

          Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
          and remember what peace there may be in silence.
          As far as possible without surrender
          be on good terms with all persons.
          Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
          and listen to others,
          even the dull and the ignorant;
          they too have their story.

          Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
          they are vexations to the spirit.
          If you compare yourself with others,
          you may become vain and bitter;
          for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
          Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

          Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
          it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
          Exercise caution in your business affairs;
          for the world is full of trickery.
          But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
          many persons strive for high ideals;
          and everywhere life is full of heroism.

          Be yourself.
          Especially, do not feign affection.
          Neither be cynical about love;
          for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
          it is as perennial as the grass.

          Take kindly the counsel of the years,
          gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
          Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
          But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
          Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
          Beyond a wholesome discipline,
          be gentle with yourself.

          You are a child of the universe,
          no less than the trees and the stars;
          you have a right to be here.
          And whether or not it is clear to you,
          no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

          Therefore be at peace with God,
          whatever you conceive Him to be,
          and whatever your labors and aspirations,
          in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

          With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
          it is still a beautiful world.
          Be cheerful.
          Strive to be happy.

          Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

          Semper Fi!!! Top Pro

      2. Also picked up on the squad thing, 3 squads in a rifle platoon, like I said last week , this dude is full of it! He forgets he is posting on an all Marine site, and not the everyday “Joe Shitz ” I learned years ago that when someone starts a story swearing it’s true, ” no bull shit” chances are pretty good it’s fake . How did you blowup a 250lb bomb? Never had to do that. one of our Platoon Leader tried with a LAW once, didn’t work out. Bill 0331

        1. Bill, Two, Six feet of fuse and blasting cap in C4, and walk away never run you might trip, and yes he was right about the distance. Six feet of fuse gives you about 500 meters away at a walk. Puts you right on the edge of the falling debris. I did it this true No bullshit. (HaHa) No I really did do it. It was a booby trap the grunts thought was a mortar round till my partner on covered it. Never saw those guys move so fast when we told them it was a bomb and a good thing they didn’t trip it, it would have taken out quite a few. Murray 1371 that was our job.

          1. I really do hope you are bullshitting Murray, We would make up small charges of quarter lb blocks of TNT to throw in the river to prevent the VC from swimming in under water to try to blow the ferry. Would get about 15 seconds on a 6 inch fuse. 500 -600 meters is a pretty long walk.Harvey is right, about 2,000 feet. Harry 1371

          2. On a flat level track it would take about 10-15 minutes to walk 2,000 feet, Just think about elephant grass . Think you need a longer fuse! LOL P.S. I loved blowing shit up!! Nick

          3. After the LAW incident, It was standard policy to clear the area and call EOD. I agree that policy differed depending on leadership. We did not always have an engineer with us. We had an engineer platoon that was assigned to H&S but only came with us when requested. I can remember another time when Air Force EOD showed up. We were not far from Vandy at that time . I think! I do not think there was any written rule on how to hndle crap like that.
            Semper Fi Murray! Bill 0331

          4. Hey Murray, got a visit from DHS, they wanted to know why I have been searching the internet for military grade explosives,fuses, and detonators. They also needed to know why I searched the blast radius of a 250 and 500 lb bomb. (Just bullshitting) LOL! Want to know what I found? Bill 0331

          5. Bill, I’am sure you found things that back what I did. I should not have said 6 feet of fuse. It was really my arm length hand to hand, which is probably more than that. Me being a little over 6′ feet tall I just said six feet. I forgot to pack my ruler that day. Not sure about the radius, but do know it differs as to killing and wounding and debris. Also In July of 1967 a Jet drop one of his bombs on myself and a Squad size patrol in front of our lines. Not sure what size but assume it was 250lbs., when we saw him coming in we did run like hell, made to the edge of that debris radius. He didn’t get any of us. Was with L 3/9. The Jets did take out a section of our lines right next to us, it was 1/3 off the float. Word was it took out a squad, they couldn’t find them. (Operation Buffalo) They don’t talk about this shit only how many enemy were killed. Funny how they can always find them to count. I have felt the heat off napalm (spelling). It is called close air support. Bill Thanks for interest in thinking maybe I knew what I was talking about. The experts that write the books should get out there and experience some off what they write about. Keep having fun, I do Murray 1371

          6. Right on Brother Murray! I have always been a “Belts and Suspenders ” kind of guy and I probably used a 12 ft. fuse. Did find though that the most common used was the color orange that was 30 sec. per ft. Did find there were others (yellow, OD green, red, etc..) with diferent burn rates. don’t know why, I guess it depends on the situation, right? just for shitz and smiles the MK-81 (250 lb bomb) was used mainly for close air support to minimize friendly fire. kill range was 40meters x 15 meters (1200sq.m) . 10% chance of getting hit at 100meters and a .1 % chance at 200 meters, so 500meters is a good cushion. Still waiting for Homeland to come knocking! Bill 0331 E- 2/1 and H&S 2/1 Crows Nest 68-69 P.S. Where is everybody?

      3. Don’t know if you’ll read this Murray , but we would patrol tht area on a regular basis with a squad of about three fire teams and an vietnamese interperter . a lot of friendlies, we would visit the litttle villes along the route and the corpsman would have more work than anyone else. i believe we would end up at the An-hoa base and then catch aride back to the bridge. usuaaly back before dark. If anyone went into the Arizona they were usualy out of An-Hoa The Arizona extended northwest toward happy valley if I remember right . I have been reading this guysBS for years and he has been called out by many others in the past but he keeps coming back! He forgets who is talking too I guess . Just thought I would throw that in. Harv. H-2/5 69-71 P.S. He never contacted me.

    2. Liberty bridge. Brings back some memories. Was in Quang Nam province with 1/13 (bastard unit with 3rd Marine Division) and then with 1st Marine Division when 3rd Marine Division pulled out at end of 1969. We were fire support for 26th Marines, a hardcore grunt unit. Can remember Liberty Bridge getting hit a lot and can’t remember if we fired illumination rounds for them but we were in contact via radio. Had a marine from the bridge stay with us on our base for some unknown reason. Do remember he had the infamous thousand yard stare and kept to himself mostly. Semper Fi to all Devil Dogs, past, present and future.

  1. Reply for Harry , this is no bullshit. time fuse burns at 45-60 sec per foot.( must check each roll)
    and your 2000 ft is 666 yards. I don’t bullshit. Murray 1371

    1. Reply for Nick, we weren’t in elephant grass. and if it takes you 15-20 min to go 2000ft you are slower then the average. Sorry guys I did this and I am begining to wonder about all of you. I have pick up on a lot of things that don’t jive from your posts, I know I am for real. Murray 1371 PS the guy that uncovered that bomb instead of just blowing it as a mortar round and save lots of lives was killed in a mine field at Con Thien 18 Aug 1967. Two of our friends were killed two days before. We had about 15 more minutes left before we were to be relieved. We were schedule to go on R&R, never get R&R. I did go to Japan.

      1. Hey Murray, I’m for real, I built bridges and operated a pontoon ferry, nothing more nothing less. Saw some shit but not as much as you did. I would never try to embellish like our friend Robert H.

    2. I respectfully disagree Murray, Fuse burns at 30 seconds per foot, unless there were fuse types that I am not aware of. I thought we were talking meters? 600 meters equal 1,920 ft. 500meters equal 1,600 ft still a pretty long walk in the elephant grass. I know what I know and you know what you know. I did not do all you did Murray . Harry 1371

    3. I am trying to remember the color of the fuse we used, must have been orange,. should have known of the different burn rates Harry 1371

      1. Harry it was orange, det cord was yellow. I miss wrote it burns 30-45 sec. and each roll is different you should test one foot of it to see if you had a fast burner or slow burner. Murray 1371

  2. I must add my 2cents worth. I have a few theories. My opinion is that Mr. Bliss might be suffering from some sort of guilt complex, or has very low self esteem and takes these stories to an extreme level of ,in our minds, disbelief , or is he taken stories he has heard somewhere else and just adding to them. Either way it’s a discredit to all of us. With all that said, the war was different for all of us depending where and when. The time between 1965 and 75 was a lifetime with a whole lot of differences. I always have tried to give everyone the benefit of the doubt ,but Mr. Bliss has made that task very difficult for me. I too was told to write letters and stories , but to only write them to myself. Paul S

    1. You are right Paul . Talk to a Vet that was there 65-66 and things were different. After TET things seemed to really change ,at least it seemed that way to me. Nick 0311

  3. I remember the Arizona area well. I was a sergeant in 2nd platoon I Co 3/5 in 1970. I too never heard of four squads in a platoon except boot camp.
    But we did have four rifle companies in 3/5 in 1970. Anyplace else I served we only had three rifle companies in a battalion unless you counted the weapons company.

    Semper Fi
    CWO-5 Noble Callaway
    USMC Retired

    1. With 2/4 in ’67-’68 we had Echo (my company), Foxtrot, Golf, and Hotel companies, plus weapons. I believe weapons were actually a part of H&S Company, also then a part of the battalion. The “old gray memory” ain’t what she used to be after all these years.

  4. I as well spent time in the Arizona territory and surrounding A O’s from Feb 69-70 with B 1/5 weapons section 60 mm mortars, M O S 0341. There’s a couple of your statements that gives cause to question your story. Perhaps an aging memory and the fog of battle is taking its toll.

  5. I served with Echo 2/4 during 1967-68. We operated mostly in upper I CORP at the time, just south of the DMZ. My MOS was 0311 (rifleman); if I remember correctly, 0341 was mortars. I never heard of any platoon operating with 4 squads; 3 was max, although we usually had a machine gun team attached, and of course corpsmen and sometimes an M60 mortar team. Also never heard the term “outlaws” used for the VC or NVA, but maybe that was used in the Arizona Territory and I just never heard it used. I never thought C4 was too heavy to hump a bar or two. We would spread it out. Good for quick-heating C’s and coffee. I’m not saying the author is BS’ing, just stating what I remember.

    1. To clarify, the occasional attached mortar teams were using 60-millimetre mortar rounds. Not sure what the tubes were called. The M-60 was of course what the machine gunners used. The bigger 81-mm mortars were usually set up at a fire base, if remember correctly.

  6. I don’t think that the area you are referring to is the Arizona. The Arizona was more to the north of An-Hoa closer to Charlie Ridge which is about 7-8 miles from the Liberty Bridge not even close to the Liberty Bridge . Wayne

  7. Was with H 2/7 at liberty Bridge in the beginning . Dec.67 Feb.68. Along with the Arizona Territory, we also referred to it as Indian country, the bad bush, Dodge City. When we ran out of Wild West names. We also called it the Rocket Belt for all the incoming rockets we had to deal with. Every time we left the wire, it was a mine, sniper or hit and run ambush
    Everyone remembers events differently but we didn’t have 4 squads and never blew a 250!!!

  8. Randy Mellott, you said you were with 1-13, I was with A-1-13 from Feb. 1968 to June 1969. What battery were you with? Semper Fi Marine…Welcome Home and Thank You for your service!!!

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