Just A Little Walk In The Woods
with the Delta Raiders
Company D, 2nd Battalion, 501st Infantry, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile)
Across The River & Into…
Preparing for Monsoon
The Army Reporter, 1971
FIRE BASE TOMAHAWK - A squad of men moves down a trail enroute to their night defensive position. Only one obstacle lies in their path: a 40-foot-wide, swift-moving mountain river.
"We can't go around it because we'd have to go up stream too far to reach its narrow parts and it would take too long," says one Screaming Eagle.
"We can't go down because the jungle is too thick. I guess we'll have to cross it right here," confirms the squad leader.
The conversation takes place weekly as a training mission in the lowlands near Firebase Tomahawk to prepare members of Co. D, 2nd Bn., 501st Inf., 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), for the upcoming monsoon rains that turn friendly, refreshing streams into raging killers.
"Past experience has proved that most of the men have had very little training in making river crossings," said Capt. Roger Ebert, officer-in-charge of the training. "In the past, when the rains hit, they have created many problems for our men. This year, we want them to be well prepared for the rainy season."
Each platoon of Co. D is split into three squads. Each receives separate classes on knot tying, raft building and different types of river crossings. The final class is a practical application of all techniques.
As the two Screaming Eagles edge their way into the water, they check to make sure the ropes tied around their waists are snug to prevent them from being swept downstream by the rapid current. Once they are safely on the other side, they test the rope to make sure it will hold and then return to the other side.
In the meantime the remaining squad members have constructed Australian poncho rafts to keep their equipment dry during the crossing. Ponchos are rolled with underbrush in them and shaped in a circle. Sticks are placed on top and equipment is placed on top of that. Again the swimmers enter the stream and pull the equipment to the other side.
The squad makes the dangerous crossing, "D-rings" snapped onto the rope and the men, some non-swimmers, make their way one by one across the stream. Hand-over-hand they go until they are safely on the other side. The river crossing is over for these men.
"We expect each squad leader to be proficient in all phases of river crossing," said Capt. William Flavin, company commander. "They are the ones who usually give the classes since they will have to supervise the crossings in the field."
Although the river crossing training is made in a secure area in Phu Loc District, a little imagination will put the scene in the mountains. "Our men carry their combat equipment on the training exercise just in case something happens and to get used to using it," concluded Ebert
below are links to more
Hill 100 | Delta Raiders Overrun Outpost | Infantry, Arty Chew Up NVA Unit
Going Home | Heavy Fighting Near Bastogne | Hill 805, A First Sergeant Remembers
The Introduction | Across The River & Into... | Raiders "Lighten The Load"
You should know Joe Hooper | Most decorated soldier dies | The List
Airborne Trooper Saves Girl | Flashback | Night Sweats | 'Grunt' More Than A Name
Delta Raiders Ambushed Near Firebase Bastogne | To My Dad on Veterans Day