Apache Dog and Aragon, 3rd Platoon
In July 1968, there was a little white puppy, which was given the name Apache Dog. He became part of Company ‘A’, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Air Calvary Division, Vietnam, during period July 1968 – October 1968. He probably was named Apache, because Company ‘A’, at times, would be referred to as Apache Tribe, Lean Apache and etc. Prior to 4 July 1968, someone acquired the puppy around Quinn Tri. On 4 July 1968, our Company ‘A’ began moving toward the mountains West/Southwest of Camp Evans, in the direction of LZ Mooney. The puppy was given the name, Apache Dog, even though he was just a small puppy, at that time. There are four events and/or remembrances, which stand out in my mind, pertaining to Apache Dog. Among the four, I believe most everyone, with Company A, during that time, will recall one or more of them.
The first thing I recall is how the little fellow struggled to get through the woods. He had to be helped along at first. It was difficult for him to even cross a small obstacle such as a small log and etc. He needed and received plenty of help. He had no problem, in getting plenty of rations. He would make his routine rounds throughout Company ‘A’, and I think he got a handout from most everyone.
When we left LZ Mooney, going further to the West, we established a Company FOB, on a ridge, overlooking a river. Early one morning, while in our usual perimeter defensive position, a trip flare went off. Everyone became alert as usual, when the trip flare popped, lighting up the area. There was quietness and then a large HOG came walking, up the hill, and began grunting. The Hog had tripped the flare, on the perimeter, in the 3rd Platoons’ sector. Little Apache Dog didn’t like the stranger and commenced baying the Hog. Apache Dog was a brave little fellow, to be so small. I remember, with a smile, 1SG Roosevelt Lee saying, “See that Apache Dog tree that Hog”. I, being an old coon hunter had never heard that phrase before. Someone was about to throw a M-26 Fragmentation Grenade, in the vicinity, of the trip flare, but withheld, after the command, “Hold Your Fire” was given. The Listening Post (LP), that went out the previous evening, probably wished they had went out the full designated distance, when they heard of what almost happened.
We had been patrolling the area West of LZ Mooney and after returning to LZ Mooney, for FSB security, it was discovered that Apache Dog was missing and presumed left behind. I don’t think anyone knew exactly what had happened to Apache Dog. I think about everyone had become attached to him. He would always make his rounds, at first light, going in and out of our lean-to shelters. He enjoyed checking out all the care packages. As time passed, he had grown and become faster and was more difficult to catch. We had been at LZ Mooney, for about three days and our Company was probably due to rotate with another Company, when one morning, along about first light, a trip flare went off along the perimeter, on the SW side of the LZ, the side facing toward LZ Miguel. In came little Apache Dog, to everyone’s surprise. He came through the perimeter in the area where the FSB trash-burning site was located, which was the same site and probably the same day that a grenade exploded, in the dump, where trash was being burned, wounding the 2nd Platoon Sergeant and I believe two other Soldiers. The Platoon Sergeant, whose name I can’t recall, got a fragment near the heart as was learned later. I think I only heard from him one time after being evacuated. He had only been with Company A, for a few days, when this happened.
Little Apache Dog stayed with Company ‘A’ through LZ Mooney, LZ Miguel and was still with Company ‘A’, when we left LZ Miguel, for the lowland/foothills, West of Camp Evans, LZ Nancy, LZ Jane and etc. That would have been around the middle of October l968. Here is where I may need to ask our Commanding Officer (CO), CPT Mace, for forgiveness, in advance, before explaining this next event. Once again Little Apache dog was present.
Company ‘A’ was on patrol/sweep, moving in a Northerly direction, with my 3rd Platoon on the left flank. To my immediate right and just across a small ridge was CPT Mace, HQ Platoon, with the __Platoon. The ___ Platoon was to the right of the Platoon CPT Mace was with. There was a Standing Operation Procedure (SOP), during this particular time, when an enemy position, ambush and etc. were suspected, we were authorized, by the CO, to recon by fire, which mean firing a few rounds of ammunition, in the direction of the suspected target, which was a method used to draw fire from and expose the enemy prematurely. We were moving along normally, when all of a sudden, Apache Dog jumped this big animal, directly in front, of the 3rd Platoon, which ran straight forward. The animal looked like a Moose, Elk, Caribou or something along that line. I had never seen anything like that in Vietnam. It was as big as a large horse and must have been three feet across the rump. I was up front, at the time, and nobody, from the 3rd Platoon, was in the line of fire. I also knew exactly where CPT Mace and the Platoon he was with were, which was directly to the right of the 3rd Platoon and the other Platoon to the right of them and on line. I raised my M-l6, flipped the selector switch, and emptied the magazine, at that animal. CPT Mace called or had his RTO call and asked me what was going on. My reply was, “I’m reckoning by fire”. I was reminded that I had done the wrong thing, since I should have alerted everyone prior. Even though I knew there was no danger in firing at the animal, most of Company ‘A’, except for the 3rd Platoon didn’t. I fully understood what had happened, since I had plowed the ground up (hit the ground) previously under similar circumstances. We continued moving forward and I thought I would find the animal laying nearby, but he had moved on. I don’t see how I could have missed it, since it was so big. I don’t ever remember seeing any blood or any sign where I had hit it. My marksmanship training didn’t pay-off this time.
The last time I seen Apache Dog, or heard of him, was later when Company ‘A’ was running some riverine patrols. I think, during this time, he volunteered for another Company and I believe it may have been Company ‘C’. This would have been late October l968.
3l January 2002