The Tree Line

In November 1966, 3rd Platoon was assigned to an outpost in front of the main lines of Chu Lai. We called it The Tree Line. I remember we were there for Christmas so I know we were there for a few months.

It was kind of a little island of brush and trees in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by sand. Our bunkers were set up in a 360-degree circle, surrounded by concertina wire with claymore mines set in the wire.

At the time I was the platoon guide of 3rd platoon. I stayed in a bunker in the middle of the compound, with the squad leaders.

On December 4, 1966 our platoon commander and our platoon sergeant were called into company headquarters for the day.

Just before dark I got a call on the radio saying they would not be back until the next morning. As the platoon guide, I was now in charge. It made me a little nervous knowing I was in charge of the platoon, but I convinced myself that it was no big deal. The platoon had been there for over a month and never had fired a shot. Well, all that changed that night. We were hit. When we came under fire I remember running from the bunker along with the squad leaders to check the lines. As we ran from position to position checking on the troops, grenades were going off around us. I don’t remember being scared, but I do remember worrying about doing the right thing and not getting anyone killed. We had a hard time getting the 60mm mortars up and firing, but once they were, we did OK.

I had nothing to worry about; all the Marines performed exceptionally well. Although over 40 grenades were thrown into the compound, no one was hurt and they never penetrated our wire.

One other interesting note: Some weeks later when we moved from the tree line and took down our bunkers, we found a python snake that had been living under the pallets in our bunker. No wonder we had no mice or rats while we were there!

Author/Gary Campbell