The survival exercise in Thailand was a fairly simple Op plan; the team would jump into the jungle some hundred and twenty miles in, with only the clothes on our backs and walk out. We could pick whatever weapons we wanted to carry. I carried a twelve gauge pump shotgun, most of the team carried M1 30 cal. carbines with folding stocks. We all carried a knife or two of different varieties as well as pistols. The team would have a radio which was to be used for emergencies only. The idea was to see if we could find our way out and survive living off the land.
We jumped in without incident. About ten days into the march we had to call in a med-evac chopper to take out one of the men. We suspected an appendicitis attack, which proved to be the correct assumption.
There were days when we could cover ten miles, then there were days, because of the jungle density, when we could barely make two. All in all it took us thirty-three days to walk out. For food we ate things that would have made a maggot puke...rats, snakes and monkeys mainly.
On the morning of the twenty-eighth day, I was walking point when I came upon a water buffalo buried up to its belly in a mud hole. By the time the lieutenant and the rest of the team caught up to me, I had pretty much figured out the buffalo was completely stuck and wasn't going anywhere.
I would interject here that our orders were, to use our weapons only in self-defense.
After I apprised the lieutenant of the situation, he responded, "Sergeant, that animal looks to be charging to me and the safety of the team is in jeopardy!" With that he fired his carbine into the buffalo, immediately the entire team fired. That poor buffalo was hit from his horns to his tail and died instantly where he stood. The mud was so thick the animal didn't even fall over. We tied ropes around two of the guys, who then jumped in with machetes and hacked out several huge chunks of meat (no one there had ever field dressed a buffalo) which they threw up on the bank of the mud hole.
We built a fire and spent the day pigging out on half raw buffalo meat. That night everyone was so sick we couldn't move on for another two days.
I jumped in to the jungle weighing around a hundred forty-five pounds of rompin, stompin Airborne Hell and was a hundred nineteen pounds when we debriefed.
About D. J.
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