506th Airborne Infantry

Regiment Association

Scout's Sharp Eyes Spark Weapons Find

July 30, 2014 at 5:53 PM

Transcribed article from The Screaming Eagle weekly Army newspaper

Vol. 1, No. 37 -- 101st Airborne Division -- December 9, 1968 -- page 8

CAMP EAGLE -- The sharp eyes of a Kit Carson scout led a squad of Paratroopers from the 3rd Brigade to its second large weapons cache in less than a week near here recently.

A former North Vietnamese Army regular turned ally, known as "Quan" to the Infantrymen, was moving with the Reconnaissance Platoon of the 1st BN, 506th Airborne Infantry on a patrol down the steep slopes of Nui Ke Mountain. Their mission was to blow up a bunker complex found three days earlier.

They began moving down an old dry stream. LT James B. Bickerton, Clairton, PA, SGT Rick Esposito, Boston, MA, and Quan moved to one side into the thick jungle to scout in that direction.

"We hadn't moved more than 100 meters when Quan noticed a hooch hidden in the brush directly to our front," Esposito said.

The trio moved cautiously toward the hut and found eight more hidden in the thick underbrush. They signaled the remainder of the squad to join them, and the search began.

"Almost every hut contained an underground bunker with weapons in it," Esposito said.

As the men brought armloads of weapons and stacked them in a clearing, the pile grew higher and higher.

At the end, tile pile contained two Browning Automatic Rifles, 39 M-1 carbines, one M-3 carbine, seven SKS rifles, five bolt action rifles, four Thompson submachineguns, five M-1 rifles, one 57mm recoilless rifle with six rounds, two 60mm mortar tubes, and 6,000 rounds of .30 caliber ammunition.

Triple canopy jungle prevented the large cache from being lifted out, so the battalion's A Company sent a platoon to help carry the load to a landing zone, where helicopters could load it for movement to a base camp

As the last chopper lifted off, Bickerton looked at Quan and said, "I'm glad he's on our side now, because he's a good man."

Quan, who speaks little English, just smiled.

Caption under photo accompanying the article:
SILENT WARRIORS--Part of an arms cache discovered recently by the reconnaissance platoon of the Division's 1st BN, 506th Airborne Infantry, rests harmlessly in the sun. The weapons include from bottom, M-1 carbines, M-1 rifles, SKS carbines, and assorted machine and sub machine guns. (Photo by SP4 Robert Borders)


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