Our men moving into LZ X-Ray before the battle

At about 12:30 P.M., the rain ceased, and we started spilling into LZ X-Ray. The center of the clearing was a jumble of men and activity. The clearing was large, probably about the size of six or seven football fields. Sergeant Cordeau with 1st platoon remembers the swaying grass and how deceptively peaceful and inviting the LZ looked.

I know I felt a sense of relief at having arrived at our destination without encountering any contact with our enemy. It was a hot sunny afternoon as we marched up to the perimeter we would soon secure. If I recall correctly, Captain Sawtelle, me, and our respective RTOs went to the center of the clearing to talk to the other commanders.

Two areas in the clearing were already staked out to be used as Command Posts “CP” by the Rangers. One was about fifty meters from the northeast edge of the LZ’s tree line, which was used by Alpha Company’s command group. Their entourage consisted of Captain Williamson, his two RTOs, Clark and Henderson and medic Specialist Fourth Class Duckwiler, Also in the group was First Lieutenant Richard Dalton the company’s FO from 2/33rd artillery accompanied by his RTO and his recon sergeant.

About 50 meters south of Captain Williamson’s CP was the battalion’s CP where Lieutenant Colonel Lazzell was setting up his headquarters. His group consisted of his RTO’s, an artillery Liaison officer and his RTO Specialist Fourth Class John Phil Vessello, Also accompanying Lazzell was his battalion’s operation officers, Major Tony Jezior, and Captain Bobby Roberts the assistant S-3.

As we were entering the LZ, Lazzell’s security squad and his RTO’s were setting up his staff’s communication equipment including a tall jungle antenna. The LZ was a beehive of activity; some supplies had already been delivered by hueys and now large Chinooks laden with ammo and equipment, were circling over the LZ waiting their turn to land. Everything was quiet; there wasn’t any sign of Viet Cong. Short timer, Peter Clark, Captain Williamson’s RTO stated, “The light rain which had sprinkled us during the morning had stopped and, pretty much, things were as good as they got in the field. There were no signs of any current enemy activity or presence that I could detect, and I considered myself pretty good at that business.”

Before our arrival, leaders of the other companies had spread their men around the huge perimeter to temporarily secure it until permanent positions were assigned and our company, the Black Lions Alpha Company, could move into its sector.

Captain John Turner was the commander of Black Lions Bravo Company, while Sawtelle commanded the Black Lions Alpha Company. We were supposed to relieve the Black Lions’ Bravo Company in the northwest quadrant while they moved down the western perimeter to secure the LZ’s southwest quadrant.

That part of the plan never happened

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