Episode 1757 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a spine tingling story from Vietnam Veteran, John Shoemaker. In the summer of 1970 he served as the third platoon leader of B Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, 196th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. The events he describes in his story occurred at Kham Duc, South Vietnam during Operation Elk Canyon. On August 8, a column he wrote about the action titled: “Ghosts of war” appeared in the Metro West Daily News of Framingham, Massachusetts and he refers to it in his presentation on this episode.
John verified by his actions at Kham Duc that he is outstanding representative of the great Vietnam Veteran Generation, one as great as any that ever heeded the call of duty from its country.
He begins his story with a review of the original Battle of Kham Duc that occurred two years before. That battle is not very well known because it took place in the direct aftermath of the Tet Offensive and the siege of Khe Sanh.
The NVA decided to make a statement at Kham Duc to make up for the debacles they suffered at Khe Sanh and the Tet Offensive. Their intention was to decisively defeat the Americans.
The decision was made by the American leadership to abandon the fire base rather than suffer more casualties. The war weary country would not be happy if that happened at an isolated fire base in the middle of nowhere in the outback of South Vietnam.
Two years later the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Infantry, 196th Infantry Brigade was sent back to Kham Duc as part of Operation Elk Canyon. John Shoemaker was a part of the returning taskforce. He talks about what he and his platoon experienced and the “ghost soldiers” on the other side.
Listen to episode 1757 and discover more about John Shoemaker’s Ghosts of War.
The Airborne OCS website features many of John’s Vietnam War columns.