Re-enacting the Blues by Glen Carey
I suppose the place to start is why? Well its simple really I have always been interested in Vietnam, even before I knew it had happened due to catching snippets on T.V or clips of films my brothers were watching. I lost interest for a while when girls and beer, more girls, clubbing, more beer and more girls took centre stage, but after settling down and becoming a grownup I found myself once again drifting back to the subject.
I picked up a few books and started reading, by far the account that drew me in and re-ignited my passion was Acceptable Loss by Kregg P.J Jorgenson. His account was immersive and on putting the book down you felt you knew his friends in the book and what they had gone through. I had always had a soft spot for the Cav but only really knew of the infantry flying into battle heavily laden and carrying out long arduous sweeps of hostile territory. Jorgenson's account opened a new dimension, “The Blues” the men of Apache Troop, 1/9th Cavalry, essentially infantry like all troopers but with a different mission. The Blues had many roles sometimes used as a recon platoon to scout on the ground ahead of the main infantry, but most times they were a QRF (Quick Reaction Force), constantly on standby waiting for the siren to sound to signal a friendly unit in peril.
The QRF role could be used to re-enforce LRRPs if they encountered heavy enemy concentrations (“Piling on”), or simply to pull the lrrp’s out of the fire if it was too hot. Pilot rescue and aircraft recovery was a speciality of the Blues, if a bird went down the aircrew or any friendly unit witnessing the crash would put in a call to the TOC ( Tactical Operations Centre) and immediately the Blues would be scrambled, no matter what they were doing at the time. The amazing thing is given how dangerous this job was the Blues were never short of men to fill the QRF choppers not knowing if they were headed to a Huey crash in a quiet paddy or to extract Lrrps from a Company of NVA.
As far as re-enacting the Blues or the ‘Look’, the Blues travelled lighter than regular infantry, they always had their webbing which was loaded down with ammunition, grenades and water as essentials. In addition to this they would carry a rappelling rope, gloves and karabiners in case they had to rappel to an inaccessible crash site.
Due to the fact they travelled in smaller numbers than a line unit the M60 was very important and so all the men of Apache troop carried links of 7.62mm ammo to feed the support weapon. Many of the men carried a back up weapon as well as the standard armament of an m16, Kregg himself carried a WWII period M3 Grease gun and sometimes a captured AK47 (the AK was a valuable addition not only as another weapon but also if you fired it from inside an enemy position it would cause huge confusion amongst the enemy troops as they would think it was a friendly unit approaching from their rear, not a relief force for the Americans).
In addition to the guns the QRF would carry weapons for close in fighting such as their bayonets, and privately purchased knives. For demolition of unrecoverable aircraft they would carry explosives such as C4 and claymores in case they had to stay out overnight and set a perimeter. If they did have to stay out for a prolonged period of time they would have their additional gear (rucksacks with food, extra ammo and water amongst other items) choppered out to them – if the LZ was hot this would involve the rucksacks being thrown from the choppers to the men below.
For me on a personal note, I wanted to get a chance to speak with Kregg as he seemed like a type of guy you liked to know – However I thought this would never happen. One day around Halloween I had carved the Cav patch on a spare pumpkin and put it on facebook, it had been seen and reposted by Gary Linderer. All of a sudden I get an instant message from Kregg complimenting me on the pumpkin, from there we have become firm friends and I have illustrated the covers of his two latest books, they say “Never meet your heroes” but that is one saying I have no intention of listening too!
Armament: My M16 and stockless AK (Secondary weapon)
Extra gear: 7.62mm ammo (every 5th round a tracer), Jungle Machete, Claymore with clacker, trip wire spool and weatherproof igniters.
Close up of webbing: Field dressing in pouch and rappelling rope with carabiner.
Knife: Okinawa made PX purchase knife (Original).
Blues Webbing: 4 x Ammo pouches, 1911 in holster (reverse mounted as I’m a lefty), 2 canteens, a selection of grenades including a WP for burning out bunkers and destroying aircraft radios, rappelling gloves.