Shortly after I arrived at First Recon, I was told the story of the ill-fated patrol run off of the Hill 200 OP. Eight men, well trained and well armed walked off the OP to scout a trail that ran along the river below the OP but hidden by the terrain.
It was about 1100 hours when the departed and just about mid-day as they made their way along the trail to the area that was hidden from above. They were not alone!
There was a patrol of mixed NVA and local VC cadre also on the trail and they had stopped for noon meal. The point man of the recon team literally, physically bumped into a lone down trail guard. Thinking fast he grabbed the guy before he could shout, but realizing he was the point man he quickly turned to the Marine behind him and said in a harsh whisper "Here! You take him!"
Then on by one each Marine, wired to the eyeballs on adrenalin, took the hapless prisoner and passed him to the man behind him with the same harsh whispered entreaty "Here! You take him!" It does not take a math major to realize that there were a limited number of passes that could have been made when all of a sudden the thoroughly frightened NVA found himself standing unrestrained in the middle of the trail with his captors moving away from him. As the story goes this guy finally got his wits together and took off back up the trail like a world class sprinter at about the same time the poor tail end charlie realized what he had done and tried to turn back and get the prisoner.
The funniest part of the story would probably have been listening to how the sergeant explained it to his Platoon commander or Captain! Nobody ever owned up to having been a member of that patrol. The story was always told anonymously!
written by Brian B. Riley, Lt USMC(ret), Bravo Deuce, 1st Recon Bn.