SFC Gaines stuck his head in my tent "Belden, LT wants you, me and O'Hara at the Battalion TOC in 10 minutes. Find him and meet us there. Looks like we have some work." I found Buck where I figured he would be, with 2nd squad training them on how to remove the fuse delay on a frag grenade to rig it as a trap for Charlie. That was Buck, always training his men.
"SGT O'Hara" I said "LT wants to see us." I always used Buck's rank in front of his men, just as he always did to me in front of 1st squad. "Corporal Summers take over the class" As we walked away from 2nd squad's impromptu classroom and towards the TOC Buck said "What's up Mike?". "Don't know" I replied "Gaines said to find you and get to the TOC. He said we might have work."
As we neared the TOC we passed a handful of newbies standing around outside the TOC. We entered the TOC and found LT Goreman and SFC Gaines with Major Williams, the battalion XO, Major McClebe, the Brigade S-2 and a captain I had not seen in the battalion area before all looking at a map. I like the XO. He was a forer enlisted soldier who earned his commission on the battlefield in Korea. He knew his stuff and he knew how to lead men.
The XO was already giving the briefing as we approached the map. He nodded to Buck and myself and continued "we need to set up a FSB somewhere along Highway 19. The VC are raiding the villages in the area and taking the rice. The FSB will support Battalion Operations in the area. Captain McKinney is the new CO of D Company. He will be in command of the FSB. Recon Platoon will be attached to the FSB until further notice." As the XO pointed to a spot on the map he continued.
"LT Coreman we need Recon Platoon to sweep through the area near the villages of Tho Loc I and An Thanh I where this road forks south off of Highway 19. Captain McKinney and Major McClebe conducted a fly over by chopper earlier today. I want Recon to do its own flyover this afternoon and then be prepared to be inserted by chopper tomorrow morning. D Company will be on standby as a reactionary force to back you up if there is any contact."
The XO looked at Goreman, Gaines, Buck and myself "Any questions?"
As we were leaving the TOC, SFC Gaines grabbed my arm and led me off to the side. One of the newbies was still standing by the TOC. "Staff Sergeant Belden, meet PFC Newberry, he is Brown's replacement." Brown was one of my squad members that went home last month with a purple heart.
"Grab your gear Newberry, lets get you settled in with the squad. SGT Gardener will show you the squad area. I got a chopper to catch in an hour." I said as we headed back to the Recon Platoon area.