“Unbeknownst to us, we were in the middle – right in the middle – of the biggest NVA camp in Vietnam,” Parham said. “What happened, they were so smart, and it was our fault too because those helicopters gave us away. That ‘whomp whomp whomp whomp’ noise, they could hear for miles.
So they let us get right in the middle of their camp, and they had tunnels all under there and spider holes, and they had thousands of NVA and NVC troops that jumped up the next morning. We’d left about 8 a.m., and they let the lead force get all the way to the end of it, which was probably about a mile long, and they hit us with everything they had. They were gonna wipe us out – and they nearly did it.”
Parham had been appointed to rear-guard that day, which was very unusual for him because he was normally at point. He recalls that there were not only troops directly behind him, but all around the American forces. Parham heard a shot, which he believed to be their signal, and then the NVA and NVC hit them all at once.
“They hit us so hard, our only hope was to use our experience and to call in artillery. We had such good commanders. Some of them were World War II vets, Korean War vets and Special Forces from prior tours to Vietnam – and this had happened to them, time and time again.”
Covering the rear, Parham was able to suppress fire and cover his area. After he took care of the area behind him, those that were left began working towards the center as they had been taught so they could await orders from commanding officers to set up parameters. To make things worse, the NVA and NVC began starting fires to smoke out the troops.