Escape From Happy Valley
Covert Team Extraction
by U.S. Army Combat Artist Frank M. Thomas (LTC)
Original 11" x 15" Graphite Drawing
Found in the Collection of Major Fred Edens (US Army Retired) Johnson City, Tennessee
Retired Army Major Fred Edens, of Johnson City, Tennessee, was a member of the 75th Rangers in Vietnam, in 1972. He was also a three tour, twice wounded veteran of that conflict. As a young enlisted Sp4, he became part of a six-man "hunter-killer" team. These small, highly trained, covert teams were regularly inserted by helicopter into enemy held locations where U.S. soldiers were least expected to be. Their mission: to inflict unrest and fear in the enemy....through set ambushes, hit and run tactics, secret assaults against individuals and small groups of Viet Cong guerillas or NVA soldiers, specifically the type action loved by "Rambo" movie script writers.
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Fred's team had been inserted into a valley in the coastal mountain range south of the 1st Cavalry Division's base at Tuy Hoa. A large marshy shallow lake covered the floor of "Happy Valley," edged by jungle extending up into the mountains.
With no clearings available, the chopper hovered over water and the men waded to shore, and safety in the dense trees. Five days of tracking and attempts to ambush the local force Vietcong guerillas resulted in no contact. The VC were eluding this small U.S. team.
Finally an extraction helicopter was called to get them out. It cautiously approached, across the lake and the team began wading out to climb aboard. Suddenly the Vietcong force attacked, firing upon the aircraft and vulnerable men in the water. Edens spun and fired a long burst of ammunition from his M-16 rifle, to hold the VC at bay, while his buddies got aboard the chopper. In seconds, as he struggled to reach the hovering HU-1D helicopter, the door-gunner was killed; the pilot, concerned about his aircraft and its load of men, took off! Fred Edens just managed to throw his leg over a skid, as the huey chopper dropped its nose and powered across the water, into the sky...to safety.
Laser Art Print Offering: [ NOTE: nine (9) prints remaining]
11" x 15" (signed by artist - ready to frame)......................$35.00 shipped.............+$14.00