Stuart Nord of North Port, Fla. was a member of the 1st Cavalry Division when he flew into Vietnam shortly before the Tet Offensive Jan. 30, 1968. Tet was the nationwide attack by North Vietnamese Army troops and Vietcong guerrillas on the major cities and military bases in the south.
By the time he flew home from the Southeast Asian war with a shrapnel hole in his backside, Sgt. Nord had about used up his nine lives. He had taken part in the Battles of Hue, Khe Sanh and the Que Son Valley in addition to many more firefights during search and destroy missions throughout the war torn country.
“A couple of days after I arrived in country I was out in the jungle setting up camp when we came under enemy fire. Later that night I woke up and everybody is firing away,” Nord said. “It’s pitch dark and you don’t know where your parameter is. You start hearing people screaming when they get hit.
“One of our planes called ‘Puff’ flew over. We lit our C-4 and set the burning explosive just outside our foxholes. The C-4 produced smoke the pilot of the plane could see where we were before he opened up on the enemy with his Gatling gun,” he explained.
“On another search and destroy mission we ran into some serious enemy gunfire. We had flown into an LZ (landing zone) in the Que Son Valley in our Hueys and took over a base from the Marines.
“We hadn’t been there long when we found enemy papers indicating we were going to get attacked by 12,000 gooks,” Nord said. “Because I was a member of a mortar platoon I was within the base parameter in a sandbagged bunker when the attack came.
“As soon as we started getting incoming fire I grabbed my boots and rifle and got out of the foxhole and moved into our adjoining bunker. No sooner did I get into the bunker when a rocket hit the foxhole and blew half the sandbags surrounding it away. If I had stayed in my foxhole a moment longer I wouldn’t be talking to you today.”
The firefight with the NVA and VC lasted three or four hours. The enemy attacked one side of the base and Nord and his fellow 1st Cav buddies held them off with the help of a supporting artillery unit that fired beehive rounds at point blank range. These were shells containing thousands of bee-bees that devastated the enemy.
“A few days later we were airlifted out of the Que Son Valley to the outskirts of Hue, (the ancient capital of Vietnam). It was early February 1968 and Tet was underway,” he said. “We were dropped off along an enemy supply route south of the city.
“We were in an open field pinned down by enemy fire. That’s where my buddy Hank got killed,” Nord said.
“By this time I had been in the country a few months. I talked to this kid who just arrived from the States. He told me he just gotten married and his wife was pregnant. He wasn’t in the country a week when he was killed.
“We were dug in outside Hue being pounded by the enemy. About 9 p.m our company commander decided we were going to walk out of there. We all lined up one behind the other and started walking. I don’t know how we did it but we did. The only thing I can figure is the enemy let us walk out and that way we didn’t interfere with their supply lines. We ended up walking until 7 the next morning.”
Altogether Nord and the 1st Cavalry spent 28 days fighting the NVA and the VC around the outskirts of Hue. They came in with 500 soldiers and left with 300.
“After Hue they flew us to the Marine base at Khe Sanh where the Marines were surrounded by the enemy for weeks. When we arrived most of the fighting was over. Dead enemy soldiers covered the perimeter around the base camp. We were only there a short while and flew out and back to the Que Son Valley.
“I went out on a search and destroy mission with another platoon. The next thing we knew some of the guys were pinned down by the enemy. Our helicopters flying above us reported we were pinned down by 2,000 enemy, Nord said. “There were only 200 of us and our guys kept dropping like flies. I ended up carrying the RTC man’s radio.
“They sent in a bunch of APCs (Armored Personnel Carriers) to pick us up. Our artillery was providing protection as we scrambled into the APCs. I was at the back of the line still carrying the radio and walking with three other guys. One of the guys walking with me got shot in the shoulder, another one was shot in the leg and our captain was shot in the head. I wasn’t hit. We got in an APC and pulled the captain’s body in with us.
“When we got back to the base we found out there were still 40 guys out there surrounded by the enemy. All night long our artillery kept the gooks off our guys,” he said. “I volunteered the next morning to go back out and find them. I had a friend out there. I found him in a foxhole okay.
“However, he told me during the night he got down to one grenade and a couple of rounds of ammunition. He said if the North Vietnamese had gotten to him he would have pulled the pin on the grenade and blown himself up. That’s how bad it got.”
It was a miracle all 40 soldiers survived the night.
“On another occasion we were out in the rice paddies somewhere and were taking a break. I was sitting on the ground with my M-16 rifle looking one way and my friend was sitting the other way with his M-16.
“All of a sudden this big water buffalo comes running up. I look at him and he looks at me as he moves a little closer. I tell my friend, ‘Don’t worry. If we don’t bother him he won’t bother us.’
“The next thing I know the buffalo charges. I make a run for it with a pack on my back. I could almost feel the buffalo’s breath on my back. Then I hit a barbed wire fence and flip with my butt in the air and my rifle stuck in the ground.
“As I flip I glance back and saw the buffalo still charging. I figure I’m gone.
“At that moment a soldier, standing nearby, pulls his .45 pistol and takes a shot at the buffalo. The round hits him in the shoulder and he drops. It was a miracle shot,” Nord recalls with a smile.
“I remember I was taking my platoon down a jungle path. There was a big log about chest high across the path. I was carrying a back pack so I decided to climb over the log. At that moment the guy behind me said, ‘Hey Sarg, look there.’ Under the log was a land mine. If I had gone under that log instead of over it—BOOM!
“I was on another mission somewhere on top of a hill when we got shelled by enemy mortars. I got hit in the butt by an enemy round,” he said. They took me by helicopter to the hospital at Da Nang, but it was filled. They flew me to the hospital ship the USS Sanctuary.
“During my last three weeks aboard the ship I was mobile and they used me as an orderly. I took temperatures, fed and bandaged patients. That’s when I saw how many guys got missed up over there.
It wasn’t long after he was released from the hospital ship Nord flew home and was discharged from the Army.
For the first few years in civilian life he worked as an accountant in the Englewood, NJ area. Then he went to computer school and went in the computer business for the next 30 years. For the last eight years he had his own computer store.
He retired to North Port this year. Nord has three grown children: Brian, Sheryl and Kevin.
Name: Stuart Douglas Nord
D.O.B: 14 April 1948
Hometown: Jamestown, N.Y.
Currently: North Port, Fla.
Entered Service: 3 April 1967
Discharged: 2 April 1969
Unit: 1st Cavalry Division
Commendations: Purple Heart, Air Medal, Bronze Star with V, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Sharpshooter (Rifle M-14)
Battles/Campaigns: Tet Offensive, Hue, Khe Sanh, Que Son Valley
This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Monday, Dec. 28, 2015 and is republished with permission.
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