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Robert Smalinckas's page.
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Robert Smalinckas's Story

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I was sent to Vietnam 17 July, 1967. I was assigned to a mortar platoon with C Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade. After filling sand bags 8 hours a day, burning humane waste, guard duty, KP, walking point, and any other duty they could think of, I was transfered to the 199th L.I.B.

Ssg Olsen was looking for some combat experienced men to join the 71St LRP Company. After a brief talk with him I voluntered for the job. Even though I made the right choice, at that time, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I would like to think I would have made the same choice if I had known more. Maybe yes, maybe no, who knows.

Recon teams were like a jigsaw puzzle, you were moved from team to team until you fit in. I like to believe there was no one team better than another, they were all strong and extremely effective. I found my home with team 1-3, with Tommy Files as my team leader. If I'm not mistaken, I went into 1-3 as assistant team leader.

I didn't know it at the time, but this was right before the Tet Offensive. It seemed to me that every time we went on a mission, we made contact with the enemy. It was so bad that the people at Brigade didn't believe us, and demanded a body count. They went so far as to recon the area the day after one of our fire fights. We gave them a body count! After reconing the area after one of our fire fights, they assertained that our twelve man team took on the point element of a regiment of North Vietnamese soldiers.

I remember the details of these two missions, but I'd rather not get into the stories. I'd rather give thanks to the people who got us back from those missions. Thanks to Lt. White for making sure we had support within 15 minutes of making contact. Thanks to Lt. Tillish for his efforts on the twelve man mission. I understand his chopper took over 50 hits from a 51 Cal machine gun that night. Thanks to my fellow teammates, and to those who gave us the support, that kept us alive.

Think of each team as a race car. The car is only as good as the pit crew. God bless each and everyone of you.

After Files, the team went to Dave Dalton, and then to me. When I took over I had one rule, "The night before and during the mission, you stayed straight". Doug Berry took 1-3 after me and he kept the same rule, it worked for us. I don't know what the team was like when Steve Houghton inherited it.

I like to compare the 71St LRPs to the movie, "The Dirty Dozen", only because we were not spit and polish Army. There were a few men in the unit that were regular Army, but mostly we were a group of soldiers with an "Attitude". You could not do what we did unless you had an "Attitude".

I'm sure not everyone saw the company as I did, but that's the way I remember it.

Robert Smalinckas

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We want to thank you Robert for your story. All these histories contribute to our web site. Please add to this page, anytime you want.

Robert includes his e-mail address:
sparroil@netron.com

Just a little side note. The pup Bob is posing with was our mascote "LRRP" back in 1967. Somewhere else on our site, I think maybe it is in the Rick Del Prince story, something was said about dogs not lasting to long in Nam, since the locals had a taste for them. Well "Lrrp" was still there when I left in 1969. He was a bad ass dog. I remember him whipping some officers mascot that happened to walked a little to close to a group of us Lrrps one day. We were conducting a outdoor training class for the new replacenments we received just as the unit became M Co 75th Rangers. I remember seeing these officers strolling along with their dog. They were going to walk right by the unit, and of course "LRRP" was right there with us. Well when the officers got close, someone said "sic em" and "LRRP" obeyed like a good trooper, kicked their dogs ass and ran him right out of site. They never said a word! Maybe they thought they'd get the same.