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7th Rangers: A Dawn, Search & Destroy during Operations Selamat Sawadee 1 at Grid Reference 303817


 
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A Dawn, Search & Destroy during Operations Selamat Sawadee 1 at Grid Reference 303817
Friday, March 30, 2018

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On the 29th June 1978 at around 0300 hrs (3.00 am) a patrol consisting of a Platoon of Thai Border Police and one Section (ten men) from No.4 Platoon Bravo Company, 7th Rangers went out on a dawn patrol carrying 4 days of combat rations. They moved off through head high elephant grass toward the jungle's edge. Entering the enveloping jungle, little daylight filtered through the three separate layers of dense foliage. With the sun's rays unable to penetrate the thick foliage, virtually everything one touched was covered with slimy, rotting vegetable matter. Sleep was in short supply that morning.

This patrol went out to follow up on signs earlier discovered by them earlier. This was done in the wee hours of the morning to maintain surprise and stealth if any of the enemy was lurking around. It was a very long range fighting patrol.That morning dawned as had each morning since the end of the monsoon season several months before - hot and very humid. Their progress through the thick jungle was slow, typically measured in yards rather than miles. The "point" man had to hack a narrow path fifteen or twenty yards ahead while those behind quietly waited. 


Everyone faced outwards, alternating left and right, though none of them could see much beyond ten feet through the foliage. On signal to move out, everyone put on his pack and moved forty or fifty feet forward, only to halt once again and face outboard. This went on through the morning and into the early afternoon. Finally, around At around 1515 hrs (3.15 pm) the Leading Scout saw 7 -8 Communists Terrorists loitering 300 yards away. Sergeant Shaari went forward to confirm the sighting, he called the Thai Border Police Platoon Commander to verify whether the 7-8 people sighted were really Communist Terrorists.

After having confirmed that they were really the Enemy, Sgt Shaari formed up his platoon into four groups, they were the forward assault section, the indepth section and two groups as cut offs. The cut offs had a dual role, they were also the fire support for the assault. He did this with ten men, himself included. He did request for artillery support, he failed to get fire support as there were other priority targets and assets were limited. Movement certainly was both swifter and quieter as they approached the base of the Enemy,at precisely 1630 hrs (4.30 pm) Sgt Shaari opened fire, the jungle ahead erupted in sustained bursts,which was followed up by the second and fourth group. The firing lasted for about 15 to 20 minutes.


Those immediately behind scrambled for whatever cover they could find. Being about midway back and not in immediate danger from the fire ahead, those in the rear deployed rapidly off the trail to either side and moved ahead toward the steady fire, now both incoming. As the soldiers were firing at the enemy positions the Enemy sentries opened up from a nearby hill onto Sgt Shaari's men. The third group of Sgt Shaari's men retaliated by bringing heavy fire in the direction of the hill, forcing the Enemy to flee helter skelter from the hill. 

With that, the assault led by Sgt Shaari (4 men) tore into the enemy killing three of them, one of the enemy dead was a woman. It was a quick and deadly close quarter battle, no quarter given nor asked. The rest of the enemy fled.They charged and exploited the ground in front of them for 50 meters. They rapidly regrouped into an all round defence position to take stock of the Enemy KIA and supplies depleted. 6 Enemy weapons were recovered from that particular contact.

No member of the Thai Border Police Platoon was involved in this fight. They sat out of this fight by their own choice.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 7:14 PM  
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