For a group of soldiers in Vietnam, their choice of what to fear most was between a tiger and the Viet Cong. Unfortunately, neither seemed to have very good odds.
Camp A Shau
In March 1966, Bennie Adkins and his team were positioned at Camp A Shau. They were there with the South Vietnamese irregular forces. Adkins was a member of the Special Forces and was training the South Vietnam forces.
They planned to bring the war to the North Vietnamese. However, the camp was attacked by a large force of North Vietnamese regular forces combined with Viet Cong troops.
During the attack, Adkins held a mortar position. He kept firing explosives one after another at the advancing forces. At one point, he was hit by shrapnel from enemy fire, but he continued.
Adkins saw wounded soldiers and worked with another soldier to fire mortars while he rescued the wounded soldiers. He helped take the wounded soldiers to an airfield, drawing enemy fire so the plane could escape.
A supply drop went too far off course. Adkins retrieved the supplies even though they were in the middle of a minefield.
The NVA tried their attack again the following morning. Adkins was ready and used every mortar left in the camp and lobbed them at the enemy. The mortars eventually ran out, and Adkins switch to a rifle, machine guns, recoilless rifles, and other various small arms.
He had to retreat further back into the camp and secured a bunker. Adkins destroyed all of the classified documents in the camp and assisted his other soldiers in escaping out the back.
Adkins and the wounded soldiers went out into the jungles around A Shau. They were all exhausted after 38-hours of fighting. Since they were all moving so slowly, they missed their extraction via helicopter.
They kept away from the North Vietnamese for 48 hours before they were able to be rescued. They hunkered down on top of a hill one night, entirely surrounded by North Vietnamese soldiers, but everything began to get very quiet.
“It was a tiger that stalked us that night. We were all bloody and in this jungle, the tiger stalked us and the North Vietnamese soldiers were more afraid of the tiger than they were of us. So, they backed off some and we were gone. The tiger was on our side”Bennie adkins