Little River

Little River runs along the northern edge of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  My mission, as Scout Platoon leader, was to jump in early, build bridge crossing sights for the entire Battalion, and then supervise the crossing.  Eighteen troopers, two hours, some Rope, three Boats to build a crossing site for six-hundred troopers.

I did a Recon of the area and thought I could do it. The water wasn't that deep north og Sicily Drop Zone, there were plenty of trees, and the area was easily secured.  I briefed the Battalion S-3 and Commander on my plan and they approved.

We rehearsed for days, felling trees, building two and three rope bridges, inflating rubber boats, and such.

Then it began to rain.  It rained for three days.

Our jump went as planned.  We recovered our door bundles, and moved to out to the crossing-point.

Little River was a torrent.

Everything we tried failed.  Our swimmers made it across, but further down stream than the anchor point.  The best we could do was a two-rope bridge and two boat crossings with two small rubber boats and one large rubber boat.  The first tree we dropped across was immediately washed down-stream.  To make matters worse, a crew of safety swimmers from Corps and took control of the big boat.

Knowing this was not going to work, I sent one Scout section across the two rope bridge and another to take and hold a wooden bridge down stream about a kilometer.

When the Battalion arrived, I pointed out the issues to the commander, who, understandably, was unhappy.  He wanted to try it anyway.  The first trooper to try and cross the Rope bridge fell in and was rescued by the safety team.  The boats, loaded with troopers were too heavy to pull across.  He and the S-3 blamed me.  I accepted the responsibility.

I suggested the wooden bridge, which my guys had advised was undefended.  The battalion successfully crossed Little River and took their objective.

I failed but I learned from this: NEVER allow your unit to be tasked with a mission NOT in accordance with its capabilities.

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