SP4 Tom Hirst, U.S. Army (1969-1971)



The following Reflection represents SP4 Tom Hirst’s legacy of their military service from 1969 to 1971. If you are a Veteran, consider preserving a record of your own military service, including your memories and photographs, on Togetherweserved.com (TWS), the leading archive of living military history. The Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Military Service Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life.

Of all the military operations you participated in, including combat, humanitarian or peacekeeping operations, which of these made a lasting impact on you and why?:

Somewhere in Cambodia during “Operation Rock Crusher” courtesy of President Nixon’s planned “Incursion” in May/June 1970, the 1st Cavalry Division’s Charlie Company 1/12th is set up in its “Night Defensive Position” in a thicket just off a sandy, well traveled road. After setting up our “perimeter” and “automatic ambush” to cover the approach of the road, we settled down for the night. 

Not too long after dark, we were alerted by voices and flashlights moving down the road towards our position. As we watched with great anticipation, the voices and flashlights got closer and closer. I know it’s kind of crazy to think about what was about to happen, but this was our mission.

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Inevitably, the “trip wire” was engaged, and the “automatic ambush” did its job. The explosion was enormous and very efficient. Six NVA soldiers were pretty much “blown to bits.” As the night progressed, a couple of the wounded survivors moved around our position, trying to find shelter. Only one survivor was found the next morning as we swept the area looking for a “body count.” The lone survivor was sent to the rear for questioning but did not survive.

Byline: I was the 3rd platoon’s Medic, and SP/4 Greg Egan was my “1st Medevac” Patient. While hospitalized, Greg landed a job with STARS & STRIPES and was “embedded” with Charlie Company 1/12th from time to time. 

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Tags: 1st Cavalry Division's Charlie Company 1/12th, Military Memories of our Runner-Ups, Night Defensive Position, Operation Rock Crusher, Vietnam in 1969


  1. Michael Rhodes

    Tom, what a sight that must have been the following morning. Thanks for sharing your story and for your service. Congratulations on the June Runner Up selection. All the best.


      In reality, there wasn’t much left of these poor souls. This was one really big “automatic ambush” with three claymores and some frags daisy chained for good measure. Charlie Company 1/12th, working company size, made our “CA” from Loc Ninh into Cambodia about 10-12miles; we were one of the northern most companies. We had 25 Hueys and about 6 Cobras blasting along at tree top level. We saw many NVA troops on the ground as we flew over. They looked really surprised to see all of us, I don’t think they knew which way to run. I by chance you have a subscription to Vietnam Magazine {AUG 2010], you can find the article written by our company commander, Cpt. Michael Christy, entitled “7 Weeks in Cambodia”. It’s the feature article and is on the cover as well.

  2. Leonard Mottley

    Tom Hirst, I was stationed at Cuchi with the 25th Infantry Division and we also participated in “Rock Crusher”. I am glad to have had a safer job;I was a helicopter electrician. GOD bless you for you service to our country. Welcome home,you are a true hero.

  3. Hirst Kevin M.

    Hi, Tom,
    I came across your story while researching information about a relative of mine, Tom Hirst, who supposedly served as an officer in the Union Army during the Civil War. I just wanted to say thank you for your service and for doing the Hirst name proud. Sincerely, Kevin M. Hirst – Lancaster County, Pa


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