Exert 2 - Haig

     On this same afternoon, about the same time Lt. Colonel Alexander Haig's Blue Spaders were landing at LZ George, my patrol was still engaged in the fire fight which resulted from an ambush attempt by sappers who wanted to shoot us as we returned to our NDP from that morning's patrol. Of course, we were too busy with our own troubles to notice the landing. However, the men inside our perimeter at "Thrust" would have been able to see several lines of Hueys in the distance, as they passed by our NDP. Haig's boys were landing only about three to four miles, from our own location. There was no enemy resistance as they landed.

     The forty-two-year-old Haig was not the kind of commander who left anything to chance, yet he was not a "fretter" either. Haig oversaw the initial landing at LZ George and the exact placement of his own battalion's defensive positions. Soon after landing, he met with his officers and key N.C.O.s including the F.O. (forward observer) assigned to his unit. His faithful S3 (operations officer) and longtime friend, Capt. George Joulwan, was by his side. As he stood there in the tall grass, getting feedback from his security patrols, he started forming a picture in his mind of how he wanted his defenses laid out. I doubt that any of his subordinates, save Joulwan, realized how fortunate they were to have a man like Haig leading them during the next couple days. He was probably somewhat of a "shot in the dark" to the few who did not know him, because he had not worked his way through the usual field commands, from platoon, to company and then battalion. Truth is, however, the men under him had now been with him long enough, to sense his natural leadership ability. He was wired differently than our commander. He was not as "earthy", and not as apt to identify with the individual needs of a grunt like me. Never mind that, though, because no American commander possessed the overall leadership qualities, which had been instilled in .........., largely due to his .......... upbringing, under the strict, but loving hands, of a remarkable father. Yet, Haig was not as aloft as our last commander, .........., or even the 1/16th's Lt. Col. Lazzell. He was just "matter of fact", and smart. No matter where he was assigned in the command structure, his superior leadership abilities seemed to be so strong that they were easily recognized by every boss he had ever had. Although he displayed a similar veneer, on the outside, to that of Westmoreland, his interior was composed of high grade steel, while Westy's was composed of a somewhat more fluid material which could flow in any direction which allowed him to maintain his imperial existence. So far, in the two months he had been with the Blue Spaders", Haig had managed to pass every tactical "pop quiz" thrown at him. The big question, which remained, was whether or not he was going to be able to pass the final exam when it came? ............. Haig had been in Korea also, but his lessons in leadership had prepared him to handle problems of a more strategic nature. He had been a staff officer the entire time he served there. He had also been nabbed as a staff officer, when he first arrived in Vietnam, but his desire for entering this war zone was to command a field unit in combat. General Depuy is the reason that didn't happen. DePuy grabbed him to be his G3 almost as soon as he stepped off the plane. Why? Because the word was out about Haig, amongst senior command and DePuy wasn't about to let a talented man like him, slip through his fingers. Haig was a "maestro" at getting things done and covering a boss's rear end at the same time. Just give him the reigns and he would run with them. DePuy would have been a fool not to grab Haig for his G3 and DePuy was no fool. So, Haig was "type cast" as a supporting character in the story and that should have been the end of it. For most, it would have been. Odds were that Haig would always play a supporting roll. He would never to be the "leading Man". So, what caused that to change? Why was Haig now standing in tall grass near the Cambodian border, commanding a battalion of 300 strong (If one can call that strong), soon to be personally engaged with an enemy, which outnumbered him almost ten to one?