​Bodies of the ambushed VC in March 1968 -  (Courtesy of Phantoms of the Jungle)

      This poem is a tribute to the men of the Special Air Service or SAS (read as ‘ess ay ess’). There was usually one squadron (roughly equivalent to a rifle company in size) at any one time serving in Vietnam as a support unit to the infantry battalions. Their primary role (i.e. members of SAS) was one of reconnaissance, reporting back on enemy strengths and movements around the province.    

                                                             “ He who dares, wins! ”
                                                                                           - SAS  motto.

Phantoms  of  the  Jungle

Phantoms  of  the  Jungle

​One squadron based, atop that hill,
Distinct dress hats, fawn berets;
Main function ’twas reconnaissance,
Ambushes set most nights and days. 

Yet, unlike those ‘grunts’ in the infantry,
Patrols led by just a ‘sarge’;
Size restricted to a phantom role,
With faces blackened for camouflage. 

And in March of 1968,
Intelligence reported that,
A tractor was moving VC supplies,
20 K’s north of Nui Dat. 

Insertion swift, by Cashmore’s men,
Rappelling into the landing zone;
A four-man patrol with special gear,
‘Chopper’ leaving them on their own. 

A fire-trail being used at night,
By Viet Cong carting arms;
So our boys set up their recce posts,
Each with ‘2-ways’ as alarms. 

Loud noise ’twas heard, from afar,
Motor droning in low gear;
A brazen light silhouetting them,
Armed party escorting front and rear. 

Ambush next morn, set on that track,
A mine ’twas buried, specially made;
High explosives with pressure plates,
Claymores attached to wires laid. 

So late that night, patrol blown high,
Destroyed in one horrendous roar;
An aerial photo next day revealed,
Twenty five dead or maybe more. 

A signal flashing back to base,
Message in code yet clearly read;
Canopy pierced by lowered ropes,
‘Chopper’ soon hovering overhead. 

Thus each man extracted, using stealth,
So leaving Cong to only guess:
“Who were these ‘phantoms of the jungle’?”
Our Special Air Service, called SAS.