O RDER OF THE R ED A NT (see stories below)
The Order of the Red Ant is a medal that Triple Deucers give to each other for all the unrewarded "Deeds, Not Words" that the recipient performed while in service with the Triple Deuce in Vietnam, or service given to the Vietnam Triple Deuce, Inc., society itself.
The red ribbon stands for the blood and pain we shared together. The gold of the medal represents the value that we place in each other, and the Queen Red Ant represents the miserable conditions that we shared together.
The ORA, the nickname of the award, is awarded after the recipient has told his story about being bitten by these vile creatures, which have a sting about 1/3 as painful as a bee sting, but one is never bitten by just one red ant—usually the encounter is with a couple of dozen, to a couple hundred at once. Many Triple Deucers have stripped naked in combat to get the ants off of them, not caring if the enemy was shooting at them or not. They make big balls out of leaves that hang from trees. Inside these balls are thousands of the little devils. When our vehicles would crash through the jungle, the balls would drop on us, breaking open, and, well, you get the idea. Some soldiers would grab a branch with these balls of ants on them and pull the branch back until the vehicle behind them was in range, then let the branch go, smacking their buddies with ant balls. This is called the "branch slap move". What followed after are words called profanity.
Lynn Dalpez, D.M.O.R., and current President of the Vietnam Triple Deuce created the concept, and designed the medal. He had a great deal of help from Garry Hartt, Jim May, and Mad Doc Matz, as well as other Triple Deucers who helped to tweak the award to what it is today. The three of them got the medal produced in time for the 2003 San Antonio Reunion and many awards have been made since.
Jess ("of the bugs") Matz, is my Daughter-in-Law. She has a Masters Degree in entomology (The study of insects). They sound like the "Junk yard dog" of the ant world. Someone should have put up warning signs. "These trees protected by vicious weaver ants."
On August 20, 2017 at 12:38 PM Jess of the Bugs
Like I was telling Doc (aka "Dad"), these guys are probably weaver ants, which are VERY territorial and have been used to protect tree crops from pests. Their scientific name is Oecophylla sp. ("ee-KOFF-ill-a"). When they bite, they slice into your skin with their mandible, then spray acid into the wound, adding insult to injury. I've never had the "pleasure" of encountering them in the wild as you gentlemen have, but this is such a unique perspective on weaver ant behavior that I find it really interesting. I look forward to reading more of your observations.
Jess "of the Bugs" Matz
Mad Doc Matz, who I served with in Nam, sponsored me for the award and asked me to send my Red Ant story to you via email.
Not long after we arrived at Dau Tieng to set our base camp we were on a company (Bravo Co.) size operation when we entered a rubber plantation. We were met with these tall sand pinnacles that we didn't pay much attention to, at first. As I plodded along behind my Platoon's RTO (1st Platoon) I noticed the men in front of us were running back toward our position in the column. They were panicked. We had no idea what was going on. No shots had been fired. Some of the men running toward us were swatting at themselves like a swarm of bees were chasing them. Some had dropped their weapons on the ground. It was a bizarre event. As some ran by ants fell from them on to the ground and us...now we understood why they were in panic mode. These Red Ants took over our entire formation. Everyone was doing everything they could to get away from those burning fire breathing ants. I came out of area with three extra rifles that others had dropped in trying to get away from those little bastards. All I could think of was "It's a good thing Charlie wasn't around because in our disarray he would have blown us away"...that's my Red Ant story. Hope you enjoyed it...keep up the good work....pax, Doc Bergeron
(Doc Bergeron served with B&HQ Co. 4th ID & 25th ID Sept. 66 to Jun 67)
I think it was sometime in May 1969 our driver of the A 2/2 track, Oscar Rosales, had to go home on emergency leave and our squad leader Jim Heaser ask me if I thought I could drive the APC. I said hell yes so the following day after securing the engineers sweeping the road for mines and posting security for the convoy we headed for the bush on recon. It wasn't long we got into some heavy bush. We were moving rather slow when I bumped into a rather large tree. I turned to Jim and he said hit it harder so I backed up a couple of feet and proceeded forward rather quickly. When I hit the tree and as it went down a large "Mogater", Red Ant Nest, came down right in the center of the track spreading the little bastards every where. Needless to say, My self, Jim and the 50 gunner jumped up and got necked quickly. Thats my story and I'm sticking to it.
Charles "Butch" Jones
A Co. 2nd. Plt. 2nd. Sqd.
9/68 to 9/69 Vietnam
Tear Gas and Red Ants
Tear gas was used in many ways. This was the chemical CS, in raw crystal power form that was very irritating if inhaled or got on your skin. We used gas to try to flush the VC/NVA out of tunnel, bunkers, or deny an area to the VC/NVA. It was dropped it from the air in 55 gallon drums to assist units in contact (Chinooks were the aircraft of choice). When dropped from the air, the CS drums were fitted with a small explosive device to burst open the drum and spread the CS.
The company was operating an open area that borders the southern edge of the Michelin plantation. The 3rd platoon was moving in the area mounted on the tracks. The visibility was very good, but there was groundcover preventing us from seeing what was at ground level.
The 3-1 track was moving at a speed between 5-10 miles an hour when we spotted several 55-gallon drums that were at one time filled with tear gas. They were broken apart to spread the CS crystals. We slowed down so that we would not kick up a lot of dust and dirt, however, it has been some time since the drums were drops and thus the gas had no effect.
Just when we though that we had cleared the gas, we hear of loud bang as the track ran over a 55-gallon drum that did not explode apart. The track reputed the drum and the gas crystals drifted up over the track with the other dust created by the track.
As the gas cloud reached the driver, he let go of the laterals and veered to the right and hit a tree. A nest of red ants was knocked from the tree and landed right behind the 50 Cal and burst sending ants in all directions. I was standing on the fold down bench on the left side of the cargo hatch, and not only got a full dose of the CS and a chunk of the ant nest. Everyone in or on the track jumped off and ran from the track. The cloud continued to engulf the entire track. We were fighting not only the gas but the ants. Clothing was flying everywhere to get rid of the ants. We were all coughing from the gas, and could not see what we were doing. It took about 30 minutes for the gas to dissipate enough for us to get back on the track, and longer to get rid of the ants. For a time, we did not know what was worst, the gas or the ants. We had gas masks, but they we packed away in the track. The 3-1 track was the only one on the platoon that was affected by the CS and the ants, thus the rest of the platoon was standing way back and laughing.
E. Q. Skip Fahel, DMOR
B/2-22, Apr 67-Apr 68
I don’t have any medallion or Order of the Red Ant. But I do have my story….
Probably Spring 1966 2/22 heading North of Dau Tieng heading up some jungle trail/road/path with the APC’s. Came under fire from right side of road.
We were told to bail and return fire laying low in the muck along side the trail. Guy next to me looks over and says I’ve been hit. “There’s blood coming out around the top of your flak jacket. I didn’t feel anything but pulled off the jacket. Turns out a bunch of red ants had fallen off a limb and were feasting on my back between my shoulder blades. Scars are still visible.
Those babies can really do some damage in a hurry.
Cheers all. Now I can go have another nightmare.
We did a lot of mine clearing every morning and after the convoy passed, we often did local "clover leaf" sweeps looking for ambush bunkers. There was a T intersection where the road from Dau Tieng, thru the Ben Cui dead ended into the road that connected Tay Ninh to Saigon. (with Trang Bang and Cu Chi along that same road). We had never swept that forested area before.
So one day, probably in early 1969 we were tasked with doing a longer version of the "clover leaf" in that section. About 1/2 a click in I brushed up against what I thought was a red bush. Well, you can guess the rest..the bush was covered with red ants and I was irritating them. Immediately dropped my m60, tore off my shirt and two 100 round linked ammo belts and had help beating them off me. They do bite and sting. There after I was very careful about walking too near certain colored bushes. I can still remember those little bugs biting on the back of my neck.