Rules For Conducting Ambushes: A Platoon Sergeant In The Rakkasans Reflects On His Service In Vietnam

Jose Yepez


Jose Yepez was born in 1939 in El Paso, Texas. His father worked at a dairy and as a school maintenance man, and his mother stayed home to raise the eight children. At a young age, Jose learned to milk cows and pick fruit. He attended school through the 7th grade, and in 1956 he enlisted because he wanted to jump out of airplanes. He was often yelled at during basic training for smiling, and once he was forced to dig a 6x6x6 hole to “bury my smile.” Even so, the drill sergeants were unable to break his spirit. He enjoyed Airborne School and eventually jumped at least 125 times. On one jump in 1962, his chute malfunctioned, and he broke his back and a leg. By the time he deployed with the Rakkasans in 1967, he was on his second tour in Vietnam, his first being with the 173rd Airborne. SSG Yepez served as a Platoon Sergeant with B Company, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment. In this interview, SSG Yepez describes his experiences serving in Vietnam. He shares an account of discovering a chicken in the jungle, convincing his Platoon Leader not to kill it, and following the chicken to a North Vietnamese base camp. He discusses his rules for ambush, including tying a string to Louis Satterfield’s thumb that he jerked to wake him up when he started snoring. He shares his assessment of both the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong. Near the end of the interview, he shares his experiences from the invasion of Grenada. Finally, he reflects on attending reunions and what his service means to him.


conflicts Vietnam War Invasion of Grenada
topics Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie Military Techniques
interviewer David Siry
date 22 June 2021


name Jose Yepez
service Infantry
unit B Company, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division
service dates 1956 1985