I have done a few posts over the years on sightings of large, upright apes of some kind that were encountered by American servicemen during the Vietnam war. At the end of each of those posts I have asked any Vietnam veterans who might have had an experience with one of these creatures to contact me. There has not been much of a response to my request but I cannot say that I am surprised. Most of the veterans I have met over the years who did tours in Southeast Asia do not like to talk about it much, at least not with people who were not there. This is, of course, more than understandable.
I have had some response, however, for which I am very grateful. Recently, I have received three email communications from Vietnam veterans who claim to have encountered what they called rock apes. Their messages are below. I have redacted their names so as to protect their privacy.
“In ‘69 I spent my whole tour in the bush (iron triangle) One night in ambush position I had last guard duty before dawn. We were positioned on the outside edge of a tree line. About 15 minutes into my watch I heard loud movement coming from a ways in the trees. As they got closer I determined it to be a troop of monkeys. But as they got closer these were really big monkeys. They started making loud noises like they were yelling and just tearing up the jungle. As the twilight became brighter I could see trees being shook, big trees that no human would be able to shake. I had a starlight scope mounted on my 16 but was never able to get a glimpse of what they were. There was so much racket going on I wondered why the noise didn't wake any of the other guys. They kept getting closer, I wondered if they knew we were there (maybe smelt us?) but they were so close I took the safety off the daisy chained claymores and was on the edge of blowing them when all of a sudden they just quit. It was lighter now and I would have been able to see them but they just vanished back into the jungle. It was so quiet it was eerie. One thing for sure, if they got hold of a human I'm sure he would have been shredded. I've always thought about what if they got just a little bit closer how many would I have killed because I was certainly loaded for bear.”
- XXXX XXXXXX USMC
TCH Comment: The behavior described sounds like classic great ape intimidation behavior. The problem is that there are not supposed to be any apes in Vietnam.
“Rock apes are the real thing. I saw a band of them up on "Carlie Ridge" in Quang Nam Province in the spring of 1970. It was nightfall and I saw them through a Starlite scope. 10-15 of them headed away from us up a steep incline. They weren't VC because they walked as a pack side by side in the jungle and not in a military type line. They all looked to be very broad bodied and up to 5 ft tall.”
- XXXX XXXX A/1/1..USMC
TCH Comment: Whatever this soldier saw, it certainly was not VC. The broad body and height described are typical of the rock ape reports I have read.
“I spent my whole tour in the bush in Vietnam. Have seen them both alive and dead. Only thing I can say I never seen them attack anyone. Had to kill one coming into lines one night. Never thought much about them other then they were apes. Yes, they did walk upright. About four and half to five tall. Saw them mostly around the Rock Pile. Heard a lot of different story about them in Nam. Like the throwing of rocks but never seen that myself. In my unit I would say that over 3/4 of the guys have seen them. As much as us Marines smell they were worse.”
- Anonymous, USMC
TCH Comment: I wish this marine had taken a picture of that dead ape. What he says about not thinking much about them other than they were apes is something that has been echoed many times. Most of the G.I.’s in Vietnam were very young and not up on what wildlife makes southeast Asia home. They simply did not know what they were encountering was not a species documented by science.
I have presented these emails exactly as they were sent to me. The stories are very similar to others I have been told or read about. The descriptions of appearance, behavior and even smell are very similar to those given by people across the globe who claim to have encountered large, bipedal, hair-covered “apes.”
Is there an unknown species of great ape or some kind of Wildman roaming the jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia? Perhaps, time will tell. Until then, we have the anecdotal accounts of our servicemen to ponder.
Make of them what you will.