Stories

A Tiger Tale

by Steve Liberti

with Follow-Up by Ray Turner

Some time in May 1970 the 1st platoon was working in the mountains west of the hill. We had set up a perimeter on a hilltop for the night and sent out a small squad for a night ambush. I was not with the squad that bagged the Tiger and I can remember who was.

The squad was in place when a trip flare went off they unloaded every thing they had including a claymore and ran as fast as they could back to the perimeter. The rest of the night was uneventful. The next morning we went back for, a body count and were shocked at what we found. The Tiger was dragged back to our camp and thatís where the photo was taken.

This was reported to HQ and a chopper came to pickup Tiger. We were very lucky that night as I am sure the Tiger was headed to our camp to chow down. I donít know if this is true but I later heard that there was a bounty on this Tiger as he had killed some local children and the bounty was not accepted.

Thatís the story itís hard to believe it was 38 years ago.


That's me Steve Liberti on the left and Rick Hensy on the right. -- and Ray Turner on the far right.

Hi Steve,

My name is Ray Turner and in 1970 in a place called Viet Nam our paths crossed.  I believe this to be true because of my recent discovery of a picture you posted on the Hill 411 site.  The picture is of a deceased tiger killed by a Claymore mine.  I am 99% sure I am the person that set the device that killed that tiger since I was one of a very few who attended a class and became certified to deploy this device, in our platoon.  After seeing the photo and reading your story on the Hill-411 Website I am 100% sure!  I am in the picture!  I am located on the right side of the photo, standing, drinking from a canteen cup.

My memory is a little fuzzy some forty years later, but here is my account of that event; It was late in the afternoon on a typical day in the "Nam".  I believe it was in the month of June.  After a long hot day of patrolling our AO our squad decided to set up a security perimeter for the night.  We received a call from your RTO that your squad was also in the area and would like to join forces for the night.  We agreed and divided the perimeter in half; your squad guarded one half and my squad the other.  I set off to set up a booby trap on a heavily used path that lead to our perimeter.  After very carefully setting the device along this path about 100 yards from our encampment I returned for the night.  Sometime during the night (I would guess around 2:00 AM) the device detonated.  Everyone was a little confused at first and thought we were under attack.  We then returned fire with M-16's, M-79"s, possibly a M-60, for a few minutes, and then realized there was no return fire.  We ceased fire and heightened security until sunrise.  At that time a  few men in our squad and myself set out on a patrol expecting to find a few dead enemy Viet Cong.  Imagine our surprise when we found a dead 300# tiger! 

Everyone was excited and wanted some sort of souvenir to remember the day we killed a tiger!  Since I killed the tiger they decided to let me have first choice and so I chose a upper canine tooth.  This was quite a task to remove with only a survival knife and a entrenching shovel!  I did manage to remove the tooth and later drilled a hole in it and displayed it around my neck until I left the country,(a month later from the Chu Li Army Hospital.  That would be a story for another time).  Anyhow, back to our story; we then managed ot drag the animal back to camp for everyone to see.  One of my men cut out the claws from a foot and made a necklace from it.

Somehow back at the Hill they had heard about this and before you knew it we were told a General was on his way to claim the hide of the tiger.  Well, in the meantime a nearby village heard about the tiger and wanted the animal for the meat to feed their people.  I decided to let the village people remove it before the General could arrive in his chopper.  I guess it was my attempt to get back at the authorities!  By the way, the General did fly over later but did not land when he was informed the tiger was no longer there. By the way just for the record I was never offered a reward.

Before long a handful of men arrived.  They tied the tiger to a bamboo pole and it took six of them to carry it away!  In the meantime there were many  pictures taken, a few with me, but sadly at that time I had no camera.  My friend did take a few for me but we were separated shortly there after when I was injured in an explosion.  I did receive two pictures months later after I arrived home, however, I was not in any of the these photos.  I have attempted to contact former friends but I have had little success at obtaining addresses.  (That's how I stumbled across your pictures on the Hill 411 site).  I still have the pictures and the tooth!!

If you would like to have any of these pictures please feel free to contact me at any time.  As I stated earlier, I have two pictures, one of which I have restored and the other is still badly damaged from being exposed to the dampness in "Nam".

I hope we can continue to communicate and share information and memories from our experiences in the Viet Nam War.

P.S.  I first located a photo of this same tiger submitted by Gary Koppen on the Hill-411 Website.  Over two months ago I made several attempts to contact Gary by Email without success.  Do you know Gary?

Welcome Home!!!!!!

Raymond J. Turner
(Former, Sargent Raymond J. Turner, Squad Leader 2nd Plat.)

Hill 4-11 Homepage