The Mysterious Rock Apes of the Vietnam War

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Struggle brings with it not solely tales of struggling, loss of life, and wrestle, but in addition these of thriller. Past the entire preventing and tales of battle or valor, there usually appear to be different, extra enigmatic phenomena lurking within the background. Certainly, among the most mysterious, weirdest issues appear to pop up within the distant battlefields of the earth, from unexplained phenomena to ghostly happenings to horrific beasts, struggle is usually a wellspring of excessive strangeness. The Vietnam Struggle was no completely different, and among the many preventing amidst the humid, mosquito choked jungles, American G.I.s started to return again with tales of one thing weirder than their enemy lurking within the forests of Vietnam, and it appeared that the Viet Cong weren’t the one factor to be careful for within the dense underbrush. Right here, the overseas troopers would come nose to nose with a creature that was well-known by the locals, but new to them; a humanoid, furry biped the likes of which none of them had ever seen, which might lurch forth from the deepest jungles to startle and even assault,  and which might come to be referred to as the “Rock Apes.”

Even earlier than preventing began within the jungles of Vietnam there had lengthy been tales of one thing horrific lurking within the distant areas right here. Numerous peoples of the jungle choked interiors of Vietnam, Laos, and northern Borneo, specifically inside the Vu Quang Nature Reserve, have a wealthy custom of tales of a bipedal, furry apelike creature identified by numerous names, such because the Batutut, Ujit, or Người rừng, additionally written as Nguoi Rung, or “jungle individuals.” These “jungle individuals” are stated to be round 1.8 m (6 ft) tall, stout and really muscular, with protruding stomachs and coated in hair starting from brown to black in coloration, aside from the knees, the soles of the toes, the fingers, and the face, which stay naked. Though they inhabit remoted, distant jungle areas, the Người rừng are reported to be slightly daring and aggressive, particularly the variability from Borneo, which can apparently assault people with out considering twice about it. They’re stated to journey in troops and are most energetic at nightfall or in the course of the evening. The locals of those areas think about these creatures to be merely a truth of life, however the Batutut was probably not identified to the surface world till struggle started to impede into their area.

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American troopers in Vietnam

Through the days when troops toiled and fought in clouds of mosquito clouded jungle, dodging enemy bullets and mountaineering relentlessly via the humid, oppressive warmth, there could be quite a few studies from troopers of horrific creatures prowling via the forests that had been neither human nor ape, and would come to be referred to as “Rock Apes.” Accounts of encountering these creatures appear to have been commonplace all through the Vietnam Struggle, from each side of the battle. In lots of circumstances, the horrific beasts had been mistaken for enemy troops, solely to startle troopers after they had been truly seen up shut.

Probably the most well-known, in-depth printed accounts of those enigmatic creatures come from a guide by a veteran named Kregg P. J. Jorgenson, known as Very Loopy G.I. – Scary however True Tales of the Vietnam Struggle. The account describes the ordeal of a 6 man unit from the one hundred and first Airborne Division, who had been taking a break after a relentless hike via unforgiving mountainous jungle terrain carrying heavy packs. Whilst they rested they had been attuned to the encircling atmosphere, very conscious that the Viet Cong had been in all places and will strike at any second. Because the unit sat there resting, exhausted of their sweat soaked fatigues, some bushes positioned round fifteen yards uphill then reportedly started shaking violently, and it was assumed that this was the enemy. The troopers ready their weapons and skilled a watch on the suspicious, jostling bushes. As they sat in wait, mosquitos buzzing round their heads and the creeping, sickening dread of the approaching battle weighing closely on their minds, it was then seen that an rectangular head with a face coated in reddish hair and possessing an enormous mouth and darkish, deep set eyes had emerged from the comb. The startled troopers then witnessed a horrific creature step from the underbrush to disclose a 5-foot tall muscular body enveloped in the identical matted reddish hair, after which it stood there on two legs to seemingly fastidiously scrutinize the boys. The troopers then speculated that it have to be a big orangutan, earlier than one in all them identified that orangutans weren’t native to Vietnam. As they argued over what it may very well be, the horrific beast purportedly misplaced curiosity in them and quietly slinked again off into the jungle.

In a single 1968 account from jungle veteran Robert Baird’s diary, he describes an incident through which his unit started listening to inexplicable noises alongside the outer perimeter of their camp late at evening. Not figuring out if what they had been listening to was regular jungle life or the enemy, a Mexican American corporal, nicknamed “Poncho,” took it upon himself to exit to research within the night. Poncho determinedly marched up the hill to the communications bunker to see what was occurring. When the corporal was on his approach again, he was witnessed to let off a number of quick bursts of fireplace from his weapon earlier than hurrying again to camp in a considerably unsettled, agitated state. Nearly instantly, the unit’s Lieutenant had been on the radio demanding to know who was firing and at what. When Poncho reached the camp, he excitedly associated that he had been strolling again and had seen a bush that had not been there earlier than. When he had leaned down to have a look, it had then allegedly “snorted” at him, inflicting him to panic and hearth. Baird would later say:

What he had encountered was the ever-present Rock Ape of Vietnam. I might come to study that they had been almost in all places, and fairly fearless. That’s what we had heard close to the wire that evening.


In one other eye witness encounter from 1969, a patrol was caught off guard by enemy hearth, after which everybody took cowl. It was then that one thing horrific made its presence identified to one of many group. Because the witness was laying there avoiding getting shot, there was a determine that broke out of the thick vegetation which at first gave the impression to be a big man, however because it ran previous it was clear this was one thing else altogether. The determine was described as being round 7 toes in top, impressively constructed, and largely coated with reddish hair. No matter it was moved extraordinarily rapidly, however was then caught by some bullets within the crossfire, after which it stumbled however didn’t go down. It was then that the enemy started yelling one thing to one another excitedly that the witness couldn’t perceive earlier than operating off, with one of many enemy even leaving his weapon behind in a panicked haste. The American patrol regrouped and headed to a safer space, and that evening they had been assailed by a barrage of horrific, animalistic noises from the evening, sounding like whines, barks, howls, and grunts. The subsequent day, among the patrol requested permission to go examine what had been seen and heard the day prior to this, and as a search was underneath approach they got here throughout an enemy soldier that appeared to have been viciously torn aside. The patrol was so disturbed by the grotesque sight that they ran again to their base by the hill, and one of many witnesses would later say:

The remainder of the time we had been in Vietnam, I by no means heard the sounds or noticed something prefer it once more. The discuss of what we had seen unfold in a short time, and among the locals known as it a reputation that I can neither pronounce or bear in mind, however the translation if I recall was ‘Stench Monkey’ or ‘Foul Monkey’, one thing like that. I can’t bear in mind for positive. What I do know is that it bothered me a lot that I transferred from there, to a job on a helicopter in order that I wouldn’t should be within the jungle anymore.

Among the rock ape accounts are actually dramatic and horrifying. One such account given by a Michael Kelley, of D Co 1st/502d Infantry of the one hundred and first Airborne Division describes not one Rock Ape, however tons of of them. Within the account, in 1969, 8 of the horrific creatures got here casually strolling up a path on a ridge of Nui Mo Tau and shocked a platoon that was in the course of having lunch after they turned a ridge about 10 meters from the place the boys had been located. Based on Kelley, the platoon at first instantly thought they had been Viet Cong and “all hell broke free.” The squad of males opened up with M-16s, M-79s, and grenade launchers, lighting up the forest in a vicious show of booming firepower and flying items of vegetation. Kelley himself was on the far finish of a clearing, about 50 meters from the place the barrage of steady taking pictures had began, and he grabbed a weapon to run to hitch them together with the platoon Sgt., taking cowl underneath a toppled tree.

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American fight troops within the Vietnam jungle

For a number of moments, Kelley and the platoon Sgt. stayed hidden because the cacophony of gunfire erupted in all places. After they lastly gave one another the nod to have interaction, they popped out from behind the tree, able to see a large enemy drive descending upon them judging by the nonstop barrage of relentless gunfire. What they noticed as an alternative was the platoon firing away at “ghostly photos” that had been swooshing via bushes and bushes throughout them. The mysterious intruders had been described as being round 5 and a half toes tall, and all however one was mild brown to reddish brown in coloration. The opposite was nearly black and was a very aggressive massive male, which reportedly madly rushed at males via the thick underbrush, snarling and with enamel bared. All through the horrifying eye witness encounter, the ape-like beasts reportedly made sounds that sounded precisely like canine barking. Then, the creatures, no matter they had been, abruptly melted away into the forest, disappearing as if they’d by no means been there. When the shocked platoon regained their composure, they searched the bullet riddled, gun smoke permeated space and located no signal of any lifeless our bodies of the animals, and oddly not even any fur or blood. Kelley would comment on the surreal scene:

This may occasionally sound very horrific to you, however though I had no or little concern about killing the enemy, the killing of harmless animals turned my abdomen and will enrage me if executed with out being a necessity. However I searched the positioning and however discovered not a drop of blood, which completely amazed me given the quantity of firing that had gone on. I’m wondering to today if the boys had been taking pictures simply to scare the Rock Apes away or whether or not they had been actually simply poor marksman! The lads who’d suffered the shock regarded a bit worse for put on, and I am positive a number of needed to wash their shorts out because of the unwelcome go to. It actually scared the crap out of them, I child you not!

This kind of mass congregation of Rock Apes was apparently not an remoted incident. In one other surprising account, one other platoon was additionally overrun by massive numbers of the creatures. In 1966, a extremely strategic location referred to as Hill 868, in Quang Nam Province, had allegedly been the positioning of a battle between the Marines and a big group of Rock Apes. Within the account, Marines working within the space known as their Captain to report motion within the brush which they believed to be a big drive of Viet Cong headed their approach. The Captain then radioed again saying that they need to keep in place and that nobody was to fireplace so as to not give away their place. The patrol quickly radioed again to say that it had turned out that it was not Viet Cong in any case, however slightly a big group of furry, bipedal humanoids throughout them. The Marine patrol was commanded once more to not open hearth, however as an alternative to throw rocks on the creatures to scare them away. This may show to be unwise, because the Rock Apes then started hurling the rocks again with nice drive, all of the whereas screeching and growling throughout them within the jungle; an estimated tons of of them.


Regardless of the assault of rocks and quite a few requests for permission to open hearth, the Marines had been however informed to not shoot, however slightly to make use of bayonets as an alternative. Shortly after, the Captain might hear screeching and screams of ache from each Marine and ape alike over the radio, in addition to the frantic message “We’re going hand at hand!”. Shortly after that, the hill erupted in a roar of gunfire, screams, and screeching. When the Captain despatched males to go examine, the war-torn space was discovered to be suffering from injured males, in addition to allegedly the bloodied our bodies of a number of of the mysterious Rock Apes. No Marines had died, however a number of had been significantly injured and needed to be evacuated by helicopter. The alleged battle turned so notorious that it was known as the “Battle of Dong Den.”

Hill 868 turned identified among the many males as being allegedly so infested with the Rock Apes that it was known as “Monkey Mountain.” In 1968, members of Mike Firm of the third Battalion of the fifth Marines working on Hill 868 apparently usually got here throughout plentiful bodily proof of the creatures there, reminiscent of droppings, tufts of hair, or footprints, in addition to listening to their eerie barks and cries at evening, and the Rock Apes even sometimes assaulted them with rocks lobbed from the jungle. The apes had been described as “throwing like women, however with velocity,” and males had been reported as being usually significantly injured by the hurled stone projectiles. In a single account given by a veteran named Steve Canyon, a unit of Marines was out within the jungle of Hill 868 at evening testing out a brand new muzzle flash and noise suppresser for his or her weapons. As they had been establishing, they instantly seen a Rock Ape evident at them from the thick vegetation, reportedly utterly unafraid. After a number of moments of staring on the troopers, the creature was stated to then let loose a sound just like the bark of a canine. One of many males threw a rock at it to scare it away, and hit it lifeless on, after which the ape picked up a rock of its personal and hurled it at them. It was then seen that there have been extra of the Rock Apes gathering round within the jungle, round 20 of them, which all started screeching, howling, and throwing rocks on the frightened males in unison. Regardless of the threatening state of affairs, the unit didn’t open hearth, as an alternative making a hasty retreat. When requested later why they’d not shot on the creatures, Canyon would say:

I dunno. Did not appear proper. However these Apes began to return at us and we ran as quick as we might and we did not cease till we had been out of the jungle.


Encounters with Rock Apes turned so quite a few and alarming that the North Vietnamese even mounted expeditions to exit and discover proof of them. Based on Kregg P. J. Jorgenson’s guide Very Loopy G.I.- Scary however True Tales of the Vietnam Struggle, in 1974 the North Vietnamese get together secretariat ordered a scientific expedition to seek out definitive, stable proof of the Rock Apes. Professor Vo Quy of the Vietnam Nationwide College was chosen to conduct the investigation, and whereas they didn’t see any of the beasts, they did discover some curious tracks out within the distant jungle. A solid was made from one of many footprints, which was despatched to be analyzed and was discovered to be wider than a human print however too massive to be that of an ape. Different expeditions adopted up on the discover, together with one led by the Noth Vietnamese normal Hoang Minh Thau, however had been unsuccessful.

Apparently, this was not the primary time footprints of the mysterious creatures had been discovered. In 1970, a Dr. John MacKinnon claimed to have discovered tracks of the the creatures and believed them to be of hominid origin, maybe just like the Meganthropus, and which locals stated got here from a creature they known as the Batutut. The tracks had been described as having human wanting toes, however being across the measurement of these of an Asiatic black bear, which aren’t native to Vietnam. Mackinnon wrote of his findings in 1978 in his guide In Search Of The Pink Ape. Though he would by no means discover definitive proof that the Rock Ape, or Người rừng, ever existed, Mackinnon would however uncover a number of new species of huge mammal within the Vu Quang Mountain rain forest in 1992, demonstrating that the area was greater than able to hiding massive new species from sight.


In one other report from Military Reporter, 27 Apr. 1970, a guard fired at motion alongside the camp perimeter, and within the morning horrific footprints which had been “neither human nor ape” had been discovered, in addition to blood spattered alongside the forest flooring. The prints had been photographed and the creature was known as “Powell’s Ape,” named after the depot firm commander, Capt. Powell. In 1982, extra footprints had been examined when Professor Tran Hong Viet, of Pedagogic College of Hanoi, discovered them whereas amassing specimens close to Chu Mo Ray in Sa Thầy District. The professor made casts of the prints, which measured 28×16 cm (11.02 by 6.3 in.) lengthy. Images of those odd casts had been later printed within the Japanese Fortean journal, Fortean Information of the World. Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans additionally wrote of curious prints in his opus On the Monitor of Unknown Animals, through which he recounts the story of Lt. Alan Szpila, of Cumberland. R. I., who whereas on a helicopter patrol for the one hundred and first Airborne Division spied some horrific, big footprints under. He would say of the discovering:

I had been footprints from the air for fairly some time and I seen the distinctive measurement (of those) instantly. I landed to get a better look and positive sufficient, these tracks had been about 18 inches lengthy and eight inches vast. They had been embedded deeply, indicating a heavy wearer. The stride of no matter made them was about 4 toes.

The creature was estimated as being maybe round 8 toes tall primarily based on the dimensions of the prints and size of stride, underscoring the sightings studies that spoke of a lot bigger specimens. Much more spectacular than footprints of the Người rừng are precise our bodies which were claimed to have been discovered every so often. In a single case described by a Steve Williams, it was claimed {that a} veteran had informed him of doing a nighttime low altitude Particular Forces drop within the thick jungle inside of Vietnam throughout 1967-68, when after the drop the group hear a low gurgling sound over a interval of three nights. It was then claimed that on the fourth evening they got here throughout the higher torso of a “decomposing bigfoot-like creature” which had been horrifically blown aside by one thing, maybe a land mine. For the reason that creature had been lengthy lifeless, they surmised that what they’d heard over the past three nights had maybe been its mate mourning it. In Williams’ account, he says of the grotesque discover:

They may see into the physique cavity…backbone, lungs, and such. All was crawling with bugs. There was shorter hair on the large head. The eyes sunk again an inch and a half from the forehead line. It had lengthy arms. Very massive and lengthy fingers. One hand was nonetheless wrapped round a department. He (the unique supply of the story) didn’t say what coloration it was, however did point out that it had a flat nostril. If the creature had it is legs, the estimated top was round 8 ft tall…there was no signal of the decrease half of the physique. They had been in a position to see the enamel. All flat, effectively shaped molars, besides the canines, which had been longer and pointed. Appeared tailored to dwelling within the forest with lengthy arms and fingers, or maybe simply builds evening nests like gorillas typically do.

16.Orang Pendak

In one other slightly spectacular report printed within the New York Occasions letters on April 18, 2010, a person named Graeme Webster tells of a curious occasion that occurred at a strategic artillery summit on the western finish of the DMZ known as “The Rockpile.” One night someday in 1967, Marines from the Fourth Marine Regiment had been assaulted by a lot of Rock Apes, which had been stated to inhabit the caves of the world. The Marines fought again in a protracted burst of firepower which lit up the evening. Within the morning, there have been allegedly corpses of the ape-like creatures strewn about, they usually had been included within the sitrep briefing physique rely. This incident sounds very very similar to the battle between Marines and Rock Apes that allegedly occurred at Hill 868, the Battle of Dong Den, which additionally was claimed to have left our bodies of the lifeless beasts in its wake. It’s unclear what occurred to any of those our bodies within the aftermath. Along with our bodies, there have even been reside Người rừng allegedly captured, with one notable report being that two of the creatures had been caught by tribesmen close to Đắk Lắk Province in 1971. Once more, it’s unsure no matter turned of those creatures, though contemplating it was struggle time and most had extra severe points weighing on their minds, one wonders if anybody ever truly went there to research the veracity of the claims in any respect.

With all of those spectacular studies circulating across the Vietnam Struggle, we’re left to surprise simply what the Rock apes, Người rừng, Batututs, or no matter one needs to name them, had been. There are all kinds of theories which were proposed over time, with probably the most generally being that what was seen was the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey, or Dollman’s Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus avunculus), Vietnam’s largest native primate species and in addition extremely endangered. It’s so critically endangered, the truth is, that’s was lengthy regarded as extinct till its rediscovery in 1989, though even now there are regarded as fewer that 250 of the animals left. Snub-nosed monkeys are present in southern China, Vietnam, and components of Myanmar, and get their identify from their flat, upturned noses. They reside in distant mountainous forests in teams comprised of as much as 600 people. A number of options appear to level to this species as being maybe the culprits. The Tonkin snub-nosed monkey are extremely territorial and are identified to point out little worry in the direction of people, which is certainly one of many causes they’ve been so decimated by hunters. In addition they produce a variety of vocalizations, together with these which may very well be interpreted as sounding just like the bark of a canine, one of many hallmarks of Rock Ape studies.

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Tonkin snub-nosed monkey

Nonetheless, there are a number of different causes for why these monkeys are poor candidates for what was reported from the troopers in Vietnam. First is the dimensions, with the snub-nosed monkeys not being anyplace close to the 5 to six foot and up stature reported within the accounts of the Rock Apes. In addition they have very distinguished tails, a characteristic not in line with the tailless descriptions given by G.I.s, and they’re moreover not bipedal, which is a trademark of the Rock Apes. Additional lessening their value as a potential wrongdoer is that snub-nosed monkeys are diurnal, energetic within the day, whereas the Người rừng is all the time reported as a decidedly nocturnal animal, and moreover the snub-nosed monkeys are arboreal whereas the Rock Apes are largely reported as foraging in regards to the floor. The bipedal nature of the Rock Apes can be inconsistent with snub-nosed monkeys, as is the reddish brown coloring of the mysterious creatures. One other concept is that there could also be another kind of huge, undiscovered primate inhabiting the area, maybe even some type of new ape. This would slot in extra with what was reported, and contemplating the entire new species of mammal which were found inside this distant area lately, it actually appears possible that one thing like this might have probably remained hidden from the surface world. Different theories recommend that the Người rừng might signify some relic inhabitants of hominids or early human ancestors.


There are additionally those that have advised that sightings of those mysterious creatures are because of the imbibing of medicine by American troopers, together with the extremely hallucinogenic lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. Nevertheless, most of those studies had been made by troops that had been on energetic obligation, skilled observers, and would most likely not have endangered their missions and the lives of these round them by doing potent, mind-altering medicine. There’s additionally the truth that the horrific creatures had been seen most likely simply as usually by the Viet Cong as they had been by the People, and had been well-known by the native tribes, so can we chalk all of those studies as much as each side of the struggle spending all of their time in a drug fueled stupor?

So what are we coping with right here? Have been these myriad studies the results of misidentification of a really uncommon, but identified primate? Is that this all of the product of minds addled by the stresses of struggle, medicine, or each? Or is there an opportunity that there’s certainly some new species of ape lurking about in these distant, remoted jungles, hiding amongst the entire different massive mammal discoveries right here lately? In that case, are they nonetheless on the market and what are they? Are they an ape, a type of surviving human ancestor, or one thing else solely? Is that this one thing just like the Orang Pendek furry hominid of Sumatra, which is usually touted as being one of many extra believable circumstances of horrific furry hominid? Sadly, in occasions of struggle there are extra urgent points at hand than monitoring down thriller beasts, and in consequence many of those studies had been by no means actually adopted up on. To the boys out these within the jungles, this was only one extra wrestle so as to add to these already in place with the forbidding terrain and the fixed risk of assault from the elusive enemy. Certainly this appears to be frequent with studies of strangeness from struggle zones, and lots of such reported phenomena have grow to be misplaced within the mists of time, buried beneath the violence and fight. It appears clear that so long as there may be struggle, tales of the weird will seep in together with the tales of horror, and a few of these mysteries could also be gone simply as certainly because the lives misplaced.

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