Challenge Coin
Challenge Coin

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.

Order of the Red Ant


Definition of a Red Ant

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." 

Mad Doc

On August 20, 2017 at 12:38 PM Jess of the Bugs wrote:
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

Red Ant Encounter Stories

Karl Bergeron

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 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)

Charles "Butch" Jones

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

Clarence Simpson

Hey Doc,
While riding along minding my business in the TC hatch of Shatney's, APC. We were on an S&D.

Riding through the bush the long not short, not little but long antenna hit a nest full of Red Ants that looked much like a ball/ bunch of leaves. This nest dropped and landed on my steel pot and the full load of the nest of Red Ants literally attacked and feasted on my flackjacket only bareskin.

I honestly donot remember whom my brothers were that swatted and beat them off of me ..."Ouch", "Oh S-*t",
"What da F:?%". Thank you all. To Shatney, quote " stop da track"

Stay well my Brothers
CJ (Clarence Simpson) 

E. Q. Skip Fahel, DMOR

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

Tim Kirby

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.

Doc Matz

I can't recall the exact time or location that this occurred, but we we're on a patrol. At some point we took a break while the patrol leader checked his map coordinates and reported by radio. Obviously, we had to keep alert and could not afford to go wandering off in private. Unfortunately, I felt a pressing "call of nature." I looked around and spotted some bushes that promised a semblance of privacy without leaving the security of the patrol. Lowering my pants, I backed into the bushes to "commence business." All of a sudden I felt burning sensations on my backside. I jumped out of the bushes, with my pants down, and began swatting red ants off of my tender parts. Boy, things like that really burn my ass!

Mad Doc Matz

Mario Salazar

I have to confess, the closest I got to these diabolical formic acid agents was when we went through the woods and hit a low branch and ants fell inside the track. This was after I got kicked out of FDC and was in a gun track. Everyone inside was affected, but me. I guess they recognized a kindred soul.

However, some months before I was awaken from the tent behind the FDC track with a lot of pain on my arm. It felt like someone had stabbed me with a hot poker. I always assumed it was a scorpion as we had seen some the same day. I went to the medics and they gave me a shot that took the pain away immediately. Could that have been a red ant? In any case, I am not giving my medal back.

Steve Irvine

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.

Anthony Mantuano

This is my Red Ant story it is not much but I remember it every time I see a Ant   Lol.

I was with the 2nd /22nd Inf A co.mech. 67/68 same as Brad but a year before him. I remember when we would logger from time to time when we would see these Red Ants but we called them F/U Ants you know what I mean  Lol. If you ever got bit by one of them you would agree with the name.We would throw a cigarette on them, of course they would scatter but wouldn't go far and come back and pick at the ash until they died but others would come and do the same thing and this would go on until they put that hot ash out.I remember a few years later after I was back from Nam my wife and and I just bought our first home and in the back yard there was a whole nest of red ants which made me remember this story and so I just had to throw a cigarette on top of them to see what would happen hell they took off and I never seen them again until the next day when I threw gas on them and killed the whole colony   Lol. They sure didn't have the guts those red ants in nam had. Well that's my story I don't
know if you want to print it or not but'that's ok I just wanted to tell you.


Phil Trover (3rd/22nd, sister Battalion)

I survived a few Red Ant battles. I was RTO in 2nd Platoon, Delta Co, 3/22 Inf. We worked out of basecamps in the Tay Ninh area including NueBaDen and made a 30 day incursion into Cambodia in May of 1970. I had the pleasure of making the 22nd's St. Louis, San Antonio, Omaha and Washington DC reunions but have not been to any since DC. In DC I became a member of Loyal Order of the Red Ant with one of the origional "paper sticker" medallians. If the following stories about Mr. Red Ant are of value, what would be the chances of getting one of the medal ORA medallians? Either way, I appreciate what you are doing to keep the history of what we went through.

Here are my red ant recollections:

Red ants? Yep, I think I feared them as much as I feared Charlie.

Like all other ground pounders, I got my share of red ant bites. My method of taking away the pain of the many bites was opposite of our medic’s Army recommended treatment. Just as soon as a bite came to a white head, I pinched it off and squeezed the poison out. That was it. Just leave it as a small open wound and drive on… (Ok.. I was 3/22 Inf. and not Triple Duece so I “walked” on.)

As leg grunt or “Walking Regular” we ate our evening C rations right before dusk and moved out 100 meters to 400 meters to arrive at our pre-designated ambush site just a couple minutes after full dark. That way Charlie didn’t “really” know where we were. (Yeah, right.) Our ambush coordinates were pre-setup with the rear and the location was fixed. I’ve slept in a swamp sitting up all night and also woken up realizing the tree root that was bothering me all night was actually a dud 81 mm mortar round.

But after coming in contact numerous times with the red ant monsters and knowing the multiple pains they could inflict, I was wide eyed, freaked out one night to find my spot on our nightly “L” shaped ambush was right on top of a small mound. I very quietly spread out my poncho over it and covered up with my poncho liner to keep mosquito bites to a minimum. As I lay there just waiting to be bit, I realized I was hearing a quiet “chirping” sound and I just knew I was about to be overrun by red ants. I spent the rest of the night just waiting to be bit by a Division of red ants that never came. The quiet chirping sound never quit and at daylight I was relieved to find out that termites don’t bite. My pest for the evening may not have been red ants, but my fear of the red ant kept me from a very needed night’s sleep.

When you spend every day hunting for Charlie and then setting up ambushes for Charlie every night; a different kind of boredom sets in. We cured it for a short while by taking the clear plastic bag a PRC-25 radio battery came in and putting one big black ant in it along with one small red ant. At first we were surprised to see the big black ant run like crazy to get away from the little red ant. Blackie was obviously very scared and was panicking for very good reason. The little red ant would quickly chase him down and with just one bite the big black ant would instantly curl up and die. After repeating this reenactment of “the lions verse the Christians” in a clear "coliseum" a few times, we felt bad for the kind, black ants and went back to playing a few hands of hearts or spades during our lunch break.

Regards, Phil Trover, 2nd Platoon, D Co., 3/22 Inf., 25th Inf. Div.