REEVES' RETROSPECT VIETNAM©
OCTOBER 1967-OCTOBER 1968
Norman H. Reeves
1967 September 7
If I go to Nam I will have a will made out here free of charge. They have legal assistance on base free and I'll have it all taken care of. 21 more days!
1967 October 19
Took a flight from Philadelphia to San Francisco on United Airlines. What a way to spend a birthday. By the time they got to me on the flight, they were running out of food and the selection I wanted was not available or so they say. I think because I am in uniform they think I am flying on standby and I am not. I suspect that is why I did not get my choice of food.
1967 October 25
At this moment I'm with the 199th Infantry Brigade. We will have some training for about a week before going into the field. We came with 29 guys and 15 of them are riflemen. Those 15 are being sent to the 11th Cav tomorrow morning. The 11C's (Mortar) start training tomorrow. I will try to keep you informed.
Spoke with some guys that came back from the field. Couldn't say that they like it of course. They think this base camp is R&R.
This camp and outfit is responsible for the surrounding areas of Saigon at night they fire some rounds in an area outside of camp.
The 199th is known as the Redcatcher unit. They say the kill ratio is 48 of them to our 1, the best of American forces here.
Found out I can have my 38 here and could have brought it. I'll let you know when to send it, that is, if you can.
1967 October 26
Food hasn't been too bad yet, except one morning I had powdered eggs. The water is pretty good here in base camp. The shower water isn't fit to drink but the water we shave with is.
1967 October 27
Well I said I wanted to see what it's like. I saw, and I'm ready to return. Not quite that simple. This week seemed to drag; I sure hope the rest of the year doesn't go this slowly. I can see this is going to be a long year.
In December the whole unit is going to Plieku. The 4th Division is there now. Where I'm going now, hearsay, Nam Bay. I don't know where it is.
1967 October 29
I just wrote to the 11th Cav and asked them to send my mail to me. I think that will save them the time of trying to locate me.
Made a river crossing yesterday, zeroed my M16 and went through a Vietnamese village. We had to set up security everywhere we went. There was water buffalo all over and Vietnamese kids and women selling coke.
1967 October 30
Really got upset last night.
We are running three times a day now to get used to the heat and get in shape for the rice paddies. Well another day down anyway.
Got a brand new M16 today, the one I had was in sad shape.
I signed a paper the other day saying that if I am not seriously wounded you will not be notified. A leg or arm chopped off is not considered serious, as it is not a matter of life or death. So if anything happens I'll let you know.
1967 October 31
We have just finished the morning run which isn't too bad as it is comparatively cool out; the afternoon run is the rough one.
The 199th is an airmobile unit and they move most of the time by chopper. When a squad moves by chopper it is called an eagle flight.
1967 November 1
We exploded hand grenades and from 50 to 100 pounds of TNT. The caps came from Wilmington Delaware, Hercules plant.
1967 November 2
Put a tin roof on a building today and have a real good burn. I got some small blisters on my arms but that is the only adverse effects of the sun so far.
I'll probably ship to my unit tomorrow, as my training is now complete here.
Weather was hot as usual but had no rain today, a good indication of the dry season I suppose.
1967 November 4
My orders didn't come yet. This may be good.
I just came back from a detail at the motor pool, servicing two trucks. Took us about 3 hours, got soaking wet too, rained like mad.
1967 November 4
Everyone but three of us is going to the 4th Bn 12th Infantry. Shipped to their units this morning. I don't know the reason for the delay except our orders aren't here as yet.
An armored convoy, either the 11th or 17th Cav has been coming into base camp for the last couple of hours in a constant stream.
They say time flies when you are in the field.
1967 November 5
Last night about 30 of us picked up the Chaplain's building and moved it about 4 blocks. Toward the end we had a jeep help us. Everyone stopped what they were doing when they saw this large building coming down the road. Got rather drunk after this. Soon after we arrived at the EM club the VC launched a gas attack, tear gas. I'm concluding my 11th day at the training center, no orders.
Our daily rain just started.
1967 November 6
My appetite here is awful. I usually take two or three bites and then I'm full. I don't know if it's the food or the atmosphere!
I was typing for the first sergeant. The mail clerk says I should put in for a transfer because I type so well.
Got the mail that was sent to the 11 Cav today about 10 or 15 letters.
I go into the field tomorrow so they say. I have to pack a poncho and liner, air mattress, and writing equipment. I must say I'm a little apprehensive. The 4/12 will be the first to move north and start to sweep south. I have been issued a new M16 with some modification a new flash suppressor and other new parts. So I'm ready to see the shit hit the fan. Should be quite an experience. I've been listening to war stories and the radio.
1967 November 8
Waiting to be shipped to the field.
Well here I am at the 4/12 base camp and am preparing to move out on an eagle flight. I understand we are going to a place called (nickname) VC Island. I will carry 9 magazines, 180 rounds, one flare, one smoke grenade, and three fragmentation grenades. I may carry some more magazines I don't know.
I'm in the mortar platoon, which usually stays in base camp. Well I only have to stay out in the field 15 days. I understand that I will be near An Khe.
1967 November 9
We humped, the rice paddies yesterday, no contact. We landed right in a rice paddy, got my feet wet to say the least. That afternoon the tide went out and the mud came in. I was going through mud up to my ass. I had to carry the radio plus a pound of C4 explosive. I made out OK though. Only one leech got to me, he got full and fell off my ankle. We also have two boa constrictors at camp.
Right now we are in a warehouse 15 miles from Saigon. We'll be pulling guard here and road checks for ID cards. We will be here until the 12th then move to a place they call Camp Swampy. As you might guess it is just as the name implies.
1967 November 11
Just came in off an operation with another company of 4/12. We just finished setting up the mortar and all hell broke loose. One of the ambushes got a sampan going down the river. Killed 4 VC. We fired 28 illuminating rounds.
2 hours till guard. I have guard from 10 to 12, can't complain rather have it then instead of 2 to 3.
Right now I'm back at RMK. We had a company party today and I had two beers and two steaks.
Temperature ranges between 90-95.
I still sort of want to get my nose into some of that hot shit sometimes. Crazy, don't know when I'm well off.
Flew in today on a Chinook chopper those engines are sure hot.
1967 November 12
I believe we have things under much more control now, say 2 or 3 years ago in this region. Things are by no means peaceful. 2 or 3 miles outside of Saigon things are popping. But I don't think there is as much terrorism as there used to be. The VC used to own the night. Not anymore. He's running out of time to work. Very little contact in the day. Remember I'm speaking of the Delta region.
Hold my 38 for a while, I'm still working on it.
When we go on an operation sure we hump, but it isn't constant for days.
1967 November 13
The Lieutenant told me to see the Provost Marshal when we go in on the 15th reference my 38.
We are getting ready to move north on the 17th. The 25th Infantry is there. We don't know exactly where. Our rear base camp will still be Long Binh.
1967 November 14
Right at the moment we are a ready reactionary force since 2 Vietnamese Ranger ambushes were hit last night about 2000 meters away from us. 10 killed about 5 wounded or missing and some were found, hands tied behind their back and shot in the head. Apparently they went to sleep and their position was over run. It was a pretty good size VC force, about 35 men.
Last night a guy came to me and said get your rifle and follow me. There was a sampan on the river, and nothing is supposed to be on that river at night. We thought he was after some gasoline barrels on a barge tied up behind us. We went out and discovered a small boy (12) whose sampan had come loose from its mooring and floated down river. When he woke up he kicked a lantern over and caught the sampan on fire.
At night I grab my M16 and go down by the river, lay there looking at the sky, thinking, hoping, and yearning. It is quite peaceful there. Solitude.
As corny as it may seem, I'm proud in the infantry. When we go back to base camp people show a lot of respect for us.
Had my first encounter at being shot at. You hear a shot and just wait for it to hit. Not much else you can do.
We got a call on the radio that a bridge was having sniper fire. So guess who volunteered to go? Don't ask me why, about 6 of us went. There was a National Police camp by the bridge and they were firing at bushes etc. floating down the river. Afraid they contained explosives to blow the bridge. No sweat.
1967 November 16
We had a briefing today about what, where, and for how long. We have been working in the Tu Duc area.
1967 November 20
We just came off a 3-day operation and had no mail coming or going. The jungle is hell!! After walking 1000 to 2000 meters a day you feel like someone has been beating you. I had to carry the radio again. All total I had close to a hundred pounds on my back. With this in mind, I was constantly getting caught on vines, briars, mud, etc. Also the insects! We had leeches in the paddies and land leeches in the jungle. One got on my arm and the same as before, I didn't know it until he had fallen off. I had blood running up and down my arm, getting all over everything. Needless to say I survived. I'll tell you, guys were hoping they would get injured so they could get out of the field.
I lucked out today; I'm now on a 6 million dollar barge on the Saigon River. Guarding it. At night we watch for sampans with VC, VC floating down the river to blow it up and other objects on the river coming towards it. In 3 days we return to the jungle for a 6-day operation.
We recon, pursue, an area by artillery fire, that is what we are doing when you hear it on tape. One night they secured our perimeter by artillery and I felt the shrapnel of one round fired over our head.
1967 November 21
We went north on a three-day operation.
That jungle is hell. At the end of the day you feel like someone has been beating you around all day. Tripping on vines, vines snagging your equipment and thorns scratching the hell out of you. Plus the biting red ants (ant hills about 3 feet) land leeches, one of which got me and I had blood all over the place. Every time one gets me I bleed.
On top of all this I carry five meals, all of my equipment, ammo and a radio. All total at least 100 pounds. When I tripped as I did a couple of times, I hit with a bang.
We flew in and out of the operation by helicopter. I enjoy the rides, but not the destinations.
I am now on a 6 million dollar dredge (sand) guarding it. Day after tomorrow we return to the jungle.
1967 November 22
We leave tomorrow for a 6-day operation. What we will be doing for the next few months is making cloverleaf sweeps toward the Cambodian border. ETA January
You asked what I do at base camp, eat hot food, sleep, and write long letters.
We were issued new malaria pills today. Small white ones we take daily. Change in area.
1967 November 23
Found out this morning we (4th platoon) are going to an artillery base camp to pull guard and fire the mortar for 3 days and then about 5 days in the jungle. With luck I may get a simulation of a Thanksgiving dinner. Lucked out!
I needed something to sharpen my machete, you read my mind. That charm is great, do you have the other half? I'm going to buy a separate chain for it but now it is on my dog tag chain. Can't wait until it is one.
1967 November 24
One thing about Vietnam, the nights sure are pretty with all the stars and moon.
Not too much to report. 4th Platoon is now a rifle platoon and guess who is an RTO, yep me. I may like it. That radio is heavy, 33 pounds I think but I have re-distributed, balanced, and rearranged in hopes of making the load lighter.
1967 December 3
I am pulling guard for some engineers doing some construction. We are out of the jungle as such but it has been 4 days since my last shower! All I had time for yesterday was for a shave because we were a ready reactionary force for a base camp that got hit further north. We had to be ready on 10 minutes notice.
Went on ambush, 2nd one, the other night and had a thundershower that soaked me through.
Seems we are going to make the big jump north. We have been working in 3 sectors, Uniontown, S. Uniontown, and Strike, (code names for the areas) to familiarize ourselves with the terrain. This has been a 2-week project.
Last night we test fired our weapons and I have 3 loaded magazines, 60 rounds. That's not too much, we get re-supplied today. We had hot chow last night!
I'm pretty tired; we had only three men at the bunker to pull guard. Three hours a piece. One guy tried to pull some shit but I squared him away. Said he couldn't see his watch! Bullshit.
I can now work all day with my shirt off with no adverse affects.
1967 December 5
Received your letter today. It really struck me as ironical as pot has been discussed quite frequently around here lately. Our senior medic smokes and so do several others including the lieutenants. Nothing to get in a hassle about, no sweat on my end. I have no desire to smoke it. I get enough kicks fighting a Goddamn war. Like I said no sweat, it is very common.
We went on a 30-minute eagle flight up north. Right now we are securing the engineers while they build an artillery base camp. On our sweep yesterday we uncovered 4700 pounds of polished rice and white corn. I believe it came from San Francisco!
We move further north in a couple of days. Oh yeah, I do destroy my letters as per training.
Time to eat my "C's" as hot chow did not make it. At least we got mail.
When we landed yesterday we had choppers (gunships) firing mini guns and rockets to hose down the area. We had some ground fire and I stuck my knee on some barbwire, no sweat.
1967 December 6
Contact with VC KI (D800) Battalion, Dong Nai Regiment base camp at 2P.M. VIC YT 002316
A company 3/7 on two helicopters landed at VIC YT 009313
2 Armored personnel carriers hit mines VIC YT 962317
A company 3/7 attacked the east side of the perimeter
Squad Leader Kelly WIA
Jones A. WIA
Clevis WIA (23 Mar 68)
Cotton Wounded friendly round
Squad leader Hahn KIA
Castaldo WIA(23 Mar 68)
Gotcher KIA(23 Mar 68)
Perlewitz KIA(23 Mar 68)
Cayford KIA(23 Mar 68)
Squad Leader Flores WIA
Harris J. WIA
Jones R. D.
McGee Wounded friendly fire
Chaplain Angelo Litkey WIA
Platoon Sgt D. Garrison WIA
RTO N. Reeves WIA
Senior Medic McElroy WIA
Scout Dog handler D. Rolibab
Scout Dog King WIA
Total for A Company •
3 KIA • 17 WIA • 20 Evacuated
Total for Brigade •
25 KIA • 87 WIA
Total for VC •
67 KIA • 85 (Poss)
22- 82 mm mortar rounds
26- 60 mm mortar rounds
17 Chicom claymore mines
4000 pounds of rice
900 AK 47 rounds
150 mixed uniforms
32 pounds of documents
1967 December 9
I have started to collect myself together and am now able to write you. Here is what happened on the morning of the 6th, we received mortars. 2 men were injured one got quite a bit of shrapnel. The 1 round landed about 30 feet away from me. I was lucky but not as lucky as later.
We packed our gear, radio, and moved out to try to see where the mortars came from.
We went out about 1500 meters to a place we thought would be an ideal spot for Charlie.
Our security spotted 2 VC, fired at them as they ran down a trail. Our platoon was the first to reach the area.
We got on line along the trail and proceeded to advance into the woods, the area the VC ran. We reconnoitered by fire, that is , fired our weapons into the area. All hell broke loose, claymores, automatic weapons, grenades, and the whole bit.
We fired and someone called our medic who was with me. He ran toward the guy and got hit with a claymore, blew his leg off at the knee.
For the next 6 hours we had 6 killed and too many too count wounded. We had many dust offs (medivac). 1 Chopper tried to lower a litter into the woods, he took a few rounds and had to leave. The rest of the day was worse. Guys with heads and limbs blown off still alive.
I would rather not write anymore on the subject, I've written too much already.
I got shrapnel in my back and power burns on my arm. Now sweat, I'm OK, and they leave the shrapnel in and let the muscle grow around it. I'm very lucky to come out as well as I did.
We, 2 platoons, hit a VC North Vietnamese Regular base camp of about 150 to 200 men. They picked up and ran when another company hit them from the side.
Call the parents and tell them I'm OK.
1967 December 15
I am platoon RTO for a new First Lieutenant and he is the greatest. He watches over me and makes sure I don't get screwed.
Just finished sugar pops and pears ! Grrrreat. Last night I had a screwdriver. My Lieutenant has some vodka, we really enjoyed it.
Reference December 6 action, it took place in Bien Hoa Province near Khu Tru-Mat Phuoc-Loc. This is located along the Suoi Dia River. The Suoi Ngan River and Suoi Dia meet, go south on the Suoi Dia about tow to three thousand meters and this is where I am. These two rivers are tributaries to the Song be river. We just finished building a shower, after at least 3 weeks it feels wonderful. I even have a clean T-shirt to celebrate with. We have received word that we are going to a not so "hot" spot in about two weeks. We need a break.
1967 December 16
I took my monthly shower yesterday and that is no lie!
We had the day off somewhat. I've been building a bunker all day. It's about 5P.M. now and is the first chance I've had to write. The firefight we got into on December 6th I find has changed the war in Nam believe it or not! Westmoreland was here today to check things out. We came into this area, the 4/12, and now we have the 25th Division, the 9th Infantry, Vietnamese Marine Rangers, and all the support we need. Although, I must say a little late you see dear, there were 20 guys KIA on December 6th. I hesitate to write the truth as it is not very pretty but I don't feel right not telling you all. Please if you don't want to hear the truth because it will worry you too much, please! Tell me. I understand 100%.
We discovered this area is a main supply area for the VC. Also we ran into at least a battalion of hard core North Vietnamese Regulars. Remember? I'm tough!!(ha) Yesterday we went back to the same area for the 4th time. They are doing this for a duel reason.
1. Because the area has to be secured for military reasons.
2. For psychological reasons.
The men of the 4th platoon are very jumpy and scared. We can't sit around and keep thinking about what happened. We must push on, as the saying goes. Well yesterday coming into the same area, from a different direction, we hit the base camp observation post, about 4 or 5 bunkers. The first platoon hit it first and saw 3 VC, wounded or killed 1 and the others got away. We went in behind the 1st platoon and as we ran up to the area (we were in a column and back about 100 meters) the Battalion Commander was watching our reaction. He was impressed with the way we reacted. Favorably!.
1967 December 19
Yes, the weather is pretty warm but the area is hot, get me? Doesn't seem like Christmas here except when I hear Christmas music occasionally on tapes. Even then it just brings memories of last Christmas. Sorry it just isn't Christmas Country over here.
10 months to go!
We are getting ready to clear a road. We have been a bit delayed this morning as we thought we had contact last night. I don't think we did but we fired mortars and artillery around us. This place gets on my nerves!
I'm still kicking and am in pretty good spirits. I was up last night until 3A.M., we had some movement around our position, and they tripped a trip flare. We fired mortars 100 meters in front of our position. I believe it was a case of mass hysteria. I don't think too much was out there. We lost our platoon leader, Lieutenant Morris. He lives in Oakridge Tenn. I want to go see him when I get home. He invited us down, has plenty of room and we are welcome. I really want to go and for you to meet him. He is number 1 and we got along like brothers.
We are waiting to go to an area that 2 companies got hit this morning by 14 VC wearing rucksacks containing ammo and demolition. We are on standby, no word as yet. The 4th platoon of A company is becoming famous. December 6th! We are all wearing camouflage scarfs made our of a parachute. There is a lot of esprit de corps among us. We will never forget that day!
Say, what makes you think I won't be in the field Christmas. I doubt very much we will be out of the field. Maybe for New Years. Second letter to you today. I won't be an RTO shortly. Due to my leadership qualities (get that!) I'll be made a team leader of our new squad. We only have two squads not, working on three as the replacements come in. Must say I am glad to get rid of that radio. 4 months to go! (R&R)
1967 December 21
Received your response to my letter reference December 6th. I did have to get it off my chest. Thank you for listening. I had a treat.....ICE COLD soda (Pepsi) believe it or not. When we do get soda it is usually warm or hot but we drink it. Beer also, Pabst. I want my watch. It is sort of good luck and I don't feel right wearing another. I would appreciate you sending it. I have been able to shower every day for about a week and shave. I feel better. I got a Gillette razor today from our sundries pack. Also am using Old Spice deodorant and after shave your student Larry sent me. Wait till you see my groovy tan. I am getting so I can remain in the sun all day and not get burnt. Would you believe! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
I have been using a laundry bag for a pillow. I am also in dire need of washcloths. I have been able to take showers everyday, a real treat. Well it is pretty definite, we will be in the field for Xmas and possibly for New Years. We are supposed to be going to a rear base camp in the beginning of January. We will then start operating in a "cooler" area. Where we are now it is very "hot." (North Vietnamese Regulars). Down south we fight farmers which are not as well equipped as these guys.
1967 December 23
Went to firebase last night and fired the mortars. Really felt good. We are supposed to take it easy for the next few days due to the truce. We still ambush, etc. Bien Hoa is off limits now as 6 GI's got killed there. That's why I want my 38. I'm going to get a 45 to carry in the field. If I get in a bind it will sure help. Enclosed are my orders for my CIB. This is a result of December 6th. Means I was under hostile fire and am an expert infantryman. Ha! I got a hole in my air mattress and am trying to patch it up with adhesive tape. Not very successful at the moment. We have Chinooks flying over us all day, what a hassle, they blow stuff all over the place. Enclosed is a picture one of the guys took. I wish I wasn't smiling. I guess you won't mind. The scarf is a symbol of December 6th. Next to my left arm are a radio battery (cardboard box) and a starlight scope we use at night to look for VC. Directly next to my left ear is our escape route to the firebase and above my right shoulder is smoke from our trash. I'm sitting on the bunker.
Just came back from taking a bath in a water hole we found, spring fed.
I have been meaning to tell you but have hesitated until I exhausted all efforts. I lost the charm and dog tags in the firefight. I remember them coming off, I'm not sure if they were pulled off or came off when I got hit. We have been back to the location 5 times and I have looked where I thought I had lost them but to no avail. I really feel bad about it and really miss it.
I have this guy on my mind an awful lot. He was, I guess, about 19, good looking, blonde hair and a great guy. Would do anything for you. He carried a radio battery around for me on previous operations. On December 6th he was made an RTO. When I saw him, he was lying prone, I thought taking cover but the more I looked at him the more I knew something was wrong. He had been hit bad. We tried to help him but he didn't make it. Got it was awful. I deserved to get it more than him. I didn't know him real well but he was just a great guy. Well there is nothing that can be done to bring him back so I guess I have gotten it off my chest. Thank you.
You know I always seem to make friends with the medics. I don't know why. RTO's and medics stay apart in the field for obvious reasons on an operation. I didn't make SP/4 this month but are trying for next month. The seemed impressed with my leadership and confidence. Strange? Some big shit is brewing tonight. No sleep tonight. All company CO's have been called in for a meeting and all operations have been cancelled. Think VC are going to bring some smoke on us prior to the "truce."
1967 December 25 • Christmas
We went on an eagle flight yesterday where another company had contact a couple of days ago. We wound up following about 10 VC (squad). We found their fresh tracks and put some dogs on their trail. The dog handlers said they were about 20 minutes in front of us. We had no contact. Yeah! Haven't heard any artillery this morning, could be the truce, maybe.
I ate such a large lunch of C rations I wasn't hungry for dinner. I make cheeseburgers out of beefsteak and fried ham.
I missed the Bob Hope show! You won't believe how. I heard some chickens and a rooster behind our position and went in pursuit. We found a wild turkey but were unable to get a shot.
I'll be on TV I think reference a half hour documentary on our chaplain's actions of December 6. I'm in the front row of the alter. The documentary is called "More than a man."
It's a few minutes to six the truce is over and the artillery is going off.
1967 December 26
Just got rid of my RTO job and don't know as yet what I'll be doing. Can't be worse. I requested to be placed in a squad rather than remaining as an RTO.
Guess what, I'm still an RTO. Don't ask me why. I sort of felt that I let the radio get the best of me and ducked out on my responsibility. So, I decided to stick it out at least make SP/4.
1967 December 27
Well we stopped construction of new bunkers and are now ready reactionary for 2 companies in a bind. They believe there is another base camp. I'm all packed and set to go but not willing. Yet I know what it is like to be stuck out there and know help is on the way.
This morning our medic was taking a leak and kept hearing things around him. Come to find out they were bullets. There was a firefight some ways off and we were receiving some of the rounds. What a way to start the day. Like I said we are building new positions.
On the 31st of December we are supposed to go south to a place called Concord for 2 weeks. New Years out in the field too. After 2 weeks we go to the rear base camp at Long Binh for 3 days. Big deal, 50 some days for 3. This is all true if there are no drastic developments and that is very probable.
1967 December 28
Fired the mortars last night while the other 3 platoons went out to support 2 companies pinned down by VC. Sort of wanted to go. Crazy! Been 22 days since the 6th and back still not completely healed.
Getting ready to move back to the perimeter and am going to take a bath in the pond before I return. We fired the mortars from the firebase, our perimeter is about 200 meters from the base. The 31st we move back to the old firebase called "Concord" for 2 weeks. Then to Long Binh for 3 days then to "hill 44" so I hear down south.
Think about you always and hope for R&R. Hope my mind isn't too messed up by then. Hope I didn't change so much you don't disapprove of the change. Never thought anything could change me so much.
1967 December 29
Last night some B-52 bombers bombed our last area of contact and now hitting it with fighters. Too bad the VC isn’t there.
Yes we have dogs. Strange though, all the dogs I have seen, their tails are curled up and over there back. I have yet to see a cat. I understand there are some here but haven't seen any yet.
I think I told you we have a new lieutenant and platoon sergeant. Not too cool. I tried to give them a chance and not compare them to our last lieutenant. Like you said, I will adjust.
Just got a pair of clean new socks and a "t" shirt. Seems today is my day so far.
1967 December 30
You asked me to write you honestly. Well to be honest, I would rather leave some things unsaid until I come home for your sake. I'm sure you would just worry more than you are now. That's not necessary.
A plane with a device that can detect heat discovered some heat spots on the ground so we decided to drop a load (B-52) just to see what might develop (at 4:30A.M. no less) and guess what they uncovered? 50 bunkers, VC type, no body count. There is also a troop build up to the north and some fighters dropped a few on them today. So sorry!
Yesterday we got as far as the landing zone as a ready reactionary force. Some LRRP's (long range recon's) (6 men) got into a jam. They got out OK much to my relief. I've packed and un-packed so much I'm becoming a pro.
A scorpion stung a guy last night. No sweat, he was brown and black and less harmful then the red ones. The guys on the perimeter were more dangerous then the insects as we were taking the guy for treatment.
1967 December 31
Well lady luck is still with me. We had a short mortar round last night. The next position down, about 50 meters away. 4 men got injured, I had enough sense to get in our bunker as soon as I heard they were firing 81mm's.
This prayer was found in the fifteenth year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In 1505 it was sent from the Pope to Emperor Charles, when he was going into battle. "Whoever shall read this prayer or hear it, or keep it about themselves, shall never die a sudden death or be drowned, nor shall poison take effect on him; neither shall they fall into the hands of the enemy, or shall be burned in any fire or shall be overpowered in battle.
Say for nine mornings for anything you may desire. It has never been known to fail.
1968 January 1 • New Years Day
Have a wonderful year!
The big perimeter(firebase) sent up flares and the artillery shot about 20 illumination rounds to celebrate the coming of the New Year. It was pretty nice considering. They just called on the radio for all platoon leaders and sergeants. Sounds like an operation. "Give me a break!"
I understand we are going down south. I understand they haven't had contact in 14 sweeps. Watch, we'll go and make contact sure as shit.
We are still working on our new bunkers, soon to be finished.
Things have been pretty quiet since 6P.M. last night due to the truce. Hope it stays that way.
Been in the field 43 days now. Guys are getting on one another's nerves.
1968 January 2
Well I have finally made the big switch but for how long, I don't know. I'm now in a squad as a rifleman. I couldn't hack our "leaders" any longer. They are bad. I have a real good squad leader but he will leave country soon. Seems we always lose our good men. We lost our medic yesterday, he went to another company. All good things must come to an end they say.
I'll be going on ambushes, listening posts, etc. but I will have peace of mind.
There is supposed to be a show at the firebase with a girl called Chris Noel. She is on the radio over here and reportedly a movie star. Can't say I've heard of her before coming here. Any entertainment is quite welcome here.
Just saw the Chris Noel show, you don't know her and you don't want to.
1968 January 3
We are a ready reactionary force today for 2 companies that went out on a sweep to an area that was supposed to be a VC troop build up. I hope they don't need us since today is supposed to be our last day in the area. We are supposed to go down south tomorrow, Lord willing. It sure will be a vacation.
It gets pretty cool here at night. There is a lot of dew in the morning, anything that isn't covered gets wet.
They just said on the radio "Mosquitoes, if you can't kill them, frustrate them!"
1968 January 4
It is a rather grey and dismal morning here. I'm in a lousy mood anyway, last night we came into the firebase to pull security since the company that usually does this is out on a sweep. I think the reason I feel so bad is these clothes I have on are really crummy. I have been taking a bath everyday or at least when I can but these clothes are really bad. Also they have changed the date to move south to the 5th. If things continue we will never move south. Just as I suspected, unofficial word we go south now on the 10th, that will be our 67th day in the field.
Just received word not to get too settled or relaxed in other words we will probably go on an operation.
I just got the knife you sent. I'm so excited I'm shaking. The knife, needless to say is perfect. It is really lightweight.
Reference pot, yes it is very abundant here and is in quite a bit of use. Very cheap and grows wild.
1968 January 5
Not too much time. Going on a three-day operation so you won't be hearing much from me.
1968 January 10
Lieutenant Morris is with headquarters and the latest word is, the Iron Triangle, Cambodian border, Ho Chi Min trail. Also heard rumors of some operations in Cambodia. This is off the cuff and unofficial so take it for what it is worth. We were supposed to operate down south for a couple of months, well that is a definite no. We are going north.
Award services for purple hearts tomorrow.
I'm beginning to understand why we are here, personal reasons.
1. Maybe our children will not have to go through this hellish war.
2. Same, same for Earl and Susan's children.
3. I wouldn't have it any other way. I wanted to come here and I feel I should be here for some reason. (Presbyterian background)
Non-personal reasons, but inter-related, are the U.S. cannot leave now. The cost has been too dear to say oh to hell with Vietnam. Some of the Vietnamese people appreciate us and deserve to have us fight for them.
I can say now, after a long awaited answer, if anything should happen to me, don't be bitter, but perhaps, proud with a feeling of something accomplished. I hate to sound fatalistic, but I would feel worse knowing it was unsaid and you thought I was fighting for a lost cause. I am trying my best. I try harder! (ha!)
I had a good feeling tonight. It is called respect from Lieutenant Morris and a guy who was rather drunk. The under the influence guy called me sergeant, better than SOB or something else. Lieutenant Morris had it all over his face.
But you must remember, dear, "I'm tough" so no sweat. You know me I always pull through.
1968 January 14
Well we made it to base camp. I wore civilian clothes for three days. Wow!
I'm writing this letter by moonlight!
1968 January 15
Not too much to report today except I'm doing a lot of walking.
"Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for I am the evilest son of a bitch in the valley."
Items of interest:
canned baked apples
I found out that I have been put in for a Bronze Star by the CO and Lieutenant Morris for actions on December 6th. It has to be approved by Brigade and I don't think it will but I am honored to have been put in for it. It is a real compliment.
1968 January 16
I was on guard last night til midnight. I woke up the first man and told him to pull an hour and a half while the other 3 at the position pulled an hour so I got up at 3am again and stayed up until now. Don't believe we will go on an operation today so I can lay around.
1968 January 17
We have to recon an area at 9am. I hope we stay in this area for a couple of days, give us a chance to get some letters written.
Just returned from what was supposed to be a recon. What an abortion! Luckily I can usually find 1 good leader in the platoon. He's my team leader. While we stopped I cooled of by looking at your photographs you sent of the cool snow.
Just bought some Vietnamese bread, real good , bugs and all. Some were even lucky enough to get some dirt. Ha. If we don't have bugs or dirt in our food there is something strange going on!
1968 January 18
Understand we are going to firebase Concord today, got to see it to believe it.
1968 January 19
We are what is called a blocking force last night and today. A company is sweeping toward us and we are waiting for the VC to get caught between. A little activity last night and some artillery coming mighty close this morning but all is well.
1968 January 20
I'm not quite sure of my location at the present time, but I would guess, ten miles north of Long Binh. I don't even know why we are out here at the moment. The un-organized army. My platoon (about 25 men) and the third platoon are attached to C Company. I say again, I don't know why. We are going to eagle flight out of here tomorrow morning to I don't know where. Back to our company I hear. Our last platoon leader told us, this one doesn't. I'm trying to get out of this platoon. No leadership except my team leader and he is leaving soon. Company, platoon, squad, fire teams. This is a company set up. The 199th is called light, because the largest piece of artillery is a 105, swift because we are airmobile, accurate, your guess is as good as mine!
1968 January 22
Just returned from a recon patrol with negative results. Supposed to be VC in the area but haven't seen any lately. Making good use of the metal spoon you sent me.
You said you were a little confused as to my activities. You should be here if you want to be confused. I wish someone would get their head out of their ass. At the present time I believe I am 10 to 15 miles north of Long Binh.
Have to explode a 200-pound bomb we found on recon. Using 2 1/2 pounds of explosive.
Got to take a shower yesterday but today I'm just as dirty if not more so. Still felt good taking a shower.
Sorry about the Valentines card. I carried it around and it was becoming rather torn and tattered so I wanted you to have it before I couldn't mail it. I got it in base camp because I knew I would be in the field.
1968 January 25
Lately I've been thinking an awful lot, especially at night. I lay on my back and look at the stars and remember about you and the world. Amazing how you can detach yourself from this place, just for a moment, until a mortar or artillery round goes off. Then you are back here in Vietnam.
I'm not a machine gunner any longer. I'm assistant gunner. I'm glad, I don't like to carry anything except my M16. I shot the machine gun yesterday, really neat, still too much of a disadvantage. Heard rumors we are moving north. We are in an area that is supposed to contain a base camp of VC but I have my doubts as we haven't seen any yet. Just got the word we are moving out, said it was too good to be true.
Well I'm sitting in a foxhole waiting for Charlie. Three of our platoons have him pinned down and he may come this way. No sweat, as you can tell I am writing a letter. The VC usually takes off when it gets dark.
Busy day for other 3 platoons they made contact, 3 wounded 1 killed so far. It is getting dark so Charlie will no doubt leave his present location, he knows what we have in store for him tomorrow.
1968 January 26
We are at the area of contact of yesterday. I carried one man out, had his head blown off and the VC booby-trapped his body since it was left overnight. I volunteered to carry it out as a grim reminder to me as to what can happen you tend to forget. He had about 2 months left.
1968 January 28
Good morning will write soon.
1968 January 29
We've been humping lately, not much time to write. We are in a rocket belt, a belt where the VC can rocket Bien Hoa AFB, Long Binh, with 122-millimeter rockets. We will enter the Tet truce at 6P.M. tonight. We are to recon this belt to see that they don't set up any rockets. Yesterday we went on an eagle flight to a reported tunnel complex that LRRP's thought they found. Never happened. Man am I dirty, going to shave tonight if my rucksack is flown in. I'm drinking hot beer but it's wet!
1968 January 30
Good morning USA.
1968 January 31 • Tet
Had a rather exciting night. Went on ambush, and at 3A.M. Charlie started sending rockets to Long Binh. They were about 1000 meters to our left and right. I also understand they made wave attacks on the post. We are set up now as a blocking force, waiting for the VC to walk into us. We dropped artillery into the suspected area for about 2 hours then bombed the area. We couldn't get resupplied this morning as all the choppers were tied up (in use).
I'm team leader of the point squad now.
No more machine gun.
Just woke up from taking a snooze, really felt well as I haven't had much sleep. Might have to leave the area, hope not. Just heard part of what happened on the am radio. Seems Long Binh, Saigon got hit pretty badly.
1968 February 1
Things are still hoping around. Most of our rear base camps are being hit pretty hard. The VC tried to overrun a POW camp. We are still in the sticks at the present time, seems to be the safest place for the time being. Shaved and brushed my teeth this morning but am low on water. Still no re-supply.
We haven't been paid as yet because of the VC activities, will send money as soon as I get paid.
Getting new type of C rations. New additions, Spaghetti and meat. Of the 12 meals 8 have fruit, ham and lima beans. Ham and eggs chopped have been eliminated. We were like a bunch of kids opening Christmas presents.
We haven't had any mail for a couple of days.
Just took a break from digging in and listening to some recorded music.
Got paid today. 5000 VC killed!
Supposed to have been 21 battalions of VC in the area, I say again, no sweat, I'm OK.
1968 February 4
Has been good day so far. Been sweeping along the Song Be (Song means river). Yesterday we searched a village to no avail. Ate grapefruit, bananas and watermelon. It was real good. To top the day we went swimming in the river. We set up 3500 meters down the river, went swimming again. I took 10 baths today at least and shaved. Every company in the 199th has a body count except A company. Yesterday before going to the village a sniper took some pot shots at us.
We went on an eagle flight at 1230A.M.! The pucker factor was about 100%. We set up at 2am It was supposedly a hot LZ. Haven't seen one yet. Guess I have listening post tonight. Don't get as much sleep but can't have everything.
We cordoned and searched a Buddhist village. Great, ate watermelon, real sweet grapefruit, bananas and were offered some Vietnamese tea. Tea tastes like hot water! Didn't come up with too much for the VC cause and generally had a good time. Beats beating the bush.
Since we have been set up by the river I have taken ten baths today. I washed and washed and washed. We have been fishing too. Just drop a grenade in the water and wait for your catch.
1968 February 5
We have had it real nice the last couple of days.
The shrapnel is working out of my back. I'll send you a sample. In reference to the fatigues. The only kinds we are permitted to wear over here are "jungle" fatigues which are quite different from stateside ones.
1968 February 7
I now have an R&R date of March 28 through April 4. It has not been approved yet.
Working around Saigon, not much chance to go north. Yea! This is due to I'm sure the latest developments. I really enjoy working down here in comparison to the northern areas, as I've said before.
Mail is still behind, getting letters 7 days old.
We have an ambush tonight along a road, and were informed we will start on the nighttime operations. Can't say I'm crazy about the idea. It will leave us a half a chance if we have good leaders
1968 February 19
Sorry , long time no write. Got some 2nd degree burns on my right hand and was bandaged up so I couldn't write. I have been at our rear base camp at Long Binh since the 9th. I guess I will return to the field in a week or less and the doctor will check on my hand on the 23rd. No sweat. Trip flare went off in my hand setting up a claymore mine at the perimeter. I was more concerned about the guys shooting me than the burn. They say the next day they looked at the area and the claymore was charred. I hadn't put the blasting cap in the mine fortunately.
The VC hit the ammo dump 1am a couple of days ago. You had to be here to see us scramble for the bunker. The first explosion knocked me clean out of the bunk. What a sight I must have been.
Someone in the next barracks just shot his weapon. Scared the shit out of me.
1968 February 20
The watermelon was grown in the village. Real sweet.
My hand is healing just fine. It is rather stiff now. I'll have to wait until it heals almost completely to see if I'll be able to move it normally. If not you can be sure the Army will hear about it.
We had another red alert last night. There was some firing on the perimeter.
1968 February 21
A friend of mine has convinced me to get out of the field if I can. The opportunity is coming. I believe I'll get a purple heart for burning my hand. That makes two. A sergeant in personnel can get me a good job I believe. I have friends who are working back here SP/4 going to E5. That gives me the ass. If I sound bitter I suppose I am. A company is getting the shaft more than once. For example the 4/12 is coming into base camp for 4 days--A company remains in the field.
I keep remembering what you said when I first came over here "I can't see you at a desk job." I thought your reaction would be " thank God he won't be in the field."
I also say I've seen my shit on December 6th but so have others and they are still in the field so why should I get out? I've been back here since the 9th and have had a taste of what it is like to live like a human. As you can see I'm uneasy about the whole thing. I'll let my conscience be my guide and hope you won't think less of me. The last sentence tells you the whole problem will I think less of myself?
1968 February 25
My hand is healing real well. The only thing that is bothering me now is it a little tender yet.
1968 February 27
Well it's pretty final this time. Battalion has called the Company and informed them not to send me out to the field again. The policy is when a man receives his second Purple Heart, he is eligible to be extracted from the field. Probably be transferred to the 7th Support Unit.
1968 March 1
Well it has happened today and is final. I have been assigned to Headquarters as a clerk to the Deputy Commander LTC F.E. Davison. Next higher in command in General Forbes.
1968 March 7
I have had a pretty good day so far. The pictures were taken on an operation, one of me standing on a log was taken on a recon mission. I think it was prettier where I was standing, there was a deep ravine that the log crossed and really looked nice. The one of us in the jungle was a hill that we crossed on the recon. This all took place after the main Tet offensive. We had searched a village that day and received sniper fire.
1968 March 17
Well 10 or 11 days to go, I like to say 10 too since I go to Camp Alpha on the 27th. I'll be on my way more or less.(R&R)
1968 March 24
Got very drunk the other night, the third time would have been unlucky. 3 killed, 1 missing, 5 wounded from my team, squad, platoon. All that were killed were there on the 6th and made it! 4 days to go to R&R.
1968 April 4
Tan Son Nhut
It is about 8P.M. here, you are no doubt home by now. I am pretty tired been up for about 20 hours.
1968 April 6
I had a terrible headache from the night I spent at Tan Son Nhut. I just fell asleep when we had 5 mortar rounds arrive (ha). Had to lay on the floor for about 5 minutes.
It rained 2 1/2 inches in an hour while I was gone. You can see the tin roofs now, before all it was, was dust.
1968 April 10
We were working near Tay Ninh with the 25th Division as the article stated but is now near completion. I am surprised they gave the name of the operation. My colonel's name is Davison.
I have been asked to design a cover for a book that is issued to new men coming in country. 193 days left!
1968 April 11
This promotion deal burns me up. After all Bronze Star with valor and Purple Heart in 4 or 5 months doesn't warrant a promotion. Maybe if I got killed they might. If I sound bitter I am. That's the army for you.
1968 April 14
The monsoons have started and it has rained every evening since my return from R&R. I don't know what I prefer dust or mud!
1968 April 16
I believe you will be hearing more about the 199th, our operations are not classified any more, don't know why.
1968 April 18
And who can tell with certainty in the Heavenly Father's sight, Who's entitled to the "Medals" and who's the "hero of the fight"
1968 April 22
A lieutenant colonel said " you really love your wife don't you?" He also said " you are always happy aren't you."
1968 April 23
"Painting is the art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic."
"I like not only to be loved, but to be told that I am loved; the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave."
I've been thinking about what the "day" will be like when I come home. How things have changed, etc. 173 to go, so I guess I'll cool it for now.
1968 April 24
Expecting another offensive soon but not on May Day, the traditional Communist holiday. That is all I can say now.
25 April 1968
I doubt that I'll tell too many stories, not worth repeating, rather forget about it. I suppose I'll have a lot to say, I don't know.
Those "peace" talks are more concerned about where than why.
Things are going to get hot soon. 3/7th infantry has had a lot of contact this week. The last 8 killed and 33 wounded. Found VC documents today with our base camp plotted for rockets. Hope it's the only thing they had.......ha!
1968 April 26
We are expecting another offensive and the possibility of gas has come about though for reasons I cannot say. Just heard VC came up as close as 50 meters to the perimeter and tapped the telephone line. Nothing to worry about rest assured.
I enjoyed the article about "spooky" and no one enjoyed his presence more than me on the 6th. He lit up the sky for us that night. I talked with him throughout the night giving directions for illumination. This particular plane was called "moonshine." We hated to see him leave. Strangely his light gave us a sense of security
Your war will be over in October too.
1968 April 28
Westmoreland is expected here today at 2P.M.
Expected the third offensive last night but it didn't materialize and everything was relatively quiet. There was more action than usual but not large scale. I rode shotgun to Bien Hoa AFB to pick up a warrant officer and we managed to have a flat in the middle of Bien Hoa just as it was getting dark. Other than a few automatic rounds fired ahead of us by someone, and the flat it was uneventful.
1968 May 4
VC situation is questionable. It has everyone on edge. Someone said "Good morning Captain Palmer" in the mess hall and everyone wound up on the floor. Thought he said incoming mortars! It's coming I'm sure, but when?
1968 May 5
VC hit Saigon 310A.M. up until about 10A.M. which is unusual for them to fight in the daylight. We still expect to get hit.
1968 May 6
I can't stand to sleep in the bunker, too many people, so I slept on the floor of the Red Cross building where a friend of mine works. I was told not to do it again so I will find some other place to go to. Those bunkers remind me of a tomb.
Few mortars at Tan Son Nuht but no real damage.
1968 May 12
I have found out that the rounds that came in last night were 122mm rockets. None hit Camp Frenzell Jones but some did hit the ammo dump (no damage) and the 90th replacement Bn. I hear there was 1 killed and 8 wounded at the 90th. We went on red alert for about an hour then back to yellow for the rest of the night. I must say we are well protected, no sooner did the VC launch the rockets we had artillery back in their direction as their rounds landed . This is due to the fact that we have radar that detects a round in-coming and picks up it's direction and counter rocket and mortar are returned.
1968 May 14
I received a letter from a friend of mine, Castaldo, who is in California now recuperating from his wounds received just before I went on R&R. He sounded real good but says he can't stop thinking of Vietnam and the guys over here.
1968 May 23
Thought for the day:
Time flies, Suns rise, and shadows fall. Let time go by.
1968 May 27
Malaria pill day today, I will probably defecate it tonight. That pill works "wonders."
1968 May 28
Talked with Davison today about the promotion. He said I should have gone to him first, that's the advantage of working for a field grade officer. We will see.
1968 May 31
Invited today to the presentation of a Distinguished Service Cross to Father Litkey in a week or so.
1968 June 7
I was interviewed by UPI, AP, and ABC radio today. I was also filmed quite a bit during an interview and as the ceremony was progressing.
1968 June 29
In the last three days I have been in the air about a total of 3 hours. I ride forward with Colonel Davison in the evening and come back with the chopper. Saigon is beautiful at night. The chopper crash killed two real good friends, not much you can say about it. Power failure during a right bank after take off, instant death.
1968 June 30
As of June 21 I am SP/4 .
I am not 11C10 any more I am 71B20. Translated means: I am not a mortar man any more but a clerk! Ugh!! It is good as far as my future in the field goes but back in the states I will be a clerk. Yet I sort of am proud of being in the infantry and wearing the infantry brass. Secondary MOS is the mortar. Change was for promotion purposes.
I am sort of sorry that I told you about my flying as I don't want to cause you any undue alarm.
MOS has been changed back to 11C10!
1968 July 14
Just what I needed. I went out to the forward fire support base today via jeep. Specialist Jones, Captain Burkett, and Lieutenant Stone, accompanied me. We were going to see Lieutenant Morris receive his DSC from General Abbrams. We went through the center of Saigon with no trouble. Got to Cholon and our trouble started. We missed a road and wound up in several Vietnamese villages where the people did not acknowledge our greetings or smiles with anything but stares. To top that off we followed a road that led us into an oxcart road and rice paddies. The Captain and I pushed the jeep in the mud for about 200 m. Water buffalo staring at us all along. Got to the ceremony covered with mud.
I wish I could bottle up some of the stink in Vietnam and let the people at home smell it. The open-air markets, with the flies and insects crawling all over the food.
When I got back the headlines read, GI killed in Saigon by terrorists. Hmmm
1968 July 15
Pill day. Well today is big orange pill day and thus the green apple quick stomps day. Last Monday it sure had adverse effects on me or at least something did, gas, upset stomach.
1968 July 19
I know when I finally leave Vietnam I will be thinking about the guys that are not leaving or did leave in a plastic bag, sad day.
I remember how hard it was to leave you.
1968 July 28
Reading the reports from stateside one tends to get rather depressed. I think and have been thinking for the last week especially, when we build a home I want it to be away from everyone, isolated. Strange, I have been away from it all for a year, Tet, am apprehensive about coming back to it all. What it boils down to I suppose is, being in Vietnam, being very close to death, you tend to re evaluate things. I still think of the 6th a lot. I never thought coming to Vietnam could have such an effect on my ways of thinking. I am not going to be some kind of a nut when I get home I am just going to think about everyday things in a different light. For a while anyway.
1968 July 29
We were just discussing how out of touch we are with the popular music back in the "world."
Had a little activity outside the perimeter last night. VC trying to get into the POW compound run by the ARVNs. A guy fell off a RAG boat today and drowned, he had a radio on his back.
1968 August 4
I will be sort of glad to go forward next week as I will be getting some more flying time in and it will probably make time go faster. I have been thinking, I will volunteer to take some of the radio watch if things get too slow. Just monitoring radios.
I can't say that I miss TV being over here. Matter of fact it has been rather pleasing.
You are right, I was a very happy person before the army got a hold of me. Remember how upset I became when I was leaving for Woodbury the day I got drafted? Terrible day. Nothing has been worse that the day I left of Nam though.
1968 August 8
Just received a telephone call from a Time Magazine representative in Saigon about the General's wounds. A man by the name of Charlie Gleason in New York sent a message for a quick recovery. Bullshit!
These officers give me a case of the ass. We get a casualty report and they always circle the officers that are wounded as if they are really something extraordinary. There may be one officer slightly wounded with about 10 PFC's seriously wounded and they will comment about the officer. Bullshit again.
I have really been rewarded for the job I have done. Colonel Davison asked me to extend (ha) and really has a lot of confidence in me not because I am the greatest clerk in the world, but for reasons such as common sense, personality, able to take command of a situation and get the job done (smell me!). Really, I have heard a lot of encouraging words. He's quite a unique person to work for and quite a celebrity being the only Negro General on active duty in the Army.
Bien Hoa has been catching some shit lately 107 millimeter rockets at 3A.M. and 6A.M. on the 7th.
1968 August 9
There was not enough room on the chopper this morning so I came via vehicle. Colonel Davison said that would not happen again, I will come out by chopper and someone will have to stay back to give me room to come out! I will come to the rear every night and leave here about 7P.M..
Going through Saigon we went by the fish market and I almost threw up. It was one of the worst smells I have had the privilege to detect. It was running a close second to the death I have smelled.
1968 August 10
We left the fishnet factory last night and ran into a thunder and lightning storm. We went to Nha Be and re-fueled and then went in the direction of VC island, a place I went to when I first came in country. We followed the rivers to the lights of Saigon and worked our way back. Total flying time of an hour when it usually takes 20 minutes.
1968 August 11
Got bumped on the chopper this morning and Davison had a case of the jaws because no one bumps off anyone who works for him.
1968 August 14
Just found out that the medic that got hit on the 6th lost his leg. They saved it here but lost it back in the states. He's happy to be alive and not worried about his leg so I hear.
1968 August 15
Had two VC prisoners on board last night with one female, one male and us. On the way back I told the pilot to make a hard left turn and we would save the Army a lot of money. He did and scared the shit out of them. After we landed, I hesitate to tell you , one of the other pilots came up to us and asked us if we knew that we took some rounds. He said that when we flew over Ho Nai we had about a hundred rounds fired behind the ship.
1968 August 18
I have been assigned to Fort Knox Kentucky when I come back.
1968 August 20
I not only was thinking a lot about you and home last night but also about Midcap. That kid still bothers me and I was remembering the way he looked. No physical evidence of death, yet I knew he was dying. I almost cried but caught myself in time to change the subject on the outside anyway. I wonder if time will make me forget it all? I can still remember things as vivid as if they just happened. I hope I can forget.
The personnel officer Major O'Shields came into the briefing last night and said he wanted to congratulate me. I looked at him and asked what for , he just shook my hand and said you deserve what you are getting. I asked him again and he just said I would like it.
1968 August 22
Had a restless night last night. 115A.M. VC were sending some 122 millimeter rockets into Bien Hoa AFB and hit a fuel depot or ammo dump. Didn't know initially where the round hit. Also hit the 3rd Ordinance ammo dump across the street from us. Got back to sleep about 345A.M..
Enclosed pictures of Colonel Davison promoting me at the 530P.M. briefing.
1968 August 26
I asked permission to go on a people sniffer mission and permission was granted. I climbed aboard a huey (the Colonel's chopper) and we took off to refuel. We refueled and went to a pre-designated location to meet the Cobra gunship and a LOH chopper who would escort us on the mission. (you will see why later). They were supposed to meet us at 5P.M., we circled for 15 minutes at about 2000 feet doing stalls and just horsing around in general. Our escorts finally arrived and we proceeded to our targets. Upon reaching the target area, we would fly 5 to 10 feet off the ground for the whole time for about an hour and a half. We were flying between trees, along rice paddies, etc. I spotted one bunker just as the machine picked it up, 1 structure with tin roof, and numerous trails. An experience I will long remember.
1968 August 30
Yesterday I went up with the Colonel and watched the 2/3 in contact with an unknown size VC force. We were at 2700 feet to stay out of the way of the artillery. When we first went into the area a white phosphorus round went off right outside the door of the chopper. The final total for the day was 1 VC KIA and 5 US WIA. They got away of course. We got a report that they were in concrete bunkers! I would like to tell you a lot more about what is going on but I am not supposed to and I might get in a jam if I did.
1968 September 9
Thinking about flying tonight. "Eye in the sky" I just want to do all I can now as time is getting SHORT!
1968 September 10
Last night I flew home in the bubble. We flew about 5 feet , 80 knots, down highway 1. In the right hand lane of course! The oncoming traffic was a little surprised to say the least. We passed over the traffic in our lane and almost blew over the gooks on the Hondas. We made a 20 to 25 minute trip in 13 minutes including fooling around.
I've been thinking about flying an "eye in the sky" mission which consists of flying around at night with a starlight scope looking for sampans or VC movement. I would like to return the favor of the 6th before I leave here.
1968 October 9
I start clearing her the 12th and go to the 90th replacement on the 15th and then on the 16th. I've had a little trouble sleeping lately. I'm getting the Army Commendation medal.
In retrospect, I will not forget.