Short Timer Going Home

It doesn’t seem like a year has already coming to its end. I lay awake thinking of seeing my wife and beautiful children especially Corky who was so small when I left for this Tour of Duty.
Tour of Duty what a thing to call the time I spent in this Hell Hole of instant Death.
I think of Jennie Lee the Daughter born during my fight for survival here in Vietnam.
So many faces both dead and living race across my memory, and so hard to separate them. Wake up sweating and shaking from fear.
The fear of these next days I must be hyper vigilant so I can hold my beautiful wife close once again and tell my children how much I love them and how daddy missed them.

What the hell what’s this?
Its 6 Oscar (my commanding officer) 27 Charlie its 6 Oscar do you copy? Over?
Roger 6 Oscar this is 27 Charlie I Copy “Charlie, Charlie, Lima, Charlie “ (communications check loud and clear) this is 6 Oscar pack up your coming back to Charlie Papa (command post) we’re going home.
Roger 6 will be ready for the chopper for pick up in the Alpha Mama (AM:)
hot Damn it’s true I’m going home.

Wonders pass in review of the men I met some of them I will never forget because of their deeds of heroism and some I wont to forget because of how they died in this far off land away from family. Some passed on holding someone else’s hand calling them mom or dad, oh hell will I ever be able to forget them?
Spent a little time with LT Lee and Sgt Kim, wishing them health and happiness and a safe return to their homeland Korea.

Packed my Back Pac full of my humble belongings (2 pair socks, 1pair of underwear, a couple T Shirts and my last pair Jungle Fatigues) I’ll leave the other stuff for the replacement he’ll be able to use it.

The night was quite morning finally arrived. Like I expected the chopper is late and it wont get here till this afternoon. I can hear the chopper it’s a distinct sound that brings many feelings (fear, rescue, hope,) but my feelings are those mixed with joy, and sadness.

I Thought I was getting a ride to the C.P. but wrong. I was dropped off at the cross roads where the guys from the Common Section (communications Section) was waiting with a ton Truck with a 60 mounted on top (M-60 Machine Gun).

     I don’t know who was the happiest me for leaving or them because I was able to get out without much damage except for mental which would show up upon my return to cones (military for USA) this statement was short lived. Got to the C.P. and the CO who had treated me as his son came up with a cold beer and a smile for he to was going home, a week before me.

         The New CO was a likeable fellow who didn’t say much. The next morning we loaded up the Jeep to head for Battalion HQ’s located on the shores of the South China Sea. I was saluted by different ones of the Firing Battery why I didn’t know but would find out decades later. We did the 50 or so clicks without a shot being fired.

First night of sleeping on a cot with a mattress, and it was un-comfortable.
The CO comes the next afternoon and wants to go the Officers Club for his fare well to Vietnam drink, but was leery of being around all the fly boys (Air Force Pilots) so he brings out one of his jungle fatigue blouses and has Queenie ( a Vietnamese lady who did odd jobs in the company area) sew my name tag on it so I could go and help him out if the fly boys tried anything.
Well I was leery of this cause I could be busted all the way back recruit if caught. The rear NCOIC (non commissioned officer in charge) decided to go with us as extra help to save the CO. He put on a pair of Jungle Fatigues without the US ARMY tag on the pocket and became a War Correspondent. I was to be in charge of a company Quad Fifties (4 Fifty Caliber Machine guns mounted on a 21/2 ton Truck).

    When we got to the Officers Club things went better than expected the Fly Boy’s who never saw any ground combat started buy us drinks after we thanked them over and over again for saving our Bacon (lives) from Death with their dropping in with live fire and rendering the Viet Cong dead.
This Nurse starts talking to the CO and he starts describing everything using the word Fuck all the time. I quickly picked up and apologized by saying we had been in the bush (jungle) so long that we had a bad habit of using this word as an Anglo Saxon Descriptive Adjective. She accepted our apology with the reply of saying “I Fucking understand”.
The Club gave its last call for alcohol and we left as we came in but a little more unwound by all the free booze.

    The next morning came with a glass of warm beer to knock the Cobwebs loose. Loaded the Old Man (CO) into the jeep and took him to the Airstrip for his departure to CONUS. I put his bag on the chopper and turned to render my last salute to a man which had backed my every move while serving under his command only to find him in the position of attention with his arm in the position of saluting me first. (enlisted were to render the Salute first) I can figure to this day it was him showing his respect for me never questioning his orders and commands. To this day I cannot forget him for he was always there backing me with support and understanding.

    Sixteen more days and I’m out of here with no regrets. The New CO shows up at base camp with the Battery’s Movie projector which was busted. I told him of my brother being stationed south of us and he was in a Signal Company and might be able to exchange it for a new one with a case of good Scotch Whiskey.

Within an hour the old man sends me along with a jeep driver and machine gunner for about a 60 K trip down south to retrieve them a new projector.
Due to the lateness of the day we were going to have to spend the night, but first things first. Upon our arrival in Nah Trang found my brothers unit without much difficulty. This bootstrap of a Corporal shows jumping up and down raising hell cause the wind shield of the jeep was up with a fresh bullet hole threw it and we weren’t in the proper uniform (all we had on top was our T-shirts and Bullet proof Vest) well we he saw us after putting on our Blouses withme being a staff sergeant and my driver and Gunner both sergeants
wearing 101st Airborne Division Patches on our right shoulder (this denotes having served in combat with the 101st) and me with a Tiger Division Patch (given to me for being attached to the Tiger Division for combat) well lets just say his tune changed rapidly and he got my brother for me.
    My brother directed us to a building to get a new projector.
Well a case of Scotch Whiskey later we had the projector and the sun was setting, so we went to the Nah Trang Hotel to get a room.

    Now what I am going to tell you is quite funny but it is one of those things if you were there it would have rocked your soul with laughter.

    We go up to the third floor to our room and my driver starts talking about how so many of the hotels were being booby trapped by the Vietcong thus killing the would be occupants (talking about us).
Well we put on a show for my brother and his friend, you know feeling around the door frame looking under the beds behind the dresser drawers just everywhere.
Well needless to say this scared the pudding right out of him, well so bad my brother had to take a crap.
Well my gunner let him get down on the stool good and popped up with “did anyone check the commode”? no one knew.
    My poor brother was instructed to sit perfectly still.
Never have I seen anyone with a bronze tan turn ashen white but he did.
We lifted the top off the Tank and said “Oh My God” then all three of us screamed BOOM!!.

           I really think my brother has problems taking a crap without looking inside the Tank first to this very day some thirty years after the fact.

Well the trip back to base camp was un eventful. The old man was happy to get his projector, and I had got to see my brother after not seeing him for five years. It’s four O’clock in the after noon and fourteen more days till I get home to the Round Eyes.

          This quite afternoon was soon broken up wit the CMSGTM ( command Sergeant Major) sending  me out to act as the FO for a combat engineer company securing the pontoon bridge which was one of many needed for travel up and down Highway one.
    Well an FO is a Second LT. Which I was only a Staff Sergeant. I guess I was or had made the impression of being good at that particular job so they felt comfortable putting me in charge.

    That night nothing really happened so at eight O’clock we reported back to the CP. The Sgt. Major was worried for an NCO had missed bed check and couldn’t be found so he asked if we might join in a search of a nearby village which this NCO was known to have been helping with some Humane Projects of some sorts.
It was really scary for the people were staying inside and not opening their stores. We searched and found this poor fellow in a pile of blood and guts de-bowled with his penis cut off and placed in his mouth. All of us just wanted to start shooting any and all gooks we could find but we knew this was wrong.
    I never knew his name and I never want to know it for staying late working trying to help the Vietnamese Villagers cost him his life.

    Spent rest of the day catching cat naps and waking to see the Sgt laying there dead. Fourteen days tomorrow thirteen will it ever end?

    Midnight on the fourteenth day hurray thirteen days left. I am at the head of the Bridge support team talking to their Sniper.
I was looking threw the Star Scope mounted on his M-14 Rifle saw movement of a individual and was given the ok to take the shot, the shot still echo’s in my memory as I see the Gook thrown into the river from the force of the impacting bullet which took his life.

The area I’m concerned with has two mountain ranges far enough apart that a company of mechanized vehicles could get through.
12:12 AM: You can hear Tracks moving in the distance. I have pre plotted that area and I requested my first fire mission having them concentrate their fire on a Target further South from us. Out post reports secondary explosions (this means you have hit the enemy with your Artillery)

            I then call in my own Arty onto the point in the Valley closest to our position more secondary explosions means I then Fire for Effect for over three hours up and down a Valley four miles long and getting reports from the forward out post of many secondary explosions, don’t know what I’m hitting but sure tearing the hell out of something.
    Daylight breaking over the Palm Trees and Village all is quite you can hear your heart trying to beat out of your chest.
All of a sudden the Villagers come running towards us screaming VC ,VC, VC, VC.
I jump into my jeep and pull down to the Southern most point from the bridge.
I stop a Vietnamese White Mouse (Cop) and am told many VC Come so I requested fire on my Position  which would have been the Village, was denied due to close to Friendly Persons.

I saw the Captain go down and started firing over the retreating Vietnamese Soldiers heads with my M-16 Rifle, which made them stop and fight.
I then crawled out and began pulling the CO back to safety.
Got shot in the left wrist.
I see the NVR (North Vietnamese Regular Soldier) by the well and I kill him with short blast from rifle.
Next shot hits me in the right hip, then quite.

Called for Medevac.
Taken by chopper to 91st EVAC Hospital Tuy Hoa . 
Now the end of the physical war and the new unfamiliar war with Veterans Administration begins so that I might receive my writes as promised by Congress.

BACK    HOME