Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sept 17 - Sept 24 1967

107 days, 17 Sept. ’67, Sunday

Beautiful day! No one bothers us all day, and there were no operations. For today, at least, everything was back to normal, no colonels trying to get their name connected with CRIP to impress their superiors, just relaxing at the club, shooting pool, watching the football game. I even wrote some letters; imagine that! Oh, yes, there’s a catch – we have to go out tonight.

It’s now the morning of the 18th, now I can tell what happened last night – you’d better sit down. After our semi-weekly barbeque steak dinner, we left for our ambush night – a house near the swamp, where 25 VC were supposed to eat at about 12:00 that night before moving on to Bao Trai to hit one of the AVN outposts.

We got our information from a double agent. The VC think he’s a VC (he actually goes on operations with them and shoots at our people, but actually he’s on our side). He was supposed to be with the group of 25 tonight, but instead led us to the house. I guess they trust the guy, after all, he is a good source of information and that’s where most of CRIP’s info comes from; guys like him.

We set up positions all around the house, and were supposed to wait there till 1:00 (got there at 10:00). Our position was in the water behind a berm. We were to wait till the VC got to within 10 meters of us before we fired. All we saw while we were set up was mosquitoes. Millions! I got 12 body count in the first half hour, and that was pretty good for being in the dark. They were buzzing around so much it sounded like a model airplane contest. If we’d stayed there another hour, they would have got me for a body count.

As we began to leave, we spotted 5 running across the field about 800 meters away (Starlights are great on a moonlit night). The guys in the position on that side of the house saw them earlier, as they entered another house across the field, but we waited for them to come to us, as we were supposed to do. They never came and an ARVN squad went out and flushed them out of the house they were in; that’s when we saw them running.

Our infantry squad ran out after them with 16s and 60s blazing with tracers. Fire fight at night frightening yet fantastic. The VC returned a couple rounds of fire, but then ran away. Through the Starlight, we saw two fall, but they never found the bodies. The two m-79s stayed on the road and acted as artillery, being directed by Mahoe with the Starlight; first good thing he’s done since he’s been here.

The VC that got away stopped again to return fire, but they shot into an area where they thought we were and were off by 200 meters. Nevertheless, we decided to leave before they got closer (2:00 a.m.).
All this was close enough for me, but it got closer. After an hour, we were on the road again, headed for Bao Trai, in file, 10 meters apart. As we approached a little village, a sniper with a carbine opened up on the rear of the column. Thank God his first 4 or 5 rounds were way high, and by the time he brought them down, everyone was off the road, literally buried in the rice paddy – my head was high enough to breath, but that was it. The rest was under the mud and water. Good thing, too, in no time the rounds were hitting in the road and whizzing, what seemed like inches, about my head. No one could fire back because we were all in a line with the sniper, directly to our rear – the only ones with a chance to fire were the people at the very rear. I don’t know why they didn’t do it sooner than they did.

As it turned out, the sniper quit to reload probably and I began to crawl out onto the road to put some fire down his way with my ’60, but as I started, someone with a ’16 opened up behind me – tracers everywhere around me – like a turtle, I was back in the water. At this time, the rear opened up and the sniper either was shot or di di mao(ed). When the bullets start kicking dirt up in your face, it’s about as close as I want to get! Your boy was a little scared for a while.

Wee, my time came the town was protected by a 3 foot berm, which intersected the road – like a dirt fort. Cito had spotted 3 more VC out in the field, so he set the scout section (7 ‘16s and my ’60) on the berm, and took the rest to the other end of town, and opened fire on nothing hoping the VC out in the field would try to come through the town – past our berm – to investigate and maybe ambush whoever it was that was doing the firing.

The tree in the field never appeared, but three others who had been in the town tried to run out away from the firing – right past our berm. We got low and they walked right past us. We couldn’t fire the other direction for fear of hitting our own men at the other end of the village. Once they had cleared the town past the berm, we opened up.

I swear we hit two of them (I saw one fall then get up again and crawl into some bushes). They had weapons, but simply ran into a tree line and disappeared without firing themselves. We investigated the bushes, but found nothing.

These were not a part of the VC we saw at the ambush – we were too far away from the site for that. They had to be a different group on the move to somewhere and were completely surprised by us coming down the road.

Bed felt good at 4:00 a.m. and we slept till 11:00 this morning. We came out of the whole affair smelling like a rose – we were lucky, hope we never have a night like that again. We might not be so lucky – Charlie might be more prepared next time. I hate night operations.

One good thing – my machine gun works like a charm. 150 rounds in about a minute, or less, of firing.

108 days, 18 Sept ’67, Monday

Our day started at 11:00, so it was rather short. We had a briefing after lunch about what happened last night and then later on we went to the compound next door (the S-2) for a ceremony for some kind. We stood in formation for an hour or so, with the S-2, while several ARVN captains and majors made speeches, which we couldn’t understand I think it was something in honor of CRIP, but it’s just a guess. We never understood a word the whole time. Even Cito could tell us nothing except that it was “a ceremony” and they wanted us there. The whole thing made no sense – to us anyway. The ARVNs were pleased with it thought, so it must’ve been all right.

Xin loi; short day, short letter. Still shaking from last night, Bob

109 days, 19 Sept, /67, Tuesday

We went out on an operation with battalion (2/27 & 1/27) which is like saying we went out all morning and did nothing but get tired. One of our new fellows stepped on a mine – heard the fuse click and dove into a ditch – which luckily had a 10-second delay on it.

We were a search force. The two battalions stayed outside the area, and we went in to search it. It could have taken an hour but they made us go through it about 5 times. The whole area was full of mines (we saw two others, which we destroyed) and punji pits. No one fell in a pit, but I found 4 that were still covered. Plus 17 zillion that had caved in.

All battalion did was sit down all morning and wait for anything that might run out of the woods trying to get away from us.

This afternoon was uneventful. I got the $50 M.O. from home, so now I have some money. My dad is going to buy my $90 camera for $60, plus his camera. I figure that’s a pretty good deal, so get ready for some more pictures some day.

110 days, 20 Sept./67, Wednesday

Went to Cu Chi this morning (finally got to drive my jeep) and cashed my $50 and bought out the PX, and paid a few debts. We rand a convoy back to Duc Hoa before returning to Bao Trai. I stopped there in Duc Hoa and bought a $3.30 beret. The ones everyone wears now are only $1.00 ones, and real flimsy, and cheap. Mine is heavier and of much finer quality, and it has a better shape – looks like beret instead of a high school graduate’s mortar board. As an extra touch, it has a silk label inside, written in Vietnamese. I think it was “made in Saigon” and some other stuff. I wear a size 54 Vietnamese hat.

“A yellow streak runs down their back;
on their heads, their berets are black.
One hundred men came here today;
And not one wants the black beret.”

Got a night mission again tonight. Hope it’s better than the one two nights ago. Get this: we’re going after some VC grave diggers! I’m training one of our new ‘cruits to carry the M-60. I’m a jeep driver now and can’t do both machine gun and drive. Besides, the ’60 is too heavy; heavier for example than an M-16 at any rate. Why should a 4-month vet carry it, when there’s a new guy to unload it onto? That’s what they did to me, now, finally it’s my turn. I’ll give it to him for good on the 23rd, making it one month I carried it. One day was too much.

111 days, 21 Sept/67, Thursday

Night mission wasn’t bad. We set up an ambush along one of the main roads out near some little village; only had to walk 200 meters to get there. It was dark – when we went through a hedgerow, we had to hold onto each other to keep from getting lost –for a while, then it rained for about half an hour, to cool us off. After the, the moon came out and there we were, sitting on a berm in the middle of a rice paddy in full moonlight. I felt like I was on stage in a spotlight. The road was only 75 meters away. We could be seen from it easily – great ambush!

We only stayed there until 11:00 and then went back to the village and set up positions in the roads leading into it and went to sleep – except for one man, one hour, guard shifts – till 6:30, when the truck came to get us.

I never really slept too well. What can you expect, using a machine gun for a pillow? I could have used it to shoot mosquitoes. I don’t see how the gooks sleep with all those mosquitoes. I think they burn some kind of incense (opposite of nonsense).

The trucks came at 6:30. it was just our ¾ for all of us, and the S-2. We usually can get our 30-some people on it, but the S-2 was too much (with our 30 on, it looks like something from the Keystone Kops). Trung Hie (ARVN Sgt.) jumped in front of one of these buses that run up and down the roads loaded with people hanging out the windows, on the roof, hood, anywhere they can hold on; and made everyone get off so we could pile on. I don’t see how these things run; they’re so beat up. I bet we were quite a sight – a bus load of fully armed CRIPs followed by the Keystone Krips (another good time for my camera).

We slept till noon today, despite several interruptions when a chopped flew over the tent and covered us with dust. It was too hot to put down the sides. The rest of today was just relaxing, etc. I went in to Bao Trai and bought a new foot locker – by other one has both hinges broken and was a little too small.

Right now, we’re in the middle of a flood. It rained hard all during the movie and when we walked out of the club, what a surprise – the whole compound was  under water. It was half way up to my knees in the patio area. The chopper area is a lake. There is water all around the tent six inches or deeper. If it rises another inch, it’ll run over the floor and flood the tent. You can look between the cracks in the floor and see water. There are frogs hopping around on the floor. One side – the windward side – is soaked. Water standing in pools on the cots – they left the side up and it rained right in. my side is high and dry.  There’s some nut out by the chopper pad building a boat and loading animals on it. Holy Noah’s Ark, Batman! What a rain!

I’m glad we weren’t on an ambush patrol tonight. The water pump’s been broken all day so no water in the shower; there were guys taking showers in the rain. I haven’t seen anything flood so much, so fast, since Riley Park in Indiana (ask M & D about that).

Even the bats that fly around the compound every night must have been rained out – radar might have gotten wet – they’re not out tonight. What a night; the belfry’s flooded, the bats are drowned, and the bell won’t ring. What’re ya goin’ to do? Sometimes things get so dab, all you can do is sit back and laugh at it all. I can say one thing – my bunk’s dry. Water, water, everywhere; One more drop and we’ll sink, Bob

112 days, 22 Sept/67, Friday

I thought I’d just start numbering letters (fine time)! I figure an average of one letter every 2 days should make this #56. How close is that?

More colonel trouble that could have been avoided had someone taken the time to get the whole story. The colonel came down this morning and saw how wet everything was from last night. He asked why everyone’s clothes, etc., were so wet, and some dud told him that the tent leaked. Colonel jumps on lieutenant about not providing for his men, and lieutenant orders tent torn down so we could get a new one.

We moved everything out and tore down the tent and loaded it in a big pile on a jeep. Of course, no one bothered to find out if there was a new tent in Cu Chi. After a morning of running around Cu Chi we found out there wasn’t.

This is when Cito asked me if all that water came from a leak. I told him that it came from the sides being up. Since the tent looks ratty, and does drip in a couple of places, but the reason they tore it down was because some fool told the colonel that all that water last night came from a leak.

We brought the same one back and set it up again, tearing it a couple of times in the process. Not it will leak. The liner got ripped so bad we tore it out. Now there’s no mosquito net, plus the fact that the liner helped keep the few leaks we had out of the tent and held most of the hot air in the space between the roof and the liner. Now we have leaks, bugs, and it’s twice as hot as it was. All because someone didn’t stop to think. At least we didn’t have a mission today.

113 days, 23 Sept/67, Saturday

This morning I spent washing jeeps in the river in Bao Trai. Well, I paid w kids 50c each for every jeep they washed. It’s a big business for the kids. Just drive to the car wash landing and there they are, all over you. Just pick the first two then go over to one of the girls selling Coke and sit in the shade (another good camera morning – sigh)!

Today they sold peanuts in cone shaped sacks made from un-used election ballots. I guess that speaks for the excellent election security. Also there was an old man with a bicycle equipped with insulated coolers, selling a kind of popsicle made from coconut milk. They were all different colors, but all tasted the same – frozen nothing! At least it was cold.

This afternoon I watched the ball game. They came in from Cu Chi with a new tent! Why couldn’t they have gotten this yesterday? Now we have to tear down and put up again. Glad they brought it though; it rained today and the one we have now leaks like a sieve since yesterday and it’s hotter than (as N. Carolina Jones would say) a fox in a forest fire in August with a southern wind. I guess we’ll put the new one up tomorrow.

114 days, 24 Sept/67, Sunday

Put up the new tent today so now we have no leaks, but we are still without a liner, and so no mosquito net in the tent (just our own on our bunks) and it’s hot. Watched Buffalo beat New York this afternoon 20-1. new York led 17-0 after ¾, but Buffalo came backing the 4th and tied the score with a 51 yard field goal and then won in the final 24 seconds. With another (44 yard) field goal. Great game!

An ARVN captain and three others were killed tonight when their jeep hit a mine on the Cu Chi-Bao Trai road. The jeep was thrown about 25 meters and looked like a crushed beer can. The hole in the road could have held a 2 ½ ton truck. The men were all literally ripped apart; legs, etc. blown off – really a bad sight.

They called us out to help or something. All we did was stand around and stare, like the crowd that gathers at a fire, then went back. Think I’ll take a shower and go to bed. ZZZZZZZZZZZZ, Bob

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sept 11 - 16, 1967

101 days, 11 Sept. ’67, Monday

Last night was nothing (we got to sleep late, but till 8:30 though). A big truck ran off the road in a convoy yesterday afternoon, and the rest of the convoy tried to get it out all day till about 11:00 that night. They even had a tank and couldn’t pull it out. I guess they got scared of being out there alone at night, so called us out to escort them back into Bao Trai.

I got to drive my new jeep – nice – runs almost as good as the Alpine, but somehow it’s just not the same. Maybe if I get a 289 . . .

This morning they left us alone; will wonders never cease? Cito is trying to get the black beret, some of us already wear it, authorized for CRIP. If he does, he wants me to design a patch we can wear on it. Something to symbolize the ARVNs and the US working together – he suggested shaking hands – not original. I thought I’d try to combine the ARVN patch and our Wolfhound crest.

We did go out today – only the second outing in 9 days. Nothing much happened except about 4 rounds of stray artillery from somewhere hit so close we saw the explosions. We did mao (ed). The S-2 boys nearly drowned a VC suspect in a well before he finally talked. That’s become a favorite means of getting info form the prisoners we get from the hutches. If they lie, and there’s nothing where they say there is something, they get shot. Simple as that.

I’ve been seeing M’s picture in the paper all the time. Also got an article from M and D about the Teenage America contest. It’s about time she got into that, should have done it 3 years ago so she’d be in practice for this year. Best of lick, do a good job, so when we see you on TV I can say “See that? I know her”! keep doing jazz numbers – you’ll knock ‘em dead.
’67 Cougars are nice, but the draft is 3 years now (I think). No more to say on that. Glad the Post rejected the letters. Forget Look magazine. Like I said, let’s keep it local; Dispatch, etc. If anything at all. Oh yes, about that plastic sac – nice idea, but you forgot the sac!
Happy 39th (?) birthday, Bob

102 days, 12 Sept. ’67, Tuesday

No one bothered us today, and we didn’t go out – back to normal maybe. There was wind that we were supposed to secure Gladys for 5 days and nights, then that was cancelled and we were scheduled (4 of us) to go on an all night ambush patrol. Otherwise known as a suicide mission with only 4 guys).

First I was supposed to go, then I wasn’t, then the whole thing was called off when Cito found out the “Red Scarves” ARVNs were going too. They’re the ones that pinned us down the other day and I guess he figured they’d be worse at night – good thinking.

One of the captains in charge of the compound here put the club off limits till 5:00 every day, because there are too many people playing pool and he’s losing 300 paper cups a day at the water cooler. Wish paper cups were the largest worry I had over here. He says if we have nothing to do, he’ll find something for us. Where have I heard that before? The bad part is he has nothing to do with us – he must think we’re working for MACV.

Short letters mean I’m fed up.

103 days, 13 Sept. ’67, Wednesday

The same MACV captain made us go out and repair a whole 100 meter length of barbed wire fence – go back three sentences. After we were done and all hot, sweaty, and thirsty, they wouldn’t even let us in the club to get a drink of water (not enough cups). In fact, it’s off limits all day today. We can clean it (every morning we have to clean the movie room) but we can’t use it. MACV is allowed in there today like usual at 12, but we have to wait till 5.

Well, we’re out of the club during the day. Next we’ll be out at night, too. Where else to go but in the tent? Every five minutes they come into the tent making us make the beds and sweep the floors “in case someone walks in”. we can’t even live in our tent in peace. What next?

I’ve seen something like this on TV before. A group doing a good job compiling a good record, but they are rather unorthodox in dress, habits, operations, etc. and all this is brought to the attention of the higher up, and they say “Just imagine the good job they could do it they operated like the rest of the army”.

They start forcing rules and regulations on the “rebels” making everyone involved very unhappy. They got along without all that before, why do they have to do it now, it’s a bother and quite senseless. The morale falls – the unit falls apart.

All that’s left for us is the last part – we haven’t fallen apart yet, but give us a chance – we haven’t been out in quite a while, and there’s a new lieutenant coming yet. I can see it coming; it’s happened before, I know. (Another short letter).

104 days, 14 Sept. ’67, Thursday

This morning we had a mission. I was to stay back and paint some numbers on our new (used) ¼ truck. My first chance to stay behind, it seems, that everyone has had a chance to stay back but me. Everyone was ready to go, then they called the whole thing off.

They came right out and said it today. We’re not soldiers get despite the fact we’re doing a good job. We’re not complete solders because we don’t look good. Doing a good job is not enough to be good soldiers. We have to look good.

The mission was re-scheduled in the afternoon at 4:00 (missed chow). Things were reversed as the choppers were waiting for us this time. As usual there was nothing out there, partly because of the bungling of the new platoon Sarge (been here 7 mos?). by the time we got going in the right direction, all the VC had di di mao (ed) if there were any.

I told you how much Mahoe likes to march us whenever we go out of the compound in a group. There was not truck waiting on the road, so we had to walk all the way to town. Esterline, Farr, Marabello, and me were way up front and walked all the way to the compound without marching and amazingly made it all right. But farther back the rest of the group was in formation.

As soon as they got into town, and began marching, so the story goes, they didn’t call cadence loud enough, so they had to double time all the way to the compound. Humping all afternoon and then double-timing through town because they wouldn’t call cadence. If I’d been back there I wouldn’t have done it with that machine gun – there’s no way! I’ll take an Article 15 if I have to, but this thing is going too far. I don’t know what Mahoe is thinking of, but I do know that if it had ‘t been for his bundling in the field, we might have gotten some VC today. And he talks about being good soldiers!

105 days, 15 Sept. ’67, Friday (37 weeks)

Creighton Abrams was supposed to come today to inspect our barracks. Added to the usual, today we had to take down all mosquito nets “because everyone doesn’t have them, and everything has to be uniform”. Also, all the bags we keep clothes and stuff in had to be put out into the ¾’s trailer – why? Is the general going to be insulted if he sees our clothes in bags? All we had was our bunks and weapons in view. If I was inspecting, I’d want to know how the men lived – no clothes, no ammo, no mosquito protection; nothing!

All that work – a whole morning’s worth – just to impress a general who probably couldn’t care less. Did he come? Is the Pope Jewish? Why should he? What’s a 4-star general care about a CRIP platoon? After all we’ve done nothing outstanding – anything at all -  in two weeks. Pretty soon they’ll ask why CRIP hasn’t done anything lately. Why? Because they – the people asking “Why” are the ones who won’t let us alone to have a chance to do anything.

We had a good thing going. Why couldn’t they let it go at that? No, we had to be just like everybody else – uniform, conformed to army standards. Wonder if it ever occurred to them that we might do the same job as other units now – barely adequate? Could it be that there’s something wrong with their standards, or the way they’re imposed? I can see CRIP beginning to fall apart at the seams.

106 days, 16 Sept. ’67, Saturday

 Up at 6:00, breakfast, police call, align the bunks, and get on our equipment at 8:00. we walked nearly 12,000 meters total this morning in 3 hours. That’s some fast walking even without 30 pounds of junk strapped to you. Not only that, but it’s been terribly hot lately, especially today. I was about as hot and tired as I have ever been over here, when we got back and guess what? Clean your weapons, align, sweep, police, take down your nets, put your bags in the trailer, get everything uniform, don’t worry about anything being practical, just uniform; there’s a colonel coming to inspect! We cleaned the .50 caliber 3 times! Then here comes a chopper – dust, clean, again.

We stood around all afternoon. Well, the colonel came. He did look at the tent – as he walked from the chopper to the jeep. I saw him glance at it twice – then he left the compound. That’s the stuff we’ve had to put up with ever since Mahoe got here. They say it’s all because o the offices that come down to see the “marvelous” CRIP, but we had officers come before Mahoe, and never had to do all this. The fat tub-o-lard! Couldn’t keep up with us this morning; we had to wait for the pig 3 times.

These pages have been full of very bitter comments; sorry, but what else is there to say? I haven’t had a chance to write much else but this, and most of it has been a summary of 2 or 3 days. Three guys have asked to leave the platoon, and two of them have gone. I’ve considered it, but I’d probably get the same or worse if I went someplace else.

I feel like condensing all this and writing to Westmoreland myself, but it would do no good (don’t get any idea). The longer I’m over here getting fooled with like this, the lower my country’s sincerity in Vietnam and the honesty of the US government in its claims of wanting to win here. This war can’t be that important when they let red tape, bureaucracy in the Army’s higher ranks, and at the command level, political maneuvers, and inter-agency bickering take precedence over a sensible execution of the war. Or ding a sensible say of ending the whole farce. What’ll happen next? Bob

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 4 - 10, 1967

94 days, 4 Sept. ’67, Monday

Last night Gladys got a few automatic weapons round. They got excited and called us out of the tent, mounted us on jeeps and the track, opened the gate and almost sent us out after the VC, but the gun-ships came out at that time and put on a fire show of rockets, mini-guns, and machine guns. They took care of it by themselves, and we went to bed.

My turn to go to Cu Chi today. We took three jeeps and the track. Five guys went in to stay, and several of the new guys had to get some of their personal stuff. I went to finance.

We had our problems, though. On unloading the .50 caliber, a round discharged just outside the gate. The MPs hauled the track and everybody on it in to headquarters, tried to give the gunner, Sanchez, an article 15 and threatened to impound the track. They wondered why we had the gun loaded in the first place. I’m beginning to think he people in base camp are forgetting there’s a war on. At least we know the thing fires.

And I found out why I got overpaid last month, and consequently got no pay this month. For some reason they paid me twice for June. They took it out of this month’s plus still sending my $100 home. Next month I still owe them $76.42, that plus my $100 again will leave me with nothing next month also.

I also found out my camera is rusted and corroded beyond repair. What now? My third camera in as many months? This could get expensive.

They got the track fixed (broke a tooth off the drive sprocket when they got stuck) and went back to Bao Trai. Election’s over, no guard tonight – sleep!

95 days, 5 Sept ’67, Tuesday

All the new guys got assigned to the sections today. Some seem all right, but a couple remind me of the morons I was with in basic. Hope I never have to depend on them the new platoon Serge seems pretty good (he’s been here 6 mos.) No new scout leader yet.
Culver, Felciano, Garcia, Brand, are gone now. It’s still crowded with only 4 gone (6, incl. Wallace & Harris) and 16 new people.

Most of these idiots have brought their foot lockers out here already, and there’s not even enough room for them to sleep. They got their lockers outside now, and they’re about as waterproof as a screen door.

One fool (a moron) has a picture of his girl. Wallet size is natural, but this is a 12”x12” oil portrait in a big wooden frame – wants to know where he should hang it. I told him to take it back to Cu Chi before it gets wet and her makeup runs (besides, she’s a “pig”). He’s the guy that wanted to know where we put our weapons at night (“We hang them out on the fence to let them dry”). We were waiting at the chopper pad today and one ship appeared and came in to land “Is that our chopper?” “Yeah, we’re going to put 50 people on one ship.”

Yep, we broke the new guys in today – good. We had to go to the pad in the ¾ and 3 jeeps, plus some men on the S-2’s 2 ½ ton – there are so many of us now, and they made us give the track back to brigade today; for good, I guess.
First of all we went to the swamps, which is bad enough – if you’re going to learn to hump, the swamps are the best place; if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Secondly, as we came in to the L2, we received fire momentarily, but the “Dragon Ships” with mini-guns, rockets, and m-60s put a quick end to that. That’s good training – hot L2 seeing their first (my first) mini-gun fire up close.

Later on one of the new people almost tripped over a VC hiding under the water in the bushes. A quick recovery with his M-16 left the VC dead – not bad for our fist day out. (We got two others later)

We were in waist-deep water for 3 hours, with trees and bushes making excellent hiding places. We kept getting tangled up in fishing nets that were stretched across the swamps. Pretty deep, huh? It was like walking through a flooded forest.

We came back to a cold dinner – mice after 3 hours in the swamps, getting shot at. Cold beans, cold mashed potatoes, cold gravy, and cold pork slices. Only one thing was even warm –the iced tea.

There’s a poker game in the tent tonight (payday). Damn it! I’m pretty tired tonight after humping the ’60 in the swamp, my shoulder is swollen, and they’re playing cards till 4:30 a.m.

One good thought for today: it’s 15 till 9 o’clock p.m. On the 5th. That means that it’s 15 till 9 o’clock on the morning of the 5th back in the world. The kiddies are going to school now at this moment – school starts today. Realize that, if the good Lord’s wiling and the VC cooperate, I’ll be home in time for graduation in June. I remember I used to really dread the up-coming school year; imagine how I feel about this one. But also imagine how much more I’ll enjoy that June vacation. I say it every year . . . Can’t wait till school’s out,

97 days, 7 Sept. ’67, Thursday

They never leave us alone! Now, thanks to the new sergeant, we have to get up at six-thirty every day. We have a police call formation, weapons inspection, have to have “white wall” haircuts, shined shoes (after tromping through rice paddies all day) can’t wear shower shoes outside the platoon area (the tent & latrine). In other words, for club or dinner, we have to put on boots. We have to have all name tags, patches, rank insignia, etc. on our uniforms, bunks aligned, shoes polished and displayed uniformly under our bunks.

The Sarge marches out to operations, in step and actually yells at someone if he’s out of step, etc. it all boils down to this: here we are in a hot war zone, risking our lives, supposedly for our country, the true mission of a soldier. We’re supposed to be men who know what we’re doing and work hard at it. We’ve got the strain of living with violence, actually, 24 hours a day for 12 months. We’re supposed to be all this, you’d think they’d leave us alone while we have free time. Instead, they’re treating us like basic trainees. It’s not enough that we’re fighting a war, and we come in tired and wet – no, they can’t leave us alone to do our job.

Today a colonel “inspected” the tent and told the Sarge the floor wasn’t level. We spent all morning tearing up the floor. It took us two days to build, leveling off the ground and rebuilding the whole thing. All because some damn colonel said it wasn’t lever. Well, I hope he likes it now. We had to move everything out to do it. Now they talk about putting double bunks in the tent. There’s hardly enough room to stand up, and they talk about double bunks. Can you imagine how hot it can get near the roof of a tent? Been in your attic lately?

The real ironic pat of this whole rotten day was a party thrown for CRIP by Major General (**). Meaning in “appreciation for the outstanding job being done for Hau Nghia Province” (How Nee-a) and because we “have the best record of any unit of this type in Vietnam, with 56 body count in a month and a half.” He gave a real flattering speech about CRIP. Then we had refreshments and entertainment. There were VN colonels and generals and V-s colonels and generals there, plus many civilian officials, and all of the S-2 and Recon platoon.

It would have been wonderful, except for the fact that we had just left a completely torn-up floor and were hot, sweaty, and mad at the world. How ironic! One minute they treat us like trainees, then the next they say we’re the best soldiers in VN (after the party, we had to go back and finish the thing).

Cito says it’s all because of all the officer that come through Bao Trai (the intelligence center for Hau Nghia Province) some of which have heard of CRIP, and come to see how we live. so, to impress some colonel or higher, who has been behind his desk for so long he’s forgotten what it’s like to be in the field, fighting and maybe even forgot there’s a war on, we have to live like garrison troops, even thought we have “the best record of any unit of this type in Vietnam”. I say again – “why can’t they leave us alone when they have nothing to do with us?”

To top it off (yes, there’s more!) we have a CMMI (Command military Maintenance Inspection) Sunday. This means all the jeeps, radios, weapons, etc. Have to be spit shined like they just came from the factory. What can they want from equipment that is being used in combat? They’ll probably raise the Devil because there are several bullet holes in the jeeps.

Yep, everyone is pretty perturbed with the whole affair (and at times with each other). The morale has gone from “excellent” to “zero”. I don’t even remember if I’ve missed a day in my letters. (If I have the past 3 days have been pretty much the same – we haven’t gone out much – once in 5 days - but things are so bad here, we wish we would).
At first we like leaving Cu Chi and coming to Bao Trai, even thought we got shot at. We were left alone in our spare time, unlike in Cu Chi, and that made it worth the bullets (in a way). Now this is as bad as Cu Chi, with the added unpleasantness of unfriendly Viet Cong. I guess I’d rather be in Cu Chi now. They harass you as much, but it’s safer.

98 days, 8 Sept. ’67, Friday
(at least the time goes by fast – it seems like Wednesday!)

Some new rules: everyone must wear a hat and during the day our weapons have to be on the bed ready for any officer who wants to inspect them.

We spent the whole day working on jeeps for the CMMI. We managed to get away for a while when we took the jeeps into town and had a bunch of kids wash them. I came out all right – I’m painting the numbers, etc., on the bumpers.

All I’ve got to say about the whole deal is, they’d better leave us alone and let us have some spare time after the @#%*&!! CMMI when we start going out again. I’d hate to be out and come back only to be put to work again.

One thing that really puts me out is these dopes called NCOs running around inspecting weapons every day. The platoon sergeant has been over here six months (although I find that hard to believe). He should know that you don’t have to tell the troops in Vietnam to clean their weapons and especially you don’t have to inspect them to see that it was done.

I was trying to get a letter to my parents written today, but they caught me (sound like I committed a crime) and said if I wasn’t doing anything I should clean my equipment or something “just to look busy in case an officer comes in.” What could an officer possibly have against a GI writing a letter home in his spare time?

Funny, we’ve never had that much trouble from officers before these new NCOs got here – I wonder . . .  if it’s just in their mind. Before, as long as we came to attention when they came in, no matter what we were doing, everything was all right.

“Clean your equipment!”
“Take a flying leap!”
We haven’t had a moment’s peace since they got here, but then, there’s the CMMI, and all. We haven’t been out but once since they all got here. Like I say, it had better stop when this is all over, but I’m terribly afraid it won’t. Sergeant Mahoy seems like that type of person – “don’t let ‘em rest, they might get lazy”. Let’s see if he still feels that way after a few days with Charlie (I keep forgetting - he’s been here six months. I think he forgets, too).

I hope it gets back to the way it was – as long as we did our job in the field, when we came in, our time was our own to sleep, rite, got to the club – anything. We missed the movie tonight, working on the jeeps. Now you hardly have time to read your mail before someone comes; and puts you on a stupid “look-busy” job.

It’s like a sudden change form night to day. Why, why, why……?

“Why” is a very crooked letter, Bob
PS. I feel like speaking my mind to a colonel. I think I’ll write Chappy.

More of the same,
99 days, 9 Sept. ’67, Saturday

I spent the whole day painting numbers – between rainstorms – it rained every hour. I’ve been assigned as a driver for a jeep. It’s a brand new one, so the maintenance shouldn’t be too bad, but I still have the machine gun – one’s going to have to go.

Be glad when the inspection’s over. I haven’t even read half my mail from the past few days, let alone write any; except this. Hope they don’t bother us when we start operations again. There’s mutiny in the air.

100 days! 10 Sept. ’67
Sunday – also 8 months in Army: double anniversary day! One third of the way.

We had the inspection – I guess our work must’ve been worth it; instead of digs we got complements (even liked the new floor – he should, he didn’t have to build it). Somehow, the success of it didn’t make up for all the trouble it’s been to us.

Did I tell you they called off a scheduled day of test firing all weapons (106 included) to have an inspection? I guess having a spotless valve cover and freshly painted bumpers are more important than knowing if your gun is going to fire when you need it. All 4 machine guns have jammed at one time or another. So now we still haven’t tested the 106s in a year or either one of the .50 caliber, or the faulty M-16s. But our shoes are shined, and our beds are aligned, so who needs weapons anyway?

Oh misery, they just called us out to the jeeps – we’re going somewhere – work like slaves all day, now we’re going out at night. Taking jeeps, though might not have to walk.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

August 26 - September 3, 1967

85 days, 26 Aug. ’67, Saturday

Here’s the kind of thing that makes me cry. Last night we were sitting in the club, relaxing, when Capt. Barkman came in and said that the Colonel (whoever he is) wanted us to go out. That afternoon (yesterday) a jeep had hit a mine just on the other side of town, just outside Gladys. One guy was hurt – no big thing. I didn’t even give it space in yesterday’s paper. But I guess someone saw somebody moving around in a clump of bushes just off the road.

Why the waited till after dark to go out – but away we went to check it out. We sat in the truck, loaded for WWII, in the rain (maybe that’s why they waited – it hadn’t rained yet that day) for an hour, waiting for everybody to get ready. As it turned out, we were actually on the operation about 10 minutes. The objective, the clump of bushes, was directly in front of Gladys, about 100 meters or less from the road – easy range for M-16s, grenade launchers, slingshots – anything, form Gladys itself; they wouldn’t have even had to leave the compound to get whatever was supposed to have been in there.

The bushes were in a clump, about the size of Singleton’s backyard jungle, and a good 500 meters out in the middle of nowhere. We walked from the road out to the clump, walked around it, and walked back to the truck, and went in. Ridiculous! All the Gladys artillery had to do, if they really thought something was there, was to put a canister round from a Howitzer on it and there wouldn’t even be a leaf left on the thing, let alone any VC or water buffalo, or whatever it was they saw moving.

Today’s activity was just about as bad. We went out with the 1/27th again, and again we were out humping all day and finding nothing. The officer in charge was Lt. Col. Hughes, and he lived up to the name by managing to disrupt the whole affair. In the morning, the choppers were late. When they did come, they dropped us off at the wrong place. We had to walk twice as far as was planned.

We spent the whole morning walking, missed lunch, and then Col. Hughes wanted to go out again in the afternoon. We waited for 3 hours for some more choppers, searched a small area hunting for a hospital (Cheui Hoe info) found only a Buddhist temple, and flew back; an hour late for dinner. A whole day wasted.

The temple was interesting (wish I had my camera). All the funny little monks and statues and they had a little compound behind the temple full of food and supplies - VC supplies? Anyway, all we did there was ring the bell and beat on a large drum in the backroom of the church. The monks got very upset when we did this – seems that was the death drum – every time there was death, they beat the drum – chased away spirits or something, I imagine.

86 days, 27 Aug ’67, Sunday

Another one of the ARVN outposts was hit last night, and a few stray rounds found their way to the compound, so we had to stay on 50% alert all night. While I was on (1 – 3:30) the same place was hit, and the first few rounds went awry and zipped by our bunker. They say things are pretty close when you can hear the bullets whiz by . . . .too close.

I guess they had pity on us from being out all day, and up half the night – we slept till noon. I spent part of the afternoon, helping get all our equipment, radios, gun mounts, etc. off one of the jeeps, preparing to turn it in. remember, I told you about the *** General, ordering M-16s for the S-2 (they’re here now)? Well, Recon’s now getting 7 new jeeps, a track similar to, but larger than, my Ft. Knox 114s, and possibly a couple of swamp boats, like they use in Florida! Also, Lt. Cito went into Cu Chi to brief the Brigade Commander on our operations, so that he, the Col., could in turn brief Gen. Westmoreland. The General wants to know what we’re doing, and how it’s working out.

Tonight was steak dinner night. I’m a pretty good chef. So much for today. I got your letter today; have a few comments. I hope the Post doesn’t take the letters. The Dispatch is all right, but the Post?! Let’s keep it local. I think the nationwide stuff should wait till I get home.

Having a time keeping up with the Public Opinions. They come about 2 weeks behind. Can’t wait to see who Ray Adams is. Suspense! Dave better get out of that marriage! I think that lawn mower was trying to tell him something. If he stuck his foot in his lawn mower, he might put it in his mouth when he says “I do”. Sounds like Jere’s getting along pretty good. Am I wrong in thinking that with the new draft law, he doesn’t have to be going full time to be exempt from the vultures? Tell him to write me and tell me what has to be done to do a good maroon – slight sun-gleam – paint job on a fiberglass body – as in Lotus Elan. I just can’t stand the thought of BRG – I’ve had too much green. Sports-car red turns me green. White has no class, black makes it look like a hearse, and turquoise reminds me of a streamlined robin’s egg. I think a dark Chevrolet-type maroon, with sun-gleam (not quite as much as the ‘Beam) would be nice. Unless I can get a special factory job, Jere will have to do it. Phil Shenk says there is a maroon Elan in Westerville (won the gymkhana). He says it’s real sharp; wonder where it was painted? Dreaming a little, Bob

87 days, 28 Aug. ’67, Monday
500 days left in the Army

Well, we’ve got to pull an hour of guard each night until the elections are over (Sept 3). Guess they’re afraid of more raids by the VC. Election harassment, and all that. Usually the advisor people pull the guard themselves (it’s the only time they even look at a gun).

First time in a long time, I didn’t get any mail today. Nobody loves me.

Today would’ve been a beautiful day for pictures. We were in the choppers for about 20 minutes – that’s the longest chopper ride yet. They dropped us in the swamps by the river again. It was rough going all day – jungles, rivers, mud, red ants on the trees – they swarm on you and bite like horseflies, only about a quarter inch long (only?) but what big teeth they have, Grandma!

One guy got bit by hornets and nearly needed a dust-off chopper, he was so weak; the bites were the size of golf balls.

Little Joe shot a 12-foot python. We found several sampans and sunk them all, except one, which we kept and cruised the river in. It was my turn to ride in the bow with the machine gun.

Later the ARVNs began firing across the river – apparently at nothing. I figured I had never shot my M-60 yet, so I set it up and pulled the trigger, expecting rat-a-tat-tat. Got a big “bang”, and that was it. A round was “out of link”, and got caught up. Pulled out my .45 and, from being on my hip during 3 river crossings, it was wet and muddy. One round was all I could coax from it. This was getting ridiculous. I threw my grenade – a dud. Pulled my bayonet. All I got was the handle – the blade stayed in the scabbard. Tried my slingshot, and the rubber band broke. Glad there weren’t any VC coming at me. The only VC we saw ran as we were landing – we never got them.

I copped off the day by finally finding courage enough to ride with my feet out of the chopper, sitting on the edge of the floor. Didn’t realize they went so fast. The wind threatened to pull my shoes off for a while. The chopper gunner almost changed my mind as we were leaving. He began firing the customary “hope bullet” at suspicious hedgerows, etc. he was firing ahead of the chopper. The business end was about 5 inches from my foot. It he’d raised the gun another 5 inches . . . well, he’d probably have cured my ingrown toenail.

88 days, 29 Aug ’67, Tuesday

Forgot to mention the, but yesterday they brought some newspapers out from Cu Chi. We had a whole pictorial essay on CRIP. It was the second time out (when I got stuck) when Little Joe got 3 VC. I’ve sent the paper to my parents (I’m in one of the pictures). I don’t know what red tape you’d have to go through with copyrights, etc. to have the article put in the Dispatch, but it might be worth a try, it they could do it.

I wrote an explanation of my own of each picture. Forget that; just use only what the article has, and what’s under the pictures. They’d probably want to say where I was – that would be all right.

Since the town has been hit pretty regularly lately – election harassment – we went out last night. I suppose, hoping to intercept the VC before they got there. We’d been walking for about 20 minutes, when firing broke out to our rear. The VC were hitting Bao Trai. We never received any fire at all, but it was awfully close, just in the opposite direction. I figure we must’ve walked right past them in the dark. All they had to do was hide in a hedgerow – it was raining and very dark out. Apparently they let us go by so they could hit the outpost at the town gates. They’re not after U.S. troops during elections I guess, just the people.

I was afraid we’d go back after them, but we didn’t. I thought it was bad to hear shots in the daytime – try it at night! You have no idea how far away it is or where it’s going, especially as dark as it was. Later, we saw a light moving towards us across the daddies. We all laid down – in the water – to get behind the berm.  The light come closer and closer; soon it was coming straight down the berm, which intersected the one we were on; the one I had my gun set up one – it was heading right down my hum. It turned out to be only one fisherman on his way back from fishing in the rice paddies (yes, there are fish in a few of them).

We didn’t shoot, but we should have. Anyone who walks around the Vietnam countryside on a dark night with a light – without a light – has to be crazy. He was one surprised gook when the Lt. Called for him to halt and 50 guys stood up in front of him, aiming rifles, etc. I imagine the business end of my ’60 three feet in front of him was enough by itself. Nothing else happened the rest of the night. We went in at 1:00 a.m.

Vietnam at night is a frightening place; Lord knows it’s bad enough in the day. As you walk across the berms, the hedgerows are nothing but dark, forbidding shadows; there’s no telling what might be waiting for you inside. There’s no sound except your own footsteps, and the rattle of a rifle sling or belts of machine gun ammo, slapping together. Occasionally, someone slips off the berm – “splash”. You never notice any of these wounds during a day operation, but at night they combine to sound like someone rolling a garbage can down a flight of stair into a swimming pool.

I can’t describe how the rifle fire sounds. It it’s very distant, it’s not much, but at times, when it sounds too close, you sweat. Every night you go out, you don’t hear fire that close. Tonight we did, and that night we shot each other, it was real close, and aimed at us, so I know what I’m saying. Every night you can hear distant fire somewhere. You hardly ever hear it during the day.

Another thing is the artillery at night. Not only the guns going off, but when you’re out, if the guns are aimed in your direction, there’s the unnerving sound of the rounds as they swish over your head. We’ve never had any rounds land close to us, but constantly you can see the flashes on the horizon, and seconds later hear the thunder and you know it isn’t rain.

Although not so frightening, there are always several flares on the distant horizon in any and all directions. Tonight we had them so close ) from the compound trying to illuminate the area the attack was coming from) that they exposed us to everything. Every time one went up, we had to get down. As I said, we weren’t quite that close to the compound or the attack, but remember these flares will light up a huge area. We were probably a 5 – 10 minute walk from the VC and another 5 – 10 minute walk from Bao Trai (time based on walking with a 50 man patrol in single file, fully armed, in complete darkness, on a little foot-high, foot or less wide, wet, slippery, uneven, mound of dirt). That even scares me; add another 5 minutes from the VC and 10 from Bao Trai.

It’s 2:30 now. I think every body’s back from coffee in the mess hall, and ready to go to bed. There went the light. I’ll sign off by flashlight. 
Left in the dark,

89 days, 30 Aug. ’67, Wednesday

Peace, I’m a few days behind; I’ll start with yesterday. We had a colonel from Brigade come down and inspect our tent. He didn’t like the way beds were made, and he didn’t like our ammo being inside the tent. Cito, in so many words, told him what we did was none of his business.
They’ve put a restriction on leaving the compound during the elections. No one can leave, unless on official business, until Sept. 3; no more mail runs to Cu Chi. Cito promised us mail, though. I imagine he’ll invent some “official” business every day in Cu Chi.

We went out in the afternoon and managed to get shot at by some ARVNs (not S-2 people, but some other clowns that weren’t supposed to be out there in the first place). That kind of foolishness has to stop! While the scout section guarded two prisoners in a cemetery, the rest f the CRIP unit got 2 body count (2 VC killed) and captured two weapons. Pretty good day, I guess.

90 days! (Now eligible for R&R), 31 Aug,  ’67, Thursday

As expected, we’re getting replacements now, faster than we can find a place to put them (4 today). We put a tent up for them this morning, went on an operation this afternoon, and in doing so we became the only outfit in the USA Army that didn’t get paid today. I’m not flat broke yet, but I’m losing air fast. (Would you believe, not broke but bent pretty bad?)

A lot has taken place in the past 2 days besides the new guys. Culver and Feliciano have been sent to the battalion commo [?] company, which puts them in their proper MOS [?] - lineman and Teletype operator. Feliciano has spent all but the 43 days he has left in Recon.

Bellamy leaves today for Cu Chi. He’ll spend the next 30 days there, then home. Garcia mad E-5 (buck sergeant) yesterday, and Beasly got orders for E-6 – stall sergeant, today. Marlar, Sabatino, Clark, and I got orders qualifying us to wear the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB). Nothing special, everybody in a combat gun MOS here in VN gets one. It’s like the Basic Training Marksman medals – doesn’t mean much, but it looks impressive.

We got our track today. It’s a 113, which is bigger, but similar in appearance, to the 114s. It’ll carry 10-15 people. A new guy – Joiner – will drive it. They asked me, but I told them I’d never driven a 113. Joiner has, so they took him. That’s good. He can do all the maintenance on it, too. I don’t think he realizes that goes with the driving.

I mentioned the operation. We did see some VC, but were too far away to do anything about it. Later on, they let me test my ’60 – worked nice. We got back in time to see Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines.

91 days, 1 Sept. ’67, Friday

Now I know who Ray Adams is, I wouldn’t say he did a show fob, I’d say a good job. No reason it should embarrass Marlynn; it’s not a sit he was making the whole thing up. He did forget a couple of things when he explained the pictures. He didn’t mention that “Marlynn’s mother forces her to dust, water, and feed all her plants for 5 hours a day. The rest of the time, she uses for dancing.” Also he showed your stuffed animals you use for dance partners. He s her to dust, water, and feed all her plants for 5 hours a day. The rest of the time, she uses for dancing.” Also he showed your stuffed animals you use for dance partners. He didn’t mention that the stuffed animal you were hooding in the picture was your brother, Jere.

A planeload of VIPs was supposed to come to Bao Trai today, to observe some preparations for the elections. Rumors said that the group included Henry Cabot Lodge. They sent us to the airstrip outside Bao Trai to provide security for the plane as it landed, and then to escort them to Bao Trai. We left at 12:00 and sat on the jeeps in the sun until 4:30, when a chopper came in and told us that they weren’t coming. Even that was a lie. Actually while we waited for a plane at the airstrip, they went straight to Bao Trai by chopper, landing at the little pad outside our tent. The day wasn’t wasted – I got a beautiful sunburn.

They haven’t let us rest much lately. We went out tonight in search of two mortar tubes, supposedly aimed at the compound. More Chieu Hoi information. I think he told them where some mortars were two years ago, and we had to go out to find them.

They must think they have lights pointing to their positions. I mentioned the feeling of walking the berms at night. Tonight we had the security of gunships at first, but after they left, I got the feeling that all they did was let every VC around know we were there. Of course, we never found the mortars. If they had been there, I doubt it we could have fond them, ever in the day time.

All our activities kept us from getting paid again today. I’m tired of working on credit. We go out and hump all day, and get shot at, and they can’t even find time to either send us in, or come out here to pay us.

Well, at least we didn’t get mortared tonight by those 2 tubes we didn’t find. Would have felt kinda silly if we had.

92 days, 2 Sept. ’67, Saturday

We went out early this morning and got sunburned some more – made it back in time for lunch.

I saw the Browns play Los Angeles on TV today. Ryan and Collins looked good the first half, and terrible the second half. Browns first 2 scores were set up by the defense on a recovery, and an interception. The second half, the whole team was asleep, and the Rams went ahead. Having watched the Browns for the past 4 years, I recognized the pattern, and left. I’d bet my paycheck – if I ever get it – they lost. We were supposed to get paid at 5:39 (also mail for the first time in 2 days) but the pay officers never showed.

We were lucky in a way. Some Chieu Hoi told Cito where he thought there were some mines in the road. He left the people that haven’t been paid yet behind, and took 7 others, who had been – new guys and a couple others who were in Cu Chi on payday – out in the track with the mine detector and haven’t come back yet.

Just found out why it’s 9:30 and no sign of our mine hunters. No, no mines; they tried to drive a 13 ½ ton track across a rice paddy, where a 160 pound person would have rough going. I know how easy it is to bog down a 7 /12 ton track in a mud hole at Fort Knox, so guess what happened to the “Rat Trap”? I guess it’s only about half visible out in the middle of rice-land. They have to stay out there all night now, and stand guard. That’s what can happen to these “out after dinner; back before the movie” operations.

I’d hate to be out there tonight – the night before elections. The artillery has never stopped all night (shooting who knows where) and one of the outposts on the far side of town has received fire several times tonight. Charlie’s definitely out tonight, trying to disrupt the elections (double guard on the compound tonight) and there sits 7 guys and 1.50 cal. (plus 7 M-16s) in a very stuck APC track, in the middle of it all –excellent target. If I was them, I’d sink it to about a foot out of the mud, and lock myself inside.

The pay officer hasn’t come, so I guess we’ll wait till Monday. There is a strict control on travel tomorrow; they won’t even let us go out on a mission tomorrow, so I doubt if they’ll let someone come out to pay us. Chopper flights, road travel, everything, is cancelled for tomorrow. I suppose they’ll let us go get the track surely they won’t make them stay out there another night.

No pay, no mail, something better happen pretty quick – there’s talk of mutiny! Even Charlie got paid this month, but we haven’t!

So this is the war on poverty,

93 days, 3 Sept. ’67, Sunday

Got paid! Well, everybody else did. They found the mistake they made last month, double pay for June, and took it out this month. I didn’t get a plug nickel. My $100 allotment went home at least. First chance I get, I’ll go to finance and see what’s happening and find out what I can expect next month.

Mail call made up for pay call. It was a three day accumulation. I got a few letters - my CP&D. the P.O., Patti’s cookies, and a ton of literature from Mid-Ohio. I sent Mid-Ohio a letter saying I enjoyed the races and missed them this year. They sent me a huge envelope, including everything from Entry Forms, Racing Posters, and Programs from this year’s three races, to picture postcards and a metal dash plaque. I was busy all day, reading.

The guys came back with the track today; got pulled out by some tracks from Gladys. They didn’t have anything happen all night. From the looks of the track, they did bury to only a foot above ground.

There are now 16 replacements out here now, including a new platoon sergeant and scout section leader.  There are a few that have some time in VN, but at least 10 are veterans of only 15 days or less in Cu Chi. Makes me feel good.

All these new people make you wonder what will happen to recon when all the veterans leave. Not only the new people, but the thought that when the vets leave, I’ll be the veteran. Hope we still operate in this casual manner and don’t get formal when the new command takes over.

How did I forget? Let’s get back to mail call. I got my last roll of slides. Some are great, including the two of our VC trophy. I’ve got orders for about 40 prints of it. The rest will come in the mail soon. The last two will wait till I have the prints made.