144 days, 24 Oct/67 Tues,
Here’s a new wrinkle; only seven of us went on a mission this morning. The rest stayed in Bao Trai, supposedly for reactionary force in case the 7 US, 7 ARVN patrol ran into something. As it turned out, we were also called out to follow a Cheiu Hoi to a place where the VC had some mines stored. So much for the reaction force.
We walked nearly 4 clicks to the objective, and searched it carefully, uncovering 2 30-pound anti-vehicle mines – good Cheiu Hoi for a change. Also, Lt. Straub was with the other group and Sgt. Scott (old timer) was in charge and we searched the area instead of just walking through like the new Lt. does. When we got back we learned that the 14-man mission only 1 click and come back (typical of Straub’s operations) and I really thought I was getting out of something when they said I didn’t have to go with them. As it was, the operation I was on was rougher.
Also got another new guy today – been in country 14 days. Guess they’re getting school quicker now.
145 days, 25 Oct/67, Wed.
‘Twas a day of long waits, and extreme heat, and an occasional stray bullet. We waited nearly 2 hours for shoppers at the strip. At our LZ, the gunners, in firing some security rounds into the hedge rows on wither side, wounded 3 civilians and killed a pregnant woman. That’s war, I guess. It was purely accidental. They also, for the second day in a row, pushed a couple of the ARVNs out of the choppers as they came in, about 15 feet up. One twisted his ankle pretty bad. There is no explanation why they were pushed off; must be someone’s idea of a joke, but we don’t think it’s too funny.
We searched our objective pretty thoroughly and then waited another 2 hours for the choppers to come and pick us up. They came, and dropped us off again in a woods outside Cu Chi base camp. We swept through a large area, and found nothing but bees. As we broke out of the thicket, we heard some firing going on in the wood line, about 800 meters across the rice, to our right.
We weren’t too concerned, because we knew there was an ARVN element near by – it must be them apparently they had contact, but no rounds were coming our way, so why sweat? Whissh – thap; whissh – thap. Panic button; eat diet; sweat a little. It was only 4 or 5 rounds, but they were uncomfortably close. Those are friendlies over there, aren’t the? Let’s head over that way. Fifty meters – whish – thap! More dirt, more sweat.
The first 4 rounds were up near Albrecht, but his one had been at my feet – water form the paddy sprayed me. Look! Over there! At about 1000 meters, there ran 5 or 6 white shirts, and a couple black pajamas – VC! Marlar emptied two magazines and I burned up a 50-round belt. I swear those tracers went right through two of them, but they disappeared into the woods, and even after a long search, were never found.
There had been a friendly force in the woods, and apparently the VC we saw running had been in contact with them. I don’t know if the rounds that came our way were strays from the friendly force, or a few “slow down” rounds from the VC, as we surprised them (and ourselves) by coming up on their rear. I believe it was the latter. They seemed awfully well aimed to be strays.
As the ARVNs searched the area the VC ere hiding in, we sat outside as security, and the heat finally got me. The sun had been out all day and it had to be at least 120 degrees (the dry season rapidly approaches). I got a splitting headache, was dizzy and nauseous. I crawled under a shade tree and Doc gave me a pill. Neither things did much good. I suffered for an hour, and then we started for the road, 200 meters away
I was shaky, but I made it and we sat by the road and waited for transportation. The sun went under some heavy overcast, and a cool breeze replaced the oven-like heat. In 10 minutes I felt as good as ever. It must have been the heat and/or sun.
Well, we came close to getting a body count, but actually spent 10 hours of the day doing nothing. “Close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
146 days, 26 Oct/67, Thurs.
Another 10-man mission this morning, and again I lucked out, and stayed back. Only this time there wasn’t any other mission for us – a day off. The guys that went out had a field day – about time. Three VC captured, plus 2 weapons, a burlap sack full of hand grenades, and 200 rounds of ammo.
The 5 VC were all platoon leaders, etc. there is now a bounty of VC. Any VC killed, other than normal privates (big wheels, officers etc. only) have any where form 5000 to 10,000 piasters (50-100 dollars) to the individual in reward. I don’t know how much we got today, but all we do get is going to be put in a kitty for a party whenever we get enough to have one.
Sorry I cant’ give more details, but I wasn’t there. This was the first mission I’ve missed since CRIP began July 23rd. Not many others in the platoon can say that.
I’d like to miss a few more, please,
147 days, 27 Oct/67, Fri.
Day off today – almost. There were no missions planned and it was even cool enough that we slept nearly all morning, and laid around splaying cards – and drawing pictures – all afternoon.
Then, at 4:30, suddenly we were at the airstrip. No need to go into the mission – it was a normal operation. We did get fired on by a friendly ARVN element. That’s two missions in a row that I’ve had rounds whiz by me.
We had the new Huey Cobra helicopters escorting the Eagle Flight, instead of the old Huey gunships. I suppose you’ve seen the new Cobras on TV or somewhere, so I’ll save a description of them until I can get some pictures. I can say they are sleek, beautiful, and fast comparing them to the other Hueys would be like comparing a Corvette to a V.W.
Got a Road & Track yesterday, with the road test of the Sunbeam Tiger II. Would you believe the Ford 289 is now standard in the Tiger? If Jere doesn’t know by now, you’d better not mention it - he’d cry after all the time, trouble, and money he’s put into his Alpine. In case you haven’t guessed already, I’m thinking less of Lotus Elans and more of Sunbeam Tiger 289s.
Also got a letter from Paul . . .Paul . . . .Paul Addington. You know, that boy next door . . . yeah, that’s right; the one in Oklahoma. He tells about his car – Dodge – Linda, and the baby whom he doesn’t name. he ways he misses everybody back home (meaning Westerville) and he hopes I make it back home and don’t get stuck somewhere else like he did. Sounds like he was kinda homesick when he wrote. He signed, “Your local ice cream salesman, Paul, Linda, and Little Paul (guess he named the baby after all). Here’s the picture he sent in case you’re interested.
148 days, 28 Oct/67, Sat.
Today was same – same as yesterday, except instead of a 5:00 mission, we watched Notre Dame and USC and played some basketball.
My parents bought a lot on Lake Huron while they were up in Michigan. It’s 100’ of white sand beach and the rest forest. They plan to build on it next year, I guess. They say it’s something they’ve always wanted – that goes for me too. I cant’ wait to see it. it sounds like Paradise.
Two days off is a rarity. We’re bound to out tomorrow.
149 days, 29 Oct/67, Sun.
We were standing in the got sun, on a bank infested with those cannibal red ants. I must have been looking pretty sour.
“What’s the matter, Hughes?” asked Lt. Straub.
Well, the guys had been playing cards most of the night. I finally began to dose off at about 3:00 a.m. The first mortar rounds bit in downtown Bao Trai at 3:20, and we spent 2 hours on the bunker line. We left Bao Trai at 5:30 in search of the VC – without breakfast.
We played around till 8:30, then got on choppers, and headed for the river, and the swamps, and after a short roll in the mud, here we were at 1:00 p.m., waiting for the choppers again. That was the situation – up at 3:30, no chow since last night’s dinner, out in the worst possible place in the whole Province, in the hot sun, waiting for choppers to take us to a hot LZ (landing zone) in which the VC were already in contact with the gunships. And it was then 1:00 p.m.; and this clown asks me, “what’s the matter”?
We could’ve bee mom the shade, but the ants were so bad, we decided to stay out in that at least 120 degree sun for 3 hours or more, while the gunships tried to soften our LZ for us. To keep cool, I used my hat for a bucket and drenched myself with that nasty swamp water – it was crawlin’, and It stunk, but it was cool. After 5 minutes I was dry again in that heat, and had to re-drench.
Well, Straub did get us some C-rations, so when we finally got to our LZ – now very “cold”, VC-wise, anyway – we finally had lunch. He says he’ll get Cs for us from now on – it’s about time someone decided to do that. All our second LZ amounted to in fact was a lunch break.
All the action before we got there involved ARVNs and gunships (new Cobras) and ended up with 14 VC killed, 5 mortars and several rifles captured, and 7 sampans sunk. Our “go home” ships arrived and nearly smashed one group by nearly landing on top of them with one of the choppers, barely missing one man with the tail blade – close call!
We rode backing the rain to the steak dinner. Here I learned that hoppers are very frightening things to be in when flying through a rain storm. I’ve been up since 3:30 this morning (actually since 6:30 yesterday morning). It’s now 9:30 at night – my eyes are heavy. They really know how to follow up two days off. I’m going to take a shower, then sleep till lunch time tomorrow – if we don’t get attacked again.
Curse you, Ho Chi Minh,
150 days, 30 Oct/67, Mon.
Got off easy today – well, it was better than usual. Our first Lt. was down by the river near the Trang Bang area. I’ve never crossed so many streams since I’ve been in this swamp, than we did today – the day I decided to take my camera out. All were at least navel deep. Ooooh, and cold! I kept the camera high although I didn’t take any pictures in the swamps; we ere always on the move.
We flew to another LZ, and walked home and had chow on time! At 3, we went out again for a couple of hours with a Cheiu Hoi, blew up a couple of empty holes, and killed a couple of ducks – they were unarmed.
Back to dinner, on time! Then out to the basketball court and back to my old form. The last couple of nights I’d been doing real well, but tonight … I think I do better when I were my jungle boots instead of the all leather ones.
151 days, 31 Oct/67, Tues.
Pay day - $82.95 – felt nice to get paid after two months of nothing; my fifth pay day already, and seven to go.
The whole platoon spent the morning in Cu Chi getting paid etc and we’ve had all day off. It’s holiday time again. National Day celebration today, and tomorrow. National Day is Vietnam’s 4th of July. There’s a parade, swimming meet, bicycle race (girls) and volleyball in the town school yard. Fireworks at night. Hope they’re not VC fireworks.
Interesting facts department: the four busiest airports in the world are 1) Thon San Nhut 2) Bien Hoa 3) Da Nang and 4) O’Hare Field, Chicago.