Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nov 22 - Nov 30, 1967

173 days, 22 Nov/67, Wed. (Kennedy assassinated today, 1963)


I was feeling sickly this morning, but then the mail came. I got a goodie package from my parents (Christmas already) and also a letter from them with some pictures of home, including the lot in Mich-heaven. There was an excellent picture of them and of Dad. Then a sad one I almost cried over – a picture of the table full of food from my going-away party the night before the war began. It has all the neighbors (except, wonder who?) plus the house in the background and sitting peacefully in front of the house, looking somehow lonely, is the ‘Beam – excuse me while I dry my eyes.

We went on a worthless 8 click walk this afternoon. Nothing happened. There are only 6 days left to enjoy the comforts of Bao Trai – I think I’m going to cry again . . .

174 days, 23 Nov/67, Thurs.

Spent Thanksgiving morning out in the boonies, but we made it back in time for the 2:00 turkey. Hey, had a big party with live band and everything; really a fine day considering the situation. A shame it’s the last holiday here. Who know what we’ll be doing Christmas?

It’s hard to find something to be thankful for over here. I guess just being alive is enough; that, and knowing I’ve got a home to come back to in 192 days.

175 days, 24 Nov/67, Fri.

Today was the full day off we should have had yesterday. We’ve a couple guys in the Cu Chi hospital, with worms a couple more are feeling sick (me included). They’re sending us in tomorrow for an examination.

I heard from an ARVN that when we to Trang Bang, we’ll stay 7 days and if we don’t do any good, we’ll come back to Boa Trai; if we do good, we’ll stay. I hope we don’t see one VC. I’m getting the same kind of feeling about leaving B.T. and going to T.B. as I had about leaving the US and coming to VN – BUTTERFLIES.

176 days, 25 Nov/67, Sat.

I didn’t even go into Cu Chi today as I am feeling better. The other two went. One came back and the other is in the hospital with the same thing as the other two guys.

I got a teat today – the OSU-Wisconsin game (two weeks old) was on TV. It was a good game. I knew who won it, but was wondering how for a while. Tomorrow, Cleveland plays the Packers – I hope we’re in – it’ll probably be my last chance to see the two Ohio teams play for quite a while.

The guy that was shot in the ankle is back with us, not going home after all. The bone was just cracked; it had been broken, he would have been sent home.

177 days, 25 Nov/67, Sun.

For a long time now, they have been building a road from Rung Dao t I never knew where. They opened it yesterday, and today we had a mission from it. Guess what? It goes to Trang Bang!

[Map of new road]

Before, the way to Trang Ban has been through Cu Chi (see map) over a very bad road that took an hour and a half by truck. The new road (dotted line) is smooth and much shorter in distance and time – twenty minutes!

With this new faster route to T.B, there is even less reason why we should move from B.T. Why leave a secure camp to go live in a dust bowl (we saw the place today) when the dust bowl is within easy reach of B.T. Sure there are more VC – near T.B. But we’ve gone there before, and today in twenty minutes, with good results; why move there when we have a safer, more livable camp in B.T.?

Our mission today was near a little town/ARVN outpost, represented on the map by SILT NOWIF (some insignificant little town – the name of which I’ve forgotten). It’s built just about the same as Rung Dao – a do-nothing sort of affair.

178 days, 27 Nov/67, Mon.

We got on extension today – we don’t move till the 30th. Big deal. There was a light drizzle all morning and afternoon. The first rain in a couple of weeks – settled the dust.

We’ve got 3 guys in the hospital. One has either malaria or hepatitis, the other has worms and another has malaria. I don’t think I feel too well. Mission tomorrow – guess where? Trang Bang, of course.

Why me?

179 days, 28 Nov/67, Tues.


The latest word on Trang Bang is that the artillery unit we were supposed to be moving in with has moved out (heard we were coming?) We can’t move to T.B. without the security of a US artillery unit, so we wait until . . .  who knows when? Probably won’t be more than a week.

We were on an all day, 3 LZ mission today. The first two resulted in nothing. The third brought us contact immediately, as two VC ran when the choppers landed. We caught them. Shortly after, another ARVN unit got into fire fight nearby. Some of the rounds were aimed at us, however, forcing us behind trees, houses, anything. We returned fire (M-16 worked nice) and received no more until about an hour later, as we rested by a hutch. Sniper fire from real close was silenced by all 4 M-16s.

The bad part was that after we hit the second LZ, I began to get affected by the heat and/or sun again. After the first 2 chases, on the third I was ready to pass out. Sgt. Mahoe took my gun and ammo and we went to a well where he pulled up a bucket of water or two and soaked me. Then we went to the hutch where we rested.

When we started the 2-3 click walk to the road, I still felt a little woozy, so Mahoe carried all my stuff all the way to the read. The world was spinning for a while. I was as white as a sheet.

I feel better now, but still tired. For doing very little walking today, I feel like I’ve been to Hanoi and back with a 106 on my back.  With all the sickness going on around here, Sgt. Mahoe is worried, so he’s sending me to Cu Chi tomorrow for a checkup.

180 days, 29 Nov/67, Wed.

No checkup today – we had another 5:00 a.m. mission, which lasted till about 1:30 this afternoon. I felt better, but not good, today. I’ll get in tomorrow probably when we all go in to get paid.

I got two packages in the mail, both filled with cookies, fudge, nuts and tin foil. Used the tin foil to jam radar, but the food will have to wait till my stomach gets better and I get an appetite. Every time I look at my locker, it’s open and the fudge supply has diminished. Rats? From the Rat Pack?

181 days, 30 Nov/67, Thurs.

We came closer than ever to having mortar rounds land in the compound last night. At about 2:00 a.m. we woke up to mortar and rifle fire. I jumped out of the wrong side of bed and nearly smashed a tap recorder. It took me several seconds to realize where I was. When I got my sense together, I opened my locker and pulled out a shirt which, in the dark, I tried for a minute or so to put on, as a pair of pants. I gave up and grabbed another pair, and finally got dressed.

We had the tracers from rifles flying through the tree tops and 3 mortars went off in the street just outside the wall. Two more went off in the field just outside the bunker line. All in all, Bao Trai town got 30 rounds and 4 ARVN were killed and 3 wounded (not S-2 ARVNs) at the outposts on the edge of town. A large building, housing several civilian advisers and permanent newsmen, was completely destroyed by fire after a direct hit. Ho one was inside.

We pulled guard till 4:00, then went to bed till 4:33, when we were called out to go in search of the mortar positions. We were out till 10:30 – found nothing. What’s there to find. Charlie lobs in 30 rounds in about 15 minutes, hides his tubes, and then runs for he swamp. Even the gunships ( 8of them) couldn’t find anything. How could we?

An ARVN patrol did capture 4 VC and 4 rifles before the attack, and later, after the attack, they found the places where they had been firing. The gunships did destroy two sampans on the river, but there was no report of what was on them.

After this, we slept till 1:00 p.m. and somehow we never got into Cu Chi to get paid. Should get in tomorrow. I still don’t feel well.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nov 13 - Nov 21 1967

161 days, 13 Nov/67, Mon.


I skipped yesterday accidentally, but no great loss – nothing at all. Today we also had the day off, but we spent it in the shade of a hedgerow near Trang Bang. We rode all the way in the truck & jeeps; on that road that’s quite a feat. We left the vehicles at a VN Ranger camp, and walked about a click or two to our objective, and waited for an hour while the ARVNs searched it. Than we went back. A long hard ride for nothing.

When I set up my gun, I saw a nice shady spot, and stepped into it. It was a little cave in the bushes, but as soon as I hit the leaves it, and all the shade, disappeared. The bushes, as high as my head, with leaves the size of my hands, were sensitivity plants, like the miniatures in Mom Singleton’s garden.

They are always abundant, covering the ground in some places, but these were the biggest I’ve seen. Can you imagine stepping into a large clump of bushes and having them all droop and fold up as soon as you touch them? I didn’t recognize the plants when I started into them, and it startled me at first when they folded up. I thought maybe I’d forgotten to use my Ban.

Tomorrow we got to Ho Bo woods. Heard of it? It’s pretty famous. A haven for VC (and hobos). The 2/27 and 1/27 have found several weapons caches there, and also have been shot up pretty bad in there at times. It’s a bad area from what I hear. We’ve never been there. Hope all we see is hobos.

 (optimistically, I date this ahead)
165 days, 14 Nov/67. Tues.

Prayer does work! For some reason, the Go Bo woods picnic was called off, and our day was leisure and relaxation. We are scheduled to go out tonight which is wonderful; you should see the huge black cloud that’s headed our way. It should be here about the time we leave. Guess I’ll play ball till 7:30.

166 days, 15 Nov/67, Wed (200 days left in country!)

The plan last night was for us to go to an ARVN compound and spend the night then at 4:00 that morning we were to walk about 4 clicks to our objective and then go back to Bao Trai. It poured solid for a half hour before we left, but let up while we drove to the compound, about 2/3 of the way to Duc Hoa. As soon as we got inside the building it opened up again. That’s called cooperation. We slept on a concrete floor, like sardines in a can, but at least we were dry. Really comfortable, if you like sleeping on concrete with 50 other bodies and 1,743, 795 mosquitoes.

We got up at four, and began our walk (moon was out by now). All went smoothly until we approached the hedgerow, which was our objective. We came upon a house about 200 meters outside the complex, and surprised 4 VC, who were asleep there. There were supposed to be 10 in the hedgerow – the 4 in the house were unexpected.

Two of them ran, but were cut down by a whole platoon’s fire power. All those tracers going to one spot. It was spectacular, but not too effective. Out of all those rounds, each VC was only hit once, but both were dead. The other two were captured along with all four weapons.

Shortly afterwards, we received about 10-15 rounds of fire from the hedgerow, which put every body buried in rice water, with rounds whizzing overhead. We fired back and it quit and we moved up only to get a couple more rounds. Then we stopped and called in white phosphorous rounds (flares) form the ARVN artillery behind our tent in Bao Trai.

The flares revealed nothing so the gunships were called and they raked the area with everything they had – mini-gun, ‘60s, M-74 grenades, and rockets. They didn’t kill anything but destroyed a couple houses and sank two sampans.

We checked the area but at daybreak, found only evidence of VC, and came back in. for a while we thought we had really tied into something big. I’m glad we didn’t. We captured the agent. After the shooting, he ran form the hedgerow and the ARVNs fired a couple of rounds near him. He yelled Chieu Hoi, and put up his hands. They tied him up and marched him back in with the other 2 prisoners.

The agents are actually with the VC. All the ARVNs know him and everything. If he’s our there they capture him in just about the same way they did today, just to make things look good.

We slept all day today. Tonight I recorded one side of a reel of tape. I bought a portable recorder for $10. The tapes can be sent free. The quality’s off and I don’t speak too well, but it’s different. I can record descriptions of my slides and you all can have talkies.

They were shooting artillery for awhile tonight, but even though I was outside, the tape didn’t pick it up; maybe I’ll get it tomorrow night when I do side two.

167 days, 16 Nov/67, Thurs.

Morning – sleep
Afternoon – relax
Evening – loaded on the trucks to go on a mission, but once again, at the last minute it was called off, and we were a reactionary force for the S-2 platoon until 11:00 (as reaction force we just act a s usual only if the S-2 run into something we would have to go out and help).

I recorded side two of the tape, and will send it tomorrow. My parents don’t have a player, so you’ll have to play it on yours. I forget if I mentioned this before – I recorded on the slowest speed (3 ¼ ips). I thing I mentioned this on the tape, but how would you know without playing the tape?

168 days, 17 Nov/67, Fri (last day on the machine gun!!!)

Yep, we went out today at 9:30 and stayed till about 3:00, out near Trang Bang again. When we got back in I handed my gun over to a really new guy (been in country 14 days). He said he wanted a machine gun! It almost sounds a shame to give such an important weapon to such a new man, but what was I when they gave me mine? He says
He’s had special training with it at Fort Polk, La. In AIT.

We had a man wounded today. Remember I mentioned how the gunners on the choppers rake the hedgerows with fire as they bring in troops? We were sweeping towards our scheduled PX (pick-up zone) as a load of ARVNs were being dropped near by on another mission. As the ships left, the gunships spotted us in the hedgerows along the river – a known hiding place for VC. Of course they had no way of knowing that we were friendly forces – all they saw was a group of people hidden in the trees. From about 800 feet it’s hard to tell; they’re not going to get any closer of if there is VC below, they’ll get shot out of the sky.

Well, they saw us and didn’t realize it was us, and as customary they let fly with their M-60s before we could give some kind of signal or get out into the open so they could see who we were.

Now I know how the VC feel when they see the gunships come. I swear, it rains lead. Trees and twigs crumble – I don’t see how they only hit one man in the leg (didn’t break the skin, just cracked the shin bone). I mean, I’ve had bullets go by me pretty close, but . . .  And there was no place to hide from these; they were coming from the air. What an awesome sight to se those big insects bearing down on you – no place to hide – shooting aerial M-60s. I was smothered with twigs from the trees, but somehow wasn’t hit.

Lt. Straub quickly made radio contact and threw a smoke grenade to mark our position, and prevented a second pass over by the choppers, which no doubt would have been with mini-guns (two on each of two ships – each gun 6,000 rounds per minute!!) and M-79s and rockets. We could have been wiped out!

We couldn’t fire back at them or they really would have laid it on; we couldn’t run out into the open – that’s really a give-away – I’ve seen the ships swoop down on running VC to within about 3 feet of them and cut them down with the mini-gun (one time I saw them hit one with the skid underneath the ship, moving at about 50 mph). The best thing we could do is just lay low and throw smoke and hope they go away.

If we’d been clearly in the open, right at first, they never would have fired, but they have strict orders to shoot without question anything the least suspicious in an area where they drop troops – that’s the way it has to be and a chance we always take whenever we’re out.

I think I’ll carry an American flag out next time, and wave it at every chopper that goes over. I don’t see how the VC can stand against one of those gunships – it was like a nightmare; and they didn’t use their big stuff.

Send a flag,

169 days, 18 Nov/67, Sat.


It was cold this morning (about 75-9=80) and I slept nearly till noon.  This afternoon I taught some of the guys how to play euchre, and we spent the afternoon playing cards. Lt. Straub bought a refrigerator and stocked it with beer and soda, so now we have cold drinks all day instead of having to wait for the club to open.

Another new man – a mechanic. He brought with him a stereo tape recorder and a TV. I guess we’re all set for entertainment in the green hutch. 

170 days, 14 Nov/67, Sun.

Helped chop down bamboo and palm trees, clearing land for a new ARVN compound. We were “volunteers” to show our “interest in the ARVNs and to shoe our goodwill and to help the people of S. Vietnam”. We’re literally fighting their war for them,, what else do they want?

I had a very educational evening. There was a play in Bao Trai which everyone in the compound was allowed to go to, and stay past the 9:00 p.m. curfew.

I don’t really know what it was about – it was a comedy (everybody laughed) being all in Vietnamese. I never saw a place so packed with people – literally on the rafters of the building. Something like this must happen only once a year, the way they were jammed in. I had to hold tow little kids on my lap all night.

It was, I guess, a typical oriental play, with the plink-plunk music, and Samurai warriors, ogres, princesses, and heroes. The acting was quite good, even though I couldn’t understand the dialogue. It was really interesting and quite professional in backgrounds, sound effects, lighting, etc.

I’ll never forgive myself for not bringing the camera and the electronic flash, which I could have borrowed. I thought we were going to a party. Instead it turned out to be this play; had I known it was a play, I would have taken the camera for sure. I missed many colorful (beautiful) costumes, and once-in-a-lifetime pictures.

171 days, 20 Nov/67, Mon.

I borrowed a set of civies to go to the “party” last night, and it felt so good to wear decent clothes for a the first time in nearly – 12 days short of – six months, that I went ahead and bought the whole deal for $8. Really nice; a perma-press shirt, a pair of perma-press pants, a perma-press belt, and a pair of perma-press tennis shoes (low cut). They feel so good.

That’s the only thing exciting that happened today.

172 days, 21 Nov/67, Tues.

Remember a few days ago, when the guy got hit by the gunships? The bullet, although it knocked him down, didn’t break the skin, but it did break the ankle bone. He goes to Japan for 4 months of recuperation, and then he goes home!!!! He’s only been in country 33 days, as of today, and only been on 4 CRIP missions. Friends and neighbors, that’s what we in war call a million dollar wound!

Bad news today. CRIP moves to Trang Bang “permanently” next Tuesday. It’ll be the same people, the same operation, and the same mission as before, just a different base camp.

Why bad news? Let me cont the ways. 1) We’ll live in tents at first, then maybe build hutches later. 2) We’ll be living in field conditions – sandbags and mud. 3) No water for showers, etc., no electricity, no shade – we’ll be out in the open. 4) No club, TV, or movies, or basketball. 5) Food will come from the US Artillery compound nearby. No more steaks, or waiters in the mess hall. 6) For a week or so, we’ll be doing nothing but filling sandbags and other hard work.

Those are the changes in living conditions – the serious problem.  The big objection is the area surrounding Trang Bang. It’s full of VC. All the outposts, etc., get mortared almost regularly. Mines blow up, people get shot; it’s a dangerous place.

They say we’ve pacified the Bao Trai area, so there is no need for us anymore – time to move. Well, I say when I can’t sit on our bunker line and watch – and even record a taped letter – because Cu Chi base camp gets 120 rounds of mortar fire, the are is not pacified. Even if it is, when we move, they’ll come right back (the VC) and we’ll have to come to the Bao Trai area from Trang Bang, just as we do the opposite now.

Why move fro a safe, comfortable place to a place we could easily commute to before, especially when we’ll be subjected to mortar and ground attack (they’re going to have the 106s, and the two .50 caliber machine guns on our perimeter, plus maybe a couple of 81 mm mortar tubes). We’re nearly guaranteed contact on our missions.

We’re supposed to go fro a week trial, then if it doesn’t work . . .  who knows? Bao Trai again? I hope. It all depends on the ARVNs. If they want to stay, we stay. If they don’t lie it (their families are all in Bao Trai) we’ll move again.

Oh, well, more later, as I find out more. But it does bother me considerably.

Slightly nervous,

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nov. 1 - Nov 12, '67

152 days, 1 Nov/67, Wed.

Today is July 4th! For a day off, there certainly has been a lot of excitement around here. Last night (after I wrote the letter) the ARVNs captured a VC captain who, in turn, offered to tell them where a mortar position was near Bao Trai. The ARVN put him on an armored car, and two of our jeeps escorted them to the site – almost. After about a mile, the VC jumped from the armored car and disappeared into the night, before they could even shoot.

MACV made recon help do guard duty all night, afraid they would get mortared. MACV has got to be the most frightened group of people in Vietnam. Any idiot could see, with reasonable certainty, that the mortar position was a device to get the captain out of the compound so he could escape. Smart VC, I’d say. Incompetent ARVNs.

Today was uneventful. I went downtown to see what was going on for National Day. There was a parade and people throwing fireworks, but I didn’t go to the bicycle race or anything.

Tonight, for some reason, everyone (most everyone) decided to get drunk – and get drunk they did. In fact, there are now 15 people banned from the bar.

“Grandpa” Clark and Buss (a new guy – both foolish drunks) some how got out of the compound and ere missing from 8:00 till 11:30. were supposed to be back from town at 900. they were really blown away and Clark even threatened to shoot Sergeant Mahoe when Mahoe began questioning him.

There is  a guard on both of them tonight, and tomorrow both will be taken to CU Chi for – who knows what. Court Martial possibly. As wild as Bao Trai was tonight, (it’s dangerous enough every night) anything could have happened resulting in a disastrous repercussion on the whole platoon. It’ll be bad enough on the platoon as it is, for them breaking curfew. I hate to see anything happen to the, but they brought it on themselves.

I saw in the P.O. today where Marlynn was the 1st runner-up in the Miss teenage Columbus contest. Definitely congratulations are in order. I’m really proud of you, Marlynn. I just wish you could have won the whole thing. For once, finally, I’m really proud to say I went to Westerville High School. Phil Shank sent me a lot of all the scores up to Groveport. It’s really unbelievably wonderful. Phil also said they’re ranked No. 2 behind Arlington in the county. Any state rating?

See, Marlynn, it always happens the year after you graduate.

Class of ’65,

153 days, 2 Nov/67 Thurs. – 5 mos.

Grandpa and Buss went to Cu Chi for the last time today. I’ve moved into the green hutch. It’s cooler and I was tired of living in the tent. I’m tired of living in Vietnam. I wish they’d hurry and find the plug and drain this country away.

Today was another day off. Bound to go out tomorrow. That’s about it for tonight – another “0” day. Need about 213 more just like it.

154 days, 3 Nov/67, Fri (30 weeks to go)

Another off-day! Sounds more to the point than “day off”. Now that I’m in the green hutch with the tin roof, it’s cool enough to sleep till noon – which I did.

Wednesday I went into town, and had “the little old man with glasses” across the street sew me a set of black pajamas. They aren’t just any old pajamas they’re the kind worn by the VC and nearly all other Vietnamese people as their daily dress. You see them everywhere – especially the pants. Several of the guys wear them around here. They’re very comfortable and cool. Pajamas to us, clothes to the Vietnamese and the VC.

‘Tis the weekend tomorrow – we always go to the swamp on the weekend.

155 days, 4 Nov/67, Sat.

We were put on alert for a while last night. The S-2 had gone out to intercept some new VC recruits, and we received word that they made contact and needed help. We nearly went out, but a closer look at the situation by radio contact with the S-2 revealed that the contact was being made by two VC compounds – against each other – the S-2 was merely in the area. They called artillery on the two companies; a barrage that lasted nearly all night.

It’s good to hear that the VC can ambush their own people just as we can, only it cost them more than our little affair back in August. Today was another day off; this makes 5 in a row. They had us on the vehicles twice, but both times the fissions were cancelled at the last minute.

I got my first roll of slides since I got the camera for Dad. All are good. Three or four are prize winners. One I’d enter in a contest if I could find one – it’s perfect! Other than the pictures, the mail’s been slow. Haven’t even heard from the folks but once since their pleasure trip and buying spree (actually I haven’t written them too much either).

We’ve got to go out tomorrow, don’t we? I hope we have another September – out only 7 times. I really wish I could say more, even make up something to say. I guess the novelty of Vietnam and everything has worn off. I’m beginning to feel I’ve lived here all my life, and always will. Thank God, neither is true!

156 days, 5 Nov/67, Sunday

Six days in a row. To tell the truth, it gets boring. I got the clipping in the paper about Westerville clinching the title – that’s number one! We watched movies and played basketball most of the afternoon. I managed to twist my right foot, but nothing serious – I probably won’t even be able to get out of going out tomorrow – if we go out. Here it is, the 5th of November, and I just realized Halloween has come and gone. I’m surprised the VC didn’t come trick-or-treating – with mortars. They didn’t even soap windows, or throw corn. No sign of the Great Pumpkin; the only Jack-o-lanterns we have over here have fuses instead of candles.


157 days, 6 Nov/67, Mon.


Our 7th day off was filled in by the celebration of Phuong Du Thet – meaning snap, crackle, pop. It is a Vietnamese national holiday honoring the three giants of the world of rice, during which a cease-fire in the war is declared, and Viet Cong and Vietnamese celebrate the day as one brotherhood of people.

The traditional diet of the day is Rice Krispies for breakfast, Spanish rice for lunch, and Rice-a-Roni for dinner, with rice pudding for dessert. Rice wine replaces water the whole day long. Often the upper class enjoys a rice and jelly sandwich before turning in for the night.

There is a parade in the afternoon in which everyone dresses as their favorite grain of rice, and dance all about town, trying to identify Phuong, Du, and That, who are similarly disguised (somewhat like our Secret Santa). The penalty of a wrong guess is a snapped finger, crackled toes, or popped nose, administered by the offended a this own choice. The one correctly identifying anyone, or all three, receives a Blue-Cross card, and a Medicare application. Phuong Du That is a fun day for all.

We have invented a new candy bar (getting away from rice, if I may). We simply cut a coconut from a tree and cover it with chocolate and sprinkled nuts. We call it Recon Hard Ball. Hard to swallow, and hard to believe. Melts in your mouth (if you have a large enough mouth) not in your hands. It’s a chance to go a little nuts.

I got a chance to go into Bao Trai today after the parade and pick up some pajamas. Paris originals, with fine mesh and delicate lace cuffs and collar. There are pearl buttons that glow in the dark, and a trap door for ventilation – which is also the only way to get into and out of the silly things (Pierre didn’t have any zippers). The buttons are just sewed on – Pierre was also out of buttonholes. I’ll send you a picture, if you think you can stand it (I’m not sure I can).

I guess our vacation is over – we have a mission at 7:15 tomorrow morning. Seventeen VC, mine, Chieu Hoi guide – sounds like another farce.

158 days, 7 Nov/67, Tues.

Well, I retract my last statement form yesterday. We had an outstanding mission. The Chieu Hoi was good – one of the VC we captured was the Chieu Hoi’s brother! Sounds like the Civil War, doesn’t it? Our fist body count came when Little Joe spotted a guy running across the field. We gave chase and fired a total of nearly 400 rounds at the idiot, but he kept running and we couldn’t hit him. Finally Broton got smart and took aim. One shot in the neck form 400 meters – good shooting.

Meanwhile, the ARVNs had captured 4 confirmed VC, and about 5 suspects, including a girl, and had killed another who was firing a carbine out of a hole. They pulled out the body – a girl! We had a good mission finally. Reminded me of the old days with Cito.

Instead of walking all the way back to Bao Trai, we stopped a convoy of about 20 filled dump trucks and rode in on the piles of dirt. After 7 days of rest, I’m “bou cu” tired. I did get several combat pictures, including – sorry – the dead girl.

159 days, 8 Nov/67, Wed.

Morning off. In the afternoon, a whole fleet of mechanics came out from Cu Chi and we had a mass repair on all jeeps. I got off easy again – repainted all the bumper numbers.

We got 4 new guys today and plan on two more tomorrow. We have an all day mission tomorrow. It sounds bad. All day in the swamps three different LZs to go to, the last one a 6 click walk through the swamp. All in the heat of the afternoon. Hope I don’t get heat-sick again.

Well, maybe I do. The target was at first a battalion of VC and through rumors, has grown to 1,500 North Vietnamese regulars – the ones with military training and uniforms. DMZ refugees. True or not, it still sounds bad. We’re going on the west side of the Oriental River. Usually we stay on the east – never have gone on the west. That’s definitely where Charlie hides during the day!!!

There will be a unit of ARVNs with us (a battalion, other than the S-2 platoon) but what good are they? They’re the same ones that shoot at us all the time!

To be continued (maybe)

160 days, 9 Nov/67, Thurs.

Well, here I am,

Compared to what they had planned for us, today was a walk in the park. Our plans called for an LZ near Trang Bang and the Oriental River, then on to another LZ on the west side of the river, along another creek, which is known to be the main supply route form Cambodia for the 264th and 271st  VC battalions.

The colonel guaranteed contact at thesis LZ. After that one (if there were any of us left) we were to go to an area in the swamps near Bao Trai, and walk 6 clicks through the swamp Lt Straub said that whoever planned the mission didn’t leave time for chopper refueling, etc. and we might not have enough time for he third LZ.

We landed at the first objective at 11:15 a.m. – searched it, had our C-rations, and waited till 4:30 p.m. It was  so late that they had changed plans altogether, and they dropped us near Bao Trai – about 1 ½ clicks out, and we walked in from there.

So, instead of 500 VC, and a total of 13 licks walking, we wound up with a picnic and an afternoon hike – and I don’t even carry a rabbit’s foot; somebody else must have one.

161 days, 10 Nov/67, Fri. (10 months in Army)

Day off! Seven new replacements (for who?) today. Trivia Dept: if I had gone to OCS,I would have graduated today and my 2 years would just be beginning. It’s been 23 weeks today since I’ve been in VN. Also, my tenth month in the Army. Looks like that 2-year, 10 month estimate would have been right.

Rained all day today – 162 days, 11 Nov/67 Sat.

The first rain there other than a few night drizzles, since Oct. 28th. Hints of the dry season, is my guess. Day off again for Michigan State and Notre Dame – good game – three weeks old.

Haven’t heard from you in quite a while. Hope every thing’s all well. Teaching this year? Hope you’re keeping the old folks at home informed with these letters. Would you believe – in about 20 days, I’ll be starting down the hill; that is, I start counting down from 183, instead of counting up to 183. Yep, half way!

I’ve been thinking (how about that?) of all the things I mess about the world. Not just home and family – those are understood – but the little things. I miss watching football on the color TV, miss watching it in person, and even miss commercials.

I’ll be glad when I can get home and have a BBF hamburger and milkshake. When I can get in a car and drive around OSU and enjoy the – uh – scenery. I especially miss driving the Alpine down highway 605 at 80 mph, at one o’clock in the morning on the way home from work. I miss Western Electric, and all the wonderful hillbillies I worked with.

I miss slot-racing (believe it or not). I miss snow and cold weather. I get tired of the hot sun, green grass, and trees. Even the flowers are still in full bloom – some just coming out – and it’s the middle of November. Everyday, somehow, I miss that freedom bird that’ll take me back to it all.

I even miss your garden,