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.
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.