129 days, 25 Jan/68, Thurs.
Howerter came back today – says he saw all the news on TV and nearly changed his mind about coming back. He said he had a wonderful time at home, but then he said he was glad he extended over here, instead of maybe being sent to Korea.
The Vietnamese are celebrating their big holiday, pronounced “tet” – spelled . . . .? They throw fireworks all day long, like a Chinese New Year. Every time this happens, we have to run out and see what’s happening. I swear it sounds exactly like the whole town’s being overrun. As if my nerves aren’t bad enough as it is . . . .
125 days, 26 Jan/68, Fri.
Wiped out another VC battalion today, only this time, in addition to our slingshots and surgical tweezers, we need a couple of Argentine bolos.
127 days, 27 Jan/68, Sat.
A new mechanic came out to stay with us today. He lives on Ferris Road, which runs off Morse Rods somewhere east of the 3C Highway. He knows several guys from around Westerville – Bill Woerhle, for one – that graduated in ’64 (he went to Mifflin in ‘64). He knows a lot of the guys that ran around with Magoo (Jim Rice) Mickey Thomas, Jim Lust, etc.
His name is Hook – looks a lot like Ron Shank, only thinner; says he often was mistaken for him in Westerville. We were really surprised to find out we were both from Columbus and especially the north end, so close. He was at the party at Rice’s house where Woerhle got the cue stick broken over his head!
126 days, 28 Jan/68, Sun.
The well ran dry last night – or rather extremely low. Now only the mess hall and the sinks in the latrine have water from the main well. Water for showers and flushing comes from the other small well. The water from this well is carried over in two garbage cans. Wow! So modern; just like home.
Col. Nahn held a Tet party to night. The usual Vietnamese party flop. The firecrackers never stopped going off; inside and out. A whole string going off sounds so much like a fierce firefight. Brrrr. The VC could’ve started something at the far end of town and we would never have known it.
That mechanic I mentioned knows the Rhodes brothers – Butch, etc. Says he knows Jere, but just from seeing him with Butch and the band. His full name is Larry Hook. Anyone know him?
125 days, 29 Jan/68, Mon.
A news correspondent from the Army came down today “just because I wanted to”. He’ll be here a few days gathering material for an article on CRIP. He is the first one that has talked to the PFCs and Spec. 4s; the Lt. and Sgt. Mahoe didn’t even know he was here until this morning – was sitting in our hutch when we got up – really a surprise.
Polk and I talked to him all day long, took him on a downtown tour, and everything. He wants to find out what the men think about CRIP, nut just what the officers and NCOs think.
We told him all we liked and didn’t like about it – especially the food! He’ll be living right with us – he’s a Spec. 4 – so hell hear us talk among ourselves and get a real good idea of that’s going on here.
There’s supposed to be a truce on now until Feb. 1st. Let’s hope it lasts. Tet is a 4-day holiday; I wonder if I’ll ever get used to the fireworks? Happy Vietnamese New Year!
124 days, 30 Jan/68, Tues.
When these people celebrate New Year’s they stop at nothing. At till midnight, the fireworks really began. Then the ARVNs began shooting everything; carbines, .30 caliber machine guns, flares – everything – for nearly 2 hours. It sounded like Jan. 8th all over again. I’m glad the VC didn’t join in or come later – everyone had to be out of bullets. U.S. people didn’t celebrate. We just stayed inside to keep out of the way of stray bullets.
They weren’t just shooting out into the fields, but also into the air, in all parts of town. Some of the s trays were coming from nearby Duc Lap, as their skyward shots came back to earth. Even with all the firecrackers, the sound of a carbine is still recognizable, only because of the regularity of the gun when fired on automatic, and the sound of the round as it streaks across the sky.
There were several violations of the truce last night, all over Vietnam, so it has been canceled. I wonder if some of the violations were only celebrations that seemed like violations
The holiday goes on and all our Vietnamese help is off for 4 days. That means no laundry. We have to do our own KP and service in the mess hall, and even have to police our own yard. Boy; I’ll be glad when they get back on the job.
We’re still hauling our water in large cans from the dirty well to the latrine. I wish they’d find a better method. Water trucks from Cu Chi, perhaps?
123 days, 31 Jan/68, Wed.
Last night the VC were everywhere, and still are. They hit Trang Bang, Cu Chi, were inside the American Embassy in Saigon, and attacked the Presidential Palace. This morning, under cover of a dense fog, the attacked Duc Hoa. Even later this morning they ambushed the 1/27 and engaged them for nearly 2 hours.
They have received intel that for the New Year, the VC are going all out – for broke. The intel says they are going to overrun Saigon, Cu Chi, all the major cities in the south, including Bao Trai. As of now, all the roads are closed. No travel anywhere except for combat missions. The 1/27 and 2/27 are moving to Saigon this afternoon. Leaving us without any support.
After all the activity last night, I’m sure that tonight is our night. I’m scared – never been so scared. All the time I’ve been here – things have never been so bad before. Charlie’s attacking towns in broad daylight now! And he’s getting away with it.
Where are our troops? Why have such large numbers of men and supplies been allowed to filter into SVN from the North, by way of Cambodia (the VC in Saigon were not just terrorists, but NVA regulars). The North is going all out now, so isn’t it about time we went all out in the bombing of the North?
Like I say, I’m scared now more than ever – there’s an atmosphere here now that I don’t like. I’m writing this in the afternoon now, instead of this evening because we might be terribly busy later on tonight.
I hope I can write later on. There is no travel to Cu Chi for an indefinite period, so no mail and no pay for who knows how long. Who knows when I will get any letters? Mail will still go out, I assume.
It’s that bad; we’re surrounded and can’t go anywhere. Our only chance is to defeat him when he comes—May God be with us.
Back again with a little more. There are three roadblocks of dirt and branches and probably mines across the road between here and Duc Hoa. On the road to Cu Chi there is a platoon of VC on guard, as there is at each of the roadblocks. What I want to know is if they are there, where are the gunships, artillery, etc.? Are they afraid to fire artillery because the VC are in a friendly area? What are they going to do? Wait till they start shooting at us?
We’re getting our defenses set up, and all the US civilian personnel are being evacuated by chopper. I think I’ll put on my civvies.
So we’re waiting. We don’t know when it will come, or haw strong it will be. Some say it might not come at all. I believe it will come and hard. It doesn’t make sense if it doesn’t. Oh dear . . . . , Bob