Friday, January 27, 2012

Jan 25 - Jan 31, 1968

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

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Jan 15 - Jan 24, 1968

139 days, 15 Jan/68, Mon.

Lazy morning after a crazy night. Someone came in the hutch at about 1:00 saying that everyone was to get up and go to their positions, that there were 50 or so VC breaking the wood line outside of town. We waited for an hour for an attack, then when nothing happened, went to bed. Late reports said that the VC were really friendlies on an ambush patrol.

Ever since the big attack, everyone’s a bit nervous. That, plus the fact that there are a great deal of VC coming into the area every night, from Cambodia. I’ll be glad when the dry season’s over.

I drove a captain to Cu Chi today. On the way we got into a conversation about nearly everything. It got around to the Combat Artist deal, and I told him I didn’t know much about it. He said he’d be glad to make inquiries for me. So now I have a captain on m side.

We hit it off real good. He stays here on the compound and I always knew he was a real fine guy – not the typical stuffy officer. He’s from Delaware, Ohio. Went to OSU and had basic AIT and OCS at Ft. Know – a lot in common.

138 days, 16 Jan/68, Tues.

I got some more slides today – all over-exposed. I think my camera is bad. No sweat; in 31 days I’ll buy a good one in Hong Kong. One of the MACV boys just got back and was telling me how nice Hong Kong was. Two of our guys go there the first of Feb. They’re going to make hotel reservations for me while they’re there (I go the 18th of Feb.). Stayed at home today.

137 days, 17 Jan/68, Wed.

We were scheduled for a joint ARVN operation today, but the first few loads into the area (2 ARVN battalions) ran into heavy contact and it was 2:30 in the afternoon before we even left the compound when they finally released the choppers for us (3 were shot down).

When we went in, it was nearly over and we walked about 1500 meters or so in the swamps and then walked back to BT. We heard someone still fighting somewhere to our left as we walked out; just a few shots now and then I guess on the other side of the river, they had an ARVN company surrounded by 2 VC battalions and the fighting was hand to hand. They’ve got to do something about these infiltrations from Cambodia! It’s 13.6 miles away, and 2 VC battalions this close to Bao Trai is too many too close. Tonight is my night in the water tower. How exciting!

136 days, 18 Jan/68, Thurs.

The tower is only about 50 feet high, but the ladder is so straight up! Two of the rungs are broken, and held in place with baling wire and the rest are so rusted they threaten to go any minute (something like the old Rambler).

At the top (a circular area about 20 feet across) there is a tripod for the shot-up .50 machine guns, and sleeping room for 5. There is a wall of sandbags 4 feet high around the circumference, with improvised poncho shelters for sleeping.

We could see for miles from the top. I had heard it was cold on top, and while the wind was blowing, it was. Later on it died down and we slept warm and comfortably. We had air mattresses, blankets, and field jackets, which we carried up with us, as well as 2 sandwiches a piece from the mess hall. Oh, yes, we had a radio (transistor for listening and Army for calling artillery if need be) and a compass.

We couldn’t see any sense in standing guard since no one could sneak up on us up there, and if any mortar should come in, we would be up right away. Besides there were three ARVNs up there who pulled a regular guard shift all night.

So we ate and then crawled under the poncho shelters and had a better night’s sleep than I’ve had the past 3 or 4 nights in the hutch.

Today we did nothing.

I got a letter from the parents, saying something about Jere being drafted for the 24th of Jan. I really am sorry to hear it, but no more than Jere was I’m sure. I just pray that he somehow manages to stay away from here. Is the draft 3 years now?

If he goes in on the 24th, he should get out of AIT somewhere around the 29th of May. So at least we’ll be home on leave at the same time. I fear, however, that he’ll be going and I’ll be coming back. At least I’ll be able to give him plenty of up-to-date information, and give him a little bit of an idea what to expect. Although I hope he’ll be needing information on Germany or someplace other than Vietnam. More than ever, now.
Pray for peace, Bob

135  134 days, 19 & 20 Jan/68

Didn’t do anything at all on the 19th. Didn’t even write a letter – had tower guard again.

The people of Cu Chi did have something to do that night. At about 7:30 they received a ground and mortar attack which lasted till about 10:00. We really had a ringside seat for the contest – 6 miles away. We could see everything (you can even see a lighted area on the horizon from the lights of Saigon).

Today I went into Cu Chi and had my khakis washed for R&R. We also got the new M-16s with the chrome-plated, slightly enlarged chambers. Really nice, only I haven’t had a chance to fire it yet. I also picked up a copy of the 25th Division’s weekly paper, and saw a headline which read, “25th Division Needs Artists”.

All talented and interested people were to submit 3 samples of their work to the Adjutant General. After my letter tonight, I will be doing some drawing.

We got back from Cu Chi and found we had a mission waiting for us. A chopper pilot had seen some “VC” dumping “heavy equipment, possibly mortars” into a small lake outside of Duc Hanh ‘B’.

We went out to check it out. The lake was difficult to find, probably because the “VC” (farmers) had pumped the lake – actually a pond – all but dry with the “heavy equipment” which consisted of a water pump and some hose. Well, that’s one water pump Charlie will never hit us with. I wish all his mortars would turn into water pumps.

Time to draw. I’ll just add that right now Cu Chi is being hit again tonight – this time, they’ve already knocked out two of Cu Chi’s tanks. No sweat; it would talk at least the whole NVA to overrun that base camp.

133 days, 21 January/68, Sunday

Everyone went in to get the new ‘16s today (everyone in VN is supposed to get them sooner or later). I turned in by three doodles and now it’s “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”. They have to go from the company orderly room to battalion HQ, to the Adjutant General’s office, then to the 18th Military History Detachment, which could be in Saigon for all I know. I don’t know how long it will take. I just hope the man at the end of the lone accepts them meanwhile, I wait. If I do go, I’ll go to that detachment – hopefully in Saigon.

We had a briefing this evening by some of the intelligence officers. They pointed out to us, from the bunker line, where the VC had 4 machine guns, 2 RGP-7s, and one mortar position, all not more than 400-500 meters away!

All the positions were dug in and well protected. We didn’t destroy them, so that is and when Charlie comes again, the chances are 80% he’ll use the same holes, and this time we’ll know where he is – we’ve put up aiming stakes.

So far tonight Cu Chi has been left alone. We have an armored battalion surrounding Bao Trai tonight, and there’s talk of 1/27, 2/27, and 4/23 armored, starting an offensive down by the river to try to get rid of the “Red Menace.” They should have done this before all this got such a good head start.

I heard an intel report on the 19th, while on the water tower,  which gave the positions, in 6-digit quad coordinates, of 5 know VC battalions (269, 267, 506, 507, and 237) and one unknown battalion. I checked our map and found that they were spread along highway One from above Trang Bang to below Cu Chi – a spread of about 10 miles!

If it’s not too late, grab the January 22 issue of either Time or Newsweek. They have small article on our Jan. 8 attack and a picture of the (ugh) dead VC display on the square. The report is rather distorted. They say the VC had actually held the town for 2 hours, but didn’t do much terrorizing. Actually it was the opposite. They terrorized for about 2 hours, but never actually held the town. They never mention the compound or Recon. I guess TV is the only place Recon (and our VC flag) rated any mention – can’t think of better place.

132 days,  22 Jan/68, on.

Well, now it’s “don’t call us we’ll call you” for sure. I’ve signed the request for transfer and it’s on the way; no telling how long it will take to either go through or be turned down.

While we fooled around in Cu Chi, the rest of the platoon was on a mission. They killed one VC and had 4 more Chieu Hoi from a hole. Everyone test fired their new ‘16s, except us in Cu Chi, so I still haven’t tried mine to see if it works. A few of the others didn’t today.

I hope the rats are quiet tonight. I’ve moved to a lower bunk near the end of the hutch where the rats have a square dance every night. Last night things got out of hand and the square dance turned into a regular fire fight.

The rats have become quite a problem here. Every night live traps are set all around the hutches and every morning we have contest to see who caught the biggest. Some are huge. We’ve seen some in the field outside the bunker line that are too big for the traps in fact, it’s a wonder they don’t set off those mines out there.
They’re so hard to kill. We try to drown them, but they can hold their breath longer that Lloyd Bridges, and swim better that Don Schollancer. That one we saw form the bunker was a bruiser. We threw a sand bag at him bit it bounced off and he picked up and threw it back.

We found the best way is to soak them in gas, while they’re still in the cage, and light them, and set them loose. They run about 20 feet, then get burned up they’re probably Buddhist anyway.

131 days, 23 Jan/68, Tues.

The national police captured 3 VC downtown last night, and spent the rest of the night searching the rest of the town for more – but found none.

I had intended to write Jere a letter, but I just realized that he goes in tomorrow. Do me a favor and send me his address – don’t forget.

Dad tells that he sold the Alpine for (only) $1200, and that you get the Cougar and Marlynn gets the Volvo. See, things weren’t so bad after all. Who gets the Chevelle? Who gets January? Bob

130 days, 24 Jan/68, Wed.

I had my khakis laundered, tailored, and pressed today. Now I start buying all my authorized brass, ribbons, etc. just to fill up the page:
1. each arm – Spec 4 patch
2. each shoulder epaulette – Wolfhound crest
3. right shoulder – light blue Infantry braid
4. hat – Wolfhound crest
5. right collar – US brass on blue
6. left collar – Infantry brass (crossed rifles on blue)
7. left pocket, top to bottom – C.I.B., National defense ribbon, Vietnamese ribbon with one star for every 6 mos. In-country, Vietnamese campaign ribbon, expert M-14 medal, marksman M-16 medal, 25th division patch
8. right pocket – silver star unit award (1/27) and presidential unit citation with 2 oak leaves, name tag.

A little more than I had when I came home from AIT as an E-2 pvt. I look like a real war hero. I still might have a bronze star coming. Everyone in CRIP – the original CRIP – is supposed to get one. That means Marlar, Jones, Raye, Vance, Doc Brooks, and your truly, will get a bronze star. The rest of them will get them too, but they will be in the world. Cito got a silver star.

Doc Brooks is supposed to get another bronze star for bravery under fire (which he richly deserves for more than one incident). From the night of the 8th of Jan. when he tried to rescue the 3 guys from the hutch that was hit, while the rounds were still hitting in the house next door. They had all been killed instantly, so his efforts were in vain, but the has always been one of our best heads under fire; better, I dare say, than Lt. Straub or Lt. Enbody.

We’ll have a big awards ceremony – 7 bronze stars, and about 12 purple hearts for wounds received as a result of hostile action, at various times during the past 6 months. That’s one medal I don’t want! The orders should all come this month (Feb.) Plus about 7 PFC to Spec 4 promotions, and 5 Sp. 4 to Sgt. promotions.

We had a mission at 3:00 this afternoon. We made contact with a squad, and had our first actual firefight. We traded shots for about 10 minutes. I don’t think either side even came close to hitting anybody, and when the two gunships appeared overhead, the VC called it off and melted into the swamp. The choppers saw nothing, and when we swept the area, we saw nothing. Almost made us believe they weren’t there at all, and never had been.

Firefights cause butterflies.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Jan 9 - Jan 14 1968

145 days, 9 Jan/68, Tues

They’ve got the 269th cornered down by the river! Two battalions of ARVNs have then wedged in on two sides and there are 4 Recon companies – the 49th for one – on the others side of the river, to prevent the VC form crossing. The 1/27 and 2/27 are on the way to the area. Before the 49th went to the other side, they captured a huge supply of VC ammo. There should be a battle tomorrow!

We went out to the edge of the swamps today, and thought we spotted two companies of VC, and nearly called in artillery before we learned that they were actually the 49th Recon on the way to finding the ammo.

Sure, they shoot at us a lot, but calling artillery on them wouldn’t be Cricket. We’ve learned more about the night before last. They captured the Executive Officer (2nd in command) of the 257th VC battalion.

Last night they overran 3 of the 9 outposts that they attacked in Trang Bang, and blew out a vital bridge. Not bad work for two nights in a row.

Back to the night before last; the confirmed body count – bodies found and brought back to B.T. – is finally at 184!. That’s in addition to the 150-200 they saw being carried away – either dead or wounded. I’d say the town, Recon, and the choppers hurt Charlie bad that night, even though he did manage to inflict quite a bit of damage himself.

We drove through the town on the way out this morning and it seems that almost every house and building has at least one mortar hole in the rood or yard. The concrete water tower is full of bullet holes (no leaks) and it took 3 RPG2 rounds. Why were they shooting at a water tower? There are two .50 caliber machine guns and a mortar on top of it – ARVN and friendly. The VC failed to knock it out and those .50s worked all night. Beautiful position for them; they shot all over town.

144 days, 10 Jan/68, Wed.
One year in the Army – one year to go!

Charlie doesn’t give up easy. He hit Duc Hoa last night, almost as hard as he hit here the other night. As a diversion, he hit us at the same time – about 12:00. It was just a “normal” attack. Lasted only an hour or so – no VC in the town or anything, just about 50 rounds of mortar fire. The mess hall took the compound’s only hit – in the same place as the other night – just a hole in the roof. If they don’t quit hitting the mess hall, they’ll probably thing it’s us doing the bombing.

We went out late this afternoon to hunt for a weapons cache. Didn’t find it. We did shoot a VC as he ran from a hedgerow. He had tow grenades in his pocket. We shot at a couple of other running suspects, but missed; you could hardly see them, let alone shoot them, as far away as they were.

Also last night and today, the 1/27 & 2/27 working together killed 109 VC and lost only 5 Americans. The report about the 269 being cornered was false – they’re still on the loose, but have been reduced by about 294.

143 days, 11 Jan/68, Thurs.

They’re still talking about the night of the 8th. Hicks is supposed to be getting a Silver Star for holding off those 10 or so VC trying to cross the road. I think that’s a rather high award for someone just doing his job.

Everyone figures that the VC weren’t trying to overrun the compound, but trying to raid and harass the town people, showing that we don’t actually protect them. Makes sense. We went out today in the late afternoon, and walked about 8 clicks in less than 3 hours – didn’t see anything but scenery.

They’ve started a tower guard every night. Two people go up on the water tower in the middle of town (4 ARVNs are up there all the time). Our tow guys will call artillery on any mortar sighted during any attack. The muzzle flashes from the mortars are sometimes visible from the tower. My two nights are the 15th and 17th of this month. The guard will go until the 26th.
142 days, 12 Jan/68, Fri.

I filled out my “Dream Sheet” in Cu Chi today. Just a little form every one can fill out where you say how many days leave you want or have owed to you (47) and where you want to go for your next duty assignment (Fort Know). There is no guarantee that you’ll get either; hence the name Dream Sheet.

Lt. Enbody is all right during day operations, but at night . . . ! Last night we went out at dusk to the same area where we saw the two companies on Christmas Day. We saw 4 or 5 figures about 1500 meters away and the Lt. called artillery. A few scared farmers began running id different direction and he told us to shoot at them – they were out of effective range!

We shot, and is so doing gave away our position in the area. That’s not all. Next we all walked into the area in a long line – 50 men abreast – begging for an ambush or something. We got right to the edge of the swamp and here, where we needed fire power, he allowed only the 3 machine guns to spray the area.

Next, we began walking along the edge of the swamp – where we had just fired – for about 100 meters. If there had been any large force out there . . . .  Somebody finally tried to do something sensible and decided to head back into B.T., since most of our machine gun ammo was gone and we had given our presence away.

The ARVNs began lighting stacks of dried rice stalks for some unknown reason – probably to illuminate the area in case Charlie tried to follow us. All it did was draw some fairly heavy sniper fire on our position, and we had to nearly run back to B.T.

As I said, if there had been a large force in the area, we would have been done for. I think Bao Trai would be better off and so would we, if we’d spend our nights at home rather than out in the boonies.

141 days, 13 Jan/68, Sat.

This morning there was a memorial service for Story, Hanson, and Lightbourne – the 3 guys killed in the Jan 8th attack. The rest of the day has been lazy. The ARVNs in the artillery compound behind us were burning trash and caught the dye rice fields on fire. The fire crept onto the berm and threatened our ammo bunker. About 4 guys grabbed extinguishers off the jeeps and began trying to put it out.

One of the ancient Claymore mines laid out all along the berm got too hot and went off. Luckily all the fragments went out toward the field as they were supposed to, but the percussion might have broken Stewart’s eardrum. He’s in Cu Chi having it checked. This place just isn’t safe anymore.

I found this enclosed clipping in the 25th Division paper. It’s about the time Broton got shot. Corrections are as follows (there is a large amount of news censorship here):

·Straub goofed and they LZ was split and we landed on top of the VC
·This was us. Broton, etc. (one VC; not too stiff).
·The other group
·One ARVN killed – Anh. One U.S. wounded – Broton.
·They were probably the only VC fighters Straub had seen other than peanut farmers. He had to say they were the best – they made an all out of him.
The rest is true. Bob

140 days, 14 Jan/68, Sun.

It seems that every Sunday we got the swamp – today was no exception. Actually we only touched on the edge of it. Soon after we got down, the gunships spotted something in the dense bushes and began firing all they had, which lasted for about 15 minutes.

It seemed this was enough. It didn’t look like anything much was in there except maybe an empty bunker or something. Just to make sure, Mahoe called in two jets for napalm air strikes. Wow! Those jets are fantastic! You can hardly see them coming in at tree top level until they’re right there. They drop the huge napalm bombs like torpedoes, and the area goes up in a ball of flaming jelly. The thing that surprised me was the lack of mouse when they exploded – just a mild thump when they ignited on impact. They also dropped some 300 pound bombs and shot quite a few rounds from the 20 mm cannon.

After the strikes, we went into the area and found a few destroyed bunkers and sleeping places and several fresh footprints; there had been something there after all. Not only does the napalm burn the area, but there are also huge jagged pieces of metal shrapnel a foot or two long that can cut trees in half – and VC – as they fly through the air.

Here’s the sad part. All this display of force and brilliant color going on 300 meters in front of me, and the camera was in my foot locker – no film. I’ll probably never see another air strike again (hope not – usually you’re in bad trouble when the jets are needed). I guess I just missed a good opportunity.

I think they were Voodoo jets, like fly around North America. Glad they’re a little more reserved around home when they fly around.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Jan 1 - Jan 8, 1968

153 days left, 1 Jan/68

I’ve got a dandy head-splitter tonight. Doc gave me a dozen odd shaped pills; they should do something. I’m beginning to have hallucinations; this stuff’s a trip.

More New Year’s resolutions:
3) I resolve to stop going to Paris on weekends
4) I resolve to stop wearing snowshoes
5) I resolve to begin saving money for a new ’68 Lambretta

Remember I mentioned something about the 25th division returning to the States? It was a misprint in the paper. The 24th division from Germany is coming to the States. I resolve to stop believing in rumors.

152 days,  2 Jan/68, Tues.

We were supposed to have an operation this morning, but it was called off. So it was another easy day – until we went out at night. There have been very few missions at night when we haven’t made contact of one kind or another. This night was no exception.

We had walked about 5 clicks and had searched three objectives. We were moving into a hedgerow to set up our ambush for the rest of the night. Two squads were setting out Claymores; I was setting out the one for the scouts and Joiner was setting infantry’s, which put us both about 25 meters out in the open in front of the hedgerow.

As the story goes, as Joiner walked out to set his up, a Vietnamese about 20 feet in front of him called out something. At first he thought it was an ARVN, then realized everybody was in back of him, and he dove behind a berm.

The ARVNs heard the VC talking and opened up from the hedgerow. The VC got about two steps before he was cut down. About 5 other VC, seen by the light of the flare that was fired, got away. Apparently they had been sleeping in the field when Joiner walked up on them.

Needless to say, the large volume of fire put out made things rather uncomfortable for Joiner and me, since not too many people realize we were out there..

[Sketch of firefight]

Joiner had no chance to fire since the infantry fired first. The scouts were shooting off to my left, but not by much. The 106 started firing directly in front of them at first, but when they came over to their left, I fired a magazine (in the general direction of the VC) just to let people know, by the sight of my tracers, that I was out there.

It didn’t work and the 106 kept me pinned down for about 20 minutes. I never did get the Claymore set. We left the area after we were sure the VC got away, and came back “home”. Our reward for our effort: one VC body count, one Russian carbine.

The VC fired back at us a couple of times, and Stewart got scratched, by an all-too-close bullet, under the lip!!

151 days, 3 Jan/68, Wed.

After sleeping till 11:30, we spent the rest of the day as we like them – doing nothing but playing cards, reading, sleeping, etc.

We discovered that the cheese used in the rat traps is better than that used in the mess hall, so we’ve been robbing the traps every night. You’ll also notice I’ve switched from the ready-seal envelopes to the lick type. I don’t know how much food value there is in the glue, but we need all the nourishment we can get.

150 days, 4 Jan/68, Thurs.

It’s the 4th of January, and I’m just now finishing up my resolutions. Better late than never.
6) To begin a safety campaign against buffalo carts – they don’t even have headlights (they do have horns).
7) To raise money for an indoor ice-rink, so the people can use their new ice skates, sent to them in a CARE package, originally intended for Greenland’s Olympic team (they got air-conditioners for VN, but that’s their problem).
8) To have a heart transplant just because it seems to be the “in” thing to do.
9) To have a map of Vietnam tattooed on my eardrum.
10) To buy the mess hall a cookbook, and, in case they can’t read, a first aid kit.

149 days,  5 Jan/68, Fri.

We had another night mission last night. I hate it! For a change we didn’t make contact. For a while though, we sat in a hedgerow and listened to outposts, etc., in all directions at one time or another, being hit. In one direction we could hear a radio playing Vietnamese music.

At least we thought it was a radio, until one of the ARVNs came over and said, “No radio – VC”. VC sing, “Kill US; bav can (?) VC.” I guess they were having a pep-rally or something, and were using a megaphone. At any rate, I was glad that when we moved, we moved in the opposite directions. There was firing going on all night – a lot of it was not too far away. I was glad when we got back at 3:30.

Today was the typical lazy day after a night mission. We did get the basketball goal backup. I don’t believe it but it’s raining fairly hard right now – the first rain since Nov. 15th. The windows are down on the jeep!

I heard today that we’re all being put in for the Purple Heart for eating in the mess all. Also, Spec. 4 orders came in today, but they haven’t announced them yet. Tonight will be the last envelope with “PFC” in the return address.

Expecting a raise, Bob
PS. If they can’t transplant hearts because the body rejects the foreign tissue, why not transplant the whole body?

148 days, 6 Jan/68, Sat.

It’s official; I’m a Specialist 4th class, pay grad E-4 (specialist at what?). Not much change in rank involved, but there’s a healthy $40 raise per month to consider. In other words, an overpaid PFC.

It’s taken me less than a year (by 4 days) to make the rank Paul had after 3 years. Nine others is the platoon made it this month. That’ll ease the financial pain of “buying the bar” tonight.

Change of address: Spec 4 R. L. Hughes, etc.

147 days, 7 Jan/68, Sun.

Finally had a day mission. It was one of those “go out and wait” deals, and nothing was accomplished. Lieutenant Enbody took over for the first time today, and first impressions show him to be worse than Straub – I didn’t think what was possible. The more I think about it, the more I want out of CRIP.

146 days, 8 Jan/68, Mon.

If you haven’t already, you’ll see us on Huntley & Brinkley soon; also in the papers. We were attacked last night at about 2:00 by 600 to 700 members of the 269th VC battalion. A long, tragic night.

It started out with several RPG-2 rounds in the compound (Chinese anti-tank rockets). One round hit the MACV signal platoon’s hutch, killing two Americans instantly, and wounding two more – one of whom died waiting for the dust-off choppers.

The fight lasted nearly 4 ½ hours, with 300 VC dug in with RPG-2s and recoilless rifles, and AK-47s out in front of the bunker line outside the tent. The VC overran all three ARVN outposts outside of town and took over and destroyed an ARVN ammo dump. They also inflicted sever damage to the artillery unit on the other side of town, and captured an armored car.

The VC were right in the town, and, before anything happened had gotten close enough o hang a Viet Cong flag on the front gate!! Two of the girls who serve in the mess had had VC break into their houses. One had her  three brothers shot and killed before her eyes, when they refused to go with the VC and fight against us. Another had her father killed by a mortar round and the girl who works behind the bar lost 3 cousins.

The little guard tower on the main street wall received 3 direct hits with the RPG2s, nearly knocking a huge hole in the wall – one more would have done it. After it was hit, three recon people replaced the wounded MACV guards and, by firing down the road towards the end of town at VC, trying to cross the road and get into the compound, they surely saved us from being overrun.

It took choppers 40 minutes to get out of Cu Chi and out to B.T. When they finally did get here, everything began to turn for the better. We could finally poke our heads above the sandbags and fire. Within a short time, things had quieted down considerably.

By the light of flares, we could see the VC trying to get away from the choppers, our M-16s, and two .50 caliber machine guns. Not many made it. For a while the captured armored car and .30 caliber guns gave the choppers trouble, but a well-aimed rocket took care of it.

In the 4 ½ hours, the town had 10 houses destroyed and several stores burned. Every government and military building in town was damaged in some way. Nine ARVNs were killed, 10 wounded. The town took over 200 rounds from RPG2s, recoilless, and mortars.

Our compound had three damaging hits (several others didn’t do much). One, of course, completely gutted the signal hutch, killing three Americans and wounding another. A second hit the radio shack with light damage. A third hit our tent! It left a hole big enough to drive through. Had anybody been inside  . . . too bad. As it was, they were all on the bunker line, and still seven were hit in various places by bits of shrapnel.

Only one of our guys required a dust-off. The rest were treated on the spot. One of our guys was burned slightly on the neck by the heat of an RPG2 rocket, as it barely missed his head.

There were 19 dead VC outside of town, which were found and the choppers said there must have been another 150 or 200 dead or wounded being carried off by the retreating VC. Inside the town, they found 15 VC bodies! All were armed and fully equipped.
The town was a sorry sight this morning; burning houses, wailing women – just terrible. All of the VC bodies were laid out on the town “square’ for display. It’s not that they get a kick out of mangled bodies, but it’s an excellent reminder to all the people what happens to VC.

I took about 1 ½ rolls of film in the town, etc. Not pretty, of course, but . . . .

We got a new tent this afternoon and claimed the N. Vietnamese flag for Recon (one of our guys grabbed it from the gate. It’s really huge, about 5’x 8’, red bottom, blue top, with a yellow star in the middle.

[Sketch of flag is missing]

We’ve decided that everyone in Recon now will be given a piece of the flag when he leaves.

It was the longest and hardest Recon or MACV has fought since we’ve been here. If it hadn’t been for the gunship’s support, we might have been overrun ourselves. What’s less than 75 men against 600-700 VC, with rockets, etc.? They never tried to charge us. If they had, things might have been different now.  They had the town surrounded on three sides.

Needless to say, such a large attack brought out the dignitaries. General Abrams (****), Westmoreland’s right-hand, was here, along with 2 three-stars, a two-star, and a one-star, along with a host of colonels, ARVN and US.

A news team from NBC was here, filming interviews as was CBS. I missed out on both of these, but the UPI was there also, and asked for a picture of the flag; this you might see in the paper or somewhere. I’m in it!

I guess I’ve unintentionally left out anything about me. I’m fine; not a scratch, just a few new jitters – I was one of the lucky ones. There are butterflies out here.

There should be a full report on everything tomorrow. Now since I’ve been up since 2L05 this morning, I’m going to . . . .ZZZZZZZ, Bob