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Discussion in 'Vietnam Memories Forums - A Place For All Vets Fro' started by joseph long, Mar 12, 2016.
What you and the Captain said about listening to 'War Stories' when guys talk about Nam strikes a chord in me. That is the reason why I never joined the VFW, American Legion or any of the rest of those groups. When I first got back and out of the Army, I did stop in at a VFW place. There were about 10 guys there and all of them were older guys from the Korean War and WW2. I was only a young guy so I fit in like a round peg in a square hole. The older guys seemed (maybe it was just me) to look at me with contempt - like somehow their times were real and ours wasn't. I never went back.
When I see 'Viet Nam Vets' walking in a parade with beards and long hair (and the boonie hats, 'Nam fatigues with every sort of patch known to man sewn on them) sometimes carrying a Peace Sign - I get disgusted. Over the years I've known many folks - mostly from when I worked at the airline for 36 years - who claimed to be veterans. Funny thing was everyone was 11B. Nobody was a clerk or a cook.
You want something to put a grin on your face? When I worked for the airlines, one time a huge trunk came thru, and like many it had stickers plastered all over it. One of the stickers read: " Viet Nam Veteran - I don't know what the hell happened - we were winning when I left...." I always get a chuckle out of that when I think on it. (Of course there are folks who think I'm slightly crazy)
Your feelings must be right, because I feel the same way.....The older vets from WW 11 and Korea mostly disrespected Vietnam service. Strange because two thirds of KIA'S in Vietnam did not have a 11B MOS. I believe incoming in any war was at least very scary...Especially the first time!!! SSSsssooo much louder than any movie I have ever seen. In the end I'm greatfull I was not an 11B. I remember arriving in country...It was 3:00 am...Over the intercom we were told we are now in Vietnam air space....You could have dropped pin... no one said a word....The kid next to me was an 11B....As we looked out the window we could see flairs and some tracers and wondered how bad is this really going to be.....
When the door opened it was clear about one thing, the humidity was going to take some getting use to....I was soaked in minutes. I remember thinking " Yea I have problem"...BUT the guy beside me has more of a problem. I felt lucky....Probably because I was!
I have also felt out of place in the VFW, AMVETS etc. After a conversation at the bar with a man who says he was a crew chief and explained how he worked his 50 cal....He looses all hope of actually telling the truth. I love telling someone I was a Chaplains Assistant....Because if you start by saying that....The rest that comes out of your mouth has a better chance of actually being true..
Thanks for sharing JL
A lot of things that I tend to think about are not the 'John Wayne' stuff. When I read about what you said when you flew into Country, I remembered how it was landing in Cam Ranh Bay. It was really quiet on the airplane when we landed. When the stewardess opened the door (it was really late at night) the heat and the smell of the place hit like a hammer. It had been a long flight from Seattle, Anchorage, Tokyo and then Cam Ranh Bay, but I don't remember anyone talking about anything.
Our airplane was World Airways charter. One thing I remember that was really cool was the pilot flew us over Mt Fujiama near Tokyo and circled it so all of us could see it. He seemed to appreciate what we were about to do, and this was really nice of him to do that for us. That was the first and last 'thank you'.
You may not believe this, but it is true. I flew HOME for my R&R. I got R&R supposedly in Thailand, but those two weeks I spent flying back home for 3 or 4 days. I'd save up and bought a ticket. I was going to surprise my girlfriend - but she surprised me. I got back to the LA area, and she was up in Grant's Pass Oregon visiting her grandparents during her summer school break.
My unit was close to Hue, so I caught an Air Force C-130 down to Saigon. No problem because I was wearing my flight suit, so the Air Force guys didn't ask any questions and just let me onboard. When I got to Saigon, I bought one of those little travel bags at the PX and stuffed my helmet, flight suit and pistol in it and bought some levis, a shirt and tennis shoes and went right over to the airline. Got right on an airplane. Nobody asked me any questions - just got on and was on my way.
My Mom thought I was crazy - or that I was going to desert the Army. I had no intention of doing that and went back after 3 or 4 days at home. Same thing - only in reverse - nobody stopped me or asked me any questions. Put the nomex back on and caught a ride on another C-130 back North. That was one great R&R. May lightening strike me dead if I'm lying.
WOW....Great story.....I learned in country and in life a lot of times it is not what you know BUT...Who you know...I knew the air force close air support air guy for f-4s for the ROC's AT Phu Cat airforce base central highlands.....I had a dog named Twitch who I love to this day ...went on guard duty with me and never left my side...When I got transferred to Phan Rang I could not take my dog....On regular, in country C-130 transport....BUT...I was hooked up with a C-123 cargo transport....It arrived in Phan Rang to incoming at 3:00 PM..(.FTA)...My dog and I were not split up thanks to the US AIR FORCE...
Any way taking R&R back to the world is impressive....I took my R&R in Hawaii ...Met my girl friend SHIT..one of hardest things I have ever done ... was.. to go back from Hawaii ....and I didn't figure out how to get to the US mainland.....WELL DONE...
I've got one for you...when it was time for me to catch a freedom bird home I had no officer who even knew I was in country cause my Chaplin captain left county 3 weeks before my year was up....I was all alone.I was. asked to volenter to go to Phan Thiet..from Phan Rang ...HOWEVER; My orders were TDDY through Dalat....Bottom line.. no one in charge knew who I was or where I was.....In Phan Thiet....My Chaplin only flew in on Sat....Out Sunday afternoon...I had my own room in the back of the Chapel....a sun deck..and went to the beach 3 days a week for the last few months in country...bad news....Phan Thiet was a target....ANYWAY.....
I knew one thing... my year was up...I am out of hear....So I hooked a ride on a C-130 landed in Na Trang Announced myself...as a Chaplin's Assistant from Phan Thiet...Who no one even knew I exsisted ....ANYWAY I was told I needed to get a form singed by some Captain who was on R&R...who would be back in a week....I said what is his name and where is the form....Which I promptly signed his name and headed for Bien Wa (sp)
One of the greatest moments of my life was when it was announced over the intercom we have just left Vietnam....The whole plane cheered so loud it seemed to shake the plane....Somehow...I was alive...on my way home.....With more stories.....and no one would let me tell them.....So hear we are Thank you for your winning story....JL
I would like to comment about Basic Training ....I put in a claim in 1971 for hearing loss....foot problems...The response from the VA...was we have no health records for you...Any way I was 22 years old.....didn't know how to fight the VA...I'm 67 and I still don't know how to fight the VA....I think it comes down to who you know.....NOT what you think you know....I have had the same dream for 40 years....The base camp being over run and there is no ammo.....After all my VA claims re-submitted 1n 2009 were denied.....I was told in Atlanta ...by a service officer ...I cannot get you paid for ....ear problems...Foot problems....agent orange anything.....HOWEVER: I can get you paid for PTSD....I said I do not have PTSD.....The woman answered ....."You can't tell me you came back from Vietnam the same....I ...answered....S**T LADY... I did not come back from Basic Training the same....
The truth is... Basic Training was... in a way harder than Viet Nam.....for me...I could not escape basic....8-10 weeks of growing up.... Every scary event in Viet Nam....Incoming...Shot at....etc...happened so fast ...I had no choice...it was over almost before it began...Basic....No Escape.....Fort Jackson SC...the DI'S all had CIB'S all just back from Vietnam....BUT in 1969...Fort Jackson...You better not be black or a from Boston...all the DI's back from Vietnam.were given DI jobs in there own state....(and so they should) BUT...in the south.....blacks, and Northers are in the cross hairs of a DI from Columbia South Carolina .....`I learned in the Army in 1969---1970--In country....When the shit its the fan ...north or south or color does not matter.....
For me to feel Basic was harder than Viet Nam....Is probably why many feel being out in the field in harms way is better than shining boots and dealing with LIFER.....S**T.... I am pleased to say ..THANK YOU Drill Sgt. Ivy ....You made me a stronger young man....JL
Joe I remember Captain Speedy. I was there on May 3rd, was out on a Larc mission that night from 10:00 pm till a little after 1:00am, got back and inside the perimeter went right to the pisstube when the attack started, in the morning I was the MP guard for the one NVA pow. I remember hearing about the full attack never happened, but I never heard about the NVA division, how did you find that out? I remember seeing 7 killed in action, but all reports I found only say 6 and just recently I saw on a site someone said a 7th person was a Vietnamese, but I don't know if he was an ARVN or not. I am interested in any info sources you can lead me to. I was at LZ Betty from Sept 69 till July 70, I was an MP who worked at the POW collection point at Betty and LArc missions at night when we didn't have prisoners, when VC were wounded and needed Dr. Speedy I spent time at that aid station. So if you get a chance get back to me. STeve MPG
Interesting....to chat with someone who knew Capt.Dr. speedy....He was amazing...dealing with so many wounded at the same time ..At 2:00 am when I made my way to the aid station there were at least 5 kia and 30 or so wounded...You ask how I found a declassifed report for Phan Thiet May 3,1970.....Frankly I stumbled on this report online....I have not been able to find it again....But the report said 850 NVA KIA not 15 as reported to support the story the war winding down....And a whole NVA division poised to over run the LZ...
I was in front of bunker #2 around 4:00 am to be awed by 2 cobras on a gun run 100ft from the wire drop all pods and the trench which ran from north to south was lite up for some 300 ft......and no one had to fire after that....JL
Joe - one of the things I learned in the Army - and maybe it was because of the culture shock of Basic, was that you can adapt and get used to or get over anything. I guess maybe what I learned was that more than anything, Basic taught me how to cope even more than how to be a soldier.
I guess things were different where you took Basic. I took mine in Fort Ord in 1969. Nobody gave a crap where you were from or what color you were. Remember how by the late 60s that Drill Sergeant's were 'forbidden' to strike Trainees (Recruits)? Our BCT Company Commander - a Captain - stood on the steps of the Company Barracks and read the memo to us forbidding NCOs to 'Strike or otherwise abuse Recruits' while the Mess Sergeant pulled Recruits one after the other out of the rear rank and beat the snot out of them. The Drill Sergeants were laughing out loud about it, and the Captain was well aware of it but just kept reading his 'Official Memo" to us.
I don't ever remember a single instance of a soldier being singled out based on race - in Basic or the whole 12 years I spent as a soldier. At least not by the Army. When I got to Nam, my first and closest friend was a black kid (I'm a white Irish kid). A thing called "The Dap" became popular with the black guys in my area - kind of a series of gyrations and hand slaps that only the black guys did. Looked silly to me, but somehow it became a 'racial thing' to the black soldiers - it set them apart from the rest of us.
Anyhow, my close friend got into the Dap and the guys doing it. One day I was walking down the Company Street and my friend was with 5-6 other black guys heading my direction. When we got close - I called out a 'hello' to my friend. He just glared at me and kept on going. He never spoke to me after that day. I was too naïve to understand what had happened and was hurt and offended, but I was 18 years old and got over it. Took me a few years to understand that black people can be as ignorant and predjudiced as white people or anyone else.
I don't know if this is still about May 3 1970 but I was at LZ Betty then. I remember because there were threats among people on the base so we had to turn our weapons in (Charlie Company 3rd platoon 1st of the 50th) so when the attack started we had to wait in line as they literally threw M16s and ammo out to us.
My hootch was near the South China sea so I had to run across the airstrip to the mortar pit. I remember the helicopters being blown up and rifle fire seemingly everywhere. There's much more but my memory isn't whjat it used to be.
My memory never was as good as it used to be. I remember so many things that the Army did in general that made absolutely no sense at all. One thing that I was grateful for - even at the time - was being assigned to a unit of the 101st Airborne. I know a lot of units did things like locking up individual weapons in armories or CONEXs, but even as late as '70-'71 the 101st never did that to us. We all had our weapons and even at least one full mag of ammo - or a bandoleer if you wanted one. I always had at least a couple of full mags and my .38 issue sidearm.
I do recall stories of other Divisions that lost people because of things like you just mentioned - or worse - having guys live in barracks (like as if it was Stateside) and getting people killed in mortar and rocket attacks.