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Good morning! My name is Kaitlyn, and I'm a student at College of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri. I'm currently enrolled in a Vietnam history course where we examine, in depth, the war in Vietnam and it's impact both abroad and here at home. One of our assignments is to interview a Vietnam veteran over their experiences during their service. Anyone can reply!

Also: I know that we, as a nation, failed to give you the recognition you all deserved when you returned home. I would like to personally thank you all for your service. Sincerely.

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:
(you can answer any or all)

Name JOHN WILBORN
Tour of Duty 1968 and 1969
Rank Enlisted E-8
Assignment..Naval Construction (Seabees) Battalion S-2 Chief

1. How old were you when you served in Vietnam? 35+
2. Were you drafted or did you enlist? Career from 1951 to 1971
3. Tell me about your boot camp/training experience? Followed brother....
4. Did you feel prepared for what you were about to face? Korean War
5. What are some of the most memorable experiences/places/battles you encountered? Read my stories (scroll down to Viet War Stories by me..)
6. Were you a POW? Did you know anyone that was a POW? John McCain
7. What sort of little details stick out in your mind the most? Normal vs. Panic
8. How did you keep in touch with your family? Letters and MARS radio
9. What was a typical day like? Lonely for family...CYA!!!!
10. Did you have any special "good luck" rituals? Under attack/prayed/quit smoking!!!
11. What did you and others do to lighten the mood? Amongst men's humor!!
12. Did you have any idea the impact the war was having here at home? Certainly!!!
13. Did you serve with any African American soldiers? What kind of reactions did African American soldiers receive? Very few of those with construction forces..Black Power was significant with on the ground combat types!
14. Did you know how much of an issue Civil Rights was becoming in the United States? News and some on AFRS....
15. When you returned home, what kind of reception did you receive? Welcome
16. When you returned home, how had things changed? More nervous with
more bad dreams...

These are just some guideline questions. Please feel free to add any information you feel needs to be mentioned. Tell me your story. Read My Stories Below!

Thank you in advance!
Kaitlyn
 

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Good morning! My name is Kaitlyn, and I'm a student at College of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri. I'm currently enrolled in a Vietnam history course where we examine, in depth, the war in Vietnam and it's impact both abroad and here at home. One of our assignments is to interview a Vietnam veteran over their experiences during their service. Anyone can reply!

Also: I know that we, as a nation, failed to give you the recognition you all deserved when you returned home. I would like to personally thank you all for your service. Sincerely.

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:
(you can answer any or all)

Name JOHN WILBORN
Tour of Duty 1968 and 1969
Rank Enlisted E-8
Assignment..Naval Construction (Seabees) Battalion S-2 Chief

1. How old were you when you served in Vietnam? 35+
2. Were you drafted or did you enlist? Career from 1951 to 1971
3. Tell me about your boot camp/training experience? Followed brother....
4. Did you feel prepared for what you were about to face? Korean War
5. What are some of the most memorable experiences/places/battles you encountered? Read my stories (scroll down to Viet War Stories by me..)
6. Were you a POW? Did you know anyone that was a POW? John McCain
7. What sort of little details stick out in your mind the most? Normal vs. Panic
8. How did you keep in touch with your family? Letters and MARS radio
9. What was a typical day like? Lonely for family...CYA!!!!
10. Did you have any special "good luck" rituals? Under attack/prayed/quit smoking!!!
11. What did you and others do to lighten the mood? Amongst men's humor!!
12. Did you have any idea the impact the war was having here at home? Certainly!!!
13. Did you serve with any African American soldiers? What kind of reactions did African American soldiers receive? Very few of those with construction forces..Black Power was significant with on the ground combat types!
14. Did you know how much of an issue Civil Rights was becoming in the United States? News and some on AFRS....
15. When you returned home, what kind of reception did you receive? Welcome
16. When you returned home, how had things changed? More nervous with
more bad dreams...

These are just some guideline questions. Please feel free to add any information you feel needs to be mentioned. Tell me your story. Read My Stories Below!

Thank you in advance!
Kaitlyn
I posted responses to the entries above in a casual, not thinking too serious about times
40 years ago....Chief
 

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Kaitlyn: I was a 1st LT Platoon Leader, ((( Infantry Officer )))with a Mechanized Infantry Company in the 1st Division my first tour in Viet Nam in 1968 & 1969. I was Medevac home. Went to Helicopter Flight School and went back to Viet Nam in 1971 & 1972 as a Helicopter Pilot. I seen a lot of Combat both on the ground and in the air. I returned twice thru the San Francisco Airport and was confronted and spit on both times by the hippies. and no one lifted a single finger to help us or make any attempt to stop it. And it was not a lot better in many other places in My Country at that time including the places and people you were grew up. I still have some very hard feelings about that even today, 45years ago. Severing My Country in Viet Nam was the most exciting thing I ever did in my life. And I still miss the Adrenaline Rush even after all these years. If I could answerer any of Your questions or help You in any way I would be more than proud to do so. I wish You a good life.
ken
 

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Kaitlyn: I was a 1st LT Platoon Leader, ((( Infantry Officer )))with a Mechanized Infantry Company in the 1st Division my first tour in Viet Nam in 1968 & 1969. I was Medevac home. Went to Helicopter Flight School and went back to Viet Nam in 1971 & 1972 as a Helicopter Pilot. I seen a lot of Combat both on the ground and in the air. I returned twice thru the San Francisco Airport and was confronted and spit on both times by the hippies. and no one lifted a single finger to help us or make any attempt to stop it. And it was not a lot better in many other places in My Country at that time including the places and people you were grew up. I still have some very hard feelings about that even today, 45years ago. Severing My Country in Viet Nam was the most exciting thing I ever did in my life. And I still miss the Adrenaline Rush even after all these years. If I could answerer any of Your questions or help You in any way I would be more than proud to do so. I wish You a good life.
ken
Ken,

Did you enlist or were you drafted? Did you have any other family members that served in Vietnam? What were you Medevac-ed home for? Were you involved with the Tet Offensive? Are there any specific details that stick out in your mind about your time in Vietnam? (sights, smells, feelings)

I'm writing a paper, a sort of narrative, over a Vietnam veteran's experience while serving. Please, feel free to share as much as you would like if you have the time. The more information you include, the more I can construct and share your story with my peers.

Thank you for the info you already provided!
 

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Thank you, I'll definitely check out the stories you've posted!
Good Morning, Sir....there are numerous of my stories down below in the Vietnam Memories
Forum that have been on there for more than 15 years, and in fact, the original person for
this site (TFF) requested my permission to post those stories when network MS/NBC closed down
the named VIETNAM MEMORIES BULLETIN BOARD at one years running. I just received notice
yesterday from Seabee author Terry Lukanic over in Orlando that his first Vietnam Seabee
book is being released in January...he requested my permission to post some of my stories in
his 3 section books...of course, I was very flattered and are assuming those will be in Terry's
books for sale...Chief
 

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Kaitlyn: I was a 1st LT Platoon Leader, ((( Infantry Officer )))with a Mechanized Infantry Company in the 1st Division my first tour in Viet Nam in 1968 & 1969. I was Medevac home. Went to Helicopter Flight School and went back to Viet Nam in 1971 & 1972 as a Helicopter Pilot. I seen a lot of Combat both on the ground and in the air. I returned twice thru the San Francisco Airport and was confronted and spit on both times by the hippies. and no one lifted a single finger to help us or make any attempt to stop it. And it was not a lot better in many other places in My Country at that time including the places and people you were grew up. I still have some very hard feelings about that even today, 45years ago. Severing My Country in Viet Nam was the most exciting thing I ever did in my life. And I still miss the Adrenaline Rush even after all these years. If I could answerer any of Your questions or help You in any way I would be more than proud to do so. I wish You a good life.
ken
....And sir, thank you for your dedicated service...never doubt, you personally, made a
difference...concerning my numerous duties as a senior enlisted person in a Naval
Construction Battalion, I hitched many a rides on various sized/types vehicles, including
choppers....there is a picture of me with a Huey at Dong Ha Combat Base 1968 heading
to Khe Sanh where the Marines were besieged during TET.



Note: From page 9 of the Vietnam Photo Album titled Chief Wilborn
photo...there is pictures of Puff, the gunship listed there. Chief


 

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Ken,

Did you enlist or were you drafted? Did you have any other family members that served in Vietnam? What were you Medevac-ed home for? Were you involved with the Tet Offensive? Are there any specific details that stick out in your mind about your time in Vietnam? (sights, smells, feelings)

I'm writing a paper, a sort of narrative, over a Vietnam veteran's experience while serving. Please, feel free to share as much as you would like if you have the time. The more information you include, the more I can construct and share your story with my peers.

Thank you for the info you already provided!
 

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The Captain was there more than me, and I give a humble bow to HIS service. I was just an enlisted guy - Army helicopter gunner/crew chief and flight engineer. I enlisted at 17 years of age and shipped over at 18. I had two brothers who also served in Nam before me - one Navy (4 tours) and one Army one and a half tours.

I sincerely hope that you are getting a full history and education on the RVN War. Listening to what my own children were taught about it in the 80s all they got was a one-sided anti-U.S. propaganda version. Like I said - I enlisted, but I also served with guys who were drafted. I enlisted with the full intention of serving in RVN. I saw what was happening there as a spread of Communism - the same Communism that I grew up doing play ground "turn, drop and cover" drills. The same Communism that I saw on TV News with Soviet tanks rolling through Eastern European cities as the Russians/Soviets bullied their way to power. I wanted to serve in South Viet Nam because I felt that only the United States could give the people there a chance to decide their own future - so I guess you could say that I served to help them out. I wanted to be there - but hated being there.

You ask about the African/American soldiers? I never really knew or befriended any black people before I went to Nam. I made one very close friend - a black guy - when I first got in country. Soon afterwards 'The Dap' became popular and most/all of the black guys in my Company segregated themselves from the rest of us (Caucasians/American Indians/Hispanics). My close 'friend' refused to even look at me when other 'Brothers' were in the area. I was only 18 at the time, and later realized that it was all the 'Black Power' BS at the root of it, and that I just happened to have made a friend out of someone who was weak.

There are a lot of things I could share - stories about the Vietnamese "Cowboys" (young military age men who rode all over on motor scooters) who let the Americans do their fighting for them. About a very nice Old Lady that I got to know who HATED the Communists (they had murdered her entire family in TET '68 Hue) - but who thought Ho Chi Minh was a fabulous person. She just couldn't put the 'Great Ho' in her mind with the Communists.

The girl I dated before I shipped over - and to who I wrote while there - had her Senior Prom just when I came back. I was a train-wreck when I got back as I had seen and done a lot. I unfortunately ended up punching out one of her school chums after he ragged on me for being a Viet Nam Veteran (A Baby Killer he called me) and wrecked her Prom Night. I just had too short of a fuse.

I could write a short but boring book. Those are a few 'high lights'. Hope it helps you.
 

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Kaitlyn: I have posted three stories of my experiences in Viet Nam. You might want to take a look at them, they may help you in some way. Two are about a young soldier, his name is MARC C. GORHAM. He was a fine young man, and my very good friend. We were very close, and I thought the world of him. But because of a stupid inexcusable decision I made, at 0915hrs on the 30th Day of Dec, 1968. While crossing a muddy stream about waist deep, I got Him killed, and Marc`s name is on the Wall, on Panel 35 West Line 9. The other story was about a very scarey place called ((( LOC NINH ))), and the biggest and longest firefight I was ever in, never seen anything like it before or since. I dream about Marc and Loc Ninh most every night. The answers to your questions. I was drafted in 1965. No I never had any family members that served in Viet Nam. I was Medevac-ed home in March of 1969, because of nerve damage to my left arm and left leg. I was sent to Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver Co. I was not in Country for Tet Offensive of 1968. The sights I seen in Viet Nam at first just took my breath away and sometimes would make me sick , but within a few weeks, as the old saying goes ((( It Don't Mean Nothing ))). Really described exactly how I personally felt, you hardly ever gave anything a second look no matter how bad or gory it was. I just refused to let thoes sights bother me any more. As far as smells go the smell that you were surrounded with and I remembered the most, that You just had to just get use to was that of of Burning Sh#t. Viet Nam was a Nasty Stinking place. As far as my most troubling personal feelings go, it was about the South Vietnamese Army and People themselves. The people we were sent over there to supposedly help win their damn war. They would not fight,I never personally seen or even heard of a South Vietnamese unit stand and fight, they always ran and left us to fend for ourselves and their leaders were alway the first to run. They would leave you or turn you over to the VC or NVA if they got the slightest chance to do so. You could never believe anything they said, they always lied. And they stole everything from us that was not nailed down, and we despised them for that. So In my personal opinion the South Vietnamese were a Nation of Thieves, Liars, and Cowards. That were not worth the lives of the the Young Men we lost their. I hope this helps you with your project. If I could help you any other way I would be more than willing to do so.
ken
 

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You might want to check out VFW Post in you area. I am a Vietnam Era Vet. I was in the military during that time but didn't go over there. I did serve with lots of sailors who where there. You had to be careful around them. I had a Chief that was wounded there. One day the division was on deck working and a vehicle back fired. We all looked up and were wondering where the Chief was. He was hugging the deck. When you went to wake someone who was over there for watch you didn't touch them as they might come up swinging before being fully waking up. I did have the honor of meeting the second longest POW of the was. (Capt. Stoddard, USN) He shook your hand but he looked down when you were talking to him. POWs were not allowed to look their guards in the eye. Good luck on you search.
 

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You might want to check out VFW Post in you area. I am a Vietnam Era Vet. I was in the military during that time but didn't go over there. I did serve with lots of sailors who where there. You had to be careful around them. I had a Chief that was wounded there. One day the division was on deck working and a vehicle back fired. We all looked up and were wondering where the Chief was. He was hugging the deck. When you went to wake someone who was over there for watch you didn't touch them as they might come up swinging before being fully waking up. I did have the honor of meeting the second longest POW of the was. (Capt. Stoddard, USN) He shook your hand but he looked down when you were talking to him. POWs were not allowed to look their guards in the eye. Good luck on you search.[/QUOTE]
Good Morning, Boots....For a moment as I read your post, I thought the POW Capt. Stoddard you mentioned had been a vice-presidential candidate back when the old millionaire had run for POTUS....my mistake when I recalled it was Admiral Stockdale instead....Chief
During the late 1970s, he served as President of the Naval War College. Stockdale was a candidate for Vice President of the United States in the 1992 presidential election, on Ross Perot's independent ticket.
 

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Cpt-t: YOU didn't get anybody killed. I wasn't there with you, but from what I read in your post the Communists killed that young man. The fighting wasn't a one-sided thing. You did the best job you could and made the decisions that had to be made. You already know that often a leader must put out orders, and that soldiers are required to follow those orders to the best of their ability. Your Team was in a tough situation and you must realize that sometimes the other side "gets lucky" - and when they do a good guy ends up in a really bad place.

I read a book about the U.S.S. Indianapolis with the title "In Harm's Way". That title is the best description of any Soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airman's job. A military leader must place his people 'in harm's way'. That is just the nature of the job. Don't crucify yourself for doing a job that had to be done. Your friend did what he had to do to the best of his ability - just as you did what you had to do to the best of your ability. The Good Lord decides when someone's time has come - it wasn't up to you.
 

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A story I wrote many years ago from details I remembered from a security patrol I had been
briefed on following the mortal wounding of a patrol member in 1968 Dong Ha RVN. Chief


VENGENCE IS MINE, SAYETH PAPA-SAN
The young pointman’s screams sounded almost feminine. “Ambush, ambush, ambush”,
as his high-pitched screams reverberated off the moist, early morning surroundings.
A single rifle shot had rung out foward of their position. A sharp, ringing sound, not to
be compared with anything they were familiar with--not like the telltale rattle of the
AK-47’s or the ripping, tearing sounds of their own, rapid-fire, M-16’s.
An ambush could not have happened in a worse place for the ‘poop and snoop’ patrol.
Bradley, who had screamed the alarm, was serving his solo as pointman. The
reinforced fire team consisited of six members and a hospital corpsman. They were
clustered too close together and in a single file. The had a saying they all knew well,
that if you were in a single file column, a single fifty caliber round would get thirteen
of you and still make kindling wood out of the tree behind you. The patrol had simply
been sent out to talk with the farmers and villiagers surrounding the camp. There had
been a reactive Force Recon Team in the immediate area only the day before, raising all
sorts of hell. There had been smoke rising from several sites throughout the
morning--that, and there had also been random firing of automatic weapons.
Another sharp, crack and the M-79 ‘thumper’ that Statler was pointing toward the
suspect position, was torn from his grip and sent flying. Statler rolled out of the way
and clutched at his holstered forty-five.
The patrol had been following a worn footpath, as they trudged along before the firing
commenced. Exactly the moment when they had started down the long, sloping, and
meandering decline, the methodical firing had begun. Unknown to the others, the first
round had found it’s mark. Lovitt, who was walking ‘drag’, caught the round in the
throat and was probably dead before he hit the moist, slippery path. He lay there like a
discarded puppet doll--his head off to one side at a grotesque angle--his spinal column
severed, his eyes wide open and staring sightlessly. What very little blood there was,
meant that his beating heart had been stilled almost instantly--and the blood there
was, contributed to a coppery odor in the now still air. The shooter was experienced
and was taking out the rear personnel first-- the skills of a sniper.
Jonesy, the patrol leader, called out orders to the low-crouching team members.
“Filbray--you and Sticks take your ‘60’s and lay some covering fire on the bunch of
bushes, forty meters at eleven o’clock--Statler, you grab Lovitt’s piece--short bursts
you gunners--me ‘n Stat are going in skirmishes left and right--Stat, you catch the
right -- and dammit you gunners, keep your fire on target--don’t sweep it or you’ll tear
us a new ass”!
Another metallic rifle crack and a round thudded into the earth beside Jonesy, causing
him to roll off to one side and scream simultaneously, “COMMENCE FIRING YOU
GUNNERS---let’s go Statler”!!!
It was not to be unlike a choreographed movie script playing out. The mind-numbing
noise of the hammering M-60’s, firing the short five round bursts, blended with the
‘mad-man’ soundings battle crys of the charging Jonesy and Statler as they swung
wide out of the cone of fire from the machine gunners, and bore down on the bushes
that were shaking and jumping as if dancing.
Perhaps it was all the machine fire had done was to keep the shooters head down, for
as soon as the hidden sniper saw Jonesy, he attempted to bring the long rifle to bear
on his target. A rapid burst from Statler’s M-16 stitched across the snipers midsection
hurtling him back to the ground from whence he had been hidden. The long-barreled
rifle was knocked from his grasp. Jonesy stood up, and in a slicing action of his hand
across his own throat, made the motion for the machine gunners to cease fire. The
smell of cordite fumes hung heavy in the now silent air. Statler’s heavy breathing
sounds blended with the grunting sounds Jonesy made as he pulled the wounded sniper
from the bushes. The patrol leader turned and gave an arm signal for the other patrol
members to assemble at his point.
The agate black eyes of the wounded Vietnamese stared up hatefully at the American
patrol leader, who only moments before, had been in his gunsights. Slimy, black
blood that smelled of viscera, oozed from between the fingers of his claw-like hand
that was attempting to shove the mess back into the gaping cavity. “Statler, you
speak their lingo--ask this old bastard what he was trying to do--hell, by the looks of
him he’s an old farmer--shit Stat--he ain’t got a tooth in his face--ask him what the hell
he was shooting at us for”.
By now Filbray and Sticks had appeared with their M-60’s draping the belting rounds
remaining, and was gawlking in at the gross scene ther on the ground. “Damn”, Stick
complained “that old bastard stinks like the worse kinda shit--what the hell do they
eat--garbage and maggots”.
“Knock it off big-mouth--have a little respect--can’t you
see the poor old bastard is dyin’--”. A sudden and perplexing look clouded Stick’s
sweaty features. He had never seen death this close before. His ruddy complexion
seemed to blanch out and go grey, as he suddenly turned on his heel abruptly, and fell
to his knees and started to vomit.
Statler had been talking Vietnamese to the old casualty. The sing-song sounding parley
had been going on for a few moments when Statler suddenly turned his face up to the
waiting Jonesy and remarked hatefully, almost accusingly. “Holy shit--what a bummer
Jones--this old slope-head is a farmer--a rice grower--he’s had that old gun every
since 1954 when he was with General Giap--that was when they whupped the
Frenchies asses up at Dien bien Phu or some shitty sounding name like that--he was
just pissed off today because those frigging Force dudes killed his water buffalo
yesterday--no damn reason--just bein’ mean Muthers”!!!
The unbidden hate that now showed in Statler’s blue eyes and caused his pinkish
complexion to seem bloody--as if by cointrast it matched the hate that had shown in
the black eyes of the old Vietnamese farmer minutes earlier.
The moments of hatefilled actions by the old farmer was now past. The groping and
shoving hand had fallen off his torn stomach and now lay on the blood and viscera
stained earth beside him---this earth that he obviously knew so well--this earth he had
eeked his livihood from, but in a fit of ill-serving rage, had died here on the bosom of it.
Sticks was back on his feet again--he looked worse, now after his bout of vomiting,
than the dead old farmer looked, in fact there was a peaceful and paranormal
appearance to the old tiller of the soil as he lay there in a manner of repose. “What are
we gonna do with the old ****, Jonesy”, the Corpsman Dixon asked. Dixon had stayed
with Lovitt’s body while the firing had been going on, and now had rejoined the patrol.
“I called for an extraction chopper--be here in twenty--s’posed to pop a green if it’s
still clear--red if it turns hot”, Dixon stated casually.
“Let’s saddle up troops--get ready to move out--the family will find the old mans
body--they must have know what he was gonna do--hell, they may be watching us
right now--waiting for us to move out so they can come get him--poor old man--he died
for his ground--those mean, motherless, bastards killed his tractor”---Jonesy paused as
if catching his mistake--”well hell, it was like a tractor to him--they cherish their
aninals--that old buffalo probably slept on the same rice-mat as the old farmer
did--what a shitty deal, is all I gotta say--a real crap-detail”. Wilborn
 
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