This is mainly for my descendants or whom ever might find this interesting. After returning to
the States in 1970, I updated a hand written account of the past 4 years. Not being much of a typist and less a speller, I never thought that my notes would ever be put on paper where they could be seen and understood. Then came the age of the computer, and here I am at the young age of 62 reliving those long ago years. While my skills with this word processor are slight, I am sure that you the reader will be able to understand my thoughts, if not the lack of commas, periods, etc
My story really begins when I was stationed in South Korea 1965. I had been in the army for nine years. Nine years of training and playing war games. Nine years of wondering how I would react in a combat situation. The conflict in Vietnam was just starting to get into the news, here I was in Korea, a buck sgt, Tank Commander, who really wanted to know what kind of a soldier he was. Sure I was a country boy, had my 1st 22 rifle when I was 12, grew up playing soldier in the woods against imaginary Germans, but what would it be like for real? If their is past lives I guess I was a soldier some where. Anyway after a few weeks I decided to volunteer to go to Vietnam! Quite a few people thought I was nuts, They could have been right?
Jan 1966 found me back home in the states on 30 day leave en route to Vietnam. While on leave I bought a used model 97 Winchester riot shotgun, along with 6 boxes of 12 gauge OO buckshot, when I left to go to my war this weapon and my Dad's old 38 police special went in my duffel bag.
A few days after my 31st birthday I departed for Japan, the 1st leg of my way to my war. It was a Pan Am champagne flight, I was young and not to hard to take in those days, a very friendly stewardess was not hard to convince to leave a full bottle and to share a sip or two. Upon arriving in Japan and checking in with army atco, I found that I would have four days to wait to catch a mail flight to Vietnam. As this was not my 1st visit to Japan, I was fairly certain that I would enjoy site seeing once again.( I had had several R&Rs from Korea here )
Four days later I checked in with Kimpo Air Base, prepared for the last leg of my journey , We were supposed to leave at five in the evening, to my surprise, flight was canceled, as something was not right with the plane, and to be back the next day at the same time. No problem! I still had some sight seeing to take care of. ( yes that's what I called it in those days) Next day I checked in, same story. Come back tomorrow! This went on for 5 days, believe you me I was a little tired of sight seeing by then.
On the 6th day, broke and worn out I was at Kimpo. To my surprise we were told to load our duffel bags on a truck for transport to the plane. Their was to be a hour wait before boarding, so I sat down on one of the benches in the waiting room and promptly fell asleep. Now I am usually a light sleeper, but all that sight seeing was kinda getting to me. I woke up about 1&1/2 hours later,
Looked around and did not see any of my fellow passengers. Well sir I just knew that I had missed my plane.
Checking in at the atco counter confirmed this. When I explained to the sgt in charge that I had not wanted to miss this flight, he didn't believe me, but he did some checking and found a United AirJet that was on the way to Saigon, 50 min later I was on my way to Vietnam with out my duffel bag which was on the prop driven mail plane. I was due to arrive almost 4 hours before my duffel bag. Well as you might guess the plane with my bag turned back to Japan ( engine trouble ?) Mater of fact I had to wait five days for the plane to get to Vietnam. Luckily my bag and contents were on it. Those were the days when bags were never checked, in my duffle bag was a model 97 Winchester, a long barreled 38 and several boxes of number one buck shot with a couple boxes of 38 ammo
At 1st Div Hqs I was told that since their was no tanks at that time in the 1st Div I could be sent to a Inf unit or a MP unit. I chose the Inf unit and on the 15 of March 1966 I reported to my new company ( C co. 2/28th Inf ) which was located at Lai Khe.
I was assigned to the 3rd plt, and as I was a new man I had the job as fire team leader, all though I outranked the squad Ldr, he at least had a lot more experience than I had and had proven himself which I had not done. I should take this time to explain that unknown to me I had joined one of the better Inf units in Vietnam at that time. One of the reasons was that before you were given a job you proved that you could Handel it.
My 1st couple days there was spent more or less getting used to being exposed to the heat and bugs. Plus trying to absorb all of the information that was coming my way. Having spent the last ten years in Tank outfits was no big plus for me. I was a novice in such things that the Infantry man was taught. I was always a quick learner though and little did I know that in 2 months and 24 days I be in charge of the 2nd Plt.
On my 3rd day word came down that we would be going on a search mission ( Hueys ) the next day. We were told that we would be out just one night and back home the next day. ( HA ) 9 DAYS later we returned) Not to get ahead of my story, but I had never been on a helicopter before, and as this was my 1st combat patrol I had quite a bit on my mind. Nervous I wasn't, not with a experienced fire team to keep me out of trouble and to show me the ropes.
One thing that I had noticed, was that some of the younger NCOs had brought sidearms with them from the states and wore them in base camp. No one knew that I had my Dads old 38, until we got aboard the Huey that next morning, nothing was said about it but I did notice a few glances at it.
When we boarded the Huey I was one of the 1st on, and the reason was I wanted to sit in the middle of that long bench seat, the idea of siting next to all that open space with nothing between me and the ground was not my cup of tea. I know that I was pretty darn tense on that ride. If some one told me that within 2 weeks my favorite seat on a Huey was the rear side seats.