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REDCATCHER PATCH12TH INFANTRY


What started as research, evolved into something resembling "My Personal Diary". While I was in Vietnam, my family saved all of my letters home. This document is based upon comments extracted from those letters. There were hundreds of men who served with the unit at one time or another. I'm sure that most of them had experiences similar to these. Hopefully, the reader will come away with a better understanding of life in the field with A-5-12.

Steve McDonald

November 1968

22 Nov 68

Left home for Philadelphia, Pa then to Ft. Dix, New Jersey

23 Nov 68

Ft. Dix, NJ Preparing to leave for Vietnam

24 Nov 68

Ft. Dix, NJ Preparing to leave for Vietnam

25 Nov 68

Ft. Dix, NJ Preparing to leave for Vietnam

26 Nov 68

Ft. Dix, NJ Preparing to leave for Vietnam

27 Nov 68 Wed.

Ft. Dix to McGuire AFB Left for Vietnam from McGuire AFB, NJ

28 Nov 68 Thu

Enroute

29 Nov 68 Fri

Bien Hoa/199th Brigade Main Base (BMB) Long Binh

Arrived at Bien Hoa in the middle of the night. I noticed the planes were in revetments for protection against rocket and mortar attack. We converted money, etc. then travelled to nearby Long Binh in a bus convoy. I noticed wire mesh on the bus windows to deflect hand grenades. We were assigned to the 90th Replacement Battalion prior to assignments to permanent units.

30 Nov 68 Sat

BMB

At noon today I was assigned to the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. Then, I was driven by jeep to their Base Camp at the northern end of the Long Binh perimeter. We were then taken to the Redcatcher Combat Training Center for a week of In-country training.

December 1968

1 Dec 68 Sun

BMB

The trip over took 27-hours including stops in Seattle, Anchorage, and Tokyo. Today, we started our In-Country training at the Redcatcher Combat Training Center. The first class was swimming. The pool was only about 4 1/2 feet deep. If you could swim across and back, you passed. Those who couldnít will have to take lessons each night. The weather is hot during the day, but comfortable at night from around 6pm on. It seems there has been no rain in a while itís very dusty. I saw a movei, "The Party" with Peter Sellers.

2 Dec 68 Mon

BMB

We studied personal hygiene, first aid, the M16 rifle.

3 Dec 68 Tue

BMB

I estimated the daily temperature to be 95-100 degrees. We were staying in wood frame buildings with canvas covering the roofs. There are bunkers behind the shelters. My first impression of the Vietnamese? There are surprising numbers of them who dress like Americans.

4 Dec 68 Wed

BMB

I received my company assignment (Company-A, 5th Battalion, 12th Infantry, 199th Light Infantry Brigade). A-5-12 is southewest of Saigon, guarding the approaches. Christmas is only a few weeks away. Life in the rear isn't too bad, I wished I could have stayed there. I drew a picture of how the Vietnamese sit for hours like a catcher on a baseball team. We studied Combat Formations and Booby Traps. Weíre slated to join the unit on Sunday.

5 Dec 68 Thu

BMB

Nothing to write about except Redcatcher Combat Training Center activities.

6 Dec 68 Fri

BMB

Gen. Davison spoke to us today (replacements)
.

7 Dec 68 Sat

BMB

8 Dec 68 Sun

BMB / FSB Stephanie

First day in the field

9 Dec 68 Mon

FSB Stephanie

10 Dec 68 Tue

FSB Stephanie

My first mission was an ambush near an old pagota
.

11 Dec 68 Wed

FSB Stephanie

I am in the field with A-5-12, itís my fourth day out and Iíve done a lot of work such as filling sand bags and stringing concertina wire around FSB Stephanie. Today two platoons of our company went on an airmobile mission to the Pineapple region. The door gunners went in firing and I didn't expect it. I was scared, as you might expect. We found bunkers and destroyed them. We also found some partially sunken sampans in the canals. The VC positions look old, but we did find some fresh trails in the marsh, and we found some rice. From the air, the landscape looked like the moon with all the shell craters, and on the ground it was rough, very rough. There was mud everywhere, up to my knees, and water up to my chest at times. The experience was sobering and I thought to myself, I donít know if I can take a year of this and I prayed for God to help me.

12 Dec 68 Thu

FSB Stephanie

I received my first mail.

13 Dec 68 Fri

FSB Stephanie

We were on ambush in the " 5-fingers Area" last night. It is supposed to be an infiltration route into the Saigon area. We didn't spot any VC, but had to cross a 50-foot wide canal to reach our site. There was almost no dry ground on the other side. We had to sleep on a narrow rice paddy dike. We had 2-machine guns and claymores as protection, and we had a starlight scope to allow us to see in the dark. A letter that I received today was dated Dec. 8. Most of today was spent laying concertina wire. At 4pm we had a mission. Two straight days, 105mm howitzer shells have been found near the gate to the base camp, as though someone was trying to prepare a booby trap for a vehicle entering the gate. We moved straight out 500 meters, then fanned out and detained all the Vietnamese that we could for ID checks. One of our platoon members spotted a man dressed in black talking with a group of villagers. When the man spotted the soldiers, he ran away. Our living conditions while in camp: 3 hot meals a day at Stephanie. The water doesnít taste very good. We can buy cokes, and we trade with the villagers to get ice to cool them with. I asked my family for KoolAid and snacks for Christmas gifts. I also asked for sealable plastic bags to use to keep my rifle magazines clean. I mentioned losing my helmet on my first airmobile operation. It fell in a canal while I was hurrying to the helicopter for pickup. Fortunately for me, I had my billfold behind the camouflage cover band. It came loose and floated up where I could recover it. Otherwise, I would have been out $200. To put that in perspective that was almost a monthís pay for me at that time. I mentioned in the letter that some of the guys brought back some fresh pineapples from this trip.

14 Dec 68 Sat

FSB Stephanie

15 Dec 68

Sun FSB Stephanie

We just returned from a mission. Last night we were on ambush and before daylight several ambush groups linked up to "cordon " a village. It was successful, 14 VC suspects apprehended and two VC nurses. We found lots of medical supplies. A VC flag was found under a haystack. I found a stake in the side of a rice paddy dike with monofilament line on it. A booby trap had probably been there earlier.

16 Dec 68 Mon

FSB Stephanie

Last night we were on another ambush. Today we worked on wire defenses. It hasn't rained since I arrived. I had to discard my billfold, I couldn't salvage it after getting it wet in the canal. I had to send most of my pictures home because they were sticking together due to the heat.

17 Dec 68 Tue

FSB Stephanie

Patrol today, ambush tonight

18 Dec. 68 Wed

FSB Stephanie

I'm taking out an ambush tonight. They say I won't have to go out the next night. Today was spent filling sandbags, and improving the bunkers. It's only a week until Christmas
.

19 Dec. 68 Thu

FSB Stephanie

The ambush last night was uneventful. I described how we sleep while on ambush, some of us alert while others sleep. We take turns until morning. I've never been this dirty in my life. I haven't had a haircut since I arrived.

20 Dec 68 Fri

FSB Stephanie

I am going out on a mission at 9am. We're going to ride on APC's this morning. I mentioned 1st platoon losing Reeves. He was wounded by a booby trap a couple of days ago and died from his injuries yesterday. Our platoon wasn't out when it happened. Itís tragic that people have to die for this place. Last night the ARVN's made contact nearby. Also, one of our companyís ambushes made contact, no results in yet. Today is the 8th anniversary of the NLF (National Liberation Front). Iíll be especially cautious.

21 Dec. 68 Sat

FSB Stephanie

22Dec 68 Sun

FSB Stephanie

I asked if the space shot was on TV. I was listening to the launch on radio but the radio signal faded out before they went into orbit. I didn't know how it turned out. Yesterday we had another operation to the Pineapples. The door gunners went in firing. When we landed, I hit the dirt to see if we were taking fire. When I was pretty sure we werenít, I moved out to secure the landing zone for the next wave of choppers. I then noticed a fresh trail in the marsh where none of our people had been. I followed it with my eyes and spotted a bunker about 75-meters away. I circled around to approach it from another direction and found it empty. Plenty more of them were up the line. We destroyed them with grenades and plastic explosive charges. We then moved in the other direction since a naval gunboat blocking force was on the river. I noticed some empty cigarette packs on the ground, non-American brands. The packs werenít yet faded in the sun. I was pretty sure the VC had just been here. The company found new bunkers, 3 sampans, fish traps containing fish, a complex position with soap, medical supplies, 50-lbs of rice. We also found a chicom grenade, and an American grenade booby trap. The most unusual find was 3-baskets containing large live snakes. We assume they were to be used by the VC for food. We estimate the camp to support at least a company.

3 Dec 68 Mon

FSB Stephanie

One year ago today, Uncle Sam sent me his greetings and asked me to participate. Today I'm 12,000 miles away from home watching the sunset. Last night we were on another ambush. We heard that the area we checked in the Pineapples was the site of a large munitions cache that was uncovered by airstrkes after we left the area. We donít know if this is true. We had a Senator from Mississippi visit our camp. An airmobile was conducted for him. We went out to Pineapples, then returned shortly afterwards. I mentioned to my brother that canned barbecue is my favorite item in the Care packages being sent from home. I also mentioned my good suntan at Christmas time. We have to finish building a bunker so someone else can use it.

24 Dec 68 Tue

FSB Stephanie

Last night we got up at 2:30am to go on a "Cordon and Search". We travelled by truck (very scary) at night. The mission was in conjunction with an ARVN unit. No luck this time, much time was spent waiting for teams to provide medical aid to the villagers. The ARVN unit disappeared for about an hour or two leaving a huge gap in the perimeter. I received a letter from a friend who is stationed at Cam Ranh Bay. He's extending for an early out of the Army. He says they have inspections every Saturday just like back in the states.

25 Dec 68 Wed

FSB Stephanie

26 Dec 68 Thu

FSB Stephanie

On Christmas Eve, I took out an ambush that wasn't supposed to shoot unless shot at (truce was in effect). We were so busy, I didn't have time to be lonely or feel sorry for myself. We patrolled all Christmas morning, stopping in FSB Stephanie for our Christmas turkey. I got a gift from a girl in Massachusetts as part of a Red Cross drive. It was a little cloth draw-string bag containing a stainless steel mirror, shaving gear, and other odds and ends. We were ticked off that the rear echelon types go to see the Bob Hope shows, etc. and we didn't. Today we had a sweep of about 4-miles, but it was easy walking over rock hard rice paddies. This time of year, they are hard and dry, with cracks where the mud is split by the drying of the sun. The plan tonight is to cordon and search the same village where we took the 14 VC. I'm to be on the search team.

27 Dec 68 Fri

FSB Stephanie

28 Dec 68 Sat

FSB Stephanie

29 Dec 68 Sun

BMB for Stand Down

Writing from Brigade Main Base at Long Binh. We're here until the 31st for stand down (to clean our weapons and gear) before going on major operations in the Pineapple area. We're to be there at least two weeks. I described to my family the men in my squad, Baxter, Derricotte, Davis, Clemons, and Pinkham.

30 Dec 68 Mon

BMD (Brigade Main Base at Long Binh)

31 Dec 68 Tue

BMB and Pineapple Region

Getting ready to leave going to the Pineapple. We'll go 3-days at a time with no resupply..no mail. Sent a treasurer's check home.

January 1969

1 Jan 69 Wed

Pineapple Region

2 Jan 69 Thu

Pineapple Region

3 Jan 69 Fri

Pineapple Region

4 Jan 69 Sat

Pineapple Region

5 Jan 69 Sun

Pineapple Region

Writing from an ambush site in Pineapples. Have been here 3-days and 2-nights and expect to be here about 3-more. The company has made contact twice since we got here. The first time was when some VC in a sampan came up river and cut into a small canal beside where one of our ambushes was. They rattled boat paddles etc until our guys started firing. The VC abandoned the boat and ran upriver inside a line of Nippapalm trees. This treeline was in front of my ambush but we couldn't see a target to fire on. The VC left behind food, weapons, some Chi-Com grenades for booby trapping. We found two booby traps within a hundred yards of that area. Our Lieutenant tripped one, but fortunately it was a dud grenade . Today 200-meters from me, the company lost a man KIA (Oens) who hit a booby trap. A few hours later, a lone VC walked up on a position that was occupied by a couple of our men. The VC was killed.

6 Jan 69 Mon

Pineapple Region

7 Jan 69 Tue

Pineapple Region

8 Jan 69 Wed

Pineapple Region

9 Jan 69 Thu

Pineapple Region

10 Jan 69 Fri

Pineapple Region

First letter on this date. We just got in from our mission in the Pineapple. We'll probably be in camp 3-days then go out again for 3-6 more days. We did mostly night ambushes and an occasional daytime Recon-in-Force. We had many booby traps to contend with. Two booby traps were tripped and we had some people hurt, including Ostendorf who came to the company with me from the Ft. Benning NCO school. In addition to the dangers of the booby traps, we have to endure the vicious red ants that are here. They live in nests of leaves, if you bump the wrong branch, it could be bad news for you. Iíve seen guys jump into the canals to try to get the ants off them, especially when they get down your shirt. We also had to call a Medevac chopper for a man for a heat-related cause, a squad leader named Carter. I was walking behind him and was preoccupied crossing a canal. When I got to him, he was down. I didn't know what was going on at first. After checking the area, we poured water on him until the medevac chopper arrived. His skin was hot and dry. Second letter on this date. Hereís a description of a typical day in camp. Up at 6:30, chow at 7:30 (consisting of eggs, bacon/sausage, pancakes). Our cooks do a great job under the circumstances. At 8am, we start to work filling sandbags, building bunkers, stringing wire, etc. We break for lunch at 11:30... eat lunch until about 1pm and return to work until about 4:30. We write letters on our free time until about 8:30 when we start to rotate guard for the night. But, most days we have missions, so this scenario isn't very often followed. On the recent operation I travelled very heavy. I carried: 400 rounds M16 ammo, 4-frag grenades, 1-smoke grenade, 3-trip flares, 2 lbs. C-4 Plastic Explosive. A pack of electrical blasting caps, 1-claymore mine with detonator, insect repellent, 3-qts of water, personal items (razor, etc). Poncho, poncho liner, maps, compass, flak jacket, rifle, 1 LAW, food. Since this was for 7-days, it was unusually heavy. Most of the time, I carry ammo, grenades, water, demolitions, and a gas mask All of this stuff is carried strapped to a frame or put inside a rucksack. Insect repellent is most important. We couldn't sleep without it.

11 Jan 69 Sat

In Basecamp (not sure which one)

12 Jan 69 Sun

Pineapple Region

13 Jan 69 Mon

Pineapple Region

14 Jan 69 Tue

Pineapple Region

15 Jan 69 Wed

Pineapple Region

16 Jan 69 Thu

Pineapple Region

17 Jan 69 Fri

Pineapple to Fishnet Factory

Three-man listening post on roof of building next to Fishnet Factory

18 Jan 69 Sat

Fishnet Factory

10-man patrol

19 Jan 69 Sun

Fishnet Factory

20 Jan 69 Mon

Fishnet Factory

Still at Fishnet, should stay until 23rd, some guys went out on APCís, Davis and I stayed back to guard the perimeter.
21 Jan 69 Tue

Fishnet Factory

We went on a mission down river on an LCM. As we went in, the villagers went out. The houses were empty. Many had rice cooking but no people. It was very eerie. Weíd been told a base of the 4/12 had been mortared from here the prior night. We found two booby traps inside the village. One of them was tripped, 4-men were hurt.

22 Jan 69 Wed

Fishnet Factory

23 Jan 69 Thu

FSB Claudette in Pineapples

24 Jan 69 Fri

FSB Claudette in Pineapples

We arrived here yesterday, and thus far havenít had to go on any missions. Actually, the Fire Base here is not bad at all considering the fact that it is in the Pineapple. My bunker is right beside a stream that is clear as crystal. The view is real pretty, especially at sundown. The sunsets here are about as beautiful as you will ever see. Since Iím not busy, Iíll describe the terrain. The land is flat, as flat as a table for as far as you can see in any direction. In some rice paddy areas, you can see for miles and the only areas that are elevated are the dikes for the water to stand in the paddies. At this time of year, the paddies are all dry and the ground in them is as hard as brick. All that is there now is the rice stubble, which is golden in color, where the rice itself has been harvested. There are still a few little piles of rice straw stacked like you see corn done sometimes in the states. They remind me of little teepees and in the dark they look like people and tend to increase ones pulse rate if you understand what I mean. When the view is obstructed, it is either by a village built of scrap material or of straw, or it is a thicket of nippapalm trees that almost always grows in knee deep mud beside a canal or stream. In the pineapple area, the terrain is much different from the paddies. Out there, water stands in many areas year round. There are fewer open areas and many more places for the VC to hide. On the high ground, there are some wooded areas much like back home. But water stands on the pineapple groves themselves. The rows of pineapples are built up in terraces out of the water with the water standing in what appears to have once been irrigation ditches. The rows of pineapples havenít been cultivated in years and they are all covered with vegetation that seems almost like honeysuckle vines back home. The plants bear almost no fruit, and are almost like cactus plants with sharp spines on the leaves. Much of the standing water has a grass growing on it that is very green and only has straight, hollow, tube-like blades. This grass grows in mud. The place that one steps may look solid, with the grass growing there, but one may end up knee deep in black gooey mud. Compared to an area at home, Iíd have to say itís like the marshes just off the coast line. So much for the geography lesson.

25 Jan 69 Sat

Pineapple Region

26 Jan 69 Sun

Pineapple Region

27 Jan 69 Mon

Pineapple Region

28 Jan 69 Tue

Pineapple Region

29 Jan 69 Wed

Pineapple Region

30 Jan 69 Thu

Pineapple Region

31 Jan 69 Fri

Pineapple Region

February 1969

1 Feb 69 Sat

Pineapple Region

Received my orders for the Combat Infantrymanís Badge, and received an R&R allocation for Mar.16-22 in Hawaii

2 Feb 69 Sun

Pineapple Region Into firebase ..then back out.

This night, had I not run out of trip wire for my trip flare, an American grenade booby trap would have gotten me. I found it the next morning just past my Claymore where I usually put a trip flare. Theyíd used a green vine as a trip wire. Theyíd also left a sign saying ĎTu DiaĒ lying on the ground. I suppose they were trying to warn their own comrades. Anyone know what this means?

Feb 69 Mon

Pineapple Region

Writing from the field. Probably 10-days or so since being able to get a letter out. Have been out 8-days thus far. Weíre laying low...Iím carrying Derricotteís M79. He has a leg infection from skinning his leg getting off a Navy PBR a couple of days ago and is out of the field. This night, an ambush 1/4 mile from us spotted 75-100 VC crossing the river..mortar and artillery called in. (just outside Claudette)

4 Feb 69 Tue

Pineapple Region

The company is tracking the large VC force. The VC trail starts breaking off into smaller groups. A tracker team called to follow the largest trail. We find the camp and discover nice, well concealed positions...hard to spot from more than 15-meters. Wet clothes were found lying on otherwise dry ground. Many trails are in the marsh.

5 Feb 69 Wed

Firebase Claudette (3rd Plat. in 1st Plat. out)

Went on APCís as a blocking force for the rest of the company and D-company. Eight of nine APCís got stuck in the mud. A huge Sikorsky helicopter was called out. The chopper dragged each in turn out to drier ground. The downblast was so strong, we could barely stay on our feet.

6 Feb 69 Thu

Pineapple Region

7 Feb 69 Fri

From Pineapple to Fishnet Factory

The temperature according to the radio was 87-degrees...cooler than usual. We left the Pineapple this morning, I had taken out an ambush last night. The ambush was beside a canal. Nothing happened.

8 Feb 69 Sat

FSB Dart...close to Fishnet

So far today, no missions, no details. Itís been cool the last couple of days.

9 Feb 69 Sun

FSB Dart

Ambush patrol. Iíve developed a habit of waking up about once an hour. I look around to see if the guard is up. This time, no one was up. We had to let a man know how the rest of us felt about that.

10 Feb 69 Mon

Fishnet Factory

We were at Firebase Dart a day and a half. Tomorrow, we are supposed to return to the pineapples. In fact, we didnít go there, but to Binh Chanh instead.

11 Feb 69 Tue

Binh Chanh Cordon

Washam, Bosio, Stemple, Barefoot, Rudell wounded moving into position at night for a cordon. The explosion was as loud as a 105 shell. Prior to this, we had walked down the middle of a road, at night, carrying rolls of concertina wire. Weíd never done anything like this before. Washamís group was to use it to seal off a small canal on the right flank of our position. As related to me by Washam recently, they were in the process of doing this when the booby trap was tripped. Steen had taken a rope to the other side, and Washam was entering the water. I always wondered why we needed the wire, it didnít make any sense to me. Couldnít we just shoot any VC passing rather than tangle them up in concertina first?

12 Feb 69 Wed

Binh Chanh Cordon

13 Feb 69 Thu

Binh Chanh Cordon

14 Feb 69 Fri

Binh Chanh Cordon

Our unit is to be replaced this afternoon. Last night we radioed in about shells hitting nearby. We wanted them to know we were here. They said they werenít firing. Who does that leave? Rockets, mortars, we donít know what it was for sure, but it was hitting too close to us.

15 Feb 69 Sat

16 Feb 69 Sun

17 Feb 69 Mon

Tet 69 starts today, thereís a 24-hr. cease fire. My family says I never answer questions in my letters. Most of the time, I destroy the letters and canít always remember all the questions.

18 Feb 69 Tue

Pineapple Region

Out 9-days thus far... 13-inches of snow at home in NC...doesnít happen very often

19 Feb 69 Wed

Pineapple Region

20 Feb 69 Thu

Pineapple Region

21 Feb 69 Fri

Pineapple Region

22 Feb 69 Sat

Pineapple Region

23 Feb 69 Sun

FSB Barbara in center of Pineapple Region

Have been out 14-days. Water has not been good., salty along Vam Co Dong River. All the C-rations were starting to taste the same. Mentioned HQ group being attacked. Commo Chief (Atole) was KIA, two ambushes from 1st Plat. attacked at roughly the same time. Not sure what day this happened. All of us were ready for pay back. Weíd lost a good friend. Baxter and I were on point for the company the next day. We spotted two guys we thought were VC...but failed to get permission to fire until it was too late. They disappeared into the tree line.

24 Feb 69 Mon

FSB Barbara in Pineapples

25 Feb 69 Tue

Left FSB Barbara continued in field Pineapple

26 Feb 69 Wed

Pineapple Region

FSB Barbara heavily mortared. From the field, my squadís ambush was closest to the firebase, so we marked azimuth & distance for return fire and a gunship to be brought on station. The gunship fired itís mini-gun. Donít know if any VC were hit, but we were told that most of the mortar rounds hit outside the perimeter of the base camp. Not sure, but donít think any casualties were taken in Barbara.

27 Feb 69 Thu

Pineapple Region

Bordering a canal, under some coconut palms as a blocking force for B-company. New enemy offensive declared. 199th in heavy contact near Bien Hoa..weíre on 45-minute alert to go to Long Binh. Didnít have to go. In this area, we hide in day, ambush at night.

28 Feb 69 Fri

FSB Stephanie

March 1969

1 Mar 69 Sat

FSB Stephanie

Ambushes at night

2 Mar 69 Sun

FSB Stephanie

Got out of Pineapples and have been at Stephanie for the past three days. Have been working hard back here, ambush almost every night but the terrain is easier. Most of it is dry rice paddy. For about a week, the VC are supposed to be launching a new offensive. Except for the mortars at Barbara, we havenít seen much of it. But according to the news, up near Bien Hoa, units have engaged about a battalion of NVA. Glad they didnít need us.

3 Mar 69 Mon

FSB Stephanie

Very hot..itís 2pm and sweat is pouring off me as I write this letter. This morning, we had a 5-mile company sweep. It was an easy one over dry rice paddy. It has only rained twice since I arrived in Vietnam in November. It is really nice being out of the Pineapples for awhile. I had almost forgotten how to walk on dry ground. Believe it or not, there is a technique to walking in mud. (If this seems contradictory... about no rain, yet having mud...remember that this area is in the delta area of one of the largest rivers of the world, the Mekong. Some of those marshes never dry out.)

4 Mar 69 Tue

5 Mar 69 Wed

6 Mar 69 Thu

7 Mar 69 Fri

FSB Chris (Binh Chanh)

The Pineapple is easy compared to this area...mud and booby traps everywhere. The only place to set up at night is on a rice paddy dike and they are about a foot wide...otherwise, youíre in the water. Iím ready to go to the Pineapple and stay rather than be here. At least PART of the Pineapple is dry. Company morale is really low. Have to go on ambush in a few minutes.

8 Mar 69 Sat

FSB Chris (Binh Chanh)

8:15 pm...writing by flashlight under a poncho. This morning, airmobile to the Pineapple, walked point with Ti our scout. CP group found grenade cache, most positions are old. Made a comment that other veterans will find to be true. We never knew what day of the week it was. We knew the day of the month, we knew how many days we had left to go, but we couldnít tell you if if was a Sunday or a Thursday.

9 Mar 69 Sun

FSB Chris (Binh Chanh)

10 Mar 69 Mon

FSB Chris (Binh Chanh)

In field near an old village ( close to Chris). Very hot day. Notice the flowers there...look like Crepe Myrtles. Some banana trees there too...no fruit though. Due to go to Firebase tomorrow. We hide in the day, ambush at night. My feet are okay...a lot of guys have immersion foot (sometimes known as jungle rot). Havenít been impacted much by VC Offensive.

11 Mar 69 Tue

FSB Chris (Binh Chanh)

12 Mar 69 Wed

FSB Chris (Binh Chanh)

Left field for R&R, Derricotte & Duplichan hit by booby trap fragments. Was told theyíd gone on an airmobile. Days prior to that...ambushes and sweeps. Weather hot and dry.

13 Mar 69 Thu

BMB for R&R

Went to snack bar in base camp...had ice cream. Bought clothing for R&R. Saw a movie this night...ĒThe Ballad of JosieĒ...Doris Day, Peter Graves.

14 Mar 69 Fri

BMB for R&R

(To Grandparents). Iím feeling fine. Itís good to be out of the field awhile. Told about Derricotte and Duplichan being wounded.
.

15 Mar 69 Sat

BMB for R&R

16 Mar 69 Sun

Leave for R&R to Hawaii

17 Mar 69 Mon

Hawaii

18 Mar 69 Tue

Hawaii

Talked with family on phone yesterday.

19 Mar 69 Wed

Hawaii

20 Mar 69 Thu

Hawaii

21 Mar 69 Fri

Hawaii

While here, visited Sea Life Park, USS Arizona, Paradise Park, International Market Place, Ala Moana building, other tourist spots. Movie Tora, Tora, Tora is being filmed here. .

22 Mar 69 Sat

23 Mar 69 Sun

24 Mar 69 Mon

25 Mar 69 Tue

Cambodian Border (Plain of Reeds)

A big fire on the dry marsh threatened our temporary base. A back fire was set to remove fuel for the on coming wall of flame. That action saved our position and our butts. My congratulations to the person who thought of this action. Also, while there, several of us were on Listening Post 400-meters out (including Phillips and myself). For some reason, our own artillery was firing point blank right over us. By the time we got a cease fire, the last round hit about 50-meters from us.

26 Mar 69 Wed

Cambodian Border (Plain of Reeds)

27 Mar 69 Thu

Cambodian Border (Plain of Reeds)

28 Mar 69 Fri

Cambodian Border (Plain of Reeds) / Fishnet Factory

Returned from 3-day mission. No one hurt.

29 Mar 69 Sat

Fishnet Factor

y
3rd Platoon contact...one of the men wounded a VC in a sampan. The VC died later. Phillips, McClendon, Steen, and I were sent as a search team for a cordon of Tan Yen. We were travelling by LCM. Enroute, the LCM pulled to shore a short distance west of the Binh Dinh Bridge. The ARVN (or Popular Forces) had just completed a battle with 30-NVA. Bodies are lined up beside the canal. Two ARVN dead, 2-NVA dead and 2-NVA captured. That night back in the Fishnet basecamp, the movie was ďThe Sound of MusicĒ...strange day.

30 Mar 69 Sun

Fishnet Factory

Our old friends have gone home after completing their tours....Baxter, Clemons, Davis, Miller and Parker. 8-replacements due...I became the 3rd Platoon Sergeant after returning from R&R.

31 Mar 69 Mon

Fishnet Factory

April 1969

1 Apr 69 Tue

Fishnet Factory

Weíre supposed to return to BinhChanh on the 4th..dread returning. Finally have an organized platoon again. Iím trying hard at the Platoon Sergeant job, but Iím not sure I really want to do this...but I have to. On the world front, Eisenhower died a few days ago. Have to get a Listening Post out and plan the guard rotation.

2 Apr 69 Wed

3 Apr 69 Thu

4 Apr 69 Fri

Binh Chanh (FSB Chris)

5 Apr 69 Sat

6 Apr 69 Sun

7 Apr 69 Mon

Sorry itís been so long since writing. Have been very busy..and very tired. Little time to call my own. Hot weather/ mud...lots of sweat. Havenít been taking out as many ambushes but have been busy with other duties such as making sure everyone has enough food, water, and we have all the things we need to live in the field for as long as we need to be out. Sorry I send so few letters. Time seems to be going by pretty fast for me.

8 Apr 69 Tue

Cambodian Border Again (Plain of Reeds)

Easier than last time since weíd been through it once and knew what to do.

9 Apr 69 Wed

Cambodian Border

10 Apr 69 Thu

Cambodian Border Return to FSB Chris

11 Apr 69 Fri

FSB Chris

12 Apr 69 Sat

FSB Chris

Ambushes and patrols as usual...not much new to tell you. How many mosquitos can I kill in an hour? How many water buffalo did I see? Not very exciting.

13 Apr 69 Sun

FSB Chris

14 Apr 69 Mon

FSB Chris

15 Apr 69 Tue

FSB Chris

Lots of ambushes and patrols. The platoon is mostly new guys, but they are doing okay. Have to get people ready to go out for 2-days. Will write when we get back.

16 Apr 69 Wed

FSB Chris

17 Apr 69 Thu

FSB Chris

18 Apr 69 Fri

FSB Chris

19 Apr 69 Sat

FSB Chris

20 Apr 69 Sun

FSB Chris

21 Apr 69 Mon

FSB Chris

22 Apr 69 Tue

FSB Chris

23 Apr 69 Wed

FSB Chris

Platoon is doing real well. Have two new Sgts. they were made Squad Leaders along with two experienced Spec.-4ís. Havenít had anyone hurt in 2-3 weeks. Last time, we lost 4-men in two days. One man accidentally shot himself in the thigh getting out of a sampan, the others were hit by fragments from the same booby trap.

24 Apr 69 Thu

FSB Chris

25 Apr 69 Fri

FSB Chris

26 Apr 69 Sat

FSB Chris

27 Apr 69 Sun

FSB Chris

I asked that Rifle Blueing be sent from home. I canít keep rust off my rifle due to all the salt water in the area. Itís looking more like rain every day. Monsoon season looms just over the horizon.. Have to get a Listening Post ready to go out. At 8:30 I wrote more... it hasnít started to rain yet, but looks more like it all the time...I dread it...this place is bad enough without rain.

28 Apr 69 Mon

FSB Chris

Iím okay as usual. Weíre going back out for 2-days unless the operation is changed between now and this afternoon. I donít feel like going out...have no choice. Too many are staying back due to immersion foot. The rest of us have to travel too heavy. Certain things we have to take, if one man isnít there to carry it another has to. Things such as ropes, machine guns and ammo, air mattresses for stream crossing, food, water, claymores, trip flares. Itís very tough to walk through deep mud when loaded down like this. Before leaving I have to make sure everyone knows what to take. Also have to check the equipment and radio.

29 Apr 69 Tue

FSB Chris

30 Apr 69 Wed

FSB Chris

Monsoonís almost here, very cloudy every morning... looks like rain any minute. Vietnamese have been repairing the rice paddy dikes for the last few months. They havenít started plowing with water buffalo yet. The Platoon Leader put me in for an In-country R&R. Osborn returned from the hospital. A helicopter trapped 4-VC just east of FSB Chris (across from the village). Our company is called to assist. The helicopter circled while the infantry maneuvered. Second Plat. went in, we set up as a blocking force. At darkness, all pulled out except me and 7-others...we ambushed the area the VC were last seen. I couldnít sleep...too tense. At 10:30, 1st platoon opened up on some VC in the canal opposite the village...they think they got at least one.

May 1969

1 May 69 Thu

FSB Chris

Hot/Humid

2 May 69 Fri

FSB Chris

Hot and humid. Eight of us in a bunker playing cards and reading...trying to keep cool. Someone threw a live crab from the canal at our feet. Received a package from home. My sister is having trouble with Algebra in school...I canít help any more. A few months here has given me an appreciation for the small things...a bed to sleep in, a roof over my head, clean clothes, water to drink and wash in, and just being alive. Going to the field for 2-days at 4pm.

3 May 69 Sat

FSB Chris

May 69 Sun

FSB Chris

5 May 69 Mon

FSB Chris

6 May 69 Tue

FSB Chris

7 May 69 Wed

FSB Chris

Received photos from home. Got slides back from processing that were made on the Cambodian border, most are too dark. At 4PM, we go out for 2-days. Have to get the people ready to go.

8 May 69 Thu

FSB Chris

9 May 69 Fri

FSB Chris

Finally happened this night...HEAVY RAIN..the monsoons are here.

10 May 69 Sat

FSB Chris

Itís 2pm here and IS IT HOT! Itís humid and the sweat is rolling off me and Iím not even working.

11 May 69 Sun

FSB Chris

12 May 69 Mon

Can Giouc

Big cordon. Many exciting events here. We took a position with our right flank on the river. We were there maybe one or two nights when fighting broke out between the ARVN who were just behind us and the VC. This was a very frightening night for all of us. We had two ambushes separated...oneís radio wasnít working. After some of the firing, we could hear wailing from the nearby village. There was firing all around us that night and we dodged bullets behind a small rice paddy dike, but we never fired a shot. At one point during the action, a helicopter came out to the area and was using a big spotlight. He put the light directly on us and we were hoping they realized who we were and that they wouldnít fire. We heard that the ARVN had killed about 9-VC just behind us that night. Also while on this cordon, water was in short supply. We had to use all the self discipline we had to make it last.

13 May 69 Tue

Can Giouc

14 May 69 Wed

Can Giouc

15 May 69 Thu

Can Giouc

16 May 69 Fri

Can Giouc

17 May 69 Sat

FSB Chris

Airmobile to Pineapple

18 May 69 Sun

FSB Chris

19 May 69 Mon

FSB Chris

Back from 5-day Cordon at Can Giouc. Have been acting Platoon Leader for over a week. Lt. Greene is on R&R. We are getting a new Platoon Leader, Lt. Khalifah. Lt. Greene is to go to another Platoon. We now have to leave the base camp for the field.

20 May 69 Tue

FSB Chris

21 May 69 Wed

FSB Chris

22 May 69 Thu

FSB Chris

Rainy season is here. It has been raining 15-30 minutes late in the afternoon. Mornings are hot and humid. It seems hotter than at any time thus far. Will get an in-country R&R during the first week of June.

23 May 69 Fri

FSB Chris

24 May 69 Sat

FSB Chris

25 May 69 Sun

FSB Chris

26 May 69 Mon

FSB Chris

27 May 69 Tue

FSB Chris

28 May 69 Wed

FSB Chris

29 May 69 Thu

FSB Chris

Tremendous rain while on ambush this night..so hard we could barely see the man next to us on the rice paddy dike. VC probably not out in this. But, we rolled up in ponchos and endured. Tonight weíre in the firebase and I can sleep in a hammock.

30 May 69 Fri

FSB Chris

Tomorrow to go in for in-country R&R. Vung Tau is supposed to be one of the nicer places here. A few days ago some action. A gunship was firing down at the far end of the village. Five of us went part of the way there in a motor boat and maneuvered through the village the rest of the way. We were the advance party for the company as they formed up to move. We were told to expect enemy soldiers in the village. There was a lot of confusion. We saw movement in some of the houses and called for the occupants to come out in what few Vietnamese phrases we knew. Most did. One did not, I almost threw a grenade in but decided against it since I would probably get as many fragments as they would. At that point, I finally realized it was just an old man who was slow and scared. As we went further, villagers started coming toward us...some were bleeding. I left a man behind to keep them in one place and to treat their wounds as best he could. The rest of us continued to maneuver house to house. When we got to the end of the village, we saw that a woman had been killed and that the last house before the canal intersection was burning. The helicopter crew said that they had been fired on and had returned fire with rockets on a sampan and the house where it was docked. When we arrived, we found a sunken sampan. I also noticed a 55-gal drum standing upright on the bank right beside the canal. We left that position to secure the area toward the back of the burning house. When we came back to the front, the drum was gone. Divers were called in to check the canal. Swift current prevented them from finding anything. This has alway bothered me over the years as to what happened to that drum. I know the VC used those drums to move supplies, but I canít understand it disappearing like that when Iíd seen it with my own eyes.

1 May 69 Sat

FSB Chris

Iím fine except for stubbing my toe while letting my feet dry out (in shower shoes). Have had it easy for the past few days. The platoon had a good rest and will be ready to go to the field. Iím going to Vung Tau for an in-country R&R of 3-days. Had to leave the bunker, a guy spotted movement along the canal and fired his M-16. Probably wasnít anything.

June 1969

1 Jun 69 Sun

BMB

Go in for in-country R&R. Bought a camera (Petri 7-S) for $37 at PX.
.

2 Jun 69 Mon

Vung Tau

I described how Treece lost his grip on the rope while crossing the swift canal near FSB Chris. In the darkness, we all thought heíd drowned. We called in illumination from mortars. He had made it to shore downstream 100-meters or more. Itís been roughly two months since 3rd plat. lost anyone. But since then, McClendon was nicked by a VC booby trap but didnít have to leave the field.

4 Jun 69 Wed

Vung Tau

5 Jun 69 Thu

Vung Tau

6 Jun 69 Fri

FSB Chris

7 Jun 69 Sat

FSB Chris

8 Jun 69 Sun

FSB Chris

9 Jun 69 Mon

FSB Chris

10 Jun 69 Tue

FSB Chris

11 Jun 69 Wed

FSB Chris

Described slides I sent home. 167 days to go.

12 Jun 69 Thu

FSB Chris

Led an eight man patrol on airboats for a low tide search. The first place we stopped was just west of FSB Chris. I took a rifle cleaning rod and probed the mud in a ditch near a small canal running off the main canal. It hit something metallic. Jay Nealey started digging and soon pulled out the first can. Before we finished, weíd pulled out 15-cans totaling about 10,000-11,000 rounds of AK-47 ammunition. Many photographs were made. Everyone was very happy to have finally accomplished something tangible. OíRourke, a rear echelon guy drove the boat and participated in the search. He became an honorary grunt today.

13 Jun 69 Fri

FSB Chris

14 Jun 69 Sat

FSB Chris

Itís 8pm and Iím writing by flashlight under a poncho in a bunker. The company is going in for a stand down day after tomorrow. Weíre going north after that rather than back here. The last time we had a stand down was Dec.28. The rains are regular now...about every day...as a matter of fact, it looks like more is coming any minute.

15 Jun 69 Sun

FSB Chris

16 Jun 69 Mon

BMB for Stand down

17 Jun 69 Tue

BMB for Stand down

18 Jun 69 Wed

BMB for stand down

19 Jun 69 Thu

BMB / Libby

20 Jun 69 Fri

FSB Libby

(started building this base)

21 Jun 69 Sat

FSB LIbby

22 Jun 69 Sun

FSB Libby

23 Jun 69 Mon

FSB Libby

For the past two or three days weíve been very busy building FSB Libby. Our AO (Area of Operations) has changed to Northeast of Saigon near Xuan Loc (pronounced Swan Luck). Itís called War Zone-D in this area. The terrain is jungle and rubber plantations. We havenít run any missions yet. Weíre told there are fewer booby traps here but more VC and NVA.

24 Jun 69 Tue

Jungle and Rubber Plantations operating from FSB Libby

25 Jun 69 Wed

Jungle and Rubber Plantations operating from FSB Libby

26 Jun 69 Thu

Jungle and Rubber Plantations operating from FSB Libby

27 Jun 69 Fri

Jungle and Rubber Plantations operating from FSB Libby

28 Jun 69 Sat

Jungle and Rubber Plantations operating from FSB Libby

29 Jun 69 Sun

Jungle and Rubber Plantations operating from FSB Libby

30 Jun 69 Mon

Jungle and Rubber Plantations operating from FSB Libby

July 1969

1 Jul 69 Tue

Jungle and Rubber Plantations operating from FSB Libby

The first page of this letter was missing so I think it was around the 1st of July. Not sure of the exact date. Was telling my brother about the cache we found at FSB Chris and describing the new Area of Operations. The terrain is jungle, in some places we have to chop trails with machetes. Itís very hot and humid and rains about 4:30 every afternoon and we all spend the night in wet clothes and IS IT COLD! Iím glad we have poncho liners that keep us warm even when we and the liner are wet. Otherwise, we couldnít make it.

2 Jul 69 Wed

Jungle and Rubber Plantations operating from FSB Libby

3 Jul 69 Thu

Jungle and Rubber Plantations operating from FSB Libby

4 Jul 69 Fri

Jungle and Rubber Plantations operating from FSB Libby

5 Jul 69 Sat

Jungle and Rubber Plantations operating from FSB Libby

6 Jul 69 Sun

Jungle and Rubber Plantations operating from FSB Libby

7 Jul 69 Mon

Jungle and Rubber Plantations operating from FSB Libby

8 Jul 69 Tue

Jungle and Rubber Plantations operating from FSB Libby

Sorry itís been so long since writing, but weíve been out 14-days with little time for writing. Received a package with Oreo cookies...a welcome change after the C-rations...IíM SICK OF CíS. So far, the jungle and rubber plantations havenít been too bad. But, we do have to rotate the point man pretty often since in some places, we have to chop our way with machetes. In some areas, it takes about all day to travel a short distance. No contact yet. We found a couple of NVA pistol belts in the area of an airstrike, other than that, we havenít seen much sign of them in this area. But another unit hasnít been so lucky, the 2/3 I think was ambushed recently with several lost. Iím leading the Platoon again, the Lieutenant is on R&R and will probably be gone a couple of weeks. Have to talk to the CO for instructions.

9 Jul 69 Wed

Jungle and Rubber Plantations operating from FSB Libby

10 Jul 69 Thu

Jungle and Rubber Plantations operating from FSB Libby

11 Jul 69 Fri

Bien Hoa area

Weíve been sent near Bien Hoa as security for elements of the 9th Division who are leaving Vietnam for the US. We are patrolling the jungle, rubber plantations, and small hills a few miles outside the perimeter of the air base to keep the VC/NVA off balance and to make it difficult for them to rocket the base. We had been there three days when they did fire a few rockets into the area from about a mile from our location. We could hear them and see the trail as they were fired. Donít know if anyone was hurt. Gunship quickly flew to the area of the launch and fired mini-guns. Donít know how long weíll be here, but weíre in no hurry. We havenít had it this good in a long time. Almost everyone is taking photographs these days.

12 Jul 69 Sat

Bien Hoa area

Excuse the paper, my writing paper got wet in rain yesterday afternoon. Nothing going on yet today. Itís been two and a half weeks since we spent a night in a fire base, but I donít mind too much, the brass leave us alone. Last night I took out a 9-man ambush. Everything was okay until really late when a strange sounding bird raised the hair on the back of my neck with itís call. I prefer the small groups for ambush, we are quieter.

13 Jul 69 Sun

Bien Hoa Area

14 Jul 69 Mon

Bien Hoa Area

15 Jul 69 Tue

Bien Hoa Area

Doesnít seem as hot now as earlier, maybe Iím just getting used to it. Still in Bien Hoa area, no one knows for how long...I wouldnít mind staying here or the rest of my time. Just wanted you to know Iím okay.

16 Jul 69 Wed

Bien Hoa Area

17 Jul 69 Thu

Bien Hoa Area

Itís a nice day here, slightly cloudy with a nice breeze...unusual to have a day like this, it doesnít happen very often. Have an easy mission, went with a squad to guard a base being abandoned by one ARVN unit and reoccupied by another, will be relieved this afternoon.

18 Jul 69 Fri

Bien Hoa Area

19 Jul 69 Sat

Bien Hoa Area

20 Jul 69 Sun

Bien Hoa Area

21 Jul 69 Mon

Bien Hoa Area

22 Jul 69 Tue

Rubber trees near Bien Hoa.

The moon astronauts are back together again preparing to return to earth. On my side of the world near Bien Hoa, weíre still having it pretty easy. We run maybe a patrol a day and one or two short ambushes at night. No enemy activity apparent here. Itís still raining 1-2 times a day and some are real downpours lasting 30-minutes or so. Some of the rains are slow ones that last all night. Mailed some slides home yesterday...mostly rubber plantations. Described some guys in the platoon: Stephens, Osborn, Phillips, Flynn, Decker, Cossack, Fowler, Herndon. One of the guys killed a 2-foot lizard today. Have 127 days to go.

23 Jul 69 Wed

Bien Hoa Area

24 Jul 69 Thu

Bien Hoa area

Itís still early morning, I havenít had breakfast yet. Iím feeling fine, hope everyone at home is too. Last night was pleasant until real late when it rained hard, but Iíd made a good shelter with my poncho and stayed dry but it did get pretty chilly after the rain...not what youíd call chilly...but cold for here. For the last few days, guys have been getting sick ( turned out to be malaria). Iím acting Platoon Leader again because Lt. Khalifah is one of them. It has started to rain again and I have to see the CO to see what weíre doing today.

25 Jul 69 Fri

Bien Hoa Area

26 Jul 69 Sat

Bien Hoa Area

27 Jul 69 Sun

Bien Hoa Area

Recon of stream in jungle

28 Jul 69 Mon

Bien Hoa area

Dreary day today, cloudy and overcast all day..rained part of the day. Iím still fighting the rain and mosquitos. The company is still near Bien Hoa, weíve been lucky since moving north of Saigon. Havenít had any patrols yet today, weíre catching up on our rest. Yesterday was rough, took the platoon on a recon of a stream in the jungle. We travelled about 5-miles total and were really tired when we got back. We encountered many leeches. Almost everyone had several of them. .

29 Jul 69 Tue

Bien Hoa Area

30 Jul 69 Wed

Bien Hoa Area

31 Jul 69 Thu

Bien Hoa Area

August 1969

1 Aug 69 Fri

Bien Hoa Area

2 Aug 69 Sat

Left Bien Hoa area for FSB Libby

3 Aug 69 Sun

FSB Libby

The base camp is a quagmire...pigs wouldnít stay here. Itís the filthiest, muddiest place Iíve ever seen where people are trying to live. The water doesnít run off, it stands. Would return to the jungle right now if theyíd let us. Commented about Nixonís visit to Tan Son Nhut when everyone expected him to go to Bien Hoa. Sent pay home via Treasurers check.

4 Aug 69 Mon

FSB Libby

5 Aug 69 Tue

FSB Libby

6 Aug 69 Wed

Jungle operating from FSB Libby

7 Aug 69 Thu

Nui Soc Lu

Checking out volcanic mountain Nui Soc Lu for VC activity

8 Aug 69 Fri

Nui Soc Lu

9 Aug 69 Sat

Nui Soc Lu

10 Aug 69 Sun

Nui Soc Lu

Morning: Canít write much, chopper due any minute to resupply us and pick up mail. Wanted you to know Iím okay. Past 3-4 days checking out Nui Soc Lu Mountain...so far just a lot of black volcanic rock and jungle.

Afternoon: We left the jungle at the base of the mountain into an area of soybean fields. Two contacts were made during the afternoon. The first at about 3pm and the second shortly before dark.

The first action:

Two VC walked right past a new guy we had out as security. Our man was back in the bushes off the trail. He was either asleep or didnít realize who he was letting pass. Several of us were sitting around a thatch building that served as a tool storage shed. We were talking, eating food, etc. I looked up and saw two guys approaching. I thought they were Popular Forces at first because one of them had on a black cowboy hat that is pretty popular with the PFís. As they got closer, something didnít look right. Then it registered that one of them had an AK-47 with itís distinctive banana shaped clip and the other carried an RPG launcher over his shoulder. At this point I was still pretty calm. My plan was to reach beside me where I had laid my rifle and open fire. When I looked to pick it up...it wasnít there and panic was about to set in. By this time, others of our group had seen them too and the VC had noticed us as well. Then the shooting started... but nobody was hitting anything. The two VC made what seemed to me to be world record time getting to a tree line about 50-yards away, dodging fire every foot of the way. Somehow, they managed to get away. By this point, Iím mad. The man beside me had grabbed the first rifle he saw...mine...leaving me with no weapon. After I explained to him that in the future heíd better use his own rifle...we had to make an attempt to chase the two VC. We used two groups, one firing while the other moved. After maneuvering across the open ground, we decided that the VC were holding all the high cards. They had an RPG and they knew where we were but we didnít know where they were. We decided to fight another day and eventually moved back toward the mountain along the edge of the jungle.

The second contact was made as we were ready to reenter the jungle. I heard firing at the rear of the column. A VC officer either didnít see us, or was trying to cross behind us going in another direction and was shot and wounded by those at the rear. He died before a helicopter could get there. He was carrying a K-54 pistol, and a diary dating back to June. The diary contained personal scribblings and doodlings such as drawings of Russian flags, and VC flags. The diary also contained names that we hope were useful to the Intelligence Units in the rear. After this action...since so many VC seemed to be in the area, we ambushed the site rather than return to the jungle. Next morning, more of the same.

11 Aug 69 Mon

Nui Soc Lu Mountain

Shortly after sunrise, guys are eating, writing letters, cleaning weapons. Iím one of those cleaning my rifle...get the picture...rifle is in about 5 pieces. I look up and see four VC moving along a ridge line 250-300 yards away. They are travelling heavy...all have heavy packs on. We see them...they see us...all that training of disassembly and assembly of a rifle did have a purpose. Seconds later, I have it together and functional. An entire platoon is firing, and as one man said at our reunion...it was as if we were firing blanks. The VC dropped their backpacks and dashed for the edge of the jungle. They make it. We called artillery on the tree line. Captured gear is a large Chi-com Claymore, RPG Launcher, 5-warheads, clothes, food, etc. Other than identify an area hot with enemy activity, our performance as a unit for the two days was not good.

12 Aug 69 Tue

Jungle near the mountain Nui Soc Lu

13 Aug 69 Wed

Jungle near the mountain Nui Soc Lu

Another bad day in the land of the water buffalo. Today has been hot and weíve had rain. IĒM SICK OF RAIN. Gradually, weíre making our way back toward FSB Libby from the Nui Soc Lu mountain area. Have been out 10-days. Think weíll return to the Fire Base tomorrow. These C-rations taste worse every day. We talk about food a lot. Each guy describing exactly what theyíd like to have. Phillips has a good line...ĒIíve enjoyed as much of this as I can stand!Ē I have a standby R&R approved for Sydney, Australia on Sep. 22.

14 Aug 69 Thu

Jungle returning from Nui Soc Lu

15 Aug 69 Fri

FSB Libby

Back at Libby for a few days ďrestĒ and some clean clothes. We get more sleep in the field due to manning fewer positions. But, it is nice to get a cooked meal. The Fire Support Base has dried up since the last time we were here. The last time was miserable with all the mud. We heard about the recent VC Sapper raid on Cam Rahn Bay where several people were killed...some of our guys had been in the hospital there ( for malaria).

16 Aug 69 Sat

FSB Libby

Returned to BMB at Long Binh in the afternoon on a PX run for the guys at Libby. Spent the night at Long Binh...saw a movie.

17 Aug 69 Sun

FSB Libby

The company gets 10 new men today. We all return to FSB Libby in the morning. The platoon is mostly new men now...I have more time in the field than anyone left. There are rumors about the 199th being pulled out of Vietnam...didnít happen.

18 Aug 69 Mon

FSB Libby / Jungle

At 9am itís cloudy, foggy, and cool thus far, but will warm up around 10am as it always does. Have spent the past few days in FSB Libby. Weíre getting rested to go look for VC. I donít want to find any...but they make us look. Havenít been briefed as to where weíre going...but will be soon. Are returning to the field today.

19 Aug 69 Tue

Jungle operating from FSB Libby

Has been pretty hot, but no rain yet. The past few days the VC are declaring a new offensive campaign as described in the Stars and Stripes newpaper and the radio. It seems as if itís too late for any peace negotiation to help me. The morale is low...bitter at the way we have to live versus others.

20 Aug 69 Wed

Jungle operating from FSB Libby

21 Aug 69 Thu

Jungle operating from FSB Libby

22 Aug 69 Fri

Jungle operating from FSB Libby

23 Aug 69 Sat

Jungle operating from FSB Libby

24 Aug 69 Sun

Jungle operating from FSB Libby

25 Aug 69 Mon

Jungle operating from FSB Libby

26 Aug 69 Tue

Jungle operating from FSB Libby

27 Aug 69 Wed

Jungle operating from FSB Libby

28 Aug 69 Thu

Jungle operating from FSB Libby

29 Aug 69 Fri

Dong Nai River

Quite a few days since Iíve had a chance to write. Iím doing fine. Have been in the field 9-10 straight days and think weíll be out two more before going in. Helicopter resupply brought new car literature in the mail . I was able to daydream about the Mustangs, Camaros, and Javelins. My Dad asked about the kinds of wildlife we saw while in the field. I could remember seeing some deer, wild pigs, large birds, large lizards, three big cats of some kind crossing a logging road in the jungle, a few snakes..not many...but those I saw got my attention. One in particular while in the Pineapple region. I saw one that I think was a python...very big snake in the stream at the same time as us for half a minute or so.

30 Aug 69 Sat

Dong Nai River

31 Aug 69 Sun

Dong Nai River

September 1969

1 Sep 69 Mon

FSB Libby

Returned to Libby after doing B-52 Bomb Damage Assessment. along the Dong Nai River. The bombers missed this time. Found 2-hootches destroyed. We found a small base camp and destroyed it ourselves. Got a lot of mail. Returned to the base camp and we were told to shave..they wonít let us have any fun. It had been 14-days and we had pretty good beards going. Spent a lot of time cleaning my rifle today... getting too short to be taking any chances..

2 Sep 69 Tue

3 Sep 69 Wed

4 Sep 69 Thu

5 Sep 69 Fri

6 Sep 69 Sat

7 Sep 69 Sun

Swamp West of Nui Soc Lu Mountain

(inserted by helicopter)

8 Sep 69 Mon

Swamp west of Nui Soc Lu Mountain

9 Sep 69 Tue

Swamp west of Nui Soc Lu mountain

10 Sep 69 Wed

Swamp west of Nui Soc Lu mountain on Day Ambush and Recon

11 Sep 69 Thu

Swamp west of Nui Soc Lu mountain

Start to walk out of swamp after being told no air assets were available. If we wanted to go in to the base camp, weíd have to walk out of the swamp. Walked from 2pm until dark before finding a small island to spend the night. We were very worried...we couldnít find any dry land for the platoon to sleep on. Got lucky just before darkness.

12 Sep 69 Fri

Swampy Jungle 5-Mi. West of Nui Soc Lu mountain.

Started moving again around 8am. We were starting to encounter a little more dry ground now. At about 11:30, the column halted and I was called to the front by the Lieutenant to go over the map for a check of our location. Halfway there, I saw a couple of men at the ready with weapons facing to our left flank. The said theyíd seen a VC. We waited a while for movement and eventually had to check it out. Three of us started to move forward (covered by a machine gun and a grenade launcher) and had gone just a short distance when one of the men spotted a Chi-com claymore sitting out in the open covering the direction we were coming from. We hit the dirt and shortly afterward they blew the claymore on us and opened fire. I managed to get back to the others before realizing I had been hit. But when the pain did start to come, it slowed me down to the point where I couldnít help much any more even though I wanted to. I couldnít breath deeply. When I took a deep breath, it was extremely painful. Weíd lost a man KIA (White), and one more man (Chet Szymczyk) was seriously wounded. The engagement lasted for quite a while before a helicopter gunship was brought out to fire support for us. Shortly after that, a medevac helicopter was brought to pick us up for medical treatment. Since there was no place to land, the helicopter had to hover over the jungle canopy and lower a cable to the ground to hoist us up. I was first. After being winched to the helicopter, they couldnít get me inside. So they flew away with me dangling outside until they came to an area to land and put me inside. After this was done, they flew back to pick up Szymczyk. Arriving at the 93rd Evac Hospital at Long Binh, both of us had surgey and were hospitalized. The men remaining on the ground endured great hardship during this period and should be recognized for that. Almost all of them suffered immersion foot severe enough for hospitalization and treatment after walking for another two or three days to an dry area.

13 Sep 69 Sat

93rd Evac Hospital

The war is over for me. Iíll leave Vietnam in about a week for a hospital in Japan.

14 Sep 69 Sun

93rd Evac Hospital (Long Binh)

15 Sep 69 Mon

93rd Evac Hospital

16 Sep 69 Tue

93rd Evac Hospital

Sore from surgery. No solid food or water since being hurt. On IV. Tube to chest cavity, tube down nose to stomach, tube to bladder, large intestine still outside my body. Plastic bag adhered to my body to trap waste. Am told in a few months, another operation will be performed to reconnect my intestines. Part has been diverted until the rest heals. (Colostomy). Got my Purple Heart today...a medal I didnít want. Visited by several buddies. General Bennet stopped in for a minute and a photographer made a picture of the three of us (Gen. Bennet, me, and Chet Szymczyk). This was more for the folks back home than us, I suppose, but we appreciated him coming...thereís no rule that says he must.

17 Sep 69 Wed

93rd Evac Hospital

Progressing pretty well. Only have two tubes left today. IV and stomach tube. Concerned about my buddies who are still in the field
.

18 Sept 69 Thu

93rd Evac Hospital

Down to only an IV. Yesterday, started getting 1-oz of water an hour. Man, did it taste good. Am still weak. Canít get used to the hospital hours...bedtime around 9-10pm. In the field, when the sun went down, it was time to sleep or pull guard duty. On the world front, Nixon decides to pull 30-40,000 more troops from Vietnam.

19 Sep 69 Fri

93rd Evac

Today makes 7-days since I got hit. Had quite a few visitors while here. Many of my platoon members and some of my former platoon members came to see Chet and me. Some of the guys who had been in the field stopped by here after they were personally released from 7th Support Hospital. Of 24-men on the patrol, six were fit for field duty. The rest...1-killed, 2-wounded and hospitalized, some others were wounded less severely and stayed in the field. The rest...immersion foot bad enough for medical treatment.

20 Sep 69 Sat

93rd Evac/Tan Son Nhut

Flew from Bien Hoa to Tan Son Nhut on a C-130 specially rigged for hospital patients. Spent the night of the 20/21 at Tan Son Nhut. .

21 Sep 69 Sun

Tan Son Nhut/Japan

Left Vietnam for Japan. Arrived in Japan. Spent the night in a special ward at Yokota AFB in Tokyo.

22 Sep 69 Mon

Tokyo/Yokohama

Flew by helicopter from Tokyo to Yokohama. Arrived at the 106th General Hospital in the morning..

23 Sep 69 Tue

106th Gen. Hospital (Yokohama, Japan)

After being checked by the doctors, I am pretty much on my own. Today makes 10-months and a day since I left home on Nov. 22 last year for Ft. Dix. Itís nice to know I can sleep all night without worrying about someone trying to kill me.

24 Sep 69 Wed

106th General Hospital

25 Sep 69 Thu

106th General Hospital

Gradually getting stronger, have been walking a lot. Doctor tapped my chest with a long needle to remove fluid from around my lungs.

26 Sep 69 Fri

106th General Hospital

27 Sep 69 Sat

106th General Hospital

Stomach is tender, stitches in too long. Letter from Lt. Khalifah, tells me Teach Decker won Soldier of the Month for the Brigade. Also, told me that several other men from our company had been killed and others wounded in the same area as our action

28 Sep 69 Sun

106th General Hospital

Gave detailed description of Sep 12 action

29 Sep 69 Mon

106th General Hospital

30 Sep 69 Tue

106th General Hospital

October 1969

1 Oct 69 Wed

106th General Hospital

I feel okay. Stitches in my side may be taken out tomorrow. Still canít breath deeply
.

2 Oct 69 until Oct 15

106th General Hospital

15 Oct 69 Wed

106th General Hospital Leave for the U.S

Return trip is from Yokohama to Tokyo, Anchorage, and a direct flight to Andrews AFB outside of Washington DC. Spent the night there. Was allowed to call my family and tell them that I was to arrive the next morning at Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia just outside of Norfolk. Flew from Washington in a jet aircraft equipped for medical tranport. Landed at Norfolk and flew from Norfolk to the hospital in a Huey helicopter. When I arrived at the hospital, my family was there...theyíd driven during the night from Charlotte, NC.

From October 15 until Dec. 5, I was basically waiting for more surgery. Some of the time was spent at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital and I also had a short leave home during this time. After my final surgery on December 5, 1969, I had a couple of weeks of recovery time and was released from the hospital to a medical detachment of the U.S. Army. I was there for a week or two before my separation from the service into civilian life once again.