One of my first memories after arriving in Vietnam was working in the post office and hearing a loud noise over our post office. Turned out it was our outgoing artillery being fired toward the enemy.
I can recall a soldier working in the mortuary asking to be sent to the infantry because he couldn’t handle the stress of working with dead bodies.
One of my friends from the Public Information Office was killed when he became involved in the war he was covering from the reports I heard.
There was no way of telling how hot it was in Vietnam but it must have been close to 100 everyday of the four months I was there. I can recall it raining only once during the time I was there. I think I missed the rainy season or I would have seen more rain.
I didn’t realize it at the time but learned after the war that the Viet Cong had built a network of tunnels underneath our base. They built the tunnels so small that an average American couldn’t fit through them.
Extricating the Viet Cong from the tunnels was a deadly exercise fraught with the danger of being killed.
I can remember one day when a sniper or snipers started shooting toward our post office tent. We jumped in our foxholes outside the post office.
There were some soldiers walking between us and the snipers oblivious to the situation. It amazes me that none of them were shot and killed.
The bullets were richocheting off the Conex containers behind our foxhole making a pinging sound I will never forget.
Eventually the shooting stopped and evidently the sniper or snipers went back underground.
The only time I saw a Viet Cong soldier was when I saw one riding in a jeep with his head covered so he couldn’t reveal any information if he escaped or was returned to the Viet Cong.
Working in the post office I sometimes would see a soldier picking up mail one day and then be told later he had been killed.
One night I had guard duty and was guarding a Vietnam church from being attacked. The night was uneventful except that the lieutenant in charge that night was killed before I left Vietnam.
I even helped load his body on a helicopter and some of the soldiers looked in the bodybag that contained him but I wasn’t that curious.
In April a soldier reported to be my replacement. Little did I know that two months later he would be dead after a mortar shell hit the post office and killed two and injured seven in June.
I had left in May so I didn’t know about the mortar attack till one of my co-workers in the post office wrote me about it.
The real heroes of the Vietnam War were the infantrymen who went out on missions looking to encounter the Viet Cong.
When I would see them walking down the road on the way to combat I would wonder how many of them would return safely.
What I encountered in Vietnam was nothing compared to what these infantrymen faced.
My brother was in Vietnam and captured some Viet Cong hiding in a river.
He had been given a Fulbright scholarship to Germany but couldn’t use it because of the war. Later he contacted malaria and was returned to the United States.
About the 18th of May of 1966 I boarded a plane that left Vietnam and headed to Japan. I will never forget how exhilirating it was as the plane gained altitude and knowing we were safe from groundfire.
I lost a cousin from Maine I had only seen once in my life when the helicopter he was piloting was shot down and he was killed.
It has been 43 years since I returned from Vietnam but the memories of what happened over there will never be forgotten.
I had a very minor part in the war. I only sold postage stamps and money orders and gave soldiers their mail but maybe that little bit brought some happiness into their lives when they received letters from home.
Looking back it is hard to believe a little country in southeast Asia could defeat a powerful country as United States.
Our superior weapons were not enough to defeat them and bombing missions in Hanoi were not enough to defeat them.
The saddest part of the war is that over 50,000 American soldiers returned home in coffins.