Four Months In Vietnam War

 

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25th Infantry Division Base at Cuchi, Vietnam

This photo was taken in 1966 the same year I was in Viet

Nam. We found out after the war that the Viet Cong were 

living in tunnels they had built underneath our base. One

day a sniper came up out of the tunnel system, began firing

at us and we stayed in a foxhole outside our post office tent. 

I had only four months left in the Army so decided not to re-enlist while in Vietnam. Later on in this post you will see, that if I had re-enlisted I could possibly been killed or injured in a mortar shell attack.

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.

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I was sent to Vietnam with only four months left in my enlistment. I decided to not re-enlist over there, and was told that if I had 3 months left, that I could have stayed in Hawaii. It was culture shock to say the least, when I had to leave Hawaii and its beaches, for the heat of Vietnam and can still remember the time I was so hot, that I drank two 46 ounce cans of apple juice back to back to cool off.

Viet Cong Built Tunnels Underneath Base

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.

Sniper Shot At Us

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 with us watching.

The bullets were ricocheting, off the Conex containers behind our foxhole making a pinging sound I will never forget. Reminded me of sound I had heard in movies.

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.

Guarding Vietnamese Church

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 his body but I wasn’t that curious.

Replacement Killed Two Months Later

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.

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Commanding General of Armed Forces General William C. Westmoreland talking with

the Commanding General of the 25th Infantry Division Frederick C. Weyand, who was

the Commander of the Armed Forces in Vietnam during the last year of the war. 

Westmoreland died in 2005 at the age of 91, and Weyand died in 2010 at 93. 

Brother Captured Viet Cong In River

My brother was also serving  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, as my enlistment had come to an end.. I will never forget how exhilarating it was, as the plane gained altitude and knowing we were safe from ground fire.

Cousin Died Piloting a Helicopter

I lost a cousin James Godfrey, who was 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 49  years since I returned from Vietnam, but the memories of what happened over there will never be forgotten.

Minor Part in War

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 country as powerful as the 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.

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Two Week Trip: Hawaii to Vietnam

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The USAT General Walker was commissioned in 1945 and was used in the Korean War

and Vietnam War. Boarded the ship in Hawaii with the 25th Infantry Division in January of

 1966. It took 14 days at 500 miles a day to make the 7,000 mile trip to Vietnam. The USAT

  General Walker was scrapped in 2005, after 60 years of service to the United States military

 

 

 

There was a lot of activity going on around Schofield Barracks  in late 1965 and everyone knew something major was about to happen. Our orders for Vietnam came and we boarded the USAT General Walker in early January of 1966.

The ship traveled 500 miles a day for 14 days. The ocean was rough and some of the troops became seasick including myself.

There was plenty of time for reflection on what awaited for us in Vietnam. I was thinking of how many would return to the United States safely.

It was my first time on a troop ship and it seemed like we would never arrive in Vietnam even though we didn’t know what the future held for those aboard the ship.

7,000 miles is a long trip especially when the ship could only travel 500 miles a day.

The night before we got off the ship percussion grenades were dropped in the surrounding water to ward off any Viet Cong divers that may try to destroy our ship.

That last night aboard the ship was very hot since we were in a very hot climate once we got that close.

When we arrived the next day I drank several cold drinks that weren’t cold since we had no ice. It took awhile to get rid of our sea legs after being aboard ship for two weeks.

NEXT: FOUR MONTHS IN VIETNAM

From Basic Training To Vietnam Part 2

The Royal Hawaiian the landmark hotel along Waikiki Beach while I was stationed at Schofield Barracks from June 1966 till January of 1966.
The Royal Hawaiian the landmark hotel along Waikiki Beach while I was stationed at Schofield Barracks from June 1966 till January of 1966 when I was sent to Cuchi, Vietnam.

After re-enlisting in the Army for another three years I was sent to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii to work as a postal clerk for the 25th Infantry Division and I worked for the 25th Administration Company.

I arrived at the Oakland Army terminal in Oakland, California in May of 1963 and left there in early June for a flight to Honolulu, Hawaii.

It would be in October of 1965 before I took a leave and flew back to Louisiana.

Hawaii was as scenic as it had been advertised in magazines. I made many trips to the beach on the weekends to get away from the Army life on base.

The Army provided the busses for the trips to the beach. It did make me homesick to look across the ocean knowing home was 4000 miles away in Louisiana.

While stationed in Hawaii I went to the Arizona Memorial which was built in memory of those who lost their life at Pearl Harbor about 22 years earlier.

Reading the names of those who died or were entombed in the battleship Arizona was a memorable experience as I thought about them giving their life for the country.

Oil was still on the water next to the where the Arizona had become a place of death for the sailors on that day in December of 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

I can remember working in the USARHAW post office and seeing the professional basketball player Terry Dischinger stationed there.

While in Hawaii I saw General Edwin Walker at a rally in downtown Indianapolis. Lee Harvey Oswald would attempt to murder him in Walker’s home in Dallas, Texas later that year.

There were many celebrities who visited Schofield Barracks to sing in concerts or entertain the troops.

Shortly after arriving in Hawaii the Beach Boys appeared in concert at Conroy Bowl on the Army base. Johnny Cash and June Carter also appeared there but Cash was slurring his words that night and probably under the effect of drugs.

Other celebrites that appeared there were Sue “Sad Movies Always Make Me Cry” Thompson and Buck Owens and the Buckaroos.

The service club on base was a favorite place for me to go to see USO shows presented by various celebrities including the country movie star Jimmy Wakely who also was a singer.

On January 17th of 1966 we would depart Vietnam on the troop ship the USNS General Walker not named for the General Walker mentioned earlier in this post.

NEXT: TWO WEEKS TRIP TO VIETNAM