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.
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.
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.