A web site that shares the emotional and spiritual experiences of the Vietnam War through poetry, stories, and photos by combat veterans.
Hosted by Vietnam Veteran Bill McDonald
I arrived in Vietnam in November 1969. As with
most American soldiers during that phase of the war, I had flown over from the
states on a chartered civilian airliner. The flight left from Washington state,
landed in Alaska, and then had one really long flight to Vietnam. While in
Alaska we were allowed a short break in the airport lounge. My main memories of
the flight were those of the really great looking female flight attendants,
especially the one with tiger striped underwear. Other than her, my thoughts
were on what awaited us all.
After a short 2 day stay at
the replacement depot, I received my assignment to the 101st Airborne Division.
Their main base for receiving replacements was located at the large military
complex near Saigon. Bien Hoa was mostly known for the airfield but there were
many other units there. I reported there after an uneventful C-130 flight (my
Not many nights after
arrival, the airbase came under rocket attack. No one thought of the danger as
we climbed upon the bunkers near our barracks. Our thoughts were to get a look
at the show going on. However, a senior "SERTS" NCO came around and quickly
convinced us to take cover in the bunkers. During assembly the next morning our
foolishness was well described and explained.
With E Company I was assigned the duties of Executive Officer (XO), Mortar Platoon Leader and Ground Surveillance Radar section leader. Co. E was the battalion's support unit. It also contained the Bn Recon Platoon, but another 2nd Lt. had that platoon. Our company commander was a 1st Lt. from Boston, Mass. who had been decorated for his actions on "Hamburger Hill". His name was Sullivan.
Being located at the battalion rear meant that I had bunker line officer duties a lot. I think I had that duty about every 4-5 nights. This basically meant assisting the duty NCO in posting soldiers to the battalion section of the base camp bunker perimeter, then checking on these positions throughout the night. It sometimes got a little dangerous as you were walking around in a combat area at night, coming up on young armed soldiers that expected to be attacked at any moment. More than once a night I came close to being shot.
New Years Eve '69-70 was a really interesting night. We were told to keep the troops from firing their weapons at midnight. Ha, what a joke. At midnight the entire base camp bunker-line seemed to let fly with rifles, machineguns, hand-flares, or anything that made noise or would light up the night.
In late January '70 I moved
to D Company to replace their executive officer. This is where I met 1st Sgt
Anthony P. Tufts. He let everybody know that the "P" stood for Prick, and
sometimes he was. As XO I spent time flying to the different platoons with the
re-supply copter and was Battalion paymaster 1 month. I once had the unpleasant
task of taking some bodies to the division morgue. This last was the result of a
booby trap that exploded as some troops were getting out of a boat along one of
the rivers in the area.
This was the beginning of my time in combat as a platoon leader. During the next four and a half months I would have the honor of leading some good and brave American Soldiers. We had our share of good times and bad. We were involved in many firefights and ambushes, set by us and against us.
I was twice wounded while in
combat. The 2nd time was the most serious and sent me back to the states. You
can read about it by clicking on "Mines - My Last Patrol".
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