Jump to content

Search the Community

Showing results for tags 'Vietnam'.

  • Search By Tags

    Type tags separated by commas.
  • Search By Author

Content Type


  • General Discussions
    • Ready Room
    • Combat Simulations
    • Strategy and RPG
    • Gear Heads
    • Hardware and Controllers
    • Military History
    • Screenies
    • Test Posts
  • Squadron Forums
    • VMF-124 Death's Head Squadron
    • No. 73 Squadron

Find results in...

Find results that contain...

Date Created

  • Start


Last Updated

  • Start


Filter by number of...


  • Start





Website URL







Found 12 results

  1. My eldest daughter recently ran into a man my age who bragged about burning his draft card and running off to Canada to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War. She and I have discussed the issue of draft dodgers before and she knows I hold no grudges against them. In my opinion most reacted to the prospect of being drafted with plain fear and allowed that emotion to drive their decisions. At the time, service in Vietnam was being portrayed by the Left and the media as a death sentence for draftees. Vets were being characterized as brutal murderers. It's not hard to see how a young man might be frightened enough to run as far away as possible. Most Vietnam vets respect the anti-war types who stayed and fought the system. Many served time in jail. Those men displayed a commitment to their beliefs that almost anyone can appreciate and admire. My daughter was put off by the man's attitude. She felt he'd never really examined his motives. Most of us, when we reach late adulthood, if not sooner, take a serious look back at our lives and judge ourselves based on subsequent life experience. This self-analysis is something this man didn't seem to have done. "He doesn't seem to have ever asked himself the two questions, Dad." Yeah. We've had this conversation before. She knows about the two questions a Vietnam Vet never has to ask himself. Here they are: 1. Who went in my place? 2. Is that man's name on the Wall? Every person who avoided the draft, by whatever means, has to consider these questions. Vietnam vets, whether they volunteered (which includes about 70% of such veterans) or were drafted, do not have to ask themselves if anyone went in their place. We DO wonder about our motives. The young men we once were did a lot of things we no longer fully understand. Mostly, we've come to terms with ourselves and our service. Some never will. And if the old draft dodger my daughter met is representative of the breed, some of the runaways have never looked back and wondered about what they did -- have never asked themselves the two questions. Jim
  2. I submitted this one to EDF, but even if they accept the story it won't appear for a month or two. I figure this is a good day to post it here. JRH I never wanted to visit the Wall. For many years Vietnam veterans had only each other; as a memorial the Wall seemed too little, too late. Besides, there were too many names -- too many memories. I often dream of one night in August, 1968. All was black. I rubbed sweat from my eyes. Under the wavering light of a parachute flare squat bunkers and tangles of concertina wire emerged. I smelled blood, hot weapons, burned powder. My back was against a sandbag wall. Someone hunkered down next to me. "Hey, Teach, I hear the bastards got a piece of you." It was Doc Wills, platoon medic. He drew a knife and slit my trouser leg. "Hold still." "I ain't goin' nowhere. Hurts like all hell when I move." "Don't move then. Damn, Teach. I gotta get a tourniquet on this." My head ached. Gingerly I checked it out. Warm blood coated my fingers. "What about my head, Doc?" He glanced up. "Later. That one ain't gonna kill you." A dull roar filled my head. I drifted into a black tunnel. Sharp pain drew me back. Wills let go of my shirt. "Don't drop out on me, man!" I tried to concentrate. "How bad -- we get hit?" "Danforth took a direct hit from an RPG. Lieutenant Burns got killed. Riley. Miller." "Miller? Jesus, he was about to go home." "Yeah. Ain't that the shits?" Riley was in my platoon. Doc moved my leg. I jerked. "Jesus Christ! That hurts!" He grinned. "You got one fucked up leg, Teach. Surgeons will fix you right up." He started rigging a blood bag. "I'll give you some morphine when I get this going." I gripped his arm. "I don't wanna die, Doc." "You ain't gonna die." He shoved me back against the sandbags. "Get that through your thick head. I ain't gonna let you die." He wiped blood off my face and scalp. "Just a nick, Teach." Deft fingers secured a bandage. "Now relax. Evac choppers are on the way." The pain seemed less. He must have injected morphine when I wasn't looking. "I ain't gonna die?" "You ain't gonna die. Okay? You concentrate on one fucking thing: Doc Wills says I ain't gonna die." I faded in and out. Next thing I remember was looking up at the interior of a Huey. A door gunner knelt over me. He held a bag of blood. "Doc Wills says I ain't gonna die." "Sounds like a good fucking deal to me." Splotches of dark liquid stained the gunner's flight suit. He handed the blood bag to a rifleman sitting on a web seat. "Don't fucking drop it." The rifleman looked down at me. "I got it, Teach." Engines screamed. Door gunners raked the slope as we took off. Rotor blades pounded a frantic beat. I faded into the dark and awoke to find a man who looked as if he hadn't slept in a month standing over me. "Doc Wills promised I wouldn't die." He glanced at me then went back to reading a tag tied to my shirt. "Hold on to that thought." They saved my leg, but the muscle damage was permanent. I didn't see Doc again. In 2008 my wife persuaded me to attend a unit reunion. In the process of swapping lies, I met the guy who held my blood bag. Hansen was his name. He was a rifleman in third platoon. He told me about Doc Wills. "I was back with the company about a month after you were hit," he said. "They gave me a squad." He paused to sip his beer. "A few weeks later we got into it with an NVA regiment. On the second day we were in a treeline exchanging fire with some bad guys in an abandoned village. You know how it was." I did know. "We started taking mortar fire. One of the new guys got hit. Doc headed down that way. Four or five more rounds came in." Hansen paused and stared down at the bar. He rubbed the palms of his hands on his jeans. "Doc was kneeling beside the wounded guy. A round hit a couple feet away. He was killed instantly." "Damn." For a long moment we sat in silence. Hansen coughed. "The reunion committee worked up a list of unit KIA." He handed me two printed pages. The list had Wall panel numbers beside each name. A few months later my wife and I went to Washington for a week and toured the usual sites for five days. The morning of the sixth day she handed me the creased casualty list. "We leave tomorrow. If you want to visit the Wall . . ." It was time to confront those tall black panels -- and all those names. Doc Wills. Riley. I owed them that much. I sighed and opened my suitcase. "I have to take a couple things." Half a dozen men gray-haired men moved along the path below me. Two wore faded boonie hats. One had on an equally worn field jacket. The others wore black Vietnam Veteran caps. For the first time in over forty years I felt out of uniform. My wife joined two women standing near some statues. Black granite drew me down into the shadows of my past. Panel height increased as I descended the path. A dark weight lodged in my chest. The panel I sought was near the lowest part of the Wall. High up on the slab I found Burns, Danforth, Miller, and Riley. Doc's name occupied part of a line halfway down. I touched it, reliving our last conversation. People leave things at the Wall. Flowers, letters, medals, guilt. I placed a unit patch and one of my dog tags at the base of the slab. "Thanks, Doc." Stepping back, I saluted smartly. My old drill sergeant would have been proud. Then my wife came down and held me while I cried. End
  3. I have just uploaded a skin pack for the 2/17th Cavalry (101st Airborne Div) to the DCS Repository and LOF. This will also be uploaded to Combat Ace once the file section is back up. The pack includes five skins representing A, B, C, F, and Headquarters Troops. Note that the B Troop skin here differs from the skin in the UH-1 Medal of Honor skin pack, so with both skin packs you will have even more variety! Here are some screenshots: Enjoy, once the file is approved!
  4. The skins included are: US Army 82nd Medical Detachment (Air Ambulance) US Army 2/17th Cavalry, 101st Airborne Division US Army 173rd Assault Helicopter Company, 1st Aviation Regiment US Army 229th Aviation Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (#775) US Army 229th Aviation Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (#888) USMC Marine Observation Squadron Six (VMO-6) I have added the names and ranks (at the time) of the pilots and co-pilots of these airframes at the time of the action. While I have attempted to be as accurate as these gentlemen deserve, I may have made some incorrect assumptions (this is especially true about the co-pilots, who are not as easily found in the public record). Likewise, I was unable to accurately represent GySgt Leroy Poulson and LCpl John Phelps of VMO-6, as the door gunner textures do not support it. If you see any inaccuracies, please let me know so that I may correct them. All reference imagery and much of the research was taken from http://vietnam-hueys... Honor page.htm The Airframes and the Medal of Honor Recipients: 82nd Medical Detachment (Air Ambulance) CW3 Michael Novosel - October 2, 1969 CW3 Michael Novosel was pilot-in-command of of a UH-1H med evac Huey with the 82nd Medical Detachment in 1969. On October 2, he went to the assistance of a group of wounded South Vietnamese soldiers that were pinned down by an enemy force concealed in a series of bunkers. Flying without any gunship cover, he made repeated runs against heavy enemy fire to pick up the wounded. Near the end of the action, he spotted a wounded ARVN soldier near an enemy bunker. He maneuvered the ship near the wounded man and a crewman reached down to grab and lift the wounded soldier into the aircraft. During the maneuver the aircraft was hit by enemy fire and CW3 Novosel was wounded. In all, Michael Novosel and his crew made 15 extractions in the face of enemy fire, saving 29 wounded South Vietnamese soldiers. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1971. 2/17th Cavalry, 101st Airborne Division Sp4 Joseph G. LaPointe - June 2, 1969 Sp4 Joseph "Guy" LaPointe was a medic with Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry. On June 2, 1969, he was just one day from going on leave to meet his wife and new son. However, SP4 LaPointe volunteered for a mission that day because his replacement was a new guy without any field experience. The patrol landed on the top of Hill 376, near the famous "Hamburger Hill" battle site. Sweeping away from the hilltop LZ, the point man walked into a fire zone from concealed enemy bunkers. Two more men were quickly wounded and "Doc" LaPointe moved forward to aid his wounded buddies. He put himself between the enemy bunkers and the wounded, and began working on the wounded. He was soon hit by enemy fire, but ignoring his own wounds he continued to shield his buddies while tending their wounds. He was hit by a second burst of fire and knocked away from his friends. He crawled back to the wounded again and once more shielded them from enemy fire while resuming his aid. This time an enemy grenade landed among the group, mortally wounding them all, including Doc LaPointe. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously on December 16, 1971. 173rd Assault Helicopter Company, 1st Aviation Regiment PFC Gary Wetzel - January 8, 1968 PFC (later Sp4c) Gary Wetzel was a door gunner on "Robin Hood 866" in January, 1968. He was nearing the end of his second tour when his helicopter was hit by an enemy RPG rocket while landing in a hot LZ with an insertion team. The grounded helicopter was hit repeatedly by enemy fire and the pilot, Bill Dismukes, was wounded. As PFC Wetzel went to the assistance of his pilot, another enemy rocket impacted the ship just behind the pilot's seat. Wetzel was blown out of the helicopter, suffering severe wounds to his right arm, chest and legs, and his left arm was almost severed from his body - hanging only by a flap of skin. In spite of his multiple wounds, Wetzel climbed back into the damaged ship and took an enemy automatic weapon position under fire with his door gun. The enemy gun had the American troops pinned and Wetzel was able to destroy it with his fire. Wetzel then tried to go to the aid of his pilot again, but passed out from loss of blood. When he regained consciousness, his crew chief was dragging the wounded pilot to the shelter of a nearby dike. Wetzel crawled over and attempted to help the crew chief move the pilot to safety, but passed out a second time. After he and the other survivors were rescued, Wetzel's left arm was amputated and he spent five months in military hospitals recovering from his injuries and infections. Gary Wetzel was awarded the Medal of Honor on November 19, 1968. Two skins from the 229th Aviation Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division: Captain Ed Freeman - November 14, 1965 Captain Ed Freeman served as Second-in-command of A Company, 229th Aviation Battalion in 1965-66. On November 14, 1965, he flew in support of LTC Hal Moore and the 1/7th Cavalry fighting against three battalions of NVA at LZ X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley. Captain Freeman flew 14 missions into the face of enemy fire over the course of the first day to deliver much needed ammo and water, and to evacuate wounded soldiers. He was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at LZ X-Ray on July 16, 2001. Major Bruce Crandall - November 14, 1965 Major Bruce Crandall was commander of A Company, 229th Aviation Battalion, on November 14, 1965 at LZ X-Ray. With Captain Freeman's ship following him, Major Crandall flew 14 mission into the hot LZ , taking intense enemy fire to deliver supplies and evacuate wounded from the battle. As his ship was damaged by enemy fire (his crew chief was also wounded on one flight), Major Crandall was forced to switch to another aircraft. He flew a total of three different ships in his effort to support the troops at LZ X-Ray. Major Crandall was finally awarded the Medal of Honor on February 26, 2007. And USMC Marine Observation Squadron Six (VMO-6). Captain Stephen Pless, USMC - August 19, 1967 Note: this is the same skin as the one released in my USMC Vietnam Skin Pack, but with the pilot/copilot names updated. On the afternoon of August 19, 1967, Captain Steve Pless and his crew were flying medevac escort near Quang Ngai (south of Chu Lai in I Corps). On the way to a pick-up of wounded ROK Marines, they heard an emergency call on the "Guard" channel from a transport helicopter. It had set down to make repairs on the beach, and was attacked by a large number of VC. Four Americans had been left on the ground when the ship took off, and they were being overrun by the enemy. Determining that the H-34 they were escorting could make the initial medevac pick-up without their support, Pless and his crew decided to respond to the emergency call. As they approached the site they could see the enemy beating and hacking at the four American prisoners. Pless took his gunship into a gun and rocket run, targeting a large group of VC in the clearing. Driving the enemy off with his gun run, Pless landed between the Americans and the enemy. Gunnery Sergeant Poulson jumped out and ran to support the single American still capable of walking. Putting the American on board the aircraft, Poulson, followed by the copilot and other crewman raced to help the other Americans. Determining one of the Americans to be dead, the three crewman began carrying the two injured Americans toward their Huey. At this point the VC attacked and tried to overrun the crew and helicopter. Pulling out their side arms, the crew alternately dragged the injured Americans and fired at oncoming VC. Some of the enemy came within a few feet of their Huey while they were loading the injured aboard. When all were aboard, Pless applied power to his grossly overloaded Huey and took off over the water. The skids of the ship touched the water four times before he finally got the aircraft to gain altitude. Pless jetisoned his rocket pods and ordered the crew to throw out all unnecessary items from the cabin. They landed the injured at Chu Lai First hospital and returned to their base at Ky Ha. The next day Pless and his crew learned that 20 VC dead had been found on the beach with evidence of many more enemy casualties being dragged off. Captain Pless was promoted to Major in September, 1967, and was awarded the Medal of Honor on January 19, 1969. The rest of his crew, Captain Rupert Fairfield, GySgt Leroy Poulson and LCpl John Phelps were all awarded the Navy Cross. The downloads are available at Combat Ace, LOF, and the DCS File Repository. Note that they are also updated to DCS World 1.2.7 at the time of this post.
  5. Here are some screenshots from my skinpack that pays tribute to the Marine squadrons that flew the Huey in Vietnam. Since this is a DCS module of a more modern UH-1 variant (the UH-1H), I have opted to put the flight crew in contemporary uniforms. Note the MARPAT body armor on the door gunners. In chronological order, here is: VMO-2 Angry Two (1966) VMO-6 Tomcats (1967) VMO-3 Scarface (1967) In April 1968, VMO-3 was redesignated as HML-367, and changed their paint jobs accordingly. Another shot of HML-367 with the door gunner getting into the picture. And finally, HML-367 when they returned to Vietnam in 1975 for Operation: Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon. The skin pack requires DCS World (and the UH-1H model to fly), and is available on Combat Ace, LOF, and the DCS File Repository.
  6. Scramble Seawolves! This was the common call in Vietnam when the US Navy Riverine Forces and SEALs needed immediate fire support. Helicopter Attack Squadron (Light) Three (HAL-3), known as the Seawolves, was the most decorated unit in the Vietnam War. Seawolves flew UH-1B Huey gunships in all weather, day or night, in support of the Brown Water Navy. In fact, most of the missions were conducted at night in inclement weather, which is exactly when the SEALs preferred to operate. HA(L)-3 would conduct Close Air Support, Hot Medivac and Insertion/Extraction of SEAL Teams. You can find the skin on Combat Ace, LOF, and the DCS file repository. Some screenshots: Note the custom USN pilots and door gunners. A close up of the copilot and an action shot... Enjoy, and Fly Navy!
  7. This is a collection of 12 skins representing commands that supported the 1st Cavalry Division from 1965-1969. Commands represented include: 82nd Artillery Battalion (Battery E) 228th Assault Support Helicopter Battalion (Command bird) 229th Aviation Battalion (Companies A-D) Note: The 229th AvBn A company 1965 skin in this pack differs slightly from the Crandal/Freeman skins in my Medal of Honor Skin Pack. Be sure to get that pack as well if you want even more varied skins for the 229th AvBn (i.e. if you wish to create an Ia Drang mission). All reference imagery was taken from http://vietnam-hueys.tripod.com/index.htm Screenshots: 82nd Artillery Bn, E Battery 228th Assault Support Helicopter Battalion C&C bird. 229th Aviation Battalion: A Co. 1965 (similar to the 229th AvBn skins in my Medal of Honor skin pack). "Killer Spade" B Co. 1968 C Co. 1965 D Co. Gunship 1966 and a D Co. Gunship in 1968 with the Disney-stylized logo. The files can be found at the following locations: DCS File Repository LOF Combat Ace
  8. Old Guy


    I started thinking about this a couple days ago and did a lot of mental composing. Finally, I had to sit down and write it down as you see it here. Consider this an advanced draft. I'll surely work on it some more. Missing They say the '91 War in Iraq wiped out the stain of Vietnam. What stain was that? Was it due to the actions of a combat medic who never fired a shot in a year of treating wounded -- ours, theirs, and civilian? Or was it in the nightmares of the rifleman who could not shake the visions of dead villagers slaughtered by NVA 'freedom fighters'. Was the mechanic who spent a year repairing vehicles in the steam bath heat of Bien Hoa somehow responsible for the errors of leadership? Veterans all -- reviled by their peers, branded as 'baby killers' by ignorant fools, portrayed for decades as brutal thugs -- and worst of all -- as losers. Some took refuge in drugs -- and died. Others ended the torment with a bullet. Most put their heads down, kept to themselves, and managed to live successful lives. In '91 it was decided to welcome the soldiers home, and -- oh by the way -- maybe it's time to welcome the Vietnam vets as well. So there were parades. Graying men in jungle fatigues marched along avenues lined with flags, watched by the young, who knew nothing of that war. Others peered into their hearts and knew themselves for fools, glimpsed a shadow of the wrongs done. Few apologized. For the living, wounds heal. But there is no healing for men who could not cope, abandoned by their countrymen, blamed for performing their duty as they saw it, laughed at for serving with honor. Ghosts do not walk in parades. Bodies buried beneath cold white marble do not rise to be thanked. Many casualties are not named on the Wall. Vietnam veterans forgive and drive on. But they do not forget. JR Hume, 2013
  9. I figured this one is topical. I posted it before, but it's been a long time. Christmas in Vietnam, 1967 We celebrate Christmas in the Mekong Delta, though war won't wait for a holiday. No white Christmas here; our colors are mud and green. It hasn't snowed in the Delta since the last ice age. In our hooch we have a tiny silver tree, somewhat worse for wear. An APC sits in a nearby revetment, festooned with garland. Down the hill a howitzer sports tinsel and a plastic angel. It ain't New England in winter, but we try to keep up appearances. No mistletoe, though. We haven't seen a woman since the last Bob Hope show. Santa dropped by this morning. He arrived in a Huey, escorted by two gunships. The jolly old elf looked a little too fit and too trim, even with a flak jacket to fill out his red suit. There'll be turkey and trimmings for dinner. Fatigues and helmets are required, weapons cleared and on safe at the door. Later, when tropical night has come, men will gather at their bunkers and someone will produce a guitar. We'll sing the old songs, talk of Christmas and home, under the light of parachute flares. JR Hume, 2007
  10. Okay, I went ahead and pulled out my old orders, letters to my wife, and fading memories to record this bit that occurred when I left the 242nd ASHC and transferred to the 346th ASD. Behind the Wire -- Into Chaos On the 27th of January, 1968, I boarded one of our company's Chinooks (242nd ASHC) and rode down to Bien Hoa. I had been transferred to the 125th Air Traffic Control Company. The 125th supplied controllers for Army airfields across much of Vietnam. Although organized as a company, the outfit was called the 125th Mob because it had enough personnel to make up a small battalion. Promotions were often hard to come by because the slots just weren't available. The 125th was eventually designated as a battalion, but that was much later. In true military fashion my orders were screwed up from the get-go. Of course, that was only apparent in hindsight. During the time I wandered South Vietnam I always had orders for a specific unit. Unknown to me, the Army had formed and was in the process of forming small units called Airfield Service Detachments (ASD) to operate airfields in Vietnam. The concept was a good one, but getting the units set up caused a lot of problems for lowly enlisted scum like me. Each ASD would be commanded by a major or light colonel. There would be a first sergeant and a couple clerks, plus Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants (POL) staff, and air traffic controllers -- anywhere from about 10 to 20, depending on the requirements for their particular airfield. The organization sounds rank-heavy, with such a high ranking commander, but the officer in charge of the ASD was also the official Airfield Commander at the assigned field. Having an officer of rank commanding the unit and the field made it much simpler for the other aviation units based there. It also kept the controllers from being harassed by officers from those units. In practice, some ASD units were commanded by officers as low as 1st Lieutenant, though that was not usual. I arrived at the 125th on January 27th and for some days I didn't have a clear idea of where I would eventually be assigned. At first I was told I'd go to Kontum, then my destination was changed to Pleiku. Since that facility had a GCA (Ground Controlled Approach) radar, I was going to ask to be sent to the radar school the 125th had established at Vung Tau. Back at Fort Rucker, my time had been spent in VFR towers. When I left Hanchey Army Heliport I was slated to be the next man trained in the GCA. Prior to that, I'd received basic radar training at Keesler. The Tet Offensive began on January 31st, although later analysis would show that some attacks were prematurely launched as early as the 29th. Bien Hoa airfield, which was run by the Air Force, was attacked on the night of the 31st. In the letters to my wife I make no mention of the fighting until about February 4th, probably so she wouldn't be worried. Hah! I had no idea at the time that the news was full of the affair. In fact, we were quartered in the Army area on somewhat higher ground a mile or so from the airfield perimeter. We were knew about the heavy fighting was going on nearby and received periodic news of attacks in other areas, but I think we were mostly unaware of the extent of the combat. During first few days we sat outside our barracks and watched Air Force F-100 fighter bombers and Army gunships diving down to attack targets along the perimeter. The enemy units had penetrated the airfield at one or two points, but were unable to consolidate their gains due to stubborn resistance from Army MP and Air Force AP troops. At one point, probably on February 1st, we were issued M-14s with ammo and told that we might have to reinforce the perimeter. By this, I believe they meant we were to take over parts of the base perimeter, not help defend the airfield. However, that's just a gut feeling. If things had gotten bad enough we might have had to establish a defensive line below the Army barrack area. Late that night we were stood down. Either the situation on the airfield had stabilized or real infantrymen had arrived. I believe it was a combination of both. There was sporadic fighting around the perimeter for several days. During that time my own fortunes ebbed and flowed. First, I was told Pleiku was out and I'd go to a place called Dau Tieng. Then they informed me that I should never have been sent to the 125th, I should have gone to Dau Tieng directly. Sheesh. I dutifully wrote to Charlotte and told her to stop writing -- again -- until I could send her my new APO address. Letters took about five days each way, longer during Tet. We had no internet and no cell phones. Communication with the Land of the Big PX was limited to letters and by MARS radio stations, if you happened to be located near one of those. During the Tet Offensive, three airfields operated by the 125th ATC were overrun -- Quang Nai, Kontum, and Hue. They had men wounded at Can Tho, Dak To, and Danang, one hurt bad enough to be evacuated. Men I talked to who had been in such situations before told me that when an airfield was in danger of being overrun, they just shut the facilities down and pulled back to the main compound. Oddly, the enemy forces seldom damaged any of the equipment while they were in control of the field. Overrun: a situation that occurs when an attacking force has overwhelmed a portion of a defensive perimeter and entered the compound proper. Fighting goes on both along the remaining perimeter and within the camp. Generally, the attackers will try to destroy a particular objective, then pull back. Experienced Allied forces were always prepared to defend themselves inside their exterior lines. To be "overrun" was to temporarily lose control of a portion of your perimeter and compound. The media at that time, with few exceptions, always seemed to take "overrun" to mean "annihilated". Isolated camps were obliterated at times, usually when the enemy desperately needed to eliminate forces blocking approach routes into South Vietnam or to make a political statement. After the main assaults were contained and wiped out, mortar attacks occurred nightly at Bien Hoa, a pattern which would become standard during the rest of my tour no matter where I was stationed. In truth, VC/NVA forces had been fought to a standstill and had suffered somewhere in the vicinity of 50,000 killed during a few weeks of fighting. Up north General Giap was stunned to discover that the civil population did not rise up in large numbers and assist the attackers. He knew then that it would take a full scale armored assault on the South to win. The North's strategy after that was always focused on that knowledge. Perhaps forty attackers (probably 274th VC Regiment) were killed in and along the Bien Hoa perimeter. Their casualties were probably much higher since (like us) they would haul away wounded and dead when possible. On February 7th I rode in a truck over to the airfield to catch a ride back to Cu Chi. I was due some pay and had a couple items to pick up at my old unit. The area outside the perimeter wire was blackened and torn up from bombs and rockets. Trees were shredded. At least one body hung in the wire. Inside, there was evidence of heavy fighting -- damaged bunkers, expended brass on the ground, C-ration boxes and cans, bits of clothing. It was my first view of a combat area after the fighting is over and I've never forgotten it. I still think of that tattered, burned body hanging in the wire. Many years later I wrote a poem about it. Dead I can still see the wire and him in it, upside down, blackened stumps for arms and legs. What brought him to occupy those taut steel strands? Like me, he must have accepted, for form’s sake, the lies, half-lies and ritual formulas uttered by elders. I know he was with friends when he climbed the wire. Only in the company of his fellows will a man do such foolish and desperate things. Bullets found him there – white phosphorus and napalm made him a funeral pyre. I remember him in the wire and mourn. He and I are comrades, bound by the stench of death. © JR Hume, 2003 I rode a helicopter over to Cu Chi, picked up my pay and half a dozen letters from my wife and others. My morale improved immediately. By the 8th of February I knew my duty assignment would be with the 346th ASD at Dong Tam, which is in the Delta area, about 50 miles west of Saigon. I had little idea how badly the Army was going to screw up what should have been a minor issue. On February 10th I, along with two others assigned to the 346th, SP-4 Keith Schupp and PFC Kenneth Blase, started out on our odyssey. It took all day for us to reach Camp Alpha, a transient camp located near Saigon. Exactly why we were sent there I have no idea. Probably because the camp's function was to route people to and from various points in Vietnam. That day I had also received a letter from my friend Dave Hansen, who had attended ATC school at Keesler with me and been the best man at our wedding. He was stationed at Tay Ninh. While at Camp Alpha I took care of a problem I had with luggage. Because the 242nd wouldn't let me turn in my basic combat equipment (pack, gas mask, web harness, helmet, etc) I was burdened with a footlocker, a duffle bag, and one other bag. Since I was an E-5, I carried my own records, which was fortuitous. I took out the clothing record and made the necessary entries in ink to show that the gear had been turned in, signed it with a bogus lieutenant's signature and stowed the stuff in the footlocker, which we shoved under a cot and left. It's a lot easier to travel without a footlocker. Records: At that time nearly all military records were kept manually. That's true of service records and flight operations records, among others. Most notations were done in pencil, then when a man left his unit, everything would be brought up to date and final figures were entered in ink. On the 11th we flew into My Tho via helicopter. Some bright spark knew My Tho was close to Dong Tam and sent us there, figuring any GI worth his name tag would make his way from there. The exact sequence of events is lost in the mists of time, but we did stop at a helipad on a hill overlooking My Tho. I have a few pictures taken at the time. One shows Keith and Ken slouched in the door of a Huey, shooting the bull with a black PFC. Two are aerial shots of My Tho. The town was the scene of heavy fighting during Tet, mostly between VC/NVA and ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) troops. Tank cannon, artillery, and air strikes had destroyed much of the town. Again, the post-combat litter amazed me. Palm fronds, chunks of corrugated roofing, and burned-out buildings, all overlaid with the usual C-ration containers, ammunition boxes, spent shells, and miscellaneous garbage. Track marks criss-crossed the area. Much of the litter had been ground into the mud by passing vehicles. An old lady with a bandage on her face sat beside the helipad. Her face had a set, neutral expression -- the kind civilians put on when in the presence of armed soldiers -- no matter who the soldiers are. The three of us were dumped at My Tho International Airport. Well, that's what the sign on a building said. A few ARVNs were around, along with a batch of civilians. No US military personnel were present. There we were, three GI numbskulls, completely unarmed, standing beside a gravel runway in the middle of the Tet Offensive. Fighting would not die down until the end of February. "What are we gonna do?" asked Ken Blase after about an hour of this. Keith hadn't said anything, but I could see he was thinking the same thing. I couldn't have my men doubting their commander (me). I pointed at a pile of orange mail bags marked US Navy. "Someone will come for those. We'll catch a ride with them." "A ride to where?" "Wherever they go. We can catch a ride from there to Dong Tam or spend the night." I was relatively certain the swabbies, whoever they were, wouldn't throw us out. In the event, we were picked up by a sailor driving a Dodge pickup and taken to an old seminary compound. The Navy provided meals, a place to sleep, and even showers. The water was cold and the lights went out during my shower, but I had no complaints. Who were the Navy guys? I believe they were a communications unit working with the Seals in the Delta area, but that's just a guess, based on their location and the amount of commo gear mounted on the building. The next day we caught a ride on an Army U-1A Otter, a single-engine transport built by DeHavilland of Canada. It's a good bird, somewhat larger than the more familiar U-6 Beaver. The Otter was flown by an old Warrant Officer. Well, he had gray hair and looked to have been around when Ceaser was a pup. He was probably forty. When it came time to take off, he pulled a few levers and the wings seemed to come apart. The bird had leading edge slats and a huge set of flaps. I believe the ailerons drooped as well, but I'm not sure about that. Anyway, we got off the ground in what seemed like no distance at all -- as if we levitated. The only airplane I ever rode in that got off quicker and climbed faster as a Turbo Porter. The rest of that day was absolute disaster. On arrival at Dong Tam, we found that no one had any idea who we were. No one had ever heard of the 346th ASD. Over the course of the day, we flew up to Bear Cat to visit the 1st Aviation Brigade, which appeared to be our parent unit. I have no recollection of what I discovered there, but someone must have sent us to Can Tho, another Army post in the Delta. We arrived there to find no information about the 346th and had to scrounge up rations and quarters. The quarters turned out to be mattresses on the bare floor of a tent. My stock with Blase and Schupp was at an all time low. Our clothes were back at Dong Tam, so we were getting a bit ripe. On the 14th, we somehow made our way to Vinh Long, which, to my amazement, was the actual location of the 346th ASD. Not only did they know we were coming, but they told us we would be stationed there, manning the tower. For a day or two we thought we were home. After much more confusion things became clear. On the 19th I knew the three of us would be stationed at Dong Tam as a detachment of the 346th ASD. A detachment of a detachment. Our original orders were correct in showing us as assigned to the 346th with duty at Dong Tam. Unfortunately, no one at HQ thought to give that information to the 9th Division folks at Dong Tam. Nor was it made clear to the 346th at Vinh Long. I suppose the communication problem stemmed from the confusion caused by the Tet Offensive. Some of the issues were of the type inherent in any military. Memories are uncertain things. But some images, sounds, smells never fade. In the Delta Welcome to my flashback. Look around. This is what it's like after forty years. See the whores on Tu Do street. Listen to the cyclos and deuce-and-a-half trucks. Smells god-awful bad, don't it? Soldiers in faded green play grab-ass and smoke and clean black weapons under the Mekong sun. Rotor blades smack-crack the wet air. Dustoff heads for the medevac pad, hot and fast, wounded aboard. They go slow when it's just body bags. That beat, that pounding. Man. Heavy metal rock and roll, before it had a name. Dust drains from sandbags, long stacked in the sun. Along the perimeter, bunkers slump into mounds. Mosquito netting, flak vest on the floor. Helmet -- obligatory F.T.A. scrawled thereon. A damaged gunship shuts down on the runway. Men lift a gunner out. He looks dead. He is dead. From forty feet or forty years. Mortars thump beyond the canal, out past a screen of trees. Don't run. Flop in the dirt. Wait for it -- wait for it. They haven't got me yet. © 2005, JR Hume End of "Into Chaos"
  11. I'm writing -- slowly writing -- a memoir of my time in the army and my Vietnam service. My daughters and granddaughters have been hassling me about getting the thing done. This is a brief account of an experience I had when stationed at Cu Chi in late '67. Nothing earth shaking about it. I just thought it provided a glimpse of what it was like as a REMF prior to Tet '68. Behind the Wire -- Bunker Guard at Cu Chi Those of us assigned perimeter guard gathered in the Orderly Room. Not much was said. Very little was explained. We were given bunker assignments; three men per position. My bunker was less than two hundred yards from the Operations hooch. I was in charge of two other soldiers by virtue of my exalted rank -- buck sergeant. I wished to be led by someone with real combat experience -- even if the man was a private. No professionals were in evidence. Guarding the perimeter was evidently simple enough that even cooks and clerks could do it. The two privates assigned to me waited expectantly. I decided honesty was the best policy. "I have no real idea what we're supposed to do out there tonight." One shrugged. "Somebody will tell us." Such optimism. I'd been in the Army more than two years and I suspected that no one would tell us anything unless we asked. I asked. The duty officer barely glanced up from his battered skin magazine. "Whoever has the duty at battalion will be around to brief you." There was nothing to do but drive on. We slung our weapons and left the hot, humid Orderly Room for the equally hot and wet afternoon. But that goes without saying, I suppose. Daytime Vietnam was sultry. At night it was hot and sweaty. The only thing nice about nighttime was the absence of a tropical sun boiling your brains. We walked across an old Vietnamese graveyard to reach our bunker. The tombs were all above ground and in poor condition. I didn't think too much about omens or anything like that -- we were too busy watching for cobras. Several had been killed in the graveyard in the few weeks since the company moved from Bien Hoa to Cu Chi. Not far from the cemetery a couple GIs were burning shit. Each latrine had cut down fifty-five gallon drums inserted under the seats of honor. Every day or so whoever had incurred the wrath of the First Sergeant was given shit burning detail. The containers were dragged a few feet away from the latrines and topped off with diesel fuel. Then the mixture was torched off. Black clouds of burning shit and the sound of helicopter rotor blades are universal memories for Vietnam vets. Braving drifting clouds of vile smelling smoke and dripping with sweat, we made our way across the graveyard. No cobras made an appearance. We arrived at our bunker unscathed. Sandbag walls -- here and there leaking sand. Timber roof covered with two layers of sandbags. It was completely ordinary. I'd seen hundreds more or less identical. This one, however, was ours for the night. Somehow that made it special. A fence consisting of steel posts and several strands of barb wire marked the inner edge of the perimeter. Bunkers had been constructed every hundred meters or so just inside the wire. Beyond the fence I could see several more fence lines interspersed with coils of concertina wire. Single strands of barb wire had been strung very close to the ground between the fence lines. Rusting tin cans dangled from equally rusty wire. According to rumor, the area was heavily mined. We didn't feel secure, though the bunker was solid enough to protect us from mortar rounds or rocket propelled grenades. GI legend had it that VC sappers could move through wired and mined perimeters like water through a sieve, set their satchel charges wherever they liked, and cut your throat on their way out. I didn't believe that crap. Mind you, I didn't disbelieve it either. We unloaded our gear inside the bunker and did what US soldiers do wherever they happen to be: we took pictures, recording ourselves for posterity. I posed with an M-79 grenade launcher, which I had never been trained to use. One of my companions knelt in the dust, holding one of the unit's many puppies. The other man had an M-16, which he held in a casual manner. I didn't ask if he'd fired it recently. I hadn't put any rounds through mine since qualifying with it at Fort Benning. We swapped weapons and the pup for additional pictures. Just before dark a staff sergeant drove up in a jeep. He provided a few boxes of C-rations for us, along with a couple claymore mines, and told me how to contact the command post if that became necessary. Other than telling us where to place the claymores, he had no specific information. As he drove away I made my first command decision: "Set up the claymores. Run the wires inside. Then we'll eat." Claymores are command-detonated mines filled with plastic explosive and hundreds of small steel balls. Placement is simple. You position it with the curved side pointing in the direction you want it to cover. When fired, it blasts the steel balls out in a pattern guaranteed to cause lethal problems for anyone in the way. To aid in proper placement, the curved side is labeled: THIS SIDE TOWARD ENEMY. We positioned them where, in our vast experience, we thought might be effective, then ran the detonator wires inside and hooked them to the firing solenoids, which we called 'clickers' for no other reason than they made a sharp click when squeezed. By that time the sun was setting. The transition from daylight to dark was quick -- no fooling around with long sunsets. Just before dark I took some more pictures of my companions silhouetted against a firing port. One held an M-16. The other posed with the grenade launcher, cigarette dangling from his lips. It was very dramatic looking. Then we cracked open a couple grenades, extracted the explosive and used it to heat some C-rations. The only dangerous part of disarming a grenade is unscrewing the firing mechanism. Once that's out the actual explosive can be dug out with a C-ration spoon. We tossed the firing mechanisms out into the wire entanglements of the perimeter. Out of sight, out of mind. Your eyes play tricks on you in the dark. Look at a shadow and it seems to move. The Army taught us to use our peripheral vision. The method may have worked. When I stood outside the bunker gazing out across the wire, shapes that seemed to move when looked at directly held still when I turned one way or the other. The net result was to make the shadows move and stop, crouch and lie down. I wished mightily for a Starlight scope, then the cutting edge in night vision technology. Very few of them were around and lowly bunker guards were not equipped with anything so useful. We took turns trying to sleep. One man watched out the forward firing port and one huddled at the rear of the bunker, keeping an eye on the empty spaces between our position and the bunkers on either side. It seemed all too likely that Charlie would slip across the perimeter well clear of a bunker and simply walk in from the back and beat our stupid brains out. Shadows lurked. The wind rose and died away. Some fool down the line kept calling for illumination every half hour or so. When we heard the illumination round pop, we tried to save our night vision by not looking at the bright white flare of light. It didn't work, mainly because the flare was suspended below a small parachute which bobbed and swung as it descended. The effect was to set the creeping shadows dancing. It was impossible to avoid staring out across the perimeter, trying to decide which dark shape was a shadow and which might be a sapper. Naturally, when the flare died away we were essentially blind until our night vision recovered. At about 0200 another idiot decided some of the shadows were becoming too fresh by half and cranked up his Ma Duece, ripping the night with strobing ruby light. I got on the phone and listened to a terse conversation between the command post and the shooter. The firing stopped. We discussed the episode and decided that our trigger happy comrade might have seen something out there and might have prevented an attack. The idea was far-fetched, but we were in a combat zone. Rumor, fact, and fiction were part of daily life. One thing we were sure about: if we had been equipped with a machine gun we would have joined right in. We thought it was criminal of the Army not to have provided a heavy weapon for each bunker, along with unlimited ammo and instructions to fire at every suspicious shadow. Eventually dawn arrived. The staff sergeant drove along the line collecting claymores. He told us to return to our units. No one relieved us. Evidently sappers and other bad guys only worked at night. Thus ended my stint at guard duty. The only worthwhile thing I'd done was learn how to heat rations using C-4 taken from a grenade. I hadn't fired my weapon, repelled no attacks, and got hardly any rest. Guard duty was boringly similar to most everything else that happened in the rear echelon. In my first three months in Vietnam I had not been mortared or shot at. My experiences were limited to alternate periods of mud and dust interspersed with the usual annoyances encountered in any army. The common thread running through those months was boredom. It was mid-November, 1967. My life would be filled with unremitting boredom until the end of January, 1968. From then on things would be different. JRH PS: I should explain to you lads that my actual rank at this time as SP-5, Specialist Five, equivalent to a three stripe sergeant. The rank no longer exists in the Army and it's difficult to explain the difference to anyone not familiar with military rank, so I just refer to myself as a buck sergeant.
  12. Here are some screenshots from my just released skinpack that pays tribute to the Marine squadrons that flew the Huey in Vietnam. Since this is a DCS module of a more modern UH-1 variant (the UH-1H), I have opted to put the flight crew in contemporary uniforms. Note the MARPAT body armor on the door gunners. In chronological order, here is: VMO-2 Cherry Deuce (1966) VMO-6 Tomcats (1967) VMO-3 Scarface (1967) In April 1968, VMO-3 was redesignated as HML-367, and changed their paint jobs accordingly. Another shot of HML-367 with the door gunner getting into the picture. And finally, HML-367 when they returned to Vietnam in 1975 for Operation: Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon. The skin pack requires DCS World (and the UH-1H model to fly), and is available on Combat Ace and (pending approval) the DCS File Repository.
  • Create New...