This shot was taken on my 21st Birthday in the A Shaw Valley in Vietnam. Dateline circles here, this photo is farther further into my career in The Nam. I like this shot. That’s an M60! Looks like maybe I could hit what I was aiming at? This part of my ‘war’ was defining. I had finally made it. I had been cut off from all the ‘by the book’ bull shit. I was laison to one of the Infantry Battalion supplying them daily and nightly air support, and sit-reps for the Colonel and his staff from the 2/17th CAV helicopter air support. It was a ‘cushy’ assignment, but I was totally alone in that bunker below me, and cut off from all other human contact. My superiors gave me this job to ‘kill the enemy’. We virtually destroyed the Viet Cong in the Tet Offensive, and my first platoon was virtually wiped out. So my Colonel ordered me to Nha Trang for the Green Beret’s RECONDO School. I graduated and became one of the first ‘official’ LRRP Officers of the 101st. (I was also a graduate of the Jungle Expert School in Panama before I arrived in Vietnam, but that’s another story.)
Above is me with my purrrrrrrfected ARVN Platoon. These men and their ‘survivors’ have followed me to this moment from that time. There are few of us left. But the area I was fighting in, the rice, the Vietnam rice, was their home. They quickly learned I was a natural. And they taught me how to kill the NVA. So, after mental exercise and following congenial calisthenics, I became them, and me, the person I knew, was no more. This is the ‘truth’ of my life. I have had to ‘eat’ almost all of it, before I went to Vietnam, and after I came home from Vietnam. I was sent into the ‘Bush’ to kill the enemy. I did so with great success. And my superiors wiped me off their books.
Now we finally come to me with American Troops. Isn’t that interesting? A full circle. You see, early in my career in The Nam, I was grabbed aside and thrust into a “Special Mission”. These guys above were my refined ‘Killing Team” during the last part of my Army career in The Nam. I actually am credited with creating an ambush tactic that still lives on today in our unique American Military Establishment, and shall for the rest of time in our American Military way of life. I have never been able to tell this story until this moment. Finally! My last job was the commander of a Jeep Platoon. A “Rat Patrol”. We safeguarded the Southwest section of the Hue area across the Perfume River. We did ‘search & destroy’ during the day to gather information, and then, using that scrunity at night to set up two to three ambushes with said “Rat Patrol”, we intersepted the enemy. The enemy was infiltrating at night, but my ambush talents put a stop to it. Few of my enemy night after night escaped. And all were enemy KIA’s.
This is one of my favorite of hundreds of pictures of me and my Dad. He was one of the unrivaled human beings of my life. He supplemented my ‘special status’ in Vietnam with ‘contacts’ he had in our loving government. Here we are on my R&R in Hawaii. He was a great guy. A Navy Veteran from WWII flying combat missions. He knew all about war. He did not want me to go to war. But, I was strong headed. When I got home, he died almost a year to the day after my return. Last month I put my first hit record on my Sit-Rep newsletter. This month, Iput the 2nd one that was recorded at the same time and it was a statement about how we Vietnam Veterans were ‘Finally Welcomed Home‘. I don’t think we ever really were. But, it’s a nice thought. Especially since my Dad and my two uncles were welcomed home by a loving nation from their World War II with such honor as we have not seen since.