Vietnam 2nd battalion
B Company 1967 – 1968
I got in-country 1 June 1967, coming, as a replacement, from the 82nd Airborne at Ft. Bragg. The magic age for Viet Nam seemed to be 19 and I turned 19 on leave just prior to getting in-country. We flew into Cam Ranh Bay, then to Phan Rang for five days Pee training, then to Duc Pho, from there hopped a Huey out to the boonies. As an FNG, I was assigned to 3rd platoon, 3rd squad which, at the time, was made up of mostly “Spiders”. If I’d have known they were all crazy SOB’s I would have went somewhere else! (Thank God, I didn’t. Best bunch of guys to train in an FNG!) I was welcomed with “open arms”…..DUH! I felt I had brought the worst plague of diseases to the platoon. Not even crap would greet me. The most lonely “sumbitch”, decrepit looking, dogfaced turd on the earth. Dirt was more welcome than I was. And, there’s a few out there that thought that, I am pretty damn sure. The first several days in the boonies I wished I had never been born, but then guess what? A real frickin’ firefight. After all is said and done, lo and behold, I had become a “Blood Brother” of 3rd squad! What the hell took the welcoming party so long to greet me? The next concession was to teach this FNG guy how to make a hootch. If I recall correctly, my idea was to lay my poncho on the ground and roll up in it. I remember Jim Wilson (I was his RTO for a while) saying “that’s not the way to do it. The only way you see somebody rolled up in a poncho is if he’s dead!” Next, Jim proceeded to show me the way. First, you gotta find some bushes or trees, tie the knot around the hood opening, stretch it out and tie the corners off. There, you have it. The #1 hootch! He told me, “don’t worry about any creases in it, when it rains, you drain the water off and fill your canteens. Best damn water you could buy in Nam!”
I was there when Fred Tregaskes, Kenny Claypoole, “Chico”, & Ron Paulsgrove were wounded. I was close to Kenny and saw a bullet rip into his thigh. I crawled over to him, he was screaming “medic” and I was screaming, “Holy Shit!” just staring at his leg. He’s since told me that the first thing I should’ve done was to apply a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, instead of making him feel comforted by that comment! The medic got there quickly and had his hands full. There were a lot of casualties that day.
Somehow, I became Cpt. Ray Millard’s RTO. I am honored that I was able to serve under him. But, if I had to do it again, he can get his own canteens of water. You’d think I was watering a camel! Looking back, I have to have a good laugh at Ray finding the right trees to put up his hammock. That was cool. But, I had a vision of Wade taking his machete and cutting the strings in the middle of the night and when Ray would’ve hit the ground, Wade would’ve hollered “Incoming”, but the great vision of getting sent to “LBJ” was not a good option for me.
2nd Lt. Larry Boecklin was our 3rd plt leader. I remember when he was promoted to 1st Lt, he became B Co. XO. He would come out in the field, every so often, for a short “vacation”. He was there the day I was wounded, 5 October, 1967. (Playing Audie Murphy sucked for me!) Thanks to him, I have a photo of one lucky soldier. My family, and their families to come, will cherish that photo. It was not a good day for 3rd plt and the rest of B Company. I still have my helmet, in all its splendor, thanks to Cpt. Ray Millard. He made sure I had it in my possession on Medevac. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about two GI’s that were very close to me. Roger Wilfong and Juan “John” Villalobos. They were KIA October 27, 1967. There were others and I struggle to remember their names, but make no mistake, I have not forgotten them.
No Slack……Wade…… Airborne!