Monday, August 31, 2009

Thursday night
20 Nov. 1969

It seems like the weeks just fly by over here, but the months drag! I can hardly believe that tomorrow is Friday.

General Walt, the assistant commandant, visited Chu Lai this morning for about thirty minutes. I saw him drive by in a jeep and that was all. He presented a squadron here, VMFA-314, with a trophy for being the best fighter-attack squadron in 1968. The guys in that squadron really think they’re hot stuff. But we do just as much in 122. Gary Fabrizio is in 314.

Flew my 20th mission this afternoon, a TPQ. It wasn’t very exciting at all. Just “old-hat.” I’ve finally done some straightening up in my room! I’d been living like a pig, because I thought I was going to move soon, but no. (To another hooch.)

The laundry is really bad over here! The base has a laundry service that is free, but everything seems to come back dirtier than it was, literally! And it smells worse! But it’s free. One of the Vietnamese waitresses at the o’club has a private laundry service, but it costs money. So far, I’ve only sent one set of utilities there (cost 40 cents) but if my clothes get any worse, I may have to send them to her. I haven’t sent any of my civilian clothes to the laundry because I’m afraid they’ll ruin them.

I bought a knit sport shirt and two pairs of shorts while I was in the Philippines. One of my neighbors in this hooch left today for home. He’s going to Longview, Texas then on to Beaufort. [Marine Corps Air Station at Beaufort, South Carolina] Boy, I can hardly wait until I leave for San Juan, Texas! But I hope I don’t go to Beaufort.

It’s so strange not knowing or having any idea at all where I will live next! Always in the past I sort of knew. I sure would like to go to Glynco, I think. [Glynco Naval Air Station, Glynco, Georgia]

I understand that the astronauts are on the moon, but the radio reception has been so bad today, I haven’t been able to listen to any news at all.

Photo - A pilot and a RIO in deep conversation.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wednesday night
19 Nov. 1969

I have the duty tonight so I’ve nothing to do except write letters and read. The latter I’ve been doing all day. I started a new book today. I finished, finally, that boring book, and it had one of those sad endings that leaves you with a hollow feeling in your stomach!

I flew a close air support mission this morning and we had a good target, but got a poor BDA! It was a village and Viet cong had been seen there this morning and we suspected there was a tunnel complex there. Anyway, we got credit for three hooches destroyed, 70 meters of tree line destroyed, and one secondary fire.

All the trouble we go to, just to destroy shacks! Of course, there may have been a tunnel complex and VC killed that we may never know about!

O.J. Riddell was given credit, today, for killing a Viet cong, in a village near where we were bombing.

I’m flying once every day, and now have 19 missions. We fly a little less each day, it seems, and I don’t know how much longer they can afford to keep us here for what little we are doing. I see so much money wasted over here, it’s pathetic. I don’t feel the least bit sorry that I won’t have to pay income tax while I’m here.

I got my slides back that I took in Okinawa and here.

Photo - hanging out on the flight line.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tuesday night
18 Nov. 1969

This has been one of those days that leaves me with nothing to write about.

I flew this morning, a TPQ because of bad weather, and was through by noon. Russ is going to teach me how to play bridge, and I had my first lesson after lunch today. It’s a quite complicated game and I think I’ll enjoy it very much, once I understand it fully.

I’ve been reading a book called the Torch Bearers, and it is unbelievably dull. The only reason I’m plodding thru it is because I don’t have another book right now! They have a few new ones at the PX, so I’ll probably buy a new one tomorrow.

This is the eighth book I’ve read since I left home! I figure, at this rate, I’ll read about 100 books while I’m over here!! Despite all the reading, my spelling and grammar is getting worse, if possible!

It’s still early, but I’m so tired, I’m going to sleep.

Photo - Bridge over the swamp. Officer's club in background.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Monday Night
17 Nov. 1969

I got two letters today! The squadron didn’t fly today at all. We had a stand-down to give the air crews a rest and to perform necessary preventative maintenance on our airplanes. We have two stand-downs each month.

Since there was no flying today, the day was particularly long! I stayed in bed until after 1100!! Then I read al afternoon, then watched the movie tonight. We had two lousy meals today! I’m afraid I’m going to gain weight, unless I start working out. The only food they feed us that I like, is meat, potatoes, and gravy. So, I’m bound to gain weight. But I’m to lazy to do anything about it.

There has been so much static and interference on the radio the past two days, that I haven’t been able to hear any of the football scores from Saturday. It’s really irritating to not even be able to get one decent radio station. We have a television station in Chu Lai, but the nearest radio station is in Danang, 40 miles away.

I’ve thought of something else I’d like to have for Christmas. A pocket size flashlight that can be plugged into a wall outlet to recharge the battery. When there’s no moon out over here, it’s pitch black out. (No street lights). So it’s difficult to walk at night.

Photo - metal grate walkway in lower right hand corner of photo.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Saturday night
15 Nov. 1969

I got back to sunny Chu Lai at 1700 and it is good to be back!! When people ask me how the trip was, I just say okay, because they think I’m crazy if I say I didn’t like it!

I hit the jackpot on mail!! Four letters and a tape.

We get two points for missions that require us to fly outside of South Vietnam. I’ve flown three of these missions, but I can’t say much about them. These include the BARCAP missions up off the coast of North Vietnam. So three missions out of country and one mission where we were shot at, give me four extra points.

We had a squadron formation tonight and several air medals were given out, but I didn’t get mine! The formal citation has to be signed by the wing CO and that takes a long time. Russ Fyke just got his air medal tonight and he has already earned several.

Russ has also been recommended for the DFC. (Distinguished Flying Cross) for a mission on which he flew about a month ago. All four people in the flight were recommended for the DFC, but probably only the pilots will get it. Usually the RIO gets the next lower medal, in this case would be the Bronze Star, or a single mission air medal. Sometimes they award an air medal for only one mission if its real good, but not good enough for DFC. The DFC is the fourth highest award in the Marine Corps. Mike Sharbaugh had one and Major Heald had one or two.

Two more days and it’ll be one month since I left the states. And it seems like ages!

They have two survival schools in the Philippines. One at Cubi Point NAS for one day, run by the Navy. Another, at Clark AFB for ten days by the Air Force. There is also a water survival school at Okinawa. O.J. is going to that one in about a week. I don’t know when I’ll get out of country again.

It has just started raining! Looks like it’ll never stop.

Photo - Go Go dancers at the officer's club, Chu Lai

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

15 Nov. 1969

I’m sitting by the pool killing time until time to leave. The bus is to pick us up at 11:45 to take us to the air terminal. I’ll be glad to leave here!! This place is so depressing. See families living here, carrying on normal happy lives.

I spent yesterday getting packages mailed, reading, sleeping, and sun burning!

The money here in the Philippines is the peso and is worth 25 cents. I’m keeping some of this money for my collection! I’m going to get some money from every country I visit.

I haven’t taken any pictures here, but I will before I leave. This bay, Subic Bay, is a very pretty place. The bay is completely surrounded by low mountains, except for the inlet out to sea. It’s all jungle here and very green.

The aircraft carrier USS Ranger was in port here when we got here Wednesday. It sailed out Thursday on it’s way to Vietnam. This port here is really a big one. It’s a natural place for a port and there are all kinds of navy ships and freighters tied up here.

I watched Apollo 12 launch last night. It was 12:22 this morning when they shot off. The television coverage over here was via satellite and was a fairly good picture. I hope everything goes alright on this flight.

It’s so pretty here. Of course the town is a real dump, but the base is nice.

Photo - Bachelor officers quarters at, Subic Bay, Philippines

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

14 Nov. 1969

Greetings from hot, muggy Philippine Islands. The humidity is much worse here than in Chu Lai and the BOQ is not air conditioned. So I’ll be glad to get back to my air conditioned hooch!!

We had the survival course all day yesterday and finished it in one day, so I’ve today and tomorrow morning free. The course included learning about survival signaling devices, how to hide in the jungle, how to ride rescue devices lowered from helicopters, and how to survive in the jungle. We spent yesterday afternoon out in the real jungle learning the various trees and vines which can be eaten and give water.

Rick Holt is here!! He is down on a two week deployment, practicing bombing, like we did at Yuma! We ate dinner together the past two evenings, then went out to town to see the sights and do some shopping. It’s sure been good to see him again!

The town here is Olongopo, and is a dirty, poor little town much like some of the towns in Mexico. I got my pocket picked as I walked down the street. Some guy bumped into me, and took the money out of my shirt pocket. Didn’t even know it until later. About the only decent merchandise they have out in town is wood carvings.

Photo - catching a little shut eye on the flight line, Chu Lai.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tuesday night
11 Nov. 1969

Guess what!! I earned my air medal!! I got my 20th point last night on a TPQ!! It was a extra mission added to the schedule. I didn’t fly at all today, although I was on the hot pad all afternoon! I also had a CAS mission cancelled this morning. So it’s a good thing I got that extra mission last night.

I won’t actually get the medal until we have another AOM, or some occasion at which they’ll pass out the medals.

O.J. Riddell has been here two weeks longer than I have, and he has only nineteen points! So I beat him! I suppose from now on, I’ll earn a lot of air medals, but they won’t mean as much as the first one! I didn’t get any mail today, but I’ll be looking forward to the mail that is waiting when I get back.

Photos - Vietnamese civilians working on new, hardened revetments.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Monday afternoon
10 Nov. 1969

I’m on the hot pad again, this time from 1200-1800! We flew last night and it really turned into a nightmare. We took off at 2140 for B-52 escort. We got back to Chu Lai about 2330, but the weather was bad, we were low on fuel, and the runway was closed because some guy had blown a tire on the runway. So we diverted to Danang and spent the night. Got to bed at 0200 and up at 0600! When we have the hot pad, it’s plenty hard to get enough sleep.

Today is the Marine Corps’ birthday. We’re having a ball tonight but I won’t get to stay for all of it because I have a 2000 brief for a TPQ! I said I wanted to fly when I came here, but I didn’t have in mind such inconvenient times.

Saw Don Mikulka in Danang. He is in the squadron up there that they tried to talk me into getting in! He’s been here nearly 2 weeks and hasn’t flown yet. I understand that John Allen went to Japan. He wanted to come to Vietnam real bad. But I imagine he’ll manage to have a good time up there!

I’ve lost count of how many points I have toward my air medal, but I think I have nineteen points. So I only need one more point to get my fourth ribbon. I’ve already earned combat action ribbon, Vietnam campaign ribbon, and of course, the national defense ribbon. And if I’m here six months I’ll earn another campaign ribbon for five ribbons. That’ll look a lot better than one ribbon!

Some consolation for having to be over here in this miserable place fighting this miserable war, thousands of miles from my loved ones!

Where I flew last night is classified “top secret”, the highest there is.

Photo - officer's club, Chu Lai

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sunday night
9 Nov. 1969

Some of the guys are sitting here (hot pad) and talking about when they are going on R&R to Hawaii. Most of them are going pretty soon and it depresses me to think about how long it is till my R&R!!

I was on the hot pad this morning 0600-1200, and back on tonight from 1800-0600. I haven’t flown yet today, but may get to during the night. If we do it’ll be a B-52 escort while they bomb.

Tomorrow is the Marine Corps’ birthday ball!! I don’t know what kind of party they’ll have, but I hope it doesn’t cost me money!

We usually have charcoal steaks on Sunday Night. But tonight, no!! The steaks didn’t arrive, so we had cold, tough roast beef! Something else to boost our morale!

I’m watching television, half-way, for the first time since I’ve been in Vietnam! The XO left his portable television down here for us to watch. I think we’re watching 21st century.

Photo - bottom - me in my quarters
Photo - top - me at my desk

Friday, August 21, 2009

Saturday night
8 Nov. 1969

Boy, I hit the jackpot today in mail!!! I got four letters, a tape, and a can of bread. I’ve been so busy and tired today that I haven’t had a chance to listen to the tape.

I can say without a doubt, I’m the most tired right now that I’ve been since I got here! I was ODO last night and only got three hours of sleep! Then I had to do some work this morning with Russ. This afternoon I got a little sleep, but had a 1630 brief for a BARCAP mission.

I got back from that mission at 2100, then we had an AOM [all officers meeting] at 2130, that lasting ‘til 2300! Finally I got a chance to read the last of the letters just now and it’s 2330. I got my mail right before the mission brief and had read only two of the letters.

I have been assigned to one pilot. He is Maj. Gibson, the operations officer. We fly together every day and have flown about nine missions together.

Last night the air field was under condition “yellow” which meant we were expecting an attack! However, none came and it was an uneventful night.

Photo -F4B being loaded with bombs.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Friday night
7 Nov. 1969

I received a package of goodies today. I used up my last bar of safeguard today!

Well, they finally caught up with me and I’m going to have to go to work. I’m the ODO all night tonight, 1800-0600, which means I’ll get little sleep. Plus I’m working for S-4 now, with Russ Fyke, and we have to do an inventory of all the wall lockers in the squadron to see how many are serviceable and how many aren’t. So that’ll take up tomorrow morning. Then I’ll probably fly tomorrow afternoon. But I don’t mind the flying! In fact I love the flying over here (I don’t love being here). There’s no “Mickey mouse” training. It’s all work and we’re all aircrews! There are absolutely no students. It’s really great. The flying is the only thing that makes this place bearable. If I were a grunt, I’d go out of my mind.

The thing that is so disappointing is that we fly a lot and drop a lot of bombs costing a lot of money, but we’re really not doing any good. Take today, I flew a CAS mission and our BDA, bomb damage assessment, was one trail cut and two structures damaged! Big deal, huh! Two airplanes, four people and twenty bombs just to destroy what may have been out-houses for all we know. It’s just costing to much to keep F-4s here for what little good we do. I know all this sounds like blasphemy coming from me, the great supporter of our President, but that’s the way it is. I’m only being realistic.

I’ll be going to the Philippines on the twelfth, if the plans don’t change. Of course I won’t get mail there. I sure would be pleased to find a whole stack of mail waiting for me when I get back. I’m supposed to be down there for four days, I believe.

Russ Fyke and I are tied, at the present, with the most missions this month in the squadron. We have eight each in the first seven days. Of course I’ll fall behind when I go to the Philippines. I have fourteen points now toward my air medal. I’m told that after the first air medal, it all becomes old hat and you don’t even worry about how many points you have.
The weather continues to be cloudy and rainy here. The only good thing about this weather is that it keeps the temperature fairly cool and comfortable.

There are no Marine ground troops in this area. This province is the responsibility of the army’s Americal Division. They use a lot of helicopters to move their troops around this area and the army has a lot of their planes here at Chu Lai. They also have a large, well stocked PX, but it’s so far from our area that we can’t walk to it, and it’s hard to get a ride.

Photo - Headquarters building of VMFA-122, Chu Lai

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Thursday Night
6 Nov. 1969

It’s been another long day here climaxed by no mail! For some reason there was no mail for the officers and there was very little yesterday. We have such “wonderful” postal service over here! I was reading in today’s paper (Stars and Stripes, the only paper we get) about how President Nixon has been getting so many letters and telegrams supporting his speech. I’m glad to see that a unity is, perhaps, growing amongst that “silent majority”. For the only way we’re going to get out of this stinking mess, is to stand together.

I flew two missions today. One at midnight last night from which I finally got to bed at 0200 this morning, then another one at 1100 this morning. The second one was a CAS, and I flew with the Group XO, a Lt. Col. whom I didn’t enjoy flying with. These high ranking officers live in a world of their own, and I’m certain that none of them was ever a lieutenant! The other plane in my second mission was carrying napalm, that stuff that everyone back in the states thinks is so inhuman. We did virtually no damage at all, and I would say the whole things was a waste of time, personnel, and money.

I hope I don’t sound bitter, because I’m not. Just disappointed at being here for no real purpose. Oh well!

Anyway, I have twelve missions (14 points)!

I still don’t have a job in the squadron, but I’ve heard that I’ll probably work in S-4 which is logistics, materiel, etc. This is the section responsible for supply of the squadron.

Photos - hot refueling F-4B after combat mission

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wednesday night
5 Nov. 1969

I’ve had a long day (another one) and it’s not over yet! I’ve already flown once today and I’m flying again tonight at midnight! I volunteered for this mission because I’m flying all I possibly can!

We had a live floor show at the club tonight which helped break the monotony of life here! It was a rock and roll band from the Philippines, some go-go girls, and a singer from Australia. The whole group was fair, but considering how we can’t be choosy in this war zone, they were o.k.

I’m listening to the news and it sounds as though the “silent majority” supports President Nixon! I support him too. I was just disappointed that he didn’t say more in his speech.

I didn’t get any mail today but maybe I will tomorrow! There’s always tomorrow to look forward to.

I was at the PX today and they have towels for sale now!

The weather was (is) really bad here today. The wind has been blowing so hard that some of our flights had to be canceled. When we landed this morning it was real scary! We only have one runway here that can be used by F-4s and when we have a high cross wind, it’s very dangerous. At Cherry Point we had two runways, so, no matter which way the wind was blowing, we could take off into the wind. It was pouring rain when we got in our plane this morning, so we got pretty wet and it wasn’t very comfortable!

I’ve sent off one roll of film to be developed. They’re all pictures of Okinawa and Chu Lai, and a couple of pictures of the planes I flew in coming over here. I have one more roll of film to take,
then when that’s gone, I’m going to buy one of those fancy cameras. I can get a real good one for less than $50.

Photo - view from the backseat of F-4B.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tuesday night
4 Nov. 1969

Everyone over here is pretty depressed by President Nixon’s speech. We were so excited about what he was going to say, but when the speech was over we all agreed that he really didn’t say anything at all!
Now we just don’t know what to expect. We don’t know anymore than we did yesterday about what he’s going to do about this lousy war.

I flew my ninth mission this morning, early, and I’ve a total of eleven points. And since President Nixon didn’t announce the cease fire, I won’t have any trouble getting the air medal. We were supposed to fly a CAS mission today, but the weather was so bad, we dropped our bombs on a TPQ. I don’t even know what the letters TPQ mean!

One of the other squadrons is having a stand-down tomorrow, which means we have to take up the slack and fly more to do their share for one day. This means I’ll probably get to fly twice! I sure hope so. I’d like to earn that medal before I go to the Philippines next week.

I’m really tired and I haven’t done anything since 0900 this morning. I don’t like to fly early in the morning because it makes the day seem so long. Maybe after I get a jog in, the day won’t be so bad.

Photo - F-4B loaded with bombs and external fuel tanks.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Saturday night
1 Nov. 1969

Whew, I’m beat! I had a 0600 brief this morning for a CAS mission which turned out to be a TPQ. A TPQ is where a controller on the ground using a computer, directs you to the target and tells you when to drop your bombs. It’s really not much fun.

Then I had ODO from 1200-1500, then a 1530 brief for a BARCAP. [barrier combat air patrol] This mission is where we fly up off the coast of North Vietnam to protect the 7th Fleet from MIG attacks. MIGs are the fighters used by North Vietnam. Every minute of every day there are airplanes up there flying the BARCAP. Anyway I got back from that at 2000 and then had to go to the squadron party where we had a good meal, then everyone proceeded to get disgustingly drunk. One lieutenant who only has about three weeks left over here, got into a verbal fight with a major and really cause quite an embarrassing scene.

The movie tonight was Gone with the Wind, but after seeing it at that good theater in Lubbock, I didn’t much care to see it here.

We don’t use regular U.S. currency over here. We use “military payment certificates” or as we call it, funny money. It’s sort of like Mexican money except there are no coins, it’s all bills of varying sizes. A five cent bill is the smallest denomination, no pennies. Then ten cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, one dollar etc. A $20 bill is the largest denomination and it’s about the size of a regular dollar bill. They tell us not to carry our billfolds when we fly, because if we got shot down, the enemy could use information from the wallet. So we just carry our I.D., Geneva convention card, and a little money in case we have to divert because of bad weather.

I have eight points, now, toward my first air medal. Takes twenty. Maybe I’ll make it before the war’s over! Ha.

The radio reception is so bad inside these lousy hooches that I might as well not even have a radio! These things are made of corrugated steel and it’s just like driving under that cover they had at the Cherry Point service station.

I’m sure glad we’re not flying tomorrow. I can sleep late, hooray.

Oh, I was hoping to get mail today, but the mail didn’t get delivered down here!! The mail is flown down from Danang each afternoon and for some reason it didn’t come today. How’s that for building the morale of our “fighting boys in Vietnam”? It’s enough to make me cry, almost!

The rain slacked off today and we had a pretty, but hot, day.

Photo - the swamp at Chu Lai, enlisted housing in the distance

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friday night
31 Oct.1969

Another day, another dollar, I guess!

I still haven’t received any mail, maybe tomorrow, I hope. It’ll be two weeks tomorrow since I left home.

The squadron is having a party tomorrow night and then we have a stand-down (no flying) on Sunday to recuperate! I think each squadron is supposed to have a stand-down day twice a month.

Rumor around here is that there are a lot of VC around Chu Lai and there may be some kind of attack. I don’t know how true this is but it’s exciting to think about. Right now I hear explosions in the distance that sound as though we might be shooting artillery at the bad guys. Russ Fyke said that last night his flight bombed three miles south of the airfield! There’s no real danger to me because my hooch is about a mile from the perimeter of the base and the VC (we call them Charlie) would have to do a lot of fighting to get this far.

Today I flew a “LZ Prep” (landing zone preparation). This is where we bomb a landing zone prior to helicopters landing there to let out troops on a patrol, assault, or whatever their mission is. Theoretically, we kill all the VC in the area so they can’t shoot our guys when they land. This particular LZ was in the foothills and was a meadow surrounded by woods. There were streams and waterfalls all over the area and it was very green and beautiful. What a shame we have to fight and kill in such pretty countryside.

I read that Tech won their game with SMU! It’s a good thing, maybe I’ll give them another chance!!

I’ve rambled on ‘til I’ve run out of anything to say.

No rain today!!! Hooray.

Photo - officer's shower room, Chu Lai.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thursday night
30 Oct. 1969

Another long boring day is past, and am I ever sleepy! After being on the hot pad last night and not sleeping well, I’m beat.

Flew my fourth mission today and did my first real bombing. A FAC(A), Forward Air controller (Airborne) is what we work with on most of our bombing missions. Anyway, this guy usually flies in a small propeller driven airplane or helicopter. The one we worked with today was called “Hostage Duke”. he had found an enemy trench line from which he had been fired at with small arms fire (rifle and machine gun). So he had us bomb them! We know there were VC there, but, of course, they were in the trench line, so he couldn’t tell if we killed any. All our bombs (ten bombs on each of two F-4s, twenty 500 pound bombs) were on the target and he gave us credit for destroying 150 meters of trench line! Well, sounds gruesome I suppose, but this is what we are doing over here.

I used to like for it to rain, and I liked to drive in the rain. Well, when I get out of here I don’t think I’ll care if I never see rain again!! The way its raining, there is no way to keep dry, really. When I got home from the hot pad this morning, there was a large puddle of water in my hooch.

O.J. Riddle and John Haynes left today to go to Clark AFB, Philippines for ten days of survival school. I still haven’t heard when I’ll be going, but I hope it’s soon.

They pair up pilots and RIOS [radar intercept officers] in this squadron and I’ve been assigned to fly with a Major Gibson who just became the squadron operations officer yesterday. He hasn’t been a Major very long and is a real nice fellow. I flew with him today and we seemed to get along pretty well. Actually, I’m glad I’ll be flying with him because since he’s the ops officer, he’ll fly (and me) practically everyday. Of course I’ll fly with other pilots too, because they have many more pilots than RIOS. After I’ve been here awhile I’ll probably start flying with a new pilot.

Major Gibson is from Corpus Christi and he said his wife is living there now and teaching school.

Photo - F-4B Phantom

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wednesday night
29 Oct. 1969

I’ve got hot pad duty tonight, which means sleeping all night in my flight gear, like at Key West. The rain continues to come down undaunted! We had a little excitement today, finally. First of all, my 0500 flight was canceled because of a severe thunderstorm that was right over the field at that time. So I got up at 0330 just for nothing. Next, all around the perimeter they have tear gas canisters to keep the VC out. Somehow several of these canisters exploded and the tear gas was blown right into the hanger area where I just happened to be, since my flight had just been canceled. Since I didn’t have my gas mask with me, my eyes and nose were really burning. It was really bad and I thought maybe we were going to be attacked. But, no.

Then, about 1245 I was in the disbursing office when four rockets exploded in the area, we were being rocketed by the VC!! At last something exciting was happening! Someone yelled “incoming” and the sirens started blowing. We all ran for the door and the bomb shelter (bunker). By the time everyone got outside, the rockets had stopped coming, so we all stood around outside, in the rain, like a bunch of excited school kids after a fire drill! Ha.

After a while of standing in the rain, I realized what an idiot I was, so I went back inside and collected the balance of my travel pay which was 22 cents. I had taken $175.00 advance travel. Well the final figures were $175.22!

The rockets did a little damage but not much. Injured one army soldier, damaged a truck, an airplane, and a helicopter, but that’s all. The good thing about these rockets is that the VC have no-good launchers, so they more or less just aim them at the field and fire them. They just land anywhere and hardly ever do any real damage.

We’re on the air-to-air hot pad tonight which means that we will most likely be scrambled some time tonight to escort B-52 bombers these bombers have to have escorts because they fly someplace which I can’t say, and we have to protect them from MIGS.

Tonight is our last night on the pad. The three F-4 squadrons rotate and have the pad five days at a time. So we will have it again ten days from now.

Somewhere I read that “war is many hours of sheer boredom marked by minutes of stark terror”! well, I’ve had the hours of boredom, but no terror! Ha. Today’s rocket attack could be described as gala excitement!

Photo - officer row, Chu Lai

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday Night
28 Oct. 1969

There’s a good movie tonight at the o’club, for once. It’s Three in an Attic. so I’ll write this early and go to bed right after the movie as I’ve a 0400 brief tomorrow morning.

Today I was on the hot pad this morning but didn’t scramble, then I flew a CAS (close air support) mission. However the weather continues very bad thru out northern South Vietnam. We couldn’t get on our target because of the clouds so we just came back home. Anyway, that makes three missions for me. I’ve flown twice with the XO and I’m flying with him again tomorrow morning. He’s really a nice guy to fly with.

I’ve sent off a couple of applications for magazine subscriptions. If I get those, that’ll help build up the amount of mail I get.

We’ve been reading about how cold it is in the north part of the states. I really don’t know what the temperature is over here these days. I know it seems plenty hot, but it may be the humidity. I still haven’t taken a full roll of film, but when I do, I’ll get them developed.

Russ Fyke was flying last night, and as they were landing someone was shooting at them! It’s real bad right off the ends of the runway because the VC [viet cong] can shoot at you because you’re so low.

Photos - air crews on the hot pad.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Monday night
27 Oct. 1969

Its 1930 [subtract 12 for civilian time] and I’m all ready for bed because there is nothing else to do. I’ve been up since 0315 this morning. I had a good flight this morning. So I’ve had two flights and have two points toward my air medal. It takes twenty points for one air medal so I’ve a long way to go. I get one point for each combat mission and two points if someone shoots at me!!! It would be perfectly awful if President Nixon announced a cease fire before I get my medal! (Not really)

Well, anyway, the movie is bad tonight so I don’t want to go to that, so I guess I’ll read awhile then go to sleep.

I was postal inspector at the main MAG-13 [Marine Air Group] post office. I had to inspect the contents of all packages being mailed by enlisted people to make sure they didn’t mail any prohibited materials, like drugs, guns, ammunition, etc.

I bought two books in Corpus Christi last Friday (boy doesn’t seem like it was just last Friday.), and I’ve already read the big one and I’m half way thru Kennedy’s book about the Cuban crisis. According to his book, it wasn’t anything like in that book TOPAZ. It’s a much better book than I expected. Very interesting.

Looks like the monsoon season is about to start here. This is a time of the year (winter) when it rains or drizzles almost all the time for several months. It started raining early this morning and has rained on and off all day, at times raining as hard as you’ve ever seen.

The war is still dragging along. Nothing happening and nothing to do. They don’t have cokes here, so I haven’t had a coke since I’ve been in Chu Lai, only root beer, and orange drinks.

I still haven’t been assigned a job in the squadron.

Russ Fyke said his wife is pregnant again! And the Fabrizios had a baby boy. They named him KIRK. How about that for a name. He was born the day before Gary had to leave for Vietnam. How’s that for timing. I’ll bet she was miserable. Having the baby and him leaving at the same time.

I'm still living in a room by myself. This room is about ten by 15 feet. We have no water in our hooches, so we have to go to a central shower/restroom building.

Can’t think of anything else.

Photo - Officer's Club, Chu Lai

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sunday afternoon
26 Oct. 1969

I flew my first mission this morning at 0300! I had to get up at 0115. Boy was that early. Sunday is just like any other day of the week over here. The only way I can tell what day it is, is by looking at my watch.

We flew up to Danang on our mission this morning and bombed a rice cache, of all things.

People are starving to death and we bomb food. But that’s the way it is I guess. I flew with the squadron XO, and we’re going to fly the same thing again in the morning at 0500. One thing about it over here, I can get to bed plenty early since there is no TV to watch.

The squadron has the hot pad alert for 5 days, so I can’t fly to much really except for the TPQ. [radar controlled bombing mission.]

I still haven’t been assigned a job in the squadron. They have so many lieutenants that there just isn’t much to do.

I can hardly wait to get my first letter from home! I really feel lonely without any mail! The more mail I get, the better.

I’m the ODO [operations duty officer] right now and everything is so confusing I don’t know what is going on. So I’d best get back to my job.

Photo - me standing on F-4 fighter-bomber.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Saturday night
25 Oct. 1969

I went to disbursing and got my pay record all straightened out.

Hardly anyone thinks we’ll be in Vietnam for 12 months. We expect anything to happen. There just isn’t that much fighting going on over here. I don’t care what is on the news back in the states, this war is just about over, at least for us. (I hope I’m not wrong.)

I’ve been gone a week and it seems like ages! Having traveled so far and ½ way round the world, makes the last seven days seem much longer!
Four room Quonset hut (hooch)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Thursday Morning
23 Oct. 1969

I’m going to Chu Lai! I’ve been assigned to MAG-13 down there which has three F-4 squadrons, so don’t know yet what my exact address will be. Hope to know before this day is over. Went to the MAG-11 o’club here at Danang last night and saw a lot of people I know. Talked to Bob Burnes for quite a while and he bought me a coke. Also saw Jack Bowers, a ground officer 1/Lt who left 513 about two months ago. He got me a place to sleep in his “hooch” (what they call the small buildings we live in). I slept in Ken Bond’s bed. He’s down in the Philippines going to a survival school right now. Capt. John Nelson and Lou DeLaGarza are in this squadron here at Danang but I didn’t get to see them last night.

Just now ran into a private who left 513 about three months ago. I’m sitting here waiting for a flight to Chu Lai on a C-130 and he just happened to walk by. He is the guy who was having so much trouble in the squadron and who had gotten the girl pregnant who ran away from home and was headed to Cherry Point, that night I was SDO.

I’ve been here since 1630 yesterday, and I’ve seen no fighting or any signs of war. It’s real quiet here right now. I understand they took some rockets in here Monday night but none last night, think goodness.

Thursday night
23 Oct. 1969

Got to Chu Lai o.k. and have been assigned to VMFA-122. I already have a place to live and it has a great air conditioner. I’m living in a “hooch” that is divided into four rooms, two men to a room and I’m by myself right now.

I have various lectures tomorrow that I must have prior to flying, so I should be able to start flying real soon.

I heard that Rosie Greer’s wife had her baby, 16 Sept, a boy!

I didn’t bring any towels and they don’t have any over here!!

Some of the people in this squadron are, O.J. Riddle, John Haynes, Russ Fyke, Peck Bradshaw, Mike Larson, Tom Seykora, John Brewer and Kenny Graham. All except Russ came from 513. So I’m right amongst old friends!

It’s late and I still have to take a shower.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Wednesday Morning
22 Oct. 1969

I’m leaving Okinawa this afternoon at 1420 hours for Danang. Will be flying Continental Airlines Boeing 707 - not bad eh? Flew American Airways from Norton to here. Still don’t know if I’ll stay at Danang or go on to Chu Lai. No chance of Japan at this time. There is one F4B squadron in Danang and three in Chu Lai, so I’ll probably go to Chu Lai, as I wanted.