Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday night
23 Dec. 1969

I’m beat! I haven’t slept the past two nights, I’ve flown all night both nights! I’ve had 4 hrs sleep since noon yesterday. Someone asked me if I wanted a hop tonight at 0200 and I said no! I’m going to get some sleep.

No letter today. Makes 3 days without a letter.

There’s nothing really to write about. I’ve had the usual day of flying (twice), the usual meals, etc! Our hot water heater has been broken for several days, so to get a hot shower (usually only warm) I have to walk down to the other showers. It’s not far, but is inconvenient.

We had a floor show tonight at the club. It was a Korean group and were quite good. We’ve now been entertained by Koreans, Filipinos, and Australians. We still have no word about when Bob Hope and his show will come to Chu Lai.

We go on the hot pad tomorrow, so if Bob Hope does come here some of us will not be able to see the show, for we’ll have to man the hot pad. I’d like to see his show, just so I can say I have.

We had a another pretty day, today. However, I fear bad weather is moving in again.

I did get a can of nuts and a Navy Times today.

Well, tomorrow is Christmas Eve and all my thoughts will be with family.

Photo - floor show at the Officer's Club

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monday night
22 Dec. 1969

No letters today. I did get a package of peanuts, bean dip, and candy. Boy was I glad to see the candy. I haven’t had any good chocolate in a couple of weeks and my sweet tooth was really beginning to ache! The peanuts are a bit overdone, but I’m able to pick out the less overdone ones and they are delicious.

My flu is just about gone now. I still have a nagging sore throat I can’t seem to shake, but I’m flying again anyway. I’ve flown 4 times in the past 3 days and still lead the “sortie race”. Russ is pushing for the lead, however!

It’s really hard to believe all the exotic places I’ve been, already, in only 2 months over seas! Just think, if I do get to Japan, I will really have some stories to tell! (Actually, I would have been just as happy to stay home and forget all the stories!!!!)

I flew a TPQ this morning at 0100 and didn’t get back and into bed until 0530! And I didn’t get any sleep prior to flying! When we got back from our mission (we dropped our bombs in the south half of the DMZ) the field was closed for 40 minutes. So we had to divert (again) to Da Nang and refuel. Then we came on back to Chu Lai.

I did get to sleep until noon, so I feel fairly rested. I have a 0215 brief tomorrow morning (tonight) for a BARCAP! I’m going to go to bed early tonight and try to get some sleep before the brief.

Photo - Buddhist temple in Thailand

Monday, September 28, 2009

Saturday night
20 Dec. 1969

My health is much improved tonight! I still have a lingering sore throat but I flew twice today anyway. I flew 2 TPQ’s. [ground radar controlled air strike]

We had a squadron formation tonight and they presented some Air Medals, but I didn’t get mine because they thought I would be flying at the time! So now I suppose I’ll have to wait until the next formation which will be a month from now I guess! It’s really unsat!

We had a pretty day today, for once. Only rained for about 5 minutes, and I was out in it! Without my rain gear.

This has been the kind of day I like. I flew this morning, got back in time to eat and brief for my next flight. I got back from that flight, and went to brief for another! The last hop was a BARCAP. We have to taxi three planes to the end of the runway, but only two of them take off, the third stands by in case one of the first two planes can’t complete the mission.

I was in the third plane and never did take off!

Then got my mail and rushed over to eat, then rushed to the formation! A busy day keeps my mind busy! The movie tonight was Where were you when the lights went out? A Doris Day comedy and very entertaining as usual.

Tomorrow’s Sunday, just another day in the week. Doesn’t seem possible that it was last Sunday when I was in Ubon! Time does seem to pass quickly! I’ve been here nine weeks! Seems like forever.

Photo - F-4 waiting for aircrew.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Friday night
19 Dec. 1969

No letters today, but I did get the Life magazine! I read the entire article about My Lai and I see, now, why the people back home are so upset about this episode. If the pictures and story are true then we should be upset.

This is the first time I’ve seen any of those pictures as they haven’t been published over here. There are a few discrepancies in the story that bother me, but not enough to mention. I’m especially disturbed that Life magazine has set itself up as judge and jury in a very serious matter.

It was great reading the magazine. I got a bill from Esquire magazine yesterday so I should start receiving it pretty soon. Esquire is a mens fashion magazine with articles for men. Something like Ladies Home Journal only opposite. I’ve always wanted to take it but it’s an expensive magazine.

I’m feeling much better tonight. All my symptoms are gone except for the sore throat. I started to fly a mission tonight but decided not to. There’s no sense getting in a hurry. I’m still ahead of everyone else anyway. I do plan to fly tomorrow. The RIOs are doing a lot of flying right now. Seems like we’re short of them for some reason.

The FAC school starts on January 6, so I’ll probably leave here on the fourth. I have to go to Da Nang, then to Okinawa. The school is held at Camp Butler, where I stayed on my way over here. I’m looking forward to it.

I won’t be able to get my mail there, so that will be bad!

Well, duh! The only thing I can think of to write about is the weather! And that is boring now!!.

Photo - part of my motor pool

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thursday Night
18 Dec. 1969

I have (am) been sick. I started a cold about 3 days ago, but yesterday I got to feeling worse, so I went to the Doc. Looks like I have the flu! I have fever, very sore throat, muscle aches and cold chills! I went to bed early last night and didn’t get up until 1400 this afternoon. I still feel bad. I’m grounded which means no flying for a few days.

The weather finally lifted a bit today and it’s the first flying anyone’s done for three days. I also have a severe headache and no appetite! I didn’t eat breakfast or lunch and not much dinner! I hope I get over this tomorrow so I can get back to flying!

I feel so bad I can’t think of anything else to write.

Photo - Buddhists monks in Thailand

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tues. night
16 Dec. 1969

I have now seen more rain than I’ve ever seen before! We’ve had constant rain (not drizzle) for the past 3 days! My hooch has started leaking in places it’s never leaked before.

The hop I was to fly last night was cancelled, as were all the other flights, because of the weather. All the missions in the whole group were cancelled! I don’t think any flights were flown today either. My roommate and Russ Fyke diverted to Ubon the same night I did and still haven’t come back!

Guess what, I have a bad cold. It had been developing for a couple of days, but this morning it was bad! So bad, in fact, that I didn’t go to the orphanage because I would have been out in the rain all afternoon! I wanted to go, but the rain was just to bad.

I’ve been informed that I’m going to FAC school in January! Most people dread this news, but I’m glad. It’s a two week school in Okinawa!! They haven’t been sending RIO’s to FAC duty because there’s a shortage! So I’ll get to go to the school and won’t have worry about going FAC.

The reason I was chosen was because our Squadron was given a quota of three for the school. The qualifications were such that they could only find two pilots, so they picked me for the third. O.J. is one of the pilots. Even if I do go FAC duty, it’s only for three months and would probably be Feb - April. I wanted to be a grunt anyway.

I’m listening to the president’s speech (replay)! I heard it live this morning at 0700. I was disappointed that he only announced 50,000 by April 15. We’re all very anxious to find out who is leaving!

I found out yesterday that I have eleven points toward my third air medal! I have 41 missions and 51 points. So far I have seventeen missions this month and that’s three more than the next RIO!

Maj. Gibson, my pilot, has the most among the pilots. He has about twelve, I think. I can’t believe how I was so excited about getting that first twenty points, and now they really don’t mean that much! I wish they’d give me my medal, though!

I’m really proud to have the most missions! That means, sort of, that I work more. Maybe that’s why their sending me to FAC school! The school starts on the fourth, but I don’t know exactly when I’ll leave Chu Lai.

I haven’t done a thing all day except sleep. I had so much sleep to catch up I didn’t want to get out of bed. Also the rain wasn’t to conducive to getting out!

Photo - Buddhist monk in Thailand.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mon. afternoon
15 Dec. 1969

Things still continue to be very hectic here!! I flew twice yesterday afternoon, and the second time, we had to divert to Ubon (hooray, finally!) because of low fuel and bad weather at Chu Lai!

We got to Ubon about 1930, spent the night and came back this morning at 1000. The bad thing about it was that I didn’t have any money and had to borrow some from the skipper who was leading the hop. We ate dinner at their beautiful officer's club. I had a delicious sea food platter!

Then we went shopping at a jewelry shop that sells real fine jewelry at a good price. But I didn’t have the money to buy anything. I did buy a tapestry thing for my wall for $2.00 just so I’d have a souvenir of Thailand. I’ve been scheduled for another “manual” mission tonight which will divert if it goes out.

The weather is really bad and these "manual" missions are flown so far away that we get too low on fuel to come back here. If I do divert again tonight, I’ll have to borrow more money. I’m going to pay it back at the end of the month.

Ubon was just great, from the stand point of not being in country. The AFB itself is real nice with all luxuries! The town itself is kind of ratty. We stayed in town at the Ubol Hotel because they don’t have facilities on base for visiting officers like us! I really don’t want to go back tonight because of the money it takes and also because I’d miss our squadron party tonight. However, if I go to the party, that will also cost me a lot of money!

I didn’t get any mail yesterday, and the mail hasn’t come yet today. I’m writing this now, while I’m ODO.

I haven’t been in my hooch since noon yesterday! So I haven’t shaved or brushed my teeth since them! If I fly tonight, I intend to take my divert gear with me! I.e. shaving gear, toothbrush, etc.

I didn’t go to the orphanage today, because no one went because of the bad weather and operations being so messed up.

The reason things are so hectic is because hops are being “held” because of bad weather which throws everything off. Take yesterday morning! I got up at 0430 for a 0530 brief (after 4 hrs sleep) but we didn’t get to fly until afternoon! We were on a weather hold all morning long. Weather is really bad news in this business!

Mail just came and I got 2 letters. Also got cookies and myself and 5 guys here in the ready room ate all but 4 of them in 15 minutes! Everyone raved about how good they are!! They taste just as fresh as if I’d eaten them at home.

Photo - Thailand barber shop.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Saturday night (late)
13 Dec. 1969

This is the first time I’ve spent more than 10 minutes in my hooch since 0900 yesterday morning!

The past three days have been the most hectic days of my life! They sort of compare to the days when we were working on plays! I didn’t even have time to shower, shave, or eat!

It all started Thursday night at 1800. I had the hot pad that night and got launched on a B-52 escort. I wrote my last letter after that mission. I got about three hours sleep after that, then got up and went to breakfast. I then got about a hour and a half of sleep yesterday morning before being called back down to the hot pad at 0900.

I then was scrambled for a CAS [close air support] mission. I got back from that and went directly to a group ground safety meeting (missing lunch). From the meeting, I went to a brief for a “manual” mission, my third hop of the day. We launched on the manual misssion, and had to divert to Danang because of bad weather here. We could, and should, have gone to Ubon, but didn’t. As it was we had to declare an emergency because of low fuel and landed at Danang.

Our plane was "down" [not safe to fly] because we had no navigational aids. So we spent last night in Danang. We got up this morning and got back to here about 1100. Then I got to shave and brush my teeth for the first time since Thursday morning at 0445! I was really looking bad with the growth of whiskers I had.

Then I went back to the pad (after eating a quick lunch) and was on the pad until 2200. We were launched on another B-52 escort mission and they let me have the rest of the night off to get some rest. I was supposed to be on the pad until tomorrow morning.

The squadron gets off the pad in the morning, so maybe things will let up. All total, I flew three flights yesterday, and two today for a total of eight points. That’s nearly half of an air medal in two days!!

I got four letters and a tape today.

I didn’t get to listen to President Nixon’s news conference. We weren’t to excited about it over here. However, we are very interested in his announcement Tuesday concerning more troop withdrawals!

This job I have as ground safety officer can keep me as busy as I want to be. It’s the kind of job that can be given a lot of attention, conducting inspections for safety, thinking up safety campaigns, etc. or, I could make nothing out of the job and go on loafing.

We had a ground safety council meeting yesterday (group council) of which I am a member by reason of being the GSO of 122. We meet quarterly and discuss all the safety hazards we have problems with. It’s all very interesting. Most big companies spend a fortune on safety campaigns.

This area is not as well stressed as aviation safety, and the group wants to change that!

I think I’ll be going to Tam Ky on Monday, if I can get off the flight schedule. Maj. Allinder, our aircraft maintenance officer, is the one pushing this orphanage, and he asked me if I would go and I said I would.

We are having a squadron party the 15th and a stand down on the 16th. We have a rumor that Bob Hope is to be here on the 16th! If he is I’ll go - I hope!

It’s midnight and I’m beat!

Photo - this is not Bob Hope performing at our officer's club.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thurs. night
11 Dec. 1969

Actually it’s now 0200 on Friday, but this is my Thursday letter! I’m on the hot pad tonight and we just got back from a Migcap mission. We launched at 2325 and landed at 0105 this morning!

I flew twice on Thursday, once at 0300 and again at 2325. Sounds like I never get any sleep! Ha.

I got 4 letters and 4 Christmas cards today.

Sorry this is so lousy! It’s just a whole series of one sentence comments! But that’s about the way I feel!

My mind is at a stand still and I can’t think of a thing to write!

Photo - hats off from a fellow RIO

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wed. Night
10 Dec. 1969

This will have to be short because I have to get to sleep. I’ve been up since 0445 this morning, and I have a 0200 brief for a TPQ tomorrow morning.

I didn’t get any letters today, but did receive a Navy Times and Washington Post.

I was on the hot pad for 9 hours today, but did get to fly. We launched from the pad on a “migcap”, an air to air mission to protect B-52s from Migs from the north. We get two points for these missions.

It has rained all day, letting up to a drizzle at times.

We had a fairly good movie tonight. Che, the story of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. It starred Omar Sharif and Jack Palance.

I got the last slides I took, back today. Will try to get them mailed off tomorrow. The hot pad takes up most of my day and I’m unable to get to the post office during their open hours.

I’m so tired, I don’t think I’ll have any trouble at all getting to sleep!!

Photo - road past the front of my hooch. officer's club in distance.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tuesday Night
9 Dec. 1969

I had hot pad duty for 12 hours today! From 0600 to 1800 with 40 minutes off for lunch. Nine hours of it I was all suited up in my flight gear but did not get to fly! It’s quite frustrating.

We were told to scramble once this morning, but when we got to the end of the runway, ready to take off, they told us to come back!! All the trouble we went to just because some guy goofed!!

Going to Ubon is getting away from Chu Lai, getting out of country, getting to stay in a real hotel in a real city, getting to see normal people leading normal lives, getting to eat a few good meals for a change, etc, etc, etc!!! A plane diverted last night to Ubon only 10 minutes after I landed!! I could not believe my lousy luck!!

I’m very well stocked up on books now. At the rate I’ve been getting books I’ll have to read one a day to get caught up! Ha.

We had a good movie tonight titled Daddy Went-a -Hunting. It was sort of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, keeping everyone on edge to the last minute! However it had a happy ending. If it hadn’t, I’d been moping around for hours! Ha.

It’s funny how much a mere movie can effect you over here! I suppose it’s the only real connection with the “world”!

A cold front moved in today dropping temperatures lower than they’ve been so far. The weather has been just like the early winter in Lubbock. Chilly, the wind blowing very hard, and the sand blown by the wind! Just like Lubbock.

The high wind is the reason that plane had to divert to Ubon last night. We had managed to land just before with the wind just as bad and it was plenty hairy!! I suppose we could have easily had an accident, but we didn’t! I don’t worry about having an accident. Look at it this way, if I get hurt, they’ll have to send me home!!

I expect to be on the hot pad again in the morning at 0600! And it’s getting late now.

Photo - in the foreground, the bomb shelter for the officer's club. at the left, back of the movie screen

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Monday Night
8 Dec. 1969

Today I got two packages and a letter! The packages were the lamp and pictures. The lamp is great and so are the tootsie rolls, book, soap, and powder.

Today has been another long hard day. I flew a TPQ this morning, then a BARCAP tonight. The BARCAP briefed at 1545 and we got back at 2200. So I got no supper at all. And the lunch I had was awful! It was chili and I didn’t eat very much, so I’m about to starve!

I’ve got plenty of candy, etc to eat, but I’m hungry for a hamburger!! Just think, if I was home, I could get in the car and go to the nearest drive-in!

We take the hot pad tomorrow for the next 5 days, so things are really going to be miserable. They always are on the hot pad.

I left home seven weeks ago. Leaves 45 weeks to go. Ten and a half months. I just don’t know if I can last! It’s a good thing I have R and R to look forward to, and maybe Japan.

Bad weather moved in again today and is due to stay for several days. So, more rain. I hate it!!!

Photo - Chapel and post office, Chu Lai

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sunday Night
7 Dec. 1969

I didn’t get any letters today, but I did get a notice that I have a package at the post office. It’s probably the one with the lamp. I’ll pick it up tomorrow.

Things are as usual here! Dull. I flew twice today. Had a CAS this morning at 0630, then flew practice intercepts tonight with O.J. We are having a missile shoot in January, at Cubi Point, so we’re getting ready for it by flying intercepts here.

This afternoon I laid out in the sun to get a tan and got a beautiful sun burn! I was going to be careful and only stay out for an hour, but that was long enough to get good and red!

This has been a long day. I got up at 0545 this morning and it’s 2230 now.

I haven’t gained as much weight as I thought. In fact, when I weighed for my physical the other day, I weighed 175 pounds, which is what I weighed when I left.

We’ve really been flying a lot this month. I’ve flown 7 times in 7 days and we stood down one day and I didn’t fly another day. I’ve flown 31 missions now and should have close to, or more than, 40 points. I’ve lost count of my points after the first 20. I still have not received my first air medal. I saw a chart of medals showing the precedence of the medals and the air medal is 7th or 8th I think. Not very high. But then who wants a bunch of medals! To earn them you have to do dangerous things and maybe get hurt! So I’m not going to be greedy.

Photo - F-4 taxiing out for a mission.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Saturday night
6 Dec. 1969

I got two letters today.

I flew two times today. I flew a BARCAP this morning that I wasn’t scheduled for. They woke me up at 0800 and we took off at 0843, so I didn’t even have time to brush my teeth. The BARCAPs are up north and this was a clear day, so I got to see North Vietnam and China real good.

This afternoon I flew on a manuel hop which is a mission that is top secret. We had radio failure enroute to our target so we had to abort the mission. Meanwhile, an A-4 crashed at Chu Lai and closed the runway for 30 minutes, so we had to land at Danang and refuel. We didn’t even get out of the planes.

The movie tonight was a good one, finally. Goodbye Columbus, rated R. It starred Ali McGraw.

Photo - bomb craters

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Friday night
5 Dec. 1969

Today has been a bad day. I’ve been in the dumps all day. Also, I didn’t get any mail today - and we didn’t fly. So it’s been a bad day.

We had a squadron party this afternoon for all the enlisted men and officers. We had charcoal hamburgers and hot dogs plus all the beer you could drink. They had a few cokes, but as usual, not enough. I only got one.

They arranged for a band to play for us and it was an all girl band - the first one I’ve ever seen. They were Filipinos and were fairly good. One of them had a real good magic act.

Some of us got up a bridge game when we got tired of the band, so I spent most of the afternoon playing bridge. I slept all morning. The movie was pretty good, but it was one that left me filling lonely.

I gave up on that book I was reading and switched to a novel named Twelve O’clock High. It was about War World II. I read it yesterday afternoon and last night, and finished it.

Photo - on the way to the shower room.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Thursday night
4 Dec. 1969

My new roommate already has a cassette recorder and tapes, so I won’t have to save my money for that.

My day has been fairly routine. I was to fly this morning, but was canceled because of bad weather.

I got a lot of mail. Three letters, a tape and a notice from Esquire magazine.

I have the all night duty again tonight. I had it only 6 nights ago. Seems they are switching to using alphabetical order to assign it, so I got screwed!

Believe it or not, we had Dr. Peppers in the PX today - for about 3 hours - and I bought a case. I really couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw them. I understand they were all sold in no time at all. When we do get anything good in the PX you have to be there right then to get any of it. They have been getting a lot of good luggage lately, but it’s all been men’s two and three suiters.

Photo - Pilot Kurt Wilbrecht

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wednesday night
3 Dec. 1969

We didn’t get any letters today here, so I didn’t get a letter, or anything else. Today has been a long day, as usual. I spent all morning working on Ground Safety matters, then flew this afternoon. The weather is very bad and cold, about 60 degrees. I wore my flight jacket over to the movie tonight. We had a hum dinger of a movie - Fearless Vampire Killers. I can’t even think of words to describe it.

I mailed Christmas gifts today. The package was to large for SAM or PAL so I had to send it parcel post. I hope it gets there by Christmas.

I was really wrong about my roommate’s name, it’s Kurt Wilbrecht.

I can’t think of anything to write! I’m still reading that book! I’m really bogged down in it, but I’ve vowed to finish it! But, you know how bad I am about keeping my vows! Ha.
I’ve flown a total of 26 missions counting the one today.

Photo - two F-4 fighter-bombers on taxi way. Hangers and revetments in background.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tuesday night
2 Dec. 1969

This has been a full day, but I really didn’t accomplish much! My job as ground safety officer is going to be more work than I had thought. We had a safety meeting this morning which I attended, and as a result, have to make two reports, and check on some safety problems in the squadron. The work I like - the reports I don’t like.

I had my physical this morning and passed okay. I was worried about the dental part of it, but the dentist said my teeth are in real good shape. Not bad, considering I haven’t been to a dentist for a year! He did say it wouldn’t hurt to get them cleaned - but I’ve been putting that off for six, that’s right, six years. When I had my teeth checked prior to going to LCC, the dentist said I needed to have my teeth cleaned. But I never seemed to get around to doing it! I wonder why. Ha.

Then, I had the duty this afternoon, and played bridge again tonight for four hours.
I have a roommate, now. I have mixed feelings - but I don’t think I’ll like it as much as being alone. His name is Kirk _______ something. It’s one of those Mc something names. He’s a pilot and came from Beaufort.

I used the flashlight tonight and it’s great. It has a very bright light. I will try to bring most of this stuff back with me.

I’m going to buy myself a cassette tape recorder. These cassettes can be bought pre-recorded with music and is like playing records. I won’t be able to make tapes from this recorder, so I’ll have to continue to use the other one for that. These cassette players can usually be used portable or plugged into electricity. The only reason I’m going to buy one is because the radio reception is so bad. I’ll not buy it until I get out of country again, so I’ll have the money saved up.

Photo - hangers and revetments as seen from the runway.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Monday night
1 Dec. 1969

It’s after 2300 and I’ve been playing bridge for the past four hours! I’ve become addicted to this game!! And the good thing about it is that it’s an enjoyable way to pass an otherwise long evening.

Tonight the club was closed for inventory, so no movie. Without the card game it would have been a bad evening. I’ve slacked off reading, because I’m trying to struggle thru a book. It’s good, but it just doesn’t grab my interest!

I got a letter today and a package from the Young American’s for Freedom Club. It was a huge package full of all kinds of goodies and books. I.E. Fritos and bean dip (six cans) life savers, gobs of baggies (125) and other things. I bet that package cost them $6.00 - $7.00 including postage. I opened it at the hot pad today and the c.o. and I just about cleaned up the Fritos and two cans of bean dip. The skipper had missed lunch and was quite hungry! Obviously he craves bean dip.

I have an annual physical in the morning at 0730 so I’ll have go get up early again. I got up at 0445 this morning because we had the hot pad today for one day. The squadron that was to have the pad had a change of command ceremony and a stand-down.

I was on the pad all day, but did get to scramble once! We scrambled for a CAS mission. Not very exciting, but a hop anyway.

My eyes have been giving me some trouble the past couple of day. They itch and I keep rubbing them and they are blood shot pretty bad. I don’t know why.

We got some more rain tonight. The first in 48 hours! We had two real pretty days.

I came across another quote I like. It’s from the book I’m now reading. “If you give a man a fish, he will have a single meal. If you teach him how to fish, he will eat all his life.” Nothing special, but I like it.

Photo - F-4 being loaded with bombs.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sunday night
30 Nov. 1969

Today has been a much better day than yesterday because I had all the things today I didn’t have yesterday. I flew, got mail, had a good supper, and saw a good movie! The movie was If It’s Tuesday It Must be Belgium, a very good, funny movie. We had good charcoal steaks for supper, t-bones, and mine was real tender and just right!

My flight today was a CAS mission flown with Rich Hee, who was in 513 and has a charming wife. We had a good hop. I taped part of the mission, the part in the target area while we were bombing.

We played another game of bridge today. Russ and I got beat this time, but I’m beginning to get the hang of the game.

My jobs in the squadron are beginning to grow, but I still don’t have anything to do! They are all just “titles” really. I’m the motor transport officer, ground safety officer, and weapons control officer. Sounds impressive, but they don’t mean a thing!

Today, I finally started what I resolved to do several days ago. I worked out this morning!! I did it mostly to relieve the tensions that were building up in my system. I’m so out of shape, that I almost threw up after wards! I haven’t weighed for about a month, and I’m afraid to do so.

I don’t have a roommate, and I don’t want one. I just don’t think I could live with another guy. I’d be worried about waking him up, or keeping him awake, or whether I was bothering him, etc, etc.

Photo - Aircraft hanger at Chu Lai. Notice the plywood enclosures. Outdoor urinals.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Saturday night
29 Nov. 1969

Another long, useless, uneventful day is gone! Thank heavens. Each day seems to be a little worse than the day before!! I didn’t get any sleep at all last night so I slept this morning and got about 5 hours of sleep. Then I had to get up and brief for a mission that was cancelled because of bad weather. Next, I didn’t get any mail at all today. The movie tonight was one of those psychedelic, animated movies made by the Beatles and featured a lot of their songs. Title, Yellow Submarine. I watched about half of the movie before I had all I could take.

When I came out of the club, the sky was completely clear, with only a couple of puffy clouds! That’s the most stars I’ve seen from the ground in the last two weeks. It is also very cold tonight! Right now the temperature must be well below 60 which is cold for us. Some of the guys have been wearing their flight jackets, but I’m holding out until it really gets cold!

I mentioned before, I believe, that Russ is teaching me to play bridge. We played a game this afternoon, and we won! Not because of my abilities, however! Russ and I played John Haynes and John Cascio, a pilot. Cascio was stationed at El Toro before coming over here, and he says the place is just great. I sure wouldn’t mind if the whole squadron moved from here to El Toro!!!! Boy, that’s just to much to even think about!

I’ve flown only seven times in the two weeks since I’ve been back from Cubi Point. I was doing so much flying and now it has slacked off so that I feel completely useless.

This may sound like I’m really in the dumps, but, really, I’m cheerful about being over here. I just love each day being 24 hours of boredom! I love the lousy, fitful, sleepless nights! I love all the really fine movies we see here each night! But, I love most of all, the outstanding food they serve us here!! Ugh. There’s no doubt about it - all our fighting men are in good spirits.

Photo - bomb loading equipment on flight line

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Friday night
28 Nov. 1969

I have the all night duty again tonight! Seems like it was just a few days ago I had it last! I didn’t get to fly today, although I was on the hot pad all morning. I was scheduled for a CAP mission this afternoon, but it was cancelled because we didn’t have enough air planes.

That flashlight I wanted, is made in Japan and several people over here have them. I think they sell them in PX’s in Japan and Okinawa. I’ll get O.J. to get me one in Okinawa when he goes next week.

Boy, I can’t think of anything to write! We’re watching television news and they just said that the “New Christy Minstrels” performed here at Chu Lai yesterday and we didn’t even know about it. They went on to say that they performed at the Army’s amphitheater! Boy, we miss out on everything!

The Army division is on the other side of Chu Lai and I understand that all the celebrities that come here visit the army and not the Marines. If Bob Hope comes here we probably won’t even get to see him.

I just heard on television that Arkansas beat Tech 32-0. I had hoped that Tech could do better than that.

Photo - the kind of entertainment we got on our side of the air field.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thanksgiving night

Thanksgiving day is over, here. I had as good a birthday as possible! I got four birthday cards, two packages and a bill, today. One package was soap, razor blades, candy and books. And I got another package that also had soap, razor blades, and books and candy! So I’m pretty well stocked up on, believe it or not, soap, razor blades, books and candy!

I also got two Navy Times. We had a real good thanksgiving dinner here today. The turkey and gravy was delicious. I finally got to fly again! I flew a TPQ this morning at 0300, so my night’s sleep really got messed up. I slept some this morning, fitfully, so I didn’t get much rest. The weather got a little better, so I didn’t get to divert (rats). Everyone who’s come back from Ubon talks about what a good time they had and it makes me green with envy. Although the weather is not as bad, we still had rain almost all day.

This day was climaxed by the light bulb in the movie projector burning out in the middle of the movie and they had no spare!!

Radio reception is bad as ever! I try to listen to music at night and it’s impossible to get one station for more than a few minutes! The only stations I can get, clearly, are short wave and they fade in and out. Also about half the time the announcer talks in English and talks in some foreign language the other half. Most of the guys buy expensive tape recorders and listen to music on their own tapes. That equipment costs a lot of money.

The time I was shot at was like this: the FAC (forward airborne controller) who was controlling our flight said he was being shot at when he flew over the target to drop smoke on it to mark the target for us. He was flying a small, slow, propeller airplane. Since he was shot at, we naturally assume that we were shot at also, but we were flying so fast (three times as fast as the FAC) and higher, that we didn’t actually see anyone shooting at us! But I’m sure they were. If I was down there being bombed, you can bet I’d be shooting back.
Anyway I was in no real personal danger. A lot of planes do come back shot up. The Air Force lost two F-4s up by Danang about a week ago. Both planes were shot up so bad that they couldn’t land, so the crews ejected. Most of these planes are shot up outside of S. Vietnam.

I’m listening to a news conference with some senator concerning that Army lieutenant who supposedly had all those civilians killed! A shocking affair, if true, but I wasn’t there so I’m not jumping to judge that guy. Funny things happen in war, and only those who’ve been in war can fully understand them.

All the self righteous, peace loving people that rile me, can merely speculate. That’s why I hope to get off this base more and see for myself.

MAG-13 has a civic-action officer who supervises the civic action projects among the people that is being financed by U.S. Navy. He is a lieutenant who was in 513 and I know him real well. He goes out amongst the people almost everyday, and I’m going to try to go with him sometime. I will have to get written permission from my CO to do this. A big part of winning this war is this business of civic action to help the people build schools, hospitals, wells (water), bridges, etc.

Photo - me with orphan, enhanced by a reader.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Wednesday night
26 Nov. 1969

I don’t think I’ve had one good night’s sleep since I got here. It’s really getting bad! I have nightmares or dreams and wake up three or four times during the night! One night, before I flew with an awful pilot, I dreamed that pilot and I crashed! Of course I was okay, but it sure ruined my sleep!

I didn’t fly today, for the fourth day! And I’m about to go crazy, not doing anything! The weather is still very bad here, and even getting colder. It’s like the early winter in the panhandle of Texas.

All flights that take off from here still have to divert to Ubon, Thailand. This morning, eight of our planes were there. It’s really uncanny how all these flights have been going to Ubon and I haven’t been lucky enough to make it yet.

I got two letters today, and the Post. It was just marvelous getting a real newspaper, even if it is two weeks old! We are really news starved over here. I haven’t seen a copy of the Stars and Stripes for four days, and the radio is so lousy I can’t listen to the news. And, even when I can it’s not very comprehensive news.

I was thinking today, if I spend a whole year away, the states could really change in that length of time. When you think of how much can happen in a year and the way fads and fashions change, it’s really uncanny. Plus the ‘71 cars will be out, and I haven’t even seen most of the ‘70 models yet!

It has rained so much today that I finally had to go to supply and get me some rain gear to wear. I’ve been wearing my rain coat, but if it’s raining a lot, it becomes saturated and isn’t waterproof anymore. We’ve had constant rain for three days now, ranging from a drizzle to a downpour!

Everywhere is mud!

Photo - Pilot, RIO and plane captain

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tuesday afternoon
25 Nov. 1969

This has been a fairly dull day, and really don’t have to much to write about. I’ve been on the hot pad since 0600 and didn’t get to fly because of the weather. This is the third day now that I haven’t flown!

The bad weather continues the same, making flying just about impossible. I didn’t get any letters today, but then, no one did! I did get two packages! Soap and hankies, two books, some homemade candy of some kind (good), a can of mixed nuts, and some newspapers. It’s funny how some days we get letters, then other days we get packages! This candy is sort of like fudge, but not like anything I can ever recall eating before. It’s very good. Just two days ago I was wanting candy, now I have plenty!

The rumors are stronger everyday that all F-4s will pull out sometime during the next few months. Just when and where to, I’m afraid to even speculate about. Just have to wait and see.

We finally got some cokes in at the PX so I bought a case of them. Russ has an icebox and I’m putting them in it. We call ice boxes “reefers” over here for short. Maybe if I ever get a roommate we’ll buy one together, but I can’t see spending the money by myself. They have small reefers for sale at the PX for about $80 or $50 depending on the size. They are only three to four feet tall, with a small ice compartment. Real neat for over here.

All this candy plus cokes and a steady diet of milk, meat, potatoes, gravy, and ice cream means I’m gaining weight!! I’ve just about made a resolution that starting tomorrow I’m going to work out in the weight room every day, if possible! I’ve made this resolution before, then get lazy but I’m going to try once again!

Photo - pilot dressed for combat mission, with mickey mouse ears.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Monday night
24 Nov.1969

Another day is gone. I was on the hot pad all afternoon and had to sit in my flight gear for six hours and didn’t even get to fly! The weather is so bad here in I Corps that no one was flying much.

A real cold front moved in here last night and is expected to stay for three or four days. The wind is blustery and cold, there has been a constant chilly rain all day long and it’s been about 60 degrees all day! That’s cold for here! The head of that orphanage commented yesterday on how cool it was getting.

We launched seven planes today, and five of them diverted to Ubon, Thailand because the weather was to bad to land here. Ubon is our primary divert field when the weather is to bad at Danang to go there, because the Air Force has F-4s there and can work on ours, if need be. Ubon is 225 miles west of Chu Lai. I wouldn’t mind diverting over there, except I really don’t have enough money right now.

The last two times I’ve flown, we bombed in the area between the 140 degree and 210 degree radials about 20 miles out from Danang. That is in the Hoi An river valley.

Photo - celebrating a pilot's 100th mission.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sunday night
23 Nov. 1969

This has been a pretty good day, although tiring. I got off the base today for the first time since I’ve been here. Doesn’t sound like much, but you don’t just go off base here anytime you want to.

I went to an orphanage about twenty miles north of here, at Tam Ky, with about sixteen enlisted men. This orphanage is sort of a squadron project and a truck goes up each Sunday afternoon to visit the kids! It’s a combination church, school, and orphanage and appears to be doing a good job. I took a lot of pictures and I can’t wait to get them back.

It was really something being outside the safe boundaries of the base! We were actually out where the war is being fought, out amongst the people. On the whole, the people appear to live somewhat like the Mexicans do. Maybe not quite so poor as the Mexicans. All the people along the roads and in the villages appeared to be genuinely friendly and I saw no signs of dislike toward us. Even the smallest of the children would wave to us as we drove by.

I hope to get off base more often like that. When we go out there, we have to wear our protective vests and carry our weapons, just in case we should be ambushed. But I never felt afraid, just excited. The highway was just as good as some back in the states.

Believe it or not, we got stopped by the MPs who patrol the highway, and the driver of the truck got a ticket for speeding!! Can you imagine it! There we were out in the country in a war zone just sitting on the side of the road while that MP. took his good ole time writing out a speeding ticket!! It was funny to the point of hilarity!

Other than the trip, this has been a pretty dull Sunday. I had the duty this morning from 0600-0900, and didn’t fly at all today. This is the first day since I got back from the Philippines that I haven’t flown. Then tonight we had a floor show at the club (also charcoal steaks). The show was the same as always, a rock and roll band with go-go girls.

For some reason I’m having trouble sleeping good over here! I have trouble getting to sleep, then I have weird dreams and wake up a lot during the night! I’m just unable to relax and really sleep soundly, I can’t figure what the is problem.

Photo -author with orphan.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Saturday night
22 Nov. 1969

I got three letters today!

Well, this has been another typical day! Flew this morning with the group XO, who is a real lousy guy to fly with. He is very dangerous! It’s almost as bad as being shot at to have to fly with him.

Then I spent the afternoon reading, then to the movie tonight. My days consist of the same things: fly once, read, eat, sleep, and go to the movie. The only thing that ever varies is the time of day I fly.

I love to get sweets in packages. Fudge, cookies, anything sweet!! The only candy they sell in the PX is M&Ms! That’s because ordinary candy like Hershey’s would melt.

Photo - ambulance parked next to aid station.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Friday Night
21 Nov. 1969

At the end of another long day, I take up my pen. The squadron didn’t get any mail today, just packages. So I have no mail today.

My day started early with a 0630 brief for a CAS mission. We had a fairly good flight and a good BDA. We destroyed five hooches, two bunkers, and fifty meters of tree line, and damaged four hooches. The Marine ground troops had been receiving sniper fire from this tree line, so we bombed the area thoroughly. This place was about twenty miles southeast of Danang.

Today for lunch we had one of the best meals since I’ve been here. It was fish dinner of fried ocean perch, fried shrimp, and fried scallops, all very good. I just kept going back for more ‘til I was stuffed!

We were to have a floor show tonight at the club and everyone had been looking forward to it for a week. But something happened and it was canceled. Instead we had a lousy movie titled Vengeance of She. These things, plus no mail today, have dropped my morale to an all time low. But I’m already looking forward to when the mail comes tomorrow.

Photo - hanging out on the hot pad.