Tuesday, March 30, 2010

30 March 1970

Monday morning
30 March 1970

I just now woke up and can’t get back to sleep because 1)  my back is killing me and, 2) there are some carpenters working nearby with a power saw!!

Charlie company is now back at Baldy.  We got back here yesterday morning.  We’re the only company in the battalion to come back to be this “react” force.  No one seems to know how long we’ll be in this status.

My pay each month is $310.  I haven’t been paid now for a month, so I have that much money left on the books.  I have plenty of cash on me to last while I’m FAC, so I don’t intend to take any pay for a couple of months.  I can probably save $600 - $900 by the time we pull out of country (if we do).  The reason I haven’t been saving like this before now is because I had spent so much money in the Philippines and Okinawa! 

Photo - all my "gear."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

28 March 1970

Saturday morning
28 March 1970

We’re starting our 9th day in the bush, and I still haven’t received any mail!  We expect to go back to Baldy today or tomorrow and perhaps I can find out why I haven’t had any mail.

The mosquitoes are just swarming all over me!  The pesky things really get bad between Sunset and Sunrise!

I controlled my first flight of air yesterday!   The target was a bunker complex our patrols had found.  I had requested 500 pound bombs, for two days, and finally got a flight with napalm, which is the wrong kind of ordnance for that target.  But it was fun anyway.  Out of the two weeks I’ve been with the grunts, that’s the first time I’ve done my job!

Sure would like to have some chocolate pudding.  This pudding is a new product and it comes in a “snack pack”,  a small can with a peel open lid, much like a Vienna sausage can.  I’ve had one can and it is very tasty.

I understand the postal strike is over, at least for now!  I certainly hope so because it’s miserable without mail.

When we do go back to Baldy, we’ll go on “react”, which means we have to be ready at all times to “react” to help troops who are in contact with the enemy.  Kind of like standing the hot pad.  I don’t care what we do, just as long as we’re back at Baldy and can get good chow and a shower (cold) every day.

C rations aren’t as bad as I thought they would be.  If you heat them good and use a little catsup, they’re not bad.  We do get some supplementary food occasionally, such as large cans of precooked bacon, frankfurters, etc, and even cans of juice.

We also get things like candy, cigarettes, cigars, stationary, and toiletries.  A few items that a person might run out of in the bush.  This stationary came in the resupply about two days ago.

It’s cloudy  this morning and looks like rain!  But I’ll take anything but rain!  I’m so glad I wasn’t with the grunts during the monsoons.

It’s time for breakfast, which will be a canteen cup of c-ration instant coffee!! And maybe some c-ration instant cocoa!

Photo - digging a fox hole.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

21 March 1970

Saturday morning   
21 March 1970

We finally got this operation under way, after a 24 hour delay due to bad weather in the objective area.  So we got to spend two nights at Baldy which no one minded.

I fear that I have failed to describe, fully, just what LZ Baldy is.  Landing Zone Baldy is a helipad where 7th Marine Regiment Headquarters is located.  This, also, is where our “rear” is located, consisting of supply and admin personnel mostly.  During this period we are the “swing” battalion which means we do not have a specific A.O. (area of operation), but are used to operate anywhere in the 7th Marines A.O.  At the end of a months time, we will no longer be on “swing” and one of the other battalions will go on swing.

We finally got this current operation started yesterday afternoon.  We are operating in “Antenna Valley”, a traditionally bad area where all people are considered V.C. sympathizers.  I landed at the L.Z. on hill 90 here in the valley with the assault forces who secured the L.Z. for the following helicopters.  We had expected this to be a hot L.Z., enemy contact, but not a shot was fired then, or since.  I moved out, then, with C company to a position about one quarter mile to the west, where we have established our position.  From here we will send out patrols and ambushes in the valley.

Last night was miserable!!  Hot, and mosquitoes swarming!  We have a problem with malaria, and have to take a malaria pill once a week to keep from getting malaria.

Since we are located on the valley floor, the sun is out, no breeze, high humidity and is very uncomfortable!!!  I have built a “shelter” to keep out of the sun which helps a little.

As far as I know we’ll remain in this position until the operation is complete.

I have a machete type knife I bought at JEST school in the Philippines.  It is very handy here in the jungle.  I used bamboo stalks to build my shelter and used this knife to cut the stalks.

There are very strong rumors that the 7th Marines will be withdrawn from Vietnam during April or May, in which event I’ll go back to the squadron.  So, I may only spend five to six weeks as FAC.  And one week is already gone!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

18 March 1970

Wednesday night
18 March 1970

We got word we are being pulled back to LZ Baldy - our base, and then launch out on a new operation.  So we pulled back this morning and will be going out to the bush tomorrow morning. So after three days in the bush, I got to take a shower and eat a good hot meal tonight of steak.

Right at this time I’m between briefings for the operation, so I thought I’d best get a quick note written.

Tomorrow morning I’ll become attached to C company as a FAC.  Up until now I’ve been staying with the Battalion ALO in the command post, learning how things work.  The ALO is another LT who got here only ten days before me - we were in FAC school at Okinawa together and became good friends then.  We’ll be switching as ALO and FAC, because the FAC has things rougher because of being out with the company which moves a lot, and gets into the real action.

During the 24 hours we were at out last position, one of our companies  killed four enemy and had two men wounded by booby traps. 

This operation is supposed to last from 3 - 10 days, and then we’ll resume the op we were on yesterday - that being protecting a valley from the enemy during the rice harvest.

It’s very interesting to see how the grunts work.  It’s so much like Basic School, I feel right at home.  All the same problems and planning, except now it’s for real!!!
I’m going to take my camera with me tomorrow and I hope to get some good pictures.  I could have got some good ones during the past three days.

This operation tomorrow involves grunts, artillery, helicopters, and jet bombers!  All requiring coordination and planning by the ALO - so he has a very challenging job.  As the FAC, my job is really just to assist the ALO during the planning phases, and then go with the company to call in CAS in the event we need it.  I have so much free time on my hands, it’s not even believable.  In the bush I go to bed about dusk (1900-2000) and sleep until about 0700.  So I get plenty of sleep, although it’s certainly not restful.

Last night it rained, and Ron Boehm, the ALO, and I did not have our shelter built right, and we both got soaked!  Well - the fortunes of war! I’ll probably mention Ron a lot in the future, since we are so close in this job.  He is an A-6  pilot, and has been in country the same time as me.  He is married, has one girl, and is from Louisiana.  He is only five feet six inches tall so I’m actually bigger.

The way I’ve been eating in the bush, there is no doubt I’ll lose a lot of weight.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

17 March 1970

Tuesday morning
17 March 1970

I have now been the “bush” for two nights and days - and believe me - it’s not glamorous.  I haven’t had a bath since I left Chu Lai, and I probably won’t get one for several weeks!  I do all my washing, shaving, etc., out of my helmet!  My desk to write this is an empty C ration box. 

I have an inflatable rubber mattress, affectionately known as a “rubber lady”.  Mine has a slow leak and has to be blown up about every two hours during the night!

The battalion moved to a new position yesterday, by helicopters, so I got the first taste of what my job is to be like.  We expect to be in this new area for about three weeks.

I will continue to get flight pay while here.

I suppose I’d better clean up a little, and shave.

We’re located on top a hill about ten miles south of Da Nang, and it’s quite cool up here.  But, it won’t be cool after the sun comes up.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

14 March 1970

Saturday night
14 March 1970

I’m with the grunts!  I got to my battalion this afternoon.  I flew here from Da Nang by helicopter.  We’re about 20 miles south of Da Nang.  The actual battalion is out in the “bush” right now and I’ll be joining them tomorrow or the next day.  Needless to say, things are not nearly as nice as they were at Chu Lai  and I complained about how bad it was there, ha!!

My address is as I expected.

H&S Co.
1st Battalion, 7th Marines
1st MarDiv
FPO, San Francisco 96602

There is some artillery being fired right now, and every time the gun fires, I jump.

My living accommodations for the night is a cot in a large hooch with just four walls and a roof!  Quite depressing, I must say.  I fill a little like I did when I first came in country - my whole living pattern is messed up.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

13 March 1970

Friday night
13 March 1970

Tonight is my last night in Chu Lai - unless my orders get changed before I get on the plane in the morning.  I have a 0810 flight to Da Nang to become a “grunt”.  Even though I’m taking just the bare necessities, it was to much to put in one bag - I had a lot of overflow!

Tonight we had a floor show at the club and then afterwards several people and the band went to a Lt. Col’s hooch where we proceeded to have a real party.  It was just like that last squadron party at 513 when Tom Greer was trying to get me to drink something.  Only this time it was Russ Fyke.  His baby is due May 20 something.  Rick Hines is expecting a baby much sooner, in April, I think.

I really don’t have much to write.

Friday, March 12, 2010

12 March 1970

Thursday morning
12 March 1970

I just returned from getting cancelled!  I was supposed to fly an escort for an A-6 to bomb the Ho Chi Minh trail.  But while we were at the end of the runway to take off, we got word that the A-6 in Da Nang wouldn’t be going because of aircraft troubles!

So we taxied back in and came home.  However - I haven’t been to sleep all night because couldn’t get to sleep earlier - and now I’m wide awake because I drank a cup of coffee before getting in the aircraft.  I really didn’t want to fly this mission because these are the most dangerous ones we fly. 

I don’t have anything scheduled until noon today, so I will be able to get some sleep.  But right now I’m wide awake.  I suppose I’ll read awhile.

I got an Esquire magazine today and I was looking at their advertisements for men’s clothing.  I’ve been so conservative in my dress - but I really like some of the new mod styles.  Perhaps I’ll start buying more radical styles in the future.  I’m tired of the conservative square type of individual I’ve been because of the Marine Corps.  When I get to be a civilian, I just may grow long hair, etc.

Thursday night
12 March 1970

Right now I make over $12,000 a year.  Of course - only while I’m in Vietnam.

I flew two missions today - both scrambled off the hot pad.  And I hope they are my last combat missions!  I fully expect the F-4s to be out of here before I get back from FAC.  I’m not flying tomorrow as I have to pack and store all my flight gear - and then I’ll be leaving here early Saturday morning.

Not to worry about the danger of being a FAC!  From everything I’ve heard it’s safer  than flying.  It may be more uncomfortable being with the grunts, but I’m still looking forward to it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

10 March 1970

Tuesday night
10 March 1970

Spent another six hours on the hot pad - but didn’t get scrambled this time.  However I did fly a hop this morning.  I now have about 130 missions.  I could have 200 in another two months - but I’ll be happy with what I have.  I’m only going to fly for two more days before I start checking out, to leave.

We had a fairly good floor show tonight.  Supposedly the people were from the Philippines, England, France and Belgium!  Quite an international group.  The guy from Belgium was a caricaturist.  And was really an outstanding artist.

Rick Hines and Ken Bond joined the squadron today after their little trip back to the states!  When I remember that I could have been in that squadron and could have been in their place - boy it just makes me sick!  They all got seven days leave in the States.  Rough, eh!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

9 March 1970

Monday night
9 March 1970

I spent six hours on the hot pad today and got scrambled once.  Our target was a “base camp”-actually a small village.  This place was way west of here in the mountains.  It was right next to a mountain stream with waterfalls and was very beautiful!  Such a shame that such a beautiful country has to be so ravished by war.

I’ve started packing up all the stuff I’m going to store - and it’s really amazing how much stuff I’ve accumulated in the time I’ve been here!

One of the squadrons here had some sabotage of it’s aircraft, like we had that time in 513.  So far it’s just been that one squadron, and I hope it stays that way.

By the time this arrives, I should have already left Chu Lai!

Photo - 1968 at Pensacola, Florida during training at Pensacola NAS.

Monday, March 8, 2010

8 March 1970

Sunday night
8 March 1970

No mail again today - but I’ll write anyway!

Tomorrow we go on the hot pad - so I have to spend my last week on that lousy hot pad!  I’m planning to leave Chu Lai as early as I can on the 14th, so I’ll spend all day the 13th getting packed and checked out.

I flew a BarCap today, a 3 hour mission up north.  Not very exciting and awfully tiresome!

Major Gibson gave me the enclosed picture today, but I had already sealed up last night’s letter.  I don’t think I’ve flown with him since the picture was taken.

It’s midnight now.  I worked on tomorrow’s flight schedule from 1930 ‘til 2300.  However I looked after me!  I don’t have anything until 1200 - so I can sleep late, as I did this morning.  While most guys are drinking and relaxing, I’m over working on the schedule, so I don’t feel a bit bad about having the morning off.  I only write the schedule for three days at a time then the other writer does it for three days. 

The picture sure makes me look burly!  More so than the ones I sent yesterday.  I don’t know why.  I’m just rattling on about nothing - it is late - so I’ll sign off now.

Photo - summer 1968, Pensacola, Florida.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

7 March 1970

Saturday night
7 March 1970

The end of another week - and one week left to FAC!  No mail today - and I have absolutely nothing to write!

I flew once today - a rather lousy hop all in all - so I really didn’t have a very good day.  The day is only as good as the flying!

The pictures were taken on my 100th  mission on 18 Feb.  I also have some slides taken on the same occasion, but don’t have them back yet.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

6 March 1970

Friday night
6 March 1970

I’m sending this clipping just in case you missed that news.  Very interesting - and causing a great deal of speculation!!!

I’m going to go ahead and request R and R for the end of June, as planned.  I need to do this before I leave for FAC because I have to do it through the squadron.  As time goes on and I find out more about this pull out business, I can always cancel the R and R.

I flew two missions today - both very interesting and challenging because of the nature of the targets and the bad weather in the target area.

On the first one, the C.O. was leading the hop and I was in dash two.  The C.O. and his RIO couldn’t talk to the FAC because they had bad radios, so I had to do all the talking for the flight to the FAC.  The C.O. was very complimentary to me when we got back.

Well enough bragging!

It’s now 20 weeks and 32 to go - but everyone knows we won’t be here for that long!

Gee, I really can’t think of anything to write!

We had a fair movie tonight, of which I got to see the last half.  I had to write the flight schedule for tomorrow.  The movie was “A Man and a Woman”, an “art” film which has received a lot of awards for various things.

I finally got my laundry back today - it had been at the laundry for about ten days!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

5 March 1970

Thursday night
5 March 1970

Nine more days of this Mickey mouse routine - and then I get out where the real war is!  I understand the unit I’m going to has seen a lot of action, and that’s just what I want.  I suppose I’ll get tired of that after awhile - but for awhile I hope to enjoy it - if such a thing can be enjoyed.

I didn’t get to fly today because my hop was canceled because of weather.  However I’m scheduled for two hops tomorrow.

I have a brief at 0545 so I’m going to get some sleep!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

4 March 1970

Wednesday Morning
4 March 1970

I went to Da Nang yesterday afternoon and got back after 10 last night.  I had 2 letters waiting for me.

I found out that I’ll be with 1/7 as FAC.  In grunt talk, 1/7 is First Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment, First Marine Division.  I’ll be assigned to the Battalion as either a FAC or ALO (Air Liaison Officer).  ALOs don’t go out with the company like the FACs do, unless the Battalion is short of FACs.  1/7 is located about 15 miles south of Da Nang.  My address will be

Name, serial number
H&S Co. Air Officer
1st Battalion, 7th Marines
FPO, San Fran. 96602

I still haven’t had a chance to get to the post office to get a money order.  But I will at first opportunity.

I will take as little stuff as possible with me when I go FAC.  The rest of my stuff will be stored with the squadron here.  I’ll just be taking the bare necessities with me.  I’m not even going to take my cassette recorder.  If I’d known I was going FAC I wouldn’t have bought it.  But, you never know what to expect next in this war.

So far no one has been rotated to Japan at the end of six months like we thought they were going to start doing.  Looks like the only way I’ll get to Japan is for the squadron to pull out and go up there.  However, I would much rather go to El Toro!

Major Gibson is the Chu Lai Air Base Operations Officer now and only flies rarely.

Kurt is married to a former airline stewardess and is from St. Paul, Minn.  As his name implies, he is German and is quite a character.  He has only about one year of college.  He enlisted in the Marine Corps and applied for OCS after boot camp.

I was supposed to fly this morning, but the mission was canceled because of bad weather.

The first planes that flew out of here this morning, had to divert to Ubon.  Sure wish I would have been on that flight!

There will be things I’ll need while I’m FAC - such as laundry soap, flashlight batteries, etc.

We have a pilot named Doug Burpee who just came back from FAC.  He was with the same unit that Bill Overcast, the corpsman, is with.  He said he knows Bill real well and, in fact, was along on that operation when that picture was taken.  Small world.

Nearly noon, and I didn’t eat breakfast - I’ll go eat and mail this letter.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2 March 1970

Monday night
2 March 1970

No letters today, but did get two papers.

I’ve my orders for FAC and I’ll leave here on March 14 and report to First Marine Division to be further assigned to a Battalion.  I’m going to Da Nang tomorrow to take a plane up there to have some work done on it.  While I’m waiting for the plane, I’m going to Division headquarters and try to find out just exactly where I’ll be going for FAC and what equipment I will need.

I get more excited everyday about going FAC, I’m really looking forward to it.

Flew my two hops today.  Can’t think of another thing to write.  My mind is blank!

Photo - 1969, while stationed at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina.

Monday, March 1, 2010

1 March 1970

Sunday night
1 March 1970

I was hoping to get a PAR trip to Japan to pick up an airplane before I go FAC.   But I just don’t know if I can afford to.

I have the all night duty tonight, and am about to start writing tomorrow’s flight schedule.  I suppose today’s schedule was okay as I never heard anything to indicate otherwise.

I still don’t know what date I’ll be going FAC.  I was sure I would find out today, but since everyone had the afternoon off, I couldn’t get any action.

The “frag” just came in so I’ll have to stop now and get to work.


The schedule is finished and being typed, so I’ll add a few more lines.

I flew once today and am scheduled to fly twice tomorrow.  As usual, we’re short of RIOs.  We got two new RIOs in today.  I say they’re new, they were in VMFA-542 which went back to the states.  I’m sure these guys were part of the crews which ferried the planes to El Toro.

The beach party this afternoon was a big success.  We had steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, and all the beer and coke you could drink.  All the officers were thrown into the ocean by the enlisted men.  The enlisted men get a big kick out of doing that. I suppose it releases their latent desire to be disrespectful to an officer.  And we don’t mind either.  I had been there about five minutes when I was surrounded by a number of burly, drunken Marines so I went quite peacefully!