Sunday, April 11, 2010

11 April 1970

11 April 1970

For the past 24 hours I’ve been attached to the 3rd platoon.  We are acting as a blocking force for an operation - the theory being that we’ll keep the enemy from escaping in this direction.  However we’ve had no contact and haven’t seen any particularly suspicious people.  We’re set up around a burned farm house right now, for the night.

Well, the President has announced his announcement, concerning future troop withdrawals and every Marine is most anxious to hear his speech.  We all expect the 7th Marines to be withdrawn this time and, I hope, the F-4’s.

The Commanding General of 1st MarDiv - Maj. Gen Wheeler - visited C Co in the bush day before yesterday (or was it yesterday).  Of course all the officers in C Co talked to him, reluctantly.  Actually he did all the talking!  He asked me how long I had been with C Co, where I was before, how long there, etc.,  then he said C Co was a very good company to be with.   C Co is the largest company in the battalion and, in fact, (I guess) is the best.  Even if they are, I’ve seen a lot of practices I wasn’t very pleased with.

I had to stop and put my gas mask on!!!   For the second time in two days I’ve been gassed by our own people.  It’s CS gas, used in the states for riots.  It’s being put in bunkers in that hamlet that C Co is in.  however, we are about a mile away, but a strong wind is blowing the gas right to our position.  This gas burns the eyes and skin and can cause nausea.

I have a new radio operator with me.  He came out yesterday.  He is from Amarillo.  He’s been trying to get emergency leave for about the past week.  Red Cross approved it and so did battalion - but division denied it.  I think he’s having  some kind of marital trouble - but he hasn’t talked about it.  He has a son about 15 months old.

When I think that my boys are 2 and 3 - I really feel like an old man!  Most of the Marines (enlisted) are between 18-21.   When I tell them how long I’ve been in the corps, married, sons, etc. they are really awed.  Doesn’t seem that long ago that I was 21.

Right now I can see traffic moving along Highway 1, about 2 miles away.  Those vehicles move in relative safety,  yet we suspect there is a Vietcong battalion operating in this area.  There  is really no way we can rid this country of the Vietcong - because we can’t catch them.  They fight on their terms, when they wish.  Their tactics consist of sniping, ambushes, and booby traps.  All the casualties we’ve had in the past month have been from booby traps or snipers.  And it’s frustrating because we can’t do a thing about it!!

Photo - my radio operator frying a slice of ham on a "c-ration can stove".

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