Sunday, June 27, 2010

27 June 1970

27 June 1970

I’ve been just awful about writing you!  Sorry.  I’m afraid I can’t even remember the last letter I wrote you.

I’m going over to Udorn, Thailand day after tomorrow for about four days.  The reason I’m going is to learn about ABCCC (Airborne Combat Control Centers).  Kind of an orientation deal to let you know what other people are doing in the war.  Actually, it’s a “good deal” - a free trip out of country for a little R and R.  I’m getting to go because I haven’t been out of S. Vietnam for five months!

While I’m over at Udorn, I’ll buy that watch my brother has been wanting.

I have received my orders back to the world.  We’ll be going back to Cherry Point - to my chagrin.  I don’t really mind going to Cherry Point - it’s just that I had my heart set on going to Glynco.  I suppose I’ll be in the squadron there that teaches new pilots how to fly F-4s.

I’ve had a long past 24 hours.  I was on the hot pad for 12 hours, then had the duty for 12 hours.  I was relieved of the duty this morning at 0600.  I guess the squadron figures I need to catch up for los time!  Ha!

Our commanding officer is quite candid about the fact that he thinks 122 will be pulled out of Vietnam during this coming withdrawal.  However, we have no idea when, or where to.

The air conditioning is really great here!!  You just don’t know how much something is appreciated until it’s done without for awhile.

Friday, June 25, 2010

25 June 1970

25 June 1970

We had a real fine floor show tonight - for once.  A real good group that didn’t have all the usual songs, dancers, etc.  The leader was a Negro comedian and was very funny.   The group played a good many old favorite tunes - not the rock and roll trash we usually get.

I’ve a long day tomorrow as I’m scheduled to have hot pad or duty for 24 straight hours.  Sounds like the old days!

I should be getting my orders within the next month - so I don’t have long to wait before I know.  The captain selection board meets the 6th of Oct for 4 weeks.  So I won’t know for sure if I’m promoted until Nov.  But I should be a shoo in.

Photo - Kurt Wilbrecht sitting in aircraft during hot refuel.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

23 June 1970

23 June 1970

Now that I’m back at Chu Lai, I’ll try to write something everyday - like before.  I have returned to normal activity - flew twice today - just like the old days - and will probably fly twice tomorrow.

I’m reading a real good book about a fighter pilot in WWII (a novel).  It is written in a very sarcastic manner and points out all the absurdities of the way the military did things.  That’s the kind of book I would like to write about my experiences with the grunts!!  I really wish I did have the ability to write, because there is so much I would like to say about the “system”.

I told the P.X. officer about the slide projector and he said he would be glad to replace it!  Of course that’s not very feasible now.  I just wanted him to be aware of what happened.

It’s really strange how I’m so glad to be back here!  No matter how bad it is here - it’s not as bad as it was there!!!!

Top photo - School
Bottom photo - Government building

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

22 June 1970

22 June 1970

I am now back in good Chu Lai!  Almost like coming home - but not quite!  I got in at 1700 yesterday and haven’t flown yet.  I might get a hop tonight - but I doubt it.  I applied for R&R for 1 Aug.  I should know by the 15th of July the exact date.  I also went to disbursing and got a little pay because I was broke!  I now have $935 saved - through the 15th of this month.  Add to that $160 for the rest of the month and I hope to save another $300 in July - adds up to about $1400 by R&R time!!  Not bad.  That’ll be enough to cover the cost of R&R.

I haven’t mentioned it, but Kurt Wilbrecht is dead.  He crashed on a mission and they think he was shot down.  The RIO got out O.K.  He ejected AFTER the plane hit the ground so he is very lucky!!  The RIO said he felt two “thuds” before hitting the ground and Kurt never said anything after that - so they figure he must have been hit by ground fire.  I’ll say - I was really depressed.  He is the second of my pilots to be killed - and also the second of my roommates.  I’m a jinx!!

Lex Mitchel, who was in 513 when I was there, crashed here at Chu Lai, but got out O.K.  This group has lost seven aircraft in the last two months - which is a startling figure.  So I don’t know if it’s safer to be back here!  Ha.

39 days ‘til R&R!  And 118 days ‘til RTD (return date).  My RTD is 19 Oct of course.

People have been getting orders to a lot of different places - but there is one - Yuma - that is new.  VMFAT-101 is at Yuma.  It’s the same as 201 at Cherry Point.  So it’s just possible I might get orders to there.  I hope not though because it’s not the best place in the world.

Well, I have to get to work on my NATOPS test.

Photo - flooded rice paddies

Sunday, June 20, 2010

20 June 1970

20 June 1970

My replacement is here!!!  He showed up yesterday afternoon.  He is a guy from my squadron, so I knew him at Chu Lai.

I’ll be leaving Baldy tomorrow morning - provided nothing drastic happens to stop me!!

The first thing I’m going to do when I get back to Chu Lai is apply for R&R.  I haven’t done so yet - but there should be no problems.

It’s pouring rain right now.  The rain has been getting heavier and more frequent lately, especially in afternoons.  The good thing is that it cools off the night - makes real good sleeping.

I should get a plaque from the battalion this afternoon at the daily briefing.  I say the battalion  is giving it to me - but actually I bought it for $5!  It’s a real nice plaque and although I’ve been unhappy here - someday I’ll have pleasant memories and bad will have faded away.

I haven’t done anything at all today as the new ALO is taking care of everything.  You’ll never believe how happy I was to see my replacement!  I don’t think I had smiled that much since I’ve been here!

Photos - Buddha pagoda along the highway. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

18 June 1970

18 June 1970

Today was pretty much a usual day.  Hot, long, boring.  My replacement still has not come - so I called division this morning.  They said they didn’t know who or when my replacement will be here - but that he should come 5 days before I leave - which would have been day before yesterday - as I’m leaving Sunday.

I mailed a roll of film off today for development, and have started on a new roll.  I’m taking color prints instead of color slides this roll.  The roll was give to me by a friend here.

You know, I didn’t even know when Father’s Day was.  That’s how out of touch I am with the real world.  Over here we just seem to be living in a nightmare world - losing track of time and events.  I forget many things.

Enclosed are some news clippings.  I took a picture of that market place which is shown in the picture, several days before the attack.  Also - when I was at the village the day after the attack, I saw the dwarf that the other article is about.  He walked by me as I was taking pictures of the damage.  I remember him distinctly because it was s odd to see a Vietnamese dwarf.  I don’t suppose there were more than this one in the village.

I heard something very disturbing about the attack on the village.  Some Marines claim they heard the mortars being fired about 400 meters from their night position - and also heard voices. But they didn’t report it at the time!!!  I don’t know if they were afraid, or to lazy.  I just couldn’t believe it.

We have a real problem with our young Marines over here doing dumb things.  Last night a Marine woke up in the night saw someone moving about 25 meters away and opened fire (after he was told not to) with his M-16 rifle.  Result - 2 Marines dead - one dying!!  You see - he shot some members of his own unit.  This is not the first time - in fact I think it’s the third time in about the past month something like this has happened.  Then this morning that same unit tripped a booby trap - killing one Marine and wounding two.  Six  casualties because of carelessness.  I think we lose more this way than to the enemy.

Top photo - shop alone the roadway

Bottom photo - market square

Thursday, June 17, 2010

17 June 1970

17 June 1970

My replacement hasn’t shown up, yet.  If he doesn’t get here today I’m going to start worrying.  I intend to leave Sunday - but they probably won’t let me go if my replacement isn’t here.  In fact I know they won’t. 

I mentioned a couple of days ago that things seemed to be all screwed up - but all is well now.  I finally found out that the Regiment was making all the mistakes, were blaming them on me!  It always works that way with the Marines - pass the blame down to the next man!

(following is from diary)

Have four days left here!  Having trouble with Mad Hatter again - they can’t seem to get it together down there.  The operators aren’t passing info along.

Bravo company has really become awful.  They are killing, it seems, almost indiscriminately anything that moves.  Also, Bravo six has become quite a hard ass - gives his people a bad time.

Charlie six has not gotten any better - worse in fact.  His company is falling apart.  Gunny Perez killed by booby trap.

Link to Vietnam Memorial Wall for Gunny Perez. - more photos of damage caused to village by rocket attack by the viet cong.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

15 June 1970

15 June 1970

Life here continues the same - screwed up!  The past two days every thing has gone wrong.  Seems like everything fell apart when Ron left, and I spend all my time running in circles trying to put it all back together again.  I don’t think it’s me that’s causing it.  Ha.

The new air officer went to the bush today for a few days to see how the grunts really live.  He’ll be coming back in to take over when I leave.  I’m still looking for MY replacement.  He should be here tomorrow - I hope - and I hope to leave here Sunday.  I’ll say one thing, I won’t be a bit sad to see the last of this place!!!!

We haven’t had much activity the past couple of days.  We’re still chasing intelligent reports of enemy locations in our AO.  Mostly we’re trying to find the VC that attacked that village a few days ago.  Apparently, Washington is interested in that episode and intends to use it at the Paris Peace Conference as an example of the atrocities being perpetrated by the VC.  I understand some photographers took a lot of photos to be sent to Paris for that purpose.

We’ve had a lot of rain the past three days.  It’s almost like the monsoon season.  It’s been raining almost constantly, with heavy downpours at times.

I’m getting information about R&R in Hawaii.  Seems that I can write the R&R center at Fort Derussey, Hawaii, and make reservations for a hotel.  The new air officer said he spent less than $1,000 on R&R in Hawaii.  And that included his wife’s ticket, hotel room at $24 per day, a rental car everyday, and all the liquor he drank for 6 days.

Let’s see - 46 days until R&R - and 125 days ‘til 18 Oct!!  Seems like R&R is just around the corner!!!!!

Top photo - Vietnamese salvaging goods from bombed out shops

Bottom photo - Vietnamese boy standing in front of bombed out shops

Monday, June 7, 2010

1st Lt. Kurt Michael Wilbrecht, USMCR, KIA 7 June 1970

1st Lt. Kurt Michael Wilbrecht, USMCR, KIA in Vietnam 7 June 1970

Kurt Michael Wilbrecht was born 14 February 1944 and died on 7 June 1970, at the age of 26,  when he was killed in action in Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam.  His remains were not recovered.

Kurt was flying a close air support mission when he failed to pull out of a low angle, low level bombing run.  It is believed that his aircraft was struck by enemy ground fire rendering him incapacitated.

His RIO, 1st Lt. William T. Pepper ejected just as the aircraft struck the tree tips and was safely recovered.  He reported that he felt two “thuds” before he ejected, and that Kurt said nothing after that.

Kurt was the second of my assigned pilots and the second of my roommates to be killed in Vietnam. 

Kurt had been my roommate briefly when he first joined the squadron.  He became my assigned pilot after my then pilot and roommate, 1st Lt. Michael Breeding, was killed on 12 February 1970.  Kurt was my pilot on my 100th mission on 18 February 1970.

At the time Kurt’s death I was on assignment as a Forward Air Control Officer with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.

Photos from top to bottom.
1. Ramsey High School, Class of 1962
2. Kurt Wilbrecht
3. Me and Kurt celebrating my 100th combat mission on 18 February 1970.
4. Kurt and William Pepper, upper right corner, in the ready room of the hot pad at Chu Lai air base.
5.1st Lt. Michael Breeding, KIA 12 February 1970

6. DC 08 - the aircraft that Kurt was flying when he died.  I had flown 17 missions in that very plane.
7. William Pepper with his wife and child after we returned to "the world."  I understand he has since passed away.

“But thy eternal summer shall not fade
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

William Shakespeare Sonnet 18

Link to Vietnam Memorial Wall

Sunday, June 6, 2010

6 June 1970

6 June 1970
(from diary)

I’m destined to have trouble with enlisted men!!  The mortar forward observer is so hard to work with because he is unwilling to even suspect he might be wrong.  He even had the nerve to tell me I was wrong.  I know why he’s only a lance corporal.

Very hot right now.  Am waiting for my flight of air to check in on station.  Am not to pleased with my target, but am going through with it.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

5 June 1970

5 June 1970
(from diary)

Got a good letter from my brother today.

Went to CUPP 9 today for the class.  They showed some interest - about what I expect - so am not disappointed.

Have requested some air for tomorrow to be controlled by me.  Hope I get it.  Went swimming at the bridge at A-1.  Very refreshing.

The market place was really busy.  People buying fish, food, etc.  Smelled like typical fish market.

Going crazy for mail

Friday, June 4, 2010

4 June 1970

4 June 1970
(from diary)

Have just given my first class to CUPP 6.  Didn’t last very long and was of dubious value as troops didn’t seem too interested. An E-4 is the squad leader.  The squad has it’s daytime position in two houses here.  The people are extremely friendly.  One woman is nursing a small girl who looks about two and a half to 3 years old.

They have an ingenious device to filter their well water, as the water is very dirty.

Am just killing time before going back to Baldy. I like being out in the bush with the troops and people - but I don’t like to stay out here! Ha.

The surrounding rice paddies are flooded with water, and have already been filled with new rice stalks.  Seems only a few weeks ago that they were  harvesting the last crops of rice.

The family here is eating their noon meal.  It’s interesting to watch the small kids using chop sticks.  They eat better with chop sticks than my own kids eat with spoons!!

(Read about CUPP here)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

1 June 1970

1 June 1970
(from diary)

My radio operator gave me some lip this morning.  He had left his post to go to chow.  While he was gone, a medevac was called for, and I was called up to the COC to take care of it.  I told the young man that I wanted the post manned at all times.  He told me he had to go eat.  I have been generally appalled at the number of disciplinary problems with the grunts.  In three months I’ve seen more screwed up enlisted men than I’ve ever seen in the wing!!!

Frank and I were discussing the sad state of the leadership in Delta company.  That CO has lost about 12 people since he took over the company.  I have not been impressed by the officers in the division.  For the most part they are ignorant, and overbearing.  They, to a man, have an exalted view of themselves - that they are superior.  Of course they think the same of the zoomies!

I’m tired of hearing people complain about the support they receive from the wing.  Grunts refuse to realize that the wing has the same supply system.

This war sucks!!!