Tuesday, August 31, 2010

31 August 1970

Monday night
31 August 1970

48 MORE DAYS!  And August is over!!!

I got mail today.

I flew today - 191 missions - and 3 more days to go.

It just doesn’t seem possible that (barring any change) I’ll be leaving S. Vietnam for good in less than 2 weeks!!!  What a thing to look forward to - eh!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

30 August 1970

Sunday night
30 August 1970


No mail for two days.  I did get a box of bean dip and Fritos.  They were all in good condition thanks to good packing material.  I immediately sat down and ate one can of dip, by myself.

I’m on the all night duty right now.  I’m a very well paid telephone answerer!

I just now had to stop and rewrite part of tomorrow’s flight schedule.

Right now I’m reading a very good book, A Shade of Difference, by Allen Drury.  He also wrote Preserve and Protect, and Advise and Consent.  His books are very good reading about politics and politicians, and all their ways of doing or not doing things.  I really get worked up when I read his books.  If they are even half true, things are really a mess!

The show we were to have at the club tonight was cancelled, so I’m not missing a thing.  I’ll just read and sleep tonight.

Speaking of sleep.  I still have trouble getting to sleep at nights.  I just can’t seem to relax when I go to bed.  My mind keeps thinking about a million things.  When I finally do get to sleep, it’s so late that I then sleep late in the morning. 

Photo - Chapel and post office/PX at Chu Lai

Sunday, August 29, 2010

29 August 1970

Saturday night
29 August 1970

50 MORE DAYS!  Which is half as long as I was FAC.  So - I should be able to make it!!!

I didn’t get any mail today.

I flew again today - believe it or not.  And I’m scheduled to fly again tomorrow!  Our airplane situation is still the same, but they’re giving us a few more missions.  These missions are spaced through out the day so that we can use two airplanes for them all.

The movie tonight - “Bullitt” was broken up pretty bad, but it was still good to see it again.

Tomorrow night we are to have a floor show for our evening’s entertainment - but I have the all night ODO.  I may or may not get off to go to the floor show.  Our last two shows have been very good - I wonder if we can get three in a row!!

The other F-4 squadron here, VMFA - 314,  is also leaving Chu Lai - the same time we are.  Only it is going to El Toro - those lucky guys.  Apparently some big shots at 1st MAW said either fly us - or get us out - so they are getting us out.

Photo - Navy Corpsman treating a Vietnamese woman.  Taken while I was with the infantry.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

28 August 1970

Friday night
28 August 1970


I flew a CAS mission today, finally, and I now have a total of 188 missions.  The squadron is flying a little more now - but not much.

Our target today was a “known enemy location” - - - almost any given spot in South Vietnam could be called that!  So you see - it was another routine mission.  I no longer get any feeling of satisfaction from flying.  I suppose that’s why I gave up trying to get 200 missions.

It’s only been 3 weeks since R&R - but it seems like forever.  Time is really passing slowly now - because we’re all looking forward to leaving!!

The movie tonight was one I’d already seen - so -

Tomorrow night we’re supposed to see “Bullit” - I’m looking forward to that!

Photo - another pic from my days as a forward air controller.

Friday, August 27, 2010

27 August 1970

Thursday night
27 August 1970


Another day - another dollar - or so it goes!  My day of sleep and reading was “ruined” by a test hop I had to fly this afternoon.  I spent from noon on, waiting for them to get the plane ready and finally finished the hop at 1700.

We had Mexican food at the snack bar tonight - tostados - and they were delicious.  I ate five of them before I could quit!!

I’m scheduled to fly tomorrow.  It’ll be my first combat mission in four days.  The squadron now has seven more flying (combat) days.  After that we will be flying a lot of test and training hops.  We have to flight test every plane to see if they will all refuel airborne.  Also have to check cabin pressurization, automatic pilot system, etc, etc, etc.  All the things needed for high altitude, long distance flying.

We had another good movie tonight - “The Kremlin Letter”.  All the good movies, at least, are helping to keep people cheered up a little.

The P.X. had cokes for sale today, so John Haynes and I bought a case for my reefer.  Cokes are very hard to get in Chu Lai - so when they are available, we stock up.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

26 August 1970

Wednesday night
26 August 1970


I got two letters today. 

I haven’t flown for two days - and I’m not flying tomorrow.  We have 2 squadrons here at Chu Lai now - and both together are only flying 10 missions tomorrow.  Life here is twice as bad as when we were flying dangerous missions in LAOS.  This feeling of just wasting time is awful.   Both of these squadrons could leave Vietnam tomorrow and no one would even miss us.

I had ODO for 3 hours this morning - but I have absolutely nothing tomorrow.  So I suppose I’ll just read and sleep all day!  Sounds like a real rough life, eh?

We had grilled steaks for dinner this evening and they were just great.  I stuffed myself with two of them and was still hungry!

Last night John Haynes cooked up some refried beans and he, Lou de la Garza, Mike Franger and I ate them with crackers and sodas.  Lou had these beans in a can and all we had to do was heat them (in a popcorn popper).  We are all waiting eagerly for those Fritos and bean dip!!!!!

Photo - Lagoon at Chu Lai

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

25 August 1970

Tuesday night
25 August 1970


We had a very unfortunate occurrence in one of our squadrons recently.  A young Marine got a letter from his wife asking for a divorce.  He was so upset that he shot himself in the head - and died.

Right now I have to say - I have no chance of coming home early.  Looks as though they’ll make us finish our tours in Hawaii so we can help get the squadron reorganized there.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

24 August 1970

Monday night
24 August 1970


I received a box of cookies and candy today.  They were carefully wrapped and are very fresh and delicious!

I went to Danang today with 115 and got back this afternoon about 1600.  122 is flying again tomorrow, but only two missions.  Since I can’t possibly get 200 missions now - I’m not flying tomorrow and letting some other guys fly who haven’t in awhile.

We ate at 1st MAW mess at lunch and had a very good meal.  It is reputedly one of the finest officer messes in Vietnam.  However it didn’t even begin to compare to good home cooking!!  I was wondering the other day what it’ll be like to eat home cooking again.

We had a very entertaining movie tonight.  “Horse in a Grey Flannel Suit” starred Dean Jones - one of those heart warming Walt Disney movies.  For the past week we’ve had some very good movies.  Perhaps they will continue.

Monday, August 23, 2010

23 August 1970

Sunday night
23 August 1970


I got three letters today. 

I left at 0815 for Cubi Point, Phillipines, and got there by 1000.  We went to the BOQ and  ate a very good brunch.  Then we went to the P.X. and did a little shopping.  I was looking for something specific but they didn’t have any.  Perhaps they will when I go back there on the way to Hawaii.  We left Cubi Point at 1300 and were in Chu Lai at 1445.  It’s not every day that I fly from one foreign country to another for lunch, then back again!

Tomorrow I’m going to fly with VMFA-115.  They are flying all their planes up to Danang and they don’t have as many RIOS as planes.  I’ll fly a regular mission, after which we’ll land at Danang and I’ll have to fly back to Chu Lai on a cargo plane.  At least I’ll get a combat mission for it.  I haven’t flown one for four days now.  And 122 isn’t flying again tomorrow. Looks like we may have quit flying earlier than we planned!!

Would you believe that because of a cut back in missions given to the 1st MAW, (we get our missions from the Air Force) the whole wing is flying less missions in one day than 122 used to fly alone in one day!!!!!  Between 40 and 50 missions.  This war is just about over for the Marines.  There can be only one reason for this drastic cut back in flying - the Air Force is getting ready for when there will be no Marines in Vietnam.  And that may not be to far away.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

22 August 1970

Saturday night
22 August 1970


I didn’t fly today - so I’ll just give up on trying to get 200 missions.  It’s impossible now.  In fact, the squadron didn’t fly a single mission today, and is not scheduled to fly any tomorrow!!!!!  That is how bad our airplane situation is.  The whole business is very frustrating and morale in the squadron is at it’s lowest ebb in some time.  Although we know we’re leaving soon, everyone is really depressed.

We’re “supposed” to have one plane up tomorrow, and I’ll be flying to Cubi Point, Philippines in that one plane.  We have to take some parts over there for one of our planes which is stuck in Cubi Point.  That plane is supposed to go to PAR (Rework facility) in Japan.  But it’s been down for weeks.  My trip over and back will take only a few hours, as it takes less than two hours to fly it one way.  However, if the plane I’m in goes down in Cubi Point, I might get to stay over night, or even a few days.  (Which I wouldn’t mind!!!)

We didn’t get any mail today as the mail plane didn’t get in until late tonight, so the mail will be delivered to the squadrons tomorrow morning.  All the squadrons work 24 hours a day - but the postal clerks don’t work at night!

We had a good movie tonight - “Where Eagles Dare” starred Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood.  It was one of those very exciting WWII movies which keeps you on the very edge of your seat at all times.

Since this is Saturday, we were supposed to have steaks tonight - but no - we had a “special” meal last night (not steaks) in honor of VMFA-115 which moved to Danang today.  Since I was all fired up for steaks, I went to the club and bought a steak there.  It was very good!  It’s the first steak I’ve had since R&R!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

21 August 1970

Friday night.
21 August 1970


I didn’t get to fly today - because of no airplanes!!!! And no TPQ’S tonight.  We’re supposed to leave Chu Lai about the 12th of Sept - flying 10 airplanes.  This morning we had two airplanes up and one of them went down before take off.  So I don’t see how we’ll ever get 10 planes ready to fly to Hawaii.  And I don’t know if I want to fly that far in any of our planes!  Ha.

I really don’t have much to write tonight because I just didn’t do anything today.  With no flying, life is very boring over here.  Although I now have about six jobs in the squadron, none of them require that I do anything - except at the first of the month.  So I just read a lot!  I figure that I’ve probably read between 75 and 100 books since I’ve been here.  Of course most of them have been typical paperback novels, the kind you can sit down and read in just a few hours.  If nothing else - I’ll bet I’ve improved my reading rate.

Photo - view of Chu Lai Officers Club from front of my house.

Friday, August 20, 2010

20 August 1970

Thursday night
20 August 1970


Today has been so uneventful, that I’ll be lucky to fill this page!!  My barcap tonight was canceled because we didn’t have enough airplanes (3) for it!!  So instead I have a midnight TPQ - seems like I’m becoming a night owl with all the night flying I’m doing these days.
I didn’t get any mail today so should get more mail tomorrow.

I did pack up some things today and get them mailed.  I mailed out my tape recorder, some of my cassettes and a box of clothing and uniforms.  I will probably mail some more things later, after I find out exactly how much stuff I’ll be taking to Hawaii.

It’s official now - only people with November RTD’S or earlier are going with us to Hawaii.  This has really been a blow to a lot of people who were making plans to have wives come to Hawaii.  Since we’re having so few people go to Hawaii, we probably won’t do a whole lot of flying after we get there.  We’ll probably spend the time I’m there getting reorganized and adjusting to our new mission (whatever that’l be?).

I have two hours ‘til my brief - so I’ll spend that time reading.

Photo - inside 707 on the way to R and R.  Noticed the overhead bins. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

19 August 1970

Wednesday night
19 August 1970


Actually it is now 1230 am Thursday morning.  I just got back from a TPQ, which was a fiasco!!  We flew 100 miles up the coast, nearly to the DMZ and when we got there the controlling people on the ground said they couldn’t work us.  So we turned around and flew all the way back to Chu Lai and dropped our bombs west of Chu Lai.  Well, something was wrong with our ordnance jettisoning system, so we only dropped 3 bombs on the target!  And we were carrying 12 bombs.  So we really wasted the whole mission - but I still get a combat mission for it.  I also flew a CAS mission this afternoon and destroyed five bunkers.  So I now have 185 missions.

I got a letter today which I wasn’t expecting!  Since I got mail yesterday, I figured I’d get mail tomorrow!  Ha.

One thing I’m looking forward to when I get home is good char coaled hamburgers and steaks!

I weighed today - and I’m about 158 pounds!  I was really surprised because I seem to be eating more and have a larger appetite.  That must be because of the few exercises I do.  I do 30 pushups each morning and each night plus some other exercises.

I don’t have anything tomorrow until 1815 when I have a brief for a night BARCAP.  So - I’ll get to sleep most of the day to make up for this sleep I’m losing right now.  If I go to bed right now I might get to sleep in an hour - but I doubt it.  I wonder more and more if I might be getting insomnia!  I sleep so poorly when I do get to sleep that I don’t really get any rest.

Photo - on the grounds of a historic building in Honolulu, while on R and R

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

18 August 1970

Tuesday night
18 August 1970


I did, indeed, get two letters today!  So I’m busting with pride!

I haven’t flown for two days now!  During that time, I’ve had four missions cancelled either because of the weather or because we didn’t have the planes.  Things are really grim, flying wise.  I suppose I like to fly more than any other RIO in the squadron, because most of the others could care less if we don’t fly much.

The bad weather continues to plague us.  We had a severe rainstorm this afternoon which poured several inches.  I like rain, but in it’s proper place and time!

The squadron only has 15 more flying days - and 22 days until we’re to leave Chu Lai.  I asked about how our mail will be handled, and I was told to just continue to have the mail sent here.  When we leave Chu Lai, our mail will automatically be sent to Hawaii from San Francisco.

I have to do a few exercises now - to keep me trim and slim.  Ha.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

17 August 1970

Monday night
17 August 1970


No mail today - so I’ll be getting two letters tomorrow, I hope.

We’ve really had an abrupt change of weather here at Chu Lai.  We’ve had rain for the first time in months.  We’re getting close to monsoon season, and I guess this is just the first of it.  Rained all last night and this morning, and has been cloudy all day.  I hope the real monsoons will hold off until after we leave Chu Lai.

My scheduled hop today was canceled because of the weather.  Bad weather is also going to affect our flying from now to the end.  However I talked myself into a TPQ tonight at midnight, so that will make up for the hop I missed today.

I’m afraid my diet went right out the window at dinner tonight.  We had delicious roast beef and gravy, which I can’t turn down - and very good rolls - which we don’t get often.  I managed to refrain from potatoes, milk and dessert.  However - we had strawberry shortcake at lunch.  Shame on me!!  I guess I’ll have to make up for it by eating only 2 meals tomorrow!  Ha.

This is one of those “no news days” so I’ll close.

Photo - Stewardess in the galley of the aircraft on the way to R and R. (yep, that's what we called them back then)

Monday, August 16, 2010

16 August 1970

Sunday night
16 August 1970


Time is ticking by, slowly but surely!  One week has passed since I started the countdown. 
I saw a very good movie tonight - the book which I read in the hospital.

My day was as usual - flew one mission - and had ODO for 3 hours - and read some - and will read some more when I go to bed.

Photo - Continental Airlines 707 that flew me to R and R.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

15 August 1970

Saturday night
15 August 1970


Tonight we had the best floor show we’ve had since I’ve been here!  It was a real fine group with lots of original material and a very good female singer.

After I finished writing last night, I flew two TPQ missions - one at 2130 and one at 0100.  I had the operations clerk come and stand the phone watch so I could fly them.  Then I had another mission at 0730 this morning. So, I flew a lot and slept little during the night.  So after my hop this morning, I went to bed and slept right through lunch ‘til 1630!  Then I got up and went to dinner.  Because I got those two TPQs, I’ll probably get my 200 missions.  However, if I could leave right now for home, I would gladly!!  But I have to stay here for a little while yet and the only “goal” I have is getting 200 missions.

I didn’t fly with the skipper today - and he told me tonight that I had “left him in a lurch” - if you know what that means.  He said the RIO who flew with him was bad - and that kind of help he didn’t need.  Ha.  You see - the skipper is not the best pilot in the world, and he makes a lot of mistakes.  Here I am being critical - when I should be positive!  Seems I shall never change for the good.

Photo - while on R and R, went to visit the Arizona Memorial.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

14 August 1970

Friday night
14 August 1970


And - I have less than 1 month left in Vietnam!

I have the all night ODO right now and I just finished writing the flight schedule for tomorrow. I scheduled myself for two missions tomorrow - and I’m wondering who will be the first to complain!

I flew one mission today, which turned out to be a bad one!  It was this afternoon and the weather was so bad in the target area that we couldn’t work the target - so we had to TPQ.  About the middle of the afternoon severe thunderstorms built up about 1- 15 miles inland - over the mountains.  It just happens that all the enemy are in those mountains so that’s where most of our good targets are.

There was a change of word today on who is going to Hawaii with the squadron.  It didn’t effect me, but several other guys aren’t very happy.  Glenn Monesmith – is due to go home in December - so he was to go back to Hawaii with 122.  However the criteria has changed and people with December RTD’s will have to stay in Vietnam with one of the other squadrons.  That’s really a blow to the guys effected - because everyone is really looking forward to leaving!

Since I’ve been back from Hawaii - my will power to diet seems to be slipping away!   I manage to control myself most of the time - but it’s hard.  I’m afraid I’m putting on a little weight because I can’t play handball everyday for exercise.  My ankle still hurts if I do anything vigorous.  It’s the same foot I hurt in Pensacola, and this injury was much the same as that one in Pensacola.

Photo - another picture from the Luau 

Friday, August 13, 2010

13 August 1970

13 August 1970


This will be brief - - because I’m beat and have to get some sleep before my 1030 brief.

I got very little sleep during the night because of my “duties” as the defense platoon commander.  I had to check our bunkers on the perimeter twice during the night to insure that the men were awake and alert.  The Marines man 15 bunkers on the southern sector of the Chu Lai perimeter.  These bunkers are spread out so far that I had to drive from one to the next in a truck.  This procedure took about 1 ½ - 2 hours each time.

I flew one mission yesterday.  It was a LZ prep mission.  We dropped 1,000 pound bombs on a hill to blow away the trees so helicopters could land there with troops.

Thursday night

I flew one mission today.  Our target was a suspected enemy base camp.  The targets we get these days are so bad we just seem to be wasting time and money dropping bombs on them!  We're just marking time until we leave.  We have so few airplanes now, that we can only fly about 6-8 missions per day - we used to fly 25 - 30 missions per day.  So you see how much we’ve cut back.  If the flying doesn’t get better I won’t get my 200 missions.  I need 22 missions, and we only have 20 flying days left.

We had a water survival exercise this afternoon at the beach.  The purpose of this was to train us for being picked out of the water by a cable lowered from a helicopter.  Before I got my turn, the hoist that raises the cable, broke, so we couldn’t finish the exercise.

It’s really amazing how much warmer the ocean is here than at Hawaii.  It’s probably at least 10 degrees hotter.

The movie tonight was another of those mediocre offerings we get here so often - so I shall read awhile and retire early.  I’m still pretty tired from that duty (and lack of sleep) last night.

Photo - at Luau while on R and R.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

11 August 1970

Tuesday night
11 August 1970

68 Days Left!

I flew two missions today, including one tonight - and still got to see the floor show (such as it was).  My mission tonight was a BARCAP off the coast of North Vietnam.  Just flying back and forth to keep the Migs from attacking our 7th fleet (fat chance).  Anyway, after we took off, my radar went bad - so the spare airplane (Russ Fyke) had to take off and replace us.  So I got back in time for the show.  Russ really wanted to go to the show and I didn’t really care one way or the other.  I only need 24 more missions.

Tomorrow night I have all-night defense platoon duty.  Means I have to stay up all night checking our defense positions - making sure all the men are awake, alert, etc.  not very exciting - and very tiring - so I hear.  I’ve never had this duty before.  Then the next night I have all night ODO.  I don’t mind these duties to much, for they help pass the time.

I spent 30 minutes in the sun today.  I figure just a little bit each day will be good.  The sun is so hot here that I can’t stand to stay out much longer than 30 minutes.

I would like very much some bean dip and Doritos or Fritos!!!  I prefer several small cans instead of the large cans.  It’s hard to keep left-over bean dip fresh.

Photo - Enjoyed the surf of Oahu on R and R.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

10 August 1970

Monday night
10 August 1970

Only 69 days!!

Today was a good one ( if there is such a thing here)!  I got two hops which pleased me much.  I should get three missions tomorrow, so I’ll probably be able to get my 200 missions.  (If I don’t get sick)

The movie tonight was no good, so I’ll go to bed early tonight.  I’m flying late tomorrow night, so I’ll “catch up” on the sleep tonight!  Ha.

We’re having a floor show tomorrow night, but I’ll be flying at the time.  I scheduled myself for that mission, because I figured the floor show would probably be as bad as usual!  Seems like the longer I’m here, the worse the floor shows are.  Most of the bands that perform play the same, with very little originality.

I remembered today that I hadn’t collected my per diem pay for that trip to Udorn - so I went over to disbursing and got paid $23.00!  I wish I could get more good deals like that!  Of course the $23.00 didn’t come near paying for that trip - but it helps.

Photo - hanging out at poolside during R and R.

Monday, August 9, 2010

9 August 1970

9 August 1970

I’m sitting in the airport at Danang waiting for my flight to Chu Lai.  I had to spend last night here in Danang.  After getting back to Danang it seemed unbelievable that I had just spent a week in Hawaii!  It seemed like a pleasant dream, and I was just waking up!! 

I didn’t realize how much I liked the new clothes I bought in Hawaii, until I got back here and had to put on my awful jungle utilities.  Man what a change.  I’ll be glad when I can wear fashionable clothes all the time and never have to wear a uniform.

I’m anxious to get back to Chu Lai because I have a monthly report due tomorrow and I just know no one’s started it!  I suppose that’s my negative attitude!  Ha.  Also I’m eager to learn if there has been any change of plans about going to Hawaii in September.

It’s just to much to hope that the Marine Corps would let me go home in September instead of staying in Hawaii for that last month, but I’m still hoping.

Sunday night

I got to Chu Lai at noon today.  And there was no new word about our leaving Vietnam.  Still the same plans.

I had one letter here, and it had been in that plane crash!!!!  It’s been wet, and the ink is all smeared - but I could still read it.  The envelope is all messed up and had come open, of course, but it had been sealed back with a special seal and has a stamp on it saying damaged in aircraft accident on 27 Jul 70.  I’m going to keep this letter as a souvenir - because it’s not everyday I get a letter that’s been in a plane crash.

The squadron is flying very little now - so I may not be able to get 200 missions.  It won’t be the end of the world if I don’t - but it would be nice.  Since we’re going back to Hawaii, we’re giving our good planes to the other squadrons in exchange for their bad planes.  Kind of encouraging that we’ll be flying the worst planes in Vietnam all the way to Hawaii!!!

Just as I thought - that report that is due tomorrow - was far from ready!  So I had to work on that this afternoon.  I also wrote the flight schedule for tomorrow - and still had time to go to the movie tonight (Midnight Cowboy).  It was a weird movie - but very good all the same.

Only 70 days until I get to go home!!  Maybe less...(I hope).  I just hope these ten weeks don’t pass as slowly as did the ten at platoon leaders class.

Photo - Poolside at the Ilikai Hotel, Oahu, Hawaii