Ed "Spooky" Nored

RVN Sep 69 - Sep 70

 

jorutherford image

Marcell Gorree aka "Pineapple" hams it up with good friend Charles "Chuck" Thomas Deaton. Both from 3rd. plt. Chuck was from Klamath Falls, Oregon. On Sept. 28th 1969 a few days  before I arrived to serve with Delta comp. Chuck was killed on a patrol. People who served with him are invited to assist Gordon with more info on Chuck. Thanks to Marcell for the photo.

From Loren Dolge. I arrived in Nam the 26th or 27th of July 69 with Chuck Deaton, Craig Dalims and Anthony D. Dazzo. We all volunteered for the LRRPS and were in Phouc Vinh by Aug.2nd. Dalims failed the  first written test and was expelled. Wishing to stay together we then all quit the LRRPs. This pissed the LRRP officer off and he quickly sent us off to some mud hole of an L.Z.and from there we joined Delta company.

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Note from Gordon Swenson: I received the following email 9-6-2011.

I am responding because of the photo that I just viewed on your web site of my high school friend, Chuck Deaton, Klamath Union High School, Class of 1967.  Chuck and I were drafted from Klamath Falls, OR, in July, 1968.  We traveled on the same Greyhound bus chartered by Uncle Sam that took us to our pre-induction physicals in Portland, OR, in September of 1968.  Chuck and I were assigned by the U.S. Army to the same room in the YMCA for the overnight stay.  Most of the other draftees on the bus were assigned to a hotel (Benson?).  Chuck and I walked around Portland for several hours that night and talked about all of the "what ifs" that a lot of 19 year olds who just got drafted probably talked about that night.  We went to a movie that turned out to be a foreign film with English subtitles. (I remember the movie name, love and war scenes, and the fact that it received several awards. I guess Chuck and I weren't very artsy since it did not much interest us at the time.)  We did not stay until the end of that film and resumed our foot tour of a rather boring section of that town.  The next day after the physical and mental exams we got a gloomy speech from a couple of very uptight regulars.  In hindsight I know their intensity was from sending so many young men out of there who were heading to Viet Nam and who would not be returning home alive.  At that time they informed us that in 30 days we would be inducted into the U.S. Army except for "1 in 5 of you" who will be drafted into the Marines.  The all night bus trip home started with a few hours of loud beer drinking "fun" but by the time we rolled into Klamath Falls it was a very quiet, serious atmosphere as we pretty much all realized that our lives were about to change dramatically in the next few months.  Chuck and I said our goodbyes.  That was the last time that I saw him. . . In October of 1969 on a visit to my new in-laws in Klamath Falls, I saw a photo on the front page of the local newspaper of Chuck's parents receiving the flag from his coffin and receiving his earned medals.  I was shocked and saddened; I still carry that sadness with me today.  Chuck is never far from my daily thoughts which is why I decided to Google his name this evening to see if I could find him mentioned somewhere, maybe his name shown as being on the Viet Nam memorial wall.

Ralph Jennings

Roseburg, OR 97470

Nored stands among the rubber trees at the company rear at Quan Loi  having just been issued his field gear. Nored, Doyle and Eklund are only hours away from joining Delta company. It was near impossible to sleep that night at Quon Loi. The Delta company rear building was right next to a large artillery piece which fired during the night. I could not believe how loud it was. It shook the walls of the building. I hated that F'n gun.

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(This is negative # 5. The next photos # 6,# 7and # 8 are random shots at QL air field not worth posting.) 

(Nored) At Quan Loi Delta companies newest replacements  have boarded a Chinook helicopter which is giving us a lift to L.Z Deb. Shown in the photo is the square opening at the bottom of the helicopter. You can see the canopy of the jungle below. The Chinook is hauling a sling load below it which is hooked to the winch mounted on the cross beam in the opening.

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Negative # 9

(Nored) Barely seen in the photo is the outline of one of the crew lying on his stomach. Wearing a flight helmet and holding onto a control switch. He's keeping an eye on the load. Also shown are 3 smoke grenades hanging from the rim of the opening. The Chinook will have to set the sling load down first before actually landing to let us off.

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Negative # 10

(Nored) "Wow! No safety belts!  Hey are you guys gonna shut the doors? I mean with all this wind and these two large openings on each side and us being up here several thousand feet you think it might be safer to......."   crew response  "Sit down and shut up.Your in the Nam now!....That's the conversation I was having with myself inside my head as the 3 of us transferred from the Chinook to the smaller "Huey" and climbed to the altitude you see in the photo. I'm shooting out the right rear of the copter. The gunner has relaxed his "60".

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Negative # 11

 

(Nored) The second  shot I took on the copter from Deb to Jerri is of one of the pilots. During a tour these air crew saw a lot of different faces loaded onto their birds. Some with  the young wide eyed and still innocent cheeries like us 3 , the upbeat pre R&R expression and dead stare of a post R&R face returning to  the bush having just left the arms of his wife at Hawaii. The faces of the dead and those in pain from wounds. A constant slide show of expressions.

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Negative # 12

 

(Nored) Welcome to L.Z.Jerrie. Mud mud and more mud. Doyle, Eklund and myself have jumped off  our Huey and walked over to the dirt burm that forms the defensive parameter encircling Jerri. We are told to wait there. Delta company will arrive shortly. As they began to arrive I took this last photo and put the camera away. I didn't know at the time if it was appropriate to be taking photos like I was some tourist. As it would turn out, during my tour I don't remember anyone telling me to stop taking photos.

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negative # 1 second roll. Black and white film only had 12 exposures.

(note: if you click on the day it will take you to the copy of the "Daily Officers Log" for that day)

10-8-69 (1st day in the boonies)

(Nored) Eklund, Doyle and myself have gone from Quan Loi to L.Z. Deb and have  finally arrived at L.Z. Jerrie ( see photos above)  where we hook up with Delta company. We moved off the copter and walked over to the dirt burm that stood about 4-5 feet high and encircled the entire base. We were told by someone to wait here and that our company would soon be landing. A small amount of time passed when off to our left in the horizon the faint "wop wop" sound of helicopters could be heard. They soon appeared one by one popping up over the tree line and began landing about 100 feet from us. Dismounting from the copters and walking towards the burm was the filthiest bunch of bums I had ever seen. They all had this alien look about them. Their packs and equipment seem to be growing out of them. Nobody looked or carried their gear the same. Many had beards and all of them walked like old men slouched over to counter the enormous weight that grew from their backs. Their clothes were ripped and torn soiled with dirt, spotted with mud and soaked with sweat. Their dark tanned skin was spotted with a varied amount of soars cuts and lacerations mingled with healing scabs. And standing among them with gleaming white skin and brand new, fresh from Oakland Army base, fatigues was 3 of the newest guys you'd ever seen. "Cherries", "F.N.G.'s", "Fanugies" whatever nickname you want to use we were to Delta company the fucking new guys.

"Where you from back in the world?" Was what we heard mostly from a variety of the guys. Everybody was hoping to find somebody from his own hometown. I was extremely nervous that day and the days to follow. I think everybody hated being a new guy. I was told by someone that I was going to 3rd platoon and someone yelled to a guy named "Tennessee" to come on over and get the new guy. I believe he told Doug Gorton or Loren Dolge to baby-sit me the first few days out in the bush. About an hour later we boarded some copters and took off for the bush. I was sitting on the floor in the center doing my best not to look like a new guy. But there was no way around it I reeked of "newness". Soon the copter headed for the jungle below and sunk below the tree line into a large clearing. I remember another copter to our rear beginning to land. The people on the sides of the copter had exited and I vary nervously worked my way to the edge of the doorway swung my legs around and over the side realizing the copter hadn't landed but instead was hovering about 6-8 feet off the ground which was covered with about 4 feet of grass. I placed my feet on the skids of the bird and was also conscious of the fact that I was doing all of this very slowly. I looked over the side then looked at the door gunner at my left hoping he might tell me to wait while we lowered the bird a little lower. His facial expression and hand gesture was quite clear and I jumped to the grass below, which of course had 3 feet of water in it. But I didn't fall. To this day I remember saying "don't fall Ed!" I all ready felt a fool with new clothes on. I wasn't about to let these guys see me fall flat on my face the first day out. Even with the pack on my back and blast of wind coming from the main rotor blade of the copter as it took off I managed to keep standing. As I took a quick glance around I didn't see anyone and started to become quite alarmed and mad at my baby sitter with I soon spotted a figure in the tree line gesturing to me. I sloshed my way over to him and soon the company was moving in a single file thru the bush. As we moved along breaking the bush I was clumsy and seem to catch my gear on everything. I remember I was in a mild state of disbelief. I looked around at the other guys and the environment in which I had been absorbed and could not honestly believe that this was what I had to look forward to in my remaining 11 months. It was getting dark fast and we finally came to a location where we formed a parameter and set up our night location. (night-lo). Unfortunately our side of the parameter was on the side of a hill. They told me it was getting to late to start showing me the night routine and I would not even have to pull guard that night. I simply ate a can of food, blew up my air mattress and tried to sleep. It started to rain later and I did not have a hooch up or even knew how to make one. I simply pulled my rubber poncho over me and did my best to keep dry. All night I dreamed about anything and everything. Man I was miserable and depressed and felt quite alone. I didn't know any of these guys. I was scared of screwing up. Scared maybe someone else would get killed due to some stupid mistake I would make. After all that training I felt at that moment that I didn't know a damn thing.

10-9-69 Boonies.

(Nored) Delta Company saddles up heavy and moves out about 08:15. We move till we come to a stream. Its about 0900.  We  form a parameter and fill our canteens. We saddle up and move out again. I believe at some time we moved onto a trail. At about 1000 the point man opens up with a short burst of fire. No one has to tell me to hit the ground. I'm already there. I can barely move though, because I still have the pack on. Looking much like a turtle or at least that's how I felt. The point man has had what they simply call a "meeting" with the enemy. You will read of this circumstance many times in the diary and in the Duty Officers Logs. The majority of the time the enemy turns and gets the hell out of the area. He has no idea what he has run into or how big the size of our force is. The problem is he may retreat back down the trail to a bunker complex and if the size of his force is big enough they'll wait for us there and take us on having the advantage of being in a defensive position and familiar terrain. No further contact is made as we moved down the trail. We eventually found  a storage hooch with 1500 lbs of rice and salt.  We poured kerosene over it and burned it up. See photo below.

(Nored) We have gone out on a patrol light. Chris Parrish ("Smockey" ) has turned to our squad leader Dave Justice, ("Tennessee") and has said something to get a  smile out of Dave. I can only speculate it was in regards to me. Something like ," This damn FNG. Is he ever gonna stop taking pictures?".

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Negative # 2 is underexposed.This photo is negative # 3.

(Nored)  Shown in the photo is the estimated 1500 lbs. of rice and salt we destroyed on the 9th. Bags of rice and other food supplys were stored on platforms raised about 12 inches off the ground. A thatched roof was then built over it. All of it constructed from bamboo.

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Negative # 4

10-10-69 Boonies. (log day) Log bird is Chicken Man 172

(Nored) This info is both from  memory, my letters and the Duty Officers Log. At some point today the company gets logged. ( See all 3 photos below taken during the log ) The company is still on a main trail and at 1055 as we move down it a meeting or ambush  takes place with 4-8 of the enemy and a fire fight erupts. An enemy claymore type mine may have been detonated. The DOL reports Delta company has 2 wounded in action. The wounds may have been superficial since there was no request for a medavac logged in the DOL. The enemy broke contact and departed the area. Delta moves down the trail till we find a good sized ammo cache.  See entry # 26 on the DOL for list of explosives in cache. I am fairly certain we blew up the cache the next morning.

(DOL / Charly Co.) Elsewhere in our A.O. Our sister company, "C" Charlie, was busy being airlifted out of the bush when  one of the lift birds crashes. Steve Wilson of Charlie remembers the following." We had to cut a landing zone out of the jungle for the lift birds to come in. It was very tight for the  pilots. They came in and had to hover and then drop straight down. One of the birds hit a tree with its tail and then Boom! It came crashing down and then later I think it burst into flames. It was my first time putting people in body bags." DOL lists 4 KIA and 2 WIA. Charly company eventually made it to Quan Loi and went on a 3 day R&R at the V.I.P. center at Quan Loi.

(Nored) Having unloaded its cargo the log bird lifts straight up and out of from the clearing we've chopped. The Duty Officers Log (DOL) says that Chicken Man # 172 was the designated log bird for Oct. 10th. But things might have changed due to mechanical or logistical demands of the Battalion. Always keep an open mind when reading information obtained from "official" records.

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negative # 5  Roll 2 ( photos 6,7,8 & 9. Not shown)

(Nored) "Top" Haney is shown on log day sorting out the beer and soda ration. The man with his back to camera looks like "Tennessee", my squad leader. In a December letter I sent home I enclosed this and other photos and described this as my first log day.

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negative # 10 second roll.

(Nored) After receiving supplies on log day Delta company sets fire to left over items. The enemy loved to pilfer old log sites. There was always something left behind. An accessory pack from the c rations with cigarettes in them would have been highly cherished.

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negative # 4 Roll 3

Oct.10th. continued. It is getting late in the day. I do not remember if we had stayed close to the cache or had moved a short distance away. We set up our night lo in an area with tall trees with scattered ground vegetation. It was quite easy to clear a spot to sleep. During the process of putting out our trip flares I accidentally set one off. It popped like a firecracker and began glowing brightly. This was a huge mistake. In seconds it was kicked out. I will always remember the looks of the 3rd. platoon men. All letting me know with tacit looks how they felt about me being careless. We settled down for the night and all was quiet until artillery rounds began whistling over our location and impacting a short distance away. This started about 22-2300. A short time passed and we could hear a Huey orbiting high above us. It began dropping flares over us, casting eerie shadows among the trees. Then jet fighters showed up and began making bomb, gun and rocket firing runs over our head on the same area that arty was firing at. I'm sure that the flares being dropped on our location was to make sure the pilots knew where the friendly forces were at and also as a reference point. As I laid there on the air mattress it was very exciting to listen to all of it. It lasted till about 0100 and then all went quiet. Over the years I had wondered what it had all been about .Looking at the DOL for Oct. 10th. All of the shelling may have had something to do with item # 27. The famous 1/9th Cav. has 3 helicopters down. It mentions a lift ship and 2 LOH birds (nicknamed "loach") have gone down and 2 squads are in contact. One or more was brought down by G/A (ground to air fire). All of the fire support may have been in support of these 1/9th units fighting to secure their wounded and dead around the downed copters. Another reason for the arty and air strikes may have been that an accumulation of intelligence and contacts with U.S. forces had lead to the conclusion that a large concentration of N.V.A. were in a particular area and justified a good hit.

10-11-69 Boonies.

(Nored) The company returns to the enemies ammo bunker/cache and sets explosives. When it came time to blow it and word was passed around to put your helmet on and find cover, I remember being concerned. Since I didn't have any experience in being around things that "blew up" I looked around to see what others were doing to prepare. As it turned out my concern was bigger then the explosion. One big boom and it was over.  We immediately returned to more hunting, searching and patrolling.  Later in the day our platoon got lost and one of  us had to bang 2 of our helmets together once or twice so the guys back at the patrol base could guide us back in.

(Nored) In mid October my parents received another letter. The return address in part read, Department of the Army, Official Business, Office of the Chaplain.

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10-12-69 Boonies.

(Nored) The company saddles up heavy and moves down a trail that we have been working. We come to a stream and set up a parameter and everyone takes their turn at filling their canteens. After this task is completed our platoon (3 rd ) moves down the trail. (to date I can't remember if we moved out heavy or were simply going out on a patrol light.) My squad was right behind the point squad as we continued down the enemy trail. From my letters and memory I remember only that gunfire was heard up front as the enemy opened up on the point squad. (Jeff Croston says he remembers a claymore type mine being detonated on the trail with nobody getting hurt.) All of us hit the ground. The point squad is returning fire. Lying there on the trail I glanced over to Doug Gorton (Also known as "Gorty" or "Dirty Doug".) who is lying on the trail about 10 to 15 feet away. I watched as tracer bullets (that's the type that glow red.) traveled about 15 inches above his head. Crossing the trail at an angle. I looked at Doug and he looked at me but I don't think he realized what had happened. I remember the bullet looked like it was traveling in slow motion. Word was passed back to us to get ready to move and a second later I followed Doug as he got up following the man ahead of him. We moved off to the left of the trail. No more gunfire could be heard as we moved up. We stayed spread out and all of us were slouched over. Believe me when the shooting starts if we physically could have run or waked and still have kept our chins an inch off the ground we would have. The sharp crack of the enemies weapon was heard again and all of us hit the ground and opened fire. Without even thinking I went thru 3 magazines just firing into the bush. I never did see the enemy but the sound of his AK47, that miserable "crack" sound it made, made a lasting impression on everyone who has heard it. We soon formed a parameter and called the artillery and gun ships in. We suffered no casualties that day nor do I believe we killed any enemy. All I was happy with was knowing I did what I was supposed to do and didn't freeze up. My confidence factor rose quite a bit that day.

The DOL  provides this additional information after the shooting stopped. We moved into the bunker complex and found 6 bunkers, 8 bikes and a small bike repair hooch filled with bike parts. We destroyed all except one bike. I dont know for sure but we might have kept one bike and shipped it out on the next log.

(Nored) In this photo taken in Oct/Nov. 69 Men from 3rd. platoon refill their canteens. On the bank is Earl Falkinburg. In the water far left is "Bambi". Dont know his real name at this time (Terry Bowlby - ghs). Marcell Gorree is man in water  facing camera. To Marcell's right is Pat Toone. The others remain unidentified.

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10-13-69 Boonies / Log day. Designated log bird  is "Ghostrider # 912. The number of people in Delta company at this time is 88 (entry 28).

(Nored)  We are still on the enemy trail and continue till we find another bunker complex. Among the bunkers we find a hooch with 9 bicycles under the thatched roof. We find another 16 tied to a tree. Explosives are set and we destroy the bikes. We then proceeded with getting resupplied. (From undated letter to parents. which also mentions finding the ammo cache earlier.)

10-14-69 Boonies

(Nored/DOL) Between 0930 and 1200 Delta company was extracted from the field and taken to Ellen where they were transferred to Chinooks and flown to Quan Loi for parameter guard. 14 sorties with the "Hueys" and then 3 sorties with the Chinooks.

3rd platoon prepares to board copters on the way out of the field. (Jeff Crostons photo) Jeff is fairly certain that this is "Pineapple" with his back to the camera.

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10-15-69 D company Quan-Loi

 

Left to right: Pat Toon. In the middle is a North Vietnamese soldier who defected to the south. They were put to use with many Army units to help us find the enemy. They had the nick-name "Kit Carson Scouts". We found them to be totally useless. Oscar Gaines "Squirrel".

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10-16-69 D company Quan-Loi

(Nored) The next 10 color photos from slides are from Arlyn Perkey of 3rd platoon. All were taken at Quan Loi as Delta pulled quard duty on the parameter surrounding the base.

 

(Perkey) At this point in his tour, Arlyn Perkey is happy to set on a bunker in Quan Loi and pull guard duty. This is the easy life.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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 (Perkey) ALOH like this one would often be called when what we needed was "eyes in the sky." This little thing could fly in close to the canopy, hover, turn on-a-dime and see things we could not observe.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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 (Perkey) Our Battalion Base at Quan Loi was accessible by road. This was the first I had seen wheeled vehicles in awhile.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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(Perkey)  Just got offguard duty and want to take a shower? There it is, that green shower bucket hanging from the rubber tree. Privacy, what is that? Yes, sometimes civilians are in the area. These rubber trees were part of an old plantation that had beenestablished to make rubber the old, natural way.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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(Perkey)Quan Loi was also home to track vehicles like these tanks.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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10-17-69 D company Quan-Loi

(Nored) My squad ( Tennasee's)gets to pull security for the mine sweepers. There was a road that left the compound at Quan Loi that went to the dumps. It ran outside the parameter, so every morning the engineers had the job of making sure it was clear of mines that the local V.C. may have planted.

(Perkey) In the boonies, Bravos & Sierras (beer & soda) would sometimes be delivered on log day. Of course they were warm (hot). For a grunt used to being in the boonies, doing guard duty with a Coke in your hand was a break.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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(Perkey) At Quan Loi we saw Armored Personnel Carriers again. In September we had one occasion when we were taken into the small village of Bu Dop on APC's. This was very unusual. Normally skytroopers are moved by air when they aren't humping.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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 (Perkey) Bryan Tyack walked point for the 3-2 squad from early August to early December, 1969. When we were pulling guard duty at Quan Loi, he has a chance to comfortably write a letter or read a book. To us, this was definitely the "rear."

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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 (Perkey) At Quan Loi there was heavy helicopter traffic like this Chinook transporting a heavy load.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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 (Perkey) Quan Loi's airport could also accommodate fixed wing aircraft like this C-7 Caribou

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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10-18-69 D company Quan-Loi

10-19-69 D company Quan-Loi

Company was pulled off guard and wen on rest and recuperation "R and R"

(Nored) The following is what  I remember about the R&R at Quan Loi. At Quan Loi there was a small area built among the rubber trees that was called the V.I.P. Center. The Rest & Recuperation, R&R, lasted between 48 to 72 hours. During that period we were off duty. I believe all our weapons were collected and checked by the company weapons personal. It was also a good idea not to have weapons around with so many drunken soldiers. We did not have to pull guard at night which was rare during our tour. There was one prostitute made available and I'm sure she returned  to her village (most likely An Loc)  a very rich person. We were able to sleep on cots. That was a luxury and the food was hot and not out of a can.  At least not directly. They showed "stag" (porn) movies outside at night. The area was surrounded by a fence. For the most part it was ,as with all R&Rs ,a time to blow off steam. I had just joined the company and did not appreciate nor deserve it as much as the rest of the old timers of Delta Company. These R&Rs  also gave a soldier a break from good old Army "bullshit". No body told you what to do nor were you required to do anything. Being in any branch of the service such time is greatly appreciated and highly cherished. I'm sure there are no statistics on the subject but I am certain "Army Bullshit" alone has been  responsible for many mental casualties in war or peace time.

(Nored) Below.  Arlyn Perkey provides 6 photos of  color slides taken at the Company R&R at Quan Loi.

(Perkey) Wow! That was almost a real shower. From L to R, Bob Strenz, Marcel Gorre (aka Pineapple), and Arlyn Perkey have just cleaned up for the beginning of the Rest and Recreation.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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(Perkey) From L to R, Jerry Reeves, Gary Borkowski, and Arlyn Perkey prepare to go to the Grunt's Grotto for a beer, or 2, or 3.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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(Perkey) Diesel fuel wasn't just used to operate equipment. It was also the means of sewage disposal at bases like Quan Loi.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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(Perkey) From L to R, Jerry R. Reeves (aka, Groovy), Arlyn Perkey (aka, Perkey), and Gary Borkowski, pretend they are the Kingston Trio in Vietnam. Once when out in the boonies crossing a wet area, Arlyn Perkey also dreamed he was Rick Nelson, and started singing "Some People Call Me A Teenage Idle." As I recall, none of us could sing. Well, maybe Groovy could, he could do everything.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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(Perkey) Here we are, it is the big day. Delta Company has its time at the Grunt's Grotto. We were allotted unlimited beer, movies (dirty of course), but absolutely no weapons were allowed.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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10-20-69 D company Quan-Loi

 

Taken during company R&R at Quan Loi on 10-20-69. far right is "pineapple".

(from Arlyn Perkey: From left to right, unidentified, Jim Hughes, Marcel Gorre)

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(photo by Jeff Croston)

Also taken 10-20-69 at Quan Loi: Jeff Croston kneeling center, then L to R, Jerry Reeves, Bob Strenz, Gary Borkowski, Jim Hughes, Marcel Gorre, Bryan Tyack, and Arlyn Perkey.

(See Arlyn Perkey's comments below)

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(photo by Jeff Croston)

(Perkey) The second squad of the 3rd Platoon, 3-2 squad, as we were on October 20, 1969.  Center Front: Squad Leader Jim Hughes; 1 st Row, L to R, Jerry Reeves, Oscar Gains, Arlyn Perkey 2 nd Row, L to R: Jeff Croston, Bob Strenz, Pat Toon, Bryan Tyack Back Center: Marcel Gorre

 

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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(Arlyn Perkey) SQUAD LEADERSHIP - FROM A PFC'S PERSPECTIVE - If there is any one position that is critical to the viable function of an infantry combat platoon, it is the squad leader. I arrived in Vietnam as a PFC and left 5 months later as a PFC. My experience comes from being led by 2 good squad leaders (Jim Hughes and Marcel Gorre). * At times, the squad leader must play the role of the gentle counselor who tells people who have screwed up they will do better the next time. At other times he must forcefully tell them what they must do, and how things are going to be. Through all of this, the squad leader, in a combat situation, must be highly respected and hopefully, well liked. The platoon sergeant and platoon leader might be hated, but the squad leader must be "one of the men," while being a respected leader. That is a dual role that some people are not able to fulfill. * The following are examples of how Jim Hughes accomplished that dual role in providing leadership to me. Both events happened relatively soon after joining the company, during that critical transition time from "cherry" to accepted member of the squad. Each event shows a different style of leadership. The first one is gentle counsel. The second one is the blunt, firm "just do it." * Event 1: We were patrolling single file as usual when another platoon in the company came in contact with the enemy, exchanging fire. We widely spaced ourselves along a trail, presumably to intercept the gooks if they came our way. I was the last person along this line. When the firing from the enemy and the other platoon stopped I could hear people moving through the bush. They came pretty close. I couldn't see them. They were close enough that if I would have fired, they would have returned fired. I didn't fire, I let them go. * Before I left the world, I received counsel from an old World War II vet who I held in high esteem. He advised me to do my duty. However, remember, "you won't do anybody any good dead. One of the duties of a good soldier is to try to stay alive." I thought that was good advice, and I tried to follow it. In this case, however, after mulling that advice over, I felt that I had not done my duty, I should have fired. When Jim Hughes and I were alone, I told him about what happened. He asked, "Have you told anyone else about this?" I said "no." He said "OK, don't! Keep your mouth shut, don't say a word to anyone. And, the next time, just do it." At the time, I thought he was concerned about top leadership finding out about it. In hind sight, I think he was much more concerned about integrating me into the squad and having me accepted by the other men. I was still basically a cherry. People didn't know how I would respond under fire. Knowing about this might make them really skeptical. In order for that mutual dependence to exist, people have to believe that when push comes to shove, you will do what is needed, and pull that trigger. The next time, I did. To me, this was the kind, gentle side of his leadership that was telling me I would get it right the next time. * Event 2: Not much later ( sometime in early August) the old 4th Platoon (Weapons Platoon) was disbanded. We were absorbed into 3rd Platoon as the 3-2 squad. When we were logged, the 81 mm was exchanged for an M-60 machine gun. Coincidently, I had asked Jim to have the armorer take a look at my M-16 because I didn't think it was performing right. He said yes. When he came back, he said the armorer had looked at it and that it had to go to the rear for attention. He asked, "Would you like to carry the M-60 machine gun?" I said "no, I really don't want to do that." He looked at me and said "you want a weapon don't you?" I said yes. He said "well, there it is," pointing to the machine gun sitting on the ground. I understood loud and clear. He did say later that if I carried it for 2 months he would rotate it to someone else. When the 2 months was up, I didn't ask for it to be passed to anyone else. That is how I came to carry the machine gun from that day in August until Dec. 9. However, more importantly, this shows how Jim handled two different situations with me. I maintained great respect for him, and I liked him. I even shared red licorice with him when I received a "care" package from home. We split the Salem cigarettes at log time with no fussing, and when there was chocolate milk to be had, he let me know. This was Jim's firmer hand of leadership, but still diplomatic enough to maintain the human relationship so critical to a squad in a combat zone. * The above leadership style was in stark contrast to what I had experienced in the Army back in the world.

10-21-69 Delta company leaves the R&R center and is airlifted by Chinook to Ellen where they board Hueys and make another combat assault back into the bush. The 14 photos below capture some of the events.

(Nored) On 10-21-69 Delta company saddled up heavy and left the R&R center at Quan Loi and walked out to the air field. The information from the Duty officers Log helped greatly in reassembling the photos I took this day. Sorry the film is  black and white but the small PX at Quan Loi always sold out of the color film very quickly. This next group of photos is shown in the order they were taken. Some of the prints are missing. Negative # 2 is a shot taken inside the Chinook as the rear loading ramp was being lifted. The print is m.i.a. at this time. In the photo on the left closest to camera is SSG. David Stanley, Chris Parrish and Dave Justice walking towards the area where a Chinook is waiting.

(negative #1)

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(Nored) This is most likely the Chinook that brought us to Ellen taking off after 3rd. platoon had unloaded.  A Chinook could carry a platoon or about  30 men.  The Duty Officers Log (DOL) states that it  took four sorties to move all of Delta company. The first lift started at 1205 and by 1320 all of Delta was on Ellen.

(negative # 3)

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(Nored) As we waited for the rest of the company to arrive we all watched as a Chinook delicately lowered his sling load of supplies onto the back of a truck. Everything was airlifted to the L.Z.'s. The food, water, artillery pieces, ammunition, tools, lumber, communication gear, radios, antennas, sand bags, barbed wire and beer! All of it moved in an efficient and economical manner.

(negative #4)

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(Nored) Another shot of a Chinook at Ellen. Below it hangs a  water trailer and  what looks like an empty sling. This may be the same Chinook that's in negative # 4. The situation may have been after dropping off his load onto the truck he then moved a few feet over and picked up an empty water trailer and is on his way back to Quan Loi.

(negative #5)

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Ed Nored, eating a can of peaches and Doug Gorton wait for the whine of the turbine  and the beginning of another combat assault back to the boonies. Picture taken at L.Z. Ellen. According to the DOL the first lift of Delta Company takes off from Ellen at 1435.

(negative #6)

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(Nored) These helicopter crewman worked long hours. Day and night. There was always something that needed to be picked up and delivered. They showed up in the middle of the night and winched out our sick personal. Evacuated the wounded, brought us mail, food, ammo you name it. On LOG days  they found our little chopped clearings in an ocean of green and squeezed that baby into any spot that bird would fit. When they stopped flying, the two M-60 gunners went to work pulling  maintenance on the bird. This group of flyers lost many to hostile fire and accidents. On behalf of everyone in Delta company we say thank you for those "cheap thrill" low level flights across the tree tops and to rushing our wounded friends to the aid station so they'd have a chance to get home alive.

(negative #7)

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(Nored) This shot is out of the left side. You can see the knees of 2 different men.

(negative #8)

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(Nored)  I'm sitting in the middle on the bench seat on this particular air lift. This first shot out the windshield shows 5 Hueys leading the way and off to the right Nui Ba ra mountain can be seen. 

(negative #9)

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(Nored) The flight has made a right turn and you see the mountain off to our left. We have turned south.

(negative #10)

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(Nored) At some time during our flight, "Duke 6", the  Command and  Control bird, referred to as the "CC" bird developed mechanical problems and made a emergency landing at an old L.Z./F.S.B. named Fort Granite, now deserted. 6 birds of Delta companys first lift also diverts and lands with the "CC" bird. The "CC" bird has a lot of "brass" on board, the bird is fitted with a wide range of radios. They control all of the Battalion. In the photo Doug Gorton is shown as he drops his gear. In the back of him is the "CC" bird and to the left a "loach" has also landed.

(negative #11)

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(negative #12)

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(Nored) The next lift of Delta company arrives at Fort Granite.

(negative # 1)

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(Nored) A group of birds have unloaded their grunts and are taking off. When helicopters take off they always take on a nose down position. When landing, the tail is down. That's the "CC" bird  in the foreground with engine shut down.

(negative #2)

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(Nored) Looks like the "charly charly" was repaired and flown out. The last lift of Delta company arrives at 1535 . We all saddle up heavy and move out. F.S.B. Fort Granite was built along the Song Be river and is located about  23 km due west of Song Be City. The next photo I took is of the river.

(negative #3)

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(Nored) The Song Be river bulges from the Monsoon rains. This was a rare opportunity to get a good shot of it from the ground as Delta Company continued to hump and patrol the surrounding area.

(negative #4)

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(Nored) The next 3 color slide photos   were taken  by Arlyn Prekey  sometime during the period we were at the R&R center including the day we left from this air field on 10-21-69.

 (Perkey) The Cobra was a helicopter gunship that was often called when we had made contact with the enemy. With machine gun and rocket fire, it would often fire in locations where the enemy was expected to be withdrawing. They feared the Cobra.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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(Perkey) The parking lot at Quan Loi wasn't filled with cars, but it did have an array of helicopters that were critical to our support. The first one is a LOH, Light Observation Helicopter, (pronounced loach), followed by our workhorse the Huey which was most frequently used to transport us.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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(Perkey) The party is over. The easy days guarding the base are now history. It is time for the helicopter ride back to the boonies. This is one time in the Army when I didn't mind waiting.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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10-22-69 Boonies

10-23-69 Boonies

10-24-69 Boonies

10-25-69 Boonies

(Nored) We found some bunkers along with some equipment, shovels, picks etc. No gooks. We are working close to the Song Be river. We killed a snake today and I saw a spider the size of my hand. During one of the past nights I accidentally stuck my hand in a pile of ants. It still hurts for the bites. A Cobra gunship is firing its rockets and machine guns across the river and some of it landed pretty close.

 (Perkey) This bamboo pit viper was killed by someone in 3rd Platoon. Since they are a small, but poisonous snake, it was deemed to be worthy of a photo.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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 (Perkey) The 3rd platoon is saddled up and starting to move with heavies on.

(Nored) Perkey's photo is an excellent shot. The company has saddled up heavy and prepares to move out of its night location. There was always this "clusterfuck" that formed as we waited for the point man to find an opening in the bush to move thru and begin another day of humping and patrolling. I can feel myself standing there. Moving my body and the pack and adjusting the straps in such a way to find that point where it would ride just right on your back. It was easier to move with the pack then it was to just stand there. I remember the frustration I felt if it took too long to get moving. I remember the looks we'd all exchange with one another. Maybe even make a goofy face to lighten things up and other mornings you would see guys with such a serious, tired tension in their face. You would be looking at  how other guys carried and arranged their packs and maybe even get a laugh at some silly thing they wrote on their helmet. Thanks for the photo Arlyn.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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(Perkey)  As a forester, I was curious about trees I saw, but could not identify. This large tropical hardwood was a good example of that. I could identify the surrounding bamboo. We struggled through it during the day, but when evening came we were happy to cut a few stems down to build a hooch for the night.

(photo courtesy of Arlyn Perkey)

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10-26-69 Boonies

(Nored) Delta company continues  working the enemy trails close to the Song Be River and the infiltration route named the Serges Jungle Highway . Click on "Maps" at bottom of page. The following  summary of what we found on Oct. 26th is provided by the Duty Officers Log (DOL). We found 1400 lbs. of rice in 7 200 lb bags, 24 bicycles, one 15x8 bicycle repair shop  and assorted bike parts. (go to page 5 to see an illustration how bikes were utilized to move supplys). The bikes had the brand name "Pacific" on them. All food and equipment was destroyed.

10-27-69 Boonies Log day. log bird: Ghost Rider 377

(Nored) My letter mentions that "Tennessee" has gone in for a 3 day pass.(letter date 28th.Oct.).

 

10-28-69 Boonies

Nored/DOL. The company continues to the work the enemies trail system. The DOL provided the following info. D finds one bunker with overhead cover, table, chairs and one bike. Later on the company came across 2 enemy soldiers recently buried.

The Killer Team

I can't put a specific date as to when the killer team was formed but I do remember word being passed around to everyone in the company that a squad size (about 10 men) unit was being formed. This team would do a lot of dirty work out in the "bush". They would walk point down trails and set up ambushes. Their reward for doing this was not having to do any details while in the rear and on the artillery base (LZ's), such as K.P. or shit detail or build bunkers etc. The also did not have to pull guard at night. It was purely on a volunteer basis. I and the vast majority of the company were quite willing to do just about everything we were ordered to do in Nam. Most of us felt we were taking enough chances during our daily routine and were not compelled to "go out of our way" to join a group that was to take even higher risks. 7 or 8 people did volunteer for it and Delta company had their Killer team. "Gator" from our platoon (3rd) joined up, a Sgt. Bill Belcher from 1 st platoon and several others who I cant remember, nor knew at the time, were led by the oldest man in the company. Our "Top" Sgt. (webmaster note: this was Top Haney.) Top meaning the highest-ranking N.C.O. in the company. I remember one day as we moved out from our patrol base we had used all day, the Killer team took up a position in a bomb crater, which was in the center of our parameter. They ran out several claymore mines but no trip flares. The rest of the company moved out and they stayed behind hoping to ambush gooks that were suspected of following. They didn't set up any hooch's of course they just laid there all night and waited. The company moved out to set up a night 10 not far away.

It rained that night and my thoughts were of those guys lying cut there all alone. Lying in the mud waiting and watching. Staring into the black jungle night and wondering like the rest of us "What the hell am I doing here?" The night passed and in the morning they rejoined us at our location.

From Arlyn Perkey:

  Killer Team ---- Oscar Gains, (aka Squirrel), also joined the Killer Team. I remember that some in the platoon tried to talk him out of it to no avail. To us this was clearly taking an additional risk. The ironic thing about this for me is that on Dec. 9, as I lay on the ground after being wounded, I remember when the rest of the platoon was moving up, Squirrel walked by me and looked down at me laying there. He didn't say anything, but had a surprised look on his face. He had made the decision to take additional risk, but who ended up on the ground wounded? Me. And sometimes, so it went in Vietnam.

Bill Belcher shown on the left was one of the men who volunteered for the killer team. On the right is Ron "Tex" Robbins. Photo was taken in Sept. 70 at Song Be.

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(Nored's photo)

Mike Alongi  aka "Gator" on a mule on LZ Kathleen. Processing date on photo is Jan. 70. Note Nui Ba Ra in the background. Gator was on the killer team also.

(Bill Pease photo)

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(Nored) Shown far left is Oscar Gaines aka "Squirrel". Oscar was one of the volunteers for the  Killer Team.  On the far right is Marcell Gorree aka "Pineapple"  and in the middle is  one example of what the enemy looks like, minus the AK-47 barrel you would be looking into. This young man was an enemy soldier who switched sides and became a "Kit Carson" scout. His name was Moon. This photo was taken in Jan/Feb 1970.

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10-29-69 Boonies.

(Nored) The company was on an enemy trail. We had a parameter set up and the C.O. sent the Killer team down the trail to check things out before the entire company moved out. About 10 minutes passed when word was quickly passed around the parameter that the team had spotted one of the enemy and was following him down the trail. A few minutes had passed when gun fire could be heard from there location. We listened intently as we acknowledged to one another the different weapons being fired. The enemies AK-47, the American M-16s and then "Gators" M-14. (The' M-14 was the Armys older rifle that was replaced by the M-16. Gator for some reason preferred to carry the older weapon.) The enemy soldier that had been followed was most likely on guard duty on the trail about 150 to 200 feet from a bunker complex. Placed there as an early warning for him. For some reason he left his position and headed back towards the complex. That's when the point man ,who I'm pretty sure was "Gator" spotted him. When the team realized they were heading into some bunkers they moved off the trail and slowly moved in. "Gator" spotted one gook swinging in his hammock a few feet from a bunker. He took aim 'and opened fire killing the soldier. Both sides opened fire and for about 10 to 15 minutes there was an exchange. "Top" made his way to the bunker closest to the now empty hammock, the dead NVA soldier lying on the ground beneath it and threw a hand grenade into the bunker. This killed one soldier inside. The enemy withdrew from the area. The Killer Team had one wounded. He was hit in the shoulder. The med-a-vac copter took him away about 40 minutes later. I'm fairly certain they used the jungle penetrator (That was a chair fastened to the end of a cable. The chair was designed to crash thru the canopy of the jungle when lowered by the med-a-vac chopper hovering above.) After this was done the Killer team rejoined the company.

DOL information confirms the jungle penetrater with rigid litter was used to lift out our  wounded man shot in shoulder. Evac took place between 1615 and 1635. Though no name was given his roster # 160 was. (Nored) I remember that the wia was a new guy.

 

(Nored) Lt. Ed Griffith the company F.O.(shown in far left of photo.) Remembers this about the Killer Team firefight and adds this info concerning Top Haney.(shown with out a shirt in photo) "Just as Haney was throwing the grenade into the bunker the enemy soldier got a shot off that hit Haney in the helmet just above the ear. It knocked Haney out cold. When we finally got to Top Haney he was waking up. Capt. Perkins asked how he was and with some emphasis answered, "That M-F tried to kill me!". Ed Griffith remembers that Top Haney had served in Korea and maybe a possible earlier tour in Nam and then retired. He voluntarily returned to service and a tour in Nam so his son would not have to go."

This photo was taken sometime between Dec.10th thru Dec.16th. 1969. Our last visit to Ellen.

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10-30-69 Boonies.

(Nored) The company saddles up and moves back to the bunker complex where the previous days fight took place. We found 8 bicycles and 8 packs. They dragged the one soldier out of the bunker and began searching the bodies. I remember very well "Gator" coming over to where 3rd plt. was and showing us some of the pictures he had taken off one of the bodies. They were snapshots of family and one of a young girl, perhaps a sister or a girl friend. I could only think of the same snapshots that I carried and the rest of us carried. The soldiers killed were our age or younger. I re­member feeling quite depressed as I stood and watched "Gator". I never reached a point where I hated the enemy. They were here because their government had sent them here and we were here because ours had done the same. I was very sure that those 2 dead NVA didn't want to be here any more then we did. I couldn't help but feel sorry for everybody.

"Gator liked where he was and what he was doing and despite what we might have thought about him if you had to spend the night out in the bush with only 5 people, "Gator" would have been on your list. But I guess what scared us all about "Gator" was that we would turn into someone like him. If we had taken casualties on a daily basis we would have all had to reach within our­-selves and turn up the "Gator" that dwelled within us.

DOL reports that a man in another unit, radio call sign "Bright Night", has a man who has accidentally shot himself in the foot.

DOL information provides list of items found when 3rd platoon moved into bunker complex where previous days contact took place. See log entry # 35..

10-31-69 "Log Day" From DOL. Assigned Log bird is Ghost rider 139.

(Nored/Linda) "Well at the moment 10 a.m. Oct. 31. Theres a large bomb crater about 15 feet deep and 30 feet wide filled with blue rain water. A couple of guys are diving in nude. They just got the paper wet."  minutes later " Theres 11 guys in the now muddy looking water. I sure wish I had some film to take pictures. You and your girlfriends  sure would enjoy a snap shot of this."  "Some guy just asked "Where are all the girls?".  This all took place as we waited for the Log bird to show up." Well here comes the  helicopter hon. You be good." In letter I also complained about having bouts of prickly heat .

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Grunts & the gear we carried (start here)

Maps

LZ's

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