1 Mar 1970 D company in field
Here's discussion of moving 1st Battalion 8th Cav from Quan Loi to Song Be.
2 Mar 1970 D company in field
It was during this time that I remember we had gone quite a few days between log days. We were getting low on water so we stopped by a stream so we could fill our canteens. Being the RTO I carried about 8 quarts of water. This stream was just a slight trickle of water. I can remember having to carefully lay the canteen on its side and let the water run into it so as not to stir up the mud. This time of year was the "dry" season so we didn't have much to choose from. We heard lots of stories about the water having "bugs" in it so everyone was kind of leery of drinking it. I honestly can't remember if I drank it or not, but I don't remember anybody getting sick.
3 Mar 1970 D company in field
Here's one of many times we changed the "push" or radio frequency we used.
This was a scary night! We had a guy get sick with malaria and had to be medevaced during the night. We had already set up our trip flares and claymores for the night and because of the jungle the medevac chopper couldn't land. He flew over head and dropped a ridged litter so we could strap the guy in and they could pull him up. In the mean time the prop wash from the helicopter blades was setting off our trip flares. We had to spend the rest of the night worrying about the enemy (who now knew exactly where we were) either walking in on us or popping mortars in on us.
4 Mar 1970 D company in field
Just a comment on how heavy the stuff was that we carried. I had the following stuff on my backpack. A 15 pound radio, spare 2 pound battery, 7 days of c-rations, 8 quarts of water, a air mattress, poncho, 3 or 4 smoke grenades, 3 bandoliers of M-16 ammo (about 500 rounds of ammo), a empty M-60 ammo can with a small tape player some tapes and writing stuff. All told 100 pounds plus of stuff. Since I was a 165 pound weakling I couldn't just stand up after putting this stuff on. I would have to roll over, find a tree or something and pull myself up. Once I was on my feet I was okay to walk. If we got into a fire fight and I had to move quick, I had set up everything to come off the backpack (except the radio of course) real quick. This was done with boot laces. Boot laces were our "duct tape" of the jungle.
5 Mar 1970 D company in field
Here's another reference to the headquarters move from Quan Loi to Song Be.
6 Mar 1970 D company in field
Looks like headquarters is finally moving!
One of ours guys cut his finger and our Commanding Officer requests a chopper to pick him up.
We found a bunch of bicycles and rice
7 Mar 1970 D company in field
Reference to us not being able to get the bikes out of the area.
Here the log helicopter takes ground fire.
Request to have us move into area where another company has made contact with the enemy.
The helicopters we normally flew on were "stripped down" Hueys'. This meant that the doors had been removed along with most of the seats. There was a "rack" type seat across the back of the cabin but it was mostly open. There were 2 "door gunners" that had M-60 machine guns that were used for protection. In addition to the 2 door gunners were a pilot and co-pilot. So you had a 4 man crew. We normally loaded an additional 6 to 7 guys with fully loaded gear on to the choppers. When we flew into an area the pilot would normally fly at about 2000 feet. This made for a small target. A combat assault (CA) would consist of 6 or 7 helicopters flying in a formation. As we approached the landing zone (LZ) the pilots would drop down to "tree top level". Being the radio operator I was normally one of the first guys off the lead helicopter. To accomplish getting on the ground fast I would "ride the skids" this means sitting with my legs hanging outside of the door and my feet resting on the skids of the helicopter. When the pilots would run at tree top level we would be moving along at about 90 mph or so flying so low that the tops of the bamboo would hit the skids and my feet. The helicopter would move up and down so they were just skimming them. The idea was we were going so fast the enemy wouldn't have time to aim their rifles to hit us. When we flew a true CA, the area we were going to land would be "prepped" by artillery for about 10 minutes before we arrived. I can remember seeing artillery rounds landing as we were. Just before we would land the door gunners would open up with the M-60s and just as we would touch down everyone jumped off the helicopter and ran for the nearest cover. The movie "We Were Soldiers" portrays a true CA, as we performed them, better than any other movie I have seen.
Official helicopter request for our CA into contact area.
8 Mar 1970 D company in field
Medevac bird take enemy fire.
This was the area they were going to put us into. Note that E company has 8 wounded and 3 KIAs. This was a bad one!
Here it is decided to bring us back to FSB Audie and put A company in the area of contact. (A company had been base defense for Audie for over 2 weeks so they would have been "fresher".
This is a good example of the cooperation between units. Big Ears is the radar on the FSB. Rash is the fixed wing aircraft. Red Leg is artillery. Much discussion of who is going where and why. Hump means walk. Call sign Bench 53 heard what was going on and REQUESTED to assist!
Lots of reference to the amount of firepower we used!
We are now back at FSB Audie (note all this BEFORE NOON!)
Request for medevac birds with body bags!
One of the things that you will notice is that most pictures and any letters or paper documents that were carried by soldiers in Vietnam seem to have a "red" tinge to them. I remember friends telling me they thought my letters had "blood" on them. This red came from the clay dirt that was the normal soil in the area 1st Cav was located during my time in Vietnam. This stuff got into everything and it didn't wash off very easy. When I got "back to the world", even after being in Japan for a couple weeks, my hair still had a "red" tinge to it. One of the strange things was when we were in the field we actually stayed fairly clean. On the FSB we were always covered with this red clay because of the dust created by helicopters landing and taking off. The combination of the leaves covering the ground and the fact that we were moving through the jungle kept the dirt off of us. If it rained then it was a whole different story. Mud got on and in everything!
10 Mar 1970 D company on FSB Audie 3rd platoon in field
We sent out 3rd platoon for a small recon around the FSB.
11 Mar 1970 D company on FSB Audie 3rd platoon in field
It was during this time on Audie that I remember we had a bunch of rats running around in the bunker we were sleeping in. One of our guys came up with the idea that we should make a mouse (rat) trap. We when you have lots of ammo & explosives around you can really make some great Rat Traps! He rigged up some wire, a battery, a blasting cap, some C4 plastic explosive and some cheese spread from a C-ration kit. We rigged up the trap and set it in the bunker. After sitting on top of the bunker for a few minutes, BOOM! (I think we maybe used a little to much C4!). When we went down to look we couldn't find any signs of a rat OR THE TRAP! We didn't have any problems with rats after that night! I have been told that Joachim Mason-Morris was the guy that was famous for making these "rat traps".
12 Mar 1970 D company on FSB Audie 3rd platoon returns to Audie
13 Mar 1970 D company moves back into the field.
Here we go!
Discussion of a Battalion size move from FSB Audie
14 Mar 1970 D company in field
During this time frame I can remember one night laying on my air mattress trying to fall asleep and noticing that when I moved the leaves on the ground in front of me I could see them! There was very little moon and no other lights around. As is turns out, because of the jungle and the moisture and heat, as the leaves deteriorate they turn phosphorescent! You could arrange them to make pictures, spell words etc, etc. As you can see we REALLY got bored in Vietnam!
15 Mar 1970 D company in field
"A" company gets into a bad fire fight click on the date above to view the entire log.
"A" company loses all but 1 of its officers!
"A" company will get some welcome R&R time!
We are getting ready to move
I remember this very well. I had been carrying a radio for about a month now and during this time I really wondered if I wanted to continue being an RTO! The jungle was so thick we were on our hands and knees the damn antenna was getting hung on everything! We spent about 4 hours crawling around in this stuff.
17 Mar 1970 D company in field
A splinter is his eye?
A bright moon meant trouble.
Just after we landed we heard fire so we called in for a hunter killer team to take a look around.
18 Mar 1970 D company in the field
We find some blood trails. Redleg is artillery.
A visit by 2 B52 pilots
19 Mar 1970 D company in field (but moving around!)
Here we are scheduled to move on the 20th from the field to FSB Audie then at 2:00pm we are moving by hook to FSB Margaret.
We found a small trail and some old rice.
We receive an incoming mortar.
More about the mortars.
A change in plans!
One of the helicopters coming to check on us gets shot at.
We find a barley, hootches and bodies.
More on what we found. Note the garden plot. Cute story about the garden plot! I got a call back from the radio operator that the "crop" growing in the garden plot was marijuana. The company commander didn't seem to think it was, but all of us knew better. We told him we had a sure fire way to tell. He asked how and we told him "smoke it". He sort of laughed but said okay. About that time my radio came on and it was battalion asking if we had determined what the "crop" was. Captain Perkins replied. "We are not sure yet but my radio operators are smoking it". Funny that never showed in the report (thanks jo, jo). By the way IT WAS!
20 Mar 1970 D company in field
Lots of contact with A company and B company. Suggest viewing entire log for 20 Mar 1970.
21 Mar 1970 D company in field
2nd platoon finds some stuff.
22 Mar 1970 D company in field
"A" Company gets in contact (again) and loses more people!
We find a trail and set up ambushes.
23 Mar 1970 D company in field
Looks like we are going to FSB Candy
We find some stuff.
Getting ready to go to FSB Candy
More getting ready. Finally looks like "A" company might get some R&R!
24 Mar 1970 D company in field
1st platoon was securing an area for our log bird to set down and they received incoming mortar rounds.
25 Mar 1970 D company in field (move to FSB Candy)
Off we go to FSB Candy
26 Mar 1970 D company on FSB Candy
One platoon goes out to recon area around FSB Candy.
27 Mar 1970 D company on FSB Candy
28 Mar 1970 D company on FSB Candy
It was during this time that I remember a bunch of us sitting around talking. We had gotten mail that day and one of the guys had pictures that were taken of the snow outside his house in Michigan (I think). As we were talking an passing the pictures around I noticed that Den our Kit Carson scout had this funny look on his face. When we asked him what was wrong he asked why everything was white. We said it's snow. Now just imagine trying to explain "frozen" rain to someone who has never been colder than 75 degrees in there whole life. We explained it was just as cold as the ice we got on the FSB. But it just didn't register. I really don't think he ever quite understood.
29 Mar 1970 D company on FSB Candy
During this time I can remember seeing a site that probably had the greatest impact on me as far as what was going on in Vietnam. We had heard that another unit had gotten into a major battle. They were getting into contact over and over for a couple days. They were in a spot that was very hard to get supplies flown in so they were getting re-supplied by "kick out" which means a helicopter would fly over the area they were in, hover and throw the supplies out the door. They had a number of their guys killed on the first day and needless to say they needed to get them out. Bodies don't do well in the jungle after a couple of days! The only way they could do this was to "sling" them out. This was to wrap the body bags in a sling and have a helicopter hover, drop a line and attach it to the "sling" and fly them out. I had heard all this over the radio. They flew the bodies in to FSB Candy to transfer them to a helicopter that would take them back to a hospital / morgue area. I can remember seeing the helicopter coming in with the body bags slung below it. It was not a great memory!
30 Mar 1970 D company on FSB Candy
One of our guys gets hurt on the FSB.
31 Mar 1970 D company on FSB Candy
Move on to April 1970