COMBAT MISSION TO CAMBODIA

 

 

Cu-Chi, Sunday, June 22, 9:30 pm:

 

It's  been  an exciting day my sweetheart.  I flew into Cambodia today, got shot  at  several  times,  killed three gooks  and almost blew up some sampans, and worst of all got sick !

It all started when Lt. Col Straugham called me  this morning  and  asked if I wanted to go flying with him in his FAC plane (Bronco OV-l0) and of course I reluctantly  agreed to  go.  So he  told me to eat lunch (Ha Ha!) and be up to his  office  at  12:15  pm.  (There's  a  baby  lizard  just sitting on my floor staring at me.  He's cute.)

So anyway,  I  got  my camera and took off.  I stopped off to tell Capt. Bills that I couldn't go to  church  today again,  which  upset him, however, just then Col. Straugham came out and I had to go.  We got in the jeep and  drove  to the flight line.

In the  flight  shack we got dressed; by that I mean

over my fatigues they gave me a net  mesh  vest  to put  on that weighed  60  lbs  due  to  the radios, first aid kits, compasses, etc. that were sewn  on  the  front  in pockets. Then  I  put on my parachute pack with armor back protector. (The parachute was fastened to the  chair which  shoots  up through  the  canopy)  That weighed another 30 lbs or so and then the l0 lb flight helmet and  nomex  gloves  and  I  was set.  I  felt heavy if not sort of important.  You know the kind, big shot VIP out for  a  joy  ride.  Well  anyway,  it took  him about  45 minutes to check out the plane and that stuff on my back kept  getting heavier  all  the  time.  It sure  was  a relief when we finally loaded up at 1:15 pm and took off.  All this time I was thinking about  getting  sick and to my surprise it was a very smooth take off and lovely flight. (at first)

We cruised around at about 3000 ft.  over to Cambodia and  on  up the border to the straightedge woods. (So named because one edge of the woods looks like someone cut it  off that  way,   a  straight  line.)  While  there,  a  Psy-ops (psychological-operations) plane was  throwing out  "Chieu Hoi"   (surrender  pass)   leaflets   for  the  NVA  (North Vietnamese Army) to surrender with.  Then another FAC plane started putting  some  rockets  into  the edge of the woods below us so we stayed and watched in case any gooks  started running.

Then we  cruised  on down to a spot where the 3/4 Armd Cav got hit real hard yesterday or so and  lost  a  lot  of men.  The place had been  leveled by air strikes and only the civilians lost everything.  Then over the inter-com he asked if I  had  ever  flown before   and  when   I   said no,  he  gave  me  a  little demonstration of flying  Then heading back toward Cambodia  I  told him that  my  camera wasn't working the first time (same old problem you had) so we flew back into Cambodia  so I could get some pictures.

And  then as we were cruising down the border checking the 500lb mines laid along it, we spotted  a  sampan where it  didn't  belong,  and  then another and finally a third. And while we were asking for permission to blow them up,  we were   shot   at  so we  circled  several  times  until we pin-pointed the location it was  coming  from.  We went  in and  fired  some  rockets at it and killed one gook, then we called in mortars which were really crummy but succeeded  in killing  two more.  While the mortars continued to pound the area we went after the sampans.  We  made  several  runs  at them but  just  couldn't hit them it seemed.  We'd get just about on top of them and  then  roll  over  and  go  almost straight  down at  them.  At  the bottom of our dive it was like someone pulling the shades over  my  eyes  as  the  "G" forces  forced the blood out of my head.  It was bad enough to almost black out but after an hour of continuous  dodging of  bullets  and  gun runs, my stomach said quits.  I hadn't eaten anything so I got the dry heaves for a minute  or  two and  then felt terrible because we didn't quit doing what we were doing and I wasn't about to yell for help.

But 15 minutes later Col. Straugham called for  another FAC  plane  to  take  over because we were low on fuel and I was never so thankful in my life.  I felt better after  that and we headed back to a nice soft landing.  As we taxied up to the gas pump, I opened my canopy, took off my helmet  and threw  up  -  after we had  stopped dead.  I just couldn't believe it because it made me mad to think that  my  stomach was  doing  it  on  it's  own without me even thinking about it.  I think what it was, was the smell of the diesel  fumes at  the gas pump that did it.  Anyway, when I finished I had to laugh at myself.  And I had my  picture  taken,  which  I hope turns out OK.

I  was  glad  to  get  back  to my hootch and eat some supper because I was really hungry.  Even though I got  sick I'd  go  again tomorrow  if  I  had  the chance.  Flying is really fun.  We'll have to go when I get back.

Well, sweetheart, now I have a real war story  to tell when  I  get home.  I  feel  just  like  a  combat  veteran already.  Do you know that I've done more  in three  months than  some  of  these  lifers  in the  army have done in 18 years.  Hardly anyone has flown in a FAC plane  like me.  I guess  it's  just my good nature and outstanding personality that attracts people to me.

I love you even more than FAC flights, so be  good and keep  studying up.  I think you're as good as Jane Fonda, if not better!

p.s.  Sorry it's so long.  I'll try and make them shorter from now on.

 

Cu-Chi, Monday, June 23, 9:45 pm:

 

The  movie  got over early for a change so I might make it to bed before midnight once.

Nothing much happened today  except  that  I  set  some sort  of  record  for haircuts.  I had ten people in my shop at once and I cut hair from 7:30am to  6:00  pm with  one break  and  lunch.  My  legs  are  really  cramping up on me tonight.  Boy, do I wish you were here to massage  them  for me.

I  guess it's hard to think of anything exciting around here after yesterday’s big day.  Having  gotten  sick  twice seems  somehow  unimportant now compared to what I did.  The pictures I took ought to be back next weekend so you'll  get them in another week or so.  I hope they turn out.

I  wrapped  up  two pair  of sandals (gook) tonight to send you.  They're too small for me so I thought you  might be  able  to use them.  If not you can give them away.  But remember they're authentic  gook  shoes  that  these people wear every day.  This  is  a  bull-snore  letter  because I don't have a thing to report to you.

 

Cu-Chi, Tuesday, June 24, ll:00 pm:

 

I started this letter to Sgt. Hepworth at 5:00 pm but I  got  a  visitor  and didn't have time to finish it.  I'm listening to Laugh-in on the FM radio as  I  write  this  so it's very distracting.

I  just  finished printing  3  t-shirts for one of the guys next door in 9th Chemical.  Thank you for  the  thinner and  cheese  and  film.  I  found one  broken jar and tried eating some but got some broken glass so I had to throw  it away.  But  they  are  absolutely great dear.  I eat it with Ritz crackers and it's fantastic.  I love you.

 

Those pictures of Jonette and Nikki are the  best yet, you  marvelous  thing.  I could get jealous if I didn't know it was just your natural talent coming out.

What seems to be the trouble with your back?  You're probably lifting the little tykes too much.  Take it easy!

Would you  like  me to write Mrs. Eisenbeiss from here explaining the whole thing?  I'd be glad to  if you  don't want to call them.

We  got  our new shower fixed and you have to pull the chain to get the water to flow and it's extremely  difficult to shower with one hand in the air.

I  was  going to call you tonight but my phone has been on the blink.  Goodnight my love, I can't keep my eyes  open any longer.

 

 

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