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.