VIETNAM: AT LAST
I reported to Oakland on March 4th, 1969, a Tuesday, and after filling out reams of forms and being issued equipment we were bussed to Travis Air Force Base and boarded an elongated DC9 flown by World Airways. We left Friday, the 7th, and stopped in Hawaii for fuel. We sat there for hours when it was finally announced that we would disembark for repairs. It sounded ominous but only turned out to be a radio relay box. There were none in Hawaii so one had to be found in the States and flown in. It took 18 hours and we were put up in the Holiday Inn to rest. Some of the guys went out drinking and sightseeing but I slept and took a shower.
Sunday we took off for our next refueling stop in Guam.
Postcard (March 9): Guam, 78 degrees and humid. Seven and a half hours since we left Hawaii and my bottom hurts. Five more to Nam. My watch tells me it's 3:l0 am Sunday to you, 9:l0 pm to me. Get to Nam Monday, Sunday for you.
Long Binh, Monday Morning (March l0) 9:00 am.
I made it finally and was sure glad to get off that plane. My posterior couldn't have stood much more. We got here about 1:15 in the morning and we processed all night so I haven't been to bed yet. I called Bruce (Pixley) as soon as I got in and he said everything was all fixed and he'd see me at 10:00 o'clock this morning. He was really tired because of a rough football game he played last night.
The Helicopters are flying around overhead all the time - even at night when they turn on big searchlights and look around. There were flares and artillery going off most of the night but it was off in the distance so we didn't pay much attention.
It's really muggy here, even worse than Hawaii. Especially last night when there was no wind. It's not so bad now that a little breeze has started, but I still feel sticky all over. The latrine is really primitive and really puts out an odor. It's like the "Johns" at the park except that instead of a hole underneath, there are buckets which, when half full, are filled with diesel fuel and set afire to burn up the waste. There are no water faucets around because the water is bad, but here and there water bags hang with a communal cup to drink out of.
I guess Pix wasn't so far off when he visited the slant-eye den of lust. The little Vietnamese girls running around here aren't bad, in fact they're quite cute. But don't worry Dear, they only come to my belly button.
The atmosphere is so casual that you could forget a war was going on if the guys didn't all carry rifles. The radios all have an American station (AFN) tuned in so it sounds like KHJ all the time around here. I guess I'll go and get me a coke. I'll write later after I find out where I'm going.
Somewhere in Vietnam sipping a cold coke by the edge of the pool.
Long-binh (Monday, March l0) I'll get it right yet:
I'm laying here on my bunk in my skivvies listening to FM radio while I write this. A dust storm is taking place outside but the wind feels good, it dries up the sweat. Lousy place to be.
Well, Pix came by just as I was coming out of the shower. He really looked sharp. I think even you would have admired him. Tailored jungle fatigues, red beret and good tan, he looked like some great war hero come alive.
We talked for an hour or so about everything and he told me of the setup he's got going for us, if I get in. He takes his jeep anywhere he wants, including Saigon, only works 8-4, etc. You know Pix!
It's hot! It's like a hot summer day in the valley. Once I get used to it, it ought to be nice. The only thing here is the smell - bad news all the time. The rest of the war seems to be a big joke. The mama-sans come in every morning and clean up the barracks of those permanently stationed here and then shine their boots, do the laundry, etc. Pix says we'll get that all for free just for being
I sure hope I go to Pix 's unit. It was so good seeing him again even though I'd rather be with you. There's a little ice cream stand down at the PX that sells frosty cones but when you buy one you have to sign your name in case you should contact a sickness from it they can trace all the people down. Weird!
The PX sells Hong Kong suits and just about everything else you can get for Blue Chip stamps. So far the only thing I've bought is Kool-aid on the rocks and a Coke. After eating breakfast I decided I wouldn't eat more than I absolutely had to from now on. The food was really bad -powdered milk, powdered eggs, raw bacon, etc. It is just going to be easy to lose weight.
The ashes from the burning crap pots are falling on me as I lay here, they're gently borne by the wind with the smell.
Don't write me at this address. I won't be here tomorrow.
Long-binh, Tuesday Morn. (March 11) l0:l0 am:
I just got back from having the filling replaced that fell out on the plane and I have one and a half hours to kill. So I'll try and fill you in on what's happening here.
I got the shaft last night while I was on detail. They are sending me to the 25th Infantry Division instead of with Pix. I just went down and tried to get it changed but no dice. I have to wait 3-6 months before I can ask for a transfer.
The 25th is where it's at right now. About ten miles from Cambodia, just a little southwest of Saigon, at Cu-chi. They took the most action out of the last offensive. So I guess I'll be humping it (walking) for the next little while until I can get over to Pix. Maybe it'll be better this way anyway, I'll get a little experience under my belt before I settle down for a desk job.
I swear the Copters fly over us 24 hours a day.
I just cruised over to the PX and looked at the Chinaware for Ron. I forgot to ask how many people in a set but I'll put that on the envelope when I go to mail this. The services run from $23.00 to $80.00 with one Gold-lined at $200.00 but are generally around $50-55 a service. I'll have to get us one before I come home. It really looks nice.
I slept good last night since I didn't get any the night before. I only woke up once, when my bladder started throbbing. I dreaded going out to the latrine because the cockroaches lie and wait for you and attack you at the most inopportune time. I survived, however, and retreated back to my dusty, sagging mattress to try and sleep some more. It took a while because some Copter was playing the "hover over the barracks and wake everyone up" game, but at least he woke up the one who was snoring so loud. By the way dear, do I really snore? It's technically impossible because I sleep on my stomach, at least when I'm in a bed I do. Here I sleep anyway I can.
I guess that's all the gossip I have now. I thought a first impression of Vietnam might be good for my scrapbook, so here goes.