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

NCO' s.

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.

 

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