Then a rooster crowed. My tour in Vietnam did not get off to an auspicious start. t.src=v;s=b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0]; After they flew his body out, somebody asked if we had recovered any money off his body. Then the artillery poured in. William Lloyd Garrison, American abolitionist who published The Liberator. The round had hit just above our trench line, slamming into the hillside. The Hell in Vietnam is another budget first person shooter set in the Vietnam war. Each rifleman who carried a 60mm mortar round handed it to us as we passed. The Model Pfc, one each. We raced to the spot in the tree line where the sound was last heard. Then my first combat outing began with a near disaster. He began gurgling. The gunner and I had to stand in front of the battalion legal officer and give statements about what happened, as well as ideas on how it could be prevented in the future. Dewey was the head … Eventually, one of the new guys steeled himself not to dive into the trench when outgoing was fired. I pulled the pin on a frag (fragmentation) grenade and stood up to throw. The corrugated fasteners holding the corners together were exactly like the ones we used in woodworking shop in high school. Three Vietnam War Veterans Share Their Stories W.D. I held a wounded Navy corpsman and took the battle dressing from his web gear. But Troyer had no illusions that returning soldiers would be greeted as heroes; other than his parents, he wasn't sure anyone would be happy to see him. In Vietnam, the troops gave our battles such names as ‘The Day Sandy Got It,’ ‘Phu An’ and ‘Two July.’ On ‘Two July,’ 1967, our four understrength 125-man rifle companies suffered 84 dead and 190 wounded. 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js'); Troyer was lucky; he survived the year until his Date Eligible for Return from Over Seas, or DEROS, and came back to Ohio in one piece. I looked automatically to my right. Sometimes I had to interpolate distances. Sign up for the American Experience newsletter! Suddenly, there was a bang-bang–recoilless rifle fire–and the rest of us dove into the trench. Once an airstrike north of Con Thien landed short and exploded all the mines in the minefield outside the wire. General Metzger dove into our mortar pit. Immediately I was hit in the right calf and dropped the live grenade. The majority of American soldiers never witnessed large-scale battles or suffered through the terror of a jungle ambush during their one-year tours. Lt. Col. Peter Dewey, a U.S. Army officer with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Vietnam, is shot and killed in Saigon. ‘I lived next to a chicken farm most of my life, Short Round,’ I told him. At one point, an NVA mortar opened up with about 40 rounds directly to our front. We set up our mortars and fired over the hill, directed by the riflemen. First Americans killed in the Vietnam War, July 8, 1959 On this day in 1959, Maj. Dale Ruis and Master Sgt. Breathe!’ Then he died. The following day the engineers scanned the area again and found several more mines in the same place, luckily before the general arrived. Captain Ryan muttered that the Army would have flown in prefab bunkers, then put sandbags on top of them. We dry-fired every chance we got because they weren’t experienced mortarmen. The terrain in Vietnam varied from the sand dunes along the coast to foothills inland, to rice paddies in the lush agricultural areas, to the mountains and jungles near the DMZ. He got his Purple Heart. War Story- Personal Narrative Finally we got a well deserved break from what seemed like our endless marching. Every American should see this. ‎Remarkable stories of war told by the men who fought for a proud nation. Their words. As the Vietnam War escalated, more and more students at the University of Wisconsin were drawn into the demonstrations. The recon patrol called in an adjustment, and then we fired for effect. Captain Don Festa, my company commander, did not allow any more firing of the 60mm mortars during the rest of the operation. His first-person account of that harrowing ordeal was published in U.S. News & … To a new guy, there is no distinction. The back of his head was completely gone. Villagers might be innocent civilians or Viet Cong sympathizers. But many of the soldiers who went were drafted into the service, ineligible for a student deferment because they had never been to college. As I lay inside the crater, working out the cramp, enemy 61mm mortar rounds began exploding inside our perimeter. The general was cool under fire, not shaking like we always did during mortar, artillery and rocket fire. The concussion collapsed several bunkers on that side. Areas temporarily cleared of enemy forces could become dangerous again the next week. We're going to do whatever the government says -- they own me, I got to do it.". ‘Throw a grenade on him and shut him up!’ somebody would yell occasionally. We knew the direction, but in the vast jungle valley the distance was anybody’s guess. If you are a veteran, know a veteran, or are related to a veteran, and would like to place a personal story on the Online Veterans Tribute, please mail it to: American Veterans Center 1100 N. Glebe Rd. When I talked to him about extending my tour six months to get 30 days in Australia, then an early out from the Marines with less than three months to do after I got home, he dissuaded me. We strolled over to examine their brand-new mortars. John Osbourne, playwright and film producer (Look Back in Anger). Later, I slipped while crossing a bamboo bridge that spanned a chest-deep stream. Like other twenty-year-olds, both in the service and out, he felt invulnerable. Gustave Flaubert, French novelist (Madame Bovary, A Simple Heart). Henry Jackson Jr, boxer using the name Henry Armstrong, the only fighter to hold 3 professional boxing titles simultaneously. Sometime after he was medevaced out, Brig. They were NVA, wearing the gear taken off Marine bodies on Two July. Although after taking mathematics courses I now know it would have been all but impossible, I figured we could fire above the tube when the next round came out and cause it to explode. My first duty as a squad leader was to attend a briefing for a convoy escort that would travel from Da Nang to Phu Bai. Comments: Dick Guthrie, company commander of B Company, 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 50th Infantry from September 1967 to January 1968, writes a brief eulogy for Private First Class James John Murphy of Scranton, Pennsylvania, who on November 5, 1967 became the first soldier in B Company killed by enemy action after the battalion arrived in Vietnam. var googletag = googletag || {}; Luckily, I wasn’t carrying the packboard with 90 pounds of ammo and gear–I probably would have been unable to spring the packboard strap in time and would have drowned. A minute later there was a tremendous explosion, an airburst right over the company command post (CP). The DoD now recognizes the date the MAAG was set up, Nov. 1, 1955, as the start of the conflict in Vietnam — the earliest date to qualify for having a casualty’s name added to the memorial wall. His aide lay outside the hole, taking his flak jacket off and putting it over the general. John "Chick" Donohue in 1967, on his way to Vietnam (inset). Later that night, he said he could hardly lift it onto the truck, and couldn’t believe I had humped it the entire distance. Several times, Sergeant Eugene Blocker from the 3.5-inch rocket section (a future Silver Star winner) offered to carry my M-14 rifle. Nobody was there. document.documentElement.className += 'js'; Vietnam War Stories being a Narrative of the War Experiences of the First Platoon, A Co., 1/8 Cav., First Air Cavalry Division, 1967-1968. As the squad leader I had final say on where to set up my gun, and we moved to the corner. He wanted to register his wound with the company corpsman, but I told him dusk was an especially bad time to be moving around the hill because the NVA fired their big guns out of North Vietnam from the west, knowing we couldn’t spot them in the set-ting sun. We all opened up with our M-14s. War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975 Branch: Navy Service Location: ... Theme: Cold War Dispatches: Service Stories from 1947-1991: Michael J. Fitzmaurice War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975 Branch: Army Service Location: Khe Sanh, Vietnam Theme: Medal of Honor: James P. Fleming The problem was that two of the squad members, both draftees, were two years older than I and had been in-country for months as riflemen. I was determined that I would not only hump as much as my men, but more. The second round hit Charlie Company’s tube on its yoke. To a veteran, the sound of incoming is as distinct as a drill instructor’s marching cadence. Many were brought in piecemeal as replacements within existing units, which made them feel disconnected from the larger group. Touchdown!’ Now he was in charge. ‘Better dig in,’ our new company commander, Captain Al Slater, said. We fired a round, dropped half a turn, fired a round, dropped half a turn, walking the rounds through the jungle. Vietnam war through the eyes of American Soldiers. I’m making points with the general.’. Then he headed us back toward trucks waiting six miles away. He just laughed. He was company supply sergeant and had been a machine-gun section leader. ‘Touchdown,’ now a squad leader, complimented us on how we did our job. When the chopper landed, we received incoming rounds. The converging forces, circumstances, personalities and events that propelled a group of English men and women west across the Atlantic in 1620. LeHew served a … I remember thinking he was very brave or very stupid. The Battle Each time I could follow the rounds back farther, until I spotted a green arm in an NVA mortar pit, dropping rounds into a tube less than 100 yards to our left front. After the battle of Two July, the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, was known to other Marine battalions as the ‘Walking Dead.’. The NVA unit was fresh from North Vietnam with no combat experience. The riflemen cursed us because we were shooting from the inside of the perimeter out at them. From then on, we moved along the edge of the paddies. One recon patrol soon radioed in: ‘What Marine unit do we have in North Vietnam? Flying by safely in their helicopters, men like Battalion Commander Terry Allen pressured the enlisted men on the ground to move more quickly and kill more of their foes. The degree and emphasis upon this literature vs. other kinds of sources, whether texts, monographs, analytical treatises, or document collections, depends upon the nature of the course, the teacher's preferences, and local institutional realities. It’s on my mantel today. Get the latest on new films and digital content, learn about events in your area, and get your weekly fix of American history. The rounds were dated 1952. The two to our front were ‘busting caps’ (firing full automatic), and we scanned the tree line to our front. But when they did, dozens of men could die within minutes. My men had expended all their ammo and were traveling light. As a mortarman, I was amazed at how the NVA could hit us with their mortars by firing for effect with no adjustment round. But the bodies had been so shot up that many were unrecognizable. The NVA mortar stopped! Tim Page. First of all, even though I was a new guy, I was promoted to corporal soon after I arrived in-country in January 1967. I thought there might be rice stored in the hole, or perhaps weapons. Needless to say, they were almost in open rebellion. Edward G. Robinson, actor famous for gangster roles. There has never been a book like this. He was the one who needed a flak jacket, since he was outside the hole. Captain Festa, who would be awarded the Silver Star for this operation, called in artillery and airstrikes to chase the NVA unit back up north. As the general and the captain talked, the thump-thump-thump of a mortar tube sounded from the jungle valley below. fbq('track', 'ViewContent'); We raced back to the other side of the pagoda with our rifles. If this NVA unit was going to take on two battalions of dug-in Marines, it could roll right over our makeshift company. “Bill” Ehrhart joined the U.S. Marines when he was 17. At the count of three we opened up. Some volunteered to go to Vietnam. Last Night I Dreamed Of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram, by Dang Thuy Tram (2005) © … I wrote to one of the men at Christmastime from the USO at Camp Lejeune and never got a reply. We walked our mortars in front of our lines using the adjustment card that came with each ammo box. One Marine was crushed to death as he slept on a cot and thousands of pounds of sandbags fell onto his chest. -- Justin LeHew, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment "Task Force Tarawa," March-June 2003, Nasiriya, recipient of Navy Cross. The story of the war in Vietnam continues in Ken Burns' landmark documentary series The Vietnam War, now screening on Saturdays from 7:30pm on SBS. Their voices. We became the emergency room for a’snuffie’ (rifleman) who had been hit in the back and side by mortar shrapnel. We had a two-man rifle team directly to our front, and because we were up over the lip of the crater, we could fire over their heads. Over nine million Americans served during the Vietnam War. After three days, I became bored and wandered along a nearby tree line, probing with a makeshift machete. In truth, it is more than that. After a one-sided fight, we captured several prisoners and much gear, including rocket-propelled grenades, 82mm mortars, AK-47 rifles and machine guns. I noticed a perfectly straight crack in the ground, and used the machete to pry a camouflaged lid off a spider trap. They’re moving toward us from the northeast in columns of twos, wearing flak jackets and helmets.’ None, our commanding officer (CO) radioed back. (Never again would the Marine Corps pay its troops in the field the first day of every month.) ' Men like Troyer had to deal with several frustrations particular to the war in Vietnam. Jumping into the waist-deep mud, I became stuck, giving real meaning to the phrase ‘Vietnam quagmire.’ While the rest of the team raced to the edge of the landing zone (LZ), out of the exposed area, my section leader trudged out into the LZ, laughing, to pull me out of the mud. I unstrapped the packboard, and one of my men hoisted it into the back of our six-by truck. He asked for a cigarette and asked if he would be OK. Sure, I said. It was barely more than a foot square. Then, dog-tired from marching through the jungle all day with 50-pound packs, the soldiers faced the prospect of some general swooping down and declaring that the way they had set up their perimeter did not comport with Army regulations. He was the only dead NVA I saw during the entire battle, although they gave us credit for 200 confirmed NVA dead. What I couldn’t explain even to him was that I felt closer to my men than I did to my own brothers. HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Historynet LLC, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. googletag.cmd = googletag.cmd || []; No Choice All I remember was how cool the water felt and my decision to hold onto the mortar and let go of my M-14 rifle. Iraq like Vietnam was a war of so many contradictions… “a war with no boundaries or indications of friend or foe. Troyer was like other soldiers in that he didn't question the draft or the Vietnam conflict. He and I trailed the column when we finally reached the trucks. He later crawled across the battlefield, "trying to find somebody that was alive." Coming Home For 20 minutes we dug little caves into the side of our crater. A few nights later we got hit again at Con Thien. The stories of those who were fortunate to return home from the brutal war are indispensable when trying to separate false narratives from the truth. ‘Your mortar squad should jump out of the truck and face outboard along the road with 1st Squad.’ The convoy escort was uneventful. Two of my men died while I was a section leader, both at Con Thien. I decided to go home. My first step off the rear ramp of a CH-46 Sea Knight twin-rotor helicopter was prompted by a crew chief’s push as I hesitated 4 feet above a deep delta rice paddy with 90 pounds of mortar rounds and gear strapped onto my 120-pound frame. John Jay, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who negotiated treaties for the United States. An NVA soldier tried to sneak up on our machine-gun position to our right front, but the gunner lobbed a frag grenade onto him. We were firing registration rounds at likely avenues of approach around our perimeter. ‘Sarge, we could start an avalanche and kill us all if we fire mortars here,’ I said. I thought I spotted movement in the grass between the riflemen and the machine gun. Years later I read that the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, went to Khe Sanh on January 22, and that on February 8, 1st Platoon from Alpha Company was partially overrun at Hill 64 near a rock quarry. Engineers were flown in the next day with mine detectors to scan the’street,’ no more than a wide rice-paddy dike. I tried to explain to him that a mortar squad might be one Marine carrying the tube (without bipods) with six mortar rounds. That afternoon I witnessed the firing of the 60mm mortar for the first time. He raced by our mortar position in the tough battle for the hedgerow-lined village of Phu An. They were excellent fighters if they could rehearse an ambush or an attack, but they couldn’t improvise. Watch the first two episodes now at … Ehrhart, left, in October 1967 near Quang Tri, Vietnam, and today. As for Captain Ryan, the CO who was killed by the airburst at Con Thien, I had known him for some time. There had been no live ammo in training, and I had only fired the 81mm in the States. I thought it might be booby-trapped. We used up our mortar ammo quickly, then moved wounded Marines to the back of the perimeter, hoping to get medevac choppers in. We told him that we would verify his wound the next day. I argued with Shea about the rooster call. My tour in Vietnam did not get off to an auspicious start. This article was written by Tom Evans and originally published in the April 1997 issue of Vietnam Magazine. ‘We’ll put sandbags in the back of the six-by’ [M-35 truck], he said. The others had been outside, filling sandbags. Our new guys were an engineer, a cook and an embassy guard. The aerial observer reported the NVA were pulling back across the Ben Hai River. He received the Silver Star for his bravery. The Chinese dubbed the American unit, “Golden Dragons,” because of their fierce fighting spirit. The mortar tube was so close to the perimeter that it couldn’t be elevated high enough on its bipods to hit our lines. Using map coordinates, we fired a single mortar round toward the enemy unit. In response I got two blank stares, then the captain’s look saying, ‘Evans, get lost. A sergeant in a the 101st Division artillery unit during the Vietnam War, Kerber spent a lot of his time on mountain tops in the Ashau Valley during his service from July 1969 to March 1970. We were sitting along a trench line, cleaning weapons. A transcript of the tape was printed in his last book, Last Reflections on a War. His chopper let him and his aide out, then proceeded to circle the hill. Shortly afterward, he died. The lid was like a deep, flat-tray tomato planter, with vegetation growing on top. The Vietnam War touched millions of lives. Crouching for cover behind an anthill, Troyer stayed out of the light and watched more exposed comrades get shot. fbq('init', '271837786641409'); n.callMethod.apply(n,arguments):n.queue.push(arguments)}; His moans kept us on edge, but we knew he would make it if we could get him out by morning. The company runner lay talking calmly. ‘If we’re hit here,’ the staff sergeant said, ‘1st Squad will jump off the truck and face outboard, 2nd Squad will face inboard.’. // cutting the mustard Twenty-year-old Mike Troyer had taken classes at the local college in Urbana, Ohio, studying during the day and working at the Navistar truck plant by night. We spent three days inside a huge, two-battalion perimeter on ‘the Strip,’ the 500-yard-wide swath through the jungle that reporters called McNamara’s Wall. I didn’t know him well, but it was a privilege to have met him. That fire was the worst incoming of all, since it was a direct-fire weapon and the NVA sometimes snuck up to the wire about 100 yards away. He mentioned that he had just returned from R&R in Hawaii, and this was a hell of a welcome back. After Captain Ryan’s death at Con Thien, an event occurred that changed my mind about extending my tour. n.queue=[];t=b.createElement(e);t.async=!0; I realized that the major had no idea what the war was about in the bush. I thought we would be better off in the LZ’s corner and told the Charlie Company gunners, but he stayed put. He was 40 years old and well liked by the troops. Gen. Louis Metzger, the assistant division commander of the 3rd Marine Division, landed by chopper to talk with yet another new company commander, Captain John Ryan. At first, all three new guys dove into the trench at the sound of artillery, incoming or outgoing. Mortarmen do one thing in the infantry better than everybody else–they hump equipment. We would have removed the bipods altogether and fired free-fire. Sixtys up!’ Our squad raced up the rice-paddy dike along the column to the front. First of all, even though I was a new guy, I was promoted to corporal soon after I arrived in-country in January 1967. They carry heavy loads on their backs and go everywhere the riflemen go. Rick Duggan (far left) and fellow soldiers from the First Air Cavalry's Bravo Division with a bottle of Rock and Rye in hand. He screamed and moaned the rest of the night. We set up our own perimeter while the recon patrols moved north. ‘Why don’t you fire back?’ the aide asked. These first-person accounts are included in "Dreams Unfulfilled," a … Two riflemen were hit, badly enough to be medevaced, but not seriously wounded. These are personal stories full of emotion, drama, tragedy and humor. I carried the sight box on a packboard, as well as several mortar rounds. A tiny sunbeam poked through. That afternoon we moved out to an unpopulated area in some sand dunes. We set up our mortar in a 500-pound bomb crater, and then the three of us–Shea, Lynch and I–dug slit trenches at the top of the crater walls. ‘That’s no rooster.’ Then suddenly we were told to saddle up and move out. Two weeks before the end of my tour, one of my men accidentally killed one Marine and wounded another. if ( 'querySelector' in document && 'addEventListener' in window ) { These events gave some credence to the grunt joke: What’s the best mine detector the Marine Corps has? John McCain spent 5½ years in captivity as a POW in North Vietnam. This is the first in a six-part series about the stories and sacrifices of local men and women during the Vietnam War. He raised the gun’s elevation but did not add an increment. Nor was Troyer concerned about being a member of the Black Lions battalion, which was so well known that the Viet Cong had allegedly offered a bounty for every Black Lions soldier killed. No pulse, yet no sign of any wound. The sound stopped. American Marines, on the other hand, were brash, cocky teenagers who could think on their feet during a firefight. Our first episodes tell riveting stories from World War II, then we move on to the Vietnam War and other dramatic conflicts. It ended ‘…first in the afternoon about 4:30–shadows are lengthening and we’ve reached one of our phase lines after the firefight and it smells bad–meaning it’s a little bit suspicious….Could be an amb….’. Something told me, don’t lift it up! After a few minutes, I lectured them: ‘Follow your instincts. The major recommended we carry land-line phones and use communications wire to hook up to each gun. Grover Washington Jr, singer, songwriter, musician, producer. First-person accounts can play a valuable role in teaching the Vietnam War. The other two new guys vomited into the trench. Found a hole!’ Later, everybody said I was completely unintelligible. When he died, he had been talking into a tape recorder, which lay mangled next to his body. Share: Copy Link ... Men like Troyer had to deal with several frustrations particular to the war in Vietnam… The NVA carried their rounds down the Ho Chi Minh Trail on their backs and would not want to waste any. When I looked up after an explosion, I could see the next round coming down. The church was a tent with the side flaps rolled up, the altar at one end, and benches for pews. The village was a former Viet Minh stronghold on the ‘Street Without Joy,’ so named by the French because they lost an entire armored column there some 14 years earlier during the First Indochina War. (Enter your ZIP code for information on American Experience events and screening in your area.). My plan was for three of us to open up on full automatic at the green arm. 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