John says the man on
the upper left, looking
left is Lou Urso
Another group shot of the
the troopies gettin some air
The Convoy Vung-Tau 2 Bearcat
My recollections of the trip were the terrible heat and cramped sardine-like sleeping quarters below and how most of the guys came down with bad colds. It was so bad as with the heat and illness, it was very hard to breathe. Some guys would sneak up on the top deck and find rest even in the lifeboats! I once slept in the top stairwell on top of a pile of dirty bed sheets! It was either that or no sleep at all. I remember when a storm hit and the waves were huge, rocking the boat back and forth. Many guys got sick and ran to the showers, but somehow the showers were only putting out salt water!
Then the food-slop on slop with fruit too green to eat. Guys would barter food for cigarettes. I spent much of my time reading, writing letters and listening to my Panasonic short wave radio. I'd pick up stations from all over. What I thought was cool, is you heard a foreign DJ talk, then they'd play American Top 40! Los Lobos- "Black is Black", The Hollies "Bus Stop", The Monkees "Last Train to Clarksville", etc. etc. Other soldiers would gather around to listen, share stories of where they were from, girlfriends and good times they had before being drafted. I remember checking out a guitar with rusted strings or one missing and had a hell of a time keeping it in tune while I entertained others with Beatle and Rolling Stones tunes.I remember when we approached the Port of Vung Tau seeing many of the Vietnamese fisherman in their small skiffs. I, like most of you am 60 years old, yet these images are like a DVD movie I can play in my mind at any moment. Thank God we were the lucky ones to make it back home. I cannot tell you sufficiently the heartbreaking feelings I have carried and will carry with me until I die for the ones who did not make it or made it back, but suffered a variety of problems. It has not been easy for me, but somehow I endured, moved on. Attached are a couple of photos I took on the ship and the first one when we got off the ship Oct. 13th and convoyed up to Long Binh Province and on to "Camp Bearcat".
Veteran of H.H. Btry. Survey Section
2/77 Arty. 2nd Battalion,
3rd Brigade 4th Infantry Div.
|2/77FA/VN HOME||Back to personal Stories section|
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"Dear Mom, Dad, Nick,
I thought I'd better write to you right away. Today is our last day in this camp (about 25 mi. S.E. of Saigon), we're moving out. They didn't tell us where we're going, but I found out by a little investigating. I talked to some guys that came back to get the rest of their stuff. I know you won't like to hear this, but we're joining 25,000 American troops at "Tay Ninh"-60 miles northwest of Saigon in Tay Ninh province.
If you've been following the paper and news you'll know that there has been heavy fighting in that area. There is the V.C. 9th Division and 101st North Vietnamese Regiment operating in the area. We killed over 1,000 of them but they say there are still about 5,000 of them somewhere in the jungles. Our firing Battalion have been thru firing artillery already and one of the Sections got mortared last week and five guys got hurt.
The guys told me there's some bad things up there. It won't be anywhere as easy as it's been here. I figured it was too good to last long. Also, there are new units coming in already taking our place.
Well, I leave tomorrow and I'll write right away and tell you what things look like there, and what the set up is.
We'll I'll be part of "Operation "Attleboro" that's been going on since Oct. 15th. Well, keep up with the paper and news, they'll probably tell you more than I could. Well, on the brighter side of things, I had a real nice peaceful Thanksgiving and a real nice dinner of turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry, sweet potato, corn, orange, candy and nuts and even a hardy amount of sweet table wine. It really was nice and quite a change from the regular routine. Of course it wasn't like being home-nothing these days is like being home, between guard duty, which we have every night. Tonight's my 12th night in a row, 6 hours in a bunker (e.g. 6 P.M.-Midnight, or 12 Midnight to 6 A.M.).
Well, I just got back from packing all my stuff and it's loading in the trucks, all we have to do is just leave in the morning.
Ma, did you read the small article of the new law President Johnson signed? You can send a newspaper with surface rate postage, and they'll fly it to Viet Nam and not by boat like the "Action column of The (Miami) Herald wrote". This just came into effect this month. Also, Ma I checked about the allotment and they said as soon as they get the information on daddy's benefits they start processing things, but I was told it might be as long as 4 months before you start getting any checks. By the way, have you got my allotment check yet? Remember I said to keep some and put some in my bank.
Pay day is in 3 days, I should be able to save most of it.
I can see by the papers the weather is still hot in Miami, but I know it's a lot cooler than here. Boy, every day I sweat and sweat.
Well, Mom, Dad, I'll sure be waiting for those packages to come with all the goodies. I haven't received Marge's yet, it should come soon I hope.
Well folks, I don't have much more to say new, but as soon as I settle at our next camp I'll write right away.
I'll be traveling in a convoy about 100 miles. It'll be a long, hot day. Wish us luck and by all means don't worry, leave that to me.
God bless and take care,