I are Mikie Pectol
The above is my reworking of the CIB. For the first few months I was in VN,
Some of the Soui-Tre Artillery Veterans had been awarded the CIB a practice which was cancelled. I got no problem with that. So, I just made up my own version of a combat rifleman badge, which I call the "Artillery Rifleman Badge" Just 'cuz everytime the stuff got heavy, I ended up as a rifleman. Heck, I was gonna make it daigonally half signal orange, to match my MOS, and half Artillery Red to match my branch assignment, but I was having trouble mixing an appropriate signal orange. Short attention span, hahahahahha! It is all tongue in cheek,
PROFILE: I am as of yesterday - 56 Years young. By 1966, when I enlisted in the Army, I was sure my destiny was to be a professional soldier. I was assigned to Radio Operator School @ Ft. Ord out of Basic, then they told some of us that we were going to Ft. Gordon, GA to be RADIO TELETYPEWRITER OPERATORS. That was the Army's version of Western Union. We were to send and receive "HARD COPY" messages over the air for various units, whereever we were assigned. Straight out of AIT, I went to the 6th Bn. 77th FA, and Headquarters Battery, which was usually the Control or main station in the network of an Artillery Battalion, and directly connected to Division Artillery HQ. I had originally wanted to be Infantry, but that is a different story. We sent what is commonly called "Housekeeping" traffic, supply and administration messsages, and so on, and of course, "Combat Traffic" such as...SITREPS, SPOTREPS, AARS, METRO (WEATHER) INFORMATION, grid coordinates for our PREPLOTTED MISSIONS, etc. including H & I (Harassment and Interdiction) Missions, and PREPLOTS of coordinates around other FSBs, to BLOCK ESCAPE of enemy forces, etc. in case of ground attack on them. I was transferred up to 2/77FA in June, '67 and @ the time, it was the Hot Zone in the 25th Infantry Division's AO (Area of Operations ---III Corps Tactical Zone)But, 2/77 was still @ that time - assigned to the 4th Infantry Division...OPCON to the 25th.
Ironically, at the time I went into the Army -- I had wanted to be eventually in the "infantry", so I paid VERY CLOSE attention to all the infantry stuff they taught us in BASIC TRAINING! And @ the time, LUCKILY, I took very closely to HEART the addage that @ the time, was as old as the Army itself..that Every Soldier was..
A RIFLEMAN FIRST...AND ALWAYS...and his MOS came second
That stood me in good stead, as I started going out almost immediately with the unit on "OPERATIONS" ---And immediately learned that when the
"Shit" went down on a FSB, our type of radio traffic could not be done. That in turn made the RATT as we were called by S-3 on all the maps, etc. -- "EXTRA PERSONNEL". And as every "WARM BODY" was needed to help defend the Base, to ensure the survival of as many people on it as possible. So, we not only pulled a WHOLE LOT of perimeter security of the base @ night with the infantry unit assigned to our security...but we also were assigned to "REACTION FORCES" which would either re-enforce any section of the perimeter that was about to be breached, or had been breached...or serve as teams to go up to the perimeter, or the gun PITS to bring the wounded back to the aid station to be either patched up and put back into action...or if "Critical"....MEDEVAC'D back to Cu-Chi or Tay Ninh Hospitals for life-saving surgery. So, I and all RATT Teams, plus the cooks, and clerks, and supply guys, etc. all did quite a lot of time as a sort of "RESERVE INFANTRY"
AFTER VIETNAM --I spent almost 9 more years trying to be a professional soldier, but in the long run...it just wasn't the same Army any more...and it just did not fill the bill for "CAREER/JOB SATISFACTION" for me, so I got out. Worked about a hunnert jobs, etc. and got married a few times, and so now, here I am, takin care of this here website for us 2/77 Vets. I started the site because I wanted to and still do -- find some of the guys I served with...and because I thunk it would help me and other veterans....(I recognized that the internet was the wave of the future for communications, and would be the best way for us to "Hook up" with eachother)...We have had some great successes, and I still hope for more in the future. Still have not seen hide nor hair of the people I am looking to hear from someday, BUT....there is still time, I hope.
In the meantime, I have made many new and great E-Friends in the veteran and civilian categories, and it has been valuable, and gratifying for me, so thanks, ALL!
Where the Adventure began - for me
Former Sgt. Mike Pectol
HHB, Commo Plt. RTT
In October, '66, I went by from AIT in Ft. Gordon, GA to Ft. Irwin, CA 6/77FA, (105T).
Boy, I sure loved to ride Choo Choos! the Army took real good care of me on that one. I got a pullman car with the nice bed and sink and restroom, etc. It took...best recollection...3-4 days. There was an observation car, and eatin in the dining car and trying to relax from the anticipation of my first "real" duty assignment by enjoying the scenery was cool!
I knew I would be A Radio Teletype Operator in a unit going to Vietnam.That was confirmed by rumors, and training from day one.
A little while after arriving, some of the other "RATTs" (our nickname..as that is how we showed up on placement maps during training maneuvers...)were temporarily assigned to the Fort Commcenter because they were short on guys with the regular MOS for Commcenter. Shift work and exemption from guard, etc. Long shifts,12 hours a day. In late December, or early January, one of the dummies who worked there let it slip that our "Port Call" had come from DA, and when and where it was. Of course, they carted him off to jail, and postponed our Port Call for "Security Reasons".
Goody! I was ecstatic! The original call came too early for my 18th birthday, and I had been told I could not go, even if I signed a waiver! Phooey! We all watched the news, and we had all agreed that it least it would be gooder since we had to go, to go over with friends we had trained with, instead of all alone!
I liked the boat. Another first. Arizona, where I am from, is pretty much land-locked. I don't care for the ocean, except for some of my favorite seafood...I learned right away that I liked riding on it. No swimming, just riding, thangUveruMusch! Un Un Huh! Then, maybe half way to Subic Bay, we hit a Typhoon, and for around 10 days, we were rocking and rolling! Everyone but me, the crew and a few soldiers was really sea-sick! A little bit of a bad time, from the smell in the latrines, but when it calmed down...I kinda liked being "rocked" to sleep by the normal motion of the boat. None of us much liked being rocked to sleep by that tape of Frankie Valli and the 4 seasons that the Navy seemed to take pleasure in torturing us with for hours every day, hahaha! Nah, it was great for the first 2 days, but heck after you learned all the words, ya kinda want somethin new, yea?
When we got to Subic Bay, for refuelling, etc. they made sure to tell us that from the time we resumed till arriving at VungTau...would be almost exactly a day, and of course if we missed getting back on that boat, our butts would be in the tightest most painful sling ever! Lots of the guys hot-footed it into town to meet some of the locals of the female persuasion, and visit with Jack Daniels, and Wild Turkey, etc. But,since trouble has often had a disconcerting habit of sneaking up behind me and pulling a prank...I wanted to make sure. I just went on the Base, and caught a movie, then got some smokes, and some travelling booze, and then headed back a little early to be sure.
May 21 - 22, '67 -
Okay, here we are! Yow!
They had the commanders spread the word that we for some reason could not pull in and dock and "disembark" before nightfall, so that meant we would spend the night on the boat, then we better have our asses up, all packed and ready to board 'the boats' for a short trip up to the docks.
My section had been in a "secure" cabin up front workin "guard" shifts to keep the enemy from stealing our crypto gear, hahaha! Oh, well...it was probably the best job on the boat, though it appeared to us to be about as necessary as mammaries on a bull! Often, because of the cramped quarters on the sleeping/troop decks in all those stacked up hammocks...the other guys in the section would drop in for a visit, and etc. We would play cards or just shoot the shit till tired enough to fall immediately asleep. Then, go over and do it.
But, tonight, everyone had seen that mountain beyond Vung Tau harbor...and now, as dusk fell and turned into dark we were seeing clearer indications of where the little tiny aircraft we had seen inland were. We were seeing thumb tack sized blips of light, and it kinda looked like someone was watering the ground with a moving watercan pouring red rain of all things! go figure! We were all oohing and ahhhing, and tossin around what we thunk might be goin on, then, all of a sudden, it hit us and we all shut up, and looked around at eachother. In those few seconds of that Are you thinkin what I'm thinkin look - ...It hit us! Now we done gone and done it - done got our selves in a helluva jam, done got ourselves in Viet Nam! I think we only got about 2 hours sleep that night. At least we had a kinder, gentler Wake up Call than many others got! Well, that just about handles "The beginning"
Former Sgt. Mike Pectol
HHB, Commo Plt. RTT
This ain't no, no, no way GOOD! It is the next morning now, and we have just been given "The spiel" about how we are gonna walk down these stairs as the First Log Command Boats Pull up in the boat groups they had counted us off into...(Yeah, go figure, Army guys driving boats for chrissake!, hahaha! So, I and my group filed down those stairs, and lined up tight, as were told to do with our duffle bags touching our front,and they packed layer on layer of us OD SARDINES into this thing. The sides came up to about waist high, and at the back, I think there was a guy from First Log standing behind what looked like a Preacher's Pulpit with a steering wheel and a couple of levers stickin outta it! I/we increasingly felt worser and worser about this little excursion! For some reason, we had been told that we would go up to the docks, So...when this funky little boat with the flat bottom began bumping toward..not the docks but headed straight for the beach! I and a couple of others shouted "Hey!" "Ain't you headed the wrong way, man? Whassa matter with this picture? We ain't gonna assault no beach with our duffle bags, are we??" The Army Bosun and our group leader shouted together (the waves and motor noise, etc. pretty loud)
"Nah, we are just gonna let you off on the beach, closer to the in processing building"
Yeah....RIGHT! We are really freakin out now! The ramp up in front just went down and yep, you GUESSED IT -- we aint even CLOSE to the beach! And the group leader has grabbed his duffle and shouted
That is the Infantry motto, and in landing craft, troop, You don't wanna hear no gung-ho dude hollerin an Infantry phrase, and stepping down the ramp and off into water over the knees, carrying a duffle, with no GUN, much friggin less!, hahahaha!!! But, what the hey, if something wuz gonna happen - MAYBE it woulda already happened, and anyway, tired of standin and one way off that boat, so we all looked around at eachother, and then, shrugged and started out in ranks, and waded up onto the shore! We were all pretty much resigned now to Murphy's law, ever since we had woken up this mornin...something had gone wrong with just about everything we had done - compared with what expectations we had been given by the leaders. So, BELIEVE that we were rubberneckin and wadin, and tryin to run in fact, not wantin to be exposed and vulnerable in that knee deep plus water any longer than necessary, just a splishing and a splahin and hell, it wasn't even Saturday, and we wuz not even takin a bath, hahahaha! And yeah, we were so Goddamned scared, that some of us were laughing like maniacs, I guess to relieve the pressure! Then, as we were told - we went about 50 yards beyond the water line and formed up as ordered for the short march to the in processing center. A roll call was taken, I guess to make sure noone had fallen overboard, hahahaha! They had already taken one up on the Big Boat!
So, we all stood soaked from sweating and being splashed with ocean water, and a roll call was taken, and then ANOTHER roll call was taken! Ha! At this point, things were pretty informal, and we were "at ease" and we were wondering amongst ourselves about a roll call every time we moved 10 feet. Guess they may have wanted to make sure noone tried to go awol at this point, hahahahaha! Where the heck do you go, when you don't know nobody, etc.? The guys at the inprocessing center said:
"No sweat, you will dry off fast in this heat, before you begin sweating again and get soaked again. Get used to it, you are officially in "The Nam" now!
So for hours and hours, we fooled around and waited and went in and out of that little "building" Not much of one, though...best recollection...it was a corrugated galvanized steel roof on a frame of poles, and it didn't even have sides or doors, etc. kinda like maybe the Army's version of a patio away from the main building! We were rubberneckin around and talkin and bitchin and discussin all the things that were DEFINITELY strange about this place! Too many to count off in just this one story, hahahaha!
Don't know how many hours, but probably at least 4 hours later, we had gone in and out, and we now were finally formed into groups that were gonna climb inside the backs of a convoy of Deuce and a Half trucks for a convoy to some airbase around 20 miles away. They had given us a briefing on what to do and not do if attacked and One lousy magazine of ammunition to go with our M-14s! Goody~! So, we of course are really freaking out again! They said they didn't expect trouble, really, which of course made us feel a lot better, since they already had a great record of things turning out the way they said they would, hahaha! So, we rode for probably 2-3 hours, stopping and starting. The stops were not fun, of course! We all kinda liked being moving targets gooder than stationary ones! Luckily, even though we arrived at the Airbase frazzled, soaked in sweat and dust, and really tired, nothing did happen on that convoy, except a lot of strange signs about Americans on the buildings in the villages etc. we passed through.
So, we un-assed the trucks on the double,formed up into platoons, and marched some more, go figure, huh? We marched over by a C-130, and got a spiel about how we were gonna take a little ride on a C-130, and then they packed us in like OD SARDINES again! We got up to around maybe 10,00 feet or so...don't know for sure, but soaked with sweat and dust....mud basically...it was colder than hell up there, and every time the plane climbed, we were smashing eachother...packed so tight on the floor where we were jammed in touching eachother. Same thing when the plane dipped, or turned. Every one yellin at the guys next them they were smashin them. Painful! You had the whole row of guys' weight on ya every time!
Boy were we glad to get off of that plane, and warm up, and get our circulation back, plane ride must have been 30, maybe 45 min. but maybe it just seemed like it. We formed up and loaded up into trucks and had a short ride to the area where our "hootches" and Battalion area were. Already done, hootches, bunkers everything. They must have had some other unit there before, and just transferred them. We got assigned hootches, and the person who was "guiding" us gave us a spiel about how there had been some troopers murdered at night by VC sneaking into camp and cutting their throats. He said we would need to have a hootch password and countersign for each hootch after dark, and to blow anyone who didn't know it away if we wanted to live. Goody! Well, Mikie - Looks like you have arrived, kid! Well, then they told us we could go to chow. After chow, there was a Bn. formation, and it was down to business immediately. Some were put on Guard, some on CQ. Some were told to go to bed and get some sleep. That is when all COMMOSections found out we would report to the Bn. Commo Shop after formation. We did, and found out from the Bn. Commo Officer that 6/77 did not have SOIs or SSIs yet, and for us to be able to start performing our missions ASAP...we had to have them, so we had to make them. Literally. The signal big wigs for 6/77 had spent the time comin over on the boat figuring out call signs, and panel codes, and all the myriad other communications things needed, authentication tables, crypto codes, etc. for the unit, and now, we would put it all together.
We were gonna cut, sort, laminate in plastic, punch and arrange all that stuff into the appropriate little book, SOI or SSIs, maps for plotting, etc. then mark it off a list of who was supposed to get one, until we had it all done, and there would be no sleep until done. Meals would be in shifts. Breaks one an hour for 10 minutes, but at the last...we were scared we might fall asleep if we stopped, so no breaks, just DRIVE ON!
Three days later, we all ate breakfast....we had finished just before...and went to our hootches and passed out for 24 hours. Don't even remember what we had for breakfast!