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I feel not a person but an instrument of destiny.-- Charles DeGaulle
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I remember pulling guard duty at Cu Chi Base Camp, RVN in the Support Command area. It just so happened that there was a Vietnamese cemetery located in the Support Command area at Cu Chi.
The tropical night was noisy with insects buzzing and other animals adding to the overall hum typical of Vietnam. The air was suffocating humid, and ground fog was obscuring the perimeter of the big engineer compound in The Central Highlands. It was the winter monsoon and the sky covered by low heavy clouds -- ideal conditions for an enemy attack.
Headquarters Department Northeastern Virginia, Arlington, VA, August 4, 1861. Colonel:
I have the honor to submit the following report of the battle of the 21st of July, near Manassas, Va. It has been delayed till this time from the inability of the subordinate commanders to get earlier a true account of the state of their commands.
The first ship that went out was the flagship MARIA TERESA, followed by the VIZCAYA, COLON, OQUENDO, and finally the destroyers, all under full steam.
When, the ships went out the engines were under such high pressure that the enemy was surprised, and has subsequently expressed great admiration on that account.
The helicopter's jet engines strained, with the Huey B's blades slicing through the air, making the familiar sounding "chop, chop, chop," as the bird made a sharp turn. We were sitting on our helmets to protect against rounds coming through the floor of the aircraft.
The 29th Field Artillery Battalion, along with the 8th Infantry Regiment, made up the 8th Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division, whose mission was to make the H-Hour landing on Utah Beach. A, B, and C batteries had been equiped with M-7 armored 105mm howitzers, instead of conventional truck-drawn artillery pieces which were standard issue for infantry divisions. Each gun battery was equipped with 4 guns.
I was in the first chopper in the assault. Not a comforting thought but, as it turned out lucky for me. Our chopper crossed the treeline and immediately started dropping down in a stomach lurching dive. As we swept across the Lz toward the far end to allow the choppers behind us to land, we started receiving automatic weapons fire from the surrounding treeline.
1967, LZ English, near Bong Son, about fifty meters inside the perimeter.
I woke up often at night over there, even after I learned to sleep through outgoing H&I fire. So I had searched for a watch with a generously luminous dial which would let me check the time in the dark. Why is it that when we wake up at night the first thing we want to know is, what time is it?
It was a hot, sunny day, the tenth of June, the year Nineteen Eighteen, that I voluntarily answered the call of my country, which was then plunged into the greatest and most terrific war mankind has ever known. I enlisted at Camp Beauregard, and through the kindness and assistance of a friend of my sister's, Sergeant Whitmel Reed, was assigned to the Intelligence Section, Headquarters Company, 156th Infantry Regiment, 39th Division. A few days after my arrival I was equipped in olive drab, and soon made a full fledged soldier of "Uncle Sam".
First of all, let me say that Tony White was a first class doctor and man. When the 5th Battalion went to Vietnam on its first tour; the average Company Medic was ill trained and poorly equipped, especially by American standards. The training received at the School of Army Health was very basic, and involved more about how to work in a hospital ward than how to treat casualties.
My experiences are those from the perspective of a gunship pilot. I flew Cobras with the 235th Aerial Weapons Company (the Delta Devils) out of Can Tho in '68 and '69. The 235th was an all-Cobra company and we gunship drivers were used as hired guns for anyone in the Delta who wanted helicopter gunships to come and shoot up stuff. We nearly always were dispatched as a single light fire team (two Cobras).
The date was the 25th of March 1945 and the target was the underground oil facilities at Buchen, Germany (about 6 miles east of Hamburg). The 448th could have easily stood down this day. Yesterday's costly mission took a toll of eight B--24's that were lost to ground fire when we dropped supplies to 40,000 British paratroopers that had just crossed the Rhine River at Wesel, Germany.
Immediately after the Battle of Kwajalein, the sailors aboard the USS Washington received orders to fuel the destroyers. After fueling the destroyers, dusk turned into the blackest of nights. Tired and battle-weary, I began to look for a place to sleep on the main deck but was unable to because several sailors were putting away the fueling gear. Finally, I had to resort to my own bunk over #4 machinery space. The temperature was about 110 degrees causing me to fall asleep fast.
This is a little bit of my recollection of our adventure to a far and exotic land. Once upon a time, wait a minute, let me try this another way. I was a Marine Sergeant stationed at Camp Pendleton when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August of 1990. At the time I was a student at the 1st Marine Division's Scout Sniper School. My unit 2nd Battalion 5th Marines took about a week to recall their troops from various schools and temporary duties.
I landed about twenty-five feet from a road and before I could get my rifle assembled, I heard a motorcycle approaching. I remained still as I did not have time to assemble my rifle, and watched two German soldiers pass by. After they passed and I had my rifle together I found other paratroopers and our equipment bundle and set off for the bridge over the Merderet River.
1799: Napoleon Bonaparte captures Jaffa, Palestine.
1913: The Balkan allies take Adrianople.
1918: On the Western Front, the Germans take the French towns Noyon, Roye and Lihons.
1941: Italy attacks the British fleet at Suda Bay, Crete, using detachable warheads to sink a British cruiser. This was the first time manned torpedoes had been employed in naval warfare, adding a new weapon to the world's navies' arsenals.
1942: The Germans begin sending Jews to Auschwitz in Poland.
1953: The Nevada complex, consisting of combat outposts Carson, Reno and Vegas, came under heavy attack. The enemy initially seized Vegas and Reno, but the Marines recaptured these outposts and defeated repeated enemy attempts to recapture the ground.
1975: The city of Hue, in northernmost South Vietnam, falls to the North Vietnamese.