February 24, 1969
Sorry I haven't written in a while. We just got back from an operation yesterday, and it's been a very busy 2 weeks. We went down to a place called Dodge City and there is buku gooks (there). We got choppered in.
While we were landing we got sniped at all the way down. One guy got shot in the leg. We landed in a big field of elephant grass. It's about 6 feet tall and is real thick. (The temperature) is about 1000 out. (In addition to all this) we had all our gear on, including packs, so it was a hard hump. Out of our company we had about 5 heat casualties, and four of our men got medevacked out. (Medical evacuation) Everyone else was physically exhausted, and we were short of water. Finally we made it to where we were going, so we set up a perimeter. The next day Bravo Company went out, and Mike Company stayed back. They got into a fire fight and one man got killed. The next day, and all the rest of the time we were there; we went out, and Bravo stayed back. We were cut no huss. Everyday we'd go out in that blazing sun with only two canteens of water. It was truely hell. The third day we got into a real bad firefight. There was NVA everywhere. Everyone was hollering "Guns up!" We were already on our way. We ran about 20 meters. The NVA already made their hat on the other side of a birm wall.
We made it up (the wall) and set the gun up, and sprayed the area in front of us. I was so busy getting belts of ammo ready to feed into the gun, I didn't have time to shoot my rifle. I only shot up around 18 rounds, one magazine. The other gun team hit a booby-trap and Kenny, one of my good friends, got a piece of shrapnel in his arm. It was a miracle that nobody else in the team caught any. I guess they all hit the deck at the right time. Another one of my friends, Butch H. got a piece of shrapnel in his chin. He got really pissed off. Finally the shooting stopped, and they called in air strikes. So the bombers came and bombed the hell out of the area 20 meters in front of us. We thought they were bombing us at first, because it was so close, and all kinds of dirt clods fell on top of us. If it weren't for our flack gear and helmets we would have taken casualties. As it was, Kenny, the guy who got shrapnel in his arm (while on the birm wall), got a big chunk of dirt dropped on his back and broke it. We could hear him screaming and yelling in pain as they took him on a stretcher. Finally Doc decided to give him morphine to ease the pain. Then they took him to the chopper to be medevacked out. There was one man killed in the firefight. He got shot in the back of the neck. By the time Doc Collins got to him the last of his blood spurted out of him.
Doc was in hysteria. He's really a brave guy. Whenever anything happens he's right there. He's always worrying about us too. Always making sure everyone takes their salt tablets and malaria pills. All together that day we lost 11 men. 1 killed and 10 injured. For seven days we lost one man a day. Sometimes 2,3, and four a day. They were all heat casualties. We were down to 17 grunts left out of 32. Then after a few days they brought new men in.
At night the gooks were at it too. They'd sneak up to a hole and drop a grenade. Many people were wounded (this way), and a couple were killed. I just thank the Good Lord none came up to our hole. A couple of times I thought I heard something and threw grenades, and shot at it with my rifle even if it was nothing. I felt a lot better about it after I fired at it.
Well, it ended up we came back yesterday. We weren't even back 20 minutes when we had to go back out again. One guy got killed (a guy I came over to Vietnam with), and 5 injured. We were very happy when we got back from that operation, and then that had to happen. It was hard on everyone.
*A few days later*
We had to go out again since I started this letter. We weren't here over 8 hours and we were (called) out in the bush again.
Concerning that old graveyard (in Snohomish). I knew there was a graveyard there, but somebody told me it was an old Indian Graveyard. I never went there. Someday maybe I will.
You asked me if I wanted to be a member of that Historical Society. Well, I wouldn't mind it, but is it for old people or what?
Note: By Mike Bailey, 3rd Battalion 1st Marines Mike Company.