My first day in Vietnam 
Posted by : GoldenDragon on Aug 31, 2001 - 06:17 PM
Vietnam War 
I arrived in Vietnam on Jan. 16, 1966 with the 3rd. Bde. of the 25th. Inf. Div. 1bn. 14th. Inf. We had been on board the U.S.N.S. Walker for 12 days. All of us knew each other and had trained together for months in the jungles of the Big Island of Hawaii.
We were airlifted from the port at Cam Ranh Bay to our new home at Pleiku. We were the first American unit into that area. There was a MACV base 11 klicks away.
Everyone was strangely quite during the airlift all wondering what to expect.
As soon as we touched down on the plateau outside Pleiku we deployed a defensive perimeter and began digging in. As we worked in the hot sun and humidity we kept a wary eye on the treelines in the distance. I had just turned 18 and I was impressed with the solid line of Huey gunships flying defense all around the base. One would set down, refuel and immediately take off again. There were always dozens in the air. As a very inexperienced solider it never occured to me that you don't put an entire Brigade on the ground at once and not protect them.
We dug trenches in the hard clay and filled sand bags. I expected at any minute to hear the crack of a snipers rifle. There was one question that was asked over and over that day. "Do you think they will hit us tonight?"
My hands were raw and blistered from my entrenching tool, but I kept digging. As hard as I tried I could not stop my mind from drifting back home with thoughts of my mother and sisters I had left behind. When I looked around me, everything looked so strange and unreal. I could tell from the looks on the faces of the men around me that they were going through similar emotions.
As I looked at the faces of friends I had known and trained with for months, Frank, Delbert, Lavirt, Ben and many more, I am grateful I had no way of knowing how many of them would spill their lifes blood into the foreign soil.
We worked all day and the tension mounted. Night was coming. We had been taught that the night belonged to Charlie.
As it got darker we took our weapons and entered the sandbag bunkers we had built. Everyone was quite. I was in a bunker with two of my friends. As tired as we were, no one could sleep. I made sure my claymore detonators were close and attempted to relax.
Tomorrow is a new day, will I be here? Will my friends still be here? I peered into the darkness and waited.