"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time. ~CJ/Todd Dierdorff



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Hot LZ: by Tony Chliek

A Hot LZ

Landing Zone:  From Wikipedia, the Free Online Encyclopedia
A Landing Zone or "LZ" is a military term for any area where aircraft land. 
In the American military, a landing zone is the actual point where aircraft land, (equivalent to the commonwealth landing point.) 
In commonwealth militaries, a landing zone is the cartographic, (numeric,) zone in which the landing is going to take place, (i.e. the valley.) 
Landing area is the area in which the landing is going to take place (i.e. the field where the aircraft are to land.) 
Landing point is the actual point on which aircraft are going to land (i.e. a point of the field.) Each aircraft has a different landing point. 
Landing areas are most commonly marked by coloured smoke. The standard procedure is for those at the landing area to pop smoke and say so over the radio. The pilot says when smoke is seen and what colour the smoke is. 
Those on the ground then respond with what colour the smoke should be. Smoke of a different colour can mean the landing area has been compromised, and the pilot usually has the authority to cancel a landing.

A hot landing zone, or Hot LZ, is the place you never want to hear you are going. Hot means the landing zone is occupied by the Vietcong or NVA, who will be shooting at you while you are landing, or when you land.

Late one afternoon, our company was on our way back to FSB Pershing after an uneventful day on patrol. Right outside the wire around Pershing, we were told to hold up. The officers and NCOs were called together and briefed about something. 

When they were finished talking, we were briefed. It seems that some North Vietnamese Army soldiers (NVA) (I forget how many) were spotted and we were being sent back out to go after them. One platoon would be sent in first and radio back with what we would be encountering. If they made contact the rest of us would be sent in.

Elephant Grass
They also told us that we would be landing in and area covered with elephant grass. I knew what that was and didn’t look forward to having to fight in that. (Here is what elephant grass looks like.) 

They told us to take a break and we would be resupplied before heading back out. 

We settled down and supplies were brought out to us from Pershing. Things like water, food, hand grenades, smoke grenades, claymores, a lot of extra ammo, even cigarettes. 

We received enough supplies for a day or two. I wondered why they were giving us so much, but the guys explained that this was normal for something like this, just in case we had to stay.

A lot of things ran through my mind while we waited to go, which I’ve long since forgotten, but one thing you can be sure of, I was scared and that everyone was scared.

They told me that being scared was normal even for the guys that had been through this before, but once things got started, I just needed to remember what I was trained to do and I would be okay.

I also remember thinking that this was it. That this was going to be the first time I would come face to face with the enemy in battle. I knew it was impossible to spend an entire year in Vietnam without this happening. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do, but that’s what I was here for. I pretty much accepted the fact I would be going into battle and busied myself with packing up the supplies.

It wasn’t long before the choppers came in and picked up the first platoon to go hit the LZ.  Luckily, we were not in the first group. 

After they took off, we gathered around the radio operator (RTO) to listen to what was going on. First they called in air strikes on the area to hopefully soften things up. When the air strikes were called off, the choppers were sent in with the troops. When they landed we heard exactly what we wanted to hear, “No resistance!” I remember feeling such a relief.

They patrolled the area for about a ½ hour or so, but found nothing. It looked like once the enemy knew they were spotted, they took off, or hid. 

One thing about the NVA and Vietcong, other than snipers, was they never fought unless you took them by surprise and they had no choice except to fight, or they were sure they had you outnumbered and out gunned. I guess this time it was the latter, which was just fine with me.

Landing in a Hot LZ

There was one time we actually landed in a Hot LZ. We were picked up one morning by choppers and flown to another area for our patrol. I should remind you I liked to sit on the floor right behind the pilot. Being in that spot always meant I was one of the first ones off the chopper when it touched down and one of the last ones on when it took off. What can I tell you?  I liked the view sitting there with my feet hanging out the door.

Choppers Circling
On our way in to the LZ, one of the choppers reported that they were taking on small arms fire and that the LZ would be hot. 

We were also told that since it was hot, the choppers wouldn’t be touching down, but hovering a couple of feet off the ground so they could take off quick. We would have to jump the rest of the way.

The choppers circled the LZ and the 

In a Rice Paddy Waiting
door gunners (M-60 machine gunners on each side of the chopper) fired into the LZ all the way down.

Once we got close to the ground, we hopped off the chopper and ran over to the berm surrounding the rice paddies, we got down and took cover.

We fired a few rounds for effect, but none was returned, which made me very happy.

One of the guys next to me asked me if I was okay.

“Yeah, why?”

“A round hit right between your legs just as you hit the ground.”

I was pumped with adrenaline so I had to actually stop for a second to see if I could feel if I’d been shot; nothing.

“No, I’m fine.”

“That was close, you're lucky.”

“Yeah.”

I don’t remember anything specific about the rest of the day, but as far as I’m concerned, that was enough for one day.


About Tony Chliek:

Tony Chliek
I was drafted into the United States Army on May 6, 1968 at the ripe old age of 19 years, 6 months and 2 days. 

Government policy at the time was to draft all men into the military at 19 ½ years of age if they hadn’t already joined, or had a deferment of some kind. 

I almost joined earlier that year, but backed out to take my chances with the draft. Well, that was it, I became the property of the United States Army.  

I graduated from AIT with the rank of PFC, issued my orders for Vietnam.

I was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi. After that week at Cu Chi, I was assigned to the 2nd platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 12 Infantry, 25th Infantry Division; B 2/12.

Read More of Tony's Stories


“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Monday, July 21, 2014

My Vietnam Story: by Gary Jacobson

Gary Jacobson - Vietnam '66-'67

I am Gary Jacobson, The Vietnam Bard.  Some call me the Vietnam Poet Laureate. I'm also an author, Just a Walk in the Park, a poet, (My Thousand Yard Stare), and I am a Vietnam combat vet.

Forty years ago, I was sent by my rich uncle to work in his vineyards in a land all white and ready to harvest ~ hereinafter referred to as Vietnam.

I served with 1st platoon, B Co 2nd/7th 1st Air Cavalry '66 - '67, as a combat infantryman.  We called ourselves 'Grunts', operating out of LZ Betty near beautiful downtown Phan Thiet, Vietnam.

My unit was the same unit that was depicted in the Mel Gibson movie, "We Were Soldiers," only I came along one year later.

Vietnam changed all who served, indelibly and forever. I'm now on a 100% disability rating with an extra hole in my head, covered by a 3x4 inch plate.

Shrapnel the size of a quarter is currently embedded three inches into my brain.  This traumatic brain injury was compliments of a tripwire booby trap that triggered a grenade, that in turn detonated an artillery round ... and in the process, it completely ruined my whole day on April, 22, 1967, during a combat operation in the boonies near Phan Rang, Vietnam, April 28, ‘67.

My greatest motivating desire in writing about Vietnam was first, a cathartic one, to heal the demons of war within me where I'd stashed them so long ago.  Writing brought them out, so I could confront and deal with them face-to-face, looking them in the eye.

I know everyone is not the same, and everyone is not ready for this, but writing about Vietnam helped me heal.  

I have received so many letters from brothers-in-arms, like the one telling me, "Damn.  You tell it just as I feel it, but cannot express. You echo the words in my head that I can't get out. I didn't know anyone else thought the way I did." 

Many tell me my words are also healing to them, too.  Like the tough Marine tank sergeant who called and told me he was crying like a baby, because someone else understood, and he thanked me. 

I have also had several write, after viewing my site, saying they were able to talk about "The Nam" for the first time with their families. Before that, they had not been able to talk about what they had seen and experienced in Vietnam. 

They told me they pulled their entire family in front of the computer, went through my pictures and words to show them what Nam was like for them. What a humbling experience.  I write for them!

Parents, brothers, sisters, children of vets, write to thank me for helping them to know their loved one better. Now they understand why he acts the way he does, why he won’t talk, where he'd been and why he'd changed, what he'd experienced.  He would not, or could not, talk about it.  My writing helped them connect and feel closer to their veteran.  As a writer, that is always humbling. I write for them!

I write because I feel a great need to promote a better understanding about the realities of war in those that haven't the foggiest idea of what war is really all about. There is no glory in war! War isn't the clean and antiseptic fare we see in the movies.  War is a deep fear of lingering death in the mud and blood (ours and theirs) that stays and haunts soldiers  for the rest of their lives. 

A Vietnamese legend says, "All poets are full of silver threads that rise inside them as the moon grows large."  So, when I write, it is because these silver thread words are poking at me, and I must let them out. 

Gary Jacobson


Walk the Point of the Spear



















WALK THE POINT OF THE SPEAR
by Gary Jacobson © 2013

Today I walk the point of the spear
First to hear
What’s lurking in shadowed dark
Waiting for you…
Just you
Walking the park.

On point
In this jive jungle joint,
I’m first to see… Lucky me
Who or what waits for me
Be he good time Charlie
To kill me… maybe just maim me.

Sniper in the tree
Can’t you see
Or Mr. Charles gift without warning sound
Booby tramp tamped in the ground
When it goes boom… somebody will die
Somebody will cry.

See his tripwire across the trail
Quick transport to hell
Oh well!
Somebody’s got to do it
Be first in line to meet the sh__
Uh, er, welcoming surprise.

Besides… be ye Sinner or Saint
How quaint
You don’t want to live forever,
Do you? You do!
Too bad, so sad…
No joy! Zin loi!



“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

It Needs to Be Said: by Tom Peck

Brothers
Hi, CJ, how're you doing?  

I hope I am creating some friction with my posts.  I think reality needs to be faced by those who condone, or dabble with idiocy.

Today's Issue:  Some people seem to feel that posting pictures in the Facebook group is inappropriate, when those pictures are controversial, or against some people's morals.  

There IS another side to this and they won't view it, no matter how anyone tries to explain it to them. 

I feel the pictures were willingly posed for, by those who posed for them, no matter what they looked like. They chose to pose as they did, in what they chose to wear, and they chose to to be seen, just as they were in the pictures.

This opened the post up to comments of humor, as well as to an interpretation that some found degrading. 

We all have our opinions, but let's put the comments into their proper perspective. Women have been judging men for centuries. Men have been judging women for centuries.  That will never end, because neither men, nor women, will ever be satisfied.

I feel our comments are a way of healing and finding a way to take the first steps out of isolation and seclusion, for some.

I feel humor is medicinal and we're not actually judging people, per se. The women, themselves, were purposely posing in sexy (or outrageous) outfits, knowing they would get all kinds of feedback, whether good, or bad. If you saw the pictures, then you know what I am talking about. 

People, we need to face reality and quit ass-u-me-ing about things. Those pictures that were posted recently were deliberately posed for.  No one forced those ladies to wear, (or not wear), clothes -- or in the case of the four over-sized ladies, no one told. or forced them, to wear the bikinis. They purposely chose to wear them and they knew what they were doing (I think).

Call me Sexist, Feminist, Chauvinist ... whatever.  I may be almost 66, but I still admire beauty.  I'm married, but it doesn't mean I'm unfaithful. 

These people, (the complainers), need to get a life.  Maybe the life they live is boring, mundane, or maybe they're stuck on worrying about everybody else's life, because they can't fix their own.  

Morality pops up when you can't fix your own marriage, because you're too busy fixing everybody else's. Or when you don't know how to jump start your marriage and make it fun, alluring, mysterious, sensual, and interesting again. 

Men let themselves go. Women let themselves go.  Suddenly, things are no longer sexual. I think that's what this is all about -- imposing one's morals, or beliefs, onto others they don't understand, or even want to understand.

Our comments in the group are all in fun and comradely. I feel those that don't like it have options:  look, don't look, or use the on/off switch.  

Let us communicate.  Let us heal.  Let us bond. We've earned the right.  We've sacrificed a lot for that right. We've all bled for that right and I for one have sacrificed 22-plus years for that right.

Those that sacrifice nothing have misguided views. They preach the past, but contribute nothing to the present. 

WE THE PEOPLE no longer means we the people in Washington. Words solve nothing, when you haven't sacrificed anything to learn from those words. We of the past are not humbled by the ignorance of the present, but we are shaking our heads in utter amazement.

Those of us who have sacrificed so much to protect The Right to Freedom wonder how long any of us will have it.  View me as you will, but history repeats itself way too many times at our -- at your -- expense ...

Tom Peck
USMC Vietnam
January-August '69
WIA 28 July "69


“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

PTSD? Vets and Dogs Team Up

Can Veterans and Dogs Team Up To Help Each Other?


Please consider joining in a study of dog adoption for Veterans with PTSD, a collaborative project of the VA and the San Antonio Humane Society.

What is the Goal of the Study?

Many Veterans with PTSD have told us how much they have been helped by having a dog.  

We are interested in examining the potential benefits for Veterans with PTSD of adopting a pet dog from the San Antonio Humane Society.  

Our project, "A Study of Dog Adoption in Veterans with Postraumatic Stress Disorder," is funded by the Rehabilitation Research and Development Office of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Being in the study is entirely voluntary.  You are free not to participate and may withdraw from the study at any time.

Who is Eligible for the Study?
Veterans with PTSD who have had a dog previously, but have not had a pet in the past 12 months. There are also other requirements, which the staff of the study will be glad to discuss with you.
I would love a home
What Does the Study Consist of?
Half the Veterans will be randomly assigned, like the flipping of a coin, to adopt a dog immediately, while the other half will adopt a dog after three months. The adoption fee will be waived. 
Veterans will select the dog of their choice (some restrictions apply, such as animal ages and breeds), and participate in eight weeks of obedience training at no charge
There will be five visits to the Audie L. Murphy VA Hospital over the course of six months, each lasting 1-2 hours, 3 scheduled home visits, and 2 veterinary clinic visits, as well as brief phone calls between the visits. 
Veterans will be responsible for the costs of caring for their pet, except for veterinary care, which will be provided free of charge.
Will I be Paid for My Time?
Yes.  Veterans can receive up to $490 for completing the 6-month study.  Payments will be made regularly as parts of the study are completed.

I need someone to love
Will being in the Study Affect the Treatments I receive for my PTSD?
Not at all.  Veterans will continue to receive whatever treatments their mental health provider feels are most appropriate for their PTSD.
What are the Risks of the Study?
The chief risks are fatigue, or inconvenience, veterans might experience from participating in the study visits.
What Are The Benefits?
Veterans who participate may experience a decrease in their PTSD symptoms and an improvement in their quality of life. 
 Although we cannot guarantee any benefits, all participants will have the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping the many other Veterans with this disorder while giving a home to a homeless animal.
Am I Required to Participate?
No.  Being in the study is entirely voluntary.  You are free not to participate and may withdraw from the study at any time.
Aren't I adorable?
How Do I Learn More About the Study?
Please call:

Dr. Ana Allegretti
Study Coordinator
(210) 617-5300, Ext. 16079
SAhumane.org/PTSD

Contributed to Memoirs From Nam By:
Tony Lobello
Public Affairs Officer
District 20, Texas VFW


***Thank you, Tony!  This is such a worthwhile study and I am proud to do what I can to get the word out there. ~a big hug, CJ


“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Boots: by Lee Tucker

Boots at The Wall

As a Vietnam Veteran, I share many feelings with so many others.

We all served our country at a time when many of our countrymen didn’t agree with the war, or our participation.

Some of us volunteered, others were drafted, but all of us landed in the same country to fight the same enemy.


There are those who believe that their part in the war was more significant than others.

There are those who feel guilty for coming home alive, instead of in a body bag.

All of us are confused as to why we were shunned and protested against for serving our country.

All of us are Vietnam Veterans…

The military, like any machine, can only work when all of its parts are functioning the way they were designed. This includes all of its different branches: Infantry, Artillery, Naval Support, Air Support, Medical Support, and so many others, right down to the mechanics and company clerks. Without every single person involved, the machine will not function at full capacity…

Each Veteran was processed in country the very same way, and given their orders to a specific area to serve within the confines of their MOS. We were issued gear that included Jungle Boots that we would all wear for the time we spent in country.

And so, life in Vietnam began…

I was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi. It was January of 1968. I was about to understand the full effect of “Tet”…

Being assigned to a mechanized infantry unit, we spent the majority of our time patrolling the rubber plantations along the Cambodian Border.

There are many stories of horror and heroism and just plain Hooah-ism that I could write about, but all of us have stories that we either share, or keep to ourselves. My story here is short and heart felt…

To all of you who have taken a bullet, watched a fellow soldier die, survived a human wave attack, survived mortar and rocket attacks, fired those big guns that scared the hell out of everybody, saved a soldier's life in the field, or in a field hospital...

To those who came out of nowhere and swooped down from the sky to get us out of bad situations…

To those who flew over us and dropped bombs on areas so we could continue our mission…

To those who processed our orders, coming and going…

To everyone who wore the Boots, I say thank you… 

Boots at The Wall
No one else could have felt your fear, or your pride, only you, when you laced up those Boots every day…

We all should be proud of our service. No one else walked in your Boots. No one else has the right to judge your importance.

Thank you all for your service to our country.

Welcome Home Brothers and Sisters…

Lee Tucker,
United States Army
Republic of Vietnam
January 1968 to January 1969



“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Last Fire Base: by Michael Lansford

Michael Lansford
I remember it was late November, cold and raining. The monsoon season had really set in. Everyone was miserable. Nothing was dry, except our weapons and ammo -- priorities one must have.

I was getting close to my DEROS date of 13 December 1969, when the "new" captain came up with this grand plan to make a raid into the Ashau Valley to stop Charlie's resupply to the south via the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Suddenly, through a break in the rain, along came the flying cranes and Chinooks to extract us to some remote tip of a mountain on the edge of the Valley.

We barely had time to grab our weapons. We had no food, rain gear, nothing, as it was a one-day raid designed to catch the enemy off guard -- they said. This was on 1 December 1969.

Well, as things usually went with the new captain, he sat three 155 split trails down on this pinpoint mountaintop that was so small that all three guns were butted up to each other. There was zero room to do anything.

When we started firing the trails, we tried to dig in, but the other guns were blocking the recoil, so we had to improvise. That made for a fun day. Nothing we tried worked and if the firing continued, the recoil would shove the other guns down the cliffs. We had no way to secure them, plus it was raining in sheets by then. It's hard, if not impossible, to dig in to a muddy, rain-soaked cliff side.

The only blessing came from the monsoon, as it suddenly became too severe to even walk, plus we were on top of a mountain with no cover, no food, rain gear, dry clothing, nothing. We had no back up, or air support. We were on our own.

The bad thing about being on a mountain top in a monsoon storm, you suddenly become the target of all that Mother Nature has and can throw at you in the way of torrential rain and lightning -- and we were cold, soaked, hungry, and alone.

I remember it was so cold, and raining so hard, that the only way we kept reasonably warm was by sitting down in the muddy water-filled trench we had dug to protect ourselves in case of attack. That was a hard way to stay warm -- not dry -- just warmer, but those weapons stayed dry, no matter what. Priorities.

About the FNG's, you could always tell who they were during monsoon season. They were the only ones walking around with weapons exposed to the elements and all barrels were facing straight up into the rain. Not a good idea. We always slung weapons barrel-down in bad weather, for many reasons, all self-explanatory. They were little things that could become big things in a firefight.

Lightning was the worst. There was no place to hide or defend from, just pray. It hit so close, it made the hair on your arms stand straight out. You could feel the static in the air. It was a helpless feeling.

As time went on, we waited for a break in the weather just to find a way out of there, as the longer we stayed, the closer the enemy came and we were easy pickings up there. One mortar in the right place and Boom -- we were gone. Our other choice was to get the mission done and really get out fast.

The monsoon had other ideas. We were stranded there until 12 December, when the weather finally broke. In between time, we dodged sniper fire and some mortar fire, which luckily for us the rain helped with. They missed their targets, except for this one lucky shooter who was walking mortars up the side of the mountain removing pieces of the cliffs as he fired.

Our firing positions were dug into the side of the mountain and as the lucky shooter walked the rounds up the side of the mountain, the ground became more and more unstable. All of a sudden, I heard this whishing sound coming in right on top of us. All I could do was close my eyes and pray. I heard the round hit with a loud thud.

When I opened my eyes, a dud round was sitting right there between my legs. There it was, that being in the right place at the right time thing again.

Here I was short and shouldn't even be out there and I was dealing with this nightmare. They had us zeroed, cut off, and they knew it. Easy pickings. Our only advantage was, it was almost straight up the mountain to reach us, which gave us a slight edge. It's hard to fight uphill.

Combat Tactics 101: Always have high ground, no matter how small, or slight. Just have that edge.

Finally, after our one-day raid had turned into a twelve-day and night survival trip, we were getting off that mountaintop. The downside was, the enemy knew our situation as well as we did. We took rounds, it seemed like, from everywhere. Luckily for us, it was hard for them to shoot straight up and the next mountain over was just far enough away to give us even more edge -- plus they didn't shoot well either.

The most dangerous part was the extraction. Naturally, the guns got out first. They couldn't afford to waste taxpayers' money on good weapons. We, on the other hand, were a little more expendable. So what if we lose a few grunts and arty men. No big deal. We'll get some more. There are lots more where they came from anyway.

Finally, we managed to keep Charlie busy long enough for the last of us to get our ride out. We took rounds in the choppers, but no one got hit. I'm still amazed how we got out alive.

We landed back at the fire base we started from, Zon, if my memory serves me, and I had just enough time to grab what little I had, say a hasty goodbye, and I was out as fast as I had come in.

C-130 Vietnam Transport
I turned in my weapons, clothes, and whatever else they thought I didn't need -- no time to eat or clean up. I just caught that C-130 south to Cam Rahn Bay to start processing out. Then I took my freedom bird home ...well, home as I remembered it.

Later, I was told, but can't confirm, that my last fire base, Zon, was overrun right after I left. There were lots of casualties, almost everyone KIA. It gave me an empty feeling, thinking If I were still there, maybe, just maybe, I could have helped. I never heard anything else about it -- that's some more of that ole right time, right place thing again.

Man was I mistaken about home. As we all learned, the war didn't end when we left. Suddenly we had (and still have) new enemies to fight, just with different weapons. It was a fight harder to win than Vietnam ever was, yet I don't think there were many plans to win. It was just business, you know.

Sin Loi, as I said, "Sorry About That" ...

It feels good to be writing about all this and maybe by writing, help someone else deal with our war better. Kind of like the old days, watching out for each other. That part I miss, not being there for my comrades.

Thanks, Mrs. Heck.  We've all carried a lot of stuff around these long many years with no one, or no way, to tell our stories. The public should know the real us. We paid for it.



“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Sayings and Poems: by Michael Lansford

Michael Lansford in Country - Cobra






Here are a few sayings, poems, and verses I've had with me all these years.

Some are my writings, some borrowed, but all are profound thoughts.







PATTERNS

The night is setting softly
with the hush of falling leaves;
the light from a street lamp
paints a pattern on the wall;
Like the pieces of a puzzle
or a child's uneven scrawl;
Up a narrow flight of stairs
in a narrow little room;
as I lie upon my bed
in the early evening gloom;
From the moment of my birth
to the instant of my death;
there are patterns I must follow
just as I must breathe each breath;
and the pattern still remains
on the wall where darkness fell;
and it's fitting that  it should be
for in darkness I must dwell;
Impaled there on my Wall,
my eyes can dimly see;
the Patterns of my life
and the puzzle that is me;
Like a rat within a maze;
the path before me lays;
and the pattern never alters;
Until the rat dies.
Like the color of my skin;
or the day that I grow old,
My life is made of Patterns
that can scarcely be controlled.



JUST A MAN

Take man, put him alone,
put him 12,000 miles from home.
Empty his heart of all but blood,
Make him live in sweat and mud.
This is the life that I too live
and why my soul to the Devil I give.
You Peace Boys,
not in your easy chairs,
but you don't know
what it's like over here.
You have a ball without near trying,
while over here your boys are dying.
You burn your draft cards,
march at dawn, plant your signs
on the White House lawn.
You want to ban the bomb;
There's no war in Vietnam.
Use your drugs, have more fun,
and then refuse to use the guns.
There's nothing else for you to do,
and I'm suppose to die for you?
I'll hate you til the day I die,
You make me hear my buddy cry.
I saw his arm a bloody shred,
I hear them say, "This Man is Dead".
It's a hard price he had to pay
not to live another day.
He had the guts to fight and die.
He paid the price,
but what did he buy?
He bought your life by losing his,
But who cares what a soldier gives?
His wife does, parents, and even sons,
But they're about the only ones.



WHAT WE REALLY WANT

We want people to remember
we fought for our country.
and never forget it;
We Won't.
When we get out of uniform
we want to go home
to more than nothing,
We don't want sympathy
or charity.
We want a decent job.
We want to be able to get married
and support a family.
We don't expect miracles,
but we won't settle for a broom.
If people think there's nothing
they can do to help
they should think harder.
Because we thought enough
of our people and country
to come over here.
Some don't agree with this war
and our being here,
But the majority are on our side.
Our fathers and forefathers before us
had the courage
to stand up for what was right
and we don't think we're so good
that we don't have to do our part.
We don't ask for glory or praise.
All we want
is to be treated equal
and stand among the bravest men.



AND THE WAR GOES ON

People march, picket signs in hand,
Yet Vietnam is not a free land.
They'd rather protest
and march in vain.
instead of stand up and fight
for our country's name.
They'd rather pay the price of a beer,
than spend a year for the price
of freedom which is so dear.
They fight their battles
on campus streets,
while the soldier must fight
in the jungle heat.
The cost of freedom
is ever so high,
but why care a protester,
he doesn't have to die.
War is Hell
as the saying goes,
but burning a draft card
is all he knows.
He marches with sign
from dark til dawn.
But to us over here
the war goes on.
We sit and wonder
day and night,
somewhere back home
someone is right.
We fight the war
so everyone will be shown
that it's hard to be free
and be left alone.
We didn't ask for this war over here
Now we know what freedom is
so why don't you care?
Why condemn what we do,
Be glad we're here in place of you.
We're the ones who fight and die,
and protesters will never know why.
We fought for freedom
this very day
with hopes this war will end soon
so we can go away.

10 July 69.



THE VIETNAM WAR

People of the world talk about this place,
to them it's just a political race.
They laugh and scorn the Viet Cong.
They're not here, what could be wrong?
You read the news from day to day,
and hardly notice
a soldiers life was taken away.
He fought the war and played the game,
but win or lose, he died the same.
Rockets, mortars are still coming down,
they don't care where they hit the ground.
You hear them fall from the sky and pray,
Dear God, don't let me die today.
You dig in the ground for a place to stay
and hope the falling death will pass away.
Peace talks go on but all in vain.
The war only slows for the rain.
Men are still dying in this war,
and you think, "What am I really fighting for?"
To the politicians it's just a game,
but to us Vets here it's war just the same.
You sit and watch your buddies die.
But you're a man now so you can't cry.
No one knows why he was killed.
But who cares, his place will be filled.
So each one that dies over here
gives us more hate and a little less fear.
You learn to kill and never cry,
then you stop to think, "Why, God, Why?
Why should I take his life in my hand,
just because I was put in this mans land?"
But they want to kill us anyway,
they couldn't do it yesterday
so they'll try again today.
He's getting smarter than a Fox.
We want to go home alive,
he wants us in a box.
So you politicians
take notice to this place,
It's no game or political race.
It's war, man, as far as you can see,
that's the way we feel, the enemy and me.
Each day the politicians grow bigger,
they just use us to pull the trigger.
So for now we'll fight
for our so-called government at home.
But all we want is peace and quiet,
and to be left alone.
So laugh at this place
while you still can
and be glad friend this war
isn't in your own land.

18 June 69


Michael "Surfer" Lansford
2nd Batallion
"Bravo" Battery
11th Artillery
155 split trails
101st Airborne
Viet Nam 68-69
Hamburger Hill 10 May-21 May 69.



“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Couple of Stories: by Michael Lansford

Michael Lansford
Here’s another one of my stories about timing and being in the right place at the right time. This incident was about when I used to go out with the LRRP teams on our fire base.

Strangely enough, I liked walking point. But this one day, one of the guys talked me into letting him walk it.

We had made about ten yards when I heard a click. All I remember was putting my hands up and covering my face and boom he was gone. A pressure mine went off.

He took most of the hit, but I got my hand sliced and a deep cut across the side of my face and chin. Took twenty-seven stitches on the side, twenty on my chin, and fourteen under my chin. Plus, I lost one side of my jaw teeth -- instant dental work.

The mines were the type that if you stepped on them, they wouldn't go off, unless you changed the weight on the button on top. I still think of that day also. Like I said, there are lots of untold stories, but I am doing better.

I also remember this one guy who stepped on one of those and all he could do was stand there. There was no way to get him off without major injuries. Back then, choppers couldn't get there fast enough. So in this particular case, and it would have been the same for me, you have to decide when to step off, or try and jump off, but there was nowhere to jump fast enough.

You and only you decided when you wanted to leave. No one has ever known what I just told you until now either. I remember it like it was yesterday, and always will.

More unknown names, but the faces and situations I remember very clearly. Most of us didn't use names much when we were out there anyway. On most patrols, everyone removed any and all items that would identify us, in case we ever got caught. I even had a plan for that, but luckily I never had to use that trick, thank God.

Just thought of something interesting that happened recently. I play a lot of golf with many people and about six months ago, this man showed up and started playing in our semi-regular game.

After a few times showing up, I noticed he was wearing a hat that said 101st Airborne. We chatted a little and I found out he was at the same place and time that I was at the Hill.

It took a few months and we never talked about anything we did, when one day right after we finished our round, he asked me if we could talk in private. This was humbling to me.

He asked me if I made it to the top of Hamburger Hill, to which I said I did. He said he felt guilt and shame, because he was only there one day before he was hurt and flown to the Hospital ship named "Hope" just off the coast of the gulf of Tonkin.

He told me all of his platoon was KIA except him. He felt he had let them down. I told him the top of the hill didn't look much different than the bottom did.  All I could tell him was, by him being there even one day probably saved more lives than he could ever know -- each day was all we had.  I feel we are all here for a reason -- maybe we just don't know that reason yet.

He was as withdrawn as myself and he has carried that around all these years like I have. He said no one has ever known a thing, not even his wife and grown son.  I told him my friends and family didn't know either, until recently, when I started to write it all down here in the blog -- but they will love you just the same.

I told him I'm writing about my experiences to help others (like me) who haven't been able to talk about it either. I want people to know what all we did that has gone unnoticed all these years.  Also to educate the public, so they will know the truth, not just believe what they were all told about us and the war.  I guess I found my reason, or at least a part of it.

He told me he saw me always wearing my Vietnam Veteran hat and after knowing where I was, he knew he could talk to me because I would understand everything -- and I do. Now he talks to me about our war every time we see each other at the golf course. It’s a connection we will always have as friends and a brotherhood that is forever.

CJ, your quote at the end of all our writings about how we are just one, but we are one, is right on. In my own case, it all has come true. Now he and I help each other. That’s a very profound statement you chose for the end of our writings and I am living proof of that now. I would have never known.

Anyway, just a few more things remembered. Others have stories like mine, but all have different feelings inside and different ways to say the same things. I guess that's what makes each of us unique in some way. 

You make life work as best you can. For me it's either get busy living, or get busy dying. I choose the first one. The second one can wait in line.

Thanks again for everything, CJ. You're the best, Always.

Michael "Surfer" Lansford
2nd Batallion
"Bravo" Battery
11th Artillery
155 split trails
101st Airborne
Viet Nam 68-69
Hamburger Hill 10 May-21 May 69.


“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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