I had orders for the 1st Calvary Division. I was a 91A, PFC medic. I stood in line processing in and they asked if anyone there could type. I raised my hand, and I ended up spending the next five weeks sitting behind a typewriter processing people in and out. But the inevitable finally came and I was on my way in an aircraft (I believe the called it a Hurkey Bird) to Camp Gorvad, just outside of a town called Phouc Vinh in Vietnam.
I was soon assigned to Headquarters Company 2/12. After checking in to the orderly room, I went to the Aid Station and met the Doctor and Platoon Sergeant, both names I do not remember. That night I saw a movie while sitting on a bunker and we all got pretty loaded that night. I remember, the beer was Schlitz.
Two days later, it was Christmas. I helped out on a couple of sick calls and did some hands-on training with field medicine and IV’s.
New Years Eve day 1970-71 will forever be etched in my brain. It was my first day in the bush. I hooked up with my new Platoon and I was to spend one day with their current medic, and then he was going to be the CP medic.
It was an operation based on information that American prisoners were being held at a camp near Dau Tieng. Everyone was anxious to go. We flew by Chinook to Dau Tieng, where we loaded onto Hueys and combat assaulted into a green LZ. Then we got hit real hard by God only knows what, maybe NVA, maybe just Charlie, but it wasn’t a pretty sight. It was especially bad to a young 19 year-old FNG who had to crawl forward and help sort out the wounded.
I remember that day went by so fast. Spotter planes shot Willy Peter rockets to mark the target. Jets and choppers came and bombed and strafed, and then they bombed some more. Bullets and RPG’s were flying everywhere. That day, I also realized you could see a B-40 when it flies. Dust offs came and went more than could be counted. The shooting stopped and then it started again, until the whole day had gone by.
I went through five packs of cigarettes and tagged at least ten grunts who weren’t even in my platoon, but I didn’t know, because it was still only my first day and I didn’t know anyone. I wasn’t really scared -- I didn’t have time to be scared, and the wounded just kept coming. I remember a LT. Walker. Though I knew him not, his body passed through my arms on his way to the evac chopper. I remember he was the worst with a severe head wound.
Then they said there was to be a cease fire that night because of New Years. Waves of helicopters came in to take us out. There were piles of rucksacks on the ground that they set on fire. I guess you might say we got our asses kicked, but I don’t really know. I do know, I had the blood of ten or maybe fifteen different men on me.
I was on the last wave out. My cherry was broken. That morning, I got on a chopper and I was 19 years young. That evening, as we flew away from Tay Ninh Province, I was 19 years old ...
** Thank you for sharing, Chuck Kinler. You are among friends who care. Welcome Home. Your friend,
“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