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anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

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~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Friday, June 20, 2014

REMF's: by Tom Peck

105mm casings during second battle for Khe Sanh
We had REMF's (Rear Echelon Mother F**kers) that had no clue what it was like in the bush.

If you look at a few of the pictures on Facebook, you will see that the rear bases and cities were in no way like what a lot of us had to put up with.

We didn't have hot food every day, or showers, clean clothes, USO shows, mail, movies, BX, alcohol, soda, or candy. We were lucky to get once a week, once a month, depending on the Branch of Service, Army, or Marines (which I was).

We were almost always on the move looking for the VC, or stock piles, or rocket launch sites, or pushing them into a blocking force, after clearing village after village, or hamlet, mile after mile daily. Rarely did we see what they called the rear. We called it the Battalion Area. I can only remember being in the rear two times, possibly three, in seven months.

One time proved fatal for guys in a tent barracks two down from us. They were collecting all the ammunition from the time in the bush: grenades, claymores, bullets, laws (rockets), everything. Someone triggered something and killed and wounded a lot of guys. It was a mess outside. The tent was almost gone.

These are the things you remember, not the things like showers, shows, and BXs. You remember all the lives lost due to accidental discharge, because it could have been your own on one or two occasions. It was only for the fact that I moved, that another's life was lost instead.

You remember your own artillery coming in short and almost killing you, but not any VIP, for there weren't any. You remember inept officers and the stupid actions of those around you and wonder how you remained alive.

You read about the horrors others faced and you asked yourself, "Why was I so lucky?" and I was compared to thousands of others, compared to 58,000 plus, compared to MIAs, and compared to POWs.

Was it Worth it?
My wounds in no way were as serious, or traumatic, as those who fought in Hue, La Drang, Khe Shan, Hamburger Hill, or the LLRPs, or Snipers, or Huey Pilots. My wounds were from a booby trap, not by a bullet, or firefight, or ambush.

There are so many brave warriors that went unrecognized, due to bureaucratic jealousy, vindictiveness, revenge, false bravery on the part of those handling the paperwork, even Superiors who knew no combat at all. Bravery was denied on many, many, many occasions, falsely claimed by those who showed none.

I don't know how this all will be interpreted, but these are my opinions, my views, my thoughts about those who were short-changed so long ago, who died to prove a point that proved fruitless and meanless.

It was strategy for a future battle that ended up costing lives and wounded, and for what? To just give back the ground soaked in blood, sweat, tears, and lives? Not just once, but several times? This, by those disassociated with the Realities of Combat and the Sacrifices We Made Daily, following asinine orders by REMFs, who looked at a map, listened to a Radio, but couldn't face Reality,

They were there in the rear, not being shot at, not sacrificing anything, but words. What is their futility, their death wish, their epitaph? It wasn't their family's door that would be knocked on. What decoration would they award to themselves for the sacrifices they didn't make? Can you understand how some will perceive my views?

I don't believe it's time to move on. There are still between 1500 to 2300 -- if not more -- unaccounted for MIAs ...

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

Do you have an opinion, or a comment, you would like to share about this post? Click on the comment button.


  1. Every combat veteran such as Tom P. has their own "view" in regards to the REMF's. It has been the same in every war whereas it takes "x" number of men or women to support a soldier in the field. The REMF's are a necessity of any war and will continue to be so.
    I hold no animosity towards ANYONE whom served their time in Vietnam as I do towards the "draft dodgers", the ones whom went into the Reserve and Guard to avoid the draft AND being sent to Nam.

    Did some have it more "difficult"?-ABSOLUTELY The grunts, marines, artillery, combat engineers, RTOs, chopper pilots/gunners, fast mover pilots, B-52 pilots, etc etc.

    However - I hold no ill feeling towards the men whom were "assigned" whatever MOS or duties they were commanded and ordered to. Many of the REMFs were volunteering to become door gunners on slicks - guess it was a guilt complex thing - as there was a waiting list. Usually the grunts whom volunteered were assigned the gunner slots however. Some once assigned and after a few missions - went BACK to the "Bush" with their old units. They said - at least when they get shot in the bush they fall "Six Feet" and NOT "Six HUNDRED Feet"!!!

    The only REMFs that needed some "wakeup" call were the ones I saw wearing Camo fatigues, and 38 pistols, etc etc. like they were "John Wayne" - Most were doing their jobs - serving the men in the field - and waiting their ETS or DEROS Date as we all were!

  2. Tom, this is a good story, and yes some had it tougher than others, but it's like a wagon wheel, you have the hub, spokes, and the rim. If one part of the wheel is missing, then the wheel will not work!

    But we were all veterans that fought a war that nobody wanted. At least we weren't the twinkle toe draft dodgers that burned their draft cards and went to Canada. Best regards,
    Allen J. Folk

  3. I was a REMF. It shouldn't bother me but it does because I was trained to be an infantryman and an infantry officer. However, the fates relegated me to the rear echelons because... well, that's not important. Ultimately, I have a bad case of survivors guilt because those I trained with died in combat.

    I don't hang out at the American Legion or the VFW because I believe that those organizations belong to the "real soldiers". I can't even visit the Vietnam War Memorial. Again, I don't fee worthy. So no, I don't need you or anyone else to remind me of my shame.

    That's my shame, not the shame of REMFs in general. Remember, the vast majority were relegated to the rear areas because that's where they were needed and were trained to provide support to those in combat. Without them, combat soldiers could not have fought very effectively. So no, they don't need your derision, they deserve your thanks.

    Unlike WWII, the rear areas in Vietnam weren't all that safe. Every base camp perimeter was a front line and everyone took their turns many them. Sadly, the rules of engagement caused many casualties in the rear areas because they were built too close to civilian cities, towns, and hamlets. They weren't allowed "free fire". Thus they were often merely targets.

    Lastly, when they returned home, REMFs didn't wear a badge that shielded them from the hostility of the peaceniks. They too were derided as "baby killers". They too were scorned for their service.

    Just a few thoughts to keep in mind.

  4. When we refer to REMF's I usually think of the enlisted clerks and supply guys, the mess, motor pool, etc.

    When I think of the NCO's and officers who ran the war, I refer to them as Lifers.

    I hold no ill will toward the enlisted REMF's...someone had to do the support work and as was said, there was always the possibility a base camp would be rocketed and could take out some Remington Raider while he was typing up Orders, etc.

    I also don't have any ill will toward those who chose to stay in school or joined the National Guard or Reserves- that was an option and they took it. Would any of us who'd been in the field really wish upon those guys they should have come back missing an arm or leg? We had plenty of people there in 'Nam, I don't think any of us really missed those who chose either school or the reserve components.

    Now, the draft dodgers and those who went to Canada....yes, I do have a problem with those guys and especially those who went to Canada and then came back after the shooting had stopped.....and got off scott free thanks to President Ford.

    All those guys who went to Canada should have been jailed.


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