All vets probably had similar experiences.
The holiday, Memorial Day, was very hard as we had just finished the "Hill" (Hill 937, Hamburger Hill, May '69), so we were all pretty numb to everything.
On the 4th of July, someone accidentally fired a tracer into the ammo dump. The first thing it did was set fire to the fuel which, in turn, spilled into the rocket and ammo pit setting them off.
The rockets were for the Cobras. Man that stuff was flying everywhere! No place was safe, because the ammo and rockets had no direction, but what a show! Best Fourth of July ever.
Hanoi Hanna got wind of it and all we heard on our radio was how the People’s Republic of Vietnam had overrun and destroyed the American camp with all personnel. Now that made our day. Hell we blew up our own stuff!
I still wonder who put the tracer round out that way. No one was supposed to fire tracers anyway, but with that light show, it must have been seen and heard all the way into space.
|Thanksgiving Dinner - water everywhere|
I found some officers’ quarters and 'borrowed' some turkey with all the trimmings.
This is a picture of us sitting under a 155 pallet with the rain pouring down and us enjoying our Thanksgiving dinner.
Every time we took a bite of something, the water went everywhere. It was cold and wet, but I told the guys we were having a real Thanksgiving, no matter what. Cold, wet, sloppy turkey and dressing isn't too bad when you are starved for it.
The things we did to observe what we cherished. On Christmas, we found some kind of little tree and Voila! It became our Christmas tree. We even made gadgets to hang on it, like grenade pins, and claymores underneath. Someone made an angel for the top out of a C-Rat box. We had fake presents, using ammo boxes, but sometimes we would put in one round just for effect.
Plastic bags were a luxury, as we used them to keep what valuables we had dry – well, sort of dry. Everything there got wet. If it wasn't the heat, it was the monsoon. But we made the best of it.
I remember someone sent me a hamburger bag just to (in their minds) help me remember the burger stands we used to hang out at. Man it still smelled like burgers and fries. The thing is, when I was alone it made me sad, knowing what I had back in the world and I didn't even know it. That bag meant the world to me. Anything from home was revered.
My family sent me care packages once a month, but there were times it took a long time to get mail, depending on where we were. Then later on, the new Captain I had stopped all my mail, etc. That was the only way to really hurt a troop, withhold his mail. Mail was our lifeline.
|Michael Lansford (center) with the guys|
We couldn't technically shoot back as they were a "NEUTRAL" country. Right.
We got around that rule real fast. We just slid around behind them and herded them like cattle until we knew they were officially 'off sides'.
"OOPS Penalty! No time out this time. Sorry about that,” we said. Or, if my Vietnamese spelling is close, we called it Sinh Loi, or “Sorry about that.”
Whenever they had their TET of Lunar holidays we were supposed to have time out and let them observe their religion, etc. Hell all they did was use the time out to move closer, resupply, and get ready for time in. Strange war, when you call time out for their holidays, but not ours.
But aren't all wars like this? Some things don't ever change ...
Michael "Surfer" Lansford
155 split trails
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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