"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, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Different War, A Changed World: by James Hathorn

PTSD and War

[This post was left as a comment on The Last Road, a Vietnam Vet's Perspective, written by Vietnam veteran, Michael Lansford, on July 9, 2014. 

I felt this was a significant article, one that should be its own post, because James speaks for all Vietnam veterans here. --CJ]

In reading Michael Lansford's writings, I find them to be powerful in their reach into our minds and souls, as best as words are able.

Often, I think about not only what Vietnam was like for me, but what other wars must have been like for other American soldiers. Then I wonder whether I am being arrogant, to think that our war was different from any other war. To me, the most obvious difference was not about how we went off to war, but how it was for us when we came back home. 

In no other war that I know of throughout history did the people who stayed home resent those who went to fight. The reason for the war is not important, in terms of the effect on the soldiers. All wars have horrors, casualties, and death. We all had them and it lived inside us then, lives in us now, and it will be there forever.

One twenty-three hour ride on a TWA jet airliner and our world was changed forever. The time there was a blink of an eye. The time since then has been an eternity.

I am a disabled veteran. I did not even apply for benefits until forty some years after returning from Vietnam. My injuries were numerous, both physical and mental. The mental one has been the most insufferable. I did not believe in post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and I did not apply for that disability. My VSO (Veteran's Service Officer) suggested that I apply for PTSD. The VA scheduled me for a psych eval.

At the interview, I was asked a lot of questions, some related to Vietnam and my injuries, and some related to civilian life, before and after. The one question the psychiatrist asked that hit me hardest was, "What event do you feel contributed most to your anxiety over your time in the war?" 

I had to think for a minute. Then it suddenly dawned on me that the trouble I have had for years in interpersonal relationships, social interaction, sleeplessness, etc., were not due to my two tours in country, but the stark and explosive consciousness at the Sea Tac airport, when I came home and the months that followed.

Anti-war Protesters
In Vietnam, I was with real brothers.

As I stepped into the entrance area of the airport, it was like a different country from the one I left almost two years earlier. There were dirty people in robes carrying signs telling us we were killers and war mongering trash.

That complete culture shock was what caused me the most pain since the war. That pain is still with me, but I don't think it is just with me, but in America as well.

Those war protesters and draft dodgers are now a majority and they are running the country. They have changed America from the home we fought for into the ideology we fought against.

To get to my point, I was at 100% disability before being diagnosed with PTSD, but once I was diagnosed with it, I wanted to know what the psychological evaluation actually said. I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for a release of the information.

The report did not state specifically why I was diagnosed, but I think the sum of all things up to, and including, my return to the "World" are what caused our war to be different from those wars, before and since.

The mental pain of rejection for doing the right thing and being denigrated for it has changed us Vietnam vets in a way the rest of our country cannot ever understand. We struggle to try to explain it in words; however, the only thing that results is that people hear what we say, but they cannot feel what we say. It is important that our people understand, so it does not happen again.

I think I know what Michael feels and what it is that drives him to write. He has a talent for getting as close as anyone can to putting that whole time and place into words ... 

James Hathorn

James Hathorn
Sgt. U.S. Air Force
November 1966 – July 1968
Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam

Armament & Electronics,
Weapons Control Systems
F4C-F4E Phantom fighter bomber

E-mail James

Also by James Hathorn:

Homeland Militia Survey

“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

Add your opinion, thought, or comment, about this post. You are also invited to write about anything you want to share. Send it to me in an e-mail and I will be proud to post it for you.

Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Promise Kept: by Allen J. Folk

Sgt. Bobby Ray Hatfield
Sgt. Bobby Ray Hatfield, USMC, was born on February 21, 1945, in Pineville, KY.  He was the son of Mr. & Mrs. Joe G. Hatfield.

On December 26, 1945, thirty-one miners entered a coal mine in Four Mile, Kentucky.  There was a mine explosion and only eight men came out of the mine alive.  Bobby's dad was one of those eight survivors.

On January 7, 1946, the mine explosion was shown in every movie theater across the United States.  This video can be seen on YouTube.  It's called, "Saga of a Mining Town" (Part 1 of 2).

After the explosion, Mr. Joe Hatfield told his family that none of his children would ever work in a coal mine.

Sgt. Bobby Ray Hatfield graduated from Bell County High School and on Sundays, he taught Sunday school in the West Pineville Baptist Church.  He enjoyed fishing with his trusted friend, Richard Peace.

Later, Bobby moved to Detroit, Michigan, with his two sisters and brother-in-law and he worked for him repairing cars. From there, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. When Sgt. Hatfield got to Vietnam, he was attached to A-Co., 3rd Engr. Bn, 3rd Marine Div. at Base Camp Dong-Ha where he was a heavy equipment operator.

I landed in Vietnam on my birthday, July 8, 1967.  I was first attached to Supt-Co., 3rd Engr. Bn., in Phu-Bai and three weeks later, I transferred to C-Co at Dong-Ha, where my MOS was 3531, Motor Transport. That is when I met Sgt. Bobby Hatfield and we became instant friends.  For many days, Sgt. Hatfield taught me how to operate heavy equipment.

A short time later, Cpl. Brian C. Felder was also transferred to C-Co., and from then on, the three of us were always together.

Sgt. Hatfield was liked by the Company Commander and everyone else, all the way down.  I would always joke with him by asking him for his autograph.  When he asked me, "Why?" I would tell him that when I get home, I could say I met one of the Righteous Brothers.  As we all know, the Righteous Brothers were Bill Medly and Bobby Hatfield, who were known for their number one song, You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'.

Since he was from Kentucky, we also used to tease him by asking, "Who were the better shooters, the Hatfields, or the McCoys?" (HaHa!)  Of course, he always said the Hatfields were and then the fun would start.  (HaHa!)

On February 19, 1968, Sgt. Hatfield had only two days left before he was to go home.  I wanted to make sure that I had the chance to say goodbye to our best friend, so I stopped in at his hootch.  He was shining his shoes and when he saw me, he said, "I am going to make these Marine Corps shoes look like $40.00 store-bought shoes."

Suddenly, we came under attack.  A shell landed right outside the bunker and a piece of shrapnel came through the port hole, killing Sgt. Hatfield instantly.

After Brian Felder and I got home and discharged from the Corps, we kept in contact with one another.  We made a promise that when we could find where Sgt. Hatfield was buried, we would go there and pay our respects to him.

As the years went by, every time I could find his name, it would always come up that he was from Detroit MI.  I knew that wasn't correct.

In July of 2010, I asked my daughter to look for Sgt. Hatfield on her computer, since I didn't have one.  One day, she told me she had found his name posted on a Facebook Memorial Page, thanks to Sgt. Hatfield's nephew, Stephen Hatfield in Pineville, Kentucky.  I then made contact with Stephen Hatfield and called Brian to tell him I finally located Sgt. Hatfield's grave in Pineville, Kentucky.

Brian C. Felder and Allen J. Folk
Brian and I, along with our wives, planned a trip to Kentucky.  We agreed we would do this for Veteran's Day, November 11, 2010.

On that day, we had a memorial service at his grave site.  Rev. Shawn Allen from the West Pineville Baptist Church did the service at the grave.

[Photo:  Bobby's grave site, November 11, 2010, in the Pineville Cemetery, Pineville, Kentucky]

When we met the Hatfield family and Sgt. Hatfield's childhood fishing buddy, Richard Peace, our first question to his brother, Lee Hatfield, was, "Why Detroit MI?"

Lee then told me about their dad surviving the coal mine explosion and what he said to all of his children.

Since that time, we have a wreath placed on Sgt. Hatfield's grave twice a year, on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

I know many combat veterans will always have that one special buddy they will never forget.  Sgt. Bobby Ray Hatfield was Brian's and mine.  We never gave up hope that we would find him.

That is a promise we kept ...

Cpl. Allen J. Folk
Newmanstown PA

Also by Allen J. Folk:

8th of November: My Part of the Story
The Real Men of Full Metal Jacket

“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

Add your opinion, thought, or comment, about this post. You are also invited to write about anything you want to share. Send it to me in an e-mail and I will be proud to post it for you.

Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Reflections: by Michael Lansford

A boy off to war ...
As a teen going off to a war I had only seen on TV, war was a hard thing to comprehend.

Our generation came mostly from small unheard of towns and we were sent to a place that was unknown to us. We had no real clue where we were, the names of where we were stationed, sent, or even moved to and from.

For me, the moment I stepped off that plane in Vietnam, everything in my world would be forever changed, even before I realized it was. Something inside removed me from the world as I knew it, never to be regained.

The war would take us down paths only heard of from others, or in our own bad dreams. War was filled with horrors that can't be explained through words, movies, or in conversation, unless those horrors were discussed with another combat vet who walked the same path as we did.

As a brotherhood, we are unable to explain what we saw and experienced to anyone, or even remotely help others understand what we endured. In some ways, many of us envied those that never went. Then again, there were lots of us who were as ashamed of them as they were of us.

We had better reasons to dislike society than most back home who were against us for so many reasons -- and most of those reasons were wrong. There was no way to explain our world to them. They had already closed their minds to the real side of us that no one knew.

In coming home, our survival instinct led us to withdraw from everything and everyone. No one knew a thing about us until many years later, and our scars run deeper than even we can imagine. Old wounds heal slowly, if ever at all. I truly believe there is so much about our war and us that will never be known, or told, because so many cannot and will never be able to share their experiences.

Being a combat veteran changes you. In combat and with all that is going on around you, life seems to stand still. Your life is so focused on just that moment in time that nothing else exists. That's all you have, just those tiniest of moments where you either live, or die. There are no time outs, days off, breaks, and there is no reset button, if you lose. There is only life, or death, and you know you will be one of them, and you know you will see both, and if blessed, you will learn to live with all you endure for the rest of your life as best you can.

The bond between combat vets is that each truly knew the value of someone's life and they did whatever it took to ensure their safety, even to the point of giving your own life to save them. This was something we either had, or didn't have. It didn't make you a bad person, or anything else. There were just situations we were in that dictated how our lives would turn out at any particular point in time. It was something we still keep with us to this day. We took care of each other. All that mattered was survival and making it back home.

Little did we know that in coming home, our war was just beginning, but with a far different and more powerful enemy, and with no chance of winning. It still holds true to this day. We were all a bunch of concerned, scared kids going in and it was completely the opposite coming out. It was a double edged sword, if you will. What we were and what we became was solely dictated by circumstances we had no control over.

We learned each day what it took to live for another day. Life goes on, as they say, but a Vietnam combat vet's life seems to be on hold for the most part. A part of our life was taken away and never given back, ever. The world went on, but we stayed behind to ensure the freedoms most people now days take for granted.

The "stare" ...
For myself, as a vet, I look at The Wall and see it differently than those who were never there. Yes, others did have great loss, as we did, and they were hurt as much (or maybe more) than we were and are; however, a vet looks at The Wall and doesn't just see names etched into the granite for eternity.

A vet sees the faces of real people, some that we knew, lived with, fought with, laughed and cried with. In many cases, we saw them leave this world and all we could do was pick up and move out to the next battle.

We had no time to reflect, or ponder, about what just happened. There was no time to mourn, because if we let our guard down, we might be next. At times, we became like zombies, blocking it all out, but it never went away. We just moved it to a safe place in our hearts for a more appropriate time and place in our lives to grieve for those we lost.

As Vietnam Vets, we make no apologies for anything we were sent to do and we feel no shame. Shame belongs to all of those that hated us when we returned. They had no clue what we went through. At the airports, no one earned the right to judge us, and they will never have that right. We bow to no one. We owe nothing, Our debts were paid the day we set foot in Vietnam. 

For those of us that survived, how we are each day, what we say, how we act and react to things is a direct reflection on us as a group. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We earned our rights every day in country and no one can ever take that away from us.

To this day, we still take care of and represent each other and the families of lost loved ones. They suffered more than anyone. If we want people to remember us at all, then we must hold our heads up high, be strong inside and out, and let them know we are the American fighting spirit that stands for everyone. Whether they accept it, or not, is their decision, just like the decisions we had to make over there. We all make choices in life and then we learn to live with them, but we have to believe we made the right choices during our time. That is our legacy. We have to hope others will understand some day.

So as we all move on in life, please take a moment and truly try and understand what is inside us as Vieynam vets. Good-bad, right-wrong, it doesn't matter. The bottom line is, we all showed up and no one ever backed down or away, and we never ran and hid. We stood our ground for each other, our families, friends, and knowingly or not, we stood for this great nation and we were willing to lay down our lives for her. NO ONE can, or will, ever take that away from us.

A vet at The Wall
This is still AMERICA. Take care and protect her. She is the only free nation we have. Option "B" is not an option. Dues were paid in the lives and blood of all generations: past, present, and unfortunately the future.

Again I ask the question to all of America, like the one we asked in our war. "Was it worth it?" It's something to think about as our world continues to turn.

If anyone wants to know the price of freedom from our war, it's written on The Wall. Touch it and it touches your hearts forever. It speaks volumes. All you have to do is listen and learn.

For vets, as we see our people up there, we see a finite moment in time, like a photo just taken, of our fallen comrades, a fine detail of everything. Time truly stands still for those of us who survived and are able to see our friends even for a brief moment. For those on The Wall, time has stood still for eternity.

We on the other hand must make a longer journey. Like when we were in country, we saddle up, lock and load, then head off to another point in time and start all over again. Our time with them is also forever frozen in place, and our hearts and minds will be in that same place forever.

As I've said before, "You can leave the Nam, but the Nam will never leave you." What a price we paid just to be here, however brief or long it may be. Each generation has it's own path to take. This one was ours. There were no shortcuts.

Other Articles by Michael Lansford:

Promises Made, Promises Kept
Pilots and POW's
Remembering Comrades
The Last Firebase
Sayings and Poems
A Couple of Stories
The Last Road: A Vietnam Vet's Perspective
Holidays in The Nam
Dear Civilians
FNG Initiation and Humor
Life Prepared Me for Vietnam
Leavings at The Wall
Coming Home
Honoring The Wall
Life in the Jungle
In My Own Words: Part 1
In My Own Words: Part 2
Part 3: The KIA
Hill 937: Part 4

“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

Add your opinion, thought, or comment, about this post. You are also invited to write about anything you want to share. Send it to me in an e-mail and I will be proud to post it for you.

Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Terror and Hilarity: by Byron Edgington

Warrant Officer 1 B Edgington 3rd from the left
War is filled with opportunities to get yourself killed. 

Sometimes these opportunities arise in seconds, unanticipated, their outcomes something not even Hollywood could manufacture. 

I suppose if I’d died on this mission I never would have felt a thing. It would have been a classic case of one second alive, chuffing one breath out, another in, then zap... I suppose that’s the way it always is. 

It seemed like a routine mission, an easy LZ in a place as serene and green as the bucolic fields of my Ohio childhood. I suppose if I’d been killed that day it would have been as good a place as any to fulfill life’s ultimate function.
The mission was to insert a special operations team onto an LZ in Laos ten kilometers west of Khe Sanh. I was flying lead ship that day. The escort plane marked the LZ for me, and three other Hueys to follow, and then the Air Force ‘covey bird’ zipped away. The marked spot was a half-acre field covered in elephant grass six feet deep. 

My crewchief, Gil, was behind me in the well of the aircraft.  John, the door gunner of whistle fame, was once again on the right side. I briefed them for landing, slid my visor down and entered final approach. Down I went, the LZ a hundred yards ahead. Soon I was over it, and ready to land.

As I hovered above the deep grass, the Huey’s rotorwash blasted it flat. And there he was. Forty feet away, a lone North Vietnamese soldier, gray-green fatigues, jungle hat, as surprised to see me as I him. His AK swiveled up, aimed directly at me. 

The next three seconds were a blur to me then, and they are now. I turned my head slightly left at the anomalous item in my peripheral view and wondered what it was. It was the enemy soldier, of course. 

Then a shriek of M-16 fire exploded directly behind me, and I jerked so hard I locked my inertia reel. Hot rounds snapped out, a burst of six, or perhaps twenty, I cannot say.

The enemy soldier crumpled like a burst balloon, his lifeless body a heap of gray-green camo. His hat flew off. His weapon clattered away. The man was dead. One instant a breath chuffing in, then out, and then...

But I wasn’t dead. Somehow I’d escaped. Not my time? Coincidence? I don’t know. Yet another dodged bullet, this one literal. 

The GI who fired had anticipated the scene. Because of his training, or instinct, or a sixth sense, he knew that the NVA soldier would be there, and before the enemy could pull the trigger, he caught a hail of hot ammo. 

The guy who saved my life leapt off the aircraft and never looked back. I had no chance to say thanks, or ask how did you, or holy crap.

I lifted the collective, took off, and ceded the controls to my rookie right seater. My knees shook like a dog passing busted glass. I remember this part so well that years later I’m still ashamed of myself: I had to fight an urge to laugh. Terror and hilarity. 

It wasn’t the only time in Vietnam that I saw the ugly truth of 'what the hell we were doing there', in the unvarnished part of war that Hollywood won’t touch. 

Friendly and enemy alike, we were just a bunch of kids playing with fire, trying to kill each other, while joking around to get through it, or trying to stay alive, or wondering, who decides? 

That day I was twenty-one years old. The other fellow was as old as he was ever going to get ...

Byron Edgington
Byron Edgington
The SkyWriter

[Excerpt from Chapter 12]
The Sky Behind Me: A Memoir of Flying & Life 

“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

Add your opinion, thought, or comment, about this post. You are also invited to write about anything you want to share. Send it to me in an e-mail and I will be proud to post it for you.

Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Roger Donlon: Nam Dong, Vietnam

Roger Donlon
Roger Hugh Charles Donlon is a former United States Army officer and the first person to receive the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War. 

He was the first member of the U.S. Army Special Forces so honored for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while defending a U.S. military installation against a fierce attack by hostile forces. 

In May 1964, Donlon's team was sent to Vietnam where they established an outpost at Nam Dong, about 15 miles from the border of Laos.

Capt. Donlon was serving as the commanding officer of the U.S. Army Special Forces Detachment A-726 at Camp Nam Dong when a reinforced Viet Cong battalion suddenly launched a full-scale, predawn attack on the camp.

During the violent battle that ensued, lasting 5 hours and resulting in heavy casualties on both sides, Capt. Donlon directed the defense operations in the midst of an enemy barrage of mortar shells, falling grenades, and extremely heavy gunfire.

Upon the initial onslaught, he swiftly marshaled his forces and ordered the removal of the needed ammunition from a blazing building.

He then dashed through a hail of small arms and exploding hand grenades to abort a breach of the main gate. En route to this position he detected an enemy demolition team of 3 in the proximity of the main gate and quickly annihilated them.

Although exposed to the intense grenade attack, he then succeeded in reaching a 60mm mortar position despite sustaining a severe stomach wound as he was within 5 yards of the gun pit.

When he discovered that most of the men in this gunpit were also wounded, he completely disregarded his own injury, directed their withdrawal to a location 30 meters away, and again risked his life by remaining behind and covering the movement with the utmost effectiveness.

Noticing that his team sergeant was unable to evacuate the gun pit he crawled toward him and, while dragging the fallen soldier out of the gunpit, an enemy mortar exploded and inflicted a wound in Capt. Donlon's left shoulder. Although suffering from multiple wounds, he carried the abandoned 60mm mortar weapon to a new location 30 meters away where he found 3 wounded defenders.

After administering first aid and encouragement to these men, he left the weapon with them, headed toward another position, and retrieved a 57mm recoilless rifle.

Then with great courage and coolness under fire, he returned to the abandoned gun pit, evacuated ammunition for the 2 weapons, and while crawling and dragging the urgently needed ammunition, received a third wound on his leg by an enemy hand grenade.

Despite his critical physical condition, he again crawled 175 meters to an 81mm mortar position and directed firing operations which protected the seriously threatened east sector of the camp.

He then moved to an eastern 60mm mortar position and upon determining that the vicious enemy assault had weakened, crawled back to the gun pit with the 60mm mortar, set it up for defensive operations, and turned it over to 2 defenders with minor wounds.

Without hesitation, he left this sheltered position, and moved from position to position around the beleaguered perimeter while hurling hand grenades at the enemy and inspiring his men to superhuman effort.

As he bravely continued to move around the perimeter, a mortar shell exploded, wounding him in the face and body.

As the long awaited daylight brought defeat to the enemy forces and their retreat back to the jungle leaving behind 54 of their dead, many weapons, and grenades, Capt. Donlon immediately reorganized his defenses and administered first aid to the wounded.

His dynamic leadership, fortitude, and valiant efforts inspired not only the American personnel but the friendly Vietnamese defenders as well and resulted in the successful defense of the camp. Capt. Donlon's extraordinary heroism, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.

Biography of Roger Hugh Charles Donlon

Medal of Honor Ceremony, December 5, 1964 (Donlon on right, at attention)
Donlon was born January 30, 1934, in Saugerties, New York, the eighth child of ten. He attended the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University for a year.

He joined the United States Air Force in 1953 and was admitted to West Point in 1955, but resigned for personal reasons. 

He re-enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1958, went to Officer Candidate School, and served as a General's aide. 

In August 1963, he joined the Special Forces. Donlon later retired at the rank of Colonel.

Donlon was later awarded the key to the city of Lexington, Kentucky by mayor Fred Fugazzi on June 28, 1965.

He has written two books about his experiences in the Vietnam War. They are Outpost of Freedom and Beyond Nam Dong. He currently lives in Kansas with his wife Norma and children.

“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

Add your opinion, thought, or comment, about this post.

Remember, Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog.  Feel free to write about anything you want to share.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Scouts, Dogs, and Booby Traps

Dog Handler - Vietnam War

by Tony Chliek

Many times when we went out on patrols from FSB STUART, a Kit Carson scout led our patrols. 

Kit Carson scouts are former Viet Cong or North Vietnamese soldiers that were our guides and interpreters. 

The scouts walked point with one or two of the regular point men and because of his first hand knowledge of enemy tactics, he was able to locate mines, booby traps, ambushes and snipers long before we ever could.

Other times, a dog handler and his German Shepherd would accompany us on patrols. 

The dog was great because he could smell trouble, literally. He could pick up the scent of the enemy and lead us right to them. We captured numerous VC because of both the Kit Carson scout and the dog.

One day we were patrolling through a heavily wooded area around a village and the Kit Carson found a suspected VC hiding. He gave up without any difficulty. We made him walk point with the Kit Carson and our point man. 

We figured if he lead us into an ambush, he would be the first to go. As we walked along, the VC started pointing out a lot of freshly dug punji pits right on the trail we were following. (Maybe he knew where they were because he dug them).

Punji Pit Trap - Vietnam War
Punji pits like the ones he uncovered are extremely nasty booby traps. The simplest pit type was a hole about 20 to 30cm deep. 

The floor of this trap was then set with punji stakes, which could easily pierce the canvas and leather jungle boot. 

For added misery the spikes could be smeared with poison or human excrement to induce blood poisoning, or worse. 

There were many variations, which allowed the spikes to attack the sides of the leg. This was particularly favored after the introduction of the reinforced-soled jungle boot.

On another patrol one day, I stepped into a small punji pit. I felt like I was going to have a heart attack because I knew exactly what had happened. Fortunately, the bamboo stakes were old and rotted so they just crumbled when my foot and leg hit them. I didn't even get a splinter.

Another booby trap I encountered was a trip wire. Trip wires were connected to all types of booby traps like the hand grenade in the picture below.

Trip Wire Booby Trap
One day we were dropped off in the Ho Bo Woods for a “Reconnaissance In Force” (RIF) patrol with one other company. Enemy activity had been spotted so we were sent there to see if we could find them.

Ho Bo Woods weren't exactly what you would call woods any more. The area used to be a stronghold for the VC and NVA so the woods had actually been leveled to eliminate hiding places.

While patrolling the area, my foot got caught on something. I looked down and saw it tangled in a wire. I froze and called out that I was tangled in a trip wire. 

Now you figured the guys would back up, since there was the possibility of an explosion, but no, a couple of guys immediately came over to check it out. They followed the wire and discovered that it wasn’t connected to anything.  It was probably an old trip wire, or maybe a piece of wire that was just lying around. I spent a lot of time looking down after that.

Another day we were patrolling around one of the villages close to our FSB. We were walking on the berm that separated the rice paddies like the guys in the picture.

All of a sudden I dropped straight down into a hole in the water that was over my head. Since I was carrying all that equipment, I sunk like a rock. 

Walking the Berm
I reached up to try and grab something to pull myself out and someone grabbed my hands and pulled me up. My head went right back into my helmet which had been floating on the surface of the water. 

With some help, I was able to climb back out of the hole. 

It seemed I had fallen into a small well that was overgrown with the grasses that grew on the berms. Since it was overgrown, I just didn’t see it. 

This incident got quite a laugh from everyone ...

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.

Also by Tony Chliek:

A Hot LZ

“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

Add your opinion, thought, or comment, about this post. You are also invited to write about anything you want to share. Send it to me in an e-mail and I will be proud to post it for you.

Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Letter to ISIS and Islamic Extremists: by Nick Powers

Photo credit: AmericanLivewire.com

[Reprinted from article on BizPacReview, August 22, 2014, by Michael Kirk]

An Iraq War Marine Corps veteran sent an unmistakable message this week, via social media, to the “cowardly” Islamic State terrorists in the Middle East: 

“You attack us and there will be no mercy. We will bring the righteous hand of God down upon you and crush you.” --Nick Powers

The powerful post has gone viral and was reportedly written by Nick Powers, identified as a Marine vet who served in Iraq, by American Live Wire, in response to the beheading of American journalist James Foley.

“To all you ignorant Islamic extremist f**ks. 
As I sit here constantly hearing and watching you execute innocent men, women, and children in the Middle East, I chuckle. Why do I chuckle you may ask? Well let me explain something to you cowardice fools who think you are so tough behind all your propaganda videos. 
You are scaring a population that doesn’t know how to fight; you’re bullying the weak. You say Islam is the religion of peace, but since when does terrorizing the innocent and beheading men, women, and children constitute peace? WTF? 
But keep in mind, what did Saddam’s troops do when we came rolling into town? They surrendered, twice… So all your empty threats of coming to America and raising your flag over the White House amuse me more than any of you sick, sadistic bastards could ever imagine or comprehend. 
In 2012, there were about 21.2 million veterans in the United States. Do you understand what that means? Let me break it down for you. 
That means there are literally millions of disgruntled, dysfunctional, pissed off veterans who have been dealing with years of abuse from their government stabbing them in the backs and having to watch their friends die because you Islamic extremist idiots can’t seem to act like normal human beings and stop terrorism and the violence. 
It’s one thing to take over an Islamic state, but if my memory serves me correctly, I’m pretty sure we plowed through Fallujah in 4 days. Better yet, it took us about month to control your entire country. 
At this point, with 13+ years of war under our belts, how long do you think it would take us to do it all over again? I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that one. 
Do you really think you stand a chance on US soil? Do you really think it would be smart to poke that bear? Remember, never bite the hand that feeds you. Remember we are armed to the teeth in the US and I can promise you this… the Geneva Conventions will not apply to you. You attack us and there will be no mercy. 
We will bring the righteous hand of God down upon you and crush you. The ball is in your court now ISIS. We are more than ready to arrange a so called “meeting” with your 72 virgins and send you to your “prophet” Mohamed.” 
- Nick Powers

UPDATE: "To all who read this and assume this is against all Muslims, I am sorry you are too blind to read, this isn’t against Muslims in general. If you feel otherwise I suggest you look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself one question, am I an extremist? 
You say Islam is the religion of peace, since when does terrorizing the innocent (beheading women and children, wtf?) mean peace? This is directed at all extremist, if this offends/makes you angry or think I am racist you are are probably an extremist…" -- Nick Powers

“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

Add your opinion, thought, or comment, about this post. You are also invited to write about anything you want to share. Send it to me in an e-mail and I will be proud to post it for you.

Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog.