Vietnam War Questioniare

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Re: Vietnam War Questioniare

Post by Jim » Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:31 pm

Guest wrote:A couple more questions that were brought up.
1. What was the climate and terrain like when you arrived in Vietnam?
I was in Lai Khe and it was flat with a lot of rubber trees. It was hot and humid. I don't think I ever stopped sweating at any time.

2. How did the climate and terrain affect your tour of duty.

The climate made you miserable if you moved. I suppose we got used to it somewhat but sweating all the time is not fun.

3. What were the living quarters like? Tents? Beds? Bunkers?

Tent and bunkers in camp. Ground outside the wire. Air mattresses in bunkers and towers. Although, usually an air mattress would get a hole in it and collapse after an hour or two. Hammock in overcrowed bunker. Hammock was lousy but better than ground. Hammock was plastic/rubber for sweating and sometimes hurt your back after awhile.


Jim

Last Long Post By Jim (no text)

Post by Jim » Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:21 pm

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Re: Vietnam War Questioniare

Post by Guest » Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:59 pm

Guest wrote:Hello. I am a senior college student researching the Vietnam War. Currently I am in need of a Vietnam veteran.

First of all I want to thank you for your cooperation and time. I know this is a hard situation to talk about and I am sure close to your heart. Attached is a list of questions. If you feel it is to many please disregard some. Originally, I had an interview set up, but unfortunately it fell through.

1. What is your name?
Jim

2. Branch of service he/she served in?
U.S. Army

3. What was your rank?
E-5

4. Were you drafted or did you enlist?
Drafted

5. Where were you living at the time?
In a fraternity house in Los Angeles

6. Why did you join?
Drafted. I didn't get a school deferment because I believed it was my duty to serve as my fathers had before me.

7. Why did you pick the service branch you joined?
That's where they put me.

8. Do you recall your first days in service?
Yes.

9. What did it feel like?
A new experience that was somewhat rigorous.

10. Tell me about your boot camp/training experience(s).
On May 2, 1967, I reported to a recruiting station in downtown Los Angeles. We were given a short written test to determine our capabilities. I scored 100. We were bused to Fort Ord by Monterey California where we were assigned to a processing center. We were further tested for a couple of days to determine our capabilities and our aptitude. We were given haircuts and military clothes. We sent all our civilian clothes home and everything else we had. We were assigned to a training company with a drill Sgt. and a barracks. A Platoon leader and four squad leaders were chosen. Our training platoon consisted of about 50 guys and our company (one building) contained 5 platoons. Because of a meningitis risk, we had a white patch sewn on the front of our uniforms and were restricted to barracks and the immediate area outside the barracks. We only left that area as a unit for training. Basic infantry training lasted about 8-9 weeks. Training consisted of physical training, rifle training, hand grenade, patrol, live fire, bayonet, hand-to-hand combat and other things. I applied for and was accepted to officer candidate school (OCS). One Saturday, we had a graduation ceremony on a large field and given a pass to go off base that afternoon. Basic training had been a pain but it wasn’t that difficult. I had gone through hazing as a fraternity pledge that was much worse but only for a couple of hours at a time. The adjustment for the army was getting used to being under someone else’s control 24 hours a day with no end in sight. Spending 6 hours off base with my parents and girlfriend was a welcome break.

Then we were assigned to advanced training and promoted to Private E-2. In my case it was a short bus ride across base to an advanced infantry training company at Fort Ord. The barracks were older wooden ones used for WWII and there were only 3 platoons. My platoon was entirely OCS recruits so their average intelligence was significantly above the average recruit. We were treated much better and could go outside the barracks area when training ended each day. We also could get weekend passes to go off base. In our case, one guy had a car and several of us would jump in the back of a Ford Falcon Ranchero and ride the 6 or so hours to LA on Saturday afternoon and come back on Sunday afternoon. For me, that meant I got to spend one night and a morning with my girlfriend in LA and perhaps a Saturday night fraternity party. It was a great relief. Advanced infantry training was a more sophisticated version of basic where we learned to use weapons such as machine guns, pistols, and bazookas. We had an escape and evasion training and learned a little bit about how to survive in the wild if we had escaped from being a prisoner. We learned how to read maps and find our way around in the dark with a compass by pacing off distances through hills and brush. We received no jungle training and trained with M-14s, not M-16s. We also refined our training at marching and close order drill and became quite good at it. You could immediately tell advanced trainees from basic trainees as we had camouflage covers for our helmets, marched with bayonets fixed and were much sharper in our movements. We also had our fatigues starched sharply. Advanced training was another 8-9 weeks or so and at the end, some of us including myself were promoted to Private First Class E-3.

At the end, our platoon leader who was a 2nd LT just graduated from West Point, informed us that OCS had been cut back and our class dates had been canceled. We had three choices: (1) apply for a different MOS (military occupation specialty – i.e. job) and go through training for it; (2) take an immediate assignment to an infantry company or (3) go on a waiting list for an OCS date to open up. The LT advised use to go on a waiting list. We were draftees and the army probably wouldn’t invest another 10 weeks to retrain us when they needed replacements for Vietnam. Taking an immediate assignment to an infantry company probably meant being sent to Vietnam immediately as a grunt. All 17 of us chose option 3 and were held over in our training company for 4-5 weeks until we were assigned. While being held over, we were assigned to various duties around the base each day. I learned the old saying that you never volunteered was bogus. The trick was to immediately volunteer for the easy jobs instead of taking pot luck. By the middle of September I was assigned to go to Germany and ultimately to an infantry company in Berlin as an 11B20 infantryman. I was s given a two week leave and had to report to Fort Dix in New Jersey for transport to Germany. Thus, my training was ended. Upon arriving in Germany, I was assigned to Berlin. By that time, me and my buddy had learned to stand in the assignment lines together so we would get assigned together. We were both assigned to different companies in the same infantry battalion in Berlin as infantrymen.

11. How did you get through it?
After 4 months in the infantry in Berlin, I got a call from Army headquarters in West Germany that i had a class date for OCS and was to report to Fort Benning if I chose to accept it. When I inquired that Fort Benning was for Infantry Training (I had ben accepted to Signal Corp OCS), the gal on the phone advised me that i would be trained as an infantry officer and then assigned as a communications officer. I knew she was either lying or didn't know what she was talking about because the Signal Corp was not a branch of the infantry and there would be no way I would be assigned to the signal corp. Keep in mind, this was not a democracy, there was no negotiation and you didn't have a choice in the matter once you ageed to go to OCS. All of us that had been assigned to Germany had the same offer and all of us except one (the fellow that had the Ford Falcon Ranchero) turned it down and took our chances. At that point we had about 15 months to go. Going to OCS would extend that to about two and a half more years. We weren't too sure that singing up for an extra year and a half or so to become an infantry platoon leader in Vietnam was such a hot offer. We would rather worst case be an infantryman in Vietnam and get out in 15 months.

As a sidebar, Valentines day 1968 was an interesting day. I awoke in the field with frostbite on my feet because someone had lifted my sleeping bag roll and gear the night before. I was taken back to the barracks on sick leave and told to soak my feet in a pan of warm water. While I was sitting on my footlocker with my feet in a pan, someone stuck there head into the barracks and threw me a letter - mail call for me. The letter had something bulky in it and I saw it was from my girlfiriend. it was my fraternity pin. The letter started "Dear Jim, I don't know how to tell you this, but ... ." Boy, was I in the dumps. I would have no opportunity for face to face contact with her for over a year. I wouldn't be able to talk her out of it. She was probably lost. At that point, I was really lonely. Any light at the end of the tunnel got really dim. This military experience was worse at every turn and i didn't like it at all. We were away from Berlin in west Gernamy on manuvers and there was no where to go. That afternoon, I walked from my field barracks (old Nazi barracks from WWII) to another bulding looking for my friend from LA. A guy came running after me from our orderly room. He said, "guess who is on orders from Vietnam". Well, the answer was me. I wondered how this guy could know so, I went to the field orderly room (company office) and called back to our orderly room in Berlin. The company clerk had not come to West Germany with us and he confirmed I was on written orders to report to Oakland for assignemnt to Vietnam. There's nothing like orders to war to break a good depression. I would get to go home and see my girlfriend on the hope I could get her back. And there would be no more frostbite. I'd deal with the war afterwards. After all, my Dad had been a prisoner of war in WWII for two years and survived it. Short of being killed or maimed, I'd survive it too. In short, the light at the end of the tunner was a little brighter.

As a second sidebar, the fellow who accepted the deal was the only one of us that was married and he was promised he could see his wife upon return to the US before he entered OCS. His wife flew to Ft. Benning but they wouldn't let him see her. OCS was about 23 weeks long. At around week 21, he was caught visiting with his wife outside the barracks, thrown out of OCS, busted from E-5 to E-1 and immediately sent to Vietnam as an infantryman.

For the rest of us, the novel happened. There had never been anyone under the rank of E-5 or a draftee levied from the Berlin infanty to Vietnam. We were the first. All of us that turned down OCS received orders for Vietnam within 4 weeks. By then, I had been promoted to Specialist E-4 and was a machine gunner and helped out in the orderly room because i could type. Indeed, the company clerk was an E-5 on orders for Vietnam and I basically did most of his job. The first Sargeant was a real tiger but after getting to know him I realized he was a Korean infantry veteran and really a softie with a lot of wisdom. I had and still have a great deal of respect for him. The company officers were all Lts in their early 20s and mostly ROTC officers. I was 21 at the time with some college and had more in common with the officers than i did the grunts.

It was during the TET offensive in Vietnam. My Vietnam training consisted of standing in 1 foot of snow and firing one clip through an M-16 at a water jug 10 meters away.I went home for a six week leave before I reported to Oakland for transport to Vietnam exactly one year to the day after I had reported for duty in Los Angeles. I had exactly a year left assuming I lived through it.

13. Do you remember arriving and what it was like?
My attempt to recover my girlfriend had failed. Waiting for a soldier was too inconvenient for her. It was 1968 and about the beginning of the 'me' generation. I had lost whatever I had left in a poker game a couple of nights before and had to borrow $65 from my mother to go to Vietnam.

On May 2, 1968, my buddy and I said goodbye to our parents at the terminal in LA; walked down the ramp and accross the tarmack to the Pacific Southwest Airlines plane to Oakland. We paused at the bottom of the ramp, turned and gave our parents a thumbs up sign, turned and walked to the plane. I was dead broke. In Oakland, we slept on bunk beds in a large warehouse. Much of the time was spent reading paperbacks - mostly Harold Robbins for me. We got our jungle fatigues which were new and we stood out as greenies (green peas; nubies; inexperienced). As we walked together down a long isle in a warehouse in our new greens with our hair cut and faces fresh and shaven three guys approached us. Their fatigues were faded and rumpled, their hair was long for the army, they hadn't shaved in a couple of days and their eyes seems to be glazed and their tall bodies slender. They looked straight ahead, didn't talk to each other and didn't even look at us. Their appearance and demeanor was noticably different - to the point it almost made the hair on your neck raise. We had been around thousands of soldiers and many back from Vietnam. But these guys were different. They were somewhat like zombies. It scared us just a little as we glanced at each other after they passed. What had we gotten ourselves into. We were infantrymen headed for Vietnam. We had no idea what to expect except what we had just seen on TV which wasn't pretty. It wasn't until later that we learned the press had taken to exageration so as to get on TV.

We flew out of Oakland on a civilian Boing 707 for Vietnam. We deplaned in Hawaii for refuleling. As you walked out the airplane door, the heat and humidity noticbly hit you. On Wake island the same thing happened only hotter and more humid. In the Phillipines it happened again but still worse. The heat wasn't confortable. As we came into Tan San Nhut, the pilot announced we were going to reroute to Bein Hoa (I may have these two air fields reversed) because of ground action. It was dark and about 3:30 or 4:00AM. We looked out the window and saw a lot of flares which we had never seen before. My buddy and I looked at each other, not knowing whether or not there were putting us on. They were not. The pilot came back on the intercom and announced the hostilities had quieted down and were we back on our original plan. The plane banked and we could see more flares now. At about 4AM, we walked out of the plane the the heat and humitidy covered you like a hot wet blanket. It was not just not comfortable, it was downright uncomfortable. We walked about 50 yards to a bunch of benches under what was probably a parachute type canopy at the edge of the runway. There was another group of soldiers sitting there waiting to board the plane we just got off. As i sat there looking across the airfield, a large orange ball of flame erupted probably about 100 or 200 yards away and there was a very loud ka-whack. We instinctively jumped on the ground. One Air Force guy camerunning down the isle from the front of us to the back. We all got up and started following him. No one really said anything. We ended up in a bunker with no lights. The conversation was light and humerous. I talked to the guy next to me whose outline I could barely make out. After we came out of the bunker, I noticed he was wearing a star. I don't think I had ever seen one before. My god, what kind of place is this that i would be standing in a bunker talking to a General without even knowing it.

From there we were bussed to a replacement battalion for assignment to a unit. The explosion across the runway had been a rocket. It hadn't bothered me much probably because i was so naive i didn't know how dangerous it was. Now, we were receiving rockets at least onece a day and usually at night.
14. What was your job/assignment?
While at the replacement battalion, we gathered in formation on a big dirt field every morning first thing and every day at lunchtime. We had all of our gear with us which for me consisted of a duffel bag and an AWOL bag (a small hand carried suitcase type satchel. Around this parade ground (I don't think there were ever any parades), there were various vendor stand looking structures with unit insignias on them. Most of them were pretty clean and looked pretty sharp - at least for Vietnam. But some of them were kind of shabby and not well kept. In formation, a sargent would call out names and units. This meant you were to pickup your gear and go to the stand of unit he called. In the army and I suspect particularly in the infantry, there is a pecking order to units and assignments. Infantry is at the top of the pride pile and at the bottom of the comfort pile. Infantry is after all, the fundamental purpose of the army - to fight ground wars. Everybody else is more or less there to support the infantry. However, in war, the infantry is where your life is the worst and your outlook is the least. If war is hell, then the infantry is at the center of hell. Not a pleasant place. So, when they would call out names and units, you would hear things like such and such signal battalion; such and such transportion company; such and such admin company and such and such medical company. Then you would hear 9th infantry divison; 25 infantry division. It gave you a little tingle. Had that guy just been assigned to death row?

On the third day, I heard "Hansen, James; First Infanty Divsion. It was one of those times in life when you can physically feel your emotions. Your rear end puckers a bit; you shiver a little; and the hair on your arms and neck stands up a bit. Maybe a bit like as a kid you've just been caught doing something you shouldn't. Or maybe like when the older bully just punched you in the belly to demonstrate his power over you. Of course, no one can tell from looking at you as you have your game face on. The First Infantry Division - Everyone knew about the Big Red One and its long history in WWI and WWII and now Vietnam. And it was also called the bloody red one and for good reason - it was first in WWI; first in North Africa; first in Italy and first onto the beaches at Normady. I grabbed my bag and headed over to the Big Red One's stand. It was one of the shabby ones Made mostly of sand bags that hadn't been attended to regularly. After a little while, a duece and a half pulled up with and open cab and open back end. It looked like it hadn't been washed or painted in 10 years and was driven by a guy with long hair, who was unshaven and didn't wear a shirt. He actually had a weapon with him and wore a web belt with a pistol, bayonet and some canteens on it. They all looked worn and old. Oh crap, what were we in for? And, I wonder how I'm going to figure out how that M-16 breaks down or how you clean it. The box of handgrenades on the cab floor wasn't encouraging. We piled in the back and in short order we were on a dirt road heading through the trees with all manner of Vietnamese passing by. Of course, no one tells you anything. I wonder how dangerous this is? What am I going to do if something happens? At that moment, my lost girlfriend was the last thing on my mind. It seemed more important to focus on how to get through the next year or even the next hour.

15. Did you see combat?
The guy I replaced was killed. I was sent to a place called Lai Khe which was one of the 1st Divsion base camps. He had been killed a few days earlier by a rocket. A tree burst had blown back and hit him before he got all the way into the bunker. I flew in on a Caribou fixed wing airplane. The plane flew over the basecamp and then did a very tight and steep corkscrew onto a short runway. We were in an old rubber plantation and there were trees everywhere. There were also bunkers everywhere. the point of the steep decent was to avoid ground fire. As soon as we got off, the plane took off. The day I got there, we were hit about five times with three to five rockets each time. We took about 1,000 rockets during May, 1968. We were told we were the second most hit base in Vietnam. Only Khe Sahn was hit more that we were. So, Charlie got four or five shots a day at you. The object was to get into a bunker before the second rocket hit. There was absolutely nothing you could do about the first one. They traveled at just under the speed of sound so you couldn't near them coming. Some guys claimed they could hear them just before they hit. I never could even though after about two weeks you became an expert on every sound you heard.

My experience of combat was nothing like some others. Some guys spent almost their entire time in Vietnam in the field and in an infantry squad. And of them, some of them never saw or heard a firefight while for others it was routine.

I was eventually promoted to E-5 and assigned to the division tactical operations center (DTOC) and specificalloy rotary wing aircraft control known as ACC (aircraft control center). We controlled all helicopters used in our area of operation except medivac helicopters and C&C (command and control) helicopters assigned to commanders. it was the best job I had in the army and perhaps the most significant job I've had in my life. If you did things right, other guys lives were saved or at least made better. If you screwed up, guys could die because of it. I never screwed up. I hated the army but loved my job.

16. Were there many casualties in your unit?
The First Infantry Divsion had the third highest casualty rate in the Vietnam War I think. Worse was the 1st Calvary Divsion and some of the Marine units. There were 7 guys in my hooch/squad. One of us had been killed. But my experience was nothing like some others. At divison HQ I got to know a guy who had been in a recon platoon on point when it walked into a horseshoe ambush. I think there were around 20 or 25 in the platoon. After it was over, there were about 7 that were not dead or wounded. There were about 100 US deaths a week during the time I was in Vietnam.

17. Tell me about one of your most memorable experiences.
There are three. One is the first time I was caught in the open during an attach and had no where to hide. It only lasted about 10 or 15 seconds but in that time, I was pretty convinced I wasn't going to make it. I had screwed up and strayed too far from cover. Now, I was going to be punished for it. Rockets were very close and on the trees they don't have to very close to hurt or kill you. As it turned out, I was untouched.

Another is one night I was sitting in a hole guarding an opening through the wire and it was raining. There was about a foot or so of water in the hole. I had a poncho on but was sweating profusely under it. I was miserable and pretty much disgusted with the miltary. My problem wasn't so much the war but the military - after all we called it the place where the uneducated told the unwilling to do the unnecessary. I thought through my options. First, I could go AWOL but where. A guy walking alone through the forrest or jungle probably wouldn't have lasted a day by himself. Moreover, even if you could get to Saigon, how could you get out of country and how could you ever get to Australia? And if you did, would they eventually send you back to the states? It wasn't like you could go to the airport and buy a plane ticket. Second, you could refuse to do what ever you were told. That would get you sent to Long Binh Jail (stockade) where your time wouldn't be counted as in country and you would be a slave to blacks that ran the jail. Third, you could commit suicide. Last, you could grit your teeth and cross your fingers. I chose to grit my teeth. I told myself if I ever got out of there I would hit the bricks running. If I put 1/2 the effort into a job or school that I put into Vietnam I could produce more than anyone around me. I would never hand over absolute control of me to someone else again.

And later I made E-5 and was assigned to the DTOC and life got better.

The third was one day rounding the G-2 (division intelligence) tent on my way to the DTOC, our pet dog (named "dumbshit") and the division general's pet German shepard ("King") got into a dogfight. King was facing our dog and had him by the back of the neck. Pulling on King's tail was our Division Commander Major General Keith Ware. Pulling on our dog's tail in the opposite direction was our G-3 (operations) officer Lt. Col. Lou Menetrey. The dogs wouldn't let go of each other so they were suspended in air with their feet off the ground with one man each pulling on their tails. I assisted in getting the dogs apart without getting bitten. A few moments later my boss, Lt. Col. Menetrey came out and said the General was inquiring whether our dog was okay. So, I went and found our dog and was trying to inspect the back of his head and neck to see if he was hurt. Although we were in Vietnam, he looked like something of a husky mongrel with a thick coat of hair. He wouldn't sit still to let me examine him as I had to pull his coat apart to inspect his skin. So, I'm down on my knees holding the dog trying to inspect the back of his neck authoritatively yelling "dumbshit" to make him stop wiggling. I felt a hand on my left shoulder from above and someone asking me if he was okay. After a couple of more yells to the dog by name I looked up and it was General Ware. Dumbshit may have been loyal to us and was protecting our area from intruders like the commanding general and his ex-scout dog named King, but any thoughts of loyalty to our dog disappeared. I was really embarrassed. I was not loyal to dumbshit. I wanted to say, 'He's not my dog, he's G-3's dog. I didn't name him, someone else did. He was here before we got here.' But by proper military protocal and instinct, I said 'He'll be fine sir. He's a tough dog'. I think that made the general feel better and he went back to his meeting. But in terms of our dog, he was the hero and I was the dumbshit.

As a sidebar, MGen. Keith Ware was killed on 9/13/68 overflying a combat operation and directing his troops. He often directed his C&C helicopter to flow low so he could see what was happening. I know because his door gunner used to somewhat complain about it. All aboard were lost. The point is he would put his life on the line for the benefit of his troops. Indeed, during WWII he was awarded the MOH for personally leading a squad or so of men to take out machine gun positions that were raking his troops.

Lt. Col. Menetrey went on to become a four star General in Korea where he was the CINC (Commander in Chief) in Korea over all United Nations forces. I found that out when I saw him interviewed on the Today Show and 60 Minutes for the 1984 Olympics in Korea. He has since passed away.

18. Were you a prisoner of war? Tell me about your experiences in captivity and when freed.
Keep in mind that out of about 2.5 million that served in country, only about 800 were prisoners of war that were freed. In our area, if you were captured, you were tortured and then executed. We knew that because we found the bodies of the men that had been captured. Most often guys were captured because a unit pulled back and a guy didn't get the word. As the enemy advanced he fell into their hands.

Being captured was my worst fear because I didn't want to be tortured and then killed. So, I routinely carried a .45 pistol in a shoulder holster anytime I went somewhere that didn't allow me to carry my M-16. The point of the .45 was not so much to protect myself but rather to kill myself if I had to.

19. Were you awarded any medals or citations?
A bronze Star.

20. How did you get them?
For doing a good job.

21. How did you stay in touch with your family?
Letters.

22. Did you have plenty of supplies?
No. But we had what we needed I suppose.

23. Did you feel pressure or stress?
Yes.

24. Was there something special you did for "good luck"?
No.

25. How did people entertain themselves?
In the beginning, there was not time for entertainment. You were either working, eating or sleeping. Later, we had some time to ourselves. Some read. Some drank when they could. Some smoked dope. Although people say there were a lot of hard drugs in Vietnam, I never saw any and didn't know anyone who used them.

26. What did you think of officers or fellow soldiers?
They were at once, they worst people and the best people I have ever known. Most were in between.

27. Do you recall the day your service ended?
Yes.

28. Where were you?
On 1/31/1969, I was discharged from active duty in Oakland. Standing at a standup table filling out discharge forms as an E-5, some E-6 with an everybody ribbon (National Defense) who was at least ten years older than me, tried to get tough while telling me to put a smoke out because there was no smoking in that area. I stared at him, took a drag on my cigarette and put it out on the floor. He got the message and didn't hassle me any further. I wasn't in the mood for any harassment from some admin lifer (career military) who had never been anyplace and was going nowhere. It wasn't as bad as we had suspected. Some of the zombie effect at that point was because we hadn't slept for 2-3 days except for cat naps on the airplane. As our time in Vietnam went by, hostile activities subsided. It had been at its peak when we got there and was probably at its lowest point when we left. By that time, most of the VC were subdued. My buddy and I came out together. We were now the walking zombies we had seen the year before. After getting into a hassle over my separation pay which the Army had shorted me on, the Army's last words to me were "get your papers and get out" and it was not in a congratulatory tone.

29. What did you do in the days and weeks afterward?
True to my commitment to hit the bricks running, In three days, I showed up for class at the local college. Six weeks later I started a full time job with Bank of America as an outside auditor auditing businesses to which we loaned money. For the next three or four years, I worked from 8AM to 5PM for the bank and attended school from 6PM to 10PM four nights a week for 48 weeks a year. After three years I graduated with honors with a BS in accounting and went on to grad school. I wanted to go to law school but wasn't sure I could make another 4 years at night and law school was of no value if you didn't finish and pass the BAR exam. Instead I passed the CPA exam at the first sitting ranking in about the top 1/2 percent in the county. I had been correct, civilian life was a cake walk compared to what I had experienced in the Vietnam.

30. Did you make any close friendships while in the service?
Yes. The one friend I went all the way through with.

31. Did you continue any of those relationships?
We saw each other for two or three years and then we lost track.

32. Did you join a veterans organization?
No.

33. What did you go on to do as a career after the war?
Ultimately my goal was to insulate myself from outside authority by being in my own business. I accomplished that at the age of 30 and have controlled my own destiny ever since. I largely have noone else to blame for my failures nor credit for my successes.

34. Did your military experience influence your thinking about war or about the military in general?
Yes. On balance, with some corrections, I thought the military could become a better experience. Apparently it has. On war, one should never commit troops to risk without overwhelming support, a clear mission and what is now called an exit strategy. The first gulf war was an excellent example of how it should be done. Afghanistan is perhaps an excellent example of how it should not be done. If the recent show on HBO 'The Battle for Marjah' anywhere close to an accurate representation of what our military is experiencing, we have a huge problem and should get those guys out of there immediately.

Moreover, the societal unfairness of Vietnam sticks with me. With very few exceptions should anyone be excepted from the risk we ask of our military. We should all be in these endeavors together. Moreover, the same should be true of our enemies. I don't much buy into the notion of 'innocent civilians' as though there are two classes of people - those with a duty to risk their lives and those without such duty. If your tribe goes on attack you should be at risk from the attack. And if the other side counter punches, you should not be shielded from risk. And if your tribe is attacked, it is everyone's duty to suffer the risk if necessary. During Vietnam, if you were female, you were exempt. If you were rich you generally were exempt because you could pay for enough schooling to get an exemption. If you could con your way into the military reserves, you were usually exempt. The system was grossly unfair.

35. If in a veterans organization, what kinds of activities does your post or association have?
I'm not in a vets organization.

36. Do you attend reunions?
No.

37. How did your service and experiences affect your life?
It made me a man and one with a clear head.

Finally, the fellow with the Ford Falcon Ranchero who had accepted OCS on the promise he could see his wife and was ultimately demoted and kicked out of OCS for seeing his wife -- was later assigned to the First Infantry Division. I saw him after he made soldier of the month. He had been awarded one Commendation Medal with V (for valor) for one event, two Bronze Stars with V for two separate actions and a Silver Star for a fourth action. In one action, as an E-4 he was essentially the company commander of what was left of his company. He made soldier of the month for his heroism and reassigned to be the commanding general’s aide. It was intentionally a cushy job to get hero's out of the field. Ironically, the commanding General offered him a direct commission. He turned it down because it would have added another couple of years to his service and he feared losing his wife.

I came home before he did and he gave me a box to take home for safekeeping with his medals and souvenirs he had picked up for his son. I tried to reach his wife when I got home but couldn't get a hold of her. For years I tried to find him and couldn't. Some 30 years later, I used the internet to look for him and found his father. He was in business for himself and his office was about a mile and a half from mine. I took the box and went to have lunch with him. It was an amazing visit. After 30 years and within 5 minutes, it was as though we picked up right where we left off in the conversation. The feelings of complete trust we had for each other were as strong as ever. I had never experienced such an event before and probably never will again. We drank a couple of pitchers of beer and talked. Come to find out he had eventually divorced and remarried. His wife didn't know much if anything at all about his Vietnam experiences and his kids were completely in the dark. He was not comfortable sharing what I had brought to him with them. So, we parted and I left it where it was. If he felt comfortable, he could contact me but otherwise I wouldn't burden him. That was ten years ago and I haven't heard from him.

I hope that I have not overwhelmed you. Like I said earlier this was going to be a two day interview. Please email your responses at your earliest convenience. My assignment is due Friday at 8:00.

Once again thank you for your answers and for serving our country.

You are welcome.

Re: Vietnam War Questioniare

Post by bill.mcbride » Wed Mar 02, 2011 6:01 pm

Guest wrote:A couple more questions that were brought up.
1. What was the climate and terrain like when you arrived in Vietnam?

hot during the summer months and through dec as i remember. very wet during the monsoon season...and it got chilly. downright cold at some of the higher elevations in the "winter".

terrain we operated in varied from rice paddy flat through extremely mountainous. the vegetation in the valleys was very thick and almost impenetrable at times. some of the rivers were very deep and with fast currents.

2. How did the climate and terrain affect your tour of duty.

we had to conserve our water in the hot weather. it made going very slow and deliberate at times. the worse the terrain, the better we liked it. less chance for a surprise encounter.

3. What were the living quarters like? Tents? Beds? Bunkers?
back in the "rear" at the combat base we lived in canvas tents with wooden floors. we had cots to sleep on. we also slept in the bunkers at times. the tents would get very hot inside.

in the field we slept in the open, sometimes wrapped in a poncho liner. we tried to avoid setting up shelters etc in the field due to security concerns. when it rained, we got soaked.

bill

Re: Vietnam War Questioniare

Post by Guest » Wed Mar 02, 2011 3:48 pm

A couple more questions that were brought up.
1. What was the climate and terrain like when you arrived in Vietnam?

2. How did the climate and terrain affect your tour of duty.

3. What were the living quarters like? Tents? Beds? Bunkers?

Re: Vietnam War Questioniare

Post by Guest » Wed Mar 02, 2011 3:29 pm

Hello Jim.

My email address is:

tate_c526@utpb.edu

Thank you for taking the time to look at my questions. If you would like to answer any of them, I would love to hear your story.

God Bless

Re: Vietnam War Questioniare

Post by bill.mcbride » Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:11 pm

hello jim,

email address of the student who requested this "interview" is:

tate_c526@utpb.ed

ut permian basin campus i think

would you cc me when you answer him/her

thanks

bill

bill@vietvet.org

Re: Vietnam War Questioniare

Post by Jim » Tue Mar 01, 2011 7:20 pm

What is your email address?

Vietnam War Questioniare

Post by Guest » Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:36 pm

Hello. I am a senior college student researching the Vietnam War. Currently I am in need of a Vietnam veteran.

First of all I want to thank you for your cooperation and time. I know this is a hard situation to talk about and I am sure close to your heart. Attached is a list of questions. If you feel it is to many please disregard some. Originally, I had an interview set up, but unfortunately it fell through.

1. What is your name?
2. Branch of service he/she served in?
3. What was your rank?
4. Were you drafted or did you enlist?
5. Where were you living at the time?
6. Why did you join?
7. Why did you pick the service branch you joined?
8. Do you recall your first days in service?
9. What did it feel like?
10. Tell me about your boot camp/training experience(s).
11. How did you get through it?
12. Where exactly did you go?
13. Do you remember arriving and what it was like?
14. What was your job/assignment?
15. Did you see combat?
16. Were there many casualties in your unit?
17. Tell me about one of your most memorable experiences.
18. Were you a prisoner of war? Tell me about your experiences in captivity and when freed.
19. Were you awarded any medals or citations?
20. How did you get them?
21. How did you stay in touch with your family?
22. Did you have plenty of supplies?
23. Did you feel pressure or stress?
24. Was there something special you did for "good luck"?
25. How did people entertain themselves?
26. What did you think of officers or fellow soldiers?
27. Do you recall the day your service ended?
28. Where were you?
29. What did you do in the days and weeks afterward?
30. Did you make any close friendships while in the service?
31. Did you continue any of those relationships?
32. Did you join a veterans organization?
33. What did you go on to do as a career after the war?
34. Did your military experience influence your thinking about war or about the military in general?
35. If in a veterans organization, what kinds of activities does your post or association have?
36. Do you attend reunions?
37. How did your service and experiences affect your life?

I hope that I have not overwhelmed you. Like I said earlier this was going to be a two day interview. Please email your responses at your earliest convenience. My assignment is due Friday at 8:00.

Once again thank you for your answers and for serving our country.

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