Friday, November 30, 2007

Jo Ann, My Baby Sister

As long as I am discussing flying, let me tell you about my sister. She has been a Flight Attendant for many years with Delta and now with ASA. She went to Michigan State University for two years and then applied to Delta to be a Stewardess (now call Flight Attendant). Delta accepted her into the school and she flow for them for over thirty years before retiring. Retirement did not last long and she applied to ASA and was accepted.

My sister is currently a Flight Attendant with ASA and she loves flying around the States. When she was with Delta, she spent a lot of time as an international Flight Attendant. She loved flying international flights but it is hard on you with all the time changes. Before the start of this Iraq war, she flew many soldiers over to Kuwait in the middle of the night. She never told me about this until she was finished doing those flights. Guess she knew it would upset me and I would worry about her.

I have included a of picture of her while flying. The picture was taken with the Russian Cosmonaut Sergey. I forget his last name. Jo Ann is in the middle of the back row. The second picture was my sister and me as little kids. That sure was a long time ago.

Why I Hate Flying

In my previous post, I mentioned my flight from Vietnam to the Philippines had a few problems. Two of the engines were overheating so they shut them down when we were at altitude. They had all four engines running for takeoff and landing.

My flight to Vietnam went from San Fransisco to Tokyo on the first leg. It was via TWA and was uneventful. The flight was a combination of military and civilians. After a layover of a few hours in Tokyo to refuel, we continued on to Okinawa and it was now all military. About a quarter of the way to Okinawa, the pilot announced that there was a slight problem with the plane and we would be going back to Japan.

Of course, we all cheered that announcement. It was the sight of the co-pilot walking down the isle and opening a little door in the floor. Now they had our attention. The co-pilot opened the door and went down into the belly of the plane. This caused us to wonder what the problem was and how severe.

There were a couple of military pilots among the passengers and they were the only ones that really knew how bad the problem was. They knew that because of the method the pilot was using to turn the plane around. He was adjusting the engine speed on each side causing a slow turn. The reason the co-pilot went into the belly of the plane was to hand crank the wheels into a down position. The Flight Attendants (we called them Stewardesses back then) had everyone get into the emergency landing position with our heads on a pillow on our knees. I still peeked out the window on landing and saw all these emergency vehicles lined up along the runway. When the pilot reversed the engines, the wings caught on fire because he had dumped fuel over the ocean earlier. It turns out that the plane had lost hydraulics. This is not a good thing. At least we had to stay in Japan an extra 18 or so hours until another plane was brought in to take us on the rest of our trip.

Another problem I encountered while flying was out of Camp Lejeune. It was a small twin-engine airline (DC-9 or something like that) and as the plane prepared for leaving the gate, the cabin filled with smoke and we evacuated the plane. After an hours wait, they fixed the problem and we got back on that same plane. My confidence was greatly diminished.

The worst problem was while in Vietnam. This occurred while on my second tour (as I call it) and was about the middle of March 1968. I was ordered from Gia Le to be reevaluated at the hospital in Da Nang. The Marine Corps wanted to make sure I was okay for duty in the bush. Of course, the doctors in Da Nang could not figure out why I was sent back to Nam with my type of injury. They put me on limited duty at that point and said I could not leave the base. I could work at a Medical Clinic on base only. That was fine with me. However, going back to my base from Da Nang, I boarded a twin-engine plane they referred to as the Caribou. It had a high tail and the back dropped down to load cargo.

I was used to taking off in C-130’s from Dong Ha, accelerating, and climbing very quickly. We were in a slow assent from the end of the runway when we were hit by 50-caliber fire. The left engine shut down instantly which throw us into a left turn because the right engine was still on full power. In a matter of seconds, we had changed direction and just missed the top of the hills as we were coming down. The pilot got control of the plane and we came in wheels up onto the runway that we just left. Remember that back door I mentioned earlier on the Caribou? It was still down in the open position and as soon as the plane slowed down enough, we were out that door and off the runway.

Now do you know why I hate flying?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Quang Tri to Guam

After my big foot hit the booby trap, Doc Hall bandaged me up and off I went by chopper with two other Marines that also were hit by shrapnel. I went to Dong Ha where I had my initial surgery on the wounds and by the end of the day; I was headed to Phu Bai via C-130. I had more surgery on the wounds and was put into a full leg cast with little openings for dressing changes. Here is how I described by wounds in my little medical book, “shrapnel in left lower thigh, shrapnel laceration of lateral malleous, shrapnel in middle of foot, thru and thru shrapnel wound near middle toe”. They estimated the grenade went off about two to three inches away from my ankle. It was not pleasant.

My little medical journal says that the next day was “uneventful, Pain bearable with slight drainage of wounds”. “Possibly will have dressing changed tomorrow”. After my surgery on the 13th is when we discovered that, I was allergic to pain medicine. I began taking many aspirin, which did not give me a problem. Changing dressings and debridement of wounds was not a pleasant experience without pain medicine. They gave me a large dose of Thorazine so I did not care what they were doing. It still hurt but I did not care.

In my little book, it states “as of 1200 hours 19 Oct. 67, I have received 26.4 million units of Pro-Pen and 11 grams of Streptomycin. Guess they were not taking and chances in my getting an infection. A lot of the skin was blasted off the top of my foot so the Doctor used something he was experimenting with for wound granulation. Sugar and Basitracin mixed and packed on top of the wound. This kept the wound moist and helped to reduce infection. This is a precursor to the modern day wet dressing. Alternatively, maybe it was a form of maggot therapy to get the maggots to eat the dead tissue. I was swatting flies that were constantly landing on my foot.

The healing process was slow and not progressing as fast as the medical staff had hoped. About the middle of November, I was flown down to Cam Rhan Bay where they have air conditioned medical wards to see it that would help. I still had a lot of swelling of the foot and ankle and after two weeks, they decided to ship me out to a Naval Hospital. Am I going home? Fat chance.

They shipped me off to Guam via the Philippines. The plane that came in to take a bunch of patients out to the Philippines had a problem with the engines. There were only two stretcher patients so they considered us the critical ones and put us both on the plane that normally would hold a couple of hundred. We must have had ten nurses taking care of two patients and they were all female. It was a great flight until they told us about the engine problems. Two engines were overheating so once we were airborne; they shut down the two problem engines and did not turn them back on until we landed in the Philippines. Remember this problem with airplanes and I will tell you, later, a few more problems that I have encountered while flying.

From the Philippines, I was placed on another plane, headed for the U.S. Possession of Guam. I arrived at the US Naval Hospital on Guam on 2 December 1967. After a couple of weeks there, I finally was able to get around on crutches. Mobility at last. The wounds on my foot still had not closed up as yet but it was getting there. By the middle of January 1968, I was finally walking without the aid of the crutches. I was transferred from the Hospital to work at a Medical Clinic on the Naval Base while waiting for orders back to Guam.

I was on Guam for New Years Eve that year and let me tell you a story that is cute now but was not cute then. I was an E4 or Hospitalman Third Class at that point but was friends with many Marines on the ward that were E6 and above. E4s had to be back on the ward by midnight that night. Well, about four of us went out, started hitting parties and bars and at 2330 hours, I said that I needed to catch a cab back to the hospital. These guys would not let me go. There excuse was “what are they going to do, send you back to Nam?” Therefore, I stayed out and partied with the Marines.

When we rolled in the next morning, the Chief on Duty said I was late and AWOL. All the Marines in unison said, “We told him but he wouldn’t listen”. They all had big grins on their faces as they walked off leaving me there. I was scared for the next couple of days that I was going to get a Court Martial or something. I never heard anymore about that so I figured the Marines had taken care of everything. It is just as the bumper sticker says, “The Navy has Hospitalmen, Marines have Corpsmen”. Semper Fi.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Quang Tri, Vietnam

On my first tour, I was not at Quang Tri for very long. Maybe a month to a month and a half and I do recall we got a lot of rain. Bravo and H&S Company of 1st Btn 4th Marines were the initial military group to secure and prepare the area for the new air base. Dong Ha further north was too close to the DMZ and was in range of artillery. Quang Tri was level and further south and was less vulnerable.

My first day there was miserable because of the heavy rains. We setup in a Vietnamese cemetery. The dead were buried under mounds so a lot of us setup our tents on top of these mounds. The water drained off nicely. The next day, the villagers marched on our camp in protest of what we were doing. The villagers were informed that a base was going to be built here and the cemetery could stay inside the base or they could move their cemetery. Guess they decided to move the cemetery.

We did patrols from this small camp going west out onto the rolling plains. There was not a lot of farming out in this area and it was rolling hills and tall grass. The area had a few small villages between the camp and the mountains jungle. Most of these villages were the enemy and we would come under sniper fire when we approached them. Thank goodness, we had patrol dogs with us on these wide-open plains. They warned us of sniper fire before the rounds got to us. It was out on these plains that I stepped on a booby trap. A grenade went off next to my left foot. Twenty Marines went through the same spot before me but lucky or unlucky I am the one that set it off.

Before I jump ahead to Friday the 13th of October 1967, I will talk more about the early Quang Tri base. As I said before, there were very few of us at the start but everyday more and more would arrive with wire and fencing. Once the engineers arrive, things start to more fast. Around the wire, we had many small tents and the Headquarters had a large tent. During the heavy rains, the large tent was the place to go to get warm and to stay out of the relentless downpour.

This area backed up to a river, which we used to bath every now and them. One of the guys in our platoon was married and one day he lost his wedding ring in the river. We all tried diving to the bottom looking for that ring. Two days later after the rains had stopped, there was his ring sticking out of the mug on the edge of the river. How cool was that? He was about 21 and he had been married for 6 years. He was about 16 and she was 14 or 15 when they got married. He was a Southern boy from Tennessee or maybe West Virginia. I do not remember now. I really like that guy and how he loved his wife so much. He wrote her everyday and she did the same. He was short but very stocky and must have carried 20 clips of ammo on his belt. He was ready for anything. (Sadly, I heard that he was KIA from a mine.) Wish I could remember his name to leave a remembrance at The Wall.

While at Quang Tri, I had two to three days a week that were not spend on patrols so I volunteered to go to the Quang Tri Provincial Hospital in Quang Tri. Two of us Corpsmen would take a jeep and follow the engineers into the city. The engineers were sweeping for mines so it was not wise to go pass the engineers. Once we got to the hospital, our job was to work mostly with the children. There was a Norwegian Red Cross group working there running the emergency room and surgery.

Much of what we did was to lance and treat boils. The rice paddies were also their bathrooms so the water was a little bit contaminated. It the kids were cut or bite by a leach the wound could turn into a large boil. Boils are not a big deal in the states but in Nam, it took the lives of many children. We would lance and pack the area and give an injection of antibiotics. The next time we were there, we would give another injection and change the dressing. I hope that we saved many kids by doing this on our days that were somewhat free.

Hospitals in Nam were very different then what we are used to stateside. In Nam, when a patient was in the hospital, the whole family also moved in with them. There is not a food service at these hospitals so the family cooks the patients and families meals out on porches that surround the wards. The patient area is a little smoky from small fires but does smell nice from all the cooking. Even though there was a war going on, the people were friendly and so thankful for our help.

While at Quang Tri, you might say that I got promoted by moving up to H&S Company from Bravo Company. I was now in charge of the Corpsmen in Bravo Company. Now I did not have to go on patrols all the time but I did have to go out on Operations. After two weeks with H&S Company, we went out on Operation Granite and four hours into the Operation, I stepped on the booby trap. I was Med-Evaced out by a UH-34. Usually you see the Huey as a Med-Evac chopper but I was picked up by the old UH-34. I thought I was going stateside. Oh how wrong I was.

Monday, November 26, 2007


I will keep this short and sweat because this is a messy subject. Earlier, I described the basic layout of the shitters in Nam but what I found interesting was the magnetic effect they had on enemy incoming. If mortars or rockets hit us, invariably, the shitters would get almost direct hits. Of course, no one was stupid enough to seek shelter in one of the shitters during an attack because we all knew they would be hit. I have a series of slides of this phenomenon but could not find them for the blog. Maybe some other time.

Ask any Nam Vet and he will tell you the same story about the shitters always getting the brunt of an attack. Being a Corpsman, it was my job to get a couple of Marines and a can of diesel fuel, go around, pour fuel on the little piles of shit, and set them afire. We needed to keep the area as sanitary as possible. Like I said, it was a shitty job but someone had to do it. I wonder if this same phenomenon occurs in Iraq.

One thing that is probably different in Nam then in Iraq is the urinals. In Nam, we had artillery transport tubes sticking out the ground with a screen on the top stationed around the base and that was the urinal. With the female Marines in Iraq, that method probably would not be feasible. At least we did not let the Marines just pee anywhere. We needed to keep things sanitary.

Bet you never thought of these kinds of things in a war zone. Isn’t this a great education?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Leftovers and Football

Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving and a safe one also. Being grandparents, we had to split our holiday with the other grandparents so we got everyone on Friday. That worked out nicely this year because that was also Joanne’s birthday. It was a double celebration day. We were stuffed and have been having leftovers for the last two days. I think we will have pizza tonight. We will probably go to Red Lobster tomorrow for Joanne’s normal birthday dinner. Much of the last two days has been spent eating leftovers and watching football.

We got a lot of snow on Thursday and it is snowing heavily right now. I hope that this will not last long but with Lake Effect, you never know. If the wind is coming down off the lake and the temperature is just right, it will continue to snow for hours on end. It is supposed to warm up above freezing this coming week so the snow should be gone by weeks end. Let’s hope so.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing all of our family, friends and readers a “Thanksgiving Blessing and Best Wishes for a safe and happy holiday”. May we all take a moment to be thankful for the many blessings that we each receive from our friends and family. I also want to thank our Military personnel in far away places to stay safe and remember you are in our thoughts and prayers.

Best Wishes and Safe Travels

A Series of Rambling Memories

As I go along, all these miscellaneous, memories pop into my head and I keep telling myself that I need to put those down on paper. Most are meaningless to readers out there but they were part of who I am and what I did and from these I learned.

One thing that I enjoyed was learning how to shoot the various weapons used by the Marines. The M16 was okay but the M60 was the most fun of all. It was great watching that grenade go flying off to the target. Our M60 guy was really great with that thing. We would float things down the river and he could lob a grenade right on top of the item. I never got to try the machine gun but that was a fantastic piece of firepower. Felt sorry for the guys that had to lug that heavy thing around. Was that what they called the BAR? The other weapon I got to use a couple of times was the LAW. This was a shoulder mounted rocket launcher and made a BIG bang when it hit.

1967 was still early in the Vietnam War and I do not think the VC were used to our tanks. At the mountain base, Camp Zamora, we had one tank and there was a trench dug for the tank to sit at a slight angle upwards. The tank faced south and on the south end of the base was a hill that looked down on the base. One night, the VC decided to set up mortars on that little hill. As soon as I heard that first mortar leave the tube, I was in our bunker. After the second or third mortar hit, the tank guys were in the tank and had a round loaded and with one shot blew the top of that hill up. The tank was aimed right at the spot the VC setup their mortars so they must not have known what it was or what it could do. There was plenty of blood but no bodies.

Another nice defense we employed was on the wire. All around the base was rolls of razor wire and inside of the wire was placed claymore mines. The guys in foxholes that were on security watch could activate them. The claymore mines would blast out toward the perimeter. Another added security measure, probably designed by the engineers, were barrels of jet fuel that were wrapped in detcord (spelling?) with one claymore on the backside. That baby going off was just like a napalm bomb.

Continuing with this rambling, I will go to the subject of water. Being a Corpsman, I wanted to keep my group healthy so I made sure they drank plenty of water everyday and took their malaria pills. We were issued a new malaria pill because of the new type of malaria we ran into in this part of the jungle. Turns out that pill causes cancer so I am sorry guys for being such a mother to you and making you take that pill everyday.

We got our water from the river near the base. It was pumped into “mules” and we had a couple on the base so we could fill our canteens. One day, someone on the water detail, said, “Doc, check out the water in the river”. The water was foamy and had a darkish muddy look. We were either being poisoned upstream or they were spraying defoliant upstream and the rains were washing it down to us. I hope that we did not drink that contaminated water too long before it became visible. We had to have our water brought in by convoy after that. Now, I do not remember if we called it Agent Orange or just defoliant at that point in time.

Okay, I am probably going to get a lot of static on this one, but the Army guys were pigs. Let me back up and explain something first. We had wooden shitters over there that had an opening in the back that contained a 55-gallon drum cut in half. Some shitters were two holers up to four holers and were fancy outhouses that did not have a hole under them. Everyday, someone would be assigned to shit duty, literally. The half barrel would be removed, oil and a little gas would be added, and we would literally burn the shit. That smell sticks with you a long time. Well, when the Army pulled out with the big artillery, it was up to the Marines to clean up their mess. I do not think they every cleaned or burned their shitters. It was crawling with maggots. I told our guys to pour gas and oil on the whole building and burn it to the ground. It made a great fire.

Because the heavy artillery was removed, the base was not really needed anymore. We had to start breaking apart our bunkers and cut the sand bags. Two B-52 pilots were flown in and they surveyed what they needed to do in the middle of the night. The engineers strung detcord (spelling?) all around the base. When we were a distance away from the base, we heard the loud explosions of the engineers clearing the place out. I hope that the VC would go to the area to pickup what they could and would be there when the B-52 dropped there big bombs on the place.

We took a few AK-47 rounds on the road as we were leaving but we gave back a lot more rounds. They always told me, “Doc has his 45 on automatic again”. I tended to empty a full clip when I started shooting my 45. I had strong wrists so the 45 did not kick much for me and I could pull the trigger as fast as I wanted and still hit the target. The only casualty was a burn from a hot cartridge of an M16 that went down a Marines shirt. Oh, by the way, I was ridding in the back of the 6 X 6 with the other Marines. No more explosive trucks for me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Saga Continues

If you are looking for war stories, then this edition is not what you want. I am going to concentrate on the floral and fauna with this segment. Actually, more about the trees and bugs. At Camp Lejeune, we got a lot of training about how to handle snakebites. Vietnam has many neurotoxin snakes that were very deadly. We considered them 2 step or 10 step snakes. That means after being bitten you could take a few steps and be dead. Guess what? I never saw a single snake in all my time in Nam.

The guys were being bitten a lot from scorpions but the worse bite that I saw was from these big red centipedes. Those little legged critters could sure create a lot of pain. Benadryl and aspirin was about all we had to take care of those bites. I saw many very large interesting looking beetles over there but no one ever was bitten that I know of.

One interesting creature I found was a very large lizard at the base in the jungle (Camp Zamora). When the engineers build the base, they left this mound of vegetation and it happened to be at one end of our medical tent. At night, this big lizard would come out and explore our tent for food so we started leaving him or her C-rations. We usually left Ham and Limas because most of us hated that one. I slept pretty well so I never saw him at night but one of the other corpsman said that it must have been six foot long. That probably means he was only three feet long because that corpsman was a fisherman.

Did I mention that I never saw a snake over in Nam? Damn training never did prepare us for the right things. I had occasionally had to give penicillin to the patrol dogs because their footpads would sometimes get sores. All I could do was to go by weight and hope the dog was not allergic. I also had to hope I was not bitten. The handler would just lie on top of the dog while I came from behind and stuck him or her with the needle and syringe. One patrol dog was very nice and seemed so gentle until the handler gave the command “kill” and then the dog went ballistic. On patrol, if she started barking, we would hit the deck because a sniper round would zip overhead after she barked. We loved to be on patrol with a dog. They were lifesavers.

While at the jungle base, we did not have patrol dogs so at that point I really did not know what I was missing. There were three of us corpsmen so one would usually go out on day patrol with a platoon. Another would go out on afternoon patrol with a different platoon and the third one would go out on night ambush. One corpsman came down with the new form of malaria that we did not have a prophylaxis for and he was sent to the Hospital ship. Then one day, after I got back from patrol, I found out that I was by myself because the other corpsman was Med-Evaced out due to an accidental discharge on another part of the base. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

My life just got a lot busier. Platoons have to have a corpsman on patrol with them so I started having triple duty waiting for relief to show up. I ate and shit between shifts and took care of sick call when I could and I slept on night ambush. At least I was not spending hours on end filling sand bags for the bunkers. As I recall, I did this for about a month. The morning patrol would usually cover the east area along the road to give protection to the convoys coming into the base. The afternoon would usually be west into the jungle. I liked that direction the best.

Getting into the jungle was the most difficult part. Once you got in, it was easy because it was triple canopy jungle and the lower level was easy walking. Getting in was the tough part because it was so thick on the edge. There was also this troublesome bush we call the “wait a minute” bush. It was a big version of the spider plant. You know those things that hang down that have flowers on it. Well this plant had barbs on these long extensions and they were always hooking your cover or clothes. You would say, “wait a minute” and backup to get unhooked or to get your cover back. That bush was almost as bad as the elephant grass that had sharp edges.

Did I tell you I never saw a snake in Nam? I did see a column of red army ants in the jungle that was about eight feet long by six inches wide. They would attack anything that got in their way including burning matches. I would clear the leaves after the trail marker ants went through and the whole column would start to back up until they found the path again. Another interesting thing in the jungle was the leaches. There were leaches that you found in the water and leaches on the jungle floor. If you stood in one spot to long, you could see the leaches heading your way moving across the leaves like little Inch Worms. As long as you cleared a spot to bare ground, the leaches would not move on the dirt.

In triple canopy jungle, if it rained, it would be about a half hour before the rain got to the bottom but it would still rain on the floor after the rain stopped. Lions and tigers and bears oh my. Well, no lions or bears but tigers, elephants and monkeys. I never saw an elephant but I did see what must have been the area they went to die. It was covered with HUGE bones. I did see a squirrel that looked just like the squirrels in the states. I think we were the first humans he had ever seen and did not seem that afraid. Sure not like the water buffalo the Vietnamese used to plow their fields. Little kids could control those big things but those buffalo did not like us Americans. Maybe we smelled bad.

To be con’t…

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lest We Forget

It appears that my blog is turning into my own form of “Lest We Forget”. Guess that is a good idea before all the memories are totally gone. So much of what I did in Nam is gone from my memory. What I will attempt to do is just report things that pop into my head about big or little things. Maybe that will trigger more memories so we will just see what plays out as we go along.

When I got to Nam, I like most of the guys arriving there, was a little naive as to what to expect. I was also quite naive as to the Marine Corps side of things. A prime example of this was the method I took to get to my first assignment. They send you to various convoy pickup points to catch a convoy going to the destination you are assigned. I was going to a small base out near the mountains that was next to a beautiful river. So I headed to the convoy area to locate the one that would take me to the destination. Many of the trucks (6 byes) were loaded with supplies and the ones that were empty were loaded with Marines. I found a truck that was filled with boxes and just had a driver. I asked if I could ride shotgun and he told me it was my neck but go ahead and join him. I threw my pack in the back of the truck and waited for the convoy to head out to wherever.

Okay, I don’t know how to spell this, but the truck was filled with banggalor torpedoes. I found out later that they are very explosive and the engineers used them a lot to clear land for bases. I think they were originally designed to blow barbwire. Being an inquisitive fellow, I asked the driver about his cargo and didn’t like what I heard but it was too late. We were on a winding mountain road and all of a sudden we hear automatic (AK-47) fire behind us. About the same time, two grenades come flying from up on a hill. The first one hits the hood of the truck and explodes off to the left front of the truck. The other grenade hits the boxes in the back and thankfully bounces off the edge and explodes. The driver by now was shifting gears and we were flying down this narrow winding dirt road at about 60 mph. It scared the shit out of both of us. I somehow managed to get my 45 out and let loose with one clip. I could not see anyone but at least I was sending some bullets flying. We safely got to this little base out in the middle of nowhere.

I don’t remember how long I was at this base but I don’t think it was longer then a couple of weeks. I do remember having C-130’s flying over with defoliant (Agent Orange) and having to get undercover from the spray. Remember earlier when I mentioned the beautiful river near this base? It was crystal clear and great for swimming and taking a bath. Two Marines drowned in the current and after that, the river was off limits. This place did have many scorpions and you had to be careful when you jumped in a foxhole.

After my short stay here, we moved further into the jungle towards the Ho Chi Min trail. It was a small base; a Marine with a good arm could throw a grenade across the base. The base was to be used for a platform for four large Army artillery pieces. They would fire about 400 rounds a night into the Ah Shaw Valley to destroy supplies for the NVA. After a few weeks, I could sleep through the whole night and not be disturbed by the sounds of the guns. My medic tent was right behind the guns so it was amazing I could sleep through all that. If we got incoming mortar rounds, I would be awake in a split second. The name of that base was called Camp Zamora. It was named after Juan Zamora, a fellow from 2nd platoon who was the first Marine to get killed there. Thanks to a Marine for the name of that base. That camp was on an old French road that went through the jungle to the Cobe' Ta Tahn Valley (spelling?).

This base gave me a lot of experience with triple canopy jungle. Being a Biology major in college, I really enjoyed our patrols and ambushes in this jungle. It was not a great place to be on point but Doc never had to do point. I will continue on my nature tour at the next issue.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Memorial to Friends KIA on 27 October 1967

Two weeks after I was injured and Med-Evaced to Da Nang, my unit walked into an NVA ambush. This memorial is to those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country. They were good friends and we shared stories, family thoughts and food from home. I guess I suffer from survivor guilt for not being there when they needed me. They were a great bunch of guys and they will always be in my memory. Semper Fi.

Lt. John Robert Dawson, H&S 1 /4 On Loan from and artillery company

William Ralph Hacket, Jr, Bravo 1 /4

Angus Layafette Hare, Bravo 1 /4

Michael Edward Angerstein, Bravo 1 /4

David Paul Betts, Bravo 1 /4

Robert Matthew Carlozzi, Bravo 1 /4

Jesse Nathaniel Clayton, Bravo 1 /4

Verne Dewitt Johnson III, Bravo 1 /4

Kenneth Clarence Stommes, "Doc" Bravo 1 /4

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Nam Vet

As I stated before, I am a Vietnam Vet. I was stationed in Nam from June 1967 until July 1968. However, I was a patient at the Naval Hospital on Guam during Tet. I spent four months on Guam recuperating from wounds sustained on Friday the 13th of October of 1967. I stepped on a booby trapped grenade that tore up my left leg and foot. It totally blew off my boot and and put about 300 holes in my leg. The Corpsman that treated me was Hospitalman Jerry L Hall. I still have the original DD 1380 or U.S. Field Medical Card that gets attached to you when you get injured.

I was flown to Dong Ha by chopper for initial surgery on my leg and foot. From there, I was flown to Phu Bai by C-130 and eventually ended up being flown to Da Nang. Because I was a Corpsman, rather than being sent Stateside, they tried to get my wounds to heal in Nam so I could go back into the field. As it turned out, the wounds were worse then they anticipated and they finally Med-Evaced me out of Nam to Guam via Cam Rann Bay. By April of 1968, I got my orders back to Nam.

Before I got injured, I was with Bravo 1/4 3rd Marine Division and two weeks before I got injured was moved up to H&S Company. It should be a lot safer with H&S Co. but in my case I guess it wasn't. After my Guam recuperation, I was assigned to H&S Co. with the 3rd Shore Party Btn at the big Quang Tri air base. I was on limited duty which meant I was assigned to stay on base and could not go on patrols outside the wire. We still got mortars and rockets inside the base but it was a lot safer. I still walk with a slight limp today.

After Nam, I was hoping for a sweet assignment such as Nice, France or something in Europe. Guess what they gave me? Two more years with the Fleet Marine Force at Camp Pendleton, California. At least it was nice in California. I really lucked out and got assigned to the base Medical Supply. I replaced a Chief that was retiring and I was just promoted to E5 so I was honored to get such a position. The officer in charge liked my college background with a good deal of mathematics. I don't remember the officers name but I do remember Chief Waters and E6 Jimmy Valdez. It was a great group to work with. On duty nights, I was assigned to supervise one of the Medical Clinics. I only had to stand duty about every 17th day. If it fell on a weekend then I had to work both days. Being in charge of the clinic was pretty good duty unless we really got a lot of patients (full moons). I was trained to take X-rays, do lab. blood work, dispense prescriptions and put on plaster casts.

I got an early out discharge to attend college. You could get about 4 months early out if you were excepted to a college so I got accepted to Michigan State University and got almost the full 4 months. After a couple of semester, I transferred to Wayne State University in Detroit and got my BS degree.

While in Nam, I was at or flew into the following places; Da Nang, Phu Bai, Camp Evans, Hue, Camp Cumberland, Camp Zamora, Dong Ha, Quang Tri, Chu Lai, Cam Rann Bay, Siagon, Gia Le and Ton Sa Nadt. I believe I was on the following operations; Hickory II, Cumberland, Medina, Granite, Fremont and Buffalo. Some of my Corpsmen that I was assigned with were Jerry Hall and Kenneth Clarence Stommes in 1st Platoon. HN Stommes gave the ultimate sacrifice on Oct. 27th, 1967 in Vietnam. Second Platoon was HN Warren M Hardy (WIA) and HN D. Souza. My guys in 3rd Platoon were HM3 Mike D. Thompson (WIA), HN Gary L. McDonough who came down with malaria and HN Ronald E. Sierer (WIA). As you can see, Corpsmen didn't fair to well in Nam but we are proud of the work we did to keep our troops in tiptop shape. I, on occasion, even had to give shots to the patrol dogs if their foot pads got infections.

If any of my old Marine and Navy buddies find this, please leave me a message. I would love to hear from you. Semper Fi.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Camping in St. Louis

This is our truck and trailer in St. Louis. We had a lot of fun at the Casinos in St. Louis. Seeing the Arch and learning more about Lewis and Clark was exciting. The people of St. Louis were so nice and helpful.

Okay, I'm proud of my Wife and truck

Here is a better picture of my wife and my white beard. Guess the hat covers the hair. The last picture really showcases my truck and not me. Oh well. I love my truck but I love my wife a lot more.

Current Picture of Doc

As you can see, my hair has gotten a lot whiter then it was in 1968. This is our truck that pulls the RV.

Us and Traveling

The first picture is of our truck and RV. The next picture is my lovely wife Joanne and the last picture is me while a patient at the Naval Hospital on Guam in 1968. My hair is a lot whiter now.

I'm Learning

As you can probably tell, I'm experimenting and learning as I go along. I was a Navy Corspman with the 1st Bt, 4th Marines in Vietnam. They called me Doc. Here is a cartoon character I always liked that represents "Doc". That picture was supposed to be below this line. Hay, I never said this was easy. Guess I can move these pictures around. The next picture is the shield for 1/4.

This is the 1/4 shield or patch.

Early beginning

This is all new to me so please bare with me until I get the hang of what I am doing. My wife and I are RVer's but only parttime. We like to live near our grandkids (and kids) and spend the winter in the cold of Michigan. That is not what Rver's are supposed to do but my wife is only semi-retired. I'm retired and can do whatever I want whenever I want, with the wifes permission of course.