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.

No comments: