These Memories are not “Gospel” or “etched in stone”

They are just the way I recall people, places and things from almost 40 years ago


(In reference to my finding him)

Yep, that's me, Tony. I'm a lot uglier and a lot heavier but it's still me.


I couldn't make it to the reunion because of a totally wiped out pair of knees that I can't walk on and judging from the pictures, I sure missed a good one.


(Recalling some of the guys)

Wow, it’s been a while!! You mentioned some names that brought back some real good memories. Crazy Joe (George) Hazen had an M-60 mg that he called "Dorothy" that he manned on back of the gun truck. I think Plennert was the Ma Deuce gunner and Hollis was the other M-60 gunner.


LoRanger drove the gun truck 'till he rotated back to the world, then Hazen and I would swap out driving it. I did drive a five ton tractor trailer but after I ran over that kid in Ban Me Thuot I kind of lost it and didn't want to drive anything for a while. After we got settled into our second base camp in Khanh Duong, MSGT Johnson found out that I was a pretty good scrounger and got me put on the mess truck so we could get better rations.


Do you remember "Stickshift" Arnold Jacobson? He was Cliff Schneider's driver for a little while. By the way, I noticed some posts from Cliff on this site that I'll have to go back and read when I get through.


(Recalling being a truck driver)

Yeah, those trucks can be quite intimidating but by the time I got to A Company I had already driven trucks for about 6 or 7 years. I was hauling heavy equipment in South Florida when I was 15 years old. I'd still be driving now if my knees hadn't gone bad. I just sold my truck that I'd been holding onto for the last 3 years hoping I could go back to driving.


You talk about remembering names? I've got this crazy thing about me that I've never heard of before. I keep a pen and paper beside the bed to write things down on when I wake up from a dream. My memory isn't all that good when I'm awake but if I can't recall something and it really bothers me, sometimes it'll come to me in a dream within a few nights. Weird huh!!!! I've even recalled addresses, phone numbers and things like that.


I do recall some of the guys opening their packs from the bottom but that was to keep from getting dirt, grease, etc on the filter when you pulled one out of the pack. Yes that does sound like something Stickshift would do.


(Recalling how Stickshift got his name)

I was on guard duty the night Stickshift got that name. Cliff was the OD that night and picked Arnold for his driver. Arnold told him that he'd never driven with a manual transmission but Cliff told him this was a good time to learn. That night while they were checking the guards, I heard a thud and then it sounded like a cuss fight at a Chinese laundry, Cliff was yelling at Arnie, and then we heard Arnie yell back proclaiming, "I told you I've never driven a stickshift." We almost fell of the bunker laughing just listening to them. Later we found out that Arnie, not being able to see with his lights on blackout, had driven headlong into the drainage ditch over by the Bn. HQ tent. 


(Recalling the Mess Sergeant Johnson at Khanh Duong)

I guess MSGT Johnson reminded me a lot of my Dad and that's why I took to him so well. My Dad was a mess steward in Korea. I recall well the night we put him, (MSGT Johnson), on the dust-off after his second heart attack. It was so foggy that we had to pop flares so the pilot could find us. While we were waiting for the chopper to land, he grabbed me by the arm and begged me not to let them take him away. He said "I've got 148 men here to feed and if they take me away, they won't let me come back." He worried more about "his" men than himself. I was told that he went back to the world but I never heard anything else about him. Did you?


(Last 37 years in one sentence)

I ETS'ed back stateside April of '69, went back to Florida, got divorced, got remarried, had another daughter, moved back to Alabama in '76, joined the AL National Guard, went to work for the DOD, retired from both in '99, went totally insane and bought a Big Truck, went on disability in '03, sold the Big Truck a month ago and here I am. How’s that? Thirty-seven years in one sentence LOL.


(More on the Mess Sergeant)

Johnson was our mess steward and the best I'd ever known, (besides my Dad). You could find him in the mess tent every Sunday morning at around 0230-0300 baking pastries for breakfast. He always tried to talk me into transferring to the mess section but I liked my trucks too much. I used to use the mess tent kind of like a truck stop when I wasn't escorting a convoy to somewhere or another. I came to look upon MSGT Johnson as my Vietnam Dad. I always tried to keep my soft side emotions in check so when they came to get him to take him to Nha Trang he's the only one who saw me cry. I went straight from the chopper and got my fifth of Jack Daniels and got drunk.


(Recalling a “bad incident” after Cpt. Waldo rotated)

I don't really recall who the new Top was at KD (after 1st Sgt. Phil Johnson). That's about the time we had a change of command too. Dan Waldo had gone back home to Bonifay Florida, (I hated to see him go), and I can't recall the new commander's name. He wanted to be a real hard-nose but I think he finally settled down. He's the one that somebody left a note attached to an M-79 round in his Jeep. The note read "Cool it, sir." He inferred from the type of round that it must have been a Thumper Operator. He called a formation the next morning and made all 18 of us that carried M-79's stay after the formation. After about a 5 minute speech about making threats against officers, he asked if anyone wanted to own up to it. I raised my hand and he thought he'd caught the culprit but I stopped him and simply told him to follow me and see what I did with my ammo bag when I got back to the tent. He asked me what I did with it and I told him that I'd put it on my bunk and may leave it there all day. Anyone could walk by and pick up a round and I'd never miss it. He thought about it a minute and told me "Point taken." and fell us out. We never found out who did it. It wasn't you was it???


(Recalling more guys at Khanh Duong)

I don't recall PSgt Smith. I do recall, Davis, the guy who was killed in Pleiku.  Guys named, Blackmon, Blue, Jackson and... my mind just blew up... duhhh. I hate when that happens.


I just remembered someone else but can't recall his name. Who was the 2nd Lt that joined us in KD who was tall, slender, and wore size 14 boots? He tripped over his own feet so we called him "Twinkle Toes". I recall one day we were working on an old gas-burner 2 1/2 ton and had a paper cup of gasoline on the fender to pour in the carburetor. The Lt had left the mess tent holding a cup of orange Kool Aid and walked over to see what we were doing. He set his cup on the fender not far from the cup of gasoline and talked to us for a little bit. Nobody noticed it when he picked up the wrong cup and downed it without stopping. He had to be medi-vaced to Nha Trang but he recovered and made it back. We never let him live that one down.


(Christmas in Khanh Duong – 1968)

I remember Christmas Day '68 in KD, but not all of it. Something had happened not long before that and I was really depressed. I went to the Chaplin's service which was held in the old Bhudest temple across from the Yard village and after every one had left I took out a bottle of vodka and got drunker 'n Cooter Brown. I don't recall anything after that. I've always wondered what it was that upset me so bad that I wanted to get that drunk. Now tell me, what did I do? Who did I kill? Did I dance naked in the mess tent or something?  Ha, ha. I can't wait to hear the answer to that one.


Well, when we get through hashing out old memories we ought to have enough for a best seller, huh. May even get rich!!!


(More on Lt. Payne)

Mine's not the best recall either. I tend to remember bits and pieces, and then when I'm prompted to bring those bits and pieces forward, they sometimes bring other memories with them. Does that make sense?


About "Octane", I do recall him walking over to the truck but I had left to go somewhere before he actually drank it. We may both have some truthful memories, just saw them a different way.


(Another “bad incident” at Khanh Duong)

The last CO put the village off limits for socializing purposes and that's what ripped everybody at him. Do you recall the time somebody set off some kind of explosive in his trash can? It seems like it was a small barrel that sat outside the blast wall in front of the tent. Somebody put the can inside the sandbags and left something like C-4 in the can and set it off with a clacker.  I heard about it when I came back from a run to Nha Trang. They never figured out who did it as far as I know. They said that the Top came running out of his tent wearing boxers, a steel pot, a pistol belt, and his untied boots. They said he was yelling "incoming" to the top of his lungs, pointing his M-14 at everything that moved. As always he was drunk. Now that’s all hearsay because I wasn't there when that happened.


(Christmas Cheer)

I do recall that someone bought a bunch of beer, now that you mention it. Could be that's the reason I was so out of it that day. All that vodka with beer on top of it isn't a good way to start off the day, huh? By the way, thanks for the beer.


(Pleiku, 21 September 1968)

Wow!! You just triggered some of those memories I was talking about. I was asleep in the tent up in Pleiku when I was awakened by a dog licking my face, I don't know if it was Lady or Blivit but I was half awake when the round hit the commo connex. I rolled off my cot onto the floor and recall being face to face with 3 cases of frag grenades. Then the second round hit, (probably the one that hit the NCO hooch), and I decided that I needed to be somewhere besides where I was so I headed for the "Z" trench. I was standing beside Davis when the round hit the trench and he went down quick. We looked him over with a flashlight and couldn't find anything but some blood coming out his right ear. We thought maybe it was concussion but found out later it was a piece of shrapnel that went into his ear. I heard a commotion on the outside and found out that Paul Simpson had freaked out and left the trench so me and someone else ran him down and got him back into the trench. That morning when we got the "all clear", Joe (George) Hazen, Hollis and me went into the NCO tent to clean up the mess, and it was a mess. That's where Reil and Kreft were. Reil's body had been taken out and Kreft had gone to the hospital but there was blood and pieces of flesh all over the canvas where Reil had been. I do remember thumbing the hammer back on my pistol and putting it to one of the house girls' head and I meant to kill her but Joe (George) grabbed my hand before I pulled the trigger. We suspected them of pacing the compound for the VC because, if you remember, every round was a direct hit on something important, commo, NCO hooch, ammo trailer, trench, etc. I think Stickshift slept through the whole thing without a scratch even though there were holes all in his sleeping bag.


(20 mm cannon at Khanh Duong)

I remember that cannon and you being hurt by it. Wasn't it mounted on a piece of pipe and the recoil bent the pipe or something like that?


(More about truck driving)

I know Joe (George) was really miffed at you about taking him off the gun truck but as I recall, we remained friends. Anyhow it wasn't long after we moved to the second base camp at Khanh Doung before I went to the mess truck. MSGT Johnson wanted something besides Korean rations to feed the troops and asked me to go down to Class 1 in Nha Trang and scrounge some fresh food and ice. We loaded a half conex on the back of a deuce and a half and built a shelf inside it. When I came back the next day he met me at the gate when the convoy rolled in and I thought he was going to kiss me. There was fresh fruit, cases of real eggs, bread fresh from the bakery, all kinds of dry goods, so much that some of it was about to fall off the truck. Then when that was unloaded and the conex was opened, there was fresh cabbage, lettuce, bell peppers, onions, celery, etc. There was real meat too, beef, pork chicken, fish, bacon and I can't recall what else but it was stacked from the shelf to the top of the conex. Under the shelf was what we'd been without for a while, ICE. Until then the Class 1 point would only let us have 100 pounds of ice every other day but I came back with 600 pounds of it. Everybody had cold beer that night. You may recall that I stenciled my daughter's name, "Jenny", on the front of the hood of the mess truck.


(Still another “bad incident”)

I do have recollections of the NG unit, B Co., I think. I recall when the Sgt was killed because the next day we stopped there to pick up some vehicles to join our convoy to Nha Trang and one of their men was telling us that he'd been killed by a sniper, then he grinned real big as if to say "Yeah, right".


(Not many pictures from 70th Engrs.)

Man, you sent me on a mission that time. I know I've got some pictures here somewhere but for the life of me I can't find them. Years ago my wife got worried about me 'cause she said when I looked at the pictures; I'd get the "1000 meter stare". She didn't call it that, but I knew what she was talking about. I don't know if she did it or not but I kid her about burning the pictures. Most of them are gone now but I didn't have that many to start with. I'll keep looking though. I've got plenty of pictures from when I was in Panama, Ecuador, Alaska and other places but if I can find them, I've only got maybe 10 left from that tour in Vietnam.


(More memories of guys in A Company)

Halfstep” sounds familiar. I recall someone named LoRanger but not VanDam. LoRanger drove the gun truck before Joe (George) Hazen did, I think. Hazen was from Pa. and I think you're right about Hollis. Do you recall Russell F. Owens and Russell E. Branch? Owens, (Buck), was from N.C. and Branch from Joplin, Mo. Somewhere in my memory there's a Partin too. Oh yeah Dan Wilcox too. See what you've done!!! Now I'll never get all these names sorted out!!!


(Correcting name, and other things)

I did get to look at the pictures and the papers you sent. I'm still looking at them. It seems that my memories not as good as I thought after all. I could have sworn that Hazen's first name was Joe but you're right, it's George. I guess I've got the same problem as your computer, faulty memory. Ha-ha.


I don't expect Phil would remember me but did Schneider?  


I found an old picture of me about a year after I ETS'ed but still can't find the ones from VN. The picture isn't very close up; my wife was trying to get my truck in the frame too.


By the way, before I go, that wasn't Monk that I was thinking about with his hat rolled in three cornered style. The one I was thinking about was a Jeep driver though.


(In reference to a picture sent by Durbin)

 The only one that rung a bell may have been Partin. He's the one with a boonie hat on the left looking at the camera in the picture of a bunch of unknown guys. The picture is kind of foggy on the left side so it's hard to tell. I tried to enhance it but it must have been a chemical flaw because the more I tried to fix it, the worse it got. The one you sent me earlier of the guy standing in the bay of the communications center was of, what I've been calling the "psy-ops center". That was actually going to be a propaganda broadcasting station.


(Reason for Article 15)

I was busted for being AWOL for three days. Remember Paul Simpson. He was being court martialed for desertion. I had been the acting supply sergeant when he turned his gear in to go on leave. The defense's case rested on the fact that he had left personal items behind showing his intent to return. I had been asked by his defending officer to come

to Ban Me Thout to testify but upon arriving was told that my testimony wouldn't be needed. By then the convoy had already left going back to Khanh Duong. The next day the Bn. Motor Sgt told me that there were no convoys going that way because of enemy activity. I went to the 1st Aviation compound in East BMT and was told that there may be a chopper headed that way the next day. The next day there wasn't a flight out so I went back to Bn. HQ and they had a convoy going back that day. Schneider wouldn't hear any excuses because both nights, instead of trying to catch a ride back to HQ, I walked a few blocks up the street to the Imperial Hotel and spent the night. So that's the story behind that one.


(Not a picture of Pike)

I've shown the "who" picture to my wife and daughter. I say it's me, my wife says maybe, my daughter says no. I think it's me because the body fits what I looked like then and I was one of a very few who wore a leather belt and the profile of the face looks a lot like me.


I haven't found any of the pictures but I'll try to send the one I told you about from about a year after I got out.


(Searching for Article 15)

I'm also trying to find the article 15. I'm not sure if I was busted or just fined. I do know that it was the only one that I got on that tour. I got four on my first tour. I guess I was a bad boy, huh.


You sent me the picture of Cliff, but like you, I don't know who the other guy is.


(Odds and Ends)

I don't recall thanking you for the CD you sent me with the photos of the reunion. Sorry 'bout that but I am really enjoying them. I love the ones of the desert and the birds also. I'm thinking of using them as a slide show screensaver. I haven't gotten the DW Ditty CD yet but I do appreciate you sending it. I went to his site and heard him sing though, he's good. I'm into blues anyhow so it'll be great to have the CD.


John Craven got in touch with me a few days ago and I called him last night. We had a long talk about the old times, although I did most of the talking it was great to hear from him. I told him about your pictures so he may be getting back to you. I sent him some of the ones you sent me. Hope you didn't have them copyrighted, HAHA!


(Report of Hazen’s death)

He also told me that he'd heard that George Hazen had died back in about 2000. I was sorry to have heard that. I Googled his correct name, (I'd been looking for "Joe" Hazen before), and found about five in Pennsylvania. There's a George Hazen, Jr. and III so maybe they're his offspring. I'll try to find out later. I've tried before to find Buck Owens and Allen Hollis to no avail.


(Looking for Stickshift)

I'm thinking Fred Blackmon was from Chicago or somewhere close. He was one of our cooks. If I can ever find where my wife hid them, I've got a picture of him, Stickshift and another cook whose name I can't recall.  I was thinking Stickshift was from Chicago too and that's why they hung together. I saw somewhere in your e-mails he was from Iowa or someplace like that. Maybe he moved.  Maybe it was Wisconsin.  I just tried to call the one at 773-821-5071 and got no answer so that one's still open.  I called all four. The first one was disconnected, the second, I left a message on their machine. The third was a real nice Korean vet from northern Wisconsin who said to thank us all for our service and the fourth was no answer.


(In reference to Lady’s pups) 

Of the other three pups, one was named Blivet another was Whiskey or Drunk, can't recall, and I don't know the other. Maybe there was Drunk and Whiskey.


I'm sorry to hear about that but after all she was a risk-taker.


(In reference to finding Russell Branch)

Now you've found someone I can relate to. As I can recall, Russell was sent to Japan for some injuries and came back to Pleiku with us. I don't recall, however if he made the trip to BMT with us.


He was in the squad with Russell F. Owens, George Hazen, Alan V. Hollis, Paul Lo Ranger and I. It's possible that Paul Simpson and Ocie Blue were in the squad but then you'd know better than I. I can't even recall what platoon and squad I was in but HQ third keeps coming to mind. Hell, I'd been in so many units in thirty years, it's hard to separate them all. 


You're doing a fantastic job finding all these guys. I just wish we'd done unit photos ever so often like some of the units in WW II did. My dad got a kick out of looking at his and telling stories about the exploits of some of them.


(In reference to picture from Ruth Edwards)

When I opened the "Bradley Street" picture I hadn't noticed the caption on it. My first impression was that this was the recovery hospital on the beach at Cam Ranh Bay. This may be the consolidated mess but I can't really recall. A couple of reasons I think this is because of the long awning at the entrance which would indicate a long waiting line. There are three large elevated containers by the entrance, possibly water for cooking and dish washing.  As for the two troops at the far right of the picture, it's hard to make out but they are wearing 1st Cav patches. It's a little easier to see on the one using his shirt to cover his head.

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