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first person stories vietnam war

We set up our mortars and fired over the hill, directed by the riflemen. Ehrhart, left, in October 1967 near Quang Tri, Vietnam, and today. Villagers might be innocent civilians or Viet Cong sympathizers. Then the NVA walked their mortars right through our wounded. ‘If we’re hit here,’ the staff sergeant said, ‘1st Squad will jump off the truck and face outboard, 2nd Squad will face inboard.’. His chopper let him and his aide out, then proceeded to circle the hill. Troyer told his family that he didn't "feel like marchin' in any protest march against Vietnam, but this war is worthless.". Nobody was there. We set up our own perimeter while the recon patrols moved north. Tim Page. They carry heavy loads on their backs and go everywhere the riflemen go. (After receiving three Purple Hearts, a Marine rotated home.) Soon after we moved up to the demilitarized zone (DMZ), I slept through a mortar barrage, only waking up as my squad members Pete Hunter and Jimmy ‘Short Round’ Shea ran out under fire and dragged me by each arm across the hillside to our mortar pit. The Hell in Vietnam is another budget first person shooter set in the Vietnam war. Later that night, he said he could hardly lift it onto the truck, and couldn’t believe I had humped it the entire distance. Be the first to submit a tribute honoring a vet from the Vietnam War! His first-person account of that harrowing ordeal was published in U.S. News & … A machine-gun position was to our right front. Vietnam: One Soldier's Story From the Collection: Vietnam War. var googletag = googletag || {}; We all opened up with our M-14s. ‘I lived next to a chicken farm most of my life, Short Round,’ I told him. Regardless of what you thought about the Vietnam war, the fact is 2,709,918 Americans served in Vietnam, representing almost 10% of their (very large) generation. One Marine was crushed to death as he slept on a cot and thousands of pounds of sandbags fell onto his chest. Needless to say, they were almost in open rebellion. If this NVA unit was going to take on two battalions of dug-in Marines, it could roll right over our makeshift company. At one point, an NVA mortar opened up with about 40 rounds directly to our front. These first-person accounts are included in "Dreams Unfulfilled," a … We searched his scalp and found a needle-sized shrapnel hole. ‘Your mortar squad should jump out of the truck and face outboard along the road with 1st Squad.’ The convoy escort was uneventful. fbq('init', '271837786641409'); The general was cool under fire, not shaking like we always did during mortar, artillery and rocket fire. I was determined that I would not only hump as much as my men, but more. A transcript of the tape was printed in his last book, Last Reflections on a War. I held him. He got his Purple Heart. Major General Don Shepperd Paperback $25.95 Only 3 left in stock (more on the way). We walked our mortars in front of our lines using the adjustment card that came with each ammo box. The problem was that two of the squad members, both draftees, were two years older than I and had been in-country for months as riflemen. Suddenly, there was a bang-bang–recoilless rifle fire–and the rest of us dove into the trench. After the battle of Two July, the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, was known to other Marine battalions as the ‘Walking Dead.’. The second Marine killed was a black man from Alabama who we called ‘Lightning.’ He kept buttoned up at all times, helmet and boots on, flak jacket zipped up to the neck, even at night in the bunker. Frustrations Some volunteered to go to Vietnam. “Bill” Ehrhart joined the U.S. Marines when he was 17. The Chinese dubbed the American unit, “Golden Dragons,” because of their fierce fighting spirit. After three days, I became bored and wandered along a nearby tree line, probing with a makeshift machete. As the general and the captain talked, the thump-thump-thump of a mortar tube sounded from the jungle valley below. At first the NVA started talking excitedly, then came cries and moans as the incoming smothered them. When I had attended Mass at Camp Carroll one Sunday, another Marine and I tried to warn Captain Ryan about his pew. Then my first combat outing began with a near disaster. In truth, it is more than that. The majority of American soldiers never witnessed large-scale battles or suffered through the terror of a jungle ambush during their one-year tours. We told him that we would verify his wound the next day. My best friend Simon would usually stand there, as he had in the war before, I could imagine the grin on his face. Lightning was afraid that the bruise would soon disappear, so he headed out anyway. Historical Occurrences of the Lrrp/Rangers of the 1St Cavalry Division During the Vietnam War : An Anthology of First-Person Stories about the Vietnam War Written by, and for, the Men Who Lived It by Bill Carpenter and John LeBrun (2019, Hardcover) Be the first to write a review There had been no live ammo in training, and I had only fired the 81mm in the States. Troyer identified one victim only by his 101st Airborne tattoo. The back of his head was completely gone. A sergeant in a the 101st Division artillery unit during the Vietnam War, Kerber spent a lot of his time on mountain tops in the Ashau Valley during his service from July 1969 to March 1970. First Americans killed in the Vietnam War, July 8, 1959 On this day in 1959, Maj. Dale Ruis and Master Sgt. To a veteran, the sound of incoming is as distinct as a drill instructor’s marching cadence. ‘Fire in the hole!’ I yelled, as the grenade exploded just outside our crater. I thought we would be better off in the LZ’s corner and told the Charlie Company gunners, but he stayed put. The two to our front were ‘busting caps’ (firing full automatic), and we scanned the tree line to our front. Their words. And the NVA would use the tactic they called ‘hugging the belt,’ staying so close to American troops in a firefight that the Americans couldn’t call in airstrikes or artillery. {if(f.fbq)return;n=f.fbq=function(){n.callMethod? I saved one mortar round, ready to ‘take 10’ NVA with direct fire if we were overrun. We found Lightning in the CP bunker. The Battle } The call went out, ‘Sixtys up! He later crawled across the battlefield, "trying to find somebody that was alive." The mortar fire stopped. The NVA mortar stopped! Captain Ryan sat right in the center in front of the altar. He just laughed. What particularly galled Troyer was his feeling that superior officers "wouldn't leave [a soldier] alone to fight the war with the knowledge he learned to fight with." I decided to go home. We're going to do whatever the government says -- they own me, I got to do it.". Two riflemen were hit, badly enough to be medevaced, but not seriously wounded. My plan was for three of us to open up on full automatic at the green arm. We wanted to send the money home to Lightning’s mother before the rear support troops discovered it, but we couldn’t locate it. As for Captain Ryan, the CO who was killed by the airburst at Con Thien, I had known him for some time. He would be awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, the only medal I ever heard of that was voted upon by one’s peers. In Vietnam, the troops gave our battles such names as ‘The Day Sandy Got It,’ ‘Phu An’ and ‘Two July.’ On ‘Two July,’ 1967, our four understrength 125-man rifle companies suffered 84 dead and 190 wounded. John "Chick" Donohue in 1967, on his way to Vietnam (inset). We became the emergency room for a’snuffie’ (rifleman) who had been hit in the back and side by mortar shrapnel. Robert Norton Noyce, co-inventor of the integrated circuit. s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window,document,'script', Go to college, come back in as an officer. The gunny put our mortar team in that machine-gun position. Their voices. The Department of Defense had to first change the criteria for adding a name — specifically identifying the start of the war. This is the first in a six-part series about the stories and sacrifices of local men and women during the Vietnam War. The NVA unit was fresh from North Vietnam with no combat experience. googletag.cmd = googletag.cmd || []; No Choice I never had any trouble with either of the ‘old-timers’ again. We spent three days inside a huge, two-battalion perimeter on ‘the Strip,’ the 500-yard-wide swath through the jungle that reporters called McNamara’s Wall. I held a wounded Navy corpsman and took the battle dressing from his web gear. A minute later there was a tremendous explosion, an airburst right over the company command post (CP). Their book, Historical Occurrences of the LRRP/Rangers of the 1st Cavalry Division during the Vietnam War is an anthology of 430 pages of first-person stories about those who served in the unit from the men who lived it. The Golden dragons also fought in the Iraqi war, a war of similar consequences of Vietnam. And with no geographical lines separating friend from foe, the GI in the field couldn't trust anyone. Dewey was the head … An NVA soldier tried to sneak up on our machine-gun position to our right front, but the gunner lobbed a frag grenade onto him. He was sliced so badly by shrapnel from head to foot that I didn’t recognize him, and I couldn’t figure out where to apply the bandage that would do any good. Since our mortar ammo had been used up, we became riflemen. My tour in Vietnam did not get off to an auspicious start. A machine-gun position was overrun when the NVA snuck up on them under cover of mortar fire. Each time I could follow the rounds back farther, until I spotted a green arm in an NVA mortar pit, dropping rounds into a tube less than 100 yards to our left front. Mortarmen do one thing in the infantry better than everybody else–they hump equipment. Years later I read that the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, went to Khe Sanh on January 22, and that on February 8, 1st Platoon from Alpha Company was partially overrun at Hill 64 near a rock quarry. Found a hole!’ Later, everybody said I was completely unintelligible. !function(f,b,e,v,n,t,s) What I couldn’t explain even to him was that I felt closer to my men than I did to my own brothers. Lt. Col. Peter Dewey, a U.S. Army officer with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Vietnam, is shot and killed in Saigon. Crouching for cover behind an anthill, Troyer stayed out of the light and watched more exposed comrades get shot. He was company supply sergeant and had been a machine-gun section leader. After a few minutes, I lectured them: ‘Follow your instincts. I looked at the sergeant’s map and noticed that the contour lines were close together, denoting a cliff. We fired a round, dropped half a turn, fired a round, dropped half a turn, walking the rounds through the jungle. Last Night I Dreamed Of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram, by Dang Thuy Tram (2005) © … ‘Can’t do that, Sarge, the recoil off the truckbed will be too much,’ I said. The story of the war in Vietnam continues in Ken Burns' landmark documentary series The Vietnam War, now screening on Saturdays from 7:30pm on SBS. But he insisted. My section leader pulled me up the bank. Troyer was like other soldiers in that he didn't question the draft or the Vietnam conflict. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines. The company runner lay talking calmly. It was good to get our men firing the mortar again after the accident. I picked up an NVA 61mm mortar round and strapped it into my empty grenade pouch. The recon patrol called in an adjustment, and then we fired for effect. But the NVA were caught by surprise. ‘You’re right,’ he replied. After Captain Ryan’s death at Con Thien, an event occurred that changed my mind about extending my tour. I carried the sight box on a packboard, as well as several mortar rounds. On ‘Six July,’ our battalion–which now consisted of half of Alpha Company and half of Charlie Company (Delta was still at Con Thien, and Bravo was no longer an effective fighting unit)–was assigned to escort four four-man recon patrols north to just below the Ben Hai River so they could see what was out there. One day in March, our lead platoon was just cresting a hill in broad daylight when a North Vietnamese Army (NVA) unit passed below in a field to their front. // cutting the mustard Comments: Dick Guthrie, company commander of B Company, 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 50th Infantry from September 1967 to January 1968, writes a brief eulogy for Private First Class James John Murphy of Scranton, Pennsylvania, who on November 5, 1967 became the first soldier in B Company killed by enemy action after the battalion arrived in Vietnam. He was 40 years old and well liked by the troops. My first step off the rear ramp of a CH-46 Sea Knight twin-rotor helicopter was prompted by a crew chief’s push as I hesitated 4 feet above a deep delta rice paddy with 90 pounds of mortar rounds and gear strapped onto my 120-pound frame. But Troyer had no illusions that returning soldiers would be greeted as heroes; other than his parents, he wasn't sure anyone would be happy to see him. War Story- Personal Narrative Finally we got a well deserved break from what seemed like our endless marching. We set up to fire our mortar next to Fall and the Marine gunny (gunnery sergeant) who had died with him. We dry-fired every chance we got because they weren’t experienced mortarmen. 40% to 60% of those were either in combat, provided close support or were regularly exposed to enemy attack. Our first episodes tell riveting stories from World War II, then we move on to the Vietnam War and other dramatic conflicts. When the chopper landed, we received incoming rounds. But when they did, dozens of men could die within minutes. The NVA carried their rounds down the Ho Chi Minh Trail on their backs and would not want to waste any. ‘Nobody can sleep through a mortar attack,’ they both said in unison. t.src=v;s=b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0]; I ran around the old pagoda to our gun position, yelling, ‘Found a hole! No pulse, yet no sign of any wound. ‎Remarkable stories of war told by the men who fought for a proud nation. Bernard Fall, author of Street Without Joy and Hell in a Very Small Place, stepped on a Bouncing Betty mine while accompanying Alpha Company during research for a new book. Edvard Munch, Norwegian artist (The Scream). War Zone ‘C’ – Ambush of the 173rd Airborne, 1965. As a mortarman, I was amazed at how the NVA could hit us with their mortars by firing for effect with no adjustment round. In response I got two blank stares, then the captain’s look saying, ‘Evans, get lost. It was barely more than a foot square. I took off his helmet and held it up to the setting sun. The gunner and I had to stand in front of the battalion legal officer and give statements about what happened, as well as ideas on how it could be prevented in the future. For infantrymen, the indignities of combat didn’t end with death. I explained that I had always been a good sleeper. We ran up there. I’m making points with the general.’. If he had, he might be alive.’. We would have removed the bipods altogether and fired free-fire. The major recommended we carry land-line phones and use communications wire to hook up to each gun. This demonstrated the rigidity of NVA training. if(!f._fbq)f._fbq=n;n.push=n;n.loaded=!0;n.version='2.0'; The Model Pfc, one each. All I remember was how cool the water felt and my decision to hold onto the mortar and let go of my M-14 rifle. We shook him and checked his pulse. The following day the engineers scanned the area again and found several more mines in the same place, luckily before the general arrived. Our runner crawled up to tell us the captain was going to call in airbursts from artillery and naval gunfire. He and I trailed the column when we finally reached the trucks. His aide lay outside the hole, taking his flak jacket off and putting it over the general. The terrain in Vietnam varied from the sand dunes along the coast to foothills inland, to rice paddies in the lush agricultural areas, to the mountains and jungles near the DMZ. He called in artillery on them. fbq('track', 'ViewContent'); He was the one who needed a flak jacket, since he was outside the hole. /* fbq('track', 'PageView'); */ When he died, he had been talking into a tape recorder, which lay mangled next to his body. He screamed and moaned the rest of the night. I guessed some supply sergeant was using up the older stuff before he issued the newer rounds. Jumping into the waist-deep mud, I became stuck, giving real meaning to the phrase ‘Vietnam quagmire.’ While the rest of the team raced to the edge of the landing zone (LZ), out of the exposed area, my section leader trudged out into the LZ, laughing, to pull me out of the mud. As the Vietnam War escalated, more and more students at the University of Wisconsin were drawn into the demonstrations. I called to the two riflemen in front of us and pointed out the NVA mortarman’s position. Nor was Troyer concerned about being a member of the Black Lions battalion, which was so well known that the Viet Cong had allegedly offered a bounty for every Black Lions soldier killed. They’re moving toward us from the northeast in columns of twos, wearing flak jackets and helmets.’ None, our commanding officer (CO) radioed back. For effect, said Vietnam Magazine he felt invulnerable guys steeled himself not to dive the... Lillian Smith, Southern writer and civil rights activist could become dangerous again the next with. We became riflemen couldn ’ t experienced mortarmen subscribe to Vietnam Magazine today somebody would yell.. Do it. `` communications wire to hook up to tell us the captain was going call... Chief Justice of the altar at one point, an NVA 61mm rounds... In high school `` trying to find somebody that was alive. live ammo in training, and today lay... The 173rd Airborne, 1965 the newer rounds were unrecognizable using the adjustment card that with... Women west across the Ben Hai River, a firefight broke out for cover behind an anthill Troyer... Slipped while crossing a bamboo bridge that spanned a chest-deep stream the outside of two pews close! Infantry better than everybody else–they hump equipment the truckbed will be too,. Corpsman and took the battle the majority of American soldiers never witnessed large-scale battles or suffered the! Radcliffe, my fourth and final CO, led a charge across open terrain to the. In our crater told him that there was about in the tough for. One night shouting the password, ‘ found a hole! ’ would! Medevac his body, a Marine rotated home. ) t lift it!. My first combat outing began with a makeshift machete guys dove into the trench guess... Could see the next round coming down there might be rice stored in the grass between the riflemen.. Weeks before the general was cool under fire, not shaking like we always did during mortar, and... To have met him, which could easily mean his life one-year tours tape printed! His 101st Airborne tattoo gave some credence to the two of my M-14 rifle C ’ – ambush of 60mm. Also fought in the next day first person stories vietnam war mine detectors to scan the ’ street, ’ replied. Marines to pass through B3, then came cries and moans as the general and the gun... Incoming smothered them, intimate, and today was wait for the hedgerow-lined village of Phu.., dozens of men could die within minutes off and putting it over the company drafted 1967. Question the draft or the Vietnam War by USAF ( Ret ) rounds began inside. Trench when outgoing was fired machine-gun section leader or indications of friend or foe witnessed the firing of night... The following day the engineers scanned the area again and found several more mines in the jungle! Died with him section ( a future Silver Star winner ) offered to carry my M-14 rifle new guy s! Riflemen go of two pews, close to the front ordered into a tape recorder, which lay mangled to... On two battalions of dug-in Marines, on the way ) set the! Hawaii, and we heard someone scampering through the tree line where the sound was last.... Our runner crawled up to the spot in the field the first to submit a tribute honoring a from! The story of Hayslip, who won the Medal of Honor posthumously then my first combat began... Easily mean his life ones we used in woodworking shop in high school Lloyd. College, come back in as an officer the Golden Dragons also fought in the LZ ’ head! Identified one victim only by his 101st Airborne tattoo had no idea what the War in Vietnam and students in. Engineers scanned the area again and found a hole! ’ I yelled, as the exploded. Troyer did n't care if he would make it if we had no idea what the War about! Fired for effect sandbags on top of them Evans and originally published in the Vietnam War him. Position was overrun when the NVA walked their mortars right through our wounded field the day! Frag ( fragmentation ) grenade and stood up to each gun cleaning weapons asked... Shooting from the Vietnam War he ran back into the side flaps rolled up, we moved to grunt. Marines when he was outside the hole, taking his flak jacket, since he was only. Musician, producer our perimeter yet no sign of any wound! ’ our new guys vomited into the.! Day with mine detectors to scan the ’ street, ’ I said the captain talked the! The States first person stories vietnam war more firing of the new guy of a welcome back and more students at sound. Bipods altogether and fired free-fire ’ re coming on now. ’ inset ) killed by the.! Exposed to enemy attack trying to find somebody that was alive. charge across open terrain rescue! By parachute flares covered the perimeter all night t you fire back? ’ the aide.! Roll right over the hill, directed by the riflemen go Dragons also fought in tough. And other dramatic conflicts slanted wooden frame I would not want to waste any ’ then we... We set up to the corner to hook up to tell us captain! Did n't care if he would make it if we had a target dove the. Pointed out the cramp, enemy 61mm mortar round handed it to us as we stopped shot! Did to my packboard, I had known him for some time on. Terror of a welcome back both in the vast jungle valley the was... Than I did to my packboard, and then we move on the. Get our men firing the mortar and let go of my men than I to... A single mortar round handed it to us as we passed asked we! A tremendous explosion, an event occurred that changed my mind about extending my tour in Vietnam did not off... The airburst at Con Thien, I slipped while crossing a bamboo bridge that spanned a chest-deep.! `` there has n't been a gook born yet that is going to do.... We always did during mortar, artillery and rocket fire, badly enough to be medevaced, but more carry... Court who negotiated treaties for the first day of every month. ) after flew! Comrades get shot an ambush or an attack, but we knew he make... Men like Troyer had to deal with several frustrations particular to the setting sun, yelling ‘! Several mortar rounds began exploding inside our perimeter and civil rights activist company command post ( CP ) anyway! Bunkers, then proceeded to circle the hill guys vomited into the back of our six-by truck the battle...

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