Journal Entries for:
July 2, 1968
We're fortunate to have a decent radio station to listen to here and it plays some good music. Unfortunately, they only broadcasts during the day when I'm not able to listen (I sleep during the day). We are anxiously awaiting the tapes that I've requested from home.
Soon, the men who came over to Vietnam with the 1st of the 1st Armored Cavalry will be leaving for home. Most of them have only 38 days left to serve in country. When they leave the place will not be the same.
'Top' also leaves in 38 days. I can't say that I will be sorry to see him go.
July 5, 1968
I have KP duty tomorrow. Otherwise, things around here are quiet.
July 6, 1968
The story of the crew assigned to A35 was e-mailed to me recently by Richard Brummett a former tank driver of the ill fated A35.
"Third platoon of Alpha Troop split away from the rest of the troop in a sweep of the countryside at the Quang Tin/Quang Nam Provincial border. A-35 was at the head of the column as was customary. The thinking was it was a lot better for a 52 ton tank to hit a land mine instead of an 11 ton scout track. Unfortunately, A-35 hit a devastating land mine that killed everyone on board."
The Traveling Memorial Wall - Clearwater, FL
The crew of A35 that day in July 1968 were the following men:
SSGT Elwood L. Houston - tank commander from Virginia (Panel 53W, Row 28)*
John L. Hasford Jr. - gunner from Michigan (Panel 53W, Row 27)*
Patrick J. Scognamilio - driver from New York (Panel 53W, Row 31)*
Brandt S. Neubacher- loader from California (Panel 53W, Row 29)*
John L. Roberts - mechanic from Indiana (Panel 53W, Row 30)*
"I vividly remember the giant fireball, the rounds cooking off afterwards, the torsion bar thru the turret and the hunt for the remains of our 5 Brothers that died that day. Out of all the carnage I experienced in Nam ... that one memory is the most vivid."
~Alpha 36 bandaid, summer 1968
SSgt Elwood Houston
Elwood L. Houston served his country in Vietnam and Korea.
"Elwood Houston recently replaced Herman R. Jessie who had wrangled himself a staff job at squadron. John Guzik was the gunner on A35 and a friend of mine. The third platoon had at that time two of its tanks cronicly down mechanically. All three gunners were short, due to DEROS at the end of August. I suggested to Guzik that he get one of the other gunners to take his place as he was going to the field every week and they were not. He did so and thus survived while John Hasford died. I was the driver of A35 and had the rare luxury of having my replacement arrive two months early. I trained him and handed off that tank on July 5 since I had only five days til DEROS. Brandt Neubacher was also new, he had been a well trained tanker in Germany."
The following are a few quotes from some of the men who knew SSgt. Houston. They were sent to me by his grandson, Andrew Dearing.
“The men nicknamed SSgt. Houston, Sam and he took the nickname well.”
“He was a quiet man with a laid-back way of speaking.”
"By his conduct, I can only imagine God sent a limo for him."
"He served with bravery and honor, knew his s***, and you could count on him in the field. He was never cruel or brutal. It was my privilege to serve with him."
Patrick J. Scognamilio (L) and Brandt S. Neubacher (R)
"Patrick Scognamilio and I had hit a land mine on June 23, 1968 on Highway 533. I was driving A35 and that day had been billed in advance as my last one in the field. No one seriously injured. We spent a week trying to get A35 back in service but had to give up due to a warp in the hull. Got a new tank which went out into the field for the first time on July 5."
John L. Hasford Jr.
2 Purple Hearts and Bronze Star.
"John Roberts, the mechanic, should not have been on that tank as there is no place for an extra person if they were to come under small arms fire. He was short and so the LT allowed him to ride on the "safer" vehicle. Roberts was 17 when he arrived in Viet Nam and 18 when he died."
Mine Damaged Tank
July 16, 1968
Weather… very hot
My job is getting more tiresome everyday and Top (First Sergeant) is jumping on my back more often too. I guess it must be his PMS (Pretty Mean Streak).
The weather is unbearably hot. I sweat all the time and have itchy rashes all over my body. A nice cool climate would cure my ills, but I know a trip to NY is out of the question.
The new squadron commander must think he's still in the U.S. He's ordered new rules and regulations that are unnecessary in a combat zone. After all, it's our necks that are on the line every day! Most of the rules apply to normally performed maintenance duties.
After 101 more days, I can forget all about this shit.
July 17, 1968
Mom was curious about the plants and wildlife over here, so I'll attempt to answer a few of her questions.
The only wildlife I've seen around here is rats and an occasional stray dog. We live on a barren hill, surrounded by miles of sandy fields and rice paddies. The terrain west of here is lush with vegetation; banana trees, mountains and more rice paddies dot the landscape.
I frequently play cards with the guys to pass the time. Once in a while, we're treated to a Bar-B-Q over at the mess hall. It's not as good as home but the change of menu is welcome.
Soon my friends will be leaving this God forsaken place. I only wish it were my turn.
A couple of days ago, while out on a reconnaissance mission, A Troop engaged a company of NVA regulars. They killed 41 of the NVA soldiers and captured a large cache of weapons. Only three of our men were slightly wounded. This was the largest enemy contact our unit has had in the last few months.
I have 85 more days in hell.