Journal Entries for:
March 1, 1968
Overall, life on the hill is fairly routine and the food is good. We get ample portions of everything. Ham seems to be the favorite entrée, appearing more often in the chow line than other meat. I suppose the ham keeps well and is easily stored. Sometimes, we’re served turkey and once in a while a steak is prepared on the B.B.Q. Breakfast is either cereal, pancakes, or bacon and eggs (real eggs). Beverages consists of (real milk), coffee and sometimes orange juice. I won’t go near the “s.o.s” they serve.
M-48 Tank Near Tam Ky
The nights in my present neighborhood are extremely dark and always overcast. I clumsily stumbled into the side of our tent early yesterday morning while feeling my way back from breakfast. I’ve decided to buy a flashlight to make the trip easier on my body in spite of the possibility of being picked off by a sniper.
Yesterday, I pulled KP from 0530 to 2000 hours. A task that is bestowed on me periodically by our kindly First Sergeant. I really think he is a devil worshiper with a torture fetish. Well at least I had four hours to rest before my radio shift began at midnight. Who said Lincoln freed the slaves!
March 3, 1968
Loud explosions broke the silence of the evening as the enemy launched a rocket and mortar barrage against Hill 29. Forty-five 122mm rockets and fifty mortar rounds rained down on Hawk Hill. Two of A Troop's platoons were stationed elsewhere which made the situation that much more stressful. In the morning the air-cavalry discovered rocket-firing positions on Hill 34 to the west of our base. For a full account of the ensuing battle click here(Tam Ky 1968)
Excerpts from: VIETNAM STUDIES - TACTICAL AND MATERIEL INNOVATIONS
by Lieutenant General John H. Hay, Jr.
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY WASHINGTON, D. C., 1989
March 7, 1968
I think I’m getting sick. I have a real bad sore throat and I ache all over. I suppose I could go on sick call but I’m going to try to tough it out.
The Viet Cong lobbed a few mortar rounds at us the other night and I didn’t get much sleep. “Charlie” seems to know when I’m off duty and half asleep. (A report of the rocket and mortar barrage is detailed above on March 3, 1968.)
Our new bunker is finally finished and looks as if it might be able to withstand a mortar hit. I doubt if it can survive a direct hit from a 122 mm rocket. Those missiles make a hole 6 feet wide and 3 feet deep. (A photo of a crater where the rocket hit near our aid station can be found here.) It will afford a little more protection than our tent so I moved in with the "Big Wigs."
We’ve had lots of action recently. Charlie Troop uncovered an enemy fortress while out on patrol. They have had two tanks knocked out in the last two days. Air strikes were called in to help pound the enemy but they had little effect. After the fighting subsided our men found hidden bunkers with walls eight feet thick. No wonder the air strikes were ineffective.
March 9, 1968
New York’s WABC Radio visited Hill 29 a couple of days ago and taped an interview with me. They asked the usual questions and said the tape would be played on their station back home. (My parents are sent the tape.)
I’m feeling much better today after my bout with the Asian flu.
(I sent home a news article of a recent battle.)
Fred C. Whaley Sr., my last boss at the New York Stock Exchange wrote me a letter about his military service. His unit was the 1st Cavalry, NY National Guard in which he served from 1920 to 1923. He also said he may sell his seat on the N.Y.S.E. if all goes as planned. Someone offered him $470,000 for his seat. He’s such a nice guy... one of the “old school”. I’ll hate to see him leave.
I’m still waiting for the package my parents sent. Maybe, the plane was shot down.
Looking West from Highway One
March 15, 1968
I visited Chu Lai a few days ago. It was a long and dusty ride to Chu Lai but the scenery was very beautiful. I really enjoyed getting off Hawk Hill for a while and away from “Top” our first sergeant. While there, I stopped at battalion headquarters to get an eye test for my NY driver’s license. You’d think New York would cut me some slack for being here in Vietnam, but no, I need to get the test here.
I went over to the local medic station to see if I could find a doctor to give me an eye test. The place was empty except for a medic. I was able to persuade him to sign the paperwork saying I passed the test. I was fortunate that he had a little sympathy for my situation. After all, who was going to check a signature anyway. This I hope will satisfy the bureaucracy of New York. It is a little unsettling to think that a government is so large that it no longer can see the needs of its people. Even those that may give their life in its defense. This was not my only experience with a near sighted government. Shortly after my arrival in country, my parents wrote to tell me that New York City had just passed a law requiring all guns to be registered. Since I had a small collection, they contacted the licensing commission to find out if the requirement could be waived until I returned home from Vietnam. They were told that if the guns were not registered immediately, they would be subject to fine and imprisonment. The only way around the situation, short of selling my collection, would be for my mother to register the guns in her name. (This was done but proved to be a nightmare of red tape when I returned home and tried to re-register the collection in my own name.)
After my visit to the medic station I went over to the PX to take a look at what they had to offer. I wanted to buy a radio so I could listen to some tunes while on radio watch. To my chagrin, the shelves were empty. I couldn't even find an order form. I then tried to find some food to bring back to camp but this too was unavailable. The only thing I found of any use were a couple of magazines.
Beer Here - (Sgt. Clary)
March 17, 1968
The package from my parents has finally arrived. Inside, I found a can of corned beef, powdered milk and the mirror I asked them to send. The dried milk is unneeded since we get plenty of the real stuff here. I couldn’t eat the corned beef in one sitting so I shared some of it with my buddies. Boy, it was good! I only wish I had had a refrigerator to save some for another day.
March 19, 1968
On this day, Sgt. Jessie had the day off and Sgt. Houston was put in charge of tank A-35. Two of the third platoon's tanks were attached to the first platoon because they needed the tanks for a mission near the coast. While out on the mission, A-35 was in the lead with A-15 following close behind. Sgt. Houston’s tank was crossing a sand dune when all of a sudden everything went “loud and white.” A-15 had hit a land mine and the explosion sandblasted the back of the neck of Sgt. Houston and Richard Brummett who were sitting on top of A-35’s turret. A-15’s driver received internal injuries but no one was killed.
March 23, 1968
(I sent a pamphlet home of the 1st Cavalry’s anniversary for my scrapbook.)
Word has come down from central command to expect another major attack soon. They anticipate this attack to start at Khe Sanh. A countrywide offensive may be in the offing which might even rival Tet.
Our unit engaged the enemy north of here the other day. Our forces killed 22 Viet Cong in sampans.
HQT Shower in background.
March 29, 1968
I have made the trip to Chu Lai a couple of times in my search for a radio. Still no luck. I finally wrote to my parent and asked them to send me one.
A new shower was built for the bunker residents of headquarters platoon. It looks fantastic compared to the other shower stalls on Hawk Hill. It has plenty of room and a screened-in view of the countryside. I suppose that the captain had a hand in designing our new “resort spa.”
Last week battalion headquarters moved from Chu Lai to Hill 29. Stricter discipline now pervades Hawk Hill. The frequent mortar attacks of the last few months have subsided to some extent, but the radio work continues unabated.
A letter received from John Fitzgerald says he is doing fine. He has duties with the infantry that are much the same as mine.