End of the tour

We were a fairly quiet group and we liked our beer we liked our marijuana we liked our food that we could get but we weren’t all that wild and crazy but you know these guys .especially guys that have been out in the out in the field and I went on a search and rescue, usually called search and destroy.

I went out twice just to report on the guys in the field so they put me in a helicopter and I flew out with my little tape recorder and we landed in a landing zone somewhere. One time we landed I don’t think it was even a landing zone and that’s the first time I and the only time I ever fell out of a helicopter.

We were probably about 10 or 20 feet up and we were coming in for a landing and I fell out, landed on my camera and dented my lens, luckily I dented my lens and nothing else. I still have that camera and still have that lens.  Every time I look at it on my shelf I go yeah I remember that day. But you know the morale out there was they had a job to do whether it was search and destroy or reconnaissance and then get back to their base camp. You know that was their goal because when they got back to their base camp they could get some sleep they could get a shower some dry clothes and maybe mail from home.

We had a problem with vegetation that we wanted to get rid of some of the some of the vegetation and the defoliant, which turned out to be agent orange that we were using wasn’t very effective in some species of whatever these plants were so we found out that we could get from one of the army guys a flamethrower.

Now you have to remember that none of us, me being a Seabee never had use of a flamethrower and none of the other guys the army or the marines or one or two air force guys had no idea except we had seen you know video or things of flamethrowers. We had no idea how to operate one so they gave it to us without an instruction manual and all they did was said just light the thing in the front with a with a match and then when you squeeze the trigger this gel stuff will come out and it’ll catch fire and it’ll burn down anything.

So we got this flame thrower and first thing we did we were over there by the one part where we wanted to burn the vegetationmand we lit the thing and then squeezed the trigger. Now I was taking pictures at the time somebody else, one of the other guys who would go on unnamed  squeeze the trigger and as he squeezed the trigger this stuff comes out at a very fast rate almost like a jet engine he squeezed it and lost control of the nozzle and he turned to the side and there was our beautiful four-hole outhouse with porcelain seats over the plywood burned down to the ground.

. The Seabees from my unit CBMU 301 built was a new one later but we had porcelain seats in the old now burned down one, one of the guys had them shipped over from Tokyo or somewhere so we weren’t sitting on plywood we were sitting on the nice seats and we had a magazine rack, we even had a light in there electric light and a speaker so we could listen to the radio station while we were in the outdoors. But we burned it right down to the ground.  

The way we got rid of poop was by burning it not in the outhouse, we would pull the barrels out which were filled with diesel fuel and you light them on fire and burn them. Sometimes you can see in pictures of guys in Vietnam and lots of smoke coming from areas they were just burning the waste but we also were you know told to destroy other things like to destroy all the Chris noel records after they aired.

As with the government they didn’t want them the enemy’s hands, you know Chris Noel records getting into the enemy’s hands could sway the whole war,  anyhow so they told us we had to destroy them.

So as industrious Seabees we dug a pit, threw in 55 gallons of gasoline and 55 gallons of diesel fuel and whatever is the papers or whatever we had that was going to be burned and then rather than throwing a match in there we just threw an incendiary grenade in the hole. Needless to say it makes a real nice mushroom cloud when it explodes and catches fire. The marines looking over saying what are those guys at AFVN doing now?

30 days before my required tour in Vietnam I was considered a short timer. You’re really cautious and you get that you get that stick.  We had a short timer stick which was probably I don’t know maybe 20 inches 30 inches long and there were marks on there so every day you’d cut off another inch or another mark off that stick and when you got down to a stick there was about three or four inches long he don’t even mess with me.  I was 30 days and cut my first part off the stick and we had a little bit of an incident on on the base and it wound up me going to the hospital ship to spend some time.

It was a rocket attack so they flew me out on a helicopter out to the hospital ship the USS Sanctuary where I would spend the next 30 days recovering. After a few days and a huge typhoon, I got up and started moving and found a radio station on board that wasn’t working they just needed somebody to repair it. 

 Sure enough they gave me a soldering gun and some pliers and a screwdriver and I got the radio station back on.  It was a closed circuit   station on board the ship hey also had a tv station there or a tv channel where they would show movies but the projectors weren’t working so I fixed those.

I never did get back to my unit CBMU 301 or AFVN since it was 30 days and I never went back to my units, so they had no idea that if I was alive or dead and had no idea where I was so they shipped my sea bag and things home to my house.  

I got on a helicopter and headed to Da Nang and got on a United Airlines flight with a whole bunch of other very happy guys and ladies and we as soon as we got outside of Vietnamese airspace they broke open all these boxes and in these boxes or little tiny bottles of whiskey and vodka. I am sure many of us said a silent prayer that we were headed home, alive.

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