When I was drafted into the Army at age 25, I was working as a process engineer for Phillips Petroleum Company. I took a 95% cut in pay. However I was proud to serve my country and I learned some things and had some experiences that helped me in later life. This story provides a small sampling of those experiences.
I spent most of 1970 serving with the Army on Artillery Hill in Pleiku, Vietnam, I was 26 years old at the time. My main job was stocking and replacing necessary parts for the ten OH 58A helicopters we operated. I had to pick up parts everyday at the Main Army Facility on the other side of Pleiku. I kept a diary while I was there and I thought it might be interesting to pull a few excerpts from that diary to describe the activities for some of my time there. I have written the notes exactly as they appear in my diary, but I have included items in parenthesis for clarification.
“April Fools Day – got hit at 0130 & 0630 by mortars & rockets- got only 4 hours sleep last night- 1st alert lasted 3 1/2 hours – the 2nd 1 hour – went to Air Section at 0800 hrs – worked on UHF radio for Section – set up harness and hooked up – need a better antenna – brought PLL (parts list) books up to date -received care package from home – good grub – Played football an hour this evening – Have Guard Duty tonight – We’re on Yellow Alert (attack eminent) all night so I won’t get any sleep again tonight”
“We’re hit at 0800 hrs -Stayed in bunkers about 30 min & went about our business – Was detailed to guard VC ( Viet Cong) prisoners on work gang – We got there too late to get any ( all dispatched out already) – We had to do the work they were supposed to do – We loaded burnt metal from the BOQ ( bachelor officers quarters) fire – Then came down & built a bunker for officers to hide in during incoming or attack – Got plumb black & there was no water ( to showers) so we got in the maids ( local Vietnamese ladies hired for laundry and hootch cleaning) wash tubs & bathed there – The Maids got a kick out of it”
May 21, 1970
“Late last night at 0100 hrs a soldier in the Hootch ( living quarters) next door was shot in the chest with a 45 – He died a short time afterward – It was apparently an accident – Today when I went to the 604th TC ( main Army parts center) to pick up parts – they were scattered all over the place – it seems a 122 mm ( millimeter) rocket hit right square in the middle of the main parts building last night – No parts for a while – Officers are still trying to move us out of our Hootch – Made rounds today to all PX’s ( post exchanges ) to get beer, cigarettes etc – went to bed at 6 PM.”
August 21, 1970
“Today the rain finally stopped – Had quite a few odds and ends to catch up on today – worked to about 1230 hrs & chowed down – worked until 1600 hrs – Reported for guard duty at 1730 hrs – Had General Hall 1FFV ( First Field Force Vietnam) here this AM – Lifers (career soldiers) were running around like chickens with their heads cut off – My stomach has been giving me trouble lately – Seems like I get indigestion after every meal no matter what I eat – guard duty rather boring – Another day closer”
We did our jobs the best we could, had fun when we could, and were proud to serve our country.
Thanks for reading Vietnam,
Hawg Jaw Bill