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.
My Zippo lighter from my time in Vietnam
Me in front of a bunker near our hootch.
Serrano in front of the Air Section 3/4 ton truck
Thanks for reading Vietnam,
Hawg Jaw Bill