Monday, May 27, 2013


 Nue Van Song was an ARVIN (South Vietnamese Army) Lieutenant with whom I was friends.
I can't help but remember and think about fallen comrades on this day, especially since I had gotten into my Company (C company 2nd Platoon 2nd Battalion of the 60th Infantry)  in Viet Nam the second week of May 1969. People forget the price paid by our Brave young Men and Women in times of war. And any conflict our country is in, is a WAR.
Tommy Nebel and I arrived the second week of May, and were in combat the next day. This started out by our entire Battalion being pinned down in a single rice paddy. We were being hit with mortars and snipers fire, and then an Officer set off the wrong colored smoke grenade. This is when our own helicopters opened fire on us, many casualties.
That day was bad, but the next day was worse. We still had the entire 2nd of the 60th infantry together with two 155MM howitzers (the lightest projectile the 155's fired was 92 pounds with bags of powder behind them) and a lot of Air Support, this time on line advancing on a tree line supposedly against at least a battalion of NVA regulars. We  advanced three times and were repelled three times, along with air strikes and artillery fire in between with many more casualties.
At three in the afternoon, my platoon leader decided that Tommy, myself and Sgt. Jenkins should try to flank the tree line to the right. We are talking about, two newbie teenagers (third day with our unit) PFC's with a more experienced, still teenager Sargent Trying to flank a Battalion of North Vietnamese Regular soldiers whom howitzers, jet aircraft with bombs and Napalm, and cobra helicopters carrying mini-guns and rockets along with our machined guns and M-16 hadn't whipped..
We advanced about 300 yards when we saw the muzzle flashes, I jumped right and started laying down cover fire. Sgt. Jenkins jumped Left and also returned fire, Tommy dropped in his tracks. After neutralizing the threat, both Jenkins and I went to Tommy, he had been shot twice through the guts and once in his hand. The shot in his hand had laid the left hand open , you could see all the bones, tendons muscles and such. The two through his guts ripped out most of his liver and spline and deposited that along with a lot of blood onto the front of my clothes. I ended up wearing a lot of Tommy for three days.
We patched Tommy up as best we could, and tried to tell him he would be OK, then carried him back to our lines and the med-evac helicopters. Tommy lived 14 days when doctors said he should not have lived fourteen minutes.
We captured many enemy weapons that were later made into plaques for the officers which THEY were allowed to take home.
Later Sgt. Jenkins showed me a letter, he was  writing me up for a Bronze Star with a V for Valor, I never got that citation, but really didn't care because I was just doing my job for my country and trying to cover mine and my comrades butts. Well I lived through that action and many more each more horrific than the last, I was in my post, Tan Tru, on an  unusual time off duty, and decided to go and get a regular Mess hall meal, as we had only eaten C rations and stuff purchased or sent from home. As I approached the Mess hall, Darned if it wasn't taken out by an enemy mortar, not one regular meal but we all became master chefs with C rations canned in the 1940's.
I was assigned to "Eagle Flights" basically we flew from place to place looking for a fight, and boy did we find them. I am ashamed to say it got to the point where I didn't want to know anyone else, they would just die.
I came home and even though I always worked, I was angry, depressed and denied I had PTSD for years. I married my wife, Janice (a Saint) and had two children (great sons), but I lived with survivors guilt and a lot of anger over the waste of life, and still do. I worked thirty five jobs in thirty years, with the longest being eight years as a child protective worker for the State. While in Viet Nam I was protective of a war orphan, "To My", (not to be confused with Tommy), who lived on the scrap heap of our camp, they would not allow him in the safety of the Huche (wood building surrounded with dirt filled Ammo boxes to protect from rockets).
It didn't hit me until many years later that someone who didn't deserve that citation may have received it. I was at an eye doctor's office waiting to be seen and while looking around the wall noticed the citation of a Silver Star awarded to that Doctor, just for being in Viet Nam, no blood, no death, just for being in country. I also read in the news about a Major in the air force playing Trombone with a band who got a Bronze Star just for being in Iraq.
I am not writing this for sympathy, I just want to remind people who read this, that we still have Brothers Sisters, Mothers and Fathers still under the hardships of WAR. We need to remember and HONOR them every chance we get. They are the reason we are free to laugh, and work in a free Nation, the United States of America.
Remember our NAVY, ARMY, MARINES , AIR FORCE, and  COAST GUARD even at home protect our Counrty!!!!
Life today with grandchildren is GOOD!!!

1 comment:

  1. A very moving and honest post. We tend to forget the sacrifices of those who went to war to protect our freedoms. I lost a lot of classmates in Viet Nam. It was a brutal, awful war. But what war isn't? I tend to agree with you - that they hand out medals for everything, which is not right. Men (and women) like you, who earned theirs should be the only ones honored. Love the picture with your grandchild. Just found your blog, so will spend some time reading.