HOLIDAYS SPENT IN VIETNAM

 

 

Thanksgiving

 

1969

 

Thanksgiving is at Cua Viet: "We went into the Navy mess hall and got our chow, I remember paper plates, rain, and not much food was left for us. I clearly remember Big Daddy bitching and moaning about the little bit of food that was left. About a half hour later they picked a group of guys to go across the river, when the landing craft opened the front door to let us out I jumped out and landed in water up to my neck. We hiked up to a cemetery and set up an ambush site in the middle of a bunch of graves, one was open and Big Daddy and I decided that was our foxhole."
(
W. Mendoza)

 

 

The picture was taken on the evening of Thanksgiving Day, November 1969 on the Cua Viet River. We're going out on an ambush patrol after eating a turkey dinner. We're stuffed. Coop is leading us out. I strongly remember everyone except for that guy kneeling in front of me. It drives me crazy that I can't remember his name. It's like he came out of nowhere. Mike Davis has a similar picture and he labeled the guy the "new medic." His eyes are in shadow. Pineapple

Front Row: the new medic, The Kid, Coop; Back Row: Pineapple, Peter Rabbit, Sniper Veatch, Milard the Mallard Mills

I left Quang Tri on Thanksgiving Day 1970 to come home. We were to go to Can Ranh Bay. Like most guys, we got orders to go home, but not given a way to get there. Jerry Beverage and I bummed a ride on a C 130 to Da Nang, hoping to find another flight to Cam Ranh from there, but no flights were leaving in the forseeable future. The Air Force ran the club at Da Nang and wouldn't let us in, because it was their Thanksgiving celebration. ( I always thought they were a bunch of pansy as &*%$*&%$). Somehow, we found our way to a French restaurant just outside the base. We celebrated with another guy over some wine. We truly had something to be thankful for, we were on our way home. When we returned to the airport, it was deserted and dark, but we found a cargo flight going to Cam Ranh Bay. There were no seats, just cargo, us, and four or five Vietnamese that looked like farmers and probably had no business in the plane. We flew through the worst storm I've ever flown through. The plane even leaked. I think we landed about 2:00 a.m.
John Sharpe

 

 

Christmas

 

The National Archives has 2 documents relating to a gift of foodstuffs that arrived at A 4/12 Cav HQ on November 27, 1968. They were a Christmas gift from Brownie Troop 198 of Pueblo, Colorado.
Captain Kennth G. Carlson, C.O. of A Troop, declared the Brownie Troop honorary members of our unit..

In November 2004, Captain Carlson wrote a letter to the editor of the Pueblo Cheiftan newspaper about the Brownie Troop.

My most memorable Christmas in Vietnam was Christmas Eve, 1968.  A Troop, or at least most of it, was working on the road over the mountains and into the BaLong Valley.  We had an engineer unit and an artillery battery attached to us, making us almost a battalion sized outfit.  1st Brigade had decided that our little operation was large enough to call our headquarters "LZ Carlson." Coming out of LZ Sharon to the Southwest, we followed the Thach Han River until we came to a small stream called  Khe Trai.  There, the engineers built a pontoon bridge and we set up HQs across the stream towards the hills where we intended to build the road. (YD265440, for those who want to check the map.) We had been there for at least two weeks when Christmas Eve arrived.  Earlier in the day, a monsoon had hit us and we lost a 2 1/2 ton truck which slid over the side of the road we were building.  I had to declare it a combat loss because there was no way to pull it back up the steep cliff.  We blew it in place. Our biggest problem was that the monsoon had turned the small stream into a raging torrent, and the pontoon bridge was washed away downstream.  We were on the wrong side of the stream, stuck in "Injun Country" until a new bridge could be put in. On Christmas Eve, COL Frank Borman and the crew of Apollo 8 were making mankind's first trip around the Moon.  As the officers and I sat in A1A, my track, soaking wet and trying figure out what we were going to do, we listened on one of the LT's transistor radio as Apollo 8 saw it's first "Earthrise." From 70 miles above the surface of the Moon, Astronauts Borman, Lovell and Anders took turns reading the first ten verses from the Book of Genesis, the story of Creation.  They ended at Verse 10: "And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas: and God saw that it was good."  And as the spacecraft began to disappear again into the silence behind the Moon, COL Borman paused and said,  "God bless all of you on the good Earth." I looked around the cramped space of the track.  All of the officers had tears in their eyes, me included.  Just then, PSG Jim Platt opened the back of the ACAV and looked in at the scene.  I don't know what went through his mind as he saw all of his officers crying, but I recall he reached in his pack and pulled out a small bottle of scotch. "Here --- you guys need this more than I do."  Then he closed the ACAV door and left. Next day, Christmas 1968, was the only time in my 26 year military career when my unit did not receive Christmas dinner in the field.  The rain and wind was just too severe to fly out our meal.  But when we returned to LZ Sharon some 6-7 days later, our cooks had Christmas dinner waiting for us. The road into the Ba Long Valley was never finished on my watch, but it wasn't for lack of effort on the part of A Troop.  We went places and did things, others wouldn't even consider.  You guys were superb. May you all have a Merry Christmas and Joyous New Year. Ken Carlson A Troop Commander 1968-69

Sgt. Di1969

Wednesday, December 25, 2002 9:36 AM To: ALL TROOPERS
My family and myself want to wish you the best Christmas ever as we pull together after all these years to meet again looking back together, at the memories we made together. It's a time to rejoice and share with the family, and I feel the Cav is  my family,  and at this time of year I always remember The Little Tree that made Christmas in Viet Nam seem so real but so far away from loved ones that it was painful, but thanks to my grandmother, (now 96 yrs. old) The Little Tree made Christmas for me and my platoon, it was a surprise that came in the mail, but it made a lot of us happy to be able to have some simblance of Christmas as we decorated it and done our photo shoots with it.  I chose this pic with a fallen comrade we all respected very much, and as I reflect back on this Little Tree and the cav, I wish I had taken it around to the whole troop so everyone could have  shared The Little Tree, and made their Christmas more special for all.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND GOD BLESS
MIKE AND FAMILY

 

 

I got one of those trees also!! Thanks for the memories!! God Bless!
kid

 

 

Hey Mike(s)... I was in 18th Surg after my hand was crushed at Charlie 2. A homeboys sister sent me a small pine branch which hung from the IV stand my cast was attached to. I remember Jesse Esparza, the cook who was burned when that stove or immersion heater blew up, coming in. God was he hurting. I was given two beers and a kiss from a nurse on Christmas Eve. Had to drink them both before I kissed her back. Flew down to Phu Bai on Christmas day for the Bob Hope show, and was seated about six rows from the stage. Bittersweet memories...
Jim C.

 

Mike, great picture of Sgt. Di and your little Christmas tree. And God bless your 96 year old grandma. She must be quite a woman! I remember the holidays (Christmas and New Years) spent on the DMZ. Does anybody remember the flare show on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. I believe we were pulling perimeter guard in Charlie-2 and around midnight of both those evenings, Alpha 4 must have sent up dozens of flares to brighten the northern sky. Now maybe they were being probed at the time but I like to think they did it for the holidays. It was one of the coolest sights I ever saw. But thanks again for sharing that picture of our late great Platoon Sgt.
Turtle

 

"Does anybody remember the flare show on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve." I remember. I was still an FNG in December 1969 but I remember that on New Years eve we were in C-2, and pulling perimeter guard. Before we went out to the bunker line, we were told not to shoot flares at midnight. The leadership had not been amused when everyone went through a month's worth of pyrotechnics on Christmas eve and they didn't want a repeat on New Years eve. Oh well, at least they made the effort. It was an impressive light show. Once was enough though, not worth extending for in Viet Nam to see the 1970 light show.  I'm sure glad we didn't get hit at 0200 New Year's day, because we would have had to light our zippo lighters for illumination, we'd blown the basic load of flares at midnight.
Jim

 

Hey Jimmy,
I was at that show also, Sgt Barrows raffled off two tickets and I won one of them, I can't remember who the other guy from our platoon was. Camp Eagle sure was a long, long way from C-2 in more ways than distance.  That was a nice Christmas day. See ya
Wally

One day in December 1969, I think it was around Christmas, HQ platoon set up a memorial for those troopers who had died or left us because of wounds. They had attached bayonets on M16's and placed helmets on the rifle butts. I was astounded at the amount of people that we had lost; most of them were so new at the time of their casualty that I didn't recognize their names. A catholic priest presided over the ceremony. As part of the ceremony, the priest asked if anyone would like to have communion, and if so, he would give us "general absolution. When I asked what that meant; he said that our past sins were forgiven without us having to go through confession because of the extraordinary circumstance we were in. We had a clean slate. I lined up immediately. My last communion was nearly 10 years ago, and I felt that if all my sins were forgiven without me having to confess, it was the best damn thing the church could had done for me, and now I could die as pure as the driven snow, sin-wise. It was still raining. It was still muddy.

 

New Year's Eve

 

Subject: Sitrep: New Years 1969 Around New Years of 68 I found out that I was being sent to the 11th Cav. At that time we were told that that would be trained on the Sheridans that the 11th was receiving. I always checked Stars and Stripes to see what kind of shit the other units were getting into and it always seemed that the 11th was always in the middle of something. New Years Eve of 68 was spent at Red Devil. 1st Plt was partying hardy that night and brought the New Year in as only a Cav Trooper can. From what I can remember that was the last contact I had with the platoon as I and the others that were infused to other units started outprocessing. Never did have a chance to say farewell. Hope everyone had a safe New Years.
JIm M.

 

39 might have been in Quang Tri alone for repairs - or our whole platoon might have been in, but I know Matthieus and I were in the 75' guard tower on the QT perimeter New Years 69/70.  We added a few flares and star clusters of our own to the celebration.  You're right Turtle, great memory and impressive sight. I've longed for a few of those star clusters on several holidays since (especially if I could keep getting them paid w/ those "unreal tax dollars")... wheeee..........

Skee