December 6th 1968
SSG Guy Creep killed doing thunder run. Took RPG in swim vane and 50 cal shield. SPC Jones wounded, mechanic wounded (lost part of his skull cap), and two others wounded.
I was in 2nd platoon then. i was in charge of track 23 & 24. I got over to Sgt. Creep’s track that night before “doc” could get there and saw he was dead. we were all so mad at the dustoff pilots because they wouldn’t come in and get guy because they were scared somebody would fire a star cluster into their chopper. hell, they were green i guess.
December 18 Returned from R&R and doing guard duty for engineers building a road into the Bai Long Valley. Lost a man in another platoon while I was away. Wrote the “Americans forces left the valley a year or more ago and the NVA and Cong have had it ever since. No sweat though, the Cav is tough.”
While I am B.S.ing. Do you remember Christmas ‘68. Don’t know where the first platoon was but second was reinforcing an engineer unit building a road west to the Bi Long Valley. Monsoon rains came. Third was cordoned up just west of a little stream tributary south of a river and acting as a base for the second and engineers to return to. River started rising. They got a portable bridge in and we just got the last vehicle over before the stream became a torrent and we would have been stuck on that side for months. Headed back to I think Nancy or Red Devil and while riding on Platt’s tank hit a mine. I didn’t notice any mention of that road to the Bi Long, if that is how it’s spelled and wonder I any of the guys that came after us ever used the road.
Christmas spent in the field cordoned up east of the road into the Bai Long Valley. Raining for days and the river between us and base, which I believe was Nancy at that time, was swelling. Received a live Christmas Tree, the bottom four feet for Christmas. Also a plastic reindeer, and Santa. Put the tree in the ground with some decorations and had a little service around it. Second platoon was with us. Don’t remember where first was. Christmas dinner flown in. Turkey. After dinner ordered to return to base and get out of area. Worried about not being able to cross swelling river. Got the last vehicle over and were just able to pull up the bridge before the creek became a torrent. Think on the way back I was on Platt’s tank and fell off, or hit a mine and was blown off. Probably the latter but didn’t write home about that. Another Christmas dinner at base and then back to Wonder Beach. Got a “Tuggy Tooter” for Christmas from Peg. Also, the top half of the tree arrived. Raining and in the mountains. Now cold. Can see my breath.
Bill, I’m not sure where we (1st platoon) was at for Christmas of 68. We had just picked up our new tank at Nancy and if my memory is correct we went to a base camp that the 1/77th was at. I believe our crew ate Christmas dinner at Nancy before heading out. After Christmas I just remember being at Red Devil waiting shipment to the 11th Cav.
From: ken and victoria carlson
Sent: 12/18/2005 10:16:08 AM
Subject: Re: A Troop 4/12 Cav
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