I’m really glad that this little band of brothers has found
Yeh, I knew that Bob and I were reliving the past. Joe – It gets better each year doesn’t it Joe?? (-: Bob – Yep it sure does Bob.
…. I’m really glad that this little band of brothers has found a way to communicate. Let’s keep it going for another 40 years or so. Jim Good
I got to A Troop on Dec 10th 1968 and most all of the originals were all still there from Ft. Carson. They were a very tight group and we FNG’s were welcomed into their family with open arms. Not much pot out in the field had a few heads but they kept to themselves. There were more potheads in the rear but we had very little to do with them as we were rarely in base camp. We NEVER had any race problems. One of my closest and dearest friends to this day is Gene Clark. Black and white was never even discussed. We on the Infantry track were as tight as you could get. Clarkie pissed Thunder Chicken off and he threw him of the command track and sent him to us on A15 as punishment. Gene Clark was welcomed as we all were and we all pulled together. To this day Clarkie is closer to me than my three blood brothers ever were and when we call each other Brother we really mean it from the heart. We were always there for each other and still are to this day. Ken Dye was our TC and he made a fine tuned machine out of our group. I owe my life to Ken cause he taught me how to survive and stay alive in Nam. This helped me a lot later when all these guys rotated back to the states and I became the TC on A14. I was also there when we made the big swap with the 11th Cav. I really missed guys like Jim Mills and Sweeny Swinford after they went to the 11th but we got a bunch of good guys in return and the Troop hardly missed a beat. I have heard a lot of bad stories about the Troop after I left and it’s to bad. A Troop was a crack fighting unit when I got there and everyone knew each other cause they had been together for so long. I never met a better bunch of well trained, kind, helpful, caring straight shooters in my life. It was an honor and a privilege to have known and served with these great Americans. The two things that still stick in my mind today is that I knew anyone of these guys would die for me and that they would never leave me behind. That is a bond that very few men will ever know in their lives and it is a bond that can’t be put into words or ever explained to someone that never served in combat. Peace, Rag
The Troop was always a crack unit. You and the Original guys were from, literally, a different
Generation of sorts…. those that came later were a bit different, but the Troop remained a crack unit. When the shit hit the fan everyone was up to the task….. See ya Wally
Bob, Rag, Wally, Joe, and All Cav members who have attended the reunions, I have always felt it to be an honor to be a member of the Cav. The advance party set a great foundation for members like myself who had the responsibility to carry on. From my first reunion I felt like I was with you guys during your tour. This is a special bond that future attendees need to experience. Regretfully I won’t be able to attend this year, but I’ll be there 2008 with bells on. Please say a prayer for Ken Pennington’s brother; I was in route to visit him when he called me of the sad news of his brother’s heart condition. This was my 07 reunion but I did make contact with Roy Cannon 3rd Plt 70-71. I’ll continue to work on him and others to attend. I know from experience you have to attend a reunion to know its impact on you. To The Brotherhood of the Cav. Trap
Hey there Gary, Those that came and remained after us, carried the Cav flag just as proudly and honorably as those who carried it first and before you…Lots to be proud of. Gonna miss you this year, look forward to seeing you again really soon. hugs to Peg, wally
I can’t exactly remember when, I think it was in June or July of 69. Anyway the whole A Troop would have been rotated back to the states at about the same time and that would have left about 20 or so of us guys that weren’t in the advanced party there. So higher ups got this idea to swap a certain number of our A Troop guys, can’t remember exactly how many, maybe about 30 or 40, with the 11th Cav which wasn’t going to have the same problem because they were a much bigger unit than we were. With this move we acquired guys with different rotation dates and the Troop was then able to get smaller numbers of FNG’s as these guys rotated back to the states. It made a lot of sense but we really didn’t like it cause these guys were family. We lost a lot of good soldiers but we picked up some pretty good guys also. It was a lot harder on the advanced party guys than on guys like me cause these guys had been together for a long time. If you make it to a Reunion remind me to get one of the guys to explain it to you better. I don’t even remember how the decided who would go and who would stay. Hope this helps. Peace, Rag
Rag, I still remember the day you left….I often wondered if I would ever see you again….great how God works. Wally
Wally, I agree with you but I’ve heard some stories about how bad things got near the end of the Troops tour and I always found it hard to believe. I never had any of the problems some of the guys in late 70 and 71 talk about. Even after all of the advanced party guys left A Troop was a crack fighting unit and still was when I left in Dec. 69. Rag
Rag, I got there in July 69 and my first impression was that the troop was pretty stable manpower wise. Because everyone went in different directions is was hard to determine who was new and who had been around. I’m going to Tunica so we’ll get together. Joe
Wally, God sure does work in some mysterious ways. I remember the day I left too. It was really a hard thing to do. I wanted very badly to get out of there while I was still alive and in one piece, but I also didn’t want to leave you guys. I figured I would probably never see any of you guys again and that really hurt me to think about it. I remember I stopped and talked to LTee for a long while and he told me one time at a Reunion how much that meant to him. We became very close in the time we were together and it’s hard to say goodbye to people that you are that close to. I also remember the day I got a letter I wrote to Al Hall back from the Red Cross telling me he was KIA and they could not deliver the letter. That really knocked me on my ass. It ate away at me for years thinking maybe his death was my fault because I wasn’t there or I forgot to tell him something that could get him hurt. I never found out about Al’s death until I talked to you Wally at the first Reunion. I’m glad I also had a chance to go to see Al’s Mother before she died. It was very healing for both of us. As a TC my biggest fear was losing one of the men under my command. That kept me up a lot of nights with worries. I never wanted to live my life knowing someone got killed or seriously wounded while they were my responsibility. Like they say, It’s
lonely at the top. I can’t imagine being a platoon leader or Troop commander. I thank God every day for bringing us all back together again. Seeing you guys each year at a Reunion is the best thing in my life and it sure helped me get over Nam. Peace, Rag
Rag, Lt was easy to get close to…. once you got close to him, if you know what I mean. It took him over a month to stop calling me “hey you”!! I did not blame him, I was really a pain in the ass…. and then to top it off one day I asked him to let me write to his sister…he thought I was out of my frigging mind, but after lots of coaxing he let me write to her…. the rest is history, to this day she writes to me daily. Al’s death to this day haunts me…. I was sitting right where he sat after I got up to go sit with Big Daddy…. one of those things… He once told me if he got killed in Nam he wanted to die with a 60 in his arms blowing away gooks…. his words………two months later he was dead, shot in the back, accidentally. Incredible stuff. January 9th is not a day that I can forget. These are the things that PTSD is made up of, we all have it to some degree and it effects us all in different ways. Take care buddy. Wally
Wally, Yeah, LTee was a hell of a man. He and I kind of hit it off right away for some reason. I liked him from the first time I met him. He always told it to you straight, without the bullshit and that was rare in the Army. I had a lot of respect for Frank and I still do. I really miss him at the Reunions. Al’s death really set me back. Your number just wasn’t up that day Brother and poor Al was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fate is a very funny thing. I was really amazed at how little Al’s Mother and family knew about his death. He was a pretty bad kid when he was home and his Mom said he was always in and out of trouble. Al was a lot younger than is brothers and sister and just a hell raiser. I let them know that he was a good soldier and never gave me any problems. I really wish I could get Don Barnes and Ronnie Baynes to a Reunion, as I’d like to see those two again. I’ve talked to Don a few times on the phone but can’t seem to get him to come. He’s been married a few times and he tells me his ex’s have all his money. I’ve offered to bankroll him but he hasn’t taken me up on it yet. Take care Bro. Hope the rehab is coming along fine. You’re in my prayers. Peace, Rag
Hope you guys won’t mind my coming in on this thread. I read Rag’s words and it reminds me of one of the reasons I got out of the Army…. I hated having to spend time with what seemed like two wars. One was the VN war and the NVA, VC, etc. The other was the unacknowledged one with the system – at least for me and I think perhaps for others as well – which involved trying to stay appropriate to the sworn duty to perform the duties one was commissioned for, and the other was to do the best to protect one’s troops from the inanities of a war that for various political reasons wasn’t being conducted and supported the way an action in WWII would have been. I remember once, as CO of C/1-77, a field grade did the usual thing…choppered down to walk over and make some ridiculous comments and suggestions. I was asked for an opinion, rather than told what to do. So, I gave an opinion, which was if that’s what he wanted me to do, then he ought to relieve me right then, because I wasn’t going to order the company to do that I figured he wouldn’t though, ’cause we had the best maintenance status of the battalion (the “reward” for which was being out in the bush for more time than the other companies, or so it seemed anyway. I didn’t get relieved but I guess you could say I figured out then and there I wasn’t bound for future military career success, heheh. Whenever I heard the sound of choppers, I’d cringe…. not for concern about gun ships, actions or dust offs, but out of concern for what piece of upper echelon BS would come down with one. BTW, my initial battalion CO of 1/77 was LTC John McNamara…no finer gentleman ever put on a pair of Army boots than he…. he was not the fellow to whom I offered my comments. I believe LTC McNamara caught hell from above too, for pushing for the right support systems for his troops, though I can’t validate that with certainty. He was a very very admirable man. I’m grateful he was my CO, and hope to this day I justified my existence with the service I rendered him. Hank
JT, I knew there was a name for it I just couldn’t remember they called it the infusion. It really made sense to do the infusion but we didn’t like it. You know how you kind of get in your little comfort zone and you don’t want anyone rocking the boat. They say change is good but most of us don’t like change. I didn’t like the infusion but I wasn’t one of the ones that got moved. I can only imagine how they must have felt. See ya at the Reunion Bro. Peace, Rag
Hank, I echo your sentiment wholeheartedly. I too got into more than one pissing contest with some highers. One in particular involved our return from the Ba Long valley operations. This guy was overhead observing 3rd doing some recon by fire across a rather deep ravine. He got on my freq and ordered me to do a left flank movement and assault the “enemy positions”. I initially tried to explain that we were not in contact, were conducting a recon by fire and the terrain was impossible to cross. Apparently he wasn’t aware that from the air, most ground looks flat. As the transmissions grew more heated, another party entered the conversation. It was Red Devil 6 (Gen. Burke) himself. He knew that A troop had it’s shit together and after asking for my assessment, he firmly told the “other guy” to leave our push and meet him back at the Brigade TOC. When 3rd finally got back to Quang Tri, after another week or so, I went to the Brigade TOC to engage in a further conversation with the “other guy”. When I asked the RTO where I could find this individual, he chuckled and replied that he had been relieved and transferred out of the Brigade. The RTO explained that apparently this dude got into a pissing contest with some LT in the field and was no longer available. I politely thanked the RTO and promptly left with a big shit-eating grin on my still filthy face! I also agree that LTC McNamara and his predecessor, LTC Baird were two very fine and concerned commanders. I felt very fortunate to have served under them. However, my greatest experience was being a part of A Troop. Best regards to all.
Glad to hear your tale Earl…it’s a good one. I’m also glad you wrote for another reason also, and that’s to give a tip of the hat to General Burke. I agree with you he was a fine CO, and I am glad you named him, as I should have when I mentioned colonel McNamara. I assume Burke had picked McNamara, though it’s not always the case that the general always picks the battalion CO’s. In any event, one was a reflection of the other, that’s for sure. My understanding is that General Burke got a second star and was sent South to command the 4th Inf Div. Incidentally, I have always admired McNamara for when he, as a battalion CO, obviously in a crucial position in his career, told the assistant brigade commander to take a hike…situation was, C 1/77 was in base refitting for a couple of days. The brigade assist. (an artilleryman by background, full colonel, never had worked with tanks or armor) came to the motor park and told us we were going to have to take all the fifties mounted on tripods welded to the top of the M48 turrets off and reinstall them inside the turrets. (Apparently he and the CG who replaced Burke had looked at the pictures inside the maintenance manuals.) Mac tried to explain to him the 48’s and especially their turrets were pieces of crap and no turret stayed functional after traveling more than a click or two out in the AO’s. To put them inside would cost the unit the use of the weapons, and the tankers their lives…. tried to tell him nicely, Then tried to tell him not only was that view based on what was happening their in I Corps, but what was also his (Mac’s) experience going back to when he was an instructor, NCO grade I believe, back at Knox over several previous tours. When that didn’t go down, he then told the other guy putting the fifties inside the turrets wouldn’t happen on his watch, cause he (Mac) would not give the orders, no matter the outcome for himself. I always admired him, for a lot of reasons before that time, but obviously that incident only added to his luster in my opinion. He didn’t get relieved, and we left our fifties on top of the turrets. However I believe that was a fall on the sword that cost LTC Mc big time for his career interests. As I said, I admired him then and still do. Hank
I forgot to mention that then LTC Niven Baird was assigned to the War College here at Carlisle Barracks in the early 70’s. He made 06 and retired here. He and I bump into each other from time to time. I try to keep him updated as to our A Troop reunions, etc. I don’t think he is interested in casinos and Vegas. Perhaps in the future if we have another reunion in the DC area, he may be interested in attending. I also gave him the address for the Troop web site. Regards, Earl
Earl, I think LTC Baird finished his tour just about the time I arrived. I remember the name, but not any personal contact with him. I hope we get to meet at some future reunion. Thanks, Hank
Earl, I think LTC Baird finished his tour just about the time I arrived. I remember the name, but not any personal contact with him. I hope we get to meet at some future reunion. Thanks, Hank
LTC Niven Baird was the CO of 1/77 Armor 69-70. He followed LTC Thomas Miller and preceded LTC McNamara. A Troop was “attached” to 1/77 for operational control. As someone said on a recent email, the Battalion CO used A troops 3 platoons as he used an entire tank/infantry team, ie a company-size unit. Regards to All Earl (40)
I arrived in February 70, so was interviewed by him on arrival and must have seen him thereafter, but its McNamara that stands out in my memory…. just goes to show, time marches on and CRS. H
Hank, I know exactly what you mean. I never considered the Army as a career mainly because of the bullshit. Seems like some higher up know nothing and do nothing, was always on your ass to do shit you knew was either wrong or just plain stupid. I always had a hard time keeping my mouth shut especially if I knew I was right or if they asked me to do something stupid that would endanger the men I was responsible for. I started at the bottom so I knew what the PFC’s were going thru. I always felt that a man’s trust had to be earned and as an NCO the men under me needed to trust me and know that I was looking out for their well being. Every one above me in A Troop made me feel secure knowing they were looking out for me so it only made sense to do the same when I got in a position to be in some type of command. Nam wasn’t to bad but stateside sucked. They were always playing little chicken shit games and trying to mess with your head. Two years was enough for me. But I must say that I’m glad I did it cause I met a lot of wonderful guys that are very close to me to this day. Peace, Rag
Agree with all you say, Rag. And I’m glad too for all the interactions I had with so many good people from all walks of life…that’s one of the great benefits of military service. It bothers me that so few of our congressional members have ever served, or for that matter, worked a job or run a business outside of politics or law. Hank
Hey Lt. (Earl) I was only an E-4 at my highest rank and even I recall getting into some pissing contest with higher highers…. I recall one particular one when I was back in the rear and the General came to do the GI inspection on the motor pool…. such bullshit…no mechanic in the history of war worked harder or more diligently than our group of guys torquing wrenches… Well anyways here they came in their starched stuff in 198-degree weather and Sgt Peterson was walking around like he had a stick up his tail…. with his saluting hand stuck to his forehead…I was standing by my desk as if I was back in the block…Sgt Pete chewed me out right then and there…the General told me to stand easy… loved it..such crazy shit. The second story is one of my favorite Capt. Spruill stories… We were out on the field and had not had mail or hot
chow for about 10 days, Capt. was on the horn with Battalion radio… The Bat. radio guy said we would not be getting hot chow or mail again this evening…. Capt. asked why…the reply was because “higher higher says we are not able to send it out”. …Capt. Spruill, with a very stern and loud voice responded…. ” You tell higher higher that if I do not get hot chow and mail tonight, for my men, I am going to come in and personally kick his ass..”… You talk about inspirational…. to this day I use that phrase…”I will personally kick your ass”…. of course I am a lot of talk, but The Capt. was serious as hell… Take care buddy. Wally
Wally,Hank,et al., These pissing contest stories brought back another recollection about the time I was the mortar platoon leader 1/77 and had 2 guns with me at A4 and 2 guns with my platoon sgt at C2. Someone higher decided to have a Command Maintenance Inspection at A4. When the chopper landed and they explained why they were there, I quickly advised them that we were in a war zone and that not only did we not need their damn inspection, but we also did not need the NVA mortars that usually arrived shortly after any chopper landed. Took about 15 minutes, in came the mortars, out went the inspection team! Never had another CMMI in the field for the rest of my tour. I guess some people regardless of rank are just slow learners! Regards, Earl
Hey Lt., Those dammed inspection guys used to show up looking and acting like Hot lips Hoolahan…. if you know what I mean…saluting their asses off, looking all spiffy and making sure that someone at higher higher knew they were doing their job…funny bunch. Wally
Joe, We got the Sheridans when I was still in the field…I remember thinking that they were a piece of shit…they reminded me of a Falcon compared to a Cadillac….It was march and we were at Cua Viet… I left the field in mid April and we had that bullshit inspection sometime in late May…..can’t forget that..Sgt. Peterson made sure of that. Wally
I remember Sgt Peterson…..he had no sense of humor what so ever when it came to how we treated “his” tracks! The only time he could keep tabs on us was in Cua Viet where he hung out in a guard tower. Bob
Wally, The one I remember most was a night we were out on ambush, Ken Dye, Gene Clark and two or three others. Can’t exactly remember who else or where we were but Ken knows. Anyway we setup a claymore mine ambush on one trail and the 5 or six of us got down into a ditch along another trail close by. Things were quiet for a little while and then all of a sudden we hear Gooks talking. Soon we see some NVA coming down the trail. They are all carrying motor rounds on their backs and they are booking down this trail like they were in their backyard. Ken gives us a signal to get ready. Well there is no end to this group in site. I quit counting at 105 and they were still coming. Ken had reported to higher ups that we had positive NVA troop movement when we first heard these guys coming. All of a sudden some A-hole from Battalion Hdq gets on the horn and says “Spring the ambush” like there was 2000 of us out there. They keep telling us to let it rip and of course we knew it was all over for us if we did. We never did anything and to this day I’m pretty sure that the Gooks knew we were there. They were close enough to us that we could have reached out and touched their feet. These guys kept coming until almost daybreak. I never saw so many enemies in one place during my whole tour. I couldn’t believe this jerk wanted us to kill ourselves as we probably would have only got a few of these guys anyway. They had our position and they could have sent a fire mission down on these guys if they wanted to. But nothing was ever done. All I can say is our pucker factor was as high as it could get.
Another ambush I remember was about the same setup. Claymore mines on one trail and us on another. About 2:00AM the claymore mines go off. One hell of a noise. We get ready and nothing ever happens. Finally after what seemed to be a lifetime it gets light out. We slowly move over to the other trail and here we find two water buffalo all blown to shit. About 5 minute later here comes this old farmer down the trail. He sees his two buffalo all blown away and he starts jumping in our shit. Man was he pissed off. We can’t understand what he’s saying and Ken can’t seem to get him to understand what happened so we just pickup our shit and head back in. I never saw a guys so pissed off in my life as this farmer. We just blew away his tractors so I could feel for the guy. We know that buffalo don’t move by themselves at night so some VC must have been out there, but we never saw anyone but this farmer. I was always amazed at how the rear higher ups didn’t give shit about your situation in the field as long as you gave them a body count. Rag
Hey Rag, they wanted you to spring the ambush so there would be a whole lot of shooting…. then……….. In the morning Higher Higher would have flown in on a
helicopter and “assess ” the situation…. take a few pictures or have a few pictures of him taken by his camera crew and then put his sorry ass in for a medal. S.O.P.
I remember people when I got to LZ Nancy. People no one mentions so maybe most of you didn’t know them…. second platoon troopers…the Kid…truly was a kid, his name was John Moore. Fast Eddie from Baltimore…real name Luther. John Richardson…. the one from Kentucky. Judd. That’s all, just Judd from, I think, Arkansas. Scotty from Baltimore. Bradford from St. Louis. The are lots of others too. Bob Taylor will remember and add a few names to this list. They mostly rotated out before the end of 69. They were the ones that taught us how to survive. Luther “Fast Eddie” is dead. So is Moore “the Kid” (best drag man on patrol I ever knew). I cried when I found out he died and how. I talked to his Mom. We drove through his hometown in Florida cracker country once, that’s when I cried. I’ve tried to find the others; I’ve had the “troop snoop” on the job but nothing yet. No that’s wrong, we did make contact with Richardson but he wanted no part in this. I suspect Bradford is dead too. Scotty seems to have evaporated. There are lots more. Kind of the lost generation of second platoon it seems.
We all remember the same thing differently like Jim Good said. If there were a favorite time or place in Nam mine would be when we were working out of LZ Nancy and Sharon. I don’t know why but it is. Maybe it is because I was new and was a bit in awe of all the “seasoned troopers”…Bob
Bob, you are right about the names you mentioned. Scotty was on 25 when we hit a mine in Aug 69. Mike Dierling was the TC. All of us were E3’s with varied MOS’s. The first memory of LZ Nancy was seeing Capt Robinson firing a 45 cal grease gun in front of the orderly room. I recall him sitting in a chair and firing full auto out towards the perimeter. He probably had a beer close by. I thought, what kind of place is this? After that everything came together. bob t
Bob, I just have to smile when I think of Robinson. I don’t know if he was our best CO at all, probably not but in a combat situation, I never served under any that gave me as much confidence. He sure wasn’t a REMF officer. It seems we were kind of a cross between F-Troop and the dirty dozen in those days. Leaning heavily toward the dirty dozen. (-: I doubt the ‘brass’ liked Robinson at ALL! Bob
Cpt Robinson definitely the fair-haired boy around there. He stood up to them all. The 77th
Was notorious for putting us at the bottom of their list. I heard 1sg Church talk about things like that. I do remember one time in particular they told us no ice was coming ant Cpt Robinson went ballistic. We eventually got some, not much but some. I also 1SG Church was not the CSM’s favorite either. Top would get wind he was coming to the area he would say he was going to the motor pool, then head for the mess hall. He was always one step ahead Of him. It all started when we went down to Camp Evans and stole the generator set. Ah the memories. Joe
Joe, I have a lot of great memories from my time with the Troop. I too enjoy these little conversations as it jogs my memory and I think of some of the shit that happened over there.
Which reminds me about another story about Capt. Robinson. We were in LZ Sharon and I was sitting on top of my track when some officer comes over and asks, “Is this A Troop?” I replied yes and he said would you please go over to the Officers Club and get your Troop Capt. out of there before he kills someone. So I wander on over and here is Robinson drunk as I have ever seen him waving his 45 around. Now most everyone in the place is under the tables. It seems one of these rear assholes pissed him off and he unloaded his 45 into the roof of the place. I walked in and said Sir I think it’s time we headed back to our AO before all the food is gone. He tells the bartender to give me a drink and of course the guy says I can’t serve him he’s not an officer. So Robinson says he isn’t leaving till I have a drink with him. Then he tells the guy there isn’t an officer in this place that would make a pimple on this NCO’s ass. He’s a better soldier and leader on his worst day than all you assholes put together. Robinson was a good man. He knew his shit and he was very concerned for the welfare of his men and that meant a lot to me. A lot of people didn’t like him, especially upper command, and he took no shit from anyone. I’d love to get his ass out of Alaska and to a reunion someday. Rag
Bob- Capt. Spruill followed Capt. Kaufman. Wow, what a change! Robinson was the CO when I arrived around August 1st, 1969. I came over 11B and went into HQ platoon. Eaton and Allan Anderson trained me as a RTO at Nancy, then on the commo track. Hal Pierce was our driver, then TC. I got to meet Cpt. Robinson in his heyday. On a stand down day at A4 Robinson took A2, another PC, a tank, and the LTR to recover a 1/61 track that had hit a mine. Robinson was riding on A2 because his track had hit a mine a few days prior. On the way back to A4
Robinson was sitting on a loose plastic seat on the drivers hatch. He had a beer in one hand and his M79 in the other. We were traversing the side slope of a hill when he got off balance and tipped off his seat. He didn’t want to drop the 79 to hold on, and you know he wouldn’t drop the beer, so he wrapped his arms around the whip antenna with the spring base. In slow motion he slid down the bending antenna and fell over the side. The track stopped and a few seconds later Robinson stood up. His helmet was twisted on his head, his glasses were hanging on one ear, he had grass on his face, but he still had the 79 and the beer. Keep in mind, I had only been in country about a month, and was just getting over being scared to death all the time. He looked hilarious to me, and I laughed so long at him he started to get really pissed. That incident
relieved a ton of stress, although I didn’t realize it at the time. I thought the guy was awesome, and he personally taught me a lot about maps, artillery procedures, and how to act in Nam. I’ll never forget him. Jim C.
He was good wasn’t he Joe. Remember when we couldn’t get road wheels for the PC’s? Didn’t he “re-allocate” a truckload of them from…who knows where…1/77th? Doesn’t matter we needed them. I had a great visit with him last year. No way to a reunion…. not cause he doesn’t care (he sent the guideon) he just doesn’t want to set foot in the lower forty-eight. Maybe he can’t. Legally. ???? He was crusty as ever; ready to take on all comers. Definitely a don’t f%#k with my boys attitude. He reminds me of Lee Marvin in the Dirty Dozen. Leading a snarly group on an impossible mission that no one wants them to carry out. But, they do. Oh I love my memory…. selective as it may be. Bob
P.S. Joe did you know Captain Robinson retired as a Captain? He must have really pissed off the wrong folks somewhere along the line. I don’t know if I dreamed this or not but I think he crossed the wrong folks when he was in Nam with us. According to my remembrance of the conversation with Robinson, ‘They” sent Capt. Spruill to ‘straighten us out’…. and have a ‘by the book’ CO that listened to the brass…any thing to this??? Maybe it wasn’t Spruill but I think it was. Spruill had a hard act to follow if it was him!!!!!! I really don’t remember Spruill much, I don’t think he was there very long and I spent six + weeks on the Hospital ship Repose at the end of ’69 and early early 70.
Bob, Capt. Robinson may have had a beer near by but he really was a wino. My older brother worked at Continental Can Co. when I was in Nam and he used to send me unlabeled juice cans filled with my Dad’s homemade Dago red wine and other whiskies. They always got thru the x-ray equipment cause they just looked like cans you’d buy at the store. Robinson loved that wine. Drunk or sober he was a hell of a leader and a real soldiers soldier. Next to LT Shadow he was one of the craziest dudes I ever met. And Jim Blair was also pretty nuts. Rag
Bob, Cpt Spruill replaced Cpt Kaufman. Anyway it’s funny I was stationed in Alaska 3 years, never dreaming he was there. It would have been great to see him. I remember that I was on the receiving end of one of his blasts on the DMZ. He told me to skirt around a rice paddy, and I told him I couldn’t because I had a berm on my left and it was real soft. He said to Just kick it in the ass it wasn’t that bad. Meanwhile Duke was telling me it was too soft. Anyway he punched we rolled about 20 feet and that was it. My gun tube was straight up in the air. The was a lot of elephant grass to our left and we started takin Small arms. What a mess. Later on after we got pulled out he chewed my ass. I told him hell, you told me to do it, and I tried to tell ya. Was no sense in going any farther with the conversation. All in all I had a tremendous amount of respect for him. Joe
Ya know Wally, I told some of the guys at one of the reunions but I don’t know if you were around or not. I left Vietnam and went to Germany where I was assigned as a commo chief in an Engineer unit, and of all places Baumholder (the armpit of Germany). Anyway it was a construction Battalion and damn near every vehicle was deadlined. I mean nothing work so all we had to do was go to the motor pool Check oil levels and lights and air pressure, 2 times a day 5 days a week. God I hated it. Well somehow or another I found out that Cpt Spruill was a Troop commander in the 14th Cav in Fulda. I called him and he pulled some Strings and got me up there. A little later it was redesignated as the 11th Cav, after they left nam. Funny huh? Anyway I consider myself Very fortunate to have known and served with him. Although we were not in
combat he ran that Troop as he did A Troop, and also had the respect of everyone. (Well almost everyone if you know what I mean) Joe
Rag, When the shit really hit the fan can you think of anyone better to be with than Robinson and Shadow? Bob
Rag, there was also the time guys stole a jeep for Capt Robinson. I think it was a battalion jeep and was taken to our area and repainted. Also, the time at Sharon when we, as a troop, were asked to leave and not come back. Don’t remember the date but it might have been Capt Robinson’s birthday. We were shooting pop up flares at their hootches and I remember going out with some guys to steal M60’s and anything not bolted down. bob t
Bob T that was quite a night at Sharon. Our NCO’s were passing out collar tabs as we pulled in. I don’t think there was a guy in second platoon under E-5 that night! That little trick got us all into the NCO club. Which got us all drunk. Which got us all kicked out of Sharon. Remember the stolen jeeps…. so we didn’t have to walk back to the tracks? And Bob those flares weren’t being shot at just any hooch…. across the gully by where we were parked was the COMMO hooch!
In retrospect it is funny and was at the time…but it is possible that we went just a bit to far. (-:
Bob, I too remember a lot of guys that aren’t talked about much. You later guys might not know any of these guys, as they were all there when I got there in Dec 68. The guys I’d like to find are, Ray (Rat) Gilchrest from NY city I think, William P Wilson (Willie P) Ohio I think, James Taylor (Speedy 5), a tanker that was always on the infantry track for some reason, Herb Parsons, a rebel, that was the driver on A13 and he got me my first Purple Heart, Ray Peterson, CA I think and a few others. Been trying for years to find these guys but no luck yet.
I’d also like to see these guys that have been found at a reunion, Jim Blair, LT DeSomer (Shadow) next to LTeeF the best damn Plt leader I ever served under, Capt Robinson, the craziest SOB I ever met but one hell of a leader, Don Barnes, Ronnie Baynes, cause they are all that’s left of my crew on A14 except for Sniper Tom and a few others that I can’t remember. There are a lot of great guys out there that we served with that we need to find and then get them to a reunion. The worst thing about A Troop was that we rarely had the whole Troop together on an operation so a lot of guys from the other platoons don’t know each other even if we served at the same time. We were so damn good they could send us out at platoon strength and we’d do the job of a whole Troop. Either that or they split us up cause nobody could handle all us crazy bastards at one time. We had a lot of guys that just didn’t fit the Army mold and we loved to ask questions. I know and have talked to a lot of Nam Vets and none of them seem to have the bond, love and respect for each other that we of A Troop have. I live the year just waiting for the reunion and I have a better time each year. I haven’t missed one yet and don’t plan on missing one as long as I’m still here on this earth. Well I have to close for now before I start to cry just thinking about all the great guys I met, all the good times we had, along with some really bad shit too, and all the guys I can’t see anymore that have gone to Fiddler’s Green, LTee F, Al Hall, Peter Rabbit, Lou Dossey, Bob Barham, Big Daddy, and PSG Mc Neil just to mention a few.
Rag, You are right in that we worked so much at platoon level that we never got to know each other. The trooper rotation was an issue too. Most of the regulars at the reunion I have never heard of before! Like you. Wally. Pineapple. The other “The Kid”, Mike, Ken, ect. But I feel I’ve made new friends that mean the world to me. Like you. Never heard the word Rag in Nam but you know what…I am proud to say I was in the same unit you were and I wish I would have known you there. Bob
Thanks Joe, I stand corrected. It was Kaufman sent to get us back in line, right? My tour seems like I did two tours…July through December of 69 then late January through August of 70. It is really weird because so many faces changed while I was gone that short time. It just was different when I came back. My old track hit a mine and the sub-driver lost (I think) his foot. I don’t remember whether it was 24 or 25 anymore. I THINK I was the driver on 24 then moved to 25…shit, I wish I’d have kept a diary!!!!! Bob
No Bob, Cpt Spruill was sent to take control, he replaced Cpt Kaufman. I don’t know if you remember or not, but I had a cast on my leg and Top put me back in commo. During that time we had a CMMI & AGI inspection. I know they went to the field to inspect some platoons, because everyone was pissed rightfully so. Meanwhile in the rear some of the guys decided to stencil
things to make it pretty, like Rocks, Steps, etc. Well when the team arrived they did an about face and shortly after that Cpt Spruill. I can’t swear to it but it was only one or 2 days at the most.
Advance word was boy our shit is weak and we’re gonna pay for it. Fortunately we got Cpt. Spruill and in my opinion and a lot of Other NCO’s is for the best. Joe
Correction: I didn’t have a cast then it was earlier. Don Olsen had taken over A-27
And I went to commo. Sorry. Joe
Ok Bob let me think about it. I was thinking about it this afternoon, because we had just received the Sheridans, I’m gonna say around March or April. I know someone else remembers this, there had to be at least one platoon at Quang Tri when this whole inspection thing went down. I’ll put what’s left of my brain to work. Wally fill up that glass and help me remember Joe
Joe…. as a lowly peon I was privy to very little except when I was to pull guard or if I was to carry the M60 or walk point (-: If you have time to write up the time-line of all this…. say, maybe it’s on the web sight. I’ll look. By the way, THANKS to you (and Wally) for standing guard over us in the wee hours. Bob
Joe, I was in the rear for something, I don’t know what…. I remember hearing over the grapevine that we were getting a new C.O….and he was going to bring smoke on our sorry asses… I clearly recall Big Daddy and I walking from our Company area across the muddy field to the Quang Tri
PX and here he came…. accompanied by the then FO, don’t remember his name, but it was not LT. Malm…anyways…I recall the steel eyes, the Helmet pulled over his eyes, wearing his flack jacket and a Jim Bowey knife bigger than my .50 cal. I remember Big Daddy saluting and saying Good Morning sir, up to then we did not know he was our new CO. I knew then we were in deep trouble and he was gonna set us straight…SURE ENOUGH!!! thank God we got Capt.
Spruill when we did. Wally
He got himself “gone” when we went up to C-2 in October 1969…one afternoon when everyone was standing down and lots of guys were playing poker right after Pay day…he had a couple of tanks “test fire” their weapons into the hills…. without checking out the area first…the tanks were firing their small weapons and the LRP team had to hide behind their packs to keep from being killed…They came in a couple of hours later, pissed off like African Bees…. Wally
Wally, Boy do I remember that day. A-17 was on the left flank of the troop when we fired out weapons. I had a .50cal on the loaders hatch I kept for a tank we had combat lost and I picked out a some bushes about 300yds off the left flank of the tank and shot off the 100 rounds I had in the can into it. That’s were the LRP team was. They fired off red star clusters and we took them back to base camp with us. No injuries but their radio was FUBAR. The Col was waiting for us when we got back to base and told me to take the unauthorized M2 off the tank. I pulled the pin and moved it to the bussell rack…he said no he wanted the mount off as well. I told him we didn’t have a torch in the field and he said you have a hacksaw cut it off. The Col. chewed the Capt ass in a very loud voice while I sawed the damn thing off. I thought we kept him after that until he ran over the gate at Cua Viet in the middle of the night so he could go swimming but maybe that happened first. Jerry
Bob, Ken Dye and LTeeF would also fit this situation very well. Had a lot of respect and trusted all four of these guys judgment. I can also think of a lot of guys that I would want with me when the shit hit the fan. Now you may not know some of these guys and they were mainly from the 1st plt. Gene Clark, Coop, Al Christine, Frank Long, Dave Larson, Kid, Wally, Baynes, Barnes, Sgt B, Big Daddy, Mills, Sweeney, Peter Rabbit, Rat Gilchrest, Blair, Dan Lohman, Sniper Tom, Just to name a few. I never served with you, Joe Byrne, Ken P, Trap and a lot of others guys I’ve met at the reunions but I kind of think from talking to you guys you would also be on my list. Really only can remember a few that I wouldn’t want mainly cause they were dopers. Rag
Joe, keep up the memories, I remember going with Robinson to LZ Sharon where we picked up a small tank recovery vech. He drove it back to Nancy I think he made new bumps in the road because no road could be that rough. Take Care, Keith
Jim, The list would be a long one…I can add a lot from second platoon. The there is third. Lots of first class troopers in all platoons. I guess Robinson, Shadow, Bushel and a couple of others stand out as, what did you say, a “soldiers soldier”. I meant no put down to anyone…. and I’d be proud to be on your track too. Bobr
Bob, I know how you feel. As I said there were only a very few I would not have wanted to be on an ambush patrol with. Most of the Troopers were good men and good soldiers. Like I said before when I got there most all of the advanced party was still there and these guys all trained together and had been together for a long time. A Troop was always a crack unit and as far as I’m concerned we did the 12th Cav proud. Rag
Rag, I don’t remember exactly what the figures were for the infusion into the 11th cav but I think it was somewhere around 20% of the personnel. About 20% of the troop had less than a full year of service left when we deployed. I think they figured another 20% casualty rate for a “green” unit so that only left 40% to rotate at the same time and with some of those extending for an early that brought that figure to even less than 40%. I know I gave up three guys off my track, Bob DeMartine, Ron Brundage and Gerald Stephens, and only got two in return, Frank Long and Kerry Pepple. Gerald “Cookoo” Stephens got killed about two months after he went to the 11th Cav and DeMartine was diagnosed with type one diabetes and sent home, after recovery in a hospital in Japan. I don’t know what the actual criteria for choosing who went was but I do know that I wasn’t consulted. I do remember a lot of shouting matches about who went and who stayed. I just wanted to keep all my guys together. I can’t help but wonder if “Cookoo” would still be alive if he hadn’t had to go South. Dye
Ken, I remember DeMartine and Brundage but I don’t remember Cookoo Stephens. I was on your track when this went down and I remember Long and Pebble coming on board. Knowing the Army (Government) the way I do I would have figured that none of the NCO’s would have had input. It was a done deal and nobody needed the opinion of some lowly line Trooper. Now as far as Stephens still being alive if he had stayed, that’s a hard call. I always figured when you number was up it was your turn. Fate is a funny thing. Some days you’re in the right place at the right time and other days you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. Wally can tell you about that. He moved his seat at a USO show; Al Hall sits down where he left and is shot to death by some guy with a loaded weapon behind him. Talk about scary. If Big Daddy hadn’t called Wally to sit with him, Wally would not be here today. Rag
Hi, Is this the Sgt Dye that used to be in charge of the infantry section in the 1st platoon? If it is then “Charlie Brown” would like to say welcome home and tell you that you were a damn good NCO, Do you remember who I am??
Bob,You mention that it felt like you did two tours; not only did I do two tours I had two names. A short story made long follows:
BASIC AIT NCOC (SHAKE -N-BAKE) STATESIDE A 4/12 – PART I NAM – PART II NAM
As you can see I spent almost 9 months in some type of school or training (and talk about being a lowly peon that had been my life until I joined the Army – never took school seriously – too small for sports – way to ugly for the girls the Army was my ticket out of town) before the Troop was ship to Nam. I was assign to the Plt Sgt tank as gunner (unoffical I caught all of the shit details that the McNeil did not want to do – ie if someone had to burn shit – pull guard duty -etc Mac had me give them the bad news. Hence I picked up the nickname BUMMER (I could empty a room by just showing up). This went on until we started trading Troopers with the 11th Cav and I ended up with my own tank and later on as Section Leader (this was just before Barrows came into the plt) Jerry was my tank for a short period of time before I move over to 15 track. Once I landed on 15 this is when my second tour started and I pick up Coop. Very few Troopers remember me as Bummer or they are kind of enough not to mention it; the ones who do remember do not always have fond memories of me. Yet my first reunion when all of the 1st Plt Troopers show up Red, Duffy, Maggot, Kid, PR, Pineapple, SS, Sniper Tom, Ken, Rag,Wally, Jerry, Jersey, Jim Davis, and LTF it was (and still is ) one of the best days of my life. Good or Bad my time spent with the Troop has had nothng but a postive impact on my life – Right Place – Right Unit – Right Time. Coop
Coop/Bummer or whoever you are (-: lots of Troopers probably feel the same way. Some event creating a change. I can only imagine what it was like for the guys that were transferred to/from the 11th Cav. Different people, different AO. Wow! Bob
Coop, I don’t remember the name “Bummer” I just remember that I wouldn’t have traded you jobs for the world. When you were on “Mac’s” tank you ended up being the platoon Sgt, ………., you were one of the primary reasons that 1st platoon had their shit together as well as we did. In my book you’ve always been a soldier’s soldier ad still are. Ken Dye
Good story Coop. You feel the same way I do about the Troop. I was lucky as hell to have ended up with you guys especially with an 11B MOS. My time in Nam with the Troop had a lot more upside than downside. It made me a better person and it gave me a family I will cherish till my dying day. Now old McNeil was a real card. The first day I showed up at LZ Nancy, Mac was the second guy I met. First I reported to Top and he was so pissed off cause there was me, Paul Schiano and Phroneberger and we were all 11B’s. Top was mad as hell cause he wanted scouts and tankers for replacements. Well in walks Mac and top says take these 3 sorry asses and do whatever you want with them. First Mac was gonna make me the loader on his tank but somebody else, a tanker that I can’t remember came available and he told Paul and I to report to Ken Dye on A15. He said we may as well keep all you grunts together. I was sure glad for that move. Old Mac was a pisser. I never and I mean never saw that man without at least one beer in his hand. He always had A15 at the end of the column and we ate a lot of road dirt. Do you remember the time we were doing thunder runs from Quang Tri to Dong Ha and Mac was drunk and somehow got the main gun on his tank moved from pointing to the side of the road out into the oncoming lane and he caught a dump truck with it? The main gun went right thru the windshield and Mac’s tank was pushing it down the road backwards. I’ll never forget the look on the truck drivers face. He was white as a sheet and that main gun didn’t miss his head by more than a 1/4 inch. I was sorry to hear old Mac died. I would have liked to have seen him at a reunion. Rag
Rag, Mac was a lifer and this was his 2nd tour in Nam; Mac needed his beer to start the day – still I learn a lot from him. I do not remember the dump truck – that does not mean it did not happen. Mac did not like the locals or ARVN for sure. A couple of incidents that I recall match up with your dump truck story. You remember how narrow the bridges were over there – A16 has started across one of the bridges and here comes a ARVN APC from the other direction – neither track give way – just before we met head on the ARVN flinch and move over but there was not enough room – A16 left track tore into the right side of that APC and just ripe the shit out of it. Another time – another bridge and this time one of those 3-wheel taxi tried to bully Mac – this time the left track crush that taxi’s right side – there was nothing but assholes and elbows jumping off that taxi. Coop
Coop, I do remember that Mac was a Lifer and he was on his second tour, but you were right about him, even drunk he knew what he was doing. I too learned a lot from Mac. He was a crusty old boy but I liked him. Mac figured he had one of the biggest vehicles there in his tank so he rarely moved over for anything. He never pulled any punches and he told it like it was. I can only imagine what he was like stateside It’s to bad he never made a reunion cause we could have gotten some real stories out of him. Rag
I really liked Robinson, or should I say I thought he inspired confidence. I didn’t see him as a superior ‘military man’ but he was a ‘soldier’. He was also my first CO and I didn’t know diddly so maybe I was not seeing him straight. You’d had some time in country when he arrived. What did you think of him? Bob
It’s too bad he won’t make a reunion as I would like to see him one more time. I guess I’ll have to get back up to Alaska someday and visit him. I wish I would have known he was up there when I did get to Alaska a few years back because I surely would have tried to look him up. The old man was really not the Army Lifer type. He was a little to wild most of the time. He loved his booze and red wine was one of his favorites. I remember one time at LZ Sharon I had to go get him out of the officers club after they tried to shut him off and he shot the place up with his 45. The man was crazy but I trusted his judgment in the field. Rag
I talked to him at length when he sent me the A Troop Guidon he brought home from Nam. Reunions……not that he doesn’t want to see us or be part of us again….he just won’t come to the lower 48 anymore. Hell, maybe he can’t. He retired as a Major….just one jump up from what he was in 1969 so he must have pissed of somebody!!!! Big Time. And I can see how, based on some of those that we had after him. Capt. Robinson was not conventional Army…..but in the field I knew none better. Bob
Robinson was a good man. Probably not as spit and polish as a lifer but a guy I trusted. He knew what he was doing and crazy enough to never be scared. He also never threw his weight around. By that I mean if we were out in the field and he gave an order it wasn’t cast in concrete. If someone came up with a better way he was open to try it. I had a lot of respect for him because I felt he respected everyone in his command. And you could also talk to him. He never pulled rank on you unless you screwed up. I wish I could get him to a reunion but I don’t think that will ever happen. Rag