|A YEAR IN THE NAM
It all started out back in the states,
when I got my orders by a trick of fate.
As I read my orders I got quite a fright,
but there it was in black-and-white,
I got on a plane California bound,
and when I got to Frisco that was quite a town.
I reported into Oakland late one night,
drunk and tired, I was quite a sight.
I got on a plane again the next day and for seventeen hours We flew,
We landed in a place they call Pleiku.
When I stepped off of that plane looking my best,
I sank to my knees in mud. It was a hell of a mess,
I went the next day to a base called An Khe
and there they said "Boy you got a year to stay".
I got an assignment called the 1st of the 8th.
That's part of the 1st Cav if you ain't up-to-date.
They said you're in the RECON platoon you lucky cat,
and I heard someone behind me say "Sorry about that".
Well after three days training I was sent to the field,
and I knew right then that I had eaten my last good meal, in Vietnam.
Now We walked over many hills and through many small towns
but Ole Charlie was nowhere to be found.
Then one day while on patrol, We came across what they call a spider
As We moved up the trail We found more of the same,
and I knew right then Ole Charlie was to blame.
A shot rang out and I looked to my right,
and there on the ground dead was my point-man, Mike.
I saw three Charlies at one quick glance,
and I knew right then it was my very first chance.
The gun in my hand bucked as I fired,
and those Charlies laid down like they were really tired.
Well after that first encounter, I've killed many more,
and I'll tell you right now man, I'm strictly "HARDCORE".
Six months went by as quick as a flash,
and yet in another way, it seemed like it took a year to pass.
One morning the Old Man looked at me and said,
"Mac it's getting too hard, I'm gonna give you a seven-day pass".
When I flew from the battle area the very next day,
and in a few short hours, I was on my way.
I landed in Saigon in a CV-2,
stepped out and looked around and felt as good as new.
Went downtown in a taxi cab,
and that scared me a hell of a lot more than Charlie had.
So I got out of that cab on Tudor Street,
and I found me a bar that looked, "clean and neat".
I walked in the bar and sat at a table,
and said "Hey Papa San, give me a cold Black Label".
He said "No can do only beer 33",
I said "well give me one of them, if it will please me".
I was sitting there sipping my beer,
and feeling real keen,
when through the door walked a Vietnamese queen.
She came over sat right next to me,
looked up and said "Hi G.I. You buy me Saigon tea?"
Well needless to say, I didn't last seven days,
cause money can be spent in so many different ways.
I was back in An Khe after the fourth day out,
looking for my buddy, for a cigarette handout.
Well as time passed on many more battles We fought,
and as for Charlie, We killed a whole lot more.
We wrote our own name of fame and glory,
in the 1st Cav some situations got mighty gory.
Then the great day came when from Vietnam I flew,
as I looked back and said "So long Pleiku".
Well I'm back in the states now living a life of ease,
and for at least thirty days doing what I please.
But for all you guys that are just going over,
Let me tell you son, it's no bed of clover.
And if by chance you get to An Khe,
to the 1st of the 8th, it will be O.K.
But if they look at you and say "You're RECON, you lucky cat",
all that I can say is "Sorry about that".
Poem by Roger McDonald, Platoon Sergent and Leader in 1967.
We love you Mac.
|WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL
by PATRICK W. DOOLEY
These words come at the end of the pledge of allegiance. Saying
these words everyday at school must have resonated something
in me. “Liberty for all”, and fighting for it, go hand in hand. At
Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam and exotic locations beyond. Liberty
was for all. Our fathers and uncles went off to fight. The
country mobilized behind the effort, women took jobs,
grandparents helped, sacrifice was made by all. These people
were from hardy stock. The great depression, religious
persecutions, poverty, had made these survivors tough,
passionate, independent thinking, compassionate, and my
teachers. “I was a dutiful son.” We answered our nation’s call,
notified by letter: “Greetings, you are hereby ordered to report”
a practice, which has since been discontinued.
This duty was misplaced and America was without an answer.
Unfortunately the dutiful sons were blamed. It rocked our
nation. The shame projected on the mis-fortunate participants,
continues to plague our nation’s character and the mental well
being of those involved. We did not start the War, had little to
no knowledge of the underlying reasons for our required
Most of us were 20 years old when we found ourselves in a
distant land, trying to make some sense of our new
surroundings. We were inserted into an on going military
situation with few or no tight personal connections. My two
hometown buddies were put in different units. You are flown
out to join your unit, on choppers (helicopters), for me it was
my first ride. I wasn't alone, there were other young men with
me. We had the distinction of experiencing our new- found
family at the same point in history. We formed friendships
during our tours.
The liberty We knew, was at a pinnacle, the prosperity that
followed WWII had put us in a position much different than our
families had known. The boundaries were expanding; the belief
that you should think for yourself and stand-up for what you
believe in, were the gravitational force from which this
expansion took place. Questioning evolved from such liberty.
“Honesty is the best policy.”
Now over 40 years later I have connected with over twenty guys
that were in my outfit, most were in the same platoon. We
share some very unique experiences, including talking with
someone after nearly forty years. Everyone I've talked with,
have stated that they have never found any group that got along
better. We were the dutiful sons who took our teachings and
projected them into our current environment. The little group
that was formed during this point in history is quite
remarkable. We were souls searching for some sanity.
Independent but like-minded, We developed friendships and
alliances. Laughter was the universal language, fun could be
poked at and made out of our situations. Respect for the
individual, permeated a fairness and understanding that became
our unspoken bond. You could count on this person. A number
of us would be quick to enforce this accepted code. I was not on
the receiving end of such rebukes or recollect others involved in
any altercation. You don’t take “any crap”. You don’t give it
either. This is the core you have. You listen to those who try to
help, you pass it on and add your wisdom. Personal safety and
the safety of others around you should be your highest priority.
Anything that compromises safety, must be dealt with
immediately. The clock and the calendar only go forward, you
are part of this point in time. Make the best of it and rejoice in
the luxury of having made it through these times and being able
to review them now. This is a unique group, it is an honor to be
part of such a group. We are Americans, our sacrifices were
made to protect liberty. This liberty has been contorted almost
to extinction and those that try to preserve it, pay with a piece
of their soul. “Our voices cry out like the ceaseless pounding of
one’s fist on the chest of reality.” This was an America that
used to think for itself. If something isn't’t right you have to be
able to change it. Liberty demands challenges or becomes lost in
fear. If you are afraid to challenge you don’t have liberty. A
small measure can be had with straightforward ways, stand up
for things and you’ll discover that the fear of confrontation will
give way to the self confidence and respect you’ll receive. No
one is better than you. Fear no man, you are an American.
Embrace your rights and those that fight for them. Fight for
liberty and regain the core of being an American.
firstname.lastname@example.org “JUSTICE FOR ALL” is a subject I
hope to devote some time to, stay tuned
|Delta Company 1965 - 1971
The morning got off to a good start, one of the men shot his own
foot accidentally or on purpose, I don’t know, but We had to wait
for the Medevac to come and pick him up.
After he was gone, We were air assaulted (picked up in
helicopters and dropped at another location.) I remember it didn't’
t seem like a long flight and We were set down on top of a hill,
which was kind of grassy. We got lined up and humped along the
ridge in this kind of open grassy terrain for a short distance till We
came toward the end of the hilltop. I remember there was some
milling around while they were deciding which way to go.
Well hell I’m pretty observant, I saw a trail going off towards our
left and said, “Great, lets take the trail.” I got this reply that the
trail is going off the left and We need to go straight down the hill.
I said, "We’re trying to get to the bottom of the hill, ain't’t We?"
Well We ignored the trail and began hacking through the brush. I
hollered hey, “The fucking trail would take us where We want to
go a whole lot faster.” A gnawing feeling went into my stomach as
We started working our way down the mountain. The terrain got
progressively worse, We were going straight down into the middle
of a ravine full of big boulders. I said “This is fucking brilliant, if
Charlie was here he could set up on both sides and wipe us out.”
We started climbing over boulders. They started getting pretty
large and difficult to maneuver around. I was still cussing about
our not taking the trail when I encountered the next boulder, which
was huge. I remember having to sit and then kind of lay back to
try and make it to the boulder below.
Well I just started sliding off, when a Wait-a-minute vine caught
the machine gun. I was caught midway between the boulders. I
was coming off from one to the boulder below. I was momentarily
stuck, I couldn't go back up and the only way down was to let go of
the machine gun and get the vine off of it. I looked down at the
boulder below. I hollered out “Fuck it!” real loud, as my knees
came in contact with the boulder. Boy that smarts.
I grabbed my machine gun and threw it down the mountain. It
bounced end over end down the ravine, I heard a voice down the
line, “Who threw this?”
I hollered out, “I threw the mother fucker, and if you have
anything to say about it, pick the son of a bitch up and carry it the
rest of the way down the mountain, and I’ll talk to you at the
I continued down the boulder filled ravine. There was my machine
gun right where it landed. I picked it up and carried it the rest of
the way down the hill. When We came out at he bottom We were
within 10 feet of the trail. Oh shit what brilliance, a three hour
bust ass climb down the boulders could have been a 30 minute
cake walk down the trail. Not a word was ever said about the
flying machine gun.
Wasn't much could have been said, when I proved to be right when
We got to the bottom. Some other country’s army probably would
have shot me on the spot. If they had shot me, at least the
insanity would have been over.
Wait-a-minute vine = A vine with lots of hooked thorns on the
runners, that would reach out and grab your fatigues and not let
go. It had to be physically removed either by reversing the
direction it had grabbed you, or very forcefully tearing it from your
|Back to the rear, LZ English, Good deal. We were near Bong
We stayed in tents with sandbag bottoms. There was a mess
hall very close; not quite room service, but better than two
c-ration meals and one hot mermite meal. Although We did
get coffee and coffeecake at times. Loved that cake; but
there’s something about coffee from a mermite can, you
could stand up a spoon in it. I’m not a lifer yet.
After squaring away your gear, rucksack, etc. Blowing up your
air mattress, showers, clothes, haircut, food and beverages.
Off to get a haircut; walking across the base, gravely, dusty
but in good spirits. We come to the tent of a gook barber. It
was cheap. Wasn't much styling going on, but it wasn't
stubble either. The barber had a cutting tool that looked like
an electric hair trimmer but had scissors handles. Snip, Snip.
He didn't’t take too long on the process. Soon it was my turn to
sit in the chair.
Snip, Snip. The next thing I notice is the gook barber is
clopping on my back. His hands were placed pyramid style with
his thumbs crossed. He would lightly strike your shoulders
and upper back it made a clop sound. Clop, Clop. The barber
then took me completely by surprise and grabbed my head to
one side “crack” then back the other way “snap crack” I was
startled to say the least, it happened so fast.
I composed myself for a second, moved my head and neck
from side to side and went from pissed off, to I guess I’m OK.
We went back to the company area. I think We went by the
mess tent, and back to our sleeping area. Making plans to get
drunk if We could. The mood was invigorating. About this time
my neck got stiff. It had been about an hour since the haircut.
Oh shit! I couldn't’t move my neck. Damn! I had to walk very
straight and easy over to my air mattress, move straight down
and ease onto the air mattress. I couldn't’t move my head
The guys were getting ready to head out for the evening’s
entertainment, movie, beer, let loose a little. I laid on the air
mattress straight as an arrow all night. Some where around 3:
00 am I had to go the bathroom, shitter, like an emergency
situation. My neck was much improved, but not one hundred
percent. I made it to the latrine and sat in the aromatic
splendor, only an Army facility could provide, for about an
hour. As I sat suffering with a stiff neck and loose bottom, I
became quite angry. F’in gook! Couldn't’t drink beer and now I’
m sitting here, when I could be sleeping. I went back to the tent
but couldn't’t get back to sleep. I’m going to get you.
First sign of daylight, I strap on a 45 pistol and take off
walking. On a mission to the haircut place. The journey was
uneventful, I don’t remember much movement around the
base. As I neared the tent, I took the pistol out and prepared it
to fire. I proceeded through the front flaps of the tent; the gook
barber busted out of the back. By the time I got out the back
of the tent, I could see the bastard jumping across the wire.
The guy was like a track star, jumping hurdles. There was no
way to hurt him with a pistol at this distance. I watched as he
cleared another row of wire.
He must have been expecting me. The last I saw of him he was
crossing the helicopter compound. I do remember seeing a
couple of people in the area. The gook track star zooming
across their area amazed them.
I was upset that I didn't’t get a shot at the barber, but the track
show was worth the ticket price. I walked back, rejoined the
company in time for breakfast. Some time later We learned the
barber turned out to be a spy. They found maps under his cot.
|WAIT A MINUTE VINE
THE TUMBLING MACHINE GUN
by Patrick Dooley
|"Snip Snip" "Clop Clop" "Snap Crack"
by Patrick Dooley
|Poems, Stories and Recollections by Delta Company Troopers