To Vietnam and OCS
(acrOss the Choppy Seas)
Leave was over and it was time to fly to Oakland. My mother drove me to the Los Angeles Airport (LAX) to get the flight to Oakland. About half way to the airport my mother looks over at me and says…”I will send you to Canada if you want to go.” Wow, that was a shock but after all a mother does want to protect her son. So, putting on my best macho face and voice I told her no thanks, mom.
I reported to the US Army Personnel Center, Oakland Army Terminal, BLDG 640, Oakland, California on July 4, 1967 on time.
We were assigned to a dormitory style building. There were several hundred guys. I met Mike Flannery and Bill Boling for the first time here.
After a day or so we were bussed to Travis Air Force Base nearby. We were to board a C-141 Starlifter. As we boarded we put our duffel bags on the lift gate. Then found a seat on an orange nylon jump seat facing the rear of the airplane. No wiggle room or comfort here. During the flight whenever we hit turbulence the duffel bags would bounce up in the air restrained only by a cargo net. Meals were served by the flight crew and were boxed lunches. We stopped for refueling twice. I don’t remember where exactly but it may have been Midway Island and Guam. We had crossed the date line so it was now July 7, 1967. We flew directly into Pleiku to the Air Force Base under rain and clouds. After all it was monsoon season.
The lift gate was lowered and we retrieved our duffel bags and formed a line. At the edge of the runway troops were lined up for the ride back to the world. As we marched off the field we passed by them. Most had that 1,000 mile stare in their eyes and some of them said, “You’ll be sorry.”
We were then loaded onto busses and were driven to the reception station. It was the 4th Repl Det Sp Rept Unit. The reception station was not at Camp Enari. My first glimpse of Vietnamese people was when we drove by a rice paddy where a woman was taking a dump. Welcome to Vietnam.
It rained the entire time we were in the reception station and there was nothing but thick red mud. Within two days we got our orders and were sent on trucks to Co C 1st Bn 22d Inf at Camp Enari. Besides me the following were also assigned to Charlie Company:
Earl Bourne; Randall Becker; Bill Boling; Carlos Colon; Mike Flannery; Tom Fretwell; Wade Gans; Al Gourdine
The first person we met was the supply sergeant. We were issued M-16’s, jungle fatigues and the basic supplies we would take to the field. We also stored our duffel bags in the company area. Oh, I almost forgot we also got our orders that we were promoted to Private First Class (E3) and the most important thing of all my DEROS date of July 6, 1968. YAHOO.
Within a few days we joined Charlie Company in the field.
NEXT – In The Field