I have been going through old unit newspapers and newsletters from the time I was in Vietnam and came across the one below. We received this edition while in the mountains. I found the photo on the internet and thought it fitting to display with this article. Notice the banner (Victory for the Vietcong) and the NVA flags our American citizens are carrying.
This article was written in the 11th Brigade Trident Newsletter, September 29, 1969.
Spare Your Relatives Needless Grief
Numerous hoax calls to relatives of personnel serving in Vietnam have been reported in recent weeks. These hoax calls have caused considerable anguish and discomfort to the next of kin who are unaware of Department of the Army, notification procedures. The hoax call is malicious and relates primarily to false reports of death, missing and AWOL, desertion, or other related matters concerning personnel status.
Spare Your Relatives This Grief. Advise them now that they may be the recipient, of such a contemptible call, and that any such telephone call concerning your status should be immediately recognized as a hoax.
If your status requires notification to your loved ones, your Army does not use the telephone. Notification is made by a personally delivered message by Army representatives, where identity can immediately be verified; or, by Western Union telegram which can be verified with the Western Union office from which received or, by correspondence directly from the Department of the Army.
This photograph was not published with the article. I thought it a good image to show the attitude at the time.
This image is the page from the newsletter that the article was published.
Soldiering After the Vietnam War: Changed Soldiers in a Changed Country
The post commander walked along the line of senior NCOs who were retiring and stopped in front of each. We snapped to attention and saluted, and he returned the salute and pinned the award we’d earned on our left breast pocket. As he shook my hand, he made small talk, but I don’t recall what he said.
This ceremony reminded me of the day I’d entered the Army. I was a number going through the enlistment process, and a stranger had given me the Oath of Enlistment. Now I was a professional soldier shaking hands with a stranger, leaving after 20 years of service.
I was months away from completing my two-year obligation as a Drill Sergeant when Wayne received his assignment to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for Drill Sergeant Duty. My company commander got Wayne assigned to our company, and he was my replacement. Wayne completed Drill Sergeant School and served his two-year obligation at Fort Jackson. I presented my Drill Sergeant hat to Wayne.
Left to Right - Me giving my Drill Sergeant Hat to Wayne, May 1978. Wayne was my replacement on Drill Sergeant Duty. This photograph was published in our hometown newspaper, The Columbus Ledger, with an article about our service.
In January 1976 the Army assigned me to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for Drill Sergeant duty. I completed the Drill Sergeant Course in May 1976. I found the Drill Sergeant Course competitive, challenging and demanding.
Being a drill sergeant meant I worked day and night for nine weeks. We called our Drill Sergeant Duty “being on the trail.” My day started by waking at 4:00 am, getting ready for work and then driving to post. The CQ had the trainees up and doing their morning routine: making their bunks, cleaning the barracks and latrine, and getting their gear ready for the training day before I arrived. We followed the training schedule, and I’d get home around 7:30 pm.
The drill sergeants wear the campaign hat as a testament of their demonstrated professionalism, commitment to the mission, and proven leadership. The hat further symbolizes the lineage of the past, present, and future of the U.S. Army.
In the middle of July 1974, Wayne, me and our wives took a three-day weekend to go to the military resort area in Berchtesgaden. Vacationing at Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) Europe facilities in southern Bavaria is one benefit of duty in Europe.
At the Chiemsee recreation center, the Lake Hotel actually sat on the edge of the 64-acre Lake Chiemsee. The resort was in southern Bavaria and Hitler chose this site for the first rest house of the Autobahn system and built a large Rasthaus complex on the shore of the lake.
Wayne and I sitting by the lake, at Chiemsee, relaxing and forgetting about the company back at Heilbronn.
In the spring of 1974, the Company Commander asked for volunteers to attend the French Commando School in Breisach, Germany, a short distance from the Rhine River and the Black Forest, a mountainous region in southwest Germany, bordering France. The Rhine River separated the two countries.
The French Commando Course was similar, in some of the physical requirements, to the Army Ranger course, but much easier. Ranger school lasted nine weeks. They stayed out in the field most of the time and went without food and sleep. We called the French Commando Course a “mini-Ranger Course,” but we had hot meals, and, most nights, we slept in a bunk. The Rangers seldom had either during their course. This course taught small-unit tactics, patrolling, and leadership, but the biggest focus of the course was on teamwork. There were many obstacle courses, and we carried a pack with an M1 rifle everywhere we went.
We found the three-week course challenging and demanding and completed many tasks to include obstacle courses, river rafting operations, staring down a tank, boxing, jumping from a helicopter, rappelling and mountain climbing to name a few. The school commandant awarded the French Commando Badge upon our successful completion of the course.
On October 6, 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked Israeli forces in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights. Our Company Commander said the rumor was the Russians had a division in the air circling the mid-east and we were putting the 82nd on alert and in the air.
He issued orders to draw weapons and the basic load of ammunition from the arms room and we were to join the Pershing missile Battalion when they deployed with warheads.
The Company Commander gave the married personnel time to go to our quarters and make sure our families had their evacuation documentation, rations and understood where they were to go for evacuation. As I drove into the housing area, there was a jeep manned by two MPs driving through the neighborhood with a loudspeaker blaring instructions for all dependents to prepare for evacuation.
Below are two photographs of Pershing Missiles.
My older brother, Wayne, received an honorable discharged from the Army after he returned home from Korea in April 1969. It was several months later that he re-enlisted into the Army because jobs were hard to find.
Weeks after his re-enlistment he received orders for Vietnam. After he told me he received orders for Vietnam, he asked for my good luck charm that kept me alive during my tour in Vietnam. Wayne figured if it got me home it would do the same for him.
My good luck charm is a Peace Sign necklace that Paul Ponce purchased and gave to me in May 1969 while we walked along Highway 1.
I wore the Americal Division insignia when I came home from Vietnam, March 7, 1970, and during my 20 years’ service. The Americal Division insignia has a blue background, represents the infantry, and four white stars which symbolize the Southern Cross. Soldiers wore the unit insignia they served in combat on their right shoulder of their uniform.
I was in the same division and brigade, 11th Infantry, different battalion, as Lieutenant William Calley, arriving one year after the massacre at My Lai. My Lai was in the same province, Quang Ngai, that my platoon patrolled and where 13 of my platoon brothers died. It appeared that the Americal Division insignia that I proudly wore signified to the American public only that I was a “baby killer.” To them, there was no distinction between Calley and others who served in the Americal Division. "Baby Killer" became a popular chant from protesters.
The 11th Infantry Brigade, known as Jungle Warriors, assigned to the 23rd Infantry Division from 1967 through 1971 in the Vietnam War. The brigade was known for its responsibility in the My Lai Massacre too.
Growing up, Wayne and I were close. Our father was a career Army officer, and we moved many times during our childhood years. I believe moving and the military lifestyle made us even closer than most brothers. We attended school together and sometimes the same classroom, played Little League on opposing teams, and got into trouble together.
We enlisted in the Army, me one week before Wayne, and went to Vietnam together on the same airplane sitting side by side. Later we served at the same duty stations, Fort Benning, Georgia, Heilbronn, Germany and Fort Jackson, South Carolina, our first ten years in the Army. Having Wayne with me during those years made my assignments easier and more tolerable.
When I Turned Nineteen: A Vietnam War Memoir and Soldiering After the Vietnam War.