LZ Uplift, Foxholes, and Kool-Aid

I just got done with my 4 days of training Wednesday noon.  They got us up about 6am Tuesday and we walked about 5 miles to our training grounds outside of the barrier we had classes, shot our M-16 rifles, then in late afternoon we started setting up camp for the night.  We had 4 men in each foxhole.  1 man would guard for 1 hour and sleep 3 all night.  Then Wednesday morning we got up about 6 and then went on patrol about 8 for about 3 hours and is that jungle thick and hot.  We then went back to our camp grounds and from there we went and threw 1 grenade and then went back to the base.  As soon as we got back there we were done with our training, so me and another guy went to the PX and then we went to the Red Cross to get some cold kool-aid to drink because it’s hard to get anything cold to drink.  We then went back to our company to clean up and take a shower but when we got there a sergeant said that we were going to leave and go to our company in the field, so we only had about an hour so there went the shower.  The plane was to leave at 3:30PM and so when we go there the plane was leaving so they told us to wait and they’d make a special flight to take us there (6 men). Well they flew us to LZ Uplift (LZ means a landing zone of copters) it’s about 30 miles east of Quy Nhon, on the other side of a mountain is the South China Sea.

We had to pull guard duty here, 3 men to a bunker.  We thought that we would go to our company in the field (this place is only a company base or headquarters, the company doesn’t stay here).  Well the company is on the move so we won’t go to the field until Friday afternoon maybe.

Letter home: 15 June 1967

Vietnam Soldier: Average age was 19

He received his Statement of Acceptability from Selective Service and he was found “fully acceptable for induction into the Armed Forces.”  It was dated 20 April 1966, he was 19.

My dad was inducted into the Army on 5 January 1967 for training at Fort Bliss, Texas.  I have his ‘yearbook’ from his time at Fort Bliss. I also have, or rather, used to have, his engraved zippo lighter awarded to him for Continue reading

Comfortably numb

In September 2008, I gave the doctors permission to remove my father from life support and a few hours later he passed away ending forty years of suffering. The last time I saw my father, before he drove himself to the Emergency Room, before he went into a coma, before he died, was in May when I came for a visit.  We ordered pizza, discussed our favorite topics: religion and politics, and drove to the cemetery.  He wanted to show me his completed headstone engraved with his military service, rank and 1st Cavalry badge.  He was quite proud of it.  The only thing missing was the date of death; carved a year later with the date: September 2008.  A mistake actually, because my dad was killed serving his country in Vietnam, March 1968.  It just took a really long time for him to die.

Drafted in 1966, he was 19, a small town Iowa boy who got into trouble with the law on occasion and developed a smoking habit but also sang in the church choir and loved his mom with all his heart.  I never knew what he dreamed about becoming when he grew up, I guess fate decided for him.  He kept his draft letter and I still have it.

I didn’t ask him what he was thinking when he was drafted or when he left for basic training or how he felt when he received his orders to serve in ‘Nam.  I can picture that conversation, him sitting across from me giving me that look he perfected, which said do you really need to ask a question with such an obvious answer?  He would pause, remove his hand from under his chin, and look at me like I was stupid.