What I was fighting for in Hue
ah ah I think has a deeper meaning of why not, you know, why was I fighting period. And ah why was I in Vietnam and and why am I a Marine and and not a salesman for a soap company and and I think I would have to answer as to why I was fighting in that ah I’m just one of these guys that feel I have a very strong obligation to my country. Ah. The fact that a humongous number of folks have gone before me ah and made a hell of a lot more sacrifices than I’ve been called upon to make ah in order to ensure that I would be able to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.
Ah. So I think that you’d have to say I just have a strong belief in the traditional American values and a strong sense of obligation to my country. And, ah, where they send me to fight and ah what then ask me to do is up to the ah politicians and the generals and I’ll just follow the directions as ah as put forth. Ah. I think from a personal point ah I’ve certainly wanted to be in the military ah all my life. Ah.
My father ah was in WWI in France
ah was too old for WWII and ah my father in law was a Marine and fought at Peleliu and Okinawa
. So ah it’s not that I’m trying to keep any sort of family tradition going but I think ah you can see that I have a strong sense of values and a strong background of the military and and supporting the country in, in its role and its position in the in the world.
In...in talking about the the feel for how it was inside the the city during this battle, I think one of the correspondents has described it as as seen out of WWI in that the the barbed wire entanglements ah the dust and the smoke from the ah artillery, the shells and ah the constant whine of the ah not only the artillery, but the small arms, that it seemed like for four or five days straight it was like being at a rifle range with with nothing but just small arms fire ah going all the time.
And, then off in the distance you would hear the artillery, ah, supporting another unit. Ah. You would hear the sudden burst of ah automatic fire as you knew another unit was moving off into the attack and throughout all of this ahm you know you had this horrible smell. I mean it you just cannot describe ah the smell of death especially when you’re you’re looking at it a couple of weeks along.
Ah. It, it’s horrible. And, I think that this was combined with the ah the semi darkness type of environment that we were fighting in because of the the low overcast, the fact that we didn’t see the sun ah the fact that it was, as I say, semi dark ah gave it a very eerie spooky ah look ah and and you constantly ah had this fear. Ah. Not so much that you were going to die because I think to a certain degree that was a given, ah, that something very seriously could happen to you. Ah. But, but you had this utter de devastation ah all around you.
Ah. You had this horrible smell. Ah. And, it was it was there when you ate ah your rations. Ah. It was almost like you were, you were eating death. Now, you you couldn’t escape it. Ah. And and you, of course, it permeated your clothes. We, water was very, very scarce. Ah. We couldn’t bathe. We couldn’t’ shave. There was a number of days before we even had enough water ah that we could ah shave much less take a bath.
So, ah, the the whole feeling during this time ah was was not one of depression though it sounds like that ah you could be depressed. Ah. We were very optimistic in our attitude because of what we were doing, how we were doing it, ah, the success that ah we were having. Ah. But, throughout ah it was a very dreary ah period. Ah. We were up ah for hours at a time. Ah. And, of course, as a as a commander ah sometimes I felt that I I never slept because of the ah the concern that something was going to happen and I was not going to be there ah when it happened.
So, I think I won’t say that you get into a zombie like trance because you didn’t ah because you still were aware and you had that mental discipline that you knew you had to be alert and you could not allow yourself ah to fall into any sort of trance. You could not allow yourself ah to relax ah for a moment. Ah. You you were tense, you were tight. Ah. You knew something was going to happen and and of course the NVA didn’t disappoint you.
Something did happen. Ah. And it was, it was a new ballgame. Almost every morning, every afternoon ah a different mode of attack. Something a little bit different happening and, of course, I think throughout this whole period the emotion uh that you were going through ah the fact that you were seeing your friends, your lieutenants, your sergeants, your corporals, your privates being hit, being evacuated.
Ah. Some of that you knew. Some that you didn’t know because of the fact that I’d only been there a short time. Ah. But you you went through the full range of emotions. But, again, you didn’t have time to feel sorry for that young Marine, ah, because you still had ah a whole bunch of other young Marines that you had to take care of and that you had to be concerned for. Ah. And, I think that probably the last person you thought about was yourself.
Ah. And, occasionally I’d sit there and I’d think about myself, but, ah, it was ah very ah few and far between that when you have that opportunity because as a commander you had so much else ah on your mind during this battle. Ah. The coordination of the fires, the coordination and the control of your ah your troops, the resupply, the evacuation. Being a company commander you’re just not fighting all the time. I mean though in Hue
we were, but you ah had all these other details that you had to worry about.