George, I wonder if we could begin, could you tell me when you went ah to Vietnam, what did you do when you got there? Was it what you expected?
I went to Vietnam April of 1971
, and the first thing I did when I got there was get off the airplane. I was a medic over there. It was not what I expected by any means. And, um, I expected something similar to a John Wayne movie. A lot of heroics, beautiful women, or a World War II movie, and I got off the plane in Saigon
and there were a lot of Vietnamese porters hustling for tips like ahm porters in any airport would do.
And, we were herded on to a bus and we drove to a place called Long Binh Replacement Center. Along the way there, there was ahm large sandbag fortresses on every corner of the streets. A lot of shacks. Women doing all the work. Kids running naked through the streets and concertina wire or rolled barbed wire every place where I looked and my immediate reaction was barbed wire city.
And, then um, my first night in Long Binh we were in an old barracks. It was made out of rotten old wood. The bunks were stacked up very high to a corrugated ceil-steel ceiling, and there spiders crawling around and all kinds of insects, and it was extremely hot. Couldn't go to sleep. Always heard small arms fire at the night, during the night, but nothing at that moment happened, and I heard stories of the Tet Offensive and rocket attacks and I was waiting to see what would happen.
Then, I was reassigned from there to a place in Da Nang
a combat engineering unit. I flew up to Da Nang
and found out that I wasn't in the unit. I was supposed to go to some other unit up by the DMZ and I had hitched a plane on a air force C-47, landed in Phu Bai which is up in I Corps, the northern most province, and I got off the plane and nobody ever heard of the unit that I was belonging to, and so, the other units had somebody come to pick up their men and I was left stranded at this little shack that posed as an airport, and I had a brand new green uniform on, spotlessly green, and brand new jungle boots, a laundry bag full of clothes, no weapons whatsoever, and I hung around the air base not knowing what to do and, finally, somebody said to go find your unit.
So, I walked outside of the base. I didn't know where I would go or what I would do and I walked down Highway One and some guy in a truck picked me up because he was wondering what this newbie was doing walking down the street without any form of protection or um, weapons. I was obviously out of place. And, we went searching for ahm where my new home was gonna be. And, nobody heard of it. Went to Camp Evans and then to the Phu Bai Base and finally went to Camp Eagle, which is the home of the 101st and then when I just gave up hope, I saw a tiny little sign and it had the name of my unit. I went there and reported in, and that's how I got there.