Details For Comment No: 80

9/19/2002

Bill Marek

Great article (story). Nice to hear a son talk that way about his Dad. I am sure he is very proud.

"The average infantryman in the South Pacific during World War II saw about 40 days of combat in four years. The average infantryman in Vietnam saw about 240 days of combat in one year thanks to the mobility of the helicopter."

I found this statistic rather surprising and would be interested in the source:

From a fellow 1st CAV - like your father, I also arrived in Da Nang (June 1971), I was sent south to III Corp and served 2 months at the 1st CAV, 3rd Brigade (Separated), 1st Battalion FDC headquarters at Bien Hoa 25 miles North West of Saigon from August thru October 1971. Until I had done some recent research, I always thought I was supporting the whole 1st CAV, then found out that the 3rd Brigade was the only CAV unit as the pullout of U.S. forces began in full force.

After volunteering for two convoy missions, Tay Ninh – FSB Pace pullout and a MACV assignment in Dinah Quan, which is where I experienced my first real fire fight of U.S. ground troops from an ARVN outpost, I was assigned to “D” Battery on FSB Gibraltar along the Song Dong Nga River. By the end of May, 1972 “D” Battery moved from FSB Gibraltar to occupy, what I believe to be the last U.S. fire support base ever to be built in South Vietnam by US Forces, FSB Bunker Hill 2. This was only a few miles north west of Bien Hoa and FSB Grunt 2, reachable by ground transportation. I respected the job I did in the Fire Direction Control (FDC) center, as we were ground support for the troops in the filed and stationed close to them always in harms way. I was fortunate because we usually had the Battalion Head Quarter on our Fire Base. 2/5 and 1/12. We never took any incoming nor did we have to face an attack…. I still count my blessings.

I actually volunteered for the bush when I heard we lost an FO (Forward Observer), my secondary MOS was a Recon Sgt, (having gone through Shake-n'-Bake, like you father). They would not let me go however…. the reason was I wanted to know what it was like pounding the bush for two or three weeks. Being stuck on a Firebase we did not rotate to the rear six days out of each month... but we were not in as much harm either!

“When the soldiers returned from their 24-day shift out in the field, hot food, showers, bathrooms, and beds awaited them at the base camp.”

I only remember taking two (2) hot showers in Vietnam. And I was back at battalion headquarters for two months before heading to the firebase encampments, so I am not sure if they had hot showers even in "the rear" most of the time? Maybe for the officers or at the bigger bases, but Bien Hoa was good sized? Once of the “hot shower” pleasantries occurred at the Saigon Hospital and the other, of all places, at a MACV compound on special assignment.

“Many Vietnam veterans were further scared when amnesty was granted to all draft dodgers. The veterans risked their lives while fighting honorably for their country and those who chose to take the United States' freedoms for granted were forgiven.”

Actually, I fought for the “freedom” or ideal of individuals (Vietnamese or American) and all others to stand up for what they believed in. That is what this country is all about. My take is that if they believed strongly enough to risk giving up family, friends and homes to head to Canada then maybe they believed strongly enough not to be involved in the Vietnam War? This country is all about Freedom of Speech. I do not have to agree with them but I fought to protect that very ideal and right, which allowed them to do so. I was RA (Regular Army) and volunteered. I could not afford to go to college and the G.I. Bill was the best chance I had of making something with my life.

Give your father my best and tell him Welcome home from me!