C Company 1965 – 1966
I entered the Army in September 1964 and took basic and AIT at Fort Gordon. I then went to Fort Benning for Jump School. I arrived at Fort Campbell in May of 1965, just in time to help with the preparation for the movement of the 1st Brigade to Vietnam. We left Campbell for the West coast and were “packed” aboard the USNS General Leroy Eltinge for the trip to Vietnam. I can remember being run out for the interior of the ship every morning and having to stay on deck the entire day.
We arrived in Cam Rahn Bay and set up our first AO. We soon became the “Nomads of Vietnam” going where ever and when ever they wanted us. From my letters home, we thought it was to be a short stay; 6 months. Sometime around December I think, we set up our first base camp at Phan Rang. The stay there was short, and we were soon on the move again. I returned to Phan Rang twice, I think; once for R&R and then when I left for the “real world”.
I returned to Fort Campbell and remained in the Army for fourteen months. The time was spent training the remaining elements of the Division for deployment. I left the Army in September 1967 as the Division was preparing to deploy.
I returned to my hometown of Charlotte, NC and found a job. My co-workers called me “one of the Army’s trained killers” and asked, “how it felt to kill someone”. I soon determined it, Vietnam, was not something I wanted to discuss and went about trying to forget it. After 20 years I began to remember Vietnam and ended up at the local Vet Center where I joined a group and made my first visit to the Wall in DC. Like many of us, I still have trouble remembering all of my year there after so many years of trying to forget. I am a recovering alcoholic and have been sober now for over 7 years.
I married (for 25 years the first time), had two children and stayed employed at the same company for 33 years. I divorced and have since remarried to someone I’ve known since the first grade (met at our 30th class reunion). I have retired and we have moved to the North Carolina mountains where, much to my surprise, we enjoy hiking the trails around the Blue Ridge Parkway.
35 years after Vietnam, I have finally come to peace with some of the terrors of the war.
Phan Rang ’65? I don’t THINK SO!!