Where Are The Seats?

Don Matthews

This story is about my first CA. I was a voice intercept operator with the 265th Radio Research Company. My team and I went into the FB Fury AO with a company from 1-327 on 14 April, 1971. We were trucked out to Birmingham the day before and spent the night sleeping alongside the PZ. There was a combat photography team near us so I knew this was going to be a big operation. Of course my teammates and the grunts all acted like they’d done this before. I was so cherry, I probably had a little stem growing out of my steelpot.

Guys in my company didn’t go to SERTS, we just moved into the company. I’d been issued my ruck, an M16 and pointed west. The guys had shown me how to pack the ruck. I was humping our secure radio gear, a PRC-77 and the secure set, a KY-38, plus 3 extra batteries. I think I got the radios because I was the new guy. I’d never handled a 16 since only 11 series guys got them at Leonard Wood in 1969. Guys like me headed to Vietnamese language school trained with the 14.

So the birds came in the next morning and we headed to our slick. My team members piled into the center and I stood there looking for my seat. I remember thinking “where are the seats”? A grunt grabbed my dumbass and shoved me to the right side behind the pilot. So off I went to the A Shau on my first helicopter ride, with my legs hanging out wondering how I was supposed to keep from falling out and dying before we even got to the valley. I quickly learned why I was sitting behind the pilot, I was a nice windbreak for the grunt next to me.

Don Matthews
265th RRC/101st Abn Div
1971