5 Jan: I had to go back to Battalion for a meeting about administration. Been up all night. Couldn't sleep because of the mortars and being in a strange place. Funny- I used to be able to sleep anyplace.My job is really not hard and I've had plenty of experience. It's just that the old First Sergeant didn't do anything while he was here and burned all the regulations before he left. I've had to take the problems one at a time and start new paperwork. I'm almost caught up. In about 2 weeks I'll have the orderly room organized and can do the paperwork in about 4 hours per day. Have some time to get out and see how the troops are doing and get to the field some. We have some real good troops. They're young, not gung ho like airborne troops, but they work hard. They're out every day. Have to cross rivers and wade mud chest deep but they don't complain about that. Their only complaint is not finding Charlie but finding his booby traps all over the place. Haven't had anyone hurt by one since I've been here- just 1 pungi stake. Hope our luck holds.
7 Jan: The troops are moving out again. We've been on a 30 minute alert all night. We're averaging 2 VC's per day. The one star general was here day before yesterday. He romped and stomped all over the place and tried to shake everyone up. I didn't get too excited. I don't guess he can send me to Nam or anything like that. Beside him, we've had all kinds of Colonels and Majors and two Red Cross Girls. Exciting night. Charlie hit 3 of our locations and we hit his base camp across the river . Sure was noisy. Got to go. Have to get out 6 leaves and 13 letters for promotion.
8 Jan: I guess we've been overconfident. We took 30 rounds of mortars last night in about 5 minutes. No serious damage. It knocked out our front loader/tractor and sprayed the area pretty good. I was in such a hurry to take cover that I ran through the barb wire barefoot. When I hit the wire, I fell down and a couple of close ones sprayed the area. The only thing hurt was my pride. We took 3 minor casualties. We hit Charlie so hard and fast, I don't think he'll try that again for awhile. We had mortar fire in the air within 2 minutes and "Puff the Magic Dragon" gunship here in about 10 minutes.They must have fired 20,000 rounds in 5 minutes. Had 3 secondary explosions from the hits so they must have hit something.. The whole company is out looking for Charlie today to try to find out where he set up the mortars.
11 Jan: Been too busy to write. We finally found Charlie in force on the 8th. It was a bad operation. we've got a lot of dead and wounded. I still don't know for sure who is dead or alive. Have troops in hospitals all over the place. Got a whole bunch of paperwork to get out and personal effects to ship to the next of kin. I haven't had 6 hours sleep in the past 3 days- don't think I'll get much for the next week. We're building up the Fort. There's a rumor that a VC Battalion will try to take it
14 Jan: We haven't been mortared since the 10th. I guess the VC we hit was the same crew that was mortaring us. As near as I can determine, we had 8 KIA and 9 WIA. We're not positive though. Some of the WIA are shot up pretty bad. One they said was KIA was alive when he got to the Field Hospital. Sent out 2 NCO's to identify our troops. That's a hell of a job. It is hard enough to go through the fight without having to go back and look at the maimed bodies. One of the KIA was on his first trip. Only been in the unit 2 days. The troops are back out today and morale is high. It's surprising how fast the troops recover from a battle. They are cheerful- you'd never know they lost so many buddies. They are happy to get off line though when we can move them back to a safe job.
16 Jan: Just got back from First Sergeants call at Rach Kien. We have a new Sergeant Major and Colonel and they had to put out their policies. I think the last ones were relieved after the big fight where we got clobbered so bad. Finally got my casualties squared away. It took 2 trips to Saigon. They had a body ready to ship back to the wrong family.What a mess that was and hard on the troops morale. We got it straight before the wrong family was notified. Some of the KIA's were un-identifiable except for clothing and personal effects. Charlie hasn't hit us in over 5 days. The troops haven't hit anything in the field in the past few days. We must have clobbered him worse than he got us.
17 Jan: Sorry about not writing. These troops are going out every day and getting wounded and sometimes killed. I want to do everything I can to take care of them. Some units have riflemen returning to the states as privates. I sure can't see that. Things are returning to normal at the fort. Troops getting lax. They had a big fight last march and took a lot of casualties so everyone will be leaving about the same time. I'll have a lot of paperwork in March. Got to prepare the Fort for the monsoon. Trying to get walks and ditches so we won't have to wade through the mud.
18 Jan: Bad day. My perimeter guard messed up, had a fight over a card game in one of the platoons and 2 troops are trying to get off line. Been tied up all morning talking with the troops that were involved. Morale is high today. We got 11 VC and 6 automatic rifles yesterday and didn't have anyone hurt. We did not take any prisoners. The troops are kind of touchy since the last big fight. They don't let the VC close enough to see if they want to surrender. Start shooting as soon as they spot them.
19 Jan: Things real quiet at the fort. We hit him hard again yesterday. Got 17 and captured a lot of weapons and grenades and 6,000 lb. of rice. That should make him either mad or hungry.Building bunkers and getting ready for some replacements.
20 Jan: Problems today. Got one troop trying to get out on a hardship. Family makes over $20,000 a year but he has a Senator working for him. Got all kinds of troops trying to get off the line. The big fight on the 8th shook them up. I don't have enough jobs to put them in so I have to put priority on the physical or mental problems. Hard to do. They can really put on an act and tell a sad story. Some of them, are really scared.. At the same time, I've got some that won't come off the line. They sign waivers to stay on.. The Quartermaster Laundry finally got fixed. Moved in some E-7's to keep me company in the hooch.
22 Jan: Back in Rach Kien for another meeting. Average one a week. I'll rack up enough time for an Air Medal at this rate.
23 Jan: Got a bunch of replacements in while I was in gone and no one knew where to assign them.I had a pile of orders and paperwork and no one knows what to do with it. I'll be working for the next 4 days to catch up. We're trying to build a club for the troops. We've been selling cokes and turned in about $1700 profit. The clubs haven't given us any furniture or equipment. We'll have a meeting with the wheels tomorrow and get the equipment or withdraw from the main club , We need one bad. The troops need a place to relax when they come out of the field.
24 Jan: Thought I'd heard all the problems. A boy came in yesterday with a new one for hardship discharge. His father was kept in prison for 13 years. He was innocent but it took that long to get a new trial. The father had both legs paralyzed from a mine in the second world war. The mother deserted him when he was sent to prison. He's had 5 heart attacks and can not work at all. He's been out of prison about 6 months and the boy is his only means of support. No other living relatives. All kind of statements to verify it, but the hardship was denied in the states. Rawest deal I've heard of. Things are routine at the fort. The troops are looking for Charlie again. He hit Rach Kien hard the night after I left. Getting lucky. Had a bunch of civilians out today to see if they can help us build a club. I think they were just sightseeing. No one seemed interested in working.
26 Jan: The chopper gets later every day. Last night he was so late, we couldn't send our troops to Battalion Headquarters. They went directly to Bearcat. I need a lot of Army Regulations and forms so I guess I'll have to go back to Bearcat myself.Still haven't been able to open our club. Hope to get it started next month.
28 Jan: The other company at the fort moved out and left me a big mess. I'm having to straighten up their mess, move my weapons positions, build new bunkers and police-police-police. The wheels are more interested in paper on the ground than the welfare of the troops. The troops have been working like mules filling sand bags, I use troops I've pulled off the line. I guess they'd work 24 hours a day to stay off line. 3 of my KIA's last time were shorttimers. Wish I could take more off but I have to keep enough on line to fight.
29 Jan: We haven't been able to get any mail or anyone off the island in 2 days. They're having problems with the choppers. The troops morale drops when the mail doesn't come in. The doughnut dollies come down every week but always seem to pick a day when the troops are gone. Troops keep coming in wanting an answer from the Red Cross on some problem but I can never reach the Red Cross. I guess they have their problems too.
31 Jan: Things moving fast. I've promoted 42 troops , run the payroll and trying to get an updated roster finished. Charlie has been on the island for the past 2 days. Last night he hit us with a 120MM Mortar. Made some big holes in front of the fort. Guess we'll have to sweep the island and kick him off. Troops morale is really high. About half of them got promoted yesterday, most of them got paid and Charlie's mortars didn't hit anything. They're looking forward to zapping Charlie if we can find out where he's hid. It's good to see the troops happy for a change.
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