He told us that the Viet Cong knew the American soldier and his habits like a book. What the enemy would do is learn the habits of one unit. There ways of travel and general operating procedures. Along this daily course of routines, there would be a booby trap planted. Then by doing your daily routine a point would be reached of fate. Anything you did could be the moment of your doom. The cigarette lighter might contain C-4,a plastic explosive. A bottle of soda with battery acid mixed into it. Food with ground glass mixed into it. Maybe there was a grenade under something with the pin pulled. A child could run up to you with a live grenade and say Number 1 GI. These are some of the ways your enemy operates. He is sly and deadly. You guys have a long year ahead of you, and I can only wish you all the best of luck. Thank you for all of your time, you were putting in the service of your country. You are all dismissed.
Then everyone stood up and stretched there legs and rubbed there asses. The material of the talk was beyond most of us and we took it along with the rest of the army bullshit. Yet, to some it left the impression in the brain. It gave new food for thought and further matured the new seeds of war that were being tended. Strange how the concept and the reality of war played a new tune of melody to the brain. You felt yourself being transformed and reprocessed into a new way of life. How did a person learn a new life in a short period of time? How do you extinguish the past learning from your parents and people that you associated. Yet, we were told to alter our lives and start anew.
We filed out the back of the building and proceeded tomarch back to the area. It was in a casual regimentation. There was a laking on the rigidity of the formation. When wearrived back at the the barracks, we were told that we would be receiving further orders. This left me in awe, yet not surprised. That was the army and there was nothing that you could do about it. Only red tape and much channel work could alter a persons fate, placed on that order. Well here we were all still pondering that fateor place, that would determine our future. The rest of the day was spent lounging around and going out on police calls around the barracks. Strange, how even in the middle of a war, the army will bring along its regimented routines.
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The next day, I received my orders to report to the FIRST CAV. located in a place called AN KHE. My new flurry of questions were coming out to anyone who would listen. Soon, I had found out that it was located in the central highlands. It was located aboutone hundred and fifty miles north, and west of VHUNG TAU. That afternoon we would be flying up there.
After lunch we gathered our gear and returned to the airport. It was done in the typical army fashion of asses in the face and armpits all over. The ride held a transfixed atmosphere to it. That same feeling of being shipped to the slaughter bins. The guys in the bus seemed to be wallowing in the separate calm that filled each. Knowing the moments were ticking away, each second brought you closer to the final reality of war.There wasa slight vibration to the whole procedure. Thoughts mingled with the lack of sleep. Total relocation of our lives, the norms and values once held dear, to be shattered like a mirror.
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We flew up along the coast and landed at an airport in QUIN NOHN. There was a new opening process to each of us. Everyone thought that this was there final point of destiny. I soon found out that the next stop would be AN KHE. The intensity of the excitement began to build within me. There was that feeling of going to your first visit to the dentist. There is that fear that hangs about you. You try and hide it but everyone seems to be radiating the same apprehensions.
Soon, I would arrive at the place that would be my home for the next ten months of my life. It all seemed to be coming in on everyone very fast. Thoughts of what it would be like, keptrunning through my mind. To face the unknown was something new to me and a lot of the other guys that were going into the country. Most had never really been away from home before, except for their first year in the army. It was sort of like taking a piece of steel and reheating it and reforging it into something new.
Soon the plane was rolling down the runway. We had taken on a few SOUTH VIETNAMESE soldiers. They were in their field gear and had M-16 rifles with them. It seemed funny to see people walking around with blackrifles in their hands.
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