Letters tell of Vietnam War experience 50 years ago

Friday, July 20, 2018

May 2, 1968

Dear Mom and Dad,

Well, Iím still here at base camp and Iíve been very lucky to be staying here. The rest of the company moved out into the field yesterday morning and this evening they are moving into another new position. The reason I am still here is that they needed a man from each platoon to guard our ammunition and company CP (command post) so I happened to be that lucky person.

Although yesterday we built a bunker for the ammunition and worked on some supplies today, we havenít done much at all. The time seems to be passing much faster now, I guess because I am getting more used to the conditions and the idea of being over here.

We were paid on the 30th ($195) so I sent $190 home in a treasurerís check because they brought them out to us and I thought that would be better then carrying the money with me until we got back to Bearcat. I sent that much money because I have some extra at Bearcat that I plan on sending at a later date.

I still hold the rank of Private First Class, but I hope to get a promotion to E-4 in a short time. Our sergeant said he put in orders for some (promotions), so I am hoping mine will come through soon.

I believe the monsoon season has begun in this area. Two nights ago it rained for about three hours and now this evening it is drizzling again. The good part is that it gets hot every day and dries all the mud in a hurry.

It is getting dark so that is the reason Iím running off the line.

There has just been a little panic around the camp. Our company commander and his driver just came in for information and chow when someone brought some grenades and mines in that had been found in the field for inspection. They were looking at the faulty hand grenade when they dropped it and it went off. They were standing by the jeep and it blew holes all over the side and underneath the jeep. It blew out all four tires and one on a trailer, blew holes in the oil pan and in some tents nearby. The captain was hit, his driver, and the armorer, and two bystanders. Since it fell and hit the ground, the wounds were mostly on their lower body, but some all over. All the holes were about pencil-size and very ragged.

The amazing part is that I had gotten chow and walked over to the men because the armorer had my rifle by mistake, so I exchanged the rifle and looked at the grenades and talked to them, then turned and walked about 40 feet away when it blew up. I looked around and saw the captain limp away, then he hit the ground; the other two men were laying on the ground and unconscious. The medics carried them off and about 10 minutes later a chopper landed and took them to a hospital.

The amazing thing is that I was standing right there where that round went off. Fortunately, I just left in time.

Love Richard