Welcome to Vietnam

by SGT Larry Carr (11B)



Larry's other stories below: Please click on links to read.


Thanksgiving Day 1969  The Busted Weapon  Tear Gas and Water Buffalo


A Tank Ride  Lucky -- October 1970  A Deadly Game


Going Home -- 1970  Ice Cream  The Dog Handler  NVA Bunker Complex



I arrived in Vietnam on October 2, 1969, in Cam Ranh Bay. After the usual Army "hurry up and wait", I was assigned to the 5th Infantry Division. I remember looking at this large map of Vietnam with all the units and their locations. I immediately saw that the 5th was as far north as one could go and still be in South Vietnam. DMZ, here I come! We all boarded the Army green buses with the mesh wire over the windows. Of course, we asked, "Why the wire?" The answer was, "So that the VC could not throw grenades in the window and kill all of us; "cherries" before we got to our units. This was not a comforting thought.

After the trip from Cam Ranh Bay to Da Nang to Quang Tri, I was trucked out to Camp Red Devil. "Home at Last!" I was assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion 11th Infantry Regiment. After checking in, we all had to attend a few days of Vietnam orientation. This consisted of showing us VC "booby" traps that we might encounter and a few poisonous snakes. This was not getting any better! After this we were told to be nice to the Vietnamese people and to stay away from the prostitutes because we might catch the "Black Syph" and spend the rest of our lives on this island. We all heard the same story I'm sure, no matter where we were stationed in Vietnam. Finally orientation was over.

After being in Vietnam now for almost two weeks, I was finally given an M-16 and all of my equipment. I remember being told to go down to the chopper pad and catch a ride out to my company, along with the re-supply, which was out in the field. When I arrived at my new company, I reported to my Captain. He assigned me to 1st Squad 1st Platoon. I felt like a fish out of water. I looked around and I had never seen such a rough looking bunch. Clothes torn, faces dirty and unshaven; boots that the Salvation Army would not accept, and here I stood in my brand new fatigues and shiny boots looking like the poster boy for the United States Army. Man, was I ever a "cherry". After introductions, I was loaded down with even more equipment; claymore mines, extra M-60 ammo and anything else these guys were tired of carrying.

After humping most of the day, we set up an NDP for the night. My first night in the bush, and guess what, they sent me out on LP with this other guy. I bet he was not happy, taking out a "cherry" on my first day. I don't remember his name but he told me to just keep quiet and everything would be okay. After we set up in a spot he chose, deep in some elephant grass, we checked the radio and laid out some frags and settled in for the night. Sometime during the night, we heard voices and they were not speaking English. They seemed to be crawling around trying to find us. He told me to be very quiet and not move so as not to give our position away. They were trying to find our LP. I was never so scared in all of my life. I could hear my heart beating and thought the gooks could too. That's when I finally realized that all of this was real. All the training was over; no more playing soldier! This was for real and there were actually people who wanted to kill me. I grew up real fast that night and was never so glad to see the sun come up. We made our way back to the perimeter and he said that I did just fine. Welcome to the Vietnam War!




Charles  Ames


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