Reb – 1968

Saturday, November 2, 1968

The improvements on our OP continued.  Fernando finished constructing the blast wall, and Hua was sandbagging it for an extra layer of protection.  One of the Grunts commented about how the outpost looked like a black silhouette on a target from the fields below us.  This was highlighted by the red 55 gallon drum on top of our shower (it looked like an aiming stake).

Sumo had a scheme to camouflage the OP with a thatch wall.  It would work like a garage door and be closed during daylight hours.  When on alert, we would lift the door and prop it open with bamboo struts.

Reb went on the Admin run to Da Nang.  He had another package to mail to Margaret.  It contained sketches of her latest photos, and he added some of his own, including a copy of my photo of him posing with his M-16.  Their collaborative art project helped pass the time.

Sumo and I were listening to Armed Forces Radio.  The broadcast announced that President Johnson had agreed to a bombing halt in North Vietnam.  His address to the nation was replayed on the radio.  I felt completely betrayed by this news because we were being put in jeopardy.  The irony was:  I had already cast my ballot, and this decision could impact the election on November 5th.  My loyalty to the Vietnam War had been slowly waning, and now it appeared to me there was no plan to win.

Reb returned with a salvaged Jeep seat.  It was a rear bench seat with a rectangular pad on metal tubing.  It had a backrest, and he planned to construct a wooden base for it, made of ammo boxes.  It would be part of the furnishings in the OP.

Hua flagged down the Admin truck in Dai Phu at the base of the hill and loaded a dozen thick bamboo poles.  Sumo had arranged this transaction, and when I inquired about the cost of these items he responded, “Don’t ask.”

Next Edition:  Gold Oak Leaves


2 thoughts on “Thatch

  1. Steve,
    It was like going back in time reading your blog. I was on Hill 65, Rawhide, in April 1971 to Oct 1971. I was a artilleryman on 155 towed howitzers. C battery 3/16th Artillery, 196th Infantry Brigade. Your pictures were like I was there again.I did a couple 2 gun jumps to Hill 351, Hill 62 and a old French base on the Laos border with a river below us complete with a fishing village. There was a Special Forces Camp below us in the valley . They controlled a ARVN 105 Battery and a ARVN Ranger battalion consisting of mostly Montagnards in their young teens.I think this was called Hill 62, but I can’t be sure. The US troops all left Hill 65 sometime in Nov. 2 of our guns went back in Feb of 72 for a week long fire mission to destroy the NVA supply lines that popped out after we left. I saw pictures of actual bamboo guard rails and repair pits along the new supply roads they built after we left. The firebase was in pretty bad shape, as the ARVN’s didn’t do much to keep it secure.I went out on the convoy there to give extra security for the ride from Da Nang and that day we unloaded 1000 rounds alone for the week.
    I still see my best friend I made over there, Howard Hernandez, a Mexican American tough kid from LA. I see him every year in CA or Las Vegas and he has been out to Boston a few times. I just got back, with my wife, from spending 13 days with him and his girlfriend in Las Vegas.Another buddy of ours , Skip, from LA killed himself in 1983.I found it interesting that you witnessed Agent Orange being sprayed around Rawhide. I got diagnosed Oct, 2017 with prostate cancer , so that story has special consequences for me.
    I hope someday to at least put my photos I took online, but still have not yet felt comfortable doing this.
    Again, thank you for your blog and sharing your story.

    Welcome Home

    Bob Swasey


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