From John Bullock, Alpha, 3rd plt., 1970

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Niner Alpha
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From John Bullock, Alpha, 3rd plt., 1970

Postby Niner Alpha » Sun Jan 06, 2008 12:02 am

John, sent me this tonight. It's a great read. I sent him an email thanking him and encouraged him to look through some more letters. I'll gladly add all of John's information to the timeline. It's exactly the kind of information I'm looking for. His email to me said this:


Worked on a few letters from Nam tonight, did some excerpts. Remember, there is a pretty naïve FNG writing these, who seldom knew what was really going on and some of the writing indicates that. Aside from names and places, I threw in a few tidbits that might stir up some memories. If nothing else, this is something you can read to put you to sleep. For the most part, I can only say “weÂâ€
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More from John to be added.

Postby Niner Alpha » Thu Jan 10, 2008 9:54 pm

Going through these letters, I was pretty excited about finding the pay sheet, where the Army deducted $2 for a spoon I lost. IÂ’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of that story, as it was so typical Army.





5 May 70

FSB Chamberlain

[moved from Gettysburg to Chamberlain]



6 May 70

FSB Chamberlain

They didnÂ’t have a place for us to sleep in here last night, so they sent us out on an AP [Think maybe they were doing a buildup in Chamberlain before Cambodia?]



12 May 70

FSB Chamberlain

Well, I am glad to get back to Vietnam, where things are peaceful and quiet. I hope we get to stand down soon cause IÂ’m a little jumpyÂ… We were on 50% alert at night almost every night thereÂ… Â…That must be some map you have. Does it show ParrotÂ’s Beak, and the Black Virgin Mountain? ThatÂ’s where we went across at. They choppered us to several villages near Ba Too. Most of the NVA we fought were out of there. We chased them from one village to anotherÂ… Thanks for the Kool Aid, I mixed it in one of my canteensÂ… The water has iodine and chlorine in it and doesnÂ’t taste too good.



13 May 70

Chamberlain

…we have been out for 2 or 3 weeks setting up AP’s around… The Colonel of our Bn came by this morning and gave us a well done on our operations in Cambodia… Each platoon is divided into 2 to 4 squads. Ours had 3 squads when I came into company, but now has 2 because so many guys have had bad feet, etc. and can’t go to the field… I started as a rifleman, then was an assistant machine gunner, and currently I am a grenadier. I carry an M-79 grenade launcher and close to 60 rounds of M-79 grenades. The weapon looks like a single shot, break open, sawed off shotgun. The ammo looks like an enlarged .22 bullet, only stubbier… The grenade round isn’t armed to explode until it has been fired and travels at least 28 – 30 meters in the air. I carry some buckshot rounds, just in case I have to fire at anything closer… Also there are CS rounds (I carry one). When these land they produce tear gas. Besides these I carry 2 – 4 flare rounds… through experience in Cambodia I learned to use it pretty well… P.S. Here are some tickets to the Cambodian National Lottery, but you won’t win much cause they already expired. [picked up in the debris at Chantrea.]



15 May 70

FSB Chamberlain

Â…it rains about every dayÂ… Yesterday we made 4 insertions by chopper and AP in the brush, then came in this morning. Tonight we AP again I guess, then pull bunker guard tomorrow night hereÂ… Sergeant Cox, my Iowa born platoon sergeant, said he would talk to LT Hall about my signing up for Sniper SchoolÂ… They got our company patches available nowÂ… They are worn on the left pocket of the shirt, made to resemble and Ace of SpadesÂ… [I enclosed one of the patches in this letter.]



16 May 70

FSB Chamberlain

Â…we set up an AP last night in the rain and slept in the water all night. We are spending the day here and pulling bunker guard here tonight. Our LT thinks we will be going to FSB Gettysburg to help tear that place downÂ… From now on they are going to put 2 companies at Ben Luc and 2 companies at ChamberlainÂ…



18 May 70

FSB Chamberlain

I got the cake you sent 3 days ago. We dug in through the marshmallows and ate away, and ate the marshmallows tooÂ… I guess we leave Chamberlain today for GettysburgÂ… Rumor is everywhere that the 9th is still leaving in JulyÂ… ThereÂ’s little chance that IÂ’ll go home with the 9th. Only those with 10 months or so in will go, I imagine.

Yes, I did make it into Cambodia, but that was from here at ChamberlainÂ… Almost every GI here is glad we went though. Nobody really wanted to go but the damage we did there on the enemy is expected to make it easier hereÂ… When it rains here, it both pours and drizzles. YouÂ’ve never seen rain come down so hard for so long. There is a little lightning, but I havenÂ’t seen a thunderstorm yet.



20 May 70

FSB Gettysburg

Supposedly the artillery is to be removed the 23rd, so we wonÂ’t be here very long after that. From then on the 6/31 is going to have two companies operating out of FSB Chamberlain.



21 May 70

FSB Gettysburg

Guess we are AP-ing again tonightÂ…



24 May 70

FSB Gettysburg

Still here, but now we are spending two nights in and one night out instead of visa versa. Loads of lumber and boxes are being burned and choppers and boats are taking equipment and materials outÂ… The company has brought in some beer so I guess you know what most of us have been doing instead of tearing down the placeÂ…



25 May 70

Ben Luc

…I couldn’t believe how good it felt to get cleaned up and put on clean clothes. I got ringworm on one side so I’ll have to get something from our medic… Bob McCoy is poking brownies down me – his Mom sent 4 doz. He said to tell you the cookies, Coke and candy was delicious… Any kind of Kool Aid is OK, but the presweetened is best cause it is hard to get enough sugar in the field… What they didn’t tear down or lift out of Gettysburg they burned… We have also rode on…ACV (air cushioned vehicle). …is kept in the air by propellers underneath and pushed along by a propeller in back… They don’t use them much around here because they only travel 2 – 3 feet off the ground and they get stuck on top of dikes…



26 May 70



DoesnÂ’t look like we are going out todayÂ… I had to go over and get a haircut and shave. LT insisted that everyone get trimmed up. Everyone that could dig out an excuse went to Tan AnÂ… By the time we left Gettysburg yesterday the base was almost completely dismantled. Everyone was having a great time. For half the night during last week, people were shooting off flares and throwing hand grenades and smoke grenades into the canal. Guess we are all still boys to some extent. The Generals and Colonels donÂ’t know it, but we run the ArmyÂ…



27 May 70

Ben Luc



Sgt Cox is the only one in the Company that I know of who comes from Iowa. He went to Iowa StateÂ… I found out the name of the town by F.S.B. Chamberlain. It is Duc Hoa. .. Tell Dad if he wants to buy a new car I can buy it in my name for factory price. The order is put in here, and they deliver it from the factory to the nearest dealer back in the states, then you pick it up from thereÂ… Well, yesterday we didnÂ’t do a thing. I canÂ’t believe Col. Gearin didnÂ’t find something; heÂ’s slippingÂ…. Last night then, everyone was over to the club. Everyone came staggering back when they closed. We had a great timeÂ… My ringworm is almost gone now. Doc, our medic, gave me two pills and some dope. It does the jobÂ…



28 May 70



Â…We airmobiled and made two insertionsÂ… The two spots we checked out were somewhere around Tan An. On the last insertion we checked out some houches. One of them had an old lady in it and sitting along the wall, 14 kids. Maybe she was babysitting, I donÂ’t know. In another room papa-san was sitting over in the corner smoking grass, and he was so high he couldnÂ’t walk. There was two kids in with him. There was some nipper in the area but we couldnÂ’t find any bananas on them. Bananas, coconuts and pineapple are grown over here, but around inhabited areas the people keep them picked. It sure smells good going down a road where people have set up little shops with all those fruits.



29 May 70

Ben Luc



Another day in the choppers. We got in two insertions. The last was the longest and the worst. We were wading in mud and water up to our necks chasing one gook. [ Do I remember coming out of the water and stripping, then pouring insect repellent on the gobs of leaches to get them to drop off?] I about went under twice. We never did see the gook again. The guys in the front who saw him said he didnÂ’t have a weapon or equipment, so he moved a lot faster than us. We dusted off one new Sergeant as a heat casualtyÂ… IÂ’m just glad we didnÂ’t stay out tonightÂ… Eighty percent or more of the causalities here are from booby trapsÂ… Soldiers around here donÂ’t get drunk to forget the war. They get drunk to relieve the boredom. There isnÂ’t anything else to do, even in a base campÂ…



30 May

Ben Luc



We got back about noon today, after making one insertionÂ…



31 May 70

Ben Luc



The Boats took us down the river yesterday afternoon, and we sat up an A.P. last nightÂ… We were all mad because we left so early, because there was a U.S.O. show here, a Phillipine band, and we didnÂ’t get to see it allÂ… Here is my pay voucher, I got $48 back pay plus my $65 combat pay, $9 for foreign duty pay and IÂ’m getting $167 base payÂ… [This same check also had a $2 deduction on it. I had had a spoon stolen from my mess kit in AIT in January, and the Army had just caught up with me in May, charging me for it. I found this rather amusing. The army would not have found it amusing, had they found out how much the spoon was eventually to cost them. It became an ongoing joke with me, but unsure of the statute of limitations, I will not repeat the details here.]



2 Jun 70

Ben Luc

Bob McCoy is trying to talk me into extending for 6 months to get out of the field. That way you get a job like clerk in a base camp and donÂ’t have to go out into the field. Besides that you get a 30 days leave to the U.S. [What do want to bet there was some Army fine print in there somewhere.]Â… If they keep trying to make this place stateside, I may prefer to be in the field. Well, 313 days to goÂ…



3 Jun 70

Ben Luc



Alpha Company of the Sixth and Thirty-First was officially turned over to the new C.O. today. I canÂ’t imagine us liking him as much as Captain DevazziÂ… I hope we go down the river again the same place we went a few days ago. The river runs through Ben Luc and the whole river front is lined with houses and shops, that people drive their boats up to. It looks kind of shoddy, but interestingÂ… Sergeant Cox got hurt on a booby trap the other day and went back to the world. He will probably be on leave to Iowa in a couple of weeks. Now for platoon sergeant we have an E-7, a real liferÂ… So far lately we have A.P.-ed at night and spent the day in Ben Luc. Not too bad, though we have to fill sand bags 4 hours a day. We have been setting up in populated areas around here fairly close to the Camp. We are trying to catch V.C. tax collectors making their rounds at night. Last night we saw flashing lights from several houches and figured some V.C. sympathizers were signaling the tax collector to stay away. I was checking out one houch yesterday and scared a little kid. He cried and everything. The people just thought it was funny. We just walk in and ask for their I.D.Â’s and look around nosing into things. They donÂ’t seem to mind the intrusion; I guess they are used to itÂ…



5 Jun 70

Ben Luc



I think my ringworm is gone now, the stuff Doc gave me must have did the job. It doesnÂ’t itch anymore, and thereÂ’s only a spot where it wasÂ… IÂ’m supposed to be out of here April 11, 1971 if I extend the two weeks so I can get the five months early outÂ… I may cuss at being over here, but IÂ’d rather be here than back in the states. Even though they are trying to make this place stateside, there isnÂ’t the spit and polish here that I would have to put up withÂ… Bob just made up a story about getting the wrong glasses, so he could get a pass to Tan An. HeÂ’ll probably fake his way through and go, Ha! He is forever starting rumors just for kicks to see how far they will spread. ThatÂ’s McCoyÂ… We have been pulling details around here, just busy workÂ… IÂ’m supposed to be on detail but have been hiding out. I should go and catch the end of it and act like I didnÂ’t know were suppose to work this afternoonÂ…



6 Jun 70

Ben Luc



Guess we will go out again tonight. It rained on us last night and soaked us, then we didnÂ’t get trucks this morning, so we had to walk into Ben Luc. I found out the name of the Fire Support Base that supplied us in Cambodia, it was F.S.B. Seminole. I was in there the first and second day and then never saw it again. It was a temporary base, just set up for the time we were in CambodiaÂ… Guess we set up an A.P. tonight. Probably rain on us again as usual.



14 Jun 70

F.S.B. Jackson



IÂ’ve been out of cigarettes for about 4 days now, but other than that I guess IÂ’m alrightÂ… We came here the 9th and have been going on A.P.Â’s mostly.



18 June 70

FSB Jackson



I got 297 days left after todayÂ… We A.P.-ed south of here again down the river by boats. We were right across the river from Sugar Mill (Hiep Hoa). It sure was wet too, cause it rained from afternoon on into the night sometimeÂ… I guess we wonÂ’t have to tear this place down now; the next company in here will be doing thatÂ… IÂ’ve been sleeping on a hammock those nights when we are in. We either sleep in houches or bunkers, and there are no beds to sleep on, so I bought the hammock from a gook at the gate. [It was Vietnamese size, so I mostly hung out of it. I also bought a bottle of Rum, so called anyway. Smelled like butterscotch and tasted like shit. When they came around confiscating booze, I volunteered it. Got stung by a scorpion here also. The Doc wasnÂ’t sure if they were poisonous or not, so he said I should keep an eye on it. I didnÂ’t swell up and die, so it wasnÂ’t. Thanks Doc.]



23 June 70

FSB Jackson



We are going out tonight. Guess we are going to start tearing Jackson down so will be here a while longer. If they keep sending us out without any rest they arenÂ’t going to get any work out of me. Tonight is our turn for bunker guard, but we are going out on an A.P. instead, so none of us are too happyÂ… I got told by a kid that I was put in for a medal for an action we were in two days ago. [This must have been the first time at V.C. Island?]



25 June 70

F.S.B. Jackson



Well, we got put to work. We are tearing F.S.B. down and are supposed to be out of here Sun the 28th. Now we stay in two nights on bunker guard and spend the third night in the field. During the day then, we dismantle the bunkers and buildings. We will all be glad to leaveÂ… According to the news, the army drafted 5,000 college graduates last year with degrees in fields that the army could use, and all but 200 of them went into the infantry. I guess the army figures they can train experts in a few weeks that will be better than 4 year college graduatesÂ…



30 Jun 70

Ben Luc



Got back this afternoon. Jackson is nothing now but a level piece of landÂ… When we got back the club had been closed down, so we couldnÂ’t get drunk. It stays closed until July 4. There was a fight there while we were gone, and someone took a poke at the battalion XO, a major. July 4th we are suppose to have a big beer bust and steak fry. I wouldnÂ’t be surprised if we were the platoon that went out that nightÂ…
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John's last additions

Postby Niner Alpha » Sat Jan 12, 2008 7:38 pm

His email included all of the following:

These are the balance of the letters I could find pertaining to the 6/31st, which my Mother saved in a large album. I went on to the 2/12, 1st Air Cav and ended up walking point. On 30 Oct 70 a trail watcher opened up with a short burst of automatic fire and one round punched my ticket home. I never really felt a part of the Cav, but probably would never have felt I belonged to any other unit either.



One of my favorite quotes, I wish I could remember who said it, something like, “The past is a foreign country; they did things differently there.Ââ€
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Added to the timeline

Postby Niner Alpha » Sun Jan 13, 2008 4:03 pm

All of John's additions added correctly to the timeline now.

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