John Bullock March 30, 1970

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Niner Alpha
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John Bullock March 30, 1970

Postby Niner Alpha » Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:03 pm

30 Mar 70
Dear Mom and Dad
We are sitting on the runway of Wake Island now. The wind is gusting a little outside, with a little rain coming down. When I was walking to the plane my hat whipped off my head.
Now we are taxing down the runway. I slept a little after the last movie. As soon as we are airborne we get breakfast. When we came back to our seats we found decorated hard boiled eggs. They said that even though we missed Easter Sunday, the bunny was still around.
We land in Okinawa nest, about 5 hours from now. They are forecasting rain there… I can see nothing outside the plane now but pitch darkness and the reflections on one wing of a flashing red light. If I look up though, I can see stars, so if it is raining, we are above it… I guess it is 8:12 am Easter there in Iowa, but it is dark here, and 9 hours earlier in Okinawa and a day later…
We are over Okinawa now. We have to circle for about 15 minutes to allow other aircraft to take off. It is still pitch dark out, about 12:45 p.m. your time Sunday. We are traveling along with the night… Now we are cleared, I guess we are going in…

30 Mar 70
Dear Mom and Dad
We should be taking off from Kadina air strip here in Okinawa. We layed over here for refueling about an hour, before taking off on the last leg of our flight to Bien Hoa, Vietnam. The weather here is the same as Wake Island, a wet misty early morning. It should be about 2 p.m. Sunday in Iowa; I think it is 5 am Monday local time.
I tried to call from here, but I went through 3 operators, and I don’t think the last one had any idea of how to connect. I had to hang up because the plane was leaving. The first operator I got couldn’t speak English….
About 5:15 p.m. your time we passed over the coast of Vietnam. We are now heading into Bien Hoa. We finally caught up with the day too for it has been light about an hour. The stewardesses just served us our last Coke.
We moved from Bien Hoa airbase about 15 miles to Long Bien. I’ll be with the 18th Co of the 90th Replacement Battalion, probably on or two days…
On my way here, the place looked like regular Midwestern grass lands, except for tons of barbed wire strung along the road, bunkers and towers. VC and NVA would never be able to build up to a strength where they could take this place, but they occasionally drop rockets in. The base and all of the buildings are surrounded by sandbags…
I didn’t see any cars but two on the way here, all the locals seem to ride motorbikes. They took our American dollars and coins, except pennies, and issued us Military Currency that is used here.
There isn’t a latrine in the barracks, but one large one down a ways… The barracks are filthier than a barn; the only thing clean in them are the sheets on the bed… I about drowned in my sweat this afternoon. It was hot, but not as hot as it can get. The monsoon season starts in about a month (May), so I suppose that will make things miserable…
Love John

30 Mar 70
Somewhere in some conversations before leaving Oakland, there was some talk about what you should write home about and what you should not mention to the parents, wife, family. I had not totally decided for myself at this point.
In my March 30th letter I laid it on pretty thick about how safe I was, how impossible it would be for the enemy to get through, except for maybe an occasional rocket…
Truth while I was on the tarmac at Ben Hoa, just shortly after I arrived, going from some point A to some point B, two or three rockets landed, exploding within sight and sound. I was far enough removed at a safe distance.
Had I been alone, I would have stood there observing the impact with interest. But everyone around me dove beneath a nearby truck, so not wanting to look stupid, I dove as well. No point, as it was over before we started diving, and in few moments we were up and moving again, a column of smoke pouring out of a building down the way. Never heard whether anyone was hurt, but understood that incoming rockets was something of a routine at Ben Hoa. Welcome to Vietnam.
Next time I was at the airfield, probably when I was being transferred after the 6/31st was dissolved, happened again. I was standing in the terminal; loudspeakers were playing “Leaving on a Jet Plane”, by Peter, Paul, and Mary. All around were guys with their bags, ready to catch the Freedom Birds home, their time done.

Just as suddenly the explosions. Incoming rockets. All these poor guys dived under their seats, Charlie taking one last lick at them before they got the hell out. I found this whole situation surreal and amusing. Somewhere over time I had developed a rather macabre sense of humor, laughing at things that a normal person might find less than amusing. This is something I could not explain to someone who had never been to war, and something I probably would not have to explain to someone who has.

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