Upon arrival at Phu Loi I unloaded my weapon and was driven to what I believed to be a bone yard from all the vehicles blown up or damaged in someway during the war. After just having come from Germany, where everything was spit & polish I just couldn't fathom this being anything but a junk yard.
When I reported to the First Sgt. He told me where my barracks were and said go put my stuff in there and report across the road to the motor pool and speak to Sgt. Cowhig and tell him I was his new man. It just so happened that the 1st Plt. was on stand down when I got there so that's where I wen't. It wasn't until my first trip to the field, which was the next day to claymore corners, that I realized why the equiptment looked like it did. I still laugh about my dumfoundness of that reality today. Oh yeah these guys are really fighting a war. After the shock of the Army in combat and the Army on show that I had just come from, soaked in, I settled into my new surroundings and decided this ain't gonna be that bad after all.
We went through many operations, from Paul Bunyan & Shendoah and several others, without even knowing at the time, that, that is what we were doing, throughout the rest of 1967.
We would escort and provide security for convoys going north on "Thunder Road.", provide protection for Rome Plows, which I hated, and spent most of our leisure time on RRF. Ready Reaction Force. I also remember spending a lot of time in the Michellin rubber plantations and those dreadful mine-sweeping, Herring Bone rituals which we went through every morning anytime we were out in the field.
I remember Thanksgiving of 67, when the 2nd Platoon moved into a NDP that the 1st had just left a day or two before and we set up a little farther south in a new NDP on Hwy 13 somewhere near An-Loc. Thanksgiving night the perimeter was hit and the 2nd Platoon had one KIA who was an E-6 who had just transferred to the 2nd platoon from the 1st. He was an FNG, with a wife and kids at home and I just couldn't grasp how all these chips could fall where they did for this to happen. I still struggle with that one today. But it was just so ironic. Sometimes I think the 1st Platoon of Charlie Troop was blessed. That is until the "Tet Offensive" came along.
Jan 31st, 1968 I was awoken to a stand to to get ready to roll towards Saigon, because the American Embassy had been taken. At first I thought this was a sick joke and passed it off, and tried to lay back down when I heard Charlie 16 yelling at me 19er are you up yet. I grabbed the radio and said Roger as I was climbing into the TC hatch and putting on my flak jacket wondering what the hell is going on. As it turned out we only went as far as Ben-Cat on unswept roads, to relieve the 2nd Platoon who had been in a fire fight and was in need of resupply of ammo and refreshment. That's when we rolled into Ben-Cat and I can remember sitting on the top of my track next to a stack of dead NVA's right in front of the entrance to the bar that we used to frequent when we were in Lai Khe. There was some sporadic contact, but the ARVN artillery FSB that had been overran was back in our hands and, it was just heads up & eyes open for the remainder of that day.
The other 9 days of Tet is kind of a blur as it was as if the whole country was on fire and we had the only fire truck. I remember being in Lai-Khe standing down to resupply and lick our woumds, while under constant 122 MM rocket attack. They finally sent us into the Iron Triangle area where they thought they were launching the rockets from, and we found the site for sure but had to back out and regroup for the night and then assaulted the site again the next day. That is when I got wounded and only 9 of the original members of the platoon was left after the fire-fight was over. But the rocket sight was destroyed just the same. I lost several long time friends that day.
The rest of the tour was pretty mundane, before that. As i said Convoy Security, Rome Plows, and just looking for a fight.
What I remember most about Viet-nam is how proud I am to have served in the 1/4 Cav with the "BIG RED ONE" during the "Tet Offensive" and to have survived all of that just to come back home and have nothing but the experience of having served among and with some of the finest people i ever met in my life. The ones that you knew you could count on when it really mattered. That is a hard thing to find these days. As far as any right or wrong in what we did i can't say, I only know i didn't see anyone doing anything wrong while i was there. And as Forrest Gump would say, "That's all I've got to say about that". God Bless you all & Thank You. You have given me something that a millionaire can not buy. Sincerely Ken Andrews, Charlie 14 Delta, Charlie 14 TC and Charlie 19'er. "Prepared & Loyal"