Sometime toward the end of June of 67
I completed a training flight with Bill Yancey out of Marble Mountain with HMM 361 after running the surgery suite at Mag 12 in Chu Li. I had no battle experience except for one big ass motor attack and later going out with EOD to blow up captured ammo confiscated from the VC and NVA. They would be waiting for us to find a crater to put the ammo in and ambush us on our way out before we set off the ordinance. How exciting lying in the back of an armored troupe carrier while the VC shot at us. Once the ammo exploded then they quit trying to shoot us.
I was sent out by myself a few day later. My first casualty was a newbie LCPL on his first patrol in 6 foot high jungle grass He was 6’3″. I remember thinking about his mother not knowing he was my first KIA on my first ever mission out West of Danang/MM.
I was never the same ever again.
The above photo was when I first arrived in Dong Ha. I had been flying long hours and was able to acquire all the arms you see behind my bunk. The M 14 automatic was from a deceased Marine in the DMZ. These were collector guns since the M 16 came out and it was a joke since it jammed all the time and it took a 3 foot long metal screwed together rod to un-jam the rifle. The M 14 was the gun of choice for Marines.
I never got to sleep in my cot since the artillery was always going on at night. This kept you diving in and out of the bunker all night. It was better to just sleep in the bunker with the rats. The guy on the right is Jerry, our Senior Corpsman, and the other guy was the head of getting us our gear with HMM 363. There were no big parties when Jerry was in charge, but things got crazy when 361 arrived along with Yancey, Blankenship, and Sean. The parties would scare the NVA away since they thought we were crazy. AND…we were.