Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Adventures in Paradise-- Vietnam: 68-70.

Here is a special, cherished picture of me [on the left with dark brown hair] enjoying myself with some crew members in our 'flight platoons', 'White Flight and Blue Flight' of the 240th AHC [Assault Helicopter Company] stationed at BearCat, RVN, 1969-70. A dear friend, Walter E. Weber- another gunner from Blue Flight, took that picture. I was with the 'White Flight' platoon. I was 6 feet tall and weighed about 165 pounds when I was 20 or 21 in this picture. We had to get along with each other-- and made some life long friends-- because we protected each others' 'backs' back then. And we saw some of our members/ buddies die over there, too. It could have easily been my butt that got zapped! But for some reason, God saved me, and I am THANKFUL and BLESSED.

Here is how our usual days went, 7 days a week, for a year or more in my 2nd tour of duty- Vietnam. Our worst deprivation was lack of sleep, IMHO, and that is why many combat Vets came home 'aged' and gray haired before our time... lol, even in our early twenties. I am sue that Agent Orange has something to do with that too. Lack of sleep will mess up your beautiful youth. The platoon Sargent would come in early to wake us up one at a time, and certainly in a special way as he knew our individual temperaments. Some guys' fist would shoot out instantly, but I wasn't that bad. For me he would gently shake my shoulder and say, "Schuckman, get up." Then we would look on the platoon board / chart to see which missions we would go on for that day, and sometimes there might be 2- 3 different missions for one platoon. We had 3 'flight platoons' -- 2 slicks[transportation platoons/ groups for carrying Infantry into combat, and out again] [the Greyhounds], and one gunship platoon [the Mad Dogs]. Then for me, a gunner, I could go quick to the Mess Hall for breakfast[ bad food from bad jerky cooks] or go straight to the Flight Line and our company 'gun shack' to pick up my locked 2- M-60 machine guns and Ammo [7.62 mm belts stored in 'Mini-gun' steel cans]. Gunners were actually 'in-training' to become Crew Chiefs someday, and we had to assist the Chief in some of the ship's light maintenance-- cleaning the deck and windows, as well as provide, clean the guns, ammo, etc.

Well, then our Flight was off in the air to our destination/ mission to begin that days operations/ fighting/ objectives, usually in 3rd Corps, I believe. We worked with American soldiers [the BEST!], ARVIN's [friendly Vietnamese Army], Thai [Royal Thai Army], ROK [Koreans], Special Forces, Marines, Navy, and ... I am not allowed to mention other groups [Big Brother still worries us Vets... concerning classified stuff]. After the day was over we came home to our base, cleaned our guns, and by that time the darn mess hall was closed, so we had to go hungry or BUY something at the EM Club, where you see me and others in the picture above. Perhaps one reason I over ate when I got out of the Army was because we crew members in the flight platoons didn't get enough food in the war time. But I didn't become over wieght until about age 35...and I wasa power lifter for the past 20 years. Lord knows that I sure need to lose weight now! But- better to be fat in this life than lose my soul and salvation in the next life. We are all here for eternity --it's just a matter of where we will spend it.

At least we had showers that worked some of the time. I pity the infantry [grunts] who didn't have that luxury for better health and hygiene. People used to say that a 'Grunt' can take anything. but I thought waging war from a cool helicopter was the ONLY way to fight! But when they got shot down and/ or crashed the JP-4 jet fuel would cook everyone aboard the aircraft.

As a matter of fact, we were told at Aviation school at Ft. Rucker , AL, that we would be sent to Fort Polk, LA if we flunked out of Aviation school. No one failed.

A few friends asked me to share more of my adventures in Vietnam, and so I am.
More later.


1 comment:

jack69 said...

I never had that much trouble, but my problems are minor. VA at Salisbury, NC improved drastically in the past two years. VA at BAy Pines, St. Pete. Fl improved also.

Hang in there, it is rough but life is still good and God is great. God Bless the VET.