Monthly Archives: January 2014

George Moses – Battery Commander – Part One





Captain Moses Enjoying a Rare Treat With His Men in the Field
Captain Moses
Enjoying a Rare Treat With His Men in the Field

George Moses spent 20 years in the Army, retiring with the rank of full colonel. The path he took took to becoming commander of Battery B is a story in itself.

I was 29 when I went to Vietnam, a little older than the average bear. I graduated from high school three years behind, only one of which was my own fault. I was an October baby, so my mother held me back one year to let me mature socially. Then I contracted polio as a kid and was treated during the school year, and had to repeat the year. I put myself even further behind during junior high in Germany, where my father was stationed. I would get five dollars to buy breakfast, lunch and dinner at the school cafeteria. I discovered that for a dollar I could buy four marks twenty from the cab drivers, which would buy a lot of wiener schnitzel and beer. My buddies and I would go to the mountains, to the guest houses and have a ball. We got a different kind of education, but also skipped a lot of school. Then when the jig was up I had to repeat that year too.

After that failed year in Germany I got smart and really hunkered down and made very good grades. I came from a lower middle class family in Lawton, Oklahoma and I knew my parents were not going to be able to send me to college. In the motion pictures I had seen clips of cadets throwing their hats in the air. I said why don’t I look into that. I realized all you got to do is apply, there’s nothing to lose. My sweetheart’s father was an attorney in town, and I had a lot of people writing letters for me. Senator Robert Kerr ended giving me his primary appointment to West Point.

I will always be grateful. That was a blessing to me and I did all I could to live up to his expectations of me while I was there. I was 21 when I entered West Point, as old as you could possibly be. You could not be over 25 to graduate, so you had to get in within four years of that limit. I came out in the upper third of the class. Worked my ass off. I found out while I was up there that we’re not all built the same between the ears. Some were built differently than I am. But by working hard you can make up that difference.

I immediately went to Ft. Sill for the basic course in artillery and became a beady-eyed forward observer, but the Army sent me to Germany to a missile unit. So I started taking correspondence courses to keep up with the field artillery because I didn’t want to leave that branch, and I hoped eventually to command a battery somewhere. After Germany I went to Ft. Benning GA – I thought I would be going to Vietnam, – and worked for an infantry lieutenant colonel, Bertam J. Bishop, who turned out to be an old war horse. I had the privilege of working for Lt. Col. Bishop for one year and then rotated out to Vietnam. The lessons I learned from Bishop helped me in Vietnam, in my whole 20 year military career, and I know now throughout life.

Bishop tried to recruit me into the infantry. I told him I was a trained artilleryman and wanted to command a battery. But no, I got assigned to headquarters at Nha Trang in an administrative job, a housekeeping job, and eight to five job, and I was really sick over it.

The night before I was to report for duty I was at the officer’s club setting at the bar having a beer. There was another captain there, a bright guy, with a Ph.D. He had served down at Ft. Bliss at one of those highly technical outfits at the Air Defense school where they studied strategy and weapon systems design. He had been there his whole career. He was assigned to the 5/27th artillery, which was exactly where I wanted to go. He was scared to death about going to a cannon battalion. He was not afraid of the danger so much as he just did not know anything about artillery.

I was full of piss and vinegar and said, “Listen man, I know all anybody needs to know about a cannon battery, but I detest being a headquarters company commander. Would you like that job?”

He said, “I’d love that job.”

I said, “Listen friend, we’re gonna make a deal. Let’s go see the Personnel Officer together tomorrow.” The next morning we pleaded our case, and he said, “Guys, I’m in agreement with you, but to make it happen for sure I need to check with some people.”

Well it worked out and we made the switch and I was so relieved. I was blessed to have that situation develop. I went to join Lieutenant Colonel Munnelly at the 5th/ 27th in Tuy Hoa. When Lt. Col. Munnelly asked me what I wanted to do I said, “Sir, I want to command one of your firing batteries.”

He said, “You think you can handle that?”

I said, “Sir, I know I can handle that.”

He said, “Well, right now I’m going to make you battalion motor officer.”

(Laughs) I didn’t say anything other than, “I’ll be the best one you ever had.”

I went to work and shortly Lt. Col. Munnelly came to me and said, “George, I’m going to put you in B Battery to take Captain Marchesseault’s place. I want you to take command on the 1st of July.” That made my day. I discovered through my career in the Army that if you want to command, if you want to progress, you got to seek it. You got to do all you can to make it happen. It just doesn’t happen. Everyone is seeking those command jobs. After you go to the basic course and they teach you that stuff, you want to go do it.


Muzzle Covers

When I took command B Battery was outside Qui Nhon, about 80 miles north of Tuy Hoa, and it had been there a long time. The mess tent even had wooden floors. The battery had a daily routine going and I could tell there was a lot of spirit there. Everyone gladly did their work. There were details to be done every day, and they got it done. Setting that aside, after I was there awhile I noticed that in the FDC the fire commands were given rather loosely and the gunnery was sloppy. Some of the elements of the fire mission were out of order. Procedures were fraught with confusion, a real problem if we really got into a tough operation. During the change of command with Captain Marchesseault I asked him, “Paul, what do I need to know about?” He expressed to me exactly what I was seeing, that things were getting rusty.

When I served with Lieutenant Colonel Bishop, my commanding officer at Ft. Benning, I learned it was easier to be a hard ass and let up, than it was to be an easy commander and then become a hard ass. The latter way engenders a lot of resentment. One of the first things I did, after about two weeks, I went into the battery Fire Direction Center and I took out the FM 6-40, the artillery field gunnery manual, and I said, “Gentlemen, I want everything in this FDC to be done in accordance with this manual with regard to calls for fire, interactions with the forward observers and the manner in which commands are given to the guns. This manual is the evolution of decades and decades of artillery procedure, and this has been proven to be the best way of doing it. If you think you’ve got a better way you come talk to me, but until then this is what you operate by.” I did the same thing with the howitzer sections, I told them everything was to be done according to the book.

None of the howitzers had muzzle covers when I got there. A couple of them had a coffee can over the end of the muzzle. I said, “The reason you don’t have muzzle covers is you shoot ‘em off. The reason you shoot ‘em off is you don’t have the discipline that makes sure the first step in a fire mission is to take your muzzle cover off. That tells me there’s a lot of other things you may not be doing. I expect your service of the piece to be by the book.” I said to the section sergeants, “We don’t have a chief of firing battery, but we do have a battery exec, and I expect him to hold you accountable to execute service of the piece in accordance with the book. There may come a time when things are so hasty and so wild that you can’t quite do it in order to get the job done, but until then I expect to see you do it by the book.”

And they did. It wasn’t long before there were muzzle covers on every one of those howitzers. One morning I remember going out after a night of H&I and one of the howitzers did not have a muzzle cover on it. I went down and asked the section chief, I said, “Chief, where’s your muzzle cover?’

He just looked at me and said, “Sir, we don’t have one.”

I said, “You shot it off last night.”

He looked at me and he said, “Yes sir.”

I said, “Get another one, and don’t shoot it off.”

I watched everyone closely for about six weeks and corrected everything I could find, and boy they responded. The FDC got very sharp, and similarly with the service of the pieces. I was really proud of them. By the way, you’ll see in a lot of my pictures when those howitzers weren’t firing there were muzzle covers on the ends of those tubes.

The howitzers at that time had seen a lot of action and required maintenance that we could not do. For example the hand wheels had a lot of play in them, a repair that required a maintenance depot. There was a large quartermaster base inland from where we were and I sent the motor sergeant down there to see if we couldn’t talk them into taking our howitzers in one at a time and overhaul them. I didn’t like to tell everybody this, but I used to go into Qui  Nhon to the PX and buy a couple bottles of bourbon. The motor sergeant would take them when he went over to the depot. I think that was the ticket to getting the howitzers overhauled. We rotated them all through there. It was a good thing we did, because getting the howitzers in first class condition and putting all our procedures in place later paid off in spades during an operation down south with the 173rd Airborne Infantry, the biggest and most demanding of my tour in Vietnam.


Personal Feud

It was toward the end of July, just a few weeks into my command, about 10 at night. We heard a lot of small arms fire going on. The Korean mortar section started firing illumination rounds, and they couldn’t see anything, couldn’t find any targets. That small arms fire went on for about two hours that night. It was a great mystery. Finally the next morning I got ahold of Major Wright, the district advisor. It turned out that about 700 meters off to the right of the battery, looking to the north, there were two Vietnamese Army platoons. The officers of which were mad at each other and were shooting at each other. The platoon leader who started it was prosecuted and put in jail. That was an eye-opener for me. Their army was not as unified as we thought it was. I could not imagine that going on, but I’m sure it was not the only case where that happened. It turned out to be a personal thing. I guess their senior commander let it get out of hand, and that’s the way it was resolved. They were located in villages. And these two villages started shooting at each other.


The Pills

It was around the middle of August that we got the word to start taking these pills. One was primaquine and another one called dapsone that you were supposed to take daily. They gave me stomach cramps like hell. I asked the medic what in the hell they were for, and he said one’s for malaria and the other one’s for leprosy. I said, “Make damn sure we don’t run out of that one for leprosy.”


Don’t Mess With The Koreans

The battery’s mission at Qui Nhon was general support of the South Korean Tiger Division. We were set up on the side of a hill, and there was a Korean mortar platoon on the hill top behind us to act as our security. And I had a radio relay station up there. The Koreans would fire illumination rounds randomly at night, and if they saw anything moving outside our wire, they just mortared the hell out of it.

One morning my mess sergeant came to me and said that one of the Korean illumination canisters had dropped into the mess tent. (When an illumination round bursts in the air its canister keeps going, so you’ve got to worry about where it lands.) It was laying on the ground there in the mess tent. When I called the Korean platoon leader down, he just looked at it and didn’t say anything. I kept saying, “Mortar crew made mistake.”

He finally said, “No mistake … no mistake.” He would not admit that they were responsible.

Our relay section the next morning called me on the land line and said, “Sir, something is going on up here.” Every morning these Koreans would fall out and do these Tae Kwon Do exercises in mass formation. You could hear them up there yelling. My relay section said, “They didn’t exercise this morning. Their lieutenant chewed a couple soldiers out and then took a rubber hose and beat them into the ground.”

I said, “You stay away from it, and don’t say a word to anybody, shut your mouth, and don’t even look.” I thought to myself, he may not have admitted there was a mistake but he certainly disciplined somebody for it. The commanding generals of those divisions had summary execution authority for their soldiers.

Sergeant Joe Mullins, a gun crew chief, and Captain Marchesseault relate an earlier incident involving the Koreans on the hill.


I sent a detail east over to the coast to fill sandbags. It was the nearest available beach. They were coming back with a deuce and a half full of sandbags. And Laster, my jeep driver, was in the back of one of the trucks. They saw a guy up on a hill who was a Korean aiming at them. He fired a shot that hit Laster’s canteen. They turned a corner out of this guy’s line of sight and came back to the battery all excited.


We’re on our way back from filling sandbags, I’m settin between Captain Marchesseault’s driver and another guy. We heard a rifle fire. We didn’t hear anything else, no bang or ping or anything. It think it was when we got to our location that he picked his web gear up and his canteen was leaking and it had a hole in it.


I remember looking at the canteen. It was one of those green plastic ones. The hole wasn’t very big and I said, “What was this?” The guys thought that he had a carbine. I said, “Wait a minute.” We threw the canteen down on the ground and I fired my M16 through it, and it made a much smaller hole. So it had to be a larger caliber weapon. It went right through the canteen, which was on his hip, and missed him.

I sent Malone and Laster over to the Korean compound to complain to the commander. The Korean commander called a bunch of guys in who were on guard duty and had them standing at attention in front of him and was questioning them. He finally got the one guy who fired the shot and he hauls off and slugs him in the face. The guy fell down on the ground. The guy sat up and he hit him again. Then they took him off like they were going to take him to jail. I guess the guy didn’t like Americans.


I remember that Korean compound. It was a pretty good size. We was basically mixed in with them, about as close as you can get. They were just a little higher on the hill from us, and we was down at the base. Them guys knew the Tae Kwon Do and did it every day. They had the wood poles that they flipped around. I set there and watched them do that stuff a bunch of times. If I could understand what they were saying I’d a got down there and joined em. They trained tough, I can tell you that.

I know one thing, their officers didn’t put up with no bull. The officers of the South Korean Army didn’t play no games with their soldiers. I seen em have one in the pushup position, and that lieutenant took his swagger stick and he beat the doggone tar out of him. I was afraid to look.

I felt good when we was around them Koreans. I know one thing about them, the North Vietnamese was scared to death of em. I think that’s what kept us not getting mortared or trying to get overrun so much when we was up there north of Qui Nhon, because of the South Koreans.

South Koreans at Early Morning Drill Courtesy Joe Mullins
South Koreans at Early Morning Drill
Courtesy Joe Mullins


An Enduring Memory

 As a battery commander I took my job seriously and was always looking after the welfare of the troops. One of the things you had to do was make sure you got rid of all the human waste. You couldn’t be digging slit trenches everywhere, otherwise you’d had the whole damn battery littered with open and closed trench latrines. The procedure that was used to get rid of the waste was to cut a 55 gallon drum in half, pour in diesel fuel, and build an outhouse over it with ammo boxes. You were lucky if you had a two-holer, and really lucky if you had a four-holer. We’d give the battery medic a detail every morning to pull out those half barrels, pour in more diesel fuel, then set them on fire and burn the waste.

Our battery medic was a fine young man. I can’t remember his name. I remember when he was leaving I talked to him at some length. He was going to school back east to get a degree. He said, “You know captain, this has been a great experience for me.”

I said, “What do you remember most about it?”

“What I remember most – I’m going to tell all my friends when I get home when they ask me what I did in Vietnam, I’m going to tell them, ‘I saw more shit.’”

“You going to let them take that figuratively or literally?”

“I’m not going to say anything after that.”


A Kick in the Ass

I noticed a gun section one night at dusk lined up in rigid military attention in front of their howitzer. On a command from the section chief they all kicked their right foot into the air vigorously and emitted a loud, EEEAAAH. I went to the section chief and said, “What’s going on there, chief?”

He said, “Sir, we have just kicked another Vietnam day in the ass.”

Leo Ward – Gun Crew

The Boys of Battery B

Leo Ward

Gun Crew


Leo served in Vietnam for 18 months, two tours with B Battery. Forty years after returning home, Vietnam reached out and touched him again. 

I was a gunner on gun pit 5. We were just a bunch of ol’ crazy country boys.

When we were at Qui Nhon, they dispatched me to the water truck one day, me and another guy riding the shotgun. We had to go into the city to get water, and on the way back to the battery area I had a wreck with one of those three-wheeled Lambrettas. You know how they loaded them things up with ARVNs and civilians and what have you. He cut right into me and my front wheels caught the lip on the fender on the front of it and just sent it rolling and flying through the air. Stuff was flying everywhere – people, bodies and stuff. Captain Moses, the battery commander, gave me an Article 15 punishment. I guess he had to do it on account of the village officials.

Loaded Lambretta
Loaded Lambretta

Five years ago I contacted Captain Moses to write me a letter for my VA benefits. He’s a full bird colonel now at Ft. Sill. He wrote me a letter about it, and told me I had killed a little four year old boy. It really broke my heart. I mean I just set and cried. That was one of the worse things that happened to me over there.

“You were 21 years old at the time. Maybe it’s a good thing you didn’t know.”

Probably so.

Returning home after over a year and a half in the field, Leo looked forward to a luxurious trip on the Freedom Bird, attended by comely stewardesses. It was not to be.

There was no commercial flight out of Cam Ranh so I had to take a military flight, one of them cargo jets with the old sling seats along the wall. I ‘bout froze to death.

Leo describes his life today in a few sentences.

I’m 66. I work for CSX railroad. Been there 37 years. I’m drawing Social Security, a VA pension, working every day. People say, man when you gonna quit? I say why would I want to quit? I make good money and I’m in tip-top shape. Strong as a bull.

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Bob Selig – Part Three

The Boys of Battery B

Bob Selig

Commo Sergeant



The Throne

I can remember at B battery the officers and NCOs being awarded medals, but never any of the enlisted guys. When I was back in Vietnam in ’69 – ’70 with the infantry, you went above and beyond you got a medal. They watched out and made sure that if you were on a career track, you got your medal. We were on a first name basis with the captains and commanding officers. We were family. I cared about them just as much as they cared about me. After Nam I was invited to one of my CO’s homes, Captain Franz, for dinner with his family at Fort Benning.

B battery was a totally, totally different environment. The officers had their clique, the NCOs had their clique, and the enlisted guys were left to themselves. At the time I did not know who the battery commander was, we reported to the Commo Chief and did not get past him. There was a distance, as far as meeting any of the company officers or talking with them, never!

Officers even had their own latrine, which we enlisted guys built for them. Normally we built them an ordinary latrine. We’d put the piss tubes out and then build a seat out of ammo boxes and slide the bottom part of a 55 gallon drum underneath. On one occasion we decided that we would build the officers something special. Before anyone knew what was going on, we had built a commode that was five feet high and had steps to get up to it. It was a throne! They had to go up four or five steps to sit on it. And it was out in the open in a position that we were being sniped at. The brass was good about it and used it, doing their duty high up and in the open looking down on the troops. A couple officers would only use it at night, guess they wanted privacy.



In the field we would burn the latrine drums out with diesel fuel and powder bags left over from fire missions. We were near the Laotian border, or maybe over it. One day a soldier was sitting on the latrine smoking a cigarette, and he threw the lit butt into the can.  Apparently there was a left over powder bag down below and it went off.  I never knew the soldier but I watched as they carted him off on the stretcher face down to a medevac helicopter. God knows I think of that poor guy to this day and hope he recovered, as he never came back to the battery.



 Of the ten boys of battery B who died, three were killed by mines while on truck convoy.

I remember going into headquarters at Tuy Hoa for supplies. It’s eight o’clock in the morning. We get out on the dirt road and we’re in a deuce-and-a-half truck. I’m standing just behind the two exhaust pipes sticking up behind the cab. We’re riding along this road about two miles from B battery and for some strange reason the road was deserted. That should have been a big tipoff. Typically this road was busy with farmers hauling their rice and walking their buffalo. All of a sudden there was an explosion with black smoke and I saw a rear tire go flying. The truck must have bounced in the air about four feet, because it threw me from the back end up towards the front and I burned my forearm on the exhaust pipe. We had hit a mine. We took cover and called for help. About 30 minutes later a minesweeping team made their way to us and took us back to the battery.

I think that we were extremely lucky. When we laid commo line or to get supplies we went out in jeeps all the time. Later on they started doing mine sweeping, but in the beginning we just didn’t think about it.



B battery was my first experience of racism. Growing up in Arlington, Ohio you didn’t experience racism. This incident was toward the end of my tour with B battery, within the last three months. Up until then I had not experienced any racism in the battery. We didn’t have it. We had three different black guys in Commo. This one guy – a wonderful guy – we called him Mojo. Everybody had a nickname. They called me Tree, for tree-so-sin, Vietnamese for baby-san, because I was the youngest in the group.

It occurred in the mess hall. A particular gun sergeant was an alcoholic and he had been drinking. When Mojo came into the mess tent he went to sit down at the same table and this sergeant called him the N word. And of course a person is going to get upset. Oh boy, Mojo was big and was going to kill him. The sergeant was bigger than Mojo, but he was drunk. We manhandled Mojo out of the tent, got him back to our Commo section to cool him off, and got it under control. I went to First Sergeant Shepherd, and I let loose and told him, “You need to fuckin’ control your NCOs. This is bullshit.” I was pretty pissed off about that. That was my first experience of racism and it kind of shocked me.

Washington "Mojo" Lewis Courtesy Leonard Laster
Washington “Mojo” Lewis
Courtesy Leonard Laster

The second time I went to Vietnam in 69-70, my god was there a problem with racism, not in the field, but in headquarters. A black guy came out at lunch with his M16 and he was going to wipe out everyone in the mess tent. I was over at a nearby tent looking at all the chaos going on at the mess tent. A major was standing there and said to me, “Go down there and take that gun away from him.” I didn’t want to, but I was a staff sergeant at the time. I had to go down and talk this guy out of his gun …with the gun pointing at me. I thought, Son of a bitch, I don’t need this.


War Is Hell

Another time we were in the field – a silly statement, we were always in the field – medics along with Captain Greene, the battalion doctor, came to administer GG (gam globulin) shots.  At that time we got them every six months, one in each cheek, with a needle that had to be unusually thick for some reason. We would line up, drop ’em, and medics on each side would deliver simultaneous shots. Well, poor PFC Danus was afraid of needles and tried to talk his way out of it. The medics finally coaxed him to drop his drawers, and quick hit both cheeks. Danus takes off like a rocket running with his pants down and the needles still sticking in his buttocks like two darts. They were bouncing up and down like in a cartoon. The medics took out after him to get their needles back and tackled him before he got to Hanoi.


Sneak Attack

One day we were on recon choosing a site for the battery. There was this area the commanding officer found, but there were a couple straw huts that would be close to our perimeter. They’re made out of grass or straw. Everybody is gone. I remember going in to this one larger than normal hooch to clear it and in one corner there was a ladder going up to a makeshift open attic.  Whenever I look up my tendency is to drop my lower jaw. As I gazed up the ladder to the attic a lizard jumped down from the attic and into my open mouth. You can imagine the spectacle that took place next, spitting, heart pounding, screaming, cursing, blood pressure through the roof, and probably a stain in the shorts.

“Maybe it was a Viet Cong lizard.”

The story ends well. I was fortunate to find a crossbow and quiver in the attic that I  was allowed to bring home as a souvenir.

Booster Engines

On a mission to either Bong Son or Song Cau we were stopped on a road while convoying to our position.  Everybody is sitting on the top of the gear and ammo on  the vehicles, like a bunch of gypsies.  We are chatting away as usual and all of a sudden a jet fighter without any warning flew overhead the length of our convoy – some swore it was only ten feet above us.  As it reached the front of the convoy it darted up and threw on its after burners. It was the loudest, most awe-inspiring sound I had ever experienced. The guys shot up from where they were sitting and cheered and waved. Now that was a morale booster.


A Brief Crossroad

Many of us talked about our aspirations after Vietnam: going to school, buying muscle cars or sports cars, getting married, or just getting home safely. I fulfilled my dream with a 1967 Austin-Healey 3000 MKIII. PFC Torres from Los Angles was going to have many babies so they could work and support him when he decided to retire. But we had one big thing in common. We were all brothers and stood by each other through thick and thin.  Even though you knew you would probably never see them again after leaving, you loved, respected, and supported them during this brief crossroad in life.

After the military Bob earned a place in modern history when he helped to develop centralized ad serving technology that displays advertising banners that pop-up on computer screens. He says in his own defense with a small laugh, “If I hadn’t, someone else would have.”

Bob Selig – Part Two

The Boys of Battery B

Robert Selig

Commo Sergeant


Ten boys of battery B would die in Vietnam. The first was 19 year-old Bobby Joe Marsh, in Vietnam less than a month. I ask Bob if he knew Marsh.

Yes I did. He wasn’t with the battery long. I had talked to him and welcomed him to the battery. There was not enough time to really get to know the guy.

I remember the night we got hit. The way the battery was set up, everybody was in tents. Except for the Commo section. We had a very good section leader, because we were set up in little two-man hooches with sandbag walls. The sandbags were four or five high and came up to where your bunk was, and then you stretched your poncho liner over the top. And you could still roll off your bunk and have minimal cover.

It was just after midnight. I was in a hooch with Larry Orson, a cook. I’m sleeping and I’m hearing explosions. Well, the guns fired at various times during the night, they had fire missions, or they’d be shooting H&I. So you’re laying there and you hear an explosion go off, and you think OK, another fire mission or whatever. But it wasn’t the whole battery firing. It was like one explosion at a time. But you’re not awake enough to realize that.

All of a sudden an explosion went off right outside our little hooch, and Orson and I were thrown on the ground between our cots. I hear this sprinkling in the trees, like it’s raining. Orson yelled “I’m hit, we’re being mortared.” The Viet Cong were walking the mortars over us.

At that point I was deafened. The two of us kind of grabbed each other and made it out to a fox hole that we had dug earlier. As my hearing came back I’m hearing screams, I’m hearing moaning, not from one person but from several people. I’m thinking we’re fucked, we’re gonna be overrun. We’re sitting in this foxhole and trying to get as low to the ground as we possibly can. The fox hole was probably four feet deep, so we were able to sit down in it. But you don’t know when the next one’s going to hit, because they are still going off. I’m just sitting there. Jesus Christ, when’s one going to come right in this hole and kill us? Yet we kept our cool and watched for VC to jump up from nowhere to attack us. We heard several more explosions from the incoming. Soldiers were yelling, we heard more screaming and moaning from the wounded.

I don’t know how many mortars came in. Because of gun noise and being half asleep, it was a terrifying situation. I helped get Larry to a medevac helicopter. They took out 12 wounded guys that night. I don’t believe they evacuated Bobby Marsh’s body that night. I vaguely remember it was the next day before they got his body out.

After I had gotten Larry onto the chopper I went back to one of the gun sections and – I’m still dazed, and I knew nothing about guns – I believe it was at gun 2 –  they were firing and I just started helping them. They’re calling out different rounds and different charges. I’m a Commo guy, I don’t know one round from another and I’m trying to help them. Then they saw I didn’t know what I’m doing and said, “Whoa, wait, you can’t do that.”

Of course we were sweating from all the excitement, but my head felt wetter than normal. I touched it and it hurt. It was dark and I didn’t see anything. I asked the gunnery sergeant to look at my head. He turned his flashlight on me and the first thing out of his mouth was, “Medic!” I had blood all over. They got me over to the medic and Doc pulled a small piece of shrapnel from my head.

The next day they evacuated me by jeep back to headquarters at Tuy Hoa. The medical officer there was a captain, Afro-American; his name was Captain Greene. Nice fellow, gave me a tetanus shot, butterflied the wound, and bandaged the entire top of my head. Man, did I ever get stares from all the HQ folks. They let me spend two days at Tuy Hoa, and sent me back to the unit. I found out later that the guys that got medevaced out went to Nha Trang, and because the hospital there was full of casualties everyone got shipped off to Japan for a minimum of 30 days. Only about six came back to the unit. Because I didn’t know I was wounded, I missed out on a free 30 day R&R.

Later we were in the field and General Westmoreland flew out. He started pinning the Purple Hearts on everybody. I’ll never forget, he came up, he pinned it on, he shook my hand and he said, “Congratulations.” I walked away after the ceremony thinking what the fuck was that all about? Congratulations for what? Being alive? What the hell’s he talking about? Congratulations. I just could not understand that. Now I know what he meant, but as a kid I had to think about it. I’ve never forgotten that moment.

And I think back to people sleeping in tents, and people walking around in white tee shirts. What the hell was the brass thinking? West Pointers – they were there looking out for their careers, not looking out for the troops. We all learned from mistakes; no one really knew how to engage an enemy in the jungles of Vietnam. Too bad we didn’t learn sooner that we would not liberate the South Vietnamese.

Picture Taken Before March 6, 1966 Attack Courtesy John Santini
Picture Taken Shortly Before March 6, 1966 Attack
Courtesy John Santini

I had worse experiences on my second tour. What happened that night in battery B got me set up for the future. The main thing I remember from that night is sitting in that fox hole, listening to all the agony, the choppers that were coming in and picking up wounded soldiers. I’ll tell you, the agony, the pain that you heard in the air, it was blood curdling. It made the hair on your head stand up. Terrible, terrible experience. That screwed me up … that screwed me up. After that I became numb to it. It got easier, unfortunately it got easier, But it really helped me in ’69 and ’70 on my second tour.

Fifteen months after Bobby Joe Marsh died, the base camp at Tuy Hoa was named Camp Marsh in his memory, Lt. Col. John Munnelly presiding.

Just Nod

I always enjoyed the chaplain coming to the field. I attended parochial school for eight years, and like my ancestors before me, once the eight years were up I no longer practiced. After I was wounded I visited the chaplain. Of course he twisted my arm and coerced me into going to confession.  Well right after saying, “Bless me father it has been several years since my last confession”, he said, “Hold it right their, son, and let me help you”.  He said “I’m going to say the Ten Commandments one at a time and you tell me if you have broken it. Just nod your head” I nodded my head a helluva lot more times than I’d like to admit. This guy was great. He let me off light with three Hail Mary’s, and he always looked me up before service when he visited the battery. Guess his blessings helped, I’m here to tell you about it today.

A Tremendous 2013 – Thank You!

On behalf of Columbus Press, thank you to all of the readers who supported Seven in a Jeep in 2013.  You’re a fantastic bunch of people!

Seven in a Jeep was the first title produced by Columbus Press.  Independent publishing is no cake walk, and your readership is a tremendous encouragement.

Thank you for supporting independent publishing and great authors like Ed Gaydos in 2013.  With your help, we’re looking forward to another fantastic year!