October 28, 1969
I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS

Much of the area between Kontum and Dakto that I had worked in was being turned over to the South Vietnamese Army. This seemed like a logical way to get the United States out of the war, but the shifting of personnel resulted in the disbanning of the LRRP’s at Mary Lou and reorganization seemed to be going on everywhere.

I could not believe my ears as Capt. Street explained to me that he had been reassigned to the field and I would also be receiving orders to return to the mechanized infantry unit I was in prior to LRRP’s. I only had two and a half months left in Vietnam. The organization that promised me Sham Duty after six months of LRRP’s no longer existed and now Capt. Street who had tried to honor the commitment was no longer in a position to help me.

I was sent back to base camp. While I was eating lunch in the mess hall, I was already running into old friends from the 2nd & 8th. I was told about how Shorty was killed and how it took the 3rd Platoon 2 days to recover the bodies.

As I climbed on the convoy I thought about Sgt. Frederick and how we had ridden to the field for the first time together. There was Sgt. Fox and Sgt. Garrison who we had gone to NCO school with us. We were no longer the Shake & Bake sergeants but experienced combat leaders. I thought about the pamphlets I had found in the enemy bunkers that encouraged me to do everything possible to stay out of the field. Was it really unfair of me to believe I had earned the right to not be in the field when the men I had arrived with were still in the field?

As I made the ride I wondered if I would be sent back to the 1st Platoon with Sgt. Frederick. When we arrived the first person I saw was Sgt. Fox. He said "Did you hear about Frederick?"

I said "No, what happened?"

Sgt. Fox explained how Sgt. Frederick had taken out a patrol with the 3rd Platoon that morning and they were ambushed. One man was killed and Sgt. Frederick along with another man was wounded.

I asked Sgt. Fox how long Sgt. Frederick had been in the 3rd Platoon. Although I was not superstitious, it was still difficult to think of all the other men that had never finished their tours in the 3rd Platoon.

I met Captain Larry Bates who said he was from Texas and had gone to Hardin Simmons University in Abileen, TX. We tossed back and forth the names of people we knew but found no common names. The Captain told me I would be replacing Sgt. Frederick.

How many things could go against me.

  • I lost my Sham Job.
  • I lost my Protector.
  • I was sent to the field.
  • My unit was making contact.
  • I lost my friend Sgt. Frederick.
  • I was put in the 3rd Platoon.
  • and I inherited a group of men who had a worse day than me.
Captain Bates informed me we were up against an unknown size force. I became agitated as I started to explain to the Captain he was up against the 24th NVA Battalion that was located in the Chu Pa mountains and was sending about two companies a week into the area to harass the U.S.troops. In LRRP’s I had always believed that I was risking my life so the men in the field could have this information. Now I questioned if my time as a LRRP had been for naught.

I talked to the Captain a little longer and he mentioned he had gone to college in Texas, but he was actually from Carlsbad, N.M. I mentioned the pastor I had before going into the Army had moved to a church in Carlsbad, N.M. The Captain told me he had something I might be interested in. He fumbled around in the back of his APC and came out with a cassette player and a hand full of tapes. He said though he had not met the new pastor in Carlsbad the church had been sending him tapes.

I returned to my new position in the 3rd Platoon and told the weary team to rest. I was fresh and I would take a long first guard. When I got tired I would divide the remainder of the night amongst them. I stayed up most of the night listening to Rev. Jack Burton preach. I was refreshed to learn that although everything else seemed to be out of my control, GOD was still able to find me in the middle of a Vietnam jungle to remind me he was in control and he was not finished with me yet.


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