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Veteran Spotlight: A Vietnam Diary, Part III
By Wayne Soares, Special to iBerkshires
04:13PM / Sunday, October 03, 2021
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The following is the diary of a local Marine who served in Vietnam in 1968. The veteran wishes to remain anonymous but was willing to share the impressions he wrote down of his time there. This is the second of three parts as transcribed by Wayne Soares, with minor editing for clarity. The first part can be found here and the second part here.

April 24: Worked all night.
 
April 27: Am on a bunker detail with 20 Vietnamese. There's Hai – 16 years old but looks like he's 9 or 10. He pesters me all the time for money and my watch. Tries to put on an act to make me feel bad. He does in a way – "you boo-coo money. Me, tee-tee." I'm torn apart by things I don't like. Tien, Anh, Long, Mai (old Papa San). It's sad. They work so hard. They asked me to go home to Da Nang. Wish I could.
 
May 3: They hate anyone with a flight suit. Too many innocent people are killed by our planes. I try to set a good example. Love people, love the sky under which you live, love beauty, love God. Know yourself. Work creates happiness. Condition 1 – NO ONE HURT.
 
May 5: What the world needs is love. The Vietnam War and the split feelings and riots at home. And why am I here? The sun beats down and the sweat pours, but why am I hear?
 
May 7: We have no answers, but we have civil riots, sexual revolution, draft laws, God is dead and hydrogen bombs. We are out of touch with our times. What is certain?
 
May 8: FELL OUT FOUR TIMES FOR GROUND DEFENSE.
 
May 10: We've been falling out 2-3 times every night under attack.
 
May 11: Had a beautiful day of flying – fired 500 rounds. He who lives by the gun, dies by the gun.
 
May 12: MOTHER'S DAY. WORST ATTACK YET.
 
May 13: It's getting bad when I wake up at 4 o'clock and wait for the DNCO to wake me up to fly – even on the days I don't fly.
 
May 14: Flew 2.1 hours today. We got two confirmed kills today in Elephant Valley. Might as extend to 6 months. A life is the sum of a man's experience.
 
May 20: We got hit again last night. Many mortars raised hell with eight of our birds. TWO MEN WOUNDED. No KIAS.
 
May 21: Got hit again. Got drunk again. There is singing in the showers. I saw falling star last night. And a bird chirped at my window. The smiling world can deceive. How can a person be measured? Not by his looks.
 
May 25: We will never know the strange ways of God. He is beyond us and we are losing hold.
 
May 27: Too much beer tonight again. Had the afternoon off – went to the beach – wrote letters.
 
June 7: Treaded water for an hour in ocean. Almost didn't make it back in. Obtained three quarts of booze from China Beach. Bought civilian clothes & shoes. A good day.
 
June 30: Though I don't want to die, there is always the chance. Here the chance is multiplied many times by the fact of just being here. The odds go down in flying. The chances are great. We all feel bad when someone dies – especially a friend. To DAD; I love you with – here I must think, to be added at a later date.
 
July 3: 3 KIA'S tonight. Was so wiped out, I didn't hear the rockets go off (107's) – only yards away. If your time has come, buddy you've had it.
 
July 4th : Big Holiday. NO FIRECRACKERS. Only rockets, flares and loud booms. REMEMBER "KENTUCKY BURELY" BECKER. Keep the ego down. Looking through the Pacex catalog. Gifts for the people back home. Now is the time there seems to be – NO LITTLE THINGS.
 
July 8: This, I think, is the most distrusted I have ever felt. Half the war is lost when an organization is made up of individuals who are unbelievers of the system. Even a Vietnamese illiterate could understand that.
 
July 10: Mobile alert Weds. & Fri. I THINK ABOUT HOME AND WONDER HOW IT IS CHANGING.
 
July 18: WHY ARE WE HERE? ARE WE REALLY STOPPING COMMUNIST AGGRESSION? I DOUBT IT. The Lord guides us, and still we're not satisfied. Decent to death. Dumb to death. Funny to death – DEATH.
 
July 19: Got a letter from Jerry Bixby today. He still showed humor even though he has one leg and other screwed up parts. How do you tell a guy you're sorry? How do you repay a guy who gave his leg? How do you repay a guy who gave his life? PARSONS MACABE, HUNT now NORSWORTHY & FOSTER – Always a smile. Another plane crashed today. Sgt. Foster who lived in my hootch was the gunner. Norsworthy was the crew chief. IT IS SO MUCH WORSE WHEN THE GUYS ARE FRIENDS.
 
July 23: THEY CARRIED ME BACK FROM THE CLUB. How stupid am I?
 
July 24: Went to a memorial service for the crew on our latest lost plane. Some tears were shed, but they're still gone. More than anything, I want to live and I want a son.
 
July 26: Lost another Huey and an OV-10. The pilot and OV were killed. THAT MAKES FIVE HUEYS LOST IN TWO WEEKS. Got drunkest yet at the club.
 
July 27: Flew 9 hours today. No mail. MY HANDBALL PARTNER IS DEAD. Got up at 3:15am to fly again. I'm not ready to die yet. There's still much to do. EVERYTHING IS FOR A MOMENT.
 
August 11: The day is past and I saw no sun. THINGS WILL NEVER BE THE SAME. Payday is as close as we get to a holiday over here. Signed up to fly again next month.
 
August 18: Church seems to be kind of a waste of time. I don't think I believe in God anymore – I did once, not long ago. Two to eight beers at the club, then to the card table. I WONDER ABOUT THE WAR. I THINK THE ONLY REASON I AM HERE IS BECAUSE I WAS SENT – WITH NO CHOICE IN THE MATTER.
 
August 27: "Kentucky Burely left us today … What a great guy. They came to get Becker's gear today – He won't be needing it. Also, Wagstaff, the crew chief. His plane blew up and left hardly a trace of a man we all envied very much. He had close calls – capturing an NVA flag, a bullet through his flight suit, a bullet through his helmet, all without a scratch. But now he's dead and gone forever. BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. WHAT A GREAT GUY HE WAS. EVERYTHING IS ONLY FOR A DAY.
 
Veteran Spotlight is a column by Wayne Soares that runs twice a month. Soares is a motivational speaker and comedian who has frequently entertained the troops overseas with the USO. To recommend a veteran for Soares' column, write to waynesoares1@gmail.com.

 

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