Monthly Archives: October 2009

A Short Move

No longer with the Blues


I moved out of one of the Blues hooches on the left to the most distant one across the road.


In my new AO with Roy McDonald and Robert Porter.
Porter was with the Blues, and I could never figure out exactly what McDonald did. All I remember is he hung around Major Nelson a lot.
In front of us is a stack of 33 1/3 rpm records left behind by fellow Blues when they went back to the ‘World’.

I still have these old record albums in my closet but haven’t played them for thirty-nine years. One of these days I’m going to purchase a turntable so I can listen to some of my old favorites, among them is an album called ‘HARRY’ by Harry Nilsson. That record album was given to me by John (Mike) Cody a fellow Blue.

John is second from right in the picture below…


Our medic (?), Cadenhead, Struck, Cody & Roger
‘Cavalier Blue’ Mike La Chance is stooped down in front of Staff Sergeant David Roger perhaps studying a map to locate our position. We all look a bit lost…


Here is a picture of Roy McDonald in front of Charlie Troop Operations bunker. Maybe he was Operations Sergeant, but as I recall he was a Specialist 5.

I just spent an hour on the phone today with New York State Senator Roy McDonald. Roy was one my best friends in Vietnam and after all these years, we had plenty to talk about.
I wasn’t one bit surprised when I found out he entered politics. I had a feeling that was his calling.
Roy told me his MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) in Vietnam was an Artillery Forward Observer.
And now we know…


The Operations bunker was heavily fortified in the event of a mortar attack.

Another trip to Binh Hoa.


Filed under Vietnam War

Charlie Troop Mail Clerk

An offer I couldn’t refuse


And I got ‘wheels’

My meeting with ‘Top’ (First Sergeant) was brief and to the point. He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He said my records on file, qualified me to be the mail clerk for Charlie Troop. Prior to being drafted into the Army, I took a Civil Service correspondence course and at Fort Knox, I got a license to drive a military vehicle.

Along with sorting Charlie Troop mail this job would require me to toot around Phuoc Vinh in a 1/4-ton Jeep running errands and chauffeur for the upper brass. Another duty was taking dirty laundry down to Phuoc Vinh Village to be cleaned for a select few Charlie Troop ‘lifers’.

Was I going to be bored with this type of job? Would I miss the adrenalin rush I got from combat situations with the Blues? How about pulling blood sucking leeches off of my body after humping through the hot steamy jungle all day? Could I possibly miss any of these things with this new job?

The more I thought about being a mail clerk this late in my tour just made good sense and my chances of going back to the ‘World’ in one piece and not in a body bag would definitely improve…


Filed under Vietnam War

Time for a Change

I was to meet with ‘Top’ in his office

If you are right handed, writing a letter with your left hand can be quite a chore. With my right hand in a cast, I wrote only a couple of letters in a month’s time to my family back in the ‘World’ to let them know I still existed.

While I was convalescing from my injury on the greenline the days were quite boring and uneventful. The hardest thing was watching my friends (Blues) leave on daily missions, and I had to stay back.

One day ‘Top’ (Charlie Troop First Sergeant) walked up to me and wanted to know If I was ready for a change. We both entered ‘Country’ about the same time (March 1970) so he knew how long I had been with the Blues. He wanted to meet with me in his office in thirty minutes (I was there in ten)…


Charlie Troop jeep parked next to the orderly room


Filed under Vietnam War

AFVN (Armed Forces Vietnam Network)

AFVN was there to Support the Troops

The Armed Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN) provided US soldiers with radio and television programs during the Vietnam War. They played an important role in keeping the troops informed and entertained.


Pictured above is AFVN announcer Billy Williams with the Orient Express radio program from Saigon…

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Got a Break

Broke my thumb in a Bizarre Accident

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon and all was quiet except for outgoing artillery going off behind us. Staff Sgt. David Roger, and I was sitting on top of a perimeter bunker on the greenline of Phuoc Vinh firebase. We had a transistor radio and were taking in tunes from a radio station in Saigon (VAFN), which made our guard duty more enjoyable.

I recall what song was playing when my backwards descend began as sandbags I was sitting on gave way. It was “Spill The Wine” by Eric Burdon and War. As I picked myself up off the ground I knew I injured my right hand when I tried to break my fall of about ten feet.

Sgt. Roger couldn’t believe what had just happened and that made two of us. He got on the radio and called for a jeep to take me to the first aid station to get checked out. After X-rays, it was determined that my thumb was indeed broken. They put a cast on my hand, gave me some pain meds and I was on my way.

At that point, I was wondering what Charlie Troop was going to do with me while I was on the mend. I wouldn’t be on any Blues missions for a while in this condition…

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Susan Anton

She performed with the Miss America USO Show in Phuoc Vinh

3868417319_5a363be8081 1970 Miss America (Pam Eldrid) with Her Six Runners-up Susan Anton (3rd from left) As I was reading ‘Snake Pilot” by Randy Zahn this morning, I learned something new about the Miss America USO Show that we both attended in a helicopter hanger in Phuoc Vinh. One of the six Miss America Runners-up were Susan Anton before she became famous.4034593870_442e2b7828_m Susan Ellen Anton (born on October 12, 1950 in Oak Glen, California) is an American actress, best known for her role as “Susan Williams” in the various Stop Susan Williams!-related television series and television movies. A 5 ft 11 in. beauty, Susan Anton first experienced fame by winning the Miss California contest in 1969. She was later named one of TIME magazine’s “Most Promising Faces of 1979.” She has also starred in her own variety show, Presenting Susan Anton, and acted in the films Goldengirl, Spring Fever, and Cannonball Run 2. In the early 1990s Susan Anton was well known for dating English film and TV star Dudley Moore with much being made of their height difference (he was 5 ft 2.5 in. or 1.59 m tall)…


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Pink Team

Hunter-Killer Team

These were a group of two helicopters a Loach, White platoon and a Cobra gun ship, Red platoon. The concept was the Loach would fly low and in tight circles to draw enemy fire. Then when the enemy was spotted the Cobra would use their fire power (miniguns and rockets) to attack.

When the situation warranted, the Blues would be inserted to fix the enemy until a larger force could be committed to the area. The Blues would also search out bunker complexes, possible cache sites, and conduct ground reconnaissance.
The Pink team would provide air cover for the Blues at all times while on the ground.


WO Randy R. Zahn (Cobra pilot) & WO Walker A. Jones (Loach and Cobra pilot)
Gunner SGT Ford (back)
Photo by Walker A. Jones


I recently purchased Randy Zahn’s book “Snake Pilot”. As I read it, I felt right back in the thick of things because Randy flew ‘high bird’ on many missions while I was on the ground with the Blues. As Blue India I had direct radio contact with him on numerous occasions. He gives a very detailed account of events as they unfolded before and during his Vietnam tour. He arrived in Vietnam shortly before the 1970 U.S. Invasion of Cambodia and was a Cobra pilot in Charlie Troop, 1/9th.

Zahn writes with authority about the duties and responsibilities of the high bird in a Pink team, the armed helicopter from the troop’s Red (weapons) platoon that kept watch over the Loach (light observation helicopter) from the white (scout) platoon. As a 19-year-old, fresh out of flight school, he went through a five-month apprenticeship in the front seat to qualify as an aircraft commander (AC). As an AC, he had responsibility not only for his own aircraft and the life of his front seater, but also for the little bird and its crew, the Hueys from the Lift platoon that inserted the Blues of the aero-rifle platoon and the Blues themselves once they were on the ground…


On March 12th, 2000 Walker A. Jones started the Charlie Troop 1/9th message board on Yahoo, which currently has 130 members. It is a way for current and former members, family and true friends of Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), Vietnam, 1965-71 to communicate with each other. Walker moderated the message board for many years from his distant home in France almost daily and recently moved back to the States.

This board has reconnected many men who served together while with Charlie Troop 1/9th during the Vietnam War. Many thanks to Walker for his dedication in keeping Charlie Troop spirit alive…


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As Fighting Raged in Vietnam


On August 15-17, 1969, two weeks before my departure for boot camp, a group of hippies and 400,000 of their soul mates converged on a dairy farm in New York state for three days of frolicking in the spirit of peace, love and music. Organizers called it “Woodstock,” after the Catskill Mountains town where they’d hoped to have the concert. (The show eventually went on in Bethel, New York, about 50 miles away.) It was 1969, the last year of the tumultuous ’60s.

Santana was one of the groups that performed at Woodstock, and every time I hear a Santana song from that era I have flashbacks of a bad Vietnam experience. A Filipino band was playing one evening at an EM Club at Phuoc Vinh firebase. In the middle of a Santana song, rockets began slamming down extremely close to the club. ‘Charlie’ apparently had the entertainment schedule for the EM Club, and knew it would be packed with GIs. My first instinct was to jump under a nearby pool table then I scrambled to a nearby bunker. While in the bunker I could hear someone gasping for what would be his last breath…



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Combat Tested Camera

Kodak Instamatic


It was nothing like the high tech digital cameras of today, but it got the job done.
At least sixty percent of the pictures in my blog I took with a Kodak Instamatic 104. I kept it in a plastic bag while in the jungle to protect it from the wet and humid conditions.

The 104 is a very simple, fixed focus camera with two shutter speeds, 1/90 and 1/45 (for flash), and no exposure meter. It is essentially the same camera as the Kodak Instamatic 100 except it used the new flash cubes with four flashes per cube. It sold from 1965 to 1968 for a list price of $15.95.


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