Back to the ‘World’
Although 26 March 1971 officially marked the end of duties in Vietnam for the 1st Cavalry Division, President Nixon’s program of “Vietnamization” required the continued presence of a strong U.S. fighting force.
My DEROS (Date of Expected Return from Overseas) was near so the first part of April, I transferred to Firebase Di An about 12 miles north of Saigon where I waited for my official orders to depart from Vietnam.
My final days in Vietnam were either uneventful or perhaps my mind shut down wanting to forget it all. I do not recall boarding the ‘Freedom Bird’ or where we flew out of, but I did take these pictures.
‘Freedom Bird’ leaving Vietnam taking us back to Oakland Army Base where the journey began.
I remember arriving at Oakland Army Base around midnight to process out of the Army. I thought back thirteen months earlier when I was processing for my entry to Vietnam. The men coming back looked burned out and lacked emotion. That night I understood why because that’s how I felt.
Although I physically left Vietnam, the experience of combat had a profound and life long effect on my frame of mind.
After receiving my last payment from ‘Uncle Sam’ (about seven-hundred bucks) I signed a bunch of papers, releasing me from active duty in the United States Army.
In the wee hours of the morning, a bus took us to a nearby airport where I caught a flight to Los Angeles International Airport. There I boarded a non stop flight to Eppley Airfield in Omaha, where I would be greeted by my family. I recall the strange looks I got from people as I walked through the airport terminal at LAX carrying my war trophy.
My eyes closed as soon as I boarded my last flight and didn’t open until our approach into Eppley. I looked out the window and saw the Missouri River.
I was home at last…
Eppley Airfield Omaha, Nebraska where my parents, two of my brothers and girlfriend (now wife) waited for my arrival…
13 responses to “Going Home”
Rob, I also have somewhat fuzzy memories of my last few days in Viet Nam. As I remember it we had a small firefight on a downed bird rescue the day I was to leave. Even though I was supposed not to be out in the field, for some reason I was. I recall coming back from that mission and being told to get my things together and get on the next flight to Bien Hoa. I had an early out to start the fall term at the Univ of Illinois. Being the highest ranking member of my flight I was put in charge of the group from Saigon to Oakland. Since things happened so fast I was not able to contact my parents and I landed late at night in Peoria , Il to an empty airport. Needless to say my parents were shocked but thrilled when I called them to come pick me up. Two weeks later I met Mariann in Philosophy class and she asked how I spent my summer, I told her it’s a long story.
Hey Dave, good to hear from you again.
Glad you survived that last firefight. Really scary when you’re ‘Short’.
BTW, I suppose you were pulling for Eastern Illinois yesterday against my beloved Hawkeyes…
Rob, I would never root against the Hawkeyes, I have many friends and family who are Hawkeyes. Now K.U. basketball is another story.
That makes me feel better…
I recall the trip back to the world. As the freedom bird left the ground, all I could think about was being shot down, my ahole was tight. Once we left the air space of RVN, I cried like a baby. To my comfort a airline attendent let me cry on her shoulder. This was the second time I cried while in the nam. I made it through TET, and my life has been a cake walk ever since. Welcome Back to all and DRIVE ON. I flew Flying Tiger airline back to the world.
Tears of joy, no doubt…
Yes the tears were of joy, and also of relief of being alive and in one piece.
Thanks for your memories, guys.
I´m glad you did not meet a hostile reception on your return home.
Just a few strange looks from people as I walked through LA International Airport with my war trophy…
Learned your blog via live search the other day and absolutely love it. Keep up the truly great work.
Just finished reading your entire Tome on your Viet Experience, WOW! Im not only impressed I am motivated. What an excellent personal insight into a very troubling time.
BTW. you were not selected as the RTO because you were the FNG! (LOL) De Larosa and I care fully looked for a man I could trust to always be there. YOU DONE GOOD! E-Mail me if you get a minute from your schedule, love to commiserate about other things in a more private venue.
Hey Mike, it’s about time you reported in!
I think it’s been close to seven years since we made contact.
I will send you an email a little later…
Rob (Blue India)
I got a Christmas drop in 1970, manifested on a late night flight out of Bien Hoa . I left behind a tracker dog named Tasha #58×1. He was saved by a sgt. (can’t recall his name) from being euthanized . The sgt. had come out of the field ,and brought Tasha with him ,and when he left ,entrusted him with me . I left him with Robinson . I wasn’t close to Robinson ,but felt he would take better care of him than anyone else in the unit . We were with A Co. 15th S&S Bn, 1st Cav. Div. Airmobile ,4th forward at Phuoc Vinh . I knew Tasha could never be brought back to the world ,and just hoped he ,would be well cared for.