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 we physically left Vietnam at the end of our tour of duty, the awesome experiences of combat had a profound and life long effect on all of us.
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 a bunch of 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.
I was home at last…
Eppley Airfield Omaha, Nebraska where my parents, two of my brothers and girlfriend (now wife) waited for my arrival…