Tag Archives: charlie troop blues

Charlie Troop Mail Clerk


An offer I couldn’t refuse

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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…

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Charlie Troop Blues


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New guy in country (FNG) gets the radio

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Sgt. Gregory Lee Peffer KIA January 22, 1971

Relaxing – our squad leader Staff Sgt Dave Roger 

 Staff Sgt Dave Roger, Blues medic (right)

Dave Roger, Bob Quintana 

Dave Roger

Dave Roger (right)

Johnny Stiteler, Dave Roger, Eddie Smith, Tony Cruz, Jim Debolt, Tom Connell 

Dave Roger, Dave Parkhurst,  Larry Pruett

Jim Debolt, Dave Roger

SSgt. George D. Slye ‘Blue Mike’ KIA May 2, 1970 (with A Troop 1/9th) 

Blues in the bush

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Jeff Stone, Daffy Dawson

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Staff Sgt Dave Roger guiding chopper into LZ… 

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Dave Roger

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Just a Walk in the Park

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Blues Arriving at Song Be (Fire Support Base Buttons)

LZ Thomas on top of Nui Ba Ra Mountain

LZ Thomas

LZ Thomas

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smoke break

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Charlie Troop Blues at Rang Rang Airfield

Jeff Stone Photo

Blues in the bush

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What War?

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Blues communicating with Lift bird… 

Blues extraction

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One large combo with extra cheese and an order of breadsticks please… 

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Dave Roger (center) with combat engineers

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Blues in Saigon 

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Struck

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My M-60 

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Photo by Mike Thompson (crew chief) 228th Assault Support Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, 1970-71

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Blues in the air 

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Walter Maude with Veronica (Charlie Troop monkey)

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Rob Struck, Tony Mizzi 

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Struck

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‘Peace’ 

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Blues Rappelling 

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‘McGuire’ Rig 

Photo courtesy of Dave Roger

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Struck, ARVN’s

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Eddie Smith, Schumacher, Tom Connell 

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Daffy Dawson, Marv Lundervold, Dave Parkhurst

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 Eddie Smith

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Dave Roger, Rob Struck

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Rob Struck – search and destroy mission

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Home away from home…

PBR time – Dave Roger, Tom Connell, Rob Struck

Mike Melton, Jim Debolt, Bob Porter, George Burns, Dave Parkhurst, Dave Roger     

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Bob Quintana 

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Sgt. Gregory Lee Peffer (center on the ground) KIA January 22, 1971  

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Sgt. Gregory Lee Peffer

Photo courtesy of Ron Peffer

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Sgt. Gregory Lee Peffer on right with unidentified Charlie Trooper

 

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‘Cavalier Blue’ Mike La Chance, Rob Struck ‘Blue India’

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Johnny Stiteler, Charlie Thatcher, ? 

Bob Porter, Gilbert Ortiz

Dave Roger

Dave Roger

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SFC Lionel DeLa Rosa 

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Marv Lundervold (Lucky Lundie), Charlie Thatcher (Thumper), Harvey Bolejack (Boe) 

Dave Roger, Richard Brasteter

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I got a break

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Bob Quintana 

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SFC Lionel DeLa Rosa ‘Blue Mike’, PFC Rob Struck ‘Blue India’ 

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Smith, Struck, Mizzi 

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Bryant

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Eugene Vanasse 

George Burns, Mike Cody 

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Charlie Thatcher (Thumper) 

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Frank (Amigo) Alameda, George Burns, Schumacher 

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Our medic (?), Cadenhead, Struck, Cody, Roger (Mike La Chance on ground)

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 ‘Cavalier Blue’ Mike La Chance (right)

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Rob Struck, Eddie Smith

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Schumacher 

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Struck

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M-60 by my side 

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Vanasse, Debolt, Struck, Johnson 

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Lift Off

Jeff Stone Photo

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Weaver

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Lawrence 

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Johnson, Ancrum (sp), Fingers (nickname), Struck, Robert (Dutch) Florez – Saigon

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Cadenhead

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Robert (Dutch) Florez, Frank (Amigo) Alameda

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Pat Cadenhead, “Cavalier Blue” Lt. John Mackel, Sgt. Tom Criser

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Struck

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Sgt. Larry Pruett, Frank Alameda, Robert (Dutch) Florez, Eugene Vanasse 

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Weaver, ?, Mike Melton, Pat Cadenhead, Frank Biesel

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?, Johnny Stiteler, Eddie Smith, Rob Struck

Johnny Stiteler, Dave Roger

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Bryant, Struck, Mizzi

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Dave Roger on the left knocking down a PBR

Tom Connell, Bob Quintana 

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Struck

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Schumacher, Lawrence, Porter, ?, Doc, Bryant

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‘Cavalier Blue’ Mike La Chance, Rob Struck ‘Blue India’

1966 Blues 

1968, 69 Blues – Patrick Bieneman (front left) 

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1970 Blues – Crouch, Greg Peffer (KIA January 22, 1971), Tom Connell, Johnny Stiteler, Schumacher, Knight, Ringo 

1971 Blues – Gary Pope (right) fourth squad leader

 

 

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Professional Soldier


Sergeant First Class Lionel De La Rosa ‘Blue Mike’

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As you can see in this picture, De La Rosa did all the talking on the radio. I just carried it. Hey, what’s an extra thirty pounds on your back?

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It was a typical Blues recon mission. Thirteen of us walking single file spaced about six feet apart. I was carrying a PRC-25 radio along with my M-16 rifle. The man in front of me was Sergeant First Class De La Rosa our Platoon Sargent.

Our routine stroll through the jungle was interrupted by rapid machine gun fire to our rear. I slammed my body to the ground and tried to make myself as invisible as possible, which was hard to do with the radio antenna waving around in the air. In a matter of seconds SFC De La Rosa was next to me talking on my radio communicating with our Pink Team circling above us.

At that point, we didn’t know if it was sniper fire, an ambush or something more serious. In any event, we were usually outnumbered, but we had lots of firepower flying around above us and ‘Charlie’ was aware of that.
After burning up a few clips of M-16 rounds toward an invisible target, I ceased fire along with everyone else.
Nothing more materialized from that incident, so we called our Lift birds to extract us.

Later that evening back in Phuoc Vinh we found out what really happened that day. Mike Milton our ‘Ace’ M-60 Machine Gunner staged a firefight. He began firing his machine gun into the jungle just out of boredom. It definitely worked!

I could tell by De La Rosa’s actions he truly loved being in the thick of things and also the adrenalin rush which occures during a firefight. His first tour in Vietnam began in 1965, so he was no stranger to combat…

Weaver, ?, Mike Melton, Pat Cadenhead & Frank Beasal

Sergeant First Class Lionel De La Rosa (front)

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Search and Destroy


Enemy Shelter
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Blues pushing over a shelter used by ‘Charlie’, and apparently we enjoyed it by the look on my face. Before we left the area, it was torched. Anything that aided the enemy in any way was destroyed…

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Night Mission


Down Bird in Cambodia

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I was on the lead bird when I snapped this picture of our other chopper of Blues.

It was late afternoon when we landed in Phuoc Vinh after another long day in the hot steamy jungle. I was looking forward to a long cool shower and maybe a beer or two before I hit the sack.

As we walk the short distance from the helipad to our hooch someone hollered out those all too familiar words “down bird”. We all did an about face and scrambled back to our choppers, which were by then fully cranked and ready to go. We were informed that one of our Scout birds was downed by ground fire in Cambodia. We all knew it would be dark, by the time we reached the downed Loach but that didn’t matter in this life or death situation. There was always a chance the crew of the downed bird survived the crash and needed our help, so we had to reach their location as quickly as possible.

When we reached the area of the crash our Lift pilot hovered our bird over the treetops in position for us to rappel. Only a few of us Blues rappelled into the darkness of the jungle that night. I had a radio on my back when I went down and recall getting tangled up in the jungle’s undergrowth before my feet hit the ground. Then the real drama began!

It was our understanding, there were no friendlies in this part of Cambodia, which clearly made it a ‘free-fire zone”. We heard movement not far from our position, and it had to be one of two things. Either the crew of the downed bird survived or ‘Charlie’ was closing in on us. We were ready for the worse-case scenario which was of course ‘Charlie’. There was a slim chance the crew survived the crash so we expected the latter. That’s when a call came over my radio “hold your fire”. The movement was a squad of friendlies from a grunt company that beat us to the downed bird.

We stayed the night in the jungle and were extracted by our Lift birds the next morning…

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A Few Good Men


Squad of Blues at helipad in Phuoc Vinh

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Weaver, ?, Mike Milton, Pat Cadenhead, Frank Biesel

I took this picture while waiting for a Lift bird to pick us up before being inserted on a recon mission.

Specialist 4 Mike Milton (center) carried the M-60 machine gun for the Blues. Mike’s heroic actions while on a recon mission were pointed out on page 89 of T.L.Criser’s book “The Ghost In The Orange Closet”. Tom Criser carried the radio (Blue India) for the Blues just before I arrived in Country.

Typically, two squads of Blues flew out of Phuoc Vinh on two separate birds early each morning and headed north.

In an older entry (Mortar Attacks) I wrote about a close call down at the helipad. ‘Charlie‘ pumped some mortars at the airstrip one morning while we were waiting for our choppers. One of the rounds landed just on the other side of the red barrel in this picture. Not a good way to start your day…

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PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)


Facing Wounds You Can’t See

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The Author: The Ghost in the Orange Closet…Sgt. Tom Criser (right)

I never met Tom Criser in Vietnam, he was leaving Country as I entered.
We both carried the radio (Blue India) in the field for the Blues of C Troop 1/9 (probably the same one).

I usually don’t finish a book in one sitting, but this one, I had to…
Great Job!
Rob Struck (Blue India) 1970

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