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…
AIT (Advanced Individual Training)
At the end of Basic Training, you were assigned a MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). My MOS was 11 Delta (Recon) and my training was to be at Fort Knox, KY. I don’t remember the exact dates, but I know I arrived there sometime before Christmas of 1969.
We trained in APC’s (Armored Personnel Carriers) and believe it or not, I didn’t even see one in Vietnam.
I recall a two week bivouac, we did in the Kentucky mountains in the middle of winter. We slept in tents and half of our training company came down with pneumonia, including myself. Couple days in the hospital and good as new. Now that’s good training for the hot steamy jungles of Vietnam.
Then there was the day my buddy, and I got mugged walking back to our barracks from the PX. Three guys attacked us from behind. I received a karate chop to the back of my neck while the other two started kicking my buddy while on the ground. Before they could get our money, they were chased off by a bunch of guys not far behind us.
For the most part, AIT wasn’t all that bad. In comparison to Basic it was a cakewalk. We got treated with a little more respect, after all we were now considered soldiers.
In late February, I graduated from AIT and as expected I received orders for Vietnam. The next two weeks I spent on leave back in Iowa visiting with family and friends. The training we receive in Basic and AIT was much needed to prepare us for what was to come. They did a good job of brainwashing us, because I never once considered not going, and better yet not returning…