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Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane
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Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane

emoji_events [35]
Feb 6, 2021, 8:34 AM

Almost exactly this time of February 1970 four of us had finished our assignment at Ft. Jackson and had our papers to report to the Army base near Seattle to embark on our next adventure ( not sure of the exact date but I remember that I had to be there before Valentine's Day - that didn't matter much because I had intentionally broken up with my current girlfriend so she wouldn't experience a year dreading news from a war zone and I would not get the "Dear John" letter so many guys received). We had heard that the Army had an unspoken grace period in which soldiers would not be penalized for reporting later than ordered and conspired to take advantage of that and report that number of days late. I met one of the guys at the Atlanta airport after flying there from Charlotte ( some of you might remember a post I made about flying almost directly over my home as the plane followed I-85 and thinking that it could be the last time I would see the place where I grew up) and another guy from Michigan joined us at the O'hare airport on a stopover. After getting to Seattle, we were relieved to find out that our information about not being punished for getting there late was true. They kept us there for several days - getting final inoculations and a huge bag of jungle clothes and boots and a final G.I. haircut from a guy from the SC Low Country who challenged us to guess his hometown by talking in his Geechie accent. We flew from there to Alaska where the plane refueled, landed again in Japan after a landing pattern circling Mt. Fugi and on to Cam Ranh Bay, Republic of Vietnam. The guy from Michigan had a nervous habit in times of stress of dropping his head so that his chin rested on his chest, gritting his teeth with his mouth open, placing his hands between his knees, and rubbing them together like a person might do after making a snowball and trying to warm them up. As our plane neared the Vietnam coast, fighter jets appeared very close to both sides of us to escort us to the airbase, making the reality of war most real. I elbowed the guy from NC & whispered "Watch Cliff" ( who was seated across the aisle from us) and, as expected, ole Cliff dropped his head, gritted his teeth, and almost generated smoke with his hands moving between his knees faster than ever seen before.

During the flight, the Army allowed us to carry our complete personnel files which contained every bit of information they had (not sure there were any other records of our existence - maybe we could have disappeared without a trace)). Some guys tore out pay records from the previous month and got paid again when we landed -in cash MPC - not much at the existing pay scale but bonus money anyway - not me though - I was a chicken ( not of the Coot kind).

Message was edited by: clover65®


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That was a great read!

emoji_events [10]
Feb 6, 2021, 9:47 AM

Thanks for your service and congrats on your memory

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Re: That was a great read! ????????????????????????????????????????

emoji_events [9]
Feb 6, 2021, 12:13 PM

Thank you for sharing so many of your stories about you time in Vietnam. They mean so much to me and do many others. I sincerely appreciate those who served in our Military sharing their stories.

I sometimes try to put myself in your shoes. I wonder if I could have had the courage to handled deployment in Vietnam. One of the things I remember most about the Vietnam war was before bed my mom would get down on her knees with us. Then my sister and I w
would each say a prayer. Most of the time it begin with prayers for those serving in Vietnam and those who died their.

A close friend and neighbor who was about 8 or 9 years older than me served in Vietnam. He married just before leaving. He and his wife were very patient with a kid who ask questions everyday about Rick and his time in Vietnam. He actually overstayed his time by about 2 weeks. They could not locate him when his time was up. At first I believe he wife (whom I had a young kid crush on ) was told he was MIA. We prayed with his family everyday. Then I remember a Military car pulling into Rick’s driveway one afternoon. We naturally thought the worst. But they came by to tell his wife Rick had been located at a small outpost and that he was on a special flight back to the United States.

Rick and his wife were so cool. They were always so patient with a 10 year old kid asking so many questions about Rick’s time in Nam. I learned so much about Vietnam and why we were their.’Fortunately the war ended for us just about 3 years shy of my 18th birthday.

I was so relieved but yet felt some sense of guilt because I did not have to serve in Vietnam or even in the Military because the draft was discontinued.

Clover65, you and so many are a Heroes in my eyes because when called you served in our country’s Military. Thank you for being one of those brave courageous men and women who served and serve even now despite some negative public opinion.

I know we have freedom of speech but I have never understand how so many people would not support our troops regardless of their politics. I would like to know how you felt after the TET offensive. The VC and the North Vietnam regulars got their butts handed to them by the US Military. It was at this point I believe if we had unleashed all we had on the North it was a war that we could have won. Do you think after TET it was a winnable war?? I do but IMO Walter Cronkite sold us out by indicating it was clear Vietnam would end in a stalemate. I would really value those who served in Vietnam to share their thoughts as well. To me It was clear Richard Nixon was willing to take off the gloves and let the Military do it’s job. Unlike LBJ who I feel to this day has so much blood on his hands because he tried to prosecute the war from the Oval Office. IMO many Air Force personnel lost their lives because of LBJ.

When Cronkite sold us out the protester of the war took it to a new level. More violence and more divisiveness in the US. They seemed to forget we were still at war or they just did not give a #### about those still serving in Vietnam. If the politicians had been more open and honest about Vietnam maybe more of the the public would have rallied behind our troops. With more public support for our troops, I believe the outcome would have been much different. The public did not realize that the communist had outside forces inciting riots and violent protest in this country. And for those cowards who fled the country, burned their draft cards or burned the American Flag while refusing to serve was a major slap in the face to those who did serve a grateful nation. I never will have respect for those people. IMO the draft dodging, draft card burning, American Flag burning, violent protesters have a lot American Soldiers blood on their hands too!!!

All returning soldiers who served should have been treated with the highest respect and honor that you all deserved. Many soldiers returning back home were treated with such disrespect it still sickens me even today. Then IMO Jimmy Spineless Carter allowed so many draft Dodgers to come back to this country after refusing to serve their country. I say this was a major act of a traitor by our President!! These Cowards returned to the United States to enjoy all the freedoms you and many other’s fought and died for. IMO all of theses people
should have been deported or should have been put in prison. I have no respect for those who fled to Canada or other countries, burned their draft cards or found a way to avoid serving our country. There were many with political connections who were able to avoid service in Vietnam to!

For all of these Cowards mentioned above I have no respect for you! And for those like John Kerry who claims to have thrown his medals over the DMZ back into North Vietnam and Daniel Ellsberg who released vital secret information regarding the Vietnam War your day of judgement will come. IMO Daniel Ellsberg should have been hung as a traitor to the United States. Hanging with him should have been the Walker’s and Aims for selling secrets to the Soviet Union. Their act’s of Treason put many of our friends, your sons and daughters and many family members lives at risk along with the security of The United States! All for a greed $$$$$$$$.

May God Bless our Country as well as our Military personal and protect them for harm’s way. ??????????????????!

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Re: That was a great read! ????????????????????????????????????????

[4]
Feb 6, 2021, 2:10 PM

sure got it right about cronkite!didn't lose militarily,rather politically.

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If political and media start to control

[4]
Feb 6, 2021, 6:08 PM

anything from policies to social opinions, the cause is lost. Just like recent coverage public opinion is shaped by what is reported in the news daily- how much have we heard about the Middle East over the last year? Media has ignored the main thing we listened to for 10 years to feed us negative stuff from the home front- do we think everything over there had been resolved?

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Re: That was a great read! ????????????????????????????????????????

[3]
Feb 7, 2021, 3:41 PM

Draft dodgers, and cowards are people that I have no use for, and both are one of the same, they were cut from the same cloth IMO!!! My opinion is also, if you're not willing to stand and fight beside your country men the very same as they're putting their life on the line for them and their families, they don't have a country bc, 90% of the population in our country certainly don't want them claiming America as their country, bc it isn't!!! Just being born in America isn't enough to claim to be an American if you are to scare and to yellow to fight for it. Some of on here have seen where I've said that if someone is breaking into my house, I will kill them dead, and I feel that same way if another country threatens our country, and our allies. My home, my family, and my country are a part of America, and I will fight to the death for all three, my home, my family, and my country!!!

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Re: That was a great read!

[3]
Feb 6, 2021, 2:21 PM

yeah.thought it was going to be about gordon lightfoot or peter,paul,and mary.

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Re: Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane

[2]
Feb 6, 2021, 11:20 AM

So what town was the guy doing the haircut from?

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Without hearing him chatter . . .

[4]
Feb 6, 2021, 11:25 AM

I’m guessing Wadmalaw Island . . .

Thanks for sharing the memories Clover!!!




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It was one of the islands between Charleston and

[2]
Feb 6, 2021, 1:08 PM

the Beaufort area but I don't remember which one.

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I was way too young for Vietnam but thanks to books like

[4]
Feb 6, 2021, 12:00 PM

“In the Presence of Mine Enemies’” I knew it was not somewhere I desired to be. Thank you for your bravery and service in a difficult conflict let’s face it; war!

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Re: Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane

emoji_events [9]
Feb 6, 2021, 12:13 PM

Clover ------ Have you had the opportunity to meet Bill Austin who lives in the Clemson area? He was a long time POW during the Viet Nom war. He has some stories to tell of his time as a POW. I believe Bill was in the Air Force. Thanks for your service and for sharing your experiences with us.

Getting together with you sometime this spring or summer is on my bucket list.

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Re: Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane

[4]
Feb 6, 2021, 12:18 PM

Joe I wish you Clover65 and other’s who served in our Military would get together and write a book of first hand experiences before those who are trying to rewrite history get a chance to do so.

Thank you all so much for your service to our country. ??????????????????

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Re: Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane

emoji_events [9]
Feb 6, 2021, 12:59 PM

Joe .... Col. Bill Austin is from Simpsonville and was an Air Force F-4 Phantom pilot (one of my favorites). I loved them when I was there .... see photo. He was shot down by a SAM over North Viet Nam, bailed out and captured. His RIO (Radar Intercept Officer) was killed .... not sure he was able to eject from the plane. Col. Austin think the radar technician that had worked on the radar put something in backwards as the missile came from a different direction as the radar showed.

I heard him speak at a luncheon in Greenville and one of the ladies in my Sunday School class was there with her POW bracelet with his name on it that she had worn every day that he was in captivity .... quite a few years. Very moving for both Bill and my friend after the talk and we went up to talk to him. He was treated horribly and tortured routinely. He said that just about every bone in both arms and hands had been broken.

Message was edited by: TigerLinks®


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Re: Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane

[4]
Feb 6, 2021, 7:23 PM

Bill lost his wife (Myrtle) just a few months ago. We are members of the same church but with the virus we had no services for a long time and I have not seen him for quite awhile. I did send him a note when Myrtle passed away. Among his many tortures, I believe they broke ever one of Bill's fingers.

Bill Funchess is a long-time friend and he was in a North Korean (really Chinese) prison for about three years. He wrote a book several years ago about his experiences and I have a copy of his book. The 1950-51 winter was brutal. We had temperatures down to 35 degrees below zero where I was located. The prison camp where Bill was located was near the Yalu River and the temperature was probably lower than what I experienced. The POWs didn't have warm clothing or heat and their food consisted mostly of millet.

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Haven't met him - most POWs were

[4]
Feb 6, 2021, 1:12 PM

Air Force guys who were shot down over the North. Looking forward to getting together.

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Re: Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane

[4]
Feb 6, 2021, 12:15 PM

Your description really gave a great visual. I felt I was on the plan when you were landing!

"The guy from Michigan had a nervous habit in times of stress of dropping his head so that his chin rested on his chest, gritting his teeth with his mouth open, placing his hands between his knees, and rubbing them together like a person might do after making a snowball and trying to warm them up."

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Re: Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane

[1]
Feb 6, 2021, 1:15 PM

Probably should have said "gritting his teeth with his lips separated" - kinda hard to grit your teeth if your mouth is actually open.

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Re: Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane

[3]
Feb 6, 2021, 1:36 PM

Clover65, I have started a scrapbook with post from you, Joe and other’s. I don’t have many photos. This is why I would love for you guys to publish a book with first hand information, those who were there and saw what happened. I will be glad to pay extra for a signed first edition. I have no doubts it will sale.

There is so much misinformation about WW II, the Korean War and especially the Vietnam War. The truth comes from you, Joe and so many other’s. I hope to get the book soon.

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Re: Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane

[4]
Feb 6, 2021, 1:46 PM

Joe has worked on a book but I am not sure what its status is right now. TigerNet will have to suffice for me - not ambitious to put a book together - often said if I write a book with the entire story -it will need to be published posthumously or I go to prison ( for not reporting all that was seen).

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Re: Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane

[4]
Feb 6, 2021, 7:16 PM

wueagle ..... I recommend reading Embers of War, by Fredrik Logevall, if you really want to understand the Viet Nam War and what led up to it. It is so much more complicated that the average American thinks and is fascinating history. You also may want to read Matterhorn, but Karl Marlantis. It is fiction, but after reading two pages I realized that it was true and the names and places had been changed. It was about the author.

One thing you need to keep in mind. Everyone in Viet Nam did not have the same experience ..... far from it. My admin officer when I was stationed at my last duty station had so many ribbons that he looked like Chesty Puller. It turned out he had worked at Division headquarters in Danang and did not spend a second in the field. He had a bronze star and just about everything on down, including some Vietnamese awards that I had never seen. Turns out he was in the awards section, and I guess approved his own awards! He later told me he turned down my Bronze Star because I had already been awarded an "end of tour" medal when I went to Guam to the Naval Hospital and although I came back for an additional 6 months I was only entitled to one end of tour medal.

Other, like Clover, spent their entire tour either in the field or back at their battalion for a short time before heading out again ..... and so many who really deserved awards were overlooked. I think most Marines and Soldiers who got the awards certainly deserved them, but so many that did not get them deserved them too.

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Re: Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane

[4]
Feb 7, 2021, 10:38 AM


wueagle ..... I recommend reading Embers of War, by Fredrik Logevall, if you really want to understand the Viet Nam War and what led up to it. It is so much more complicated that the average American thinks and is fascinating history. You also may want to read Matterhorn, but Karl Marlantis. It is fiction, but after reading two pages I realized that it was true and the names and places had been changed. It was about the author.

One thing you need to keep in mind. Everyone in Viet Nam did not have the same experience ..... far from it. My admin officer when I was stationed at my last duty station had so many ribbons that he looked like Chesty Puller. It turned out he had worked at Division headquarters in Danang and did not spend a second in the field. He had a bronze star and just about everything on down, including some Vietnamese awards that I had never seen. Turns out he was in the awards section, and I guess approved his own awards! He later told me he turned down my Bronze Star because I had already been awarded an "end of tour" medal when I went to Guam to the Naval Hospital and although I came back for an additional 6 months I was only entitled to one end of tour medal.

Other, like Clover, spent their entire tour either in the field or back at their battalion for a short time before heading out again ..... and so many who really deserved awards were overlooked. I think most Marines and Soldiers who got the awards certainly deserved them, but so many that did not get them deserved them too.




Another from Marlantes that is completely Non Fiction--What It Is Like To Go To War.

Hue 1968 from Mark Bowden- author of Black Hawk Down was riveting

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Re: Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane

[3]
Feb 7, 2021, 3:37 PM

Yes .... there are some excellent books on the war. The interesting part of Embers of War does not go so much into the war itself but what all took place up until we jumped in with all four feet. We really didn't have much of a choice. Our involvement in "Indo-China" started in 1919 (or before) when President Woodrow Wilson refused to meet with a young nationalist named Ho Chi Minh. At Dien Bien Phu, the battle that got the French out of Indo-China for good, the US was flying in about 90% of the resupply missions. The equipment on the ground was mostly US materials that we had given the French. We did not want the French out of there because we knew where it would lead ...... and did!

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speaking of books:365 days***

[2]
Feb 7, 2021, 10:32 PM



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Re: Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane

[3]
Feb 7, 2021, 3:39 PM

Ron .... if I am not mistaken, Marlantes was awarded the Navy Cross, second highest award for bravery, just below the Medal of Honor. One of my good friends from OCS and Basic School also won one.

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Re: Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane

[3]
Feb 7, 2021, 4:30 PM


Ron .... if I am not mistaken, Marlantes was awarded the Navy Cross, second highest award for bravery, just below the Medal of Honor. One of my good friends from OCS and Basic School also won one.

Yes, Marlantes and your friend both won the Navy Cross. Marlantes is a remarkable individual. Graduated from Yale and was a Rhodes Scholar. Matterhorn was all too real for a work of fiction. Excellent. Thank you for your service T links!

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Re: Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane

[4]
Feb 6, 2021, 3:09 PM

I really enjoy your posts, and I thank you and all our vets for your service.

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What was Geechie guys hometown? My guesses are

[2]
Feb 6, 2021, 8:28 PM

Lobeco, Meggett, or Ashepoo.

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Re: What was Geechie guys hometown? My guesses are

[2]
Feb 7, 2021, 3:50 PM

Edisto

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Thank you for posting Clover - I can’t imagine the emotions.

[2]
Feb 7, 2021, 4:30 PM

Thank you for posting!

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"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." - Jackie Robinson


Don't know how to tell you how much gratitude and love I

[2]
Feb 7, 2021, 10:43 PM

feel for you. I can say those fighter jets were sure a welcome sight. Your posts bring it all to the folks who didn't live through it and helps them understand what a horror it all was. Thank you and I'm so glad you made it home.

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Re: Fifty-ONE years ago - Leavin' on a jet plane

[1]
Feb 8, 2021, 7:17 AM

That was really interesting! Would love for there to be a part 2 of what happened after landing, how long until you saw first action and your feelings.

May have already written and I didn’t see.

I was lucky, being just a little too young to have to serve. Can remember watching the draft lottery with older brother and my mom being worried about his number. He ended up being really high - close to 300 so he never went.

I can remember as a kid attending funeral of a guy in our small rural area. Recall seeing him in open casket with uniform on. It made me worry if that war would even be over by the time I got of age!

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