Letters From Vietnam Third Letter
During the time I wrote this letter I had been In Country for six months. When you read it, compared to my early letters, I think you will be able to tell that my morale had taken a nose dive. At the time of this letter we were going through the pre-Tet offense. Because of the peace talks going on in Paris, North Vietnam had promised a cease fire but it did not last long. All major bases in the South were being hit. It was at this turning point when I started re-thinking whether I would get out of Nam alive.
The only real news that we got was either from The Stars & Stripes, the military newspaper, or radio broadcasts from mostly Saigon. I was surprised to read and hear that there were such minor losses on our side. I remember having to help with the 9th medical battalion and being on the tarmac when choppers were flying in with wounded GI’s. There were cots set up all over, some guys were in so much pain they were screaming. I think a few guys were getting in reports from the BBC and those reports were saying we were losing thousands of GI’s. So I think a lot of us guys were thinking “what in the hell is going on here, why are we not winning this war?” (sorry Military Action).
Why was this called a “military action” after such a long conflict? I believed that one big reason was the USA was scared that Russia would declare war against us because they were backing the north. They were aiding the north, not just with weapons etc, but medical supplies, food and clothing. And the U.S. feared the spread of communism was growing through out the world.
In this letter I described how the VC were able to hit major sites on the base and make direct hits. At the time we had a few Vietnamese civilians working on the base and some of them were giving information to the VC. This did not help with morale, just knowing you could not trust even the South Vietnamese. I believe that a large majority of the South Vietnamese just wanted to end this terrible nightmare, and stop the bloodshed. The poor Vietnamese had been occupied by foreign countries for over 400 years.
Thank you all for taking the time to go on this journey with me.
© copywrite April 28, 2010, Richard D. Patterson, Jr. All rights reserved by author.
Mekong Delta, Vietnamese vendors
Typed version of Letter 3
Dear Mom, Dad, Sherry Tuesday 25, 1969 Feb
I am sure sorry for not writing to your folks but I have been really busy. I don’t know if you folks have heard on the news our in the papers but we have been hit by Charlie for the past 3 days. Charlie has finally hit what he’s always been trying to and that’s are POL point (Petroleum). On Saturday 22, of Feb around 2:30 am the alarm went off and we all got in the bunker and as soon as we were in Charlie started to sock it to us. He threw 230 rockets into Dong Tam that night, the first three rockets hit are JP4 tank this tank holds over 125,000.00 gallons of fuel, JP4 is used for choppers and planes. The tanks are across the street from us and when, that tank blew up it shock the whole company area. The next tank was are other JP4 tank it was hit by two rockets but didn’t ignite, than are Mogas tank was hit right square on the top it started burning like a big candle it was put out about 3 hours later. Than are diesel tank was hit right square in the side but the was not
Very much diesel in it so it did not ignite but we lost over 30,000.00 gallons o diesel it all ran out of the tank and into the ditch. We all had to sit in the bunkers until Charlie stopped throwing them in on us and we felt pretty helpless because we new are POL point was probably going up in smoke and we could not do anything, finally around 3:15 am are Cpt. Came in the bunker, we have a new Co. commander his name is Cpt. Guarnerie he is a neat guy, and said the needed 5 people so me St. Angelo, Fritz, Guisa & Harman took off with him, we still had are flack jackets and steel pot’s (helmets) and we could hear the rockets coming in on the other side of the base, we were still on red alert. We went over to the tanks and the JP4 was burning like hell, I have never seen a fire that big before. We had to get a hold of some foam, foam is the only stuff that will put out a fuel fire, and if you put water on it all it does is float on top of the water. Finally the Navy brought all there boats over and the gave us barrels of foam, on Sunday we had to have 3 loads of foam sent from Saigon and Cam Ranh Bay to put out the fire. We fought
the fire from 3:30 am Saturday till 3:00 pm Sunday afternoon. My feet were burnt but not bad, the JP4 was all over the ground and when it gets on your feet its just like acid, are Captain made us go to 9th Medical battalion and get some stuff put on it. About 4:30 pm Sunday we were all pooped out from fighting the fire all night and day, and what should happen but Charlie started throwing them in on us again so we hit the bunker he is getting pretty brave to hit us during the day most of the time he hits us a night. He kept us up Sunday night threw a couple rockets in us Monday during the day last night, Monday night, around 6:30 pm we were all eating in the mess hall and Charlie started throwing them in again he did not hit are area but he hit the Bod Hope bunker. You should have seen what that mess hall looked like when about 70 guys tried to get out at once, it was a mess.
It was quit an experience I was not as scarred as I should have been but now I know that Charlie is not playing games, and he is a lot stronger than most of us think he is. But he got himself into a mess now; we killed
way over 2,000.00 VC just in the past 3 days. Only one GI was killed out of all the fighting. We are pretty sure that this is one of his major offenses since last years Tet. We are expected to be hit again but I don’t think Charlie will be able to get back on his feet. We know now that there must be a lot of VC working on post because when he can seat out there in the middle of the rice paddies and hit all four of are fuel tanks, direct hits, he must have got information from someone. Well were prepared for him and theres no way in hell that he could over run Dong Tam. We carry are flack jackets and steel pots around all the time now.
Besides all of the action not much more has happened, except that it still is as hot as ever, I wish the monsoon season would hurry up and get here. I am writing this letter around 11:30 am in the morning we don’t have much time to write during the night. I have not heard from you folks for quit awhile your probably pretty busy at home. I don’t know if I have told you about my friends I have, got two pretty good buddies and we run around together quit a bit. Ones name is
St. Angelo and he is from California he works in the orderly room too, were pretty good buddies, another ones name is Fritz and he lives in TacomaWashington. (neat) he’s been to Astoria, Seaside, his girlfriend lives in Portland. All three of us are trying to get are R&R at the same time, to Australia. Mom if I need $50.00 would you send it to me, we will not be going until around April. Fritz drives the jeep for the Captain. There’s a lot of cool heads around here and were all pretty good buddies, we got a new 1st Sergeant, (top left) we don’t like him a bit, but we sure like the Captain, you should have seen him fighting the fire he was right out there with us.
I sure wish it did not cost so much our I would send my tape deck home and my amplifier but it would cost around $60.00 and that to much, when I can send it in hole baggage for nothing. Dad are you still driving truck for Skip? I got another letter from Clayton an he said that he has not been hit once since he’s been in Vietnam that’s because he is up in Long Bien and that’s almost as safe as Cam Ranh Bay
but the past few days Long Bien has been hit just like us, and even Cam Ranh Bay has been hit it has not been hit for almost a year and half.
Well its 12:30 pm and we just had a red alert only 4 rockets came in. Sherry I got your letter I sure was glad to get it, Every Day People is the No. 1 song over here too. That cream crab sure sounded good, can not wait to eat some good old salmon and seafood. Mom I heard you bought a new sewing machine sounds pretty good especially the good buy you got on it. The job that Sherry is getting really sounds good and the money sounds better she will be making more than me, HaHa. I hear Judy & Larry have got a new house well I think it will be better. Sherry & Judy have there rounds once and awhile. I hope my room is still there and my bed, I am use too sleeping in the funniest places. Well Id better try to get some sleep maybe Charlie wont monkey with us anymore tonight. I miss you folks a lot, sometimes I even have to shed a tear or two. Haha But time is going by fast.
Love Always Dick Jr