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Vietnam Tour 1966 - 1967

Updated on August 31, 2016

A Draft Invitation to Vietnam

In 1963 my future husband and I had already planned on getting married. Just at that time he got a letter from the Draft Board notifying him that he needed to go for his Military Physical. When he went for his physical they were told, whoever is not married by Monday would get drafted. Knowing that Vietnam was starting to be an issue, our wedding sped up lightning speed to that weekend in Reno...

Unfortunately 3 years later in 1966 the Vietnam conflict was not over, it only got worse, we never thought it would last that long...so he got his draft notice invitation for Vietnam.

Of course all I could hear were my mom's words, "don't ever get married to a man that has to go to war!" I suppose she said that because she married my dad during the war and did not want us to go through what she did.

So now our lives and the families lives have been turned upside down, we had to endure the pain of being separated, not hearing from him for a while, total fear of the unknown, what will happen to him, and of course not having control of the situation...it's not like nowadays were you can use a computer, Skype or phone, I'm not saying it makes it easier, but you have a bit of control.


Processed into the draft

and the unforeseen events

The morning my husband was leaving for the induction center in Oakland California., we went to breakfast with his family, this also was where the bus would pick up the guys. It was a tearful goodbye and my heart ached.

Waiting all day for a possible phone call from him was draining. I just wanted to hear his voice and know what was going on. And then the phone rang, it was him! He was telling me about that day and the fact he was in the Army, they went 1-2-3-4 you are in the Army 1-2-3-4 your are in the Navy....now that was weird! Then...he mentioned that the processing center lost his paperwork and all his new belongings that I had packed...inculding the love letter to him. Because they couldn't process him with the rest of the guys, he had to stay overnight and go back the next day.

Oh boy, can you see me driving 10 miles to Oakland at a high rate of speed in our 1955 souped up Chevy? I can't believe I did not get a ticket...but the reward was, I got to spend one more night with him!

Staying at Ft.Irwin California - lucky us!

I was blessed to have been able to stay for three months with my husband at Ft.Irwin in the California Mohave Desert. We were lucky enough that there were openings for housing. It made us so happy to be able to be together before he shipped out, even though just for a few months.

The USNS Barrett - an old cruise ship made into transport ship

Barretts - the old bucket ship
Barretts - the old bucket ship

USNS Barrett

My husband said he never had been on a big ship, well here was his chance! Let me tell you neither one of us were happy...a Cruise Ship it was not, but interestingly enough it had been a cruise ship at one time!

I had found out where the USNS Barrett was docking. I drove down to Port Alameda and there I found the ship...I saw the guys getting on board with all their gear and hoped to get a glimpse of my hubby, that was till the MP's came and told me I was not allowed to be there, and that I had to go back over the barricades...so much for security....desperate wives do desperate things.

Events written by my husband

his Story...

In January 1966 I reported for my draft by going to the induction center. I had been married for three years and it was difficult for me to leave my wife

I was sent to Ft. Irwin CA. for basic training and after basic I was sent to advanced training to prepare for my assignment to Vietnam. Completing that training, Pvt. Ken Sanders and I were hand picked by Sgt. Upton Ashley to be part of his Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) crew. Training together for six months we developed a close relationship, like bothers. Sgt. Ashley was a career soldier who had a habit of always volunteering for assignments.

We deployed to Vietnam on a ship USNS Barrett, an old troop transport ship. At sea we ran into a Typhoon and for two days I thought the ship would break in half. This was probably my first fear. After 27 days at sea we arrived in Vung Tau at night, you could see in the distance flares going off and tracer rounds from aircraft firing on enemy positions. There were two Battalions on the ship and you could hear a pin drop, everyone realizing this wasn't another training exercise...this was the real thing.

Landing at Vung Tau ~ in country Vietnam

Off the ship at Vung Tau...now in country!
Off the ship at Vung Tau...now in country!

continued...

The next morning the two Battalions went on shore except for six of us, myself, Pfc. Ken Sanders, Sgt. Upton Ashley and three men from the 11th Cav. We were sent on a large barge down the Saigon River with all the supplies. The tugboat that was towing us would anchor us in the middle of the river at night, not returning to us till daybreak. During the night we were sitting ducks receiving sniper fire from shore. This really put fear in me, I was a nervous wreck. I didn't understand how they could put us in this position....we could have been overrun because we didn't have the fire power to fight back..

It took three days to reach Saigon harbor. When we were docking a small boat pulled in front of our barge, they proceeded to put a plank onto the barge trying to board. We drew our weapons on them and they turned around and left. We were scared having no idea what our next move would be. After several hours we finally made contact with Military personal informing them we had just arrived in country, being the advanced party with the supplies for the 2nd 34th Armor Battalion heading for Long Bihn. Our supplies finally were loaded on three separate trucks with Vietnamese drivers. It was late in the evening and we agreed to remain close to each other when going through Saigon not to lose each other. But that did not work out, we got separated because of all the people and traffic. It was pitch dark and we had no idea where we were at. All of a sudden the Vietnamese driver tells me in broken English, that he didn't know where Long Bihn was. The truck was stopped in the middle of nowhere, in panic I chambered a round in my M-14 rifle and told the driver if anyone approached our vehicle he would be dead. I put the barrel of my rifle to his head...and suddenly his memory came back!

Finally arriving in Long Bihn I turned the driver in to my superiors informing them of what had transpired. When the other trucks arrived. they also had the same experiences, we had been set up for an ambush. All this in the first week in country, made me even more of a nervous wreck.

After the first month we went on search and destroy missions, on a mission to Cu Chi I experienced my first mortar attack. I can't begin to tell you the horror of those mortar rounds hitting all around me, the sound of small arms going off everywhere. Hearing the screams of guys being wounded and losing some of the men in this attack

34th Armor
34th Armor

Nov 3, 1966

The pain endured

Nov. 3, 1966 not long after we where in country our Recon Platoon was given a mission to go to Lai Kai to escort a convoy of 100 vehicles to Saigon. We traveled Highway 13 better known as Thunder Road, so called because of all the land mines and vehicle litter on the side of the road. As we left the village of Dian towards Lai Kai about half an hour on highway 13 I hit a 500 lb. mine detonated by a Vietcong in a well nearby. The APC I was driving weighed 11,000 lbs and the mine blew it into the air and blew me out of it. I was unconscious for awhile, but then heard my platoon firing their weapons all around me. I got their attention so they wouldn't fire at me. I climbed on another APC and started firing one of the weapons on board. When the Platoon Sgt. called to cease fire they had to pull me away from the weapon, which I had burnt out the barrel...I was in such a rage.

I went over to my Track that was hit by the mine, it was burning and all the ammunition was still going off. I was so out of it I went to the APC and pulled Pfc. Sanders away from the wreck, my Sargent was trapped and half his body was gone. The med-evac helicopter came to take me to the hospital and laying at my feet in a poncho was my friend and brother Pfc.Ken Sanders. I can't describe the pain I felt having to ride with him at my feet like that.

When I was in the Hospital for my wounds I wrote to my wife letting her know what happened. In my letter I expressed to her that Nov. 3,1966 was the luckiest and saddest day of my life. God was with me and spared me for some reason. While still in the hospital I had been given a direct order to write the families of Pfc.Sanders and Sgt.Ashley letting them know what happened. How do you write to someones spouse who has lost her husband and explaining to her how he was killed...and that I'm the only survivor of that attack. These two KIA's were the very first casualties of our battalion. I think of my brother's daily and try to honor them by being part of Veterans organizations by helping other Vets.

Stationed at Fort Carson Colorado Springs, CO - 1967 - 1968

When my husband came back from Vietnam he was stationed in Ft.Carson ~ Colorado Springs CO .....we lived there till he was released from the service.

The Wall

A Tribute
A Tribute

In Their Memory - a Tribute on the Wall

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My husband at the wall viewing the names of his friendsSgt. Ashley
My husband at the wall viewing the names of his friends
My husband at the wall viewing the names of his friends
Sgt. Ashley
Sgt. Ashley

Hubby with his very good friend CSM Curtis Patton - R & R in Saigon

R.I.P. 1/17/1932 - 6/12/2014

Command Sergeant Major Curtis C. Patton

There are no words that can express the sorrow we feel for the passing of Command Sergeant Major Curtis C. Patton ~
We had him in our lives for over 48 years. He was loving, kind and a true friend.
My husband will be forever grateful for the special irreplaceable bond...this because of the event they both had hencountered.

My husband had visited Sergeant Patton before his death. They planned together his uniform and pallbearers For the funeral. Al had the privilege and honor of being one of the pallbearers. The funeral was very hard on my husband and of course this made it even harder for me. We had been invited by his wife to stay with her and help with the funeral and burial ceremony at a Riverside Military Cemetary.

He will be deeply missed and will forever be in our hearts.


Tribute to a Brother ~ Korean Vet. ~ March 15,1931 ~ Aug. 30,2012

Benny 1931 - 2012
Benny 1931 - 2012

Benny Pacheco

Ben was only 16 years old when he joined the Army, this against his mothers wishes. He went to Korea serving as a paratrooper, he earned two Bronze Stars, all this at such a young age.

We learned of his death while in Paris, and were not able to make it back for the funeral. As heartbroken as my husband was, he took it as a sign from God that this was to be, making it less painful on the loss.

Benny was a fun guy, very expressive of his opinion about everything. The later part of his life was filled with illnesses, but a happiness brought on by his second wife that fulfilled him.

He loved to go parachuting on his Birthdays, even when he got up in age he enjoyed the thrill.

RIP dear Benny, and someday we will all be together again.

A Poll ...

Do you remember the Vietnam Conflict?
Do you remember the Vietnam Conflict?

Do you remember the Vietnam Conflict?

Did you go to Vietnam or do you know someone who did

See results
Vietnam: A History
Vietnam: A History

"The most comprehensive, up-to-date, and balanced account

we have." Boston Globe.

"Superb, balanced in interpretation...

immensely readable and full of new and interesting detail." George Herring, Univ. of Kentucky.

 

If you don't know where Vietnam is - here is a Map...

A markerVietnam -
Saigon
get directions

If you collect Vietnam books, DVD or any informational items from that conflict, they can be found on Amazon very reasonably.

Vietnam In HD [DVD]
Vietnam In HD [DVD]

A historical documentary, accurate coverage with actual footage...interesting facts.

 

Thank You to those that served!

Created on 01/11/2013

Comments Welcome - A salute to ALL Veterans of all Wars!

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    • Cop-Speak profile image

      Cop-Speak 22 months ago

      Thanks for this Wonderful Hub...

    • DANCING COWGIRL profile image

      Dancing Cowgirl Design 2 years ago from Texas

      This is a wonderful story and you should be so proud of your husband. I really appreciate his service and the sacrifices that you made as a military wife. Best Wishes always.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      I knew some of the men who lost their lives over there. Just boys really. I knew some of the men who came home too. I know they like to say that war makes men of boys, but I felt like it wounded them so deeply they might never grow into men.

      Thank you for sharing this story. Thank you, too, to your husband for his service and for surviving. I pray he is completely healed and that he has had a good life since.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      What a gripping story from a personal perspective. I can only imagine what you and your husband experienced, but It must have been difficult to say the least. Thank you for sharing this story with us and a thank you to your husband as well.

    • IanTease profile image

      IanTease 3 years ago

      Very well written and moving lens.

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      An outstanding story, and pictures, I would like to Thank your husband for serving and protecting our freedom, and Thank you for this beautiful story.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      This is a very touching lens. Your husband, is very similar in resemblance to my own Father. I remember us talking before, we seem to have had similar paths, especially Germany and our interests in art. Thank you for the nice comments. Terry

    • delia-delia profile image
      Author

      Delia 3 years ago

      Because of a Glitch/Bug for this comment NOT showing, I copied and pasted. This was a very important and surprising comment for my husband and I did not want to look rude for it not showing.

      RickHaymaker(visitor) Nov 3, 2013

      Bud Ashley was a father to me. The photos are as I imagined. I never forget him and searching again on 3 Nov. brought me here. God bless you for this.

      Reply: d-artist How wonderful to have heard from you, received a message from your wife this morning...will be contacting you.

    • Old Navy Guy profile image

      Old Navy Guy 3 years ago

      Excellent and very personal article. Thank you for sharing. It was so long ago, it was only yesterday.

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 3 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      We were all so young during that time, just like my parents' generation was so very young during WWII. Thank you for a reminder of just how evil war is and how precious life is to all of us. I'm so glad your hubby came home to you.

    • delia-delia profile image
      Author

      Delia 3 years ago

      @anonymous: Ahh, danke Meine Susse cousin!

    • writerkath profile image

      writerkath 4 years ago

      Dear Delia and Al, this lens brought some serious tears to my eyes as I felt the ache and pain for you both, for what you endured during this time. While I was reading through, my husband came into the room and I told him about this account - and he wanted to be sure that I don't forget to tell you that we thank you, Al, for your service to our country. And thank you also for what you are doing on a continued basis in support of our Veterans. I hardly know what else to say, except that I am feeling an incredible love for you both. You are wonderful people. Thank you for sharing this story, and for being examples of strength. Squid Blessed...

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      What a beautiful tribute this lens is! I can only imagine the pain you both went through! I love you both so much, my sweet Cuz and Best Friend - and you, Al, my Latino ;-)) Blessings to you both! Love, Trixi

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I remember Mom & Dad talking about your Purple Heart. I was 8-9 years old at the time. I recall conversations of concern about your well-being. I thank God your life was spared because today you are in My Life. Our Dear Father had other plans for you. You had to mature very quickly at such a young age, experienced such dreadful situations and lived to tell about them. The stories have touched individuals in a positive way. We all need to be reminded to appreciate the wonderful gift of life, unconditional love of family and the bonds of friendship we create throughout our lives. Thank you for your service to our Country, for our Freedom and the opportunity to experience you as a loving Uncle! It really does warm my heart!

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 4 years ago from US

      Wow..that is such a similar story to my parents. (About the getting married...draft, etc)..I'm sure this was a really difficult time for everyone. I honestly can't imagine. Thank you for sharing your story. #blessed

    • JoshuaJDavid profile image

      JoshuaJDavid 4 years ago

      This is one of the best lenses I've ever read. I wish you all the best

    • PlethoraReader profile image

      Matthew 4 years ago from Silicon Valley

      A truly heartfelt story. Thank you for sharing. Blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you both for sharing such a personal and moving story. I cannot put into words how proud I am of you for your service, commitment and strength. You have overcome such hardship and have helped so many others by being a wonderful and caring person. God spared your life and I am sure you ask yourself, why me? You have been sent on a mission in life in which everyday you touch someone and help them to be a better person. Your sacrifice has allowed so many to live without fear and to live with an appreciation for life, freedom, their country and for all Vets who have served and sacrificed. No one can truly understand how committed you are still to this day. Thank you for assisting, serving and honoring Vets each and everyday. This is a wonderful posting created with love. Again thank you both, Your loving daughter, E

    • Wayne Rasku profile image

      Wayne Rasku 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing these personal thoughts and experiences. I was in the Air Force at the same time your husband was in Viet Nam. I never went there, but many friends did. Your lens brought back memories, both good and not so good, but valuable memories, none-the-less.

    • profile image

      jillian22 4 years ago

      Vietnam Veterans need to be honored and recognized!

    • rattie lm profile image

      rattie lm 4 years ago

      What a hearfelt lens and so deserving of a purple star (or an LTOD!). Perhaps that one will eventuate..

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 4 years ago

      I can't imagine how people cope when their other half has to go to war. A very moving lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I've added this to my Veterans lens. I've been here a while and sorting through a lot of feeling. I love that the two of you worked on this together, its magnificent, congratulations on that pretty purple star that will shine here fore ever! Nicely presented in every way, the camo theme works beautifully here.

    • profile image

      cmadden 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your story, and congratulations on the well-deserved purple star.

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 4 years ago from USA

      Outstanding. Thank you for sharing your experience, and congratulations on your well deserved Purple Star.

    • GardenerDon profile image

      Gardener Don 4 years ago

      I echoe Big Joe - this lens is for sure Purple Star quality. I enjoyed it immensely & it reminds me of how lucky I was to be born out of the age group at risk of being drafted back then.

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 4 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      Thanks for your story. Living in the Netherlands, the Vietnam War was a rather far from my bed show, but that changed when I moved to the US in 1969 for a short while and met people who had lost loved ones.

    • pcgamehardware profile image

      pcgamehardware 4 years ago

      What a great personal story, thanks for sharing this. :)

      It's easy to see why this page received a purple star, great job. :)

      Liked and Blessed. :)

    • pumpum profile image

      pumpum 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this amazing story.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      When I see the pictures of the men in Vietnam they look like boys going off to war. So young. Thank you once again for the history that you bring to Squidoo.

    • Mamabyrd profile image

      Mamabyrd 4 years ago

      I really can not describe how I feel after reading such an amazing story. Thank you for being such an amazing person and sharing your life experiences with us! God Bless

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Chuc Mung Nam Moi. I live right beside the Hanoi Hilton, Hoa Lo Prison, and not far is the military museum. I try to imagine the war. My father was in the USAFFE in the Second World War so I am really all support for the troops. I was in a,plane once and when a number of soldiers got in the plane, people spontaneously clapped.

    • delia-delia profile image
      Author

      Delia 4 years ago

      @TACTCI LM: Thank You for your service...and God Bless You as well!

    • VeseliDan profile image

      VeseliDan 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

    • TACTCI LM profile image

      TACTCI LM 4 years ago

      I hate to leave a short comment to such a powerful and personal story. As a veteran of OEF, I just can't imagine what Vietnam must have been like, seems so different back then compared to how we deploy now. God bless you.

    • CampingmanNW profile image

      CampingmanNW 4 years ago

      Uhhhh Rahhhhh....we all died a little over there. Many friends left behind and memories enough for two lifetimes. Thanks for sharing.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      Your husband is a real hero! That's what i have to say.

    • chas65 profile image

      chas65 4 years ago

      I finally found the article, so glad I did. He had a rougher time than I did, especially seeing close friends getting killed. I'm sure that has stayed with him since then. Sent you a PM.

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 4 years ago

      Your husband deserves the thanks of every American. Please thank him for me. I was coming of age while the was going on. I got a high lottery number. My intention was at first to join, but seeing all those body bags, made me change my mind as the war drug on.

      I paid a visit to the moving wall recently, and was looking for two names. It was a very moving experience. We who have never done it, can never appreciate what it is like to spill your blood on foreign soil. I have friends and relatives who did, and like your husband, we owe them all our thanks.

    • sittonbull profile image

      sittonbull 4 years ago

      God bless your husband for his service and glad he made it back to you.

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