The start of meade river / 1968
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  1. #1

    The start of meade river / 1968

    On Nov. 20th, I was told to go see a Capt. about a problem at Liberty Bridge. I went in and he said to go out to Liberty Bridge and fix a forklift, they will need it working. But you won't want to go today because it's real hot out there today. Out of my mouth comes out,SO!!!. He said ,you have balls. The light in my head went off. What the hell did you just say? I went and g ot my gear, and extra ammo. I carried a gas mask full of tools. My job, I was the heavy junk mechanic for the Arizona. I wore red patches. Before Vietnam, I carried an extra 25 pounds on my back, humping hills at Camp Pendleton with 28 Marines. Radio man most of the time. When I got to the road going out to Liberty Bridge,no one around. I sat ,waiting for a truck to come bye. A jeep pulled up, and the driver called out,where are you going? I looked up, the driver was a General. Not today. I'll drive you back to your hooch. Made it to Liberty Bridge the next day. Got my broken alternator. Slept at Liberty that night, Da Nang side. One of the marines there asked me if I wanted to ride shotgun in his jeep . He had to get to Da Nang. Off we went, passed villages that were deserted almost., very few people. Made it to hill 55,then Da Nang.I aways went to the Air Forse for parts. I found a ride to hill 55 and stayed the night. Next , truck dride to Liberty Bridge. Fixed the forklift and stayed the night. All this time I really had no idea what was going on. Thanksgiving morning I watched a marine phantom jet dive straight down in the sky, then drop his bombs. What a ride,he had. I caught a ride on a truck, there were maybe three or four trucks going to An Hoa base. About half way on liberty road, we stopped. All jumped out and got down,and got ready. Me and three newbys. Out of bushes ,about 300-500 ft. away . Two Grunts came running with a black body bag, as fast as they could run. My mind was asking, what do they know that I don't. The bag was thrown into the back of the truck and they ran back into the bushes. One of the newbys asked me ,was he dead? I said , they would not throw him into the truck like that if he was not. We made it to An Hoa. I got to the hooch where I had a bunk when I was here. It overlooked the helle.pad. Thanksgiving dinner was over. I sat on the steps of the hooch,next to the mess hall, and opened a can of chicken noodle soup. I was so thankful that I was sitting there. The guys like Mongoose, Advanced, Capt Kirk, Fistfu, Devildoc25 and many more are my heroes. They were the ones running back into the bushes. Thanksgiving means alot to me. I will always think about the Grunt that died on Thanksgiving near the Liberty road. Bill

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  2. #2
    Damn, that recount made my heart start to race. I could smell it and taste it. I could feel that weird sensation again.....just saying...

  3. #3
    I was on the road, you guys were in the bush. Let's tell a few stories before we are gone. Bill

  4. #4
    Great post Bill. Your post has made me reevaluate some of my time in the Nam. From my experience commenting like you've done about those 2 grunts running back into the bush was totally normal "for them." When you've spent 13 months spending 3 - 4+ weeks at a time out in those places (The Arizona, Dodge City, NO GO Island, the hook) living like an animal, hunting other animals, it becomes your home. And like home you become comfortable in it. You know, most of us have always called ourselves "Bush Marines" though most people have no understanding of what we mean - but we do.

    I've learned through my life that fear is simply a lack of reference. When your mind is full of reference, to over simplify it, the fear goes away. Now, we were also realists in that most of us knew that we were pretty certain that we weren't ever coming out of there (we had boo koo references of all the ways something bad was going to happen to us). That's most likely what makes MC infantry so dangerous. If you're going to die anyway, you have a choice; all squirreled up in the fetal position, or facing forward and making what's coming at you pay one hellava price. And you totally trust your bud's that are with you to unfvck you if you're hit bad.

    To me personally, the big difference at Mead River, is that in my head all my luck had faded away and I knew for a time that I wasn't going to make it. Because of my prior experiences though I was OK with knowing that so I simply went into what I call deadly/dangerous mode. Fortunately the 3/26 fought their way into us, together we regrouped and attacked. That's why I've always credited Mongoose and FistFu for saving my life. People don't understand that you just don't ever want to go against a bunch of "19" year old piissed off Marines with guns.

    There were worse places though, Happy Vally being one badd asssed place for sure.

  5. #5
    Fear. When your mind is full of reference, your fear goes away. Me, I just got tired of thinking I was going to have my number called. It doesn't happen all at once, almost like a cloud comes over your mind. You get hard. And you know the look. I never thought I would make it to 21. Now I have five great grand children. They call me Grampy. Only a few know how hard it was to get here. Bill

  6. #6
    Ain't that the truth. Just saying.

    When I got home I became a cop in the projects of Memphis, and I loved it - I had found my sweet spot. Being a cop you could get a drink every night, and with all the nurses in the hospitals it was very easy getting laid every night as well. I was in heaven.

    Looking back I realize that in the Nam my experiences had changed me. There's that think called "fight or flight." I understand now that being in the bush during my tour the MC had taken out the "flight" option. I remember hearing a voice in my head when things got bad, "I don't like that," and instinctively I'd just take it out, no questions. The "fight" part was deeply ingrained in me. I think this is kind of "normal" for those of us in the bush.

    I never got hit in the Nam, the cops either for that part, so I spent my full 13 months in the bush not even getting to go on R&R as Meade River cancelled mine. The doc's would tell me my problem was that I thought I was immortal, of course I'd tell them they would be as well if they kept coming out of all the shivt holes that I came out of, over and over again. I now think that being so deeply immersed for so long in the deep shivt changes anyone/most.

    I realize today that I cannot get involved in arguments or "fight" because I just don't know how to stop. So I use avoidance to keep from going into fight mode. I've paid many prices being me, and since the world has changed so much who gives a shivt today. These were our goals from the Nam.

    If I live -Highly unlikely
    I'm going back to the world - Kind of vague isn't it.
    And live happily ever after - Not much of a plan is it.

    The VA doc's today have me listed 100% P&T PTSD. I was lucky that I never got wounded and even now I don't seem to have any problems with AO. The Gods have been good to me. S/F

  7. #7
    100% P.T.S.D., How many of us came home with that, with one or two tours? There are many after us in other wars that made how many tours? I have found a lot of ways to handle this memory. I live in the mountains, I flyfish alot, and in the spring, summer and fall. I have an English Country Garden. I do things so not to think,of Hue City, Phu Loc, An Hoa, And Meade River. We are now the old guys. The ones after us will have to learn how to handle their memories.You can go down different roads. Find one that will make you happy inside. You have earned it.Bill

  8. #8
    I started out at Hue City, I was there with the 1/5, we took the north side of the river. I recently read some after action reports and our Capt Harrington said that we went into Hue with 120 Marines. We came out with 39 of us still standing. I did make Cpl out of it though. After that I was sent to the 3/5 out at An Hoa, although we were only there a couple of days every 3-4 weeks. We sure had some cold beer there though.

    Don't get me wrong, with my PTSD I've never been a victim, I used to was always an extremely aggressive type A personality the doc's told me. I used to joke and say "then how come my friends (my squad) called me the wimp.

    They say at Hue we wrote the book about "house to house, door to door." Later when I became a TACT officer cop that experience came in very useful, also, we took them all alive when I was on the team which I'm very proud of.

    I don't fish but I do ride a motorcycle, been riding for years. In all these years I only had one wreck (I got sideswiped) and landed on my feet. And when I hit that deer at 50+mph in the pouring rain I stayed up. I've always had the charm it seems. But, yes we're all older now.

  9. #9
    Thanks for sharing these recollections- I have nothing but the utmost respect for all of you.
    The way soldiers were treated when they returned home from Nam is one of the biggest disgraces in this country's history.

  10. #10
    The words WELCOME HOME mean a lot, to some it means even more. Bill

  11. #11
    I had just recently turned 21. By the Grace of God, I might add. Meade River was a brutal devastating operation. It was a Haven for Booby-traps. But, the most chilling recollection I have is the hundreds of NVA Machine Gun Bunkers. In many cases one bunker covering another bunker. Sometimes 3 bunkers covering for each other. The noise was deafening. Screaming and hollering and constant small arms and machine-gun fire. Mortar rounds hitting everywhere. We were called to hump it up to the Hook, to help the 3/5 who was suffering heavy causalities. They were out flanked on 3 sides. My Co. went along the river edge and came in behind the frontal NVA position. When we unleashed hell on 'em, it allowed the 3/5 to get their wounded and kia's out and regroup, We took on the Gooks from 2 sides then. As many ran toward the river to get away from the crazy Marines, they were met with Kill groups waiting on the far banks. Gun support was called in and the USS New Jersey sitting on the coast waiting started sending in those God awful 16 in. rounds. The ground shook like an earthquake when they hit. We were damn thankful they didn't under estimate, as those rounds came in right over our heads. A short time later I was hit by 7 pieces of shrapnel from a mortar round. I was out of it, but it continued for several more days. Like Russ, I missed my R&R by being in Bat. Aid for several days. It was something I will never forget.....just saying. I have the upmost respect and Honor for those Marines that fought and died and fought and lived there.

  12. #12

  13. #13
    Back in 68 we Meade River Marines had been in that operation for over a week, then this past Monday or Tuesday we (the 3/5) "discovered" the Hook. About now, back then, the 3/26 was fighting their way into us. Nothing like feeling the heat from those napalm runs, hats off to our aviators. The bunker complex Billy mention consisted of 250 concrete reinforced heavy bunkers. Our govt. had been giving the gook farmers bags of concrete to help them out. They sure put it 2 good use.

    Today, as a much kinder, gentler Marine, the gods are still fvcking with me. How, of all people do I end up with a family of Vietnamese living directly next door to me. Seems I still have things to learn. Ya can't escape the gods having fun.

  14. #14
    Napalm tumbling over your heads,[ Please,Please, keep going. I was in an ambush on Hwy one ,going over the pass, going north of Da Nang. Navy jets dropping napalm over our heads. Ask the CAP guys what they thought of the bags of concrete idea. Looks like Clint Eastwood made a movie about you, Grand Torino. Bill

  15. #15
    Marine Free Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Kansas City, Mo
    Caps were a unique situation in that intel went up the ladder. We knew the poop before the people in the rear decided what was actually true. Each Cap was an individual "operation", with different situations. In my Cap, we figured our PFs were probably 50% VC and treated them accordingly. We had a Kit Carson Scout for a short while that we were pretty sure was VC and we got rid of him in a hurry.

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