My first semester went well enough, but I came to realize that I didn't have time in my life for my top priorities; school, study, work, and party. Something had to go. So, being the intelligent 18 year old I was at the time, I decided to forego the study part. I mean, after all, I had to stay in school to keep the draft off my ass, I had to work to be able to live away from Mom and Dad. Giving up partying was no option, because that was the only reason to move away from home, so I gave up the low priority, which was studying.
Now lots of folks may have done it differently, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Well, it didn't take long for the lack of study to take it's toll, and sure enough, I found myself on the losing end of the bell curve in most of my classes. But that was all right anyway, because I was discovering I didn't have enough time for school, work and party anyway, so something had to give. This time the choice was easy - so long school! Thankfully, by now summer had rolled around, and since I was still technically "enrolled" in school, I had the deferrment until next semester.
I started that semester with all good intentions, but it took less than a month to decide I wasn't cut out to be a student, so I thought I would just lay low and hope the draft would pass me by.
Well, living in a small town has its advantages, but it also has its disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is that everyone knows everyone, and I was certainly no exception. My home town had a one-woman draft board, and she happened to be a close family friend. When I was home for Thanksgiving, I bumped into her in the Post Office. She said "Well, young man, I see you have dropped out of school. That's not good, you know."
I asked her if I was close to getting drafted, and she said "I really can't tell you that, it wouldn't be right, but lets just say don't make any plans after Christmas!"
Wow! There it was - like a hammer to the forehead. Weighing my options (going to Canada was out of the question), I decided that if I had to be in the military, then sleeping on a bunk with a blanket, eating 3 squares a day on a nice ship off the coast of Vietnam would be far more pleasant than sleeping in a muddy hole (that I had to dig), eating cold C-rats (that I had to carry) and having people I didn't know try to kill me. So, bright and early Friday morning I took my ass down to the Navy recruiter, where I was snapped up in a flash. They did let me slide through Christmas, though, so I raised my hand and pledged "to defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic" on January 7, 1969.
Like all carefully thought out plans, however, there are always things you overlook, and through a quirky turn of events, eleven months later my feet were making prints in the mud of Vietnam!
These are the awards I received during my time in Vietnam. They are (r-l, top to bottom) Navy Achievement Medal with Combat V, Combat Action Ribbon, Vietnam Service Medal w/3 campaign stars, Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation, Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
So, there's the introduction - from here on in, if you are interested in finding out more about my Vietnam experience, just follow the links below. Enjoy yourself, there's some pictures, some stories, and just general "stuff" about my VN experience. As I said above, the memory may have clouded over the last 40-plus years, but the jist of it is accurate.
Fortunately for me, my memory has repressed the worst parts of my tour - I remember the good times, and the not-so-bad times, but the horror eludes me, thank God!
So, sit back, and enjoy the experience from my perspective. And if you are a fellow Vietnam Vet, let me say WELCOME HOME!
You can contact me by email if you have any questions, comments, or just want to say hello.
I'd be happy to hear from you.
Okay, here's the links to the rest of the site. Enjoy!
LINKS to Stories:
PHOTO ALBUM A photo journey to give you an idea of my life onboard the boats.
AWARD CITATION The citation for the Navy Achievement Medal.
I turned 21 in Vietnam - quite a celebration!
THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT!
THE SPECIAL ZONE
WINNING THEIR HEARTS AND MINDS
CAMBODIAN BORDER PATROL
FIRST LIBERTY IN SAIGON
THE ICE CREAM SOCIAL
HITCH HIKING AROUND THE NAM
MY BRUSH WITH CELEBRITY IN NAM
STEAK AND THE ARMY
THE ADMIRAL AND OUR BEER
THE MISSING WRENCH