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A letter to Mother … from Vietnam

Chuck and his dog Rusty 1968 - Submitted photo
Chuck and his dog Rusty 1968
— image credit: Submitted photo

From the front page of the Forks Forum Feb. 15, 1968

Dear Dad, Mom, Mark and Randy

How are you doing today? Just fine I hope. As for me, I am just fine too, except I am tired, but will hit the hay as soon as I finish this letter.The Viet Cong have made contact with every unit in the 9th Division. We've really ran into them the last couple of days.

They hit the ammo dump on Long Bien with mortars, we've been having red alerts in Bear Cat. They say we have killed 5,000 VC in the last 36 hours. I don't know, but there is sure a lot of them in the field.

They overran a few of the Company base camps in the Delta, they're just all over the place.One unit called up for Scout Dog Teams and it was Lucas and my turn to go out and assist them. When we got out there the chopper let us off, we ate dinner and took it easy. We had foxholes dug because we were expecting to have Charlie mortar us, but they didn't. They overran us instead at 3:30 in the morning.

Five guys were killed and two wounded including me, but I was the luckiest one that got wounded. I didn't even have to stay in the hospital.  I just got hit enough to earn a Purple Heart. Don't worry because it is nothing more than a couple small cuts.I was sleeping when a squad of VC came in our perimeter, Rusty stood up and started growling, which woke me up.

I took the dog's word for it that there were VC close by and I mean CLOSE by (15-20 feet). They threw a grenade in the L.P's foxhole and killed two men. I thought they were dropping mortars on us. Well, anyway after the first two grenades exploded in the perimeter, then everyone jumped for their foxholes, but it was so dark you couldn't see the VC unless they were only 5 feet away from you.

They didn't fire their weapons very much, all they did was throw hand grenades around. The way I caught some of the shrapnel was when Rusty got scared and jumped out of the foxhole. I had to stand up to get him back in the hole.

As I did get him back in, I saw 2 or 3 VC just from the flash of gun fire at the same time one of them threw a grenade about 8 feet in front of my foxhole between me and the other foxhole. I saw the flash, the explosion about broke my ear drums and the next thing I knew blood was running down my face.

I couldn't see anything because both my eyes were full of blood, for such little cuts, I lost a lot of blood. I kept a cool head though and didn't get up and run like a couple of other guys, they got killed. The VC were all around us.They threw about 20 grenades inside our perimeter, then took off. It only lasted about 20 minutes.

I finally stopped bleeding and just sat in my foxhole with Rusty until it started getting light. If anyone would have got close to my foxhole, they would have been dead. You couldn't stick your head out of your foxhole or you would get it full of lead. Rounds and shrapnel were flying all over the place.

I was afraid to call to the medic because I didn't want to tell the VC where I was at, so I sat there for 3 hours until the sun started coming up. Then a sergeant came over and saw I got hit and called for the medic. I got a piece of shrapnel above my right eyebrow.

It just made a cut and I got a piece about the size of a BB between the corner of my right eye and nose. The doctor left that piece in there, he said it was too deep to cut out, and I had a little piece go through the edge of my right ear.

I've got a black eye again. My right eye takes more beatings, but some of the other guys that got hit were blown all to hell and lived.The vision in my right eye is still fuzzy, but the Doc said it should clear up in a couple of days.

If there wouldn't have been this clump of bamboo between my foxhole and where the grenade landed I wouldn't be writing this letter. The bamboo slowed down and took most of the shrapnel. I thought Rusty got hit too, the ways he was acting, but he didn't.I was the scardest (sp) when I got back to Bear Cat and started thinking about it. Now every time I hear artillery go off, I duck down or jump back.

I was holding church service in my foxhole last night and it seems to help to pray, not much else you can do. I've been pretty lucky, compared to some guys. Well, Mom and Dad, I am sorry if I worried you but I am A-OK and pretty tired, but I will write you tomorrow, good by for now.

Love, Chuck

 

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