JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT
 YOU CROSSED THE FINISH LINE



Many tales have been told about the last few hairy days and getting home safely.  How about one where your gear is turned in and you’re waiting  on that "Freedom Plane" ride home?  Whoops....hold on, buddy!
This “war story” tops them all.

 

After a few days, I had thought very long and hard about what had happened that night (at LZ St. George, Nov, 1969) and made a decision to ask to go out with the FO party & the grunts. When I first came in-country, I got sent out in the first week.   I was there in the bush and I shit, being I was so new and didn't have a clue as to what was going on or what even to do.  I was trained as a Gun Bunny and not a grunt.  After finally bitching enough, I got sent back in to my firebase, but it was a least a month or better.  We saw more action then I could or would have wanted to see. We were in Kontum province on the Chu Pa mountain operation. We blasted that place for three days straight along with air strikes and as soon as the grunts went up to check it out, here comes Charlie out of the rubble and ashes kicking ass. That was a real bitchy operation along with a few more encounters I do not wish to go into. Too many young guys didn't make it back.   

And so it went I figured that now was my time to make up for wanting out (of the field) the first time as well as figuring that now that Charlie knew where we lived and knew our whole layout and just maybe he would decide to pay us another visit.  So I thought that I would give up the luxury of a roof over my head, three “hots & a cot” and join the grunts. It turned out to be a gallant idea but an effort in futility. I got my ass almost blown off several times and shot to shit as well as got eaten alive by bugs and other critters.  Then the damn monsoon came rolling in and I was soaked for weeks on end. As we moved it seem the rain followed us. Although I did learn a lot and met a great bunch of guys from Bravo Company, 1/14th Inf Regt,  Golden Dragons, as they were known. Finally the word came down that the 2/9th was going home and I wasn't too keen on that being I was still short of ETS and getting out. I was looking at another 9 months (in service stateside) so I decided to extend my tour for another 3 months.  When I came home it was over and I would be out. I got transferred to the 6/29 Arty and finished out from there but it's not over yet.   

The day my orders came over the radio to get on the supply chopper out of the bush was a very happy day indeed. I was now in An Khe and going through the outprocess, getting my orders and turning in all of my gear. That night sitting around with some of the other guys who were there same time last year and were also ready to go home any day were telling me about last year that a full scale sapper attack came through the wire and blew the hell out of everything, mostly the choppers on the pad that my hooch was right next to.  At first I thought they were playing around, but I soon found out different.  

Yes Sir, you guessed it!  That very night around 0200, all hell broke loose. Charlie had breached the perimeter at the far end of the chopper pad and was chucking satchel charges into all of them as they worked there way towards the billets. The first explosion  woke me up and after a few more, I knew it was big trouble, so I grabbed my duffel bag and hauled ass. I did not know where the hell I was going but I sure wasn't hanging around to find out how far they would get.  I finally made my way to the far side of the base and hid in or under a building of some sort. I didn't even have my rifle cause they made you turn in everything except your own clothes and uniforms. Oh well…and so it went.  At first light, I was waiting for my ride to the airport and it could not be soon enough for me.  

I finally got on a plane and made it to Cam Ranh Bay where I flew out of the next day back to the states but not without incident. As we were about to take off the plane suddenly turns around and taxis back and then we found out why.  They were sniping at planes taking off at the opposite end of the runway. Talk about a bad day. After about a few hours we finally got the green light and we were off, Thank GOD.

 

Submitted by Sp4 Rick Ericksen

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