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“Welcome to Vietnam. I Hope You Enjoy Great Success Here.”

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“This book WELCOME TO VIET NAM was given to me when I arrived in Tan Son Nhat Air Force Base, in Saigon Viet Nam in our orientation. First thing they said was we are not at war with the people of North Viet Nam , We are here to police and help the people of South Viet Nam. So do not shoot until you are shot at. {I thought, ‘Give me a knife so I can go fight in a gun fight’}”–Larry Hurtado, USAF

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“While our main job at 712th in Bangkok was supposed to be food and water sanitation of military facilities, we were given the additional mission of inspection of R&R hotels, Thai ice plants, and keeping VD and communicable disease records.  The R&R hotel inspections were important, because GI’s coming to Bangkok could stay free in approved hotels, but had to pay to stay elsewhere.  The hotel owners tried hard and did a reasonable job with sanitation, but invariably there were problems with water, swimming pools, and kitchen sanitation…and also with roaches, mice, and rats.  ”  Walter Hines, US Army

Bowling Team, Bangkok, '68; Hines mid., Wimberly r.

Bowling Team, Bangkok, ’68; Hines mid., Wimberly r.

vietnam_0007“We were living at Fort Clayton, the Canal Zone in Panama when my Dad received his orders to go to Vietnam. We packed up our goods & headed back to Rome, Georgia to be near family. Dad headed off to Vietnam, and a few months later went missing in action. He was seriously injured & ultimately received two Purple Hearts. Thank God he survived & made it back home. I will remember how happy we all were when he came through the door!” –Ronn Rhinehart, Army brat

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(From a letter home) “Important: Tell Patty to go to the County marriage license office and get a copy of our marriage license from them and send it immediately. I need this for her allotment. I need one from the state. In other words, I need official proof of being married. Tell this to them and what I need this for.” Roger Farley, US Army

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“When our son was born, we sent telegrams, we called the Red Cross and I wrote letters. Jim only found out  when my letter finally came–he never got the telegrams or Red Cross messages. They were in 45 days of radio silence. I kept writing to him about the baby and never got anything back–it was really hard…I didn’t know what was going on. In the 8 months he was gone, he only called home once.” Carol Wallace, Navy wife.

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“I don’t recall curfew in Vietnam, but we did have it at basic training at Fort Bliss, Texas right before I went to Vietnam.  We were not allowed to go off post especially with the expectation that we might cross the border into Mexico.  Lights out was a hard thing at Fort Bliss because when the lights went out all you had time for is to think.  Think about what the heck you got yourself into and the prospects of going to Vietnam.  That in itself was torture.  Missing home etc., knowing in our own minds that we knew why we were in training.  I did pray that I didn’t bolo and let our drill sergeants down much less our country.  How much more can I give of myself –I’m  just a kid from the barrio.  How can I compete with all these guys who might be stronger than I?” Ernest Garcia, US Army

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On board the Coral Sea we were expected to wear the Uniform of the Day, unless we were doing work that required special clothing, such as the clothing worn by flight deck crews (helmets, vests, sound attenuators, etc., that were all color-coded to indicate different jobs). The Uniform of the Day in the tropics was typically khaki for officers, and dungarees for enlisted. Coming into port in San Francisco, it was Navy Dress Blues for all hands. Generally at sea, there were no formal inspections, but individual divisions might hold them at their discretion.   Allen Whitt, US Navyvietnam_0012

“Because of the monsoons our clothes were always wet. I would get one of the hooch maids (local women) to wash them. The women were very protective of their jobs and felt that their jobs of washing clothes and cleaning hooches had priority over our demand for privacy during a shower. Knowing that a much-needed sleep was in line after a sweet shower, I would order the mamasans to leave so I could strip and shower. However I would announce that the babysans could stay for the entire show. Of course they all would refuse to leave and demand that we leave and come back when they were finished washing the clothes!” Ernest Garcia, US Army

Ernest Garcia and Eloy Martinez in Quang Tri

Ernest Garcia and Eloy Martinez in Quang Tri

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“Our stated main job was inspection of Army-operated cafeterias, mess halls, surrounding camps, and water and sewage systems that served the military. These were inspected at least monthly, and more if we found problems.  Monthly reports were written and passed through the chain of command.  The cafeterias were run almost exclusively by experienced US civilian women, and they did a great job.” Walter Hines, US Army”

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“I constantly took salt pills and there were Texas-sized mosquitoes and flying cockroaches.” Ernest Garcia, US Army

Cpl. J. Hines, DMZ, Vietnam,3-68

Cpl. J. Hines, DMZ, Vietnam,3-68

“Clean ice was a huge headache.  We had to approve the ice companies who could do business with the US military. The GIs loved their iced drinks in the sweltering climate, and the traditional Thai ice plants were very dirty — block ice stored in filthy sawdust.”  Walter Hines, US Army

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“VD rates often approached one for every member of a unit every two months. Such were the nighttime pleasures of Bangkok clubs and massage parlors.  Fortunately, it was my job to know them all and I frequented many…purely for professional reasons of course.”   Walter Hines, US Army

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I spent six weeks in Korat, living in a standard military ‘hooch’ at Camp Friendship.  Showers and sinks were a 50-yd walk, but clean and comfortable.  Toilets were 6-holer “burn out” latrines – essentially seats over individual sawed-off 55-gal barrels that were burned out every day by pulling out the barrels through a back trap door, pouring in diesel, and lighting.  It was very effective, but very smelly.” Walter Hines, US Army

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“When you were young and put in command of troopers your father’s age, it was not easy sending them on combat patrols, knowing that they may not come back and then you had to write the dreaded letter to a wife and children.” Julio Caratini, US Army

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(From a letter home) “Well that’s about all I have to say for now but I’ll try to write again as soon as I can. Of course I’d rather you not discuss what I’ve said in this letter to Mom since it will only worry her more. But I thought I would tell you what’s been happening and what I’ve been doing. You might even watch for news of this in the paper since this suppose to be a big operation. Also whenever you have the time I would sure like to hear from you.”  Roger Farley, US Army

vietnam_0025vietnam_0026“As I recall, in Vietnam church services were somewhat available,  but mostly during our services were held in a low-lit hanger for our own dead as memorial services.” Ernest Garcia, US Army

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