Cacti War Stories
Edited by Wiley "Tiny" Dodd
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March 28th 1967
by Dave Crocker
Finally Vietnam, March 28 1967
With Basic Training, AIT and a personal life change behind me it finally became a reality. After almost 24 hours of flying, the tail ramp on the Air Force C141 lowered to the ground.
I don't know which was worse, the blast of Vietnam heat or the blast of the Vietnam stench.
I suppose the heat came first, carrying with it a smell that would soon saturate everything we owned.
As we were leaving the plane I was trying to capture as much as I could on my little Instamatic camera.
Irvine Buchler, a guy from Flint Michigan, yelled to me that my camera was going to get me killed.
I never saw him again after that day but fortunately his name isn't among the KIA's.
The sound of nearby aircraft engines was almost deafening. I'd never been so close to running aircraft and didn't realize how loud those little single engines could be.
As we headed for the terminal I was shocked as we walked past a pile of discarded combat boots that appeared to be well worn.
The pile was maybe 8 to 10 feet high and spread out just as far.
You couldn't miss seeing it, it was an eye opener!
By now I had already tucked my camera away.
Nobody said a word till we got pass them and then we all agreed that we didn't want our boots on that pile.
The whole time I was there I couldn't help but think of all those boots and the GI's who would have worn them.
It was here that most of the guys I went through Basic and AIT with would split up. Some continued on to the 1st Cavalry and some like myself were sent to the 25th Infantry.
Those of us who were assigned to the 25th Infantry headed for Pleiku and then Duc Pho, Vietnam.
As we were being greeted at the replacement station in Pleiku the reception personnel were just making small talk when they asked us where we were from.
As they went down the line each guy mentioned his home state. When they got to me and I said Michigan it immediately brought a response from the current Company Clerk. Then he asked me what city and when I said Port Huron his face lit up like a light bulb and was all smiles. He couldn't believe what he was hearing.
After we were assigned to our temporary living quarters the Co Clerk (Al Randolph) came to me, introduced himself and confirmed that he was from Port Huron and asked me if I could type.
I said that I had taken a semester or two of typing and could hunt and peck. He said