Red Clay Newsletter of the Veterans who served at Khe Sanh Combat Base, Hill 950, Hill 881, Hill 861, Hill 861-A, Hill 558 Khe Sanh Village, Lang-Vei and Surrounding Area


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Dianne Piankian Geiger

Iím a good girl I am
donít eat much, donít smoke
wonít take up much room
can sleep on the floor

Iíve noticed the scar
that seams you in two
puckered burn marks of war
purple tracks on your arm
unseen wounds in your mind

I can cool with my hands
soothe with my mouth
let me draw out your pain
make you whole once again
heal you

Crack open your door
so I can slip in
close it tight
lock it well
keep me


Dianne Piankian Geiger

Thereís a hole in my chest
where my heart used to be
I palpate the edges
assess the damage
worse than I feared

Music hurts, sunlight blinds
canít eat, canít sleep
donít speak, barely breathe
frigid torso, frozen limbs
far too painful to think

Wash your hands
wash them well
don your greens
glove up
my gurney is near

Numb me more
replace my heart
tuck it in
make it fit
suture me

Anoint the wound
check my pulse
blanket me
hands wet with blood


Vietnam Pilotís Reunion
Jack Baumgarten

A gathering of Eagles
who long ago
flew in harmonious synch together
in carefully arranged formations
as they performed their noisy ballet over the trees.

Now grey or defoliated,
larger and weathered,
wrinkles and folds abound,
all sadly closer to the ground.

Come together in one place,
These remain -
Not gone to the Father -
still here to live each long day
among those blue, cloudy skies,
recalling those dances with white puffs of moisture
along the way to battle.

Memories good and bad
Now buried or twisted
Come rising back to the surface
as barely recognized faces,
All changed except for eyes or smiles,
awaken to recollections long since buried.

Joy abounds,
old friendships renew.
Excitement captivates
as thrilling recollections return to life
from places no one ever gets to see anymore.
Sadness consumes
on learning of early departures
or bad tidings befallen.
Fear rises
and is pushed back hard
avoiding ugly memories
buried way back when.

Can those feelings be shared?
Camaraderie, isolation,
fear, bravery,
bad luck, good luck,
quick thinking, poor judgment,
Godís mercy.
Bear them alone my friends.
You own them completely forever.
Heavy or light,
you carry them yourself Ė only to be shared with God.

Reunion yields a great gift.
A common destiny is shared
as we volunteer once again,
facing truth at long last
with no lies possible.

Eagles we were Ė
Eagles we remain -
standing tall within our lives,
raising those memories
Of doing the best that we could.

Jack Baumgarten
Poetry Round Table
San Francisco, CA



(Southeast Asia Monsoon)
Jack Baumgarten

Once I was where it rained all of the time.
Canvas sagging against tent poles
under pools of water trapped above.
Floors of mud underfoot,
cold with ridges of black walls and dams
holding each little pool in place.
Sickening warm breezes turning cold
on my wet shivering face.

Joy is sleep
in sodden bed roll
on canvas cot
head buried in damp pillow
of bad smelling rags and clothes
hiding from the tiny lizards
seeking comfort too.

Sadness is morning,
somehow warm in my damp reverie.
Socks and shorts warm with me
hidden under my feet.
Boots camouflaged in dirt
hiding under my cot
and calling to me from their puddle.

Rise I must,
me and that lizard,
shivering again as cover is cast aside.
Arms and legs enter the mildewed cloth
of yesterdayís garments.
Toes feel moisture rise up between them
from saturated inserts below.
The morning cleanup ceremony begins
with wet face staring back out of the small mirror
between running beads of rain.
All of that water
and nothing to brush my teeth with!

Quietness comes
from the sound of rain falling on mud and skin
from boots pulling out of sucking holes
from canvas too wet to complain
about the beat of the rain.
from eyes peering between dripping brows.
from wet pant legs rubbing each other.
from knowing that it will rain again tomorrow.
from when I fall in the mud
to join the rain in that sad hole
as my warm fluids
help fill the space around me.

Soon I will be riding away
On a wet canvas litter
Between two sets of hands
The rain will stop as the zipper pulls
the plastic bag together
across my moist face.
I ride away from that cold damp home
lying amid my brothers
In the misty rain
that never ends.

Talisman Submission
Jack Baumgarten, CW162
650 594 0511


    Nha Trang

Jack Baumgarten

A white sand beach
fed by the south China Sea.
Sky as blue as blue can be.
The sun high and hot
beating down on that hot sand.

A peasant woman with leathered skin
smiles as she approaches our little group.
Crows have walked on the corners of her eyes.
Paths to her ears have been carefully sketched
across her forehead.
A curved wooden beam lies across her shoulders Ė
each end supporting a basket hung with coarse hemp.
The baskets carefully loaded,
balanced between her bony shoulders.

Lips covering teeth blackened from beetlenut
open to ask: ďYou buy pineapple DiWi?Ē
Machete in her left, pineapple on her right,
her hands deftly peel brown skin from the fruit-
carefully carving out the eyes,
and quartering the center into four popsicle shapes.
ď10 Piasters DiWi. You numba one G.I. for sure!Ē
as she pockets our script.
The juice runs down our chins and fingers
onto the hot sand.
Our palates water from the sweetness
as we whittle those popsicles down.

Suddenly, artillery rounds explode in the distance
And bracket double reports of giant howitzers.
Oily smoke bellows across the palms on the wind.

We wipe the sugary juice from our faces
as we watch the jets scream over the trees,
wings bending, unloading gifts of napalm.

She turns back to us Ė
barefoot on the hot sand - -

Jack Baumgarten

By HN-2 Robert L. Owens
Bury me next to a Marine,
When my time comes to an end,
So I can spend eternity
Beside my brother and friend.
I've served beside them for years,
And they inspired me every day,
They've never ask for anything
So a debt I can never repay.
None of them served for money,
None for glory or fame,
But they've served in every clime and place,
Heroes with but one name.
No will ever out do them,
Their honor is never outdone,
They will go down in history
As America's favorite sons.
Marines will never fail you,
And their guard will never cease,
Please bury me next to a Marine,
So I may rest in peace.

Written by Robert L. Owens, a 2nd Class
Corpsman serving with Marines in Iraq


Many Times I have tried to express my feelings about the Marines I served with!! Even the Marines of today, I have a bond with! You just have to had been there to understand how corpsmen respect Marines.
Doc Jim Thomas


I thought my war was over when I left Viet Nam,
little did I know that it had only just begun.
Seems like I've been going a hundred miles an hour, backwards ever since.
Its like chasing a ghost,
or trying to out run the sun.

Working hard to stay busy all the time,
helps to keep the demons inside the fence.
I like to do things I can do alone,
I don't like to go where there might be a crowd.
I miss a lot not going along,
but I avoid places that are loud.

Being alone is safer when the anger comes,
it comes instantly over nothing and is quite strong.
I'm on alert seemingly all time time,
jumping at every sound to see what's wrong.

Successfully avoiding idol thought,
keeps me from thinking about all the guys that didn't come back.
All those sights, smells, and sounds you don't want to be around,
because what you really don't want is another flash back.

Yea I thought the war was over,
but the private war had just begun.
I know now that this war will never be over,
and trying to live with it is no fun.

Rick Tam




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