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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By Sam Messer
Seabee CBMU301

I believe in Angels!

I had numerous escapes from death at Khe Sanh. I believe that God gave my angel orders to save me and he/she did just that! Blown off my bulldozer, rocket hit my rough terrain forklift, when it blew me off. A mortar hit in back of my 2-1/2 ton dump truck on the strip, artillery round hits right outside our fighting hole, a buddy sits on me so I can't get out of the hole, and saves my life! We all had close calls numerous times! So why are we alive? I BELIEVE my ANGEL and GOD had some reason to this that day I don't understand. With all the Pain in the body and the PTSD, I sometimes believe ( wish ) I had died. The old me did die so why is the new me still here? I hope I have served their purpose for keeping me alive!
Sam Messer

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By Phil Nuchereno

Sam. I do believe in a higher source, possibly an angel, that too saved me from some really close calls in my 13 month tour in Nam. In addition to having served in Khe Sanh during the siege, in other areas of Nam I had some really close calls with stepping on foot mines. On two occasions I was right next to fellow Marines who had stepped on them blowing their feet off. I had just walked in the same location missing stepping on the mine by inches. I contribute my motherís prayers helping a lot when I was over there.

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By Butch Brown

Angels, YOU BET!! One morning on Hill 881 South at approx 5 minutes to 6, my buddy Ed Woolverton was standing in the trench line facing the opening of our FDC bunker. We were with 81's, out of my right peripheral vision, and up about 2 O'clock I saw a black object coming in fast, only to hear the ziiiiiiiiip of an 82mm mortar round coming in. I yelled "incoming" we hit the deck, the round impacted on the top of our FDC bunker; Ed and I were already on the ground, low crawling/running around the corner to my bunker.

That little bunker I had hand dug into the side of the trench wall, and sand bagged the crap out of the top with my own 2 hands. We stayed there for quite a long time. Eventually we came out with Sgt Mack, our squad leader taking one look at us with eyes the size of silver dollars, grabbed us and said "Woolve, Brown"!! I believe he thought we'd been blown away. I crawled on the top of the bunker retrieving the fin assembly of the one lone 82mm mortar round, and said, "This will make a nice souvenir". That round hit maybe 3 feet above us and almost dead on to our front. One click left, we'd been vaporized. Angels, YOU BET I BELIEVE IN THEM!! I packed that fin assembly all over Nam with me, until I rotated out, then, rather than mess with some phony paper work to keep it, I left it, on Okinawa in a garbage can, when we sealed our sea bags. Semper FI


DREAMS

By Craig Tourte

Dreams, My son came home from college this past Christmas. His friends came over to visit and they all sat around kind of excited and talked about their various adventures since they got out of high school in 2004. Several girls came over that evening and the excited voices and stories they all told about their lives were quite interesting. They have so much to look forward to, so innocent in their anticipation of the future. I had a hard time realizing that most were older than I, when I returned from Vietnam in 1968, worn out and exhausted, an old man in a young manís body.

I played golf with a group of men today, they are all my age, some are veterans, most are not. The guy I was riding with asked me what I did when I got home, he was interested to know if I went out right away and found some girls, partied, had a good time. I thought about that for a few minutes. I told him that I donít really think I even thought about girls when I got back. I remember I drove up to Chico and Tom Horchler and I got drunk, I donĎt remember much else about that night, now that I think about it, we were both pretty crazy and didnĎt know it, but for the most part, I have little recall of the years after my return.

Tom and I have discussed how we both were pretty much in shock for a few years when we got back and agree that those years are a bit clouded for us. Sure I had dreams for years upon my return, but I just donít recall what those dreams were. All I remember is that I had a hard time sleeping and a lot of perspiration, having to get up several times during the night and change my T-shirt. It was not until I recently read Ernie Spencerís book ďWelcome to Vietnam Macho ManĒ that I realized I had exchanged dreams from the one I could not recall, for the persistent dream that I could recall, the same dream Ernie has. When I went in for my Social Security Psychiatrist evaluation I discussed this dream with the shrink, it wasnít long after, that I received my full percentage.

I told my golf partner today about my dream, I think he is still in shock, he didnít say much to me after the game, but he did buy me a drink at the bar. I am certain of a few things though, when I returned from Vietnam and the long Siege at Khe Sanh, I didnít sit around with friends and fresh faced girls and excitedly talk about our adventures and the future. I was mostly numb, exhausted, confused, and pretty much just wanted to be left alone. Iím much better now, the years have mellowed me, I donít sweat at night like I used to. I occasionally still have that dream, but like I told the Psychiatrist, theyíre nine thousand miles away.

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By Gene Weresow

Once you have experienced combat, you will never be the same innocent person you were before. I too had some bad times upon my return to CONUS. I was glad to be home and not living in a hole in the ground. Yea things were different , friends who did not serve no longer related to you, maybe out of guilt or because they didn't see things your way. "The world" had changed, but I think that we had changed more. That is why the adjustment was so hard. All in all most of us became better people in the long run.

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By Chuck Gerrior

Like many Khe Sanh veterans, we had great dreams coming home but many bad dreams. Back in the spring of 1971 my wife and I moved into our new home in Honolulu. Something happened early one morning when I woke up, telling my wife to get on the floor and keep as quiet as possible. I rolled out of bed laying flat, and kept telling my wife to do this because of the VC, and I donít have my rifle. While laying on the floor, I went back to sleep while she was wide awake not knowing what was going on with me. After about a half hour she came over to my side of the bed to find me in a very deep sleep. She left me alone and went back to bed.

Sometime about 5:30, I woke up finding myself on the floor, not remembering how I got there. My wife was in bed sleeping. I got up to get ready to go to work at Hickam. I was in the kitchen when she asked me if I had made her a cup of coffee. She did not say anything and gave me a good-by kiss as I left the house. Three days later after she talked to our neighbor (an USAF 1st Sgt) about what to do, he talked to me about what happened for about an hour or so. All I could tell him was that I did not remember the incident.

There were a several other bad nights when I woke up screaming and/or she found me dripping wet on the sheets. As time went by the incidents faded making my wife a happier person. It took about five years that before I could stand to be around persons firing off fireworks. In Honolulu there were two fireworks date, New Years Eve and July 4th. My performance reports at Hickam between 1972 and 1974 reflected that I had aggressive behavior problems needing adjusting. My major problem was that I was the only one of six enlisted personnel that had been exposed to combat duties in Vietnam.

The office NCOIC was a flake who made remarks that I was too slow and got hit by incoming rounds. Looking back on my life between 1967 and 1975, in the 80's I felt bad and sad. Today I look at those years as my adjustment time of my life. My wife now complains that I sleep too good.

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By Don Meyer

Coming home, what a trip that was. I remember, other than the joy of being safe, it was not what I had dreamed about in country. Don't get me wrong, I was happy but I just felt out of place. I even went back to my high school to visit my old teachers and everyone seemed to stare and they treated me different. I couldn't think of a thing to talk about and really felt uncomfortable. I never went back. All of my buddies were gone, either drafted or in school, so I had no one to talk to.

I did however, chase every women that stood still and acted like a dog in heat. My girlfriend, from before, had written me a Dear John and was gone which is probably good. To fill the days, I sat in the same bar each day by myself and drank until closing. Each day I ate Mexican food because I had missed it so. Actually I was very lonely at home. Don't get me wrong it was really good to see my parents again, but things were just different. I wished for any of my buddies from Vietnam to talk to so I could relate. As far as dreams, I think we all have had them over the years, many being bad. I take meds now to help with bad dreams. Home just wasn't what I had dreamed of in country, but it was better than being in a war.

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By Ernie Spencer

For the sake of your families, you all should write down your memories. My book started as a present for my parents. I never talked about the war, until after I went full blown PTSD.

On Jan. 5, 1985. I went to a shrink for the first time and he had me write down what eventually became my book. It was cruel in looking back, but for Christmas of 1985 I gave my parents the manuscript and said words to the effect: "Here mom and dad, you wanted to know what happened to me in Vietnam? Merry Christmas," then left. My late mom told me when I went to visit them several weeks later: "Thank you my son (she always referred to me that way, the possessive case "my son"), NOW I understand your anger." She told me that my manuscript so unnerved my late father that it literally screwed him up for two weeks. Years latter after mom died, daddy asked while we were on a cruise: "why didn't you tell us what happened to you over there earlier?" I said: "I just assumed you knew, what with Khe Sanh being in the news everyday." "But we had no idea how bad it really was," daddy said. I just shrugged my shoulders and said: "well, now you know."

 

 

   
             
 
 

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