Early 1967, I arrived at the An Hoa Combat Base from FLC (Fork Lift Command) at Red Beach, attached to the LSU (Logistic Support Unit). One of the first nights there, I attended the outdoor movies that were famous, or infamous, for showing war movies especially from the TV series “Combat”. There I sat watching the make-believe combat scenes on the movie screen while just a few hundred yards outside the perimeter real-life fire fights were taking place. We’d watch as our tracers crisscrossed with theirs. Strangest thing, the grunts sitting on the ground watching the war movies would break out in cheers when our tracers (I think) would engage the bad guys.
I’d been in-country nearly 5 months, but make no mistake, I was the FNG that night. The absurdity and strangeness of that first night (and there would be many, many more) always stayed with me.
Just an addendum to the preceding story. April 2004, nearly 37 years later, I arrived in Iraq as an Army CWO4. The C-130 corkscrewing in for a landing at BIAP (Baghdad International Airport) was exactly like the C-130 corkscrew landings in Viet Nam to avoid ground fire. We debarked and were still standing on the tarmac when, WHAM! Two incoming rounds land on the runway. Of all those standing there, only two immediately hit the deck, me and the other CWO4 who had been a Huey pilot in Viet Nam. All the FNGs were standing up looking around completely oblivious to the “loud noises”. He and I looked at each other and almost immediately said in unison, “Funny how you never forget”.
Cpl, LSU 2/5, An Hoa, 1967
CWO5, US Army Retired