I was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division which was headquartered at Pleiku. Pleiku was on the Western side of Vietnam at one end of Number 4 highway near the Central Highlands, sort of a low mountain range. We flew from Cam Ram Bay on a C130 and then were bused out to the base. I remember an enlisted man who was riding the bus with us. We were packed on the bus like sardines and this GI could tell that we were all scared to death. He told us not to worry, if we started taking fire to just hit the floor. That was not very confronting since we could barely move. After we had been “in country” for a while we realized that there was very little risk of any kind of attack in that particular area in broad daylight and that he had just been playing with us.
We spent a couple of days just hanging out waiting for our assignments. I was assigned to Company C, Mechanized Infantry. My squad was headquartered on a Personnel Carrier (PC). Each personnel carrier was equipped with a 50 caliber machine gun. We were squad 23. Our squad leader was Sargent William Taylor. And our PC driver was James Walker. They were the only two left in squad 23. They had been in an area near a village called Playmoran (sp) and more than half our company had been wounded or killed in battles. We sat by our PC for a couple of hours listening to “war stories” from Sargent Taylor and James and they told us how lucky we were that we weren’t a part of that. After a couple of hours we got orders to go back to that area. You talk about scared! We set up camp right outside of the village of Playmoran. During the day we would do patrols through the jungle and then at night all of the PC’s would be parked in a circle facing out. Each squad would have one person on guard duty all the time. There was probably 16-18 PC’s in our company and 2 or 3 tanks.
The third night we were there, the Montagnard men came over to our camp with rice wine. I didn’t drink any because I was new in country and had been warned not to accept anything from the Vietnamese. When it started getting dark the village men left our camp and went back to their village. We had guard duty throughout the night and would take turns sitting behind the 50 caliber machine gun. My duty began at 4 AM. Of course we slept in our clothes but I had taken my boots off. When it was time for me to go on guard duty I just slipped my boots on and didn’t bother to lace them up.