Randy Barnes – Letter #10 – Nov. 30, 1968
Dear Bro and Goose People,
Sat, 30 NOV.
A big hi to ya’ from the cess pool of Southeast Asia. Hope this letter doesn’t pick up any of the odor that abounds in the air over here.
A big hi to Goose. I certainly wish I was going to be sitting in front of his T.V. and watching those Hawkers New Years. Most of all, I wish I was going to be there for Xmas. How will the Christmas Pageant go with out me slobbering all over the north end of the bar?
Things here are just as shitty as ever.
Thanksgiving was quite a day. We were supposed to have the day off. But, as luck would have it, the V.C. hit a village about 2 miles from here the night before Thanksgiving. We spent the day patching up Vietnamese civilians. One little boy really got to me. He had both legs blown off by a hand grenade. By the time he got here, he was pretty close to cashing in. We did all we could and called for a “dustoff”. (MED-EVAC CHOPPER) That kid didn’t whimper, not a tear. – Damn, that was a sight. Just red pulpy flesh, and white broken bones where his knees should have been.
We got word today that he’s going to make it. Our whole Battery is kicking in to buy him artificial limbs when he recovers.
One bit of humor – when the chopper got overhead, the guy with me told me to go ahead and drop a smoke grenade. (choppers won’t come in unless you give a prearranged signal to mark the spot and show all is clear) I told the other guy to quit joking and go ahead and throw the smoke grenade. It turned out we had both forgotten to bring one along and I had to high tail back to the Aid Station to get one.
Charlie has been getting more active around here. Last week they mined the road in front of the Compound and blew hell out of one of our “Dusters”. Didn’t kill anyone, but sure fill a few peoples asses with schrapnel. It kind of scared me as I had been driving that road 4 or 5 times a week with no care. Now, they won’t let us out the gate in the morning until they sweep the road for mines.
We have been getting Sunday’s off, but due to Charlie’s increased activity and the closeness of “TET”, we now have to spend our Sundays bettering our perimeter and sandbagging more bunkers. Goddamn, I have never seen nor filled so many fucking sand bags in my life – I hope I never see another one.
The past week has been hell to sleep. About 8 miles from our camp is a place called V.C. Alley (close to Tay Ninh on the map) The 1st Air Cav has been conducting a Search and Destroy mission there. Every night about 8:00 PM you can hear the B-52’s fly over and about two minutes later the bombs start hitting. And believe me, even at 8 miles, when about a thousand 500 pounders start going off, it shakes the bed and blasts your ear drums. Lucky for me I can sleep through about anything. Believe me people at home, if it weren’t for those B-52’s and the choppers, we wouldn’t have a chance over here.
The Aid Station here is becoming a real tourist attraction. We have three pets in a big cage in front of the Aid Station and GI’s and ARVN’s come from as far as Saigon to see them. The pets are PYTHONS. The biggest one is about 18 feet long and is almost fully grown. The other two are babies, only about 10 feet long.
About twice a week we feed them live rats. We catch the rats in our “HOOCHES”. (where we live) Believe me they have some rats over here. At night you can hear the “little” bastards running across the floor. Little is not really the word. They’re about 6″ to 12″ long.
The snakes seem to really dig rats and swallow them whole. What a diet.
My Sargeant will let the big snake coil around him and play with him. Not me – can’t dig snakes.
The weather is really getting hot. Last week there was a hurricane off coast so it remained fairly cool and cloudy. Now, the sun burns into your skin. The ground everywhere is covered with about 4″ of soft dust. We have all been issued dust goggles. When I drive the jeep, I put the windshield down, put on my goggles and play “Rat Patrol.”
Next week I’m supposed to be heading out to C Battery and the field. It may be much more dangerous and there will be few and far between showers, but at least I’ll be my own man. Here at the Aid Station there are too many “Lifers” telling you what to do. Out in the field I’ll be my own boss and besides I might win a whole chest full of medals. (Puke!)
Now, I must say that you better write some goddamn letters. Really, I want letters so badly. Just a note would do. So at least Maggot, Don, Tim, and Larry, you could write. I’d love to hear from anyone – even if I don’t know them. Love to hear from Broads.
You guys write dammit and tell Mike D. he’d better write.
I’m already counting the days. I miss home, I miss the Goose, I even miss you Bro you sweatheart.
Think of me at Xmas I’ll be thinking of all of you.
Tell Dick Hello,
PS I hear my man Eldrige C. got away. Probably hiding at P.V.’s place in K.C.
Peace Brother (drawn peace symbol) WAR SUCKS!