Randy Barnes – Letter #11 – Dec. 9, 1968
5 Dec. Thur.
I got your letter today The article was interesting. I had already read about it in “The Stars and Stripes” however, it wasn’t as complete as the clipping you sent.
I want white levis because: 1. the are very durable and the washing that my “Mama-San” does is from the stone age – soap – a brush – a pan of water and then laid on ground to dry 2. I can cut them off and they make good shorts.
While thinking about it – we’re 14 or 15 hours ahead of you (can’t remember which.
I’m glad my letters are to your liking. I try to be descriptive – I know my penmanship and spelling are terrible but isn’t that a sign of intellect? (I hope)
As of now you will be getting fewer letters. Today I purchased a small transistorized tape recorder, AM FM radio combination. So now, I’ll be sending some tapes. I hope you have easy access to a tape. If you don’t, let me know and I’ll send you a small tape. (you can get a cheaper one for only $25.00)
Incidentally, would you send me back $50.00. Let me explain. The PX’s don’t always have the things you want. They may go 2 months with nothing but magazines and toothpaste etc., then suddenly they get cameras, tapes – everything.
Since the PX hasn’t had hardly a thing I sent all my dough home – then – suddenly today a whole truckload.
There were 4 things I really wanted right away 1. a watch (which I had bought) 2. a tape 3. a camera 4. and a fan. (The last 3 I bought today).
I would have waited to buy that stuff, but it may be another 2 or 3 months before that stuff comes in again. Since I want pictures and recordings of my whole stay (plus a cooling fan) I bought. – Now I have $3 till payday. So – please – send – some dough.
Mom, when I write letters to you about the war I’m always afraid you’ll misunderstand and think God he’s going to die tomorrow, so please don’t interpret my letters in a bad way. As I said before, I’ll be honest and let you know if and when I’m in real danger. As a good example – I have seen and heard more “battle” in the past week than since I’ve been here. I’ll tell you about it and then I’ll explain how the narrative can sound to close and dangerous to me, and yet be really so far away.
All this week and last weekend we have been receiving sniper and automatic weapons fire into our camp at night. (From V.C.) (We have also been receiving intelligence reports of a large number of V.C. around this area.
At night you may be in bed or walking from the club and out of the black a rifle shot or more likely a burst of automatic fire, followed by our machine guns and grenade launchers firing back. The first thing you think is “Goddam – it’s a VC ground attack” Actually its the 2nd thing, the first thing is to get your big ass as flat on the ground, as fast on the ground, as possible. But its just snipers.
Yesterday at 4:00 P.M. a “LURP” outfit was going through the village that is only about 200 yards from our camp. (Lurp stands for Long Range Reconisance Patrol) When they got into the village the V.C. ambushed them. They managed to find some quick cover and called for a chopper to get them out – But, when the chopper got there, the ground fire was too heavy for it to land. The “Lurps” then called for our “Dusters” to blast away through to them. The Dusters were off in a second and must have reached the village in 5 minutes TOO LATE – the whole patrol wigged out and not a sign of a V.C. “No one saw nothing” (anything) It was terrible, we could hear all the firing, even some yelling, but nothing we could do.
Some of our boys had to go out for bodies. Luckily I didn’t and don’t ever care to see a dead G.I.
Of course that night we had full alert. Had to wear helmuts and flak jackets all night. That night 200 V.C. were spotted in a field about 2 “clicks” (Kilometers) from here. A Chopper spotted them by chance with his search light, then he let’em have it. The “Cobras” swooped in with MINI-GUNS and rockets going. It gives one such a funny feeling to stand in the dark and look out and see & hear the war going on so close but so removed from you.
Now I’ll show you how far away I am. First the sniper fire is always going on and is completely ineffective. The V.C. have our perimeter flood lights in their eyes and can’t get much closer than 200 yds – add this together with the darkness and they’re lucky if they hit within a mile of us.
Now the ambush. As I told you We drive through that village 3 or 4 times a week – But there is one difference We go 50 or 60 miles an hour through it, not stopping and with weapons ready. Plus we go in an ambulance. The V.C. know that we treat about 200 of the people from that village a day, and if they shot at us they would completely alienate that village to their cause. Plus, I’m sure we treat the V.C. themselves and most of their families without our knowing it
Those guys killed were on foot and were Special Forces, whom the V.C. hate.
Now, the 200 VC that were close to us. It’s probably a 1,000 – 1 chance they were headed our way. There are 20 or 30 bases in about a 30 mile radius from here. Or, they could have been on a 100 mile march to one of a 1000 camps a hundred miles from here.
Naturally I’m afraid at times and could almost vomit, but as you can see and I Know, the war here is really not that dangerous.
So – don’t worry and just accept my stories as what they are – stories.
I’ll send a tape soon
All My Love,