Randy Barnes – Letter #18 – Jan. 13, 1969
Dear Goose, Friends, & Fellow Goosers,
MON – 13 Jan ’69
I received your tape of “Xmas in Rio” Saturday. I have moved out to a field Battery so was a week & a half without mail.
The tape was a “Gas”. I got a six pack and went over to my Aid Station to play the tape. I laughed so much I thought I was going to be sick. It sounded as though you were all drunk out of your minds. Strangely enough, Ned sounds the most sober. It was just like being at home. Gilbert’s bad checks & Ned’s large “Tab”.
Seriously, I play that tape over & over. I enjoy it more each time & thank you one and all for sending it. I’ll save it and send it back to you in the future so that you may have it for posterity.
My Xmas and New Years were rather uneventful. However, they were both very “DRUNK.” I was still at the Battalion Aid Station & we had a champagne Party both nights. (a guy at the PX just happened to come by 8 cases of champagne?) I was so homesick for the old Goose at Xmas!!
I also received an Xmas card from Maggot at the same time. The card was appropriate & I dully noted the resembelence of St. Nick to “persons” unamed.
I really like my new station but am much nearer the war zones. I’m with B Battery, stationed at Cu Chi – about 60 miles N.W. of Saigon – This is a base camp for the 25th Inf. and we’re attached to that unit – Can’t believe I’m wearing an infantry patch.
My job is Battery Medic. I have my own small Aid Station at the Battery area in Cu Chi. However, I do go out to the field quite a bit. We have “Dusters” at fire support bases all over 3rd Corps area. I have to fly out to these bases by chopper about once every two weeks, Check on food, make sure shots are caught up, do paper work on all killed or wounded etc. – The rest of the time I either stay at Base Camp or ride one of the Dusters that run Convoy Duty From here to Long Binh, to Dau Tien Tieng , or to Tay Ninh-
Some of the places I’ve been in the past two weeks by chopper or convoy are: Dau Tien Tieng , Tay Ninh, Saigon, Fire Support Base (F.S.B.) Rita, F.S.B. Rock Crusher Mountain, F.S.B CROCKETTE, and last But not least the road to Dau Tien Tieng that runs through the Michlein Rubber Plantation that’s known as “Ambush Alley.” Ambush Alley is always in the news. This is the Rubber Plantation that’s run by the French but is really a V.C. Strong hold. Last Tet, the 25th Inf., & the 1st Div, lost over 500 men in “Ambush Alley.”
When I rode through there last week we got hit with a ground attack & our Dusters mutilated about 50 V.C. They didn’t even get within 50 meters of us – Gave me a real scare – I could see the crazy bastards running at us out of the jungle line (about 75 meters from the road) But by the time the Dusters & their 40m.m. guns got through with them – nothing but pieces left. – We lost one man, laced across the chest with an AK-47. He was dead when I got to him. It didn’t bother me though – You get used to just Shutting off your emotions.
ROCK CRUSHER is another bitch of a place. It’s a small mountain in the heart of the jungle. The V.C. hold all the ground around it, & we hold the mountain. I went up by chopper to give shots. Got shot at going in & shot at coming out. Gives you a hell-ova-feeling to be floating over the Rubber trees & hear those god awful 50 cal’s. firing at you.
We’ve been hit by rocket & mortars 3 times at Cu Chi. However, since they’re shooting at a Chopper Pad about 5 blocks from our area, we seldom get any rockets in our immediate area unless they’re “short rounds.” Still, they make a hell-ova-racket & you can’t help but lay there & wonder if the next one’s coming in on your head.
Those rockets (B-40) make one hell-ova-noise coming in. They whistle so loudly that it sounds like some giant screaming. They say as long as you can hear them you’re alright – It’s the ones you don’t hear that have your name on it.
Although, I’m always afraid when things start “a-poppin’,” I’m not really worried & feel rather safe. You just adapt to it. I know I’ll be back in the Goose a Cussin’, a spittin, and a laughin shortly.
Only 7 more months.
The thing that bothers me here is terrorist attacks. The V.C. are always booby-trapping something or making some damned suicide raid. Last week they rigged a 100 lb mine up to a Mess Hall here at Cu Chi – The 554th Engineers – When the guys came in for lunch – they set it off – killed 15 & wounded about 40. There’s so many “GOOKS” working around here, on post, & you are never really sure one hasn’t put a grenade in your vehicle or a mine under your “HOOCH.” We spend alot of time just checking everything.
Incidently boys – I really dig “GOOK” chicks. We have a steam bath here on post. You go in & get a 30 min. steam bath, then a cold, shower, & then a 30 min. “MASSAGE”. You have your own little room with a table to lie on, a fan, and your own beautiful Gook girl, to give the MASSAGE – And what a MASSAGE, they walk on your back & pop joints you didn’t know you had – All this for $2.50, & for an extra $4.00 you get a real “relief” (Due to fact some broads might read this I won’t go into detail.(Use your wildest imagination.)
Then there are the Saigon girls – OFS – Beautiful & “Talented.” Been to Saigon twice & it’s a hell-ova-city. Words can’t describe.
Gary I really dug the sentiment in your card – And it made me feel good to hear you all wish me the best on the TAPE – When David talked I almost cried.
I still think of you all, almost everyday – Crash – Ned – Dennis & Sally, Maggot & “Cheeks”, Bro, Mike & Pixie – Everyone – Frank & Virginia.
Gary asked me how I felt about the WAR – More than ever I think war is stupid, idiotic, criminal What else can you feel when you see people die – However, having been around & known some Vietnamese I can’t see just leaving them to Hanoi – I’ve changed in that fact. I realize that a majority of the people in the South want their freedom. But mainly they want a freedom from WAR – I don’t have any answers anymore & rarely think about it. I just think about coming home in one piece. I’ve seen & experienced things already that I don’t want to remember. Things I’ll never forget – and if you’ve never experienced them yourself – well, you just can’t imagine what it’s like to look into the glazed eyes of a dead GI, or see the pain in the eyes of a small boy with both legs blown-off – NOTHING can justify that.
Enclosed is a picture of “G.I.” Randall taken last week before we left on Convoy to Dau Tien Tieng. (the morning of the day we killed 50 V.C.) The guys were loading 50 cal. ammo cans for the machine guns. Since I wasn’t doing anything decided to help. When one guy brought his Polaroid out, the HAM in me got the upper hand so I threw a belt of ammo around my neck & posed for this “John Wayne” type flick. I don’t look like a “DOVE” do I?
I send you all, – my love – I would like to hear again from all of you – will send another tape soon.
Randall (drawn peace symbol)