Batten----Weapons Plt. Mike Co. 3rd Bn. 5th Marines
A Real Combat Story
I remember when I first got to THE NAM it was just like everyone had told us. As soon as they opened the door of the BIG BIRD you could smell it, it was an odor which I just can't explain one of those (YOU JUST HAD TO BE THERE TIMES), those of you that have been there know exactly what I'm talking about.
I was not really scared at this time, more confused and naive than anything. Just did not know what was going to happen next. Then, when we were finally able to get off of the plane, it was soooooooo soooooooo HOT. Once again a hot that I just can't describe, it was another one of those "had to be there" times.
They herded us over to a large shed of some type, but at least it was shade. The smell of JP-4 fuel was just overpowering. Now is when I once again began to feel like we were a herd of cattle just like the first NIGHT of boot camp (IF YA'LL REMEMBER THAT FEELING OF HELPLESSNESS THAT CAME OVER US WHEN THE D.I. HOLLERED AT US IN THE BUS AND SAID, "DO YOU SEEEEEEEE THEM YELLOW FEET PRINTS OUTSIDE!!"). Then they told us to line up in the letter row that our last name began with, long lines I remember that.
When I finally got
up toward the front I began to listen to what the dude sitting behind
the desk was saying. He kept repeating over and over, "5th Marines",
and then every now and then he would tell someone something else, but
for the most part it was "5th Marines." And it was not just
the guy that I was lined up on, but also the one at the desk next to him,
he was repeating the same thing. I guess that it was somewhere along about
then that I began to realize that the 5th Marines were way too popular
for me, but my luck held true, and when it was my turn and I handed him
my orders and he stamped them and yelled back, "5th Marines!"
I looked to the guys beside me and said, "THIS AIN'T GOOD"...
I just knew that we were in a real pile of dog do-do!!!!
I had gone over
with a friend that I went through boot camp with and he and I finally
caught a chopper to "THE 5th". Now this was another wild experience
it was the first helle-e-o-copter ride which either of us had ever been
on and the damn thing did not have any doors on it. That was a very strange
experience for both of us what with all of the vibrating the noise and
the wind. Well anyway the chopper landed a few minutes later and they
hollered at us to get off, so we did and once again did not have ANY idea
as to where we were at.
After chow we began to wander around and see things. We were just absolutely intrigued by all of the stuff to see. We finally went back to the area where we had left our junk and met up with a few guys who said that they were from our outfit that being 5th Marines and that we could follow them to our area. These guys were really scary to look at course we did not tell them this and they stunk, I mean really really bad. The uniforms which these guys had on, if you want to call them uniforms, were just tatters and their boots they were white and these were supposed to be MARINES. The guy I was with and I just kept looking at each other and wondering how these guys could stand to be around themselves they smelled that bad.
After they took us over to a tent and told us that we could sleep here for the night they said that they were going to clean up.--THANK GOODNESS I THOUGHT--Well in the meantime somebody came by the tent and hollered that they were showing a movie over in the mess tent. Somebody asked them what it was tonight and the guy replied "TO SIR WITH LOVE" said it was supposed to be a really good flick. So we all decided to go over to the mess hall and watch the flick. Upon getting to the mess hall we must have gotten there late because the only place left to sit was sitting on the tables across the back wall.
Well the movie started, and did turn out to be a really good flick, somewhere during the movie I remember that it was good and dark outside as we were sitting on the tables and really involved with watching Sidney Portier, when all of a sudden we heard the loudest explosion I can ever remember hearing, and it sounded like it was right behind me. Well, it absolutely scared the dog do-do out of me. The only thought that came to my mind was move, and move fast. So we took "COVER" under the table, as if it would have really done any good, but that did not matter, it was psychological anyway.
As I was lying under the table I began to notice that we were the only two on the floor and it was right about this time that we began to realize something was not right. Then one of the guys that was beside us leaned down and said "HEY BOOT, THAT WAS OUTGOING!!!!!!!!" "YOU'LL LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OUTGOING AND INCOMING!!!!!" Now is when we really began to feel like fools.
After I crawled out from under the table I asked the dude "OUTGOING WHAT!!!!! And he replied 155's shooting a fire mission, probably H&I, whatever the hell that was supposed to be. But at the same time I began to wonder just what had I really gotten myself into. So ended my first day in "THE NAM."
Curtis Batten--Weapons Plt. Mike Co. 3rd Bn. 5th Marines
P.S. We eventually did learn to tell the difference.
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