Welcome to my neighborhood, LZ Betty, on the South China Sea near Phan Thiet, Vietnam. Our area of operation covered the Coastal Lowlands and the Central Highlands about 80 miles northeast of Saigon.
This is my home sweet-and-sour home.
Yes, here's all the homey comforts a sandbag bunker can provide ... just think of this as a boy scout campout, and hope it doesn't fill with water like during the monsoon season, which means we sit on top ... all through the lonely night. Like it? You comfy yet?
Well don't get too comfortable amid all the cultural refinements. We don't spend much time here basking in all the luxury...(?) Usually we're out walking the park on combat patrol. This is the 1st Air cavalry, so we're just waiting for the "eye in the sky" helicopters to spot where the action is. They find a hot spot, then they pick us up and drop us in the middle of it. Sound like a real good time? Well, saddle up, get your camouflage chalk on, and let's go...
Above is my buddy Ortel, M-60 machine-gun slung over his shoulder and his stogie lit ... one hell of a fightin' man!
The boys are all here and ready for patrol out into "The Killing Zone." Want to come? Just put on your steel pot, and watch those bullets ... there's a lot of them flyin' around ... and listen for the whine of incomin' rounds. Just stay alert every second ... you hear me? I said every second!
Chances are, some of us won't make it back, but try not to think about it. Look at those boys above. Which ones won't be with us tomorrow? Which ones won't answer the next call "Saddle Up" to continue the walk through the park?
Just pray the bullet with your name on it won't ruin your whole day...
People are trying to kill you here ... preoccupied with your dying ... doing their best to reunite you with the dust from whence you came. Things tend to explode here, so stick close, but not too close ... don't want one round killing us all. Don't wander off, hear? Death here is as real as it gets. Death can come at any time, day or night. You can almost taste the hot and sticky pungent fear on your tongue, can't you?
Our limousine's ready to take us to the war ... into the face of death. It's a chinook helicopter, a troop carrier ... so make sure helmets are fastened tight and rounds chambered in your weapons. It may get hot and deadly in just a few minutes ... are you ready? I mean, are you really ready? There's death in the air ... could happen any minute, but try not to think about it or you'll go crazy. Be constantly alert, and don't mess up your attention with worry and fear, or you will surely die! But then, you don't want to live forever do you?