Charlie Banner

June 1969

June 1 – After a nice night’s sleep in a big puddle of water, we went back to sweep the area where we were the day before. We swept with some APCs & Delta Company. The NVA had already di-di’d---thank goodness. Didn’t find anything except a big hole where they’d buried their dead. Left the area on tracks to a ville across the river. Moved out at night & set up another perimeter close to the beach. I’ve been thinking a lot about life and death lately—wonder why? DEATH. You don’t really suffer after death---life goes on without you. Only a small part of the world would even know you were gone and to some of them, an American death would be a happy event. The only ones who really suffer are the loved ones left at home. Personally, I think heaven will be better than life on earth---but this isn’t a death wish---just a rationalization, I guess.

June 2 – Left our perimeter and humped a long way before breakfast. Set up around a ville and then moved back to about the same area tonight---Army again. We were 1500 meters short—CO again. Moved out in two flanks at night for a while. I was point man for the right flank. I don’t even like it. It was a booby trap area by the beach. No action at night. Now, LIFE. There are a lot of things which make you want to stay alive. The things you can do for God, for your fellow man---noble thoughts for a common man—but—I’ve promised God I’ll work for Him if He’ll bring me back from Vietnam alive & sound. Another reason to stay alive---loved ones---especially WIFE!!

June 3 – We left yesterday’s perimeter to return to LZ Bronco. I led again but it’s much easier in the daytime. Got back to Bronco about 15 minutes and had to go help out Delta Co. They were pinned down this time. We left there on tracks but were ambushed before we got there. Got a nice safe ? place. Moved back to set up a perimeter and I almost passed out from heat. They did have to work on me though. I was dried out and had quit sweating. This wasn’t as bad as our last firefight, casualty’s were 6 wounded I believe. However, 25 were dusted off for heat exhaustion. Finished dust offs about 3:00 and then swept the area with a company from 4-3. Left about 6:30 after CO had finished his games and got back to Bronco about 9:00. I sure was tired when we got back.

June 4 – Got probably the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a month. Woke up once because the place was really stinking. Thought, “You’re still in Vietnam…” and went back to sleep. We stayed at Bronco till about 4:30---rifle mix-up, resupply, etc. Left back to the beach area. Crossed river twice so we could stay wet all night---we did too. Stayed at the same night laager as we did June 1. No action. The guys in our company are fine---the lifers though, wow. They leave a lot to be desired! That’s one of the big things wrong with the Army as far as US’s are concerned---too much gung-ho rot---military forever, etc. The guys over here with us are just great---they all do their best to help everyone. It’s something you hardly ever see back in the world---most of the guys in the infantry are US’s like me. They don’t really give a damn about the Army or this war but, we’re here & everyone just seems to try their best to help make sure the others get back to the world. It’s a good feeling to know you’ve got people like that with you.

June 5 – Left in the morn & crossed the river again. The CO must think he’s a fish. We humped for about 4 clicks where 2 would’ve been sufficient---oh well. I’ll get in shape one day, maybe. I’m barefooted without a shirt just leaning up against tree writing---war isn’t all hell. Left day position at dark. I got point honors again. Then, I was lucky enough to lead again tonight. Our squad got to go out for a LP. We came back in about 11:00. We “heard” some dinks possibly. Anyway we came in again & I felt much safer. I sure don’t like it at all at point. You can hardly see a thing. I’ve been asking God for a lot of help a lot of times here lately. Since I can’t see, I’ll just have to leave it up to Him.

June 6 – Left our position this morning to cross the river again. Received sniper fire before all of us got across. Called in arty---drew some fire again. So, arty again, plus air strikes. We moved through the place after this. The NVA had it set up real good. I’m glad we didn’t walk into this. We cleared the area & finally set up our day position. Received some H & I from Charles once when a chopper landed. Just before we moved out at dark to go to our night position, we were hit by mortars. Just a few injuries. The way we left the perimeter was really a mess though. Thorough organization by the CO. Told us to “Get your shit on & move out.” He was gone by then. I don’t like this place a damn bit.

June 7 – What a morning! I was having a good dream about Patty & I was getting ready to take a shower & someone woke me up. Wow---then, I went out to pick up my claymore & some dinks opened up on Earp & me. Wow again—“excuse me while I kiss the ground”. We called in arty & the “Warlords” worked out a while. We moved back a few hundred meters & watched while we had breakfast. Moved out for the day & were in a good hiding place when a chopper dropped in an AP reporter. I’m sure no one could tell where we were. Scout dogs were working with us & spotted some dinks. We got one & captured some weapons. Set up at beach in nighttime. Reminded me of the world. Quiet except for sniper rounds when we were putting out claymores.

June 8 – Spent another nice night with the mosquitoes. Florida was never like this. The flies start off in the morning just after the mosquitoes finish. There might a 10 or 15-minute lull. Moved out about 6:00 or 6:30. Stopped and rested for a while & were hit by mortars & small arms fire. No one was hurt though. I think it was mostly harassment rot by the VC hoping they’d get a few. After we cleared out of the area & set up our night perimeter, Spooky came over & worked out. There’s one thing that helps out over here. That’s knowing you’ve got the support that you have. Noticed on the calendar it was Sunday---seems strange---just another day. But yet, every day over here is like a Sunday too. You do call on Him quiet a few times each day.

June 9 – Left the perimeter this morning after two “mad minutes”. Had to walk point today but I was behind the dog so it wasn’t so bad. Peanut, Lt. Vincent, said one of his last stops before going home was to visit the dog handlers on LZ Bronco and thank them. Two of the five he knew with the Scout Dog Platoon had already DEROS’d but he and the remaining three toasted each other before he left. The handlers told Peanut when they got a call to go with second platoon of Charlie Company, they’d flip to see who got to go with us. Everyone else had them walk point by themselves but Peanut had two of our guys up near the dog handler and dog to help protect them. Evidently they appreciated this and the “lucky” one got to go out with second platoon. Did get a partial bath when we crossed the river. It was neck high when I backed off. Set up a day laager & then two platoons went out on patrols. We went out about 400 m. & sat down for a few hours. Left late---9:00---for our night laager. It was 12:30 before we got there and set up. Today was a pretty good day---no sniper fire, mortars---just a bunch of dinks out with their water buffalos. But you still always wonder if you’re going to get shot at pretty soon. There are so many good places to hide over here. I don’t even like it. …. just stood in the rain & rinsed off a couple of layers of dirt---there’s still a few layers left.

June 10 – Since Papasan didn’t show up this morning with his AK-47 we got to go back to sleep for a while. I needed it too after 4 whole hours of it last night. 3rd platoon received some sniper fire while they were on patrol but they were real far away when they fired. I think the scout dogs had something to do with it. I sure like the dog. That was all the action that happened around us today. We moved out at night & went back to the same night laager of the 31st. I’m getting kinda scared now about the Co. There’s quite a few new guys but not all of them went through the two big firefights we had. Some of them don’t know just yet what can happen out here. They’d better get something together. Some of the newest guys have thought I was an old-timer---surprise, surprise. We pay $10 each month for beer & soda & usually get two of each every day. The sodas are usually Wink or Ginger Ale but we do get a Pepsi every few days. My last haircut was back in the world at Ft. Lewis. I haven’t noticed any distinct brand of dogs over here except American. Most of the dogs have a curly tail no matter what their size is. The graves over here are mounds built up 2’ or 3’ high & you’re liable to find them anywhere---in the rice paddies, by the beach---anywhere. The whole country must be a big sump! The flies are just as bad as they are out at the stables---that’s bad. Enough of my vacation. If I tell you too much then you’ll want to come over too! I’m beginning to get another nickname---the new one is Teach. ….I’m going to take a shower. We’re at a ville with a well so I’m going to pour water over my head.

June 11 – Left this morning on another patrol again. We had the dogs with us & they sure helped. They alerted once at a haystack & again about 50m from the wood line. Much better than a GI could do at point. Stayed in the same ville as we were in yesterday. There’s about ½ million kids running around here wanting “souvenir me chop-chop” or “Joe, cigarette”---you don’t feel bad about giving a 5 year old a cigarette either---he’s been smoking for about 3 years anyway. If you do give them something they like they say “GI number 1”---if they don’t like you it’s a “number 10”. The kids tried to teach me some Vietnamese words----they got a good laugh. Returned to perimeter & at night moved back to the same ville again. Wow. Our squad went out on an LP tonight, almost. These past two nights I’ve learned to respect tightrope walkers, especially those carrying someone while they’re blindfolded. I get the same feeling when we’re walking across a rice paddy dike at night with that dumb rucksack on. There’s a pretty big difference between the guys that are here & the new guys as far as time goes. Most of the older guys have from 6, 7, or 8 months here---this should be pretty good for the first of us new guys after we get that much time in. You see, they try to get you a job in the rear when you’ve got a few months left but when most of these guys leave I’ll have 4 months left.

June 12 – Stayed at the ville all day today---just played cards, slept, etc. The war would be all right if I had it this easy each day. First platoon goofed up today. They were on a patrol & set up a perimeter. They had a bad position & also neglected to have 100% alert. Two dinks slipped up on them & threw in two frags. Wounded two. Moved out at night & sat up at the edge of the wood line where we got hit the 31st. Didn’t even like it. I don’t even like being over here. I have yet to see our purpose in being here & neither do many of the US’s like myself. It’s a good thing we have lifers to direct us & tell us THE reasons! As far as I’m concerned, this will be a wasted year. That needs explaining & I need some space----later.

June 13 – We’re finally getting out of the field. We moved to Buddha---what’s left of it after the ARVN’s scrounged through it. We were trucked to LZ Liz, a big hill with arty & higher-higher, bunkers, showers, cots, & 3 hot meals. This is probably the worse LZ to get on but it’s still better than the field. The dinks definitely want this place. Moved to 4 bunkers---Army. Helped Pete (Andrews) clean the M-60 today. I’m in weapons squad since yesterday. Night was peaceful except for the 155’s. They can still scare the hell out of you even if they aren’t shooting at you. I sure wish the war would let up a bit around here. This is one of the hottest AO’s in Nam right now.

June 14 – Nothing to do except read, write letters & sleep. That’s just fine too. Rumor has it the NVA will hit tonight but nothing. We H & I’d almost every hour. The NVA, again according to RC, is supposed to take this hill by June 30. I wish they’d all go back north & we could go back to the world. LATER from the 12th: I’ll mature even more this year. This will definitely sober you up so to speak. Life will be and has become more important, yet it is so much easier to lose. God & Christianity, home, loved ones become dearer to you. You also learn to take few things for granted anymore. This will make me a better person this year but, the way you have to learn it or become aware of it, I just don’t think the year is worth it. I feel my year would be more constructive back in the world with Patty & teaching.

June 15 – Same-same yesterday except I got my first shower since the 4th. This isn’t counting rivers, rainfall & wells. I really just cooled it all day long. It’s easy to relax here. You’ve got cots instead of the ground & you don’t have to worry much about dinks slipping up on you like you do in the field. Maybe by the time we leave here, most of us will get our “nerves” back. When we came here, almost everyone would duck at the first loud noise---baby combat fatigue I guess. This will be one year I’ll be glad to get finished. You really learn to appreciate things back in the world & therefore, you miss them even more. I feel this way---especially about Patty.

June 16 – Slept till 10:00. Wrote Patty, went to lunch & then left with resupply for Bronco. Going to the dentist. Wrote letters most of the afternoon & went to the flick at night---3rd time for “Waterhole #3”---twice in Nam. No bunker guard tonight! Wow! How are you going to act Army? This country, this war---everything about is all screwed up. You envy everyone who gets to go back to the world even one day earlier than you! Most of the GI’s I know hove one thing on their mind---putting in their year & going home. There’s no “America the Beautiful”, baseball, Mom’s apple pie, etc.---just let’s get the year over with & get the hell out! You know the things most of us miss most besides the big things like you---representing wives & girlfriends, parents, friends, home etc.? It’s the small things like something cold to drink, a bed with real live clean sheets, a shower whenever you want it & even clean clothes. I could throw in good food but the Army isn’t known for that anyway. There are more but those are some that come to mind. So if I come back to the world & just lay on a bed, drinking ice-cold Cokes, & taking showers about six times a day, you’ll understand.

June 17 – Had to report to the “sleeve” at 7:30. Got bitched at by him for sitting on a desk—“How to Win Friends & Influence People”. Finally got to see the dentist about 3:00. Didn’t make resupply to Liz---so, sham time. Wish it would’ve happened in the field though. Saw another movie—“Secrets of the American Housewife”…dud all the way! I’ll be glad to get back to the world & have a choice of movies. If this had been on TV, I’d have gone to bed. Oh well. My knees are about healed now. They were infected real bad but I’ve about squeezed all the juice out. They are doing all right. It’s a good thing; our Doc didn’t help me any. My elbow is still swollen up pretty good though. That’s Vietnam for you----even the germs are bad.

June 18 – Left Bronco for Liz about 11:00---found I’d been moved to another bunker. 5 now. Just spent most of the day gathering up my junk & moving back to the new bunker. The gunner & I (Pete) stayed up till 3:00 pulling guard---seems Liz was kind of hit both nights that I was gone. I know I’ve said this before---but I’ll still be glad to get back to the world. If Patty thinks she had a good husband before---well---he’ll be a better one upon his return! I’ll certainly do all I can to be a better person----all the way around. I don’t feel like I’m repenting or anything cause I’m over here. Just being here makes you miss & appreciate things even more.

June 19 – We’re moving to another bunker again. This one is an OP-LP on top of a high hill over looking Liz. (North OP) There’re just 6 men up here but I feel kind of safe. There’s nothing up here really for them to come after except our weapons & us. We had to carry full gear up there. It sure kicked---again! Pulled first guard at night with Wally. We pull 3-hour shifts from 9 pm to 6 am. We had from 9-12. No action on our guard except from us. We H & I’d every time we walked around the hill.

June 20 – Slept till about 11:00 but it was kind of necessary to catch up on my sleep. Three hours of guard at night cuts down your usual amount of sleep. Didn’t do much during the day—read, played cards, just loafed really. About 9:00 at night we heard on the radio that the dog on bunker 21 had alerted & people there had spotted 3 dinks in the wire. Then one of men here heard a noise to our north just down at the wire. We put out beaucoup rounds there plus some frags & WP’s. Then we received an incoming round over at the south side. Don’t know if it was a mortar or a chicom. We all stayed up till 12 & then pulled 2 men on for 2 hours. We never did see anyone definitely. You can never really know if there was something out there &, if so, what? It’s weird!

June 21 – Finished an Alfred Hitchcock book this morning. Wrote a letter or 2 & slept in the afternoon. Everything was real quiet at night. No problems on any of the guards. It did get cold this morning. Had guard from 3:00-6:00 & stayed chilly all the time. If I’m cold over here & the temperature is in the mid-80’s---how am I going to act when it’s in the 50’s & 60’s back in the world!?? I would gladly try to overcome that problem though if they’d let me go back now! Maybe in about 320 more days---wow---I ain’t even short yet & it seems like I’ve been gone a long time.

June 22 – Spent from 3:00 to 6:00 on guard---highlight was watching 3 dumb insects (big flies I believe) flying over the bunker. They would zip back & forth over a 4’ to 5’ space…weird, funny too! Slept, played Hearts, & wrote letters. Got beaucoup mail today plus two packages---good wife. (Waiting to finish a letter to Patty.) We finally got a red bag in resupply & I should get some letters from you, right? We’ll have to stay up here another night. We’re going back to the bush tomorrow & they’re not going to replace us for just one night. No sweat. I’m glad I’m keeping this diary. It’s good for your memory especially when I get back to the world. If they ever want me to come back I’ll read this & then get at least a two-week head start!

June 23 – Left LP at 9:30. Got clean clothes & shower. After lunch we waited around till 4:00 & our chopper came. We were flown to Bronco for some water & a hot meal before we hit the bush. What a way to go. We were trucked out through Duc Pho. Missed our drop off spot. After wading through beaucoup rice paddies---all wet…& crossing the same steam 3 times..twice about waist deep---we set up for the night. It acted like it was going to rain 2 or 3 times but it was never bad. It’s nice to come back to the bush with clean clothes & a shower…that’s the life of a grunt thought. Not very clean really! By the way, no Donovan.

June 24 – Moved out through the rice paddies & one deep ditch. Did set up just outside Bronco next to the ville. It wasn’t long before the dink kids bought out cokes & other junk. Played Casino with Pete a while before we cleaned the gun. I laid around most of the rest of the time. I felt kind of bad. We left the day laager to recon the wood line across from us to find a place to set up for the night. We only stayed out about an hour. We moved out again at 5:30 to go set up. Our platoon led again. Fixed a good foxhole---had a slight hole to work with & also beaucoup heavy rocks. Instead of digging, we just piled up rocks in a circle. I guess we’re just lazy. Had Doc work on my elbow. Got dark before he got finished. East of Bronco.

June 25 – Started the morning with our usual morning walk. Too bad we wear the rucksacks, we could jog some. This was a nice click & a half walk. Set up a day laager & our platoon had to move out shortly thereafter. We didn’t go far but we found a lot of old punji pits & some recent spider holes dug by a trail behind a hedgerow…real sneaky. We moved out just before dark again & walked the other 800 meters to the beach. It was a pretty good position for a perimeter---good vision & fields of fire all around. It was a nice night out----make you want to be back in the world playing around with your favorite girl (Patty) instead of over here playing around with this sorry mess. It was a good time to think even if we are in a war. East of Bronco around Tripoli.

June 26 – Started early in the morning with a few mortar rounds (4 I think) about 1:15. They were outside the perimeter though---no one was hurt, not even close. (Enemy 855370) I had guard starting at 1:00 so I had plenty of help except for the first & last 15 minutes. We were CA’d about 6:30 further up north just across from LZ Max. (808487 almost to Quan Duc Pho line) We set up a day laager on in toward the wood line & at night moved back on the beach. Waz’s squad had a snake tonight & Pete & I had to go with him. We went off the beach about 50m into a scrub pine forest. Not very thick though. We set up with 5 men from another squad who were supposed to have a snake in another direction. That’s my idea of teamwork. No problems at night. Was going in for my elbow today but Doc wants me to wait. Our platoon leader—a Lt. {Vincent} just got back from Hawaii. I’ll talk to him pretty soon & try to find out some of the cost, etc.

June 27 – Moved again early after we came back in from the snake. Moved back to the bush & set up around a ville. Drank beaucoup Kool-Aid cause this was the first water we found since we left Liz. Our platoon left heavy that afternoon to recon the area for a RON. We set up in the wood line & the waited for the rest of the company. We set up on the beach again. This time around a good growth of trees, bushes etc. We had a good position for a change. I like it out on the beach. It’s safer cause you can see better. It’s cooler---and if you use your imagination, you can almost be back in the world. It’s been pretty lately too, the moon is almost full---this is a war story?!? (I think we called this the “Oasis”)

June 28 – After a nice walk to begin the morning—we overshot our day laager a few hundred meters---we set up in a #10 perimeter. Then we decided to leave & go to another one. We’d just moved out when we received sniper fire. We put some smoke back on him---then arty & then 2 air strikes. We moved on into the ville with some fire & movement rot. By the time we’d finished, the sun almost finished me again. We stayed there the rest of the day except our platoon moved out about 300 meters to check out a position for us to set up at night. About 7:30 at night we moved out to that position. No one was hurt today & no more trouble at night. Good.

June 29 – Did something unusual today---our platoon had two VC on the run without them knowing where we were. It’s usually the other way around. May have gotten one of them. Moved through a ville where they had been hiding. Shot it up & burned down a couple of hooches. I also carried the gun today for the first time. About 11:30 we came back to the same position we had last night. For a change we didn’t move out that morning. Just played it lazy the rest of the day. I was tired & it was so damn hot! We moved out about 6:30 & came back to the same position on the beach we had the 27th . Pete & I were supposed to go out on a snake with Waz’s squad. We all made it as far as our old position. We spent the night with Buck’s squad. 30-minute guard!

June 30 – Another unusual day. After all the time we’ve set up close to the beach, this was the first time we got to go swimming. After we swam a while, most of us went back to the well & took our first shower since Liz. All of this sure did feel good. Pete & I finished cleaning the gun when we got back & then cut some Z’s. Before we moved out at night, we got a few rounds of sniper fire---just a VC I believe, reminding us there’s still a war going on. Since we moved up north here, I’ve seen quite a few spider holes. I’m glad that they have only been occupied by punji sticks rather than dinks. Rumor has it that the NVA is regrouping in the mountains. They are about regiment size but aren’t supposed to start another offensive till July 3 or 4. Stay away dudes, I don’t even want to see you! There’s not any use in sending any bug juice. We’ve got some stuff over here that’s pretty good. It’s so strong some of the guys get blisters.

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