Chapter 4 Going to Vietnam

Chapter Four




After spending thirty days at home, on leave, I arrived at Fort Lewis Washington late in the evening. The next morning, I received my new issue of jungle clothes and boots for Vietnam. Eight hours later, I was boarding the airplane headed for Vietnam.


We stopped briefly in Anchorage Alaska for fuel, and again in Okinawa, Japan. Our final stop was Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. The flight lasted about twelve hours and I was tired of flying.


I spent the next week in Cam Ranh Bay, doing menial jobs for the Army. One particular job I worked on the NCO’s new club. My job was to scorch the wood around the building with a torch. I thought to myself, I came to Vietnam to fight a war not to work on the NCOs club or any other menial job.


As I was torching the wood to give it that burned look. I decided to hold the torch against the wood until it caught on fire. Upon seeing the fire being started, one of the NCOs ran over to me and grabbed the torch. He was putting out the fire, and cussing me at the same time. I told him I did not come to Vietnam to work on their club, I came to fight in the war and fly helicopters. That evening I was shipped out on a C-130 bound for Saigon.


It was eerie flying at night over the jungle, knowing the enemy was down there in the dark jungle. I sat toward the rear of the plane. I was cold. It was so cold that the loadmaster of the cargo plane kept his beer lying on the rear door to keep it chilled.


We flew only a couple of hours, before we landed in Saigon. Early the next morning, I found my way to the First Aviation Brigade group headquarters where the orders were cut for further deployment.


I was sitting outside with the rest of the guys. Some were waiting for orders and a few were going home. We were all talking about being in Vietnam. I was talking with this one guy who had just received his orders to go home. I asked him where he was stationed in Vietnam. He said that he was with the 187th Assault Helicopter Company in Tay Ninh-affectionately called rocket city. “Why was it called rocket city?” I asked.                                                                                                                                “Almost every night we had rockets and mortars, hammering the Base camp.” He slapped me on the shoulder. “ That’s one place you don’t want to go”.


As he was turning to leave he said, “ Rocket City was one of the most dangerous places in Vietnam. It’s was bad enough to get shot at while flying in a helicopter, but having to worry about rockets and mortar’s falling all around during the night, was an added stress.

We shook hands and I wished him well and I turned to go inside. I picked up my orders. When I opened them I could not believe my eyes, they read,” Assigned to 187th Assault Helicopter Company, Tay Ninh, Vietnam”. And for the first time, I felt a little apprehensive and not sure what to expect.


My first flight on a Huey helicopter in Vietnam took me to Cu Chi, about thirty kilometers (18 miles) north of Saigon. I would spend the next few days doing in-country training, learning jungle survival techniques.  I learned about their many poisonous snakes and I crawled down and through a captured Viet Cong tunnel.

I was not thrilled about crawling through the dark tunnel. I held on to the boot of the guy in front of me so I wouldn’t get lost crawling through the tunnel. It was scary and I knew right then I would never volunteer to be a tunnel rat. Let me explain what a tunnel rat is. When a tunnel is discovered in the jungle, a volunteer is asked to take his flashlight a forty five pistol and crawl through the tunnel looking for the enemy or anything else that might be lurking there.

Even though it was a dangerous job, there was always a tunnel rat in most companies.

I finished in country ground and survival training . I processed out of the Battalion Area and was ready to go to my final destination. Tay Ninh. Rocket City.





Remember when you were a kid and growing up in your hometown,

Remember being free and having fun while in your old car, you would ride around.

Remember how young you were and really not a whole lot of experience in the game of life,

Remember how care free you were and really with not a whole lot of strife.

Remember your first date and the first time you kissed a girl,

Remember back of all the things that happened as your life started to unfurl.

Remember the day you got that letter from Uncle Sam that said, “Greetings” to you,

Remember the sick feeling as you read the letter all the way through.

Remember your thoughts as you took your induction physical and passed with ease,

Remember you thought they would take you even if you had a major disease.

Remember when you got to the reception station and your hair was still long,

Remember going through basic training you hoped you wouldn’t do anything wrong.

Remember the mean drill sergeants, who drove you until you thought you would die,

Remember asking yourself over and over during that traumatic time, why me Lord, why.

Remember going to advance training and preparing to go off to war,

Remember thinking of Viet Nam, but you really didn’t want to think ahead that far.

Remember going home on leave just before you shipped out across the sea,

Remember the fun you had with your friends, for around them you wanted to always be.

Remember how you felt as you looked into your patents eyes and said good-by,

Remember how you hurt inside and you knew your parents were hurting enough to die.

Remember when you got to Viet Nam and how awkward you felt for the first few days,

Remember thinking getting killed was a reality and you thought of several ways.

Remember the first “incoming,” as the mortars fell it seemed all around,

Remember how stupid you felt and finally succumbed and got down on the ground.

Remember the sleepless nights as “Charlie” was firing rockets from afar trying to get a kill,

Remember how you felt after several hours of bombardment and felt you had your fill.

Remember seeing your first “KIA” and you helped put him into the body bag,

Remember how angry you felt as you had to put his name on the body tag.

Remember the machine gun fire, napalm, rockets and mortars during the fight,

Remember how hard it was to see and fight all though the treacherous night.

Remember the smell and stench of the rice paddies as you stumbled throughout,

Remember you thinking to your self just what the heck is this all about.

Remember hearing on AFVN Radio how we killed many Viet Cong during the day,

Remember how you knew they lied most of the time and the truth they didn’t always say.

Remember when the American body counts were ten or twenty or more during one firefight,

Remember the choppers carrying off the dead and wounded and you wished you were on the flight.

Remember how you felt as you became “short” and only thoughts of going home,

Remember your thoughts as you reminisced of your hometown as your mind started to roam.

Remember how you felt as you boarded that “freedom bird” and you’re heart did race,

Remember how you felt as you took off from that awful and Godforsaken place.

Remember getting home and no real welcome you received for what you did,

Remember after returning to civilian life and that time in Nam you have now had,

Remember over the years you would reminisce of Viet Nam and you would cry inside,

Remember how all the internal pain and suffering that you have simply tried to hide.

Remember how the government seemed not to appreciate you and it really broke your heart,

Remember now when you seem to always have problems of the war, all over it would start.

Remember this one thing and this you can take to the bank and this is why,

Remember Jesus loved you enough for all your sins, He chose for you to die.

Remember Jesus loves you and for especially you, He really does care,

Remember Jesus was with you in Viet Nam all the time you were there.




I wrote this mainly for all the Infantry (Grunts) who served in Viet Nam, from the DMZ to the Delta and everywhere in between. My helicopter company the 187th Assault Helicopter Company supported the 25th Infantry Division, and the 5th Special Forces. Helicopter crewmen and Grunts have a special bond as only they know.


This poem is in memory of my first cousin L/CPL David Strait (USMC) who gave his life in September 1967 in Viet Nam.


To all my brothers who’s name did not get put on the wall, WELCOME HOME.










RVN (Republic of Vietnam) ON MY MIND


Note: I wrote this from my prospective as a Huey helicopter crew-chief, while flying during the Vietnam war.


Helicopters, “Gooks,” “Dinks,” Charlie” and these are just a few,

Of the names on my mind and I just don’t know what to do.

Tracer’s, M-16, mortars, grenades launchers, weapons of destruction,

Napalm, tanks, rockets, claymore’s, this place is in such desolation.

Rice paddy, elephant grass, dikes, tree tops, watch out for that tree,

What the heck are these words in my mind, they’re always bugging me.

Blow’em away, waste ‘em, kill the mothers we used to scream,

Don’t mean nothing, I don’t care anymore, dang what a bad dream.

Cold sweat, scared out the rear and keep your butt down low,

Why do I remember these things that I had rather not know.

You dope head, pothead, drunkard are you tripping out tonight?

In that shape you’d better not search out Charlie and try to fight.

Rainstorm, mon-soon, mud and dang mosquitoes are all around,

Incoming again! Get your butt down, hurry get on the ground.

ARVINS and Grunts they are always radioing at the worse time,

Dang this mud and filth, I am sick and tired of this stinking slime.

DEROS, ETS, getting short, some good thing’s to think of and  to ponder,

I think I see it, look up there, the (freedom bird) is way up yonder.

Going home, rocket attack, I’m scared, let’s get this plane off the ground,

I can hardly believe it, I am actually and finally homeward bound.

Stinking jungle, rice paddies and heat, fighting all day long,

“We gotta’ get out of this place,” now that was my favorite song.

Viet Nam Vet’s, pitiful bunch and worthless so it seemed to society,

We spent a year in hell for that bunch in Washington and all their piety.



Gooks-What we called the Viet Cong and NVA soldiers

Dinks- What we called the ARVINS (South Vietnamese soldiers)

Charlie- Another name for the Viet Cong civilian soldiers

NVA-North Vietnamese Army (regular well trained soldiers)

DEROS- Means basically, Leaving Vietnam and going home.

ETS- Getting out of the Army.

Freedom Bird-The big jet airplane that flew us home.

NEW POST 1/31/14 Chapter 3 From my book “IN ENEMY TERRITORY”

Chapter Three


Fort Carson Colorado

       Having spent all of my thirty-day leave, it was now time to go to my next duty station, which was Fort Carson, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. My last day home. I had car trouble just before I was to leave. I had to replace my camshaft. I was leaving home on the day I was supposed to report in to Fort Carson. I had six hundred and thirty five miles to drive. I was going to be a day late and was probably going to get into trouble.

Leaving early in the morning of my reporting day, noticing I had driven only about one hundred miles, my oil light came on. I pulled over and checked the oil and it was three quarts low. Looking under the motor and realizing the timing chain cover gasket was leaking. I didn’t have time to fix it, so I went to the nearest auto supply and bought a case of oil. Every one hundred miles or so I had to add three quarts.

As I approached Amarillo, which was about half way to Fort Carson, I pulled into the Air Force base there to use their telephone to call ahead and let the Army know  I was going to be as day late. The Security Police at the Air Force base told me the military allowed a day of grace when traveling, thus allowing me to be there the next day and not be in any trouble or AWOL as we called it.

Leaving the Air Force base around four o’clock that afternoon I proceeded on to Fort Carson arriving there at five o’clock AM the next morning.

I checked into the reception station and got about three hours of sleep. After eating breakfast I went to get my orders for the 158th Aviation Battalion. That was where all my classmates were and I was anxious to see them all again.

When I got my orders, they read attached to the 518tc Detachment, Fort Carson, Colorado. I told them there must be some sort of mistake. I was supposed to be going to the 158th Aviation Battalion in a build up unit for Vietnam. They told me all the billets were filled the day before and I was to proceed to the post aviation company.

I was upset with the whole situation. I thought the Army doesn’t care of anyone’s situation. I was only a number and my number was not needed anymore for the 158th. I did not know at the time just how the Lord was working things out in my life, all I knew that I was not going to get to go to Vietnam with my friends from aviation school and be associated with the 101st. Airborne Division.

Here I was, stuck on post with the 518th TC Det., an aircraft maintenance detachment  attached to the 283rd aviation company, post aviation. I was multi- talented or let’s say I had other skills other than flying. When checking  in the First Sergeant asked, “Do you know how to type. I told him, “yes.” I took typing in high school. He asked me if I would prefer to work in the unit supply room instead of going to the airfield and working on helicopters. I said, “I had never worked in supply, but if you need me there, I’ll go.”

For the next eight months I learned the in’s and outs of the Army supply system. Actually being in the unit supply was a good job. I was always in the company area, the chow hall was across the street and my barracks were next door.

During the winter months of 1968, being in a warm supply room was nice and I was thankful not to be out in the hangar where it was cold all the time. I never knew there was so much to learn. I had a good teacher. The old supply sergeant had been in the Army for over twenty years and he knew everything about the supply system.

About three months later all my friends told me good by for it would be the last time I would ever see any of them again. They packed all their helicopters and other gear and were shipped off to Vietnam.

Tears were in my eyes as I saw the last C-141 lift off from Fort Carson airfield. I felt lonely, all my buddies gone off to war and me, left behind to put up the lifers at Fort Carson. I thought it just wasn’t fair.

I went back to my job at the supply room. I wasn’t interested in doing anything the rest of the day. I asked Sergeant Mitchell my supply sergeant if I could leave early and he said sure take the rest of the day off. He really was good to me and I always appreciated him, he was a good man.

Going back to my barracks, I asked my bunkmate who was already a Vietnam veteran, “How does one ask for a transfer to go somewhere else.” He told me that I would have to submit a 1049 form.

I obtained a 1049 form and filled it out. The place where it said to transfer, I put Vietnam. I came to Fort Carson to train and to go to Vietnam to fight for my country. I did not want spend the rest of my three-year enlistment stuck at Fort Carson or any other base in the U.S.

After one week I got a reply from my 1049. It was denied. I thought I couldn’t believe the Army denied a transfer to Vietnam, especially a person with a critical MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). It just didn’t make sense. Again, I was upset with the Army. Now I knew why I made the decision not to go to West Point, it was crap like that I did not like.

Upon getting to Fort Carson, I still hadn’t received my official orders promoting me to SP/4. I told my company commander. He didn’t give me any results on the matter. I decided to go over his head and go the post IG (Inspector General).

In the Army one is not supposed to go bypass his superiors without permission, and since I was not too keen on my superiors, I went anyway.

Going to the Post Inspector General is about as high as one can go to get results in the Army. I told the IG about the Army losing my orders for my promotion to SP/4. I told him that I was in the top ten percent of my class, and that was an automatic promotion. I went back to the IG the next week. I went into his office and he handed me my orders for SP/4. He told me that the Army had misplaced my class records, but everything was in good order now. I thanked him and went to the Base Exchange and bought me a pair of SP/4 patches                                                                                                                                                                     When the formal orders came down thru channels a week or so later, I was called into the first sergeants office. He commenced to chew on me for going over the head of the CO. I told him that I hadn’t received any results from him or the CO. He was furious with me. Funny thing, the next night, I had guard duty for the first time. I knew what was going on.

The next day after I got off guard duty I put in another 1049 to Vietnam. It was denied also. The next week I put in for another 1049, denied.

I was then put on KP (Kitchen Duty). I thought this thing has gone too far. I decided to go on sick call before I reported for KP. The army cannot deny you to go on sick call nor deny you to go to church. I went directly to the dispensary and did not tell the head kitchen cook nor anyone else what I was doing that morning.

When I finally got to see the doctor, I told him what was going on in my company, and I was sick and tire of all the crap I was receiving from the First Sergeant and CO. To my surprise and luck, the doctor told me that he was getting out of the army in a month. He told me he would give me a doctors form stating, I was not to pull KP and no prolonged standing, which would keep me off guard duty.   He in fact ordered me a second mattress for my hurting back. I thanked him, he laughed and told me if they give you any hassle just let him know, he would bring the wrath of the Army down on them. He even gave me a prescription for the pain in my back; to me it was more for the pain in my neck for the idiots I was subjected to.

It was around eleven o’clock a.m. that I made my way back to the First Sergeants office. When I walked in he commenced to threaten me with an article 15 because of insubordination, not going to the mess hall for KP duty. I handed him my yellow sheet from the doctor. As the first sergeant read it, his face turned three shades of red.

It read: Specialist 4 Strait is not to preform KP duty nor guard duty because of his chronic back pain. No prolong standing and no heavy lifting.  He is to have a second mattress with a support between mattresses.

He looked up at me and said, get out of my office. With a slight grin, I turned and went out.

I had been at Fort Carson for about eight months by then, and the doctor’s report was the final straw, because the next time I put in for transfer for Vietnam, low and behold it came thru. I was elated, finally I am going to get out of this sorry company and away from these incompetent idiots who are in command.

I didn’t get up the next day until around nine a.m. I had never got to sleep in like that before, but now I was officially out of the 518th TC Det. And starting my out-processing. I was in limbo; I didn’t belong to anyone at the time. Being on my own and not caring how long it took me to out process.

On the third day of my out processing something happened that I just could hardly believe. The whole 518th Detachment got its orders for Vietnam as a unit. I thought by the Grace of God I would not be going with them. I laughed when I found out they were all going together. I figured the First Sergeant and company commander didn’t want me going with them and that is why I finally got my transfer. I really didn’t care, I was going as an individual replacement and they were going as a unit.  One week later after receiving my orders I was off to Texas for my thirty-day leave.

Upon arriving back home, I did the usual. I visited all my kinfolks in the area. The next week I went over to Mississippi to visit my Dad and my little brother Randy. My Aunt Pat prepared a special dinner in my honor. I thought what a nice thing to do. I have never forgotten her for having a special meal for me.

I stayed in Mississippi for one week and went back to Texas. I goofed around with my friends several more days.  My last day at home I went back to my mothers for the last night home.

Leaving the next evening, riding my brothers 305 Honda Scrambler, I pulled up to a stoplight. While at the light I looked over to the car next to me and nodded at the guy. He knew what I meant. When the light turned green, we both took off like a bat out of hell.

I basically ran off and left him behind. Speeding down the boulevard, I turned to get upon the expressway to go thru downtown Dallas. With the motorcycle exhaust baffles wide open and my head ducked down, I looked to my left side and realized a police car with red lights flashing was beside me.

I slowed down below the speed limit and I noticed the policeman waving me to pull over. When I stopped on the shoulder, the policeman pulled in behind me. He jumped out of his car and proceeded to jump all over me. He was a tough talking Sergeant and I thought, “I’m going to jail.” The Sergeant told me that he had radioed ahead for a roadblock. I said, “What for.” He then listed the violations. “Contest of speed, speeding, no drivers license, anti-noise, failing to stop, not giving proper hand traffic signals and wreck less driving.”

I told him I did not know he was behind me. He said, “Hell, I wonder why with those loud exhaust pipes you couldn’t hear my siren. After he chews me out, I told him I was sorry to cause so much trouble. About then the other police car pulled behind his car. He went and told the other officer to go on.

When he came back with his ticket book in his hand, I commenced to tell him it was my last night home before I was to be shipped out for Vietnam. He asked me if I had any orders. I said, “As a matter of fact I do.”

He read the orders. And his countenance changed. Instead of being this raving mad cop about to throw the book at me, he changed into the nicest person I could imagine.

We were on the side of the expressway having what seemed like a father to son conversation. He told me that he was proud of me going to serve our country. He then told me that he was not going to give me a ticket. I sure was relieved. After thinking him, he told me to be careful over there and to drive the rest of the way safely. I started the motorcycle and drove the rest of the way obeying the traffic laws.

The next day I was off to the airport to catch a flight to Vietnam, via Fort Lewis Washington.


My other two Chapters are at the beginning of the blog. If you haven’t already read them.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

God Bless You.


Chapter two

Fort Rucker Alabama


       Up at six am. Hurry to the chow hall for a quick breakfast. My last meal at Fort Polk Louisiana. I get on the waiting Army bus and I am off to southern Alabama to Fort Rucker, home of Army Aviation.

For the next nine hours I experienced the comforts of a big OD green U.S. Army bus. The only comfort was the thought that I was leaving basic training for good and off to another adventure. I was excited about going to Fort Rucker; I was now going to learn all about Army Aviation. What I didn’t know was which type of Army Aviation.

In my mind I was thinking of flying and working on the executive aircraft such as the type that fly the big brass around. I just knew I would be associated with the Army’s Rockwell four engine executive jet airplane. Actually I didn’t mind if I was assigned to a nice turboprop executive aircraft or something similar. All the way to Fort Rucker I dreamed about the nice job I was going to have being in Army aviation, just as the recruiter said, when I signed up for an extra year to get guaranteed aviation school.

I arrived at Fort Rucker late in the night. The bus unloaded us at the reception station. I only had about five hours of sleep before going to a large room where all of the orders were handed out for the different schools.

After receiving my orders, I started to read what it said. To be assigned to Helicopter Training Facility, Fort Rucker Alabama. Class 205. Arrival date May 25, 1968. Report 0700 hrs. UH-1 Helicopter maintenance school.

Helicopter maintenance school! There must be some mistake. No one ever told me of going to helicopter school. I thought, “helicopters were all in Vietnam and they were the objects on television every night that were getting shot down or shot at.”

The recruiter told me that I was guaranteed aviation school. Well lo and behold I got aviation school all right, typical Army screwing. It’s like they don’t tell you the whole truth or only what they want you to know. So, there I am stuck in helicopter maintenance school. I can’t believe this; well yes, I guess I can.

My first school was named 67A10. That is the initial school for Army maintenance and it was geared toward the UH-1 (Huey) helicopter.  One might want to know where the Huey get its name. When the helicopter was first manufactured it was designated the HU-1A (Iroquois). The HU-1A if pronounced by (especially by the good ole boys) it sounds like HUA or HUAAY thus HUEY which made more sense. Since the Huey was made in Fort Worth, Texas, we figured being good ole boys we could pronounce it any way we wanted.

Later in 1962 the designation of the Huey changed from HU-1A to UH-1A, but the moniker Huey stuck. In fact Bell put the name Huey on the anti torque pedals starting in 1962. When the models change or upgrades were made the designation would change also such as the UH-1B, UH-1C and the model that I was in training for was primarily the model UH-1D. The name Huey was also the name for the future cobra attack helicopter designated the AH-1 Huey Cobra.

So there I was in school with about twenty other guys. Most all of us joined the Army and a very few were drafted, because the need for helicopter maintenance and crew chief personnel was very critical in Vietnam.

The school was easy for me because of my experience with mechanic work while in high school. I was always working on my various cars and also doing work on other kids cars. I knew tools and how to use them. I was a very good mechanic.

Aircraft maintenance is a little different from auto mechanics. Working on aircraft you had to really watch out for the little things such making sure when you were finished a task and you had all you tools back in you tool box. Leaving a missing tool in the helicopter could be catastrophic and could cause a helicopter to crash. Safety was drilled into our heads.

After a couple of months the first school was over. I finished in the top ten percent of my class. I made the rank of PFC because of my grades. I thought that was pretty good, being in the Army hardly five months and I was already a Private First Class (PFC). There were a few guys that didn’t fare so well. The ones that failed or weren’t up to the standard of the Army were reassigned to mostly go to Vietnam, either as a door gunner or assigned to another Army Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) I always assumed that meant they would become infantry.

The rest of us in the class plus a few more that joined our class were assigned to the next level of maintenance on the Huey. That designation was called 67N20. Helicopter repairman gas turbine school. Now we were going to be learning strictly about the UH-1 Huey.

In 67N20 school we actually had hands on experience of the Huey. I learned a lot from the classes. We were up at six in the morning and we marched to class leaving around seven thirty in the morning.

After a week of class I got a wild hair and decided to go back home and get a Honda 305 scrambler motorcycle that belonged to my brother Don. Early on a Saturday morning I went down to another training company area where my good friend Lloyd was. He and I went to high school together. I finally convinced Lloyd to go with me.  He was very reluctant, but he gave in.

We hitch hiked from Fort Rucker to my dad’s house in Newton, Mississippi which was about three hundred miles away. Upon arrival late Saturday after noon, I borrowed my dad’s pick up truck and Lloyd and I proceeded to Dallas, Texas another five hundred miles. We arrived in the wee hours Sunday morning at my brother Don’s house. After eating breakfast and loading up the motorcycle, Lloyd and I went to the town of Seagoville where we were from and visited for a while. We left for Mississippi about lunchtime.

Only having slept since Saturday morning for only a couple of hours we finally made it to my dads house and unloaded the motorcycle. We left my dads around ten pm. We had another three hundred miles to riding in the dark of night on a motorcycle that had knobby tires and was geared for climbing and had a small bench seat that barely would fit two people.

I started off driving with Lloyd on the back. With the noise of the exhaust and the vibration of the knobby tires caused all of our extremes to sleep. I remember when we finally got to Montgomery, Alabama that I was so tired and sleepy. Lloyd slept  leaning on my back. My hands were aching, my back was aching from Lloyd sleeping, but the thing that was the most hurting was my lack of sleep.

Some where south of Montgomery I pulled over knowing we were running out of time to get back before class Monday morning. I told Lloyd he was going to have to drive some; I just couldn’t stay awake any longer. Riding on the back I then leaned on Lloyds back and somehow slept. Somewhere just north of Fort Rucker I went back to driving. We drove into Fort Rucker a little after seven in the morning. I dropped off Lloyd and proceeded to my class area. As I was driving up the other class members were falling out to get into formation to go to class.

I ran in and threw my uniform on and caught up with everyone right before they reached the classroom. Talk about someone who was a tired puppy. I slept in class as much as I could.

A week or so later I was bored as usual so I went down to the post educational center to see what they had for entertainment in the way of books. After being there for a while I started talk with the civilian man who ran the center. I told him I was always bored and my school was going well but I didn’t need to study because I seemed to learn everything I needed in class, that was why I was there, I needed more brain stimulation.

He asked me if I would like to take a test. I said, “what kind of test?” He said it would evaluate my education level and let me know what I really needed to be studying.

I took the test and gave it back to him. He told me to come back the next week to get the results. A week later I went back to the educational center and when I walked in the man who ran the place recognized me and asked me to sit down.  He asked me if I would like to go to West Point Military Academy. I told him I thought a person had to have a congressional appointment to go to the academy. He informed me I was in the Army and I did not need a congressional appointment. He said my test scores were high enough to qualify for the academy. The only catch was that I would have to go to Savanna, Georgia to a preparatory school the first year to get me ready for the academy. He told me to think about it and get back with him.

I went back to the barracks and thought about the opportunity I had before me. Just think going to the same place my hero Patton and others like McArthur and Eisenhower went.

I thought long and hard about the opportunity. I didn’t call my mother or anyone else about the matter. I knew what they would say. I wanted to make this decision on my own. I knew for a fact that I already did not like the Army. Question was, did I want to spend the next twenty or thirty years wearing a green uniform and always have someone over me telling me what they want me to do whether I liked it or not.

I went back to the education center and told the man I had made a decision, not to take the Army up on going to West Point. I thanked him for offering me the opportunity and went back to my barrack

Finally the day came for graduation from helicopter maintenance school. Again I was in the top ten percent of my class and I was promoted to Specialist fourth class. In the Army only six months and now a SP-4. Not bad I thought.

My whole class received orders to deploy for Vietnam together. We were on our way to Fort Carson Colorado for a build up unit to be part of the famous 101st Airborne Division.

We all thought we were pretty cool. We would be wearing the screaming eagle patch and be a part of the famous division that served proudly in World War 2.

Going home for a leave and on to Fort Carson.