Vietnam War Stories
being a Narrative of the War Experiences of the
First Platoon, A Co., 1/8 Cav., First Air Cavalry Division, 1967-1968

Contributors: Richard Lewis Dieterle, Jerry Prater, Doc Jim Aguirre,
Vic Castle, Lt. Jerome Church, Michael Dyess, Doc Don Ferguson,
Louis Hoerner, Capt. Thomas McAndrews, Larry E. Nunn, Ralph S. Ricedorf,
William Bruce Thomas, Cliff Veazie, Wayne R. Westenberger, Larry Winslow



Richard L. Dieterle
“The Deacon”

  diete003@umn.edu  


Jerry Prater

  jerryprater1018@yahoo.com  


Archive Location, 2011-2016

Episodes
You’re in the Army Now (1966), by Jerry Prater
my strict Christian upbringing and family background — my tenure at Abilene Christian College — I graduate from North Texas State — my first job — my marriage — draft notice arrives the very day we get back from our Honeymoon — my Hollywood concept of the Army causes me some dread
Basic Training at Fort Polk (Dec. 12, 1966 - Feb. 24, 1967), by Jerry Prater
arrival at Ft. Polk — I decide not to be a conscientious objector — our first day spent processing — the next day: crew cuts and standing at attention — our barracks and drill sergeants — fire watch and KP — how we entered the mess hall and how we had to eat — my 14 day leave — the rigorous exercises inflicted on “fat boys” — I cover for Larry Nunn — I barely qualify on the M-14 — I’m devastated to discover that I’m being assigned to the Infantry — only about a dozen of us board the truck to Tiger Land
Ft. Polk – Tiger Land (Feb. 25, 1967), by Jerry Prater
AIT at Tiger Land, Ft. Polk — Larry Nunn and Ed House — the Battalion Comander lays out our duties — cadence — qualifying on the M-16 — in rifle training I first experience the sound of bullets coming towards me — other weapons that we trained on — the evasion course — John Heflin
Arrival in Country (May, 1967), by Richard Dieterle
orientation in Oakland — flight to Cam Ranh Bay, stewardesses run the gauntlet — Pleiku — I get assigned to A 1/8 as I had once asked
From the World to the 1st Cav (April - May, 1967), by Jerry Prater
on leave after AIT, I tell my family that I expect to go to the 4th Infantry Division — time with my wife — flight to Oakland — duties in Oakland — flight to the Philippines — plane takes nose dive and returns to Clark Field — second flight to the Nam — arrival at Pleiku — 1st Cav suffers losses, so some of us were selected as replacements — Camp Radcliff — assignment to Company A, 1/8 Cav — House, Nunn, Schmidt and I catch a chopper to A Co. — I almost fall out of the chopper — we report to Lt. Pape of the 1st Platoon
So, You’re the New Guy! (May, 1967), by Jerry Prater
initiation to a combat unit — the differences between veterans and “cherries” — the ordeal of pulling guard at night — “Hand Grenade” Brown’s trick — a skirmish erupts — Lt. Pape uses me as a guinea pig
The War Dance (May, 1967), by Richard Dieterle
a tent in An Khê — the veterans hold a wild war dance — Indian ways — the story of a stunning tragedy
Friendly Fire (Late May, 1967), by Jerry Prater
the dangerous inability to identify the enemy — the problem of defending against friendly fire — Schmidt accidently discharges his grenade launcher — Schmidt does this a second time — an incident with a claymore mine — the patrol the next day — we are shot at by our own people while bathing in a pool — we receive H & I fire while out on an OP — the Vietnamese Police fire wildly around a village that we were surrounding on a cordon operation
The Chopper Crash (May 26, 1967), by Jerry Prater
the importance and consequences of the crash — the flight to LZ Quick (Hill 641) — the terrain of Hill 641 — the first chopper lands without incident — the crash of the second chopper — extensive casualties — the third chopper nearly crashes — Veazy banged up as he is thrown from the chopper — Veazy's further misadventures in the rough descent of the First Platoon down the mountainside — Hoerner's gruesome task — how SSgt. Nottage's precautions saved Hoerner's life
Romeo and Juliet for Real (June, 1967), by Richard Dieterle
we sweep a town — Archuleta, the most respected man in the company — a couple is cornered in a bunker — their fate
The Death of Gerrit John “Doc” Schouwburg (June 23, 1967), by Jerry Prater
Doc Schouwburg’s background — the problem of my grenade coming unscrewed and falling off — Doc returns to me the body of my grenade with the comment that he is too short to be killed by carelessness — I get rid of the grenade — the cordon with Charlie Company at Tấn Lộc overnight — I am awakened by an explosion — down the line, a medevac comes in — we learn that Doc was killed with a grenade — my revenge
The Short LRRP (Late June, 1967), by Jerry Prater
the purpose of the long range reconnaissance patrol — I am selected for a 6 man lrrp — our covert departure in the boonies — contact with the enemy — I retrieve their bodies from the stream — another lrrp sent out the next day — I run out of water — the severe consequences of dehydration — I learn to keep my canteens full
The Firefight of 2 July 1967 at Túy An (1), the accounts of Richard Flanders, and the After Action Report of Major Robert RisCassi, Battalion S-3
Richard Flanders’ (2 Platoon) account. AAR: part of "A" Company, accompanied by tanks, links up with "D" Company to approach the abandoned village of Túy An (1) — they make contact with the 22 NVA Reg and a vicious firefight results — the rest of "A" Company comes in relief from LZ Geronimo by foot — the tanks overrun enemy positions at Hill Zebra, but do not knock them out — the infantry fights its way through — artillery expenditures during the fight

The Road to Disaster (July 4, 1967), by Richard Dieterle
third of July at LZ English —weapons of the dead — wild chopper ride to LZ Geronimo — funeral service — trek to the sea — the ordeal of the march — Davis looses foot — Sgt. Witcher killed — war crime avoided — tanks take the lead


Another View of the Road to Disaster (July 4, 1967), by Jerry Prater, Cliff Veazie, and Jim Aguirre
the trip on tanks to a place near the sea — the intense heat — choppers see a man digging by the roadside ahead of us — Davis steps on a mine — Lt. Rooney orders me and three others to check the foliage on the flank — Sgt. Witcher stops me from bypassing a steep rise, and goes around it himself — Sgt. Witcher blown to pieces, I am knocked down — Nunn and I have minor shrapnel wounds — Doc Aguirre reaches the scene — I reflect on the fact that if past is prologue, the future looks grim
The Observation Post Duty (Early July, 1967), by Jerry Prater
Sgt. Prock assigns us an OP after a hard day's trek in the tropical heat — what we carried, and how the radio was used — walking to the OP site — smoking on the OP and the dangers it presented — I try to suppress my cough by lying down, but this causes me to fall asleep — Sgt. Prock makes all the members of the OP return the next night because I had fallen asleep — I find ways to stay awake — at first light, we returned to LZ Geronimo
The Mad 79’er (Early July, 1967), by Richard Dieterle
the nature of the White Sand Dunes — I get high — the “Mad 79’er”
Jumping Jehosaphats (July, 1967), by Richard Dieterle
how to break both ankles — the utility of the same — the choppers ferry us to a mountain — I have to jump from a very great height — the expert on broken ankles injures his
Help (Mid-July, 1967), by Richard Dieterle
we are assigned a night operation — the role of the dog — whispering communication — we go around in a circle — screams from a booby trap — we ignore sniper fire — Lt. Rooney humps an entire mortar
The Bad, The Ugly & The Awful (July, 1967), by Jerry Prater
The Bad: a cordon operation — an enemy soldier runs between our positions — how I dodged the bullets that he fired at me; The Ugly: the effect of constant cordon operations on sleep — I set up on a small rise — I somnambulantly flick on my cigarette lighter — a flurry of bullets come my way; The Awful: new platoon leader tests us — a tactical blunder puts me in an offal field — the error corrected, and the lieutenant later removed.
Cordon and Search Missions, (June - August, 1967) by Jerry Prater, with Capt. Tom McAndrews (Company Commander) and Lt. Jerome Church (Platoon Leader)
the nature and purpose of cordon operations — the added dangers of such an operation — preparations the night before — moving in the darkness and its difficulties — getting lost — coordinating the link up of platoons — how I became an enemy target — the role of the National Police and their dangerous practices — completing the mission by rounding up suspects and contraband
My Time in the Hospital (July 4 - Aug. 14, 1967), by Jerry Prater
how I was wounded — I am treated in the field where I remain — as the wounds deteriorate, the field medic shows little concern — Sgt. Prock orders me to have doctors examine my leg — the doctor at LZ Two Bits decided the wound was bad enough to send me to the hospital at Qui Nhon — despite many seriously wounded soldiers there, I am sent to the front of the line — I am in danger of losing the leg, and I am put on 100% bed rest — washing off the field — boredom and limited activities — I am suddenly released and rejoin my unit — it takes several days to regain my strength — effects of the wound today
The Great Hump (August 4, 1967), by Richard Dieterle
humping the An Lão mountains — blowing up giant boulders — cutting down a mountain cornfield — the exhausting march up and down the mountains — massive cramps — dozens of Montagnards show up at our perimeter, we take care of them — (photo of two Montagnards getting C-rations) — burning off the scrub (photo)
The White Plain (August 5, 1967), by Richard Dieterle
the terrain in the plain — we get serenaded by a spotter plane — stop and set up early — shade tents (photo) — Charlie-Charlie stops by (photo) — (photo of popping red smoke)
LZ Sandra (Aug. 2 - Mid-Aug., 1967), by Richard Dieterle
flying into LZ Sandra — my letter home — throwing a hand grenade like a frisbee — Care packages — artillery and tinnitus — traditions of the Cavalry

The Death of Root (Aug. 21, 1967), by Richard Dieterle
impending election — people leave their village in our direction — Root — contact — Root killed, Gunsaulas injured — hamlet burned — tank — one killed, the rest get away — I am sent to Language School


The Day Roger Root Was Killed (Aug. 21, 1967), by Jerry Prater, Jerome Church, Wayne Westenberger, and Michael Dyess
disposition of the squads — an NVA soldier spotted at the bottom of a hole — Gunsaulas and Root enter a building and are shot — Root dies in Westenberger’s arms — tank moves up and blows a body out from beneath the ground — appeared to be an underground medical compound — village burnt — compound bulldozed — the character of Root

Harry Harvil (Sept. - Dec., 1967), by Richard Dieterle
I meet Harry Harvil at Language School — a Moslem from Texas — his adventures during his Hajj — some of the old Ludwig Van — his language skills and his girl friend in Bồng Sơn — I meet a Palestinian in the US Army — death of Harvil’s friend in a rocket attack — my hot argument with Harvil’s lieutenant — the fantasy-world “intelligence” briefing — I ignore a guard who threatens to shoot me
Airstrike on the Bunkers (Sept. 3, 1967), by Jerry Prater, with Jim Aguirre
the advantages of being air mobile — we take fire from an enemy bunker on a nearby hill — we air assault to the top of the hill — the difficulties of the terrain — 2 Platoon makes contact with the NVA — our gun crew ends up in a dry swale — airstrikes send shrapnel our way — a terrifying close call — what was left of the enemy — we return to LZ Santana by air
Willie Bridge Firefight (Sept. 24, 1967), by Jerry Prater, with Jerome Church, and William Bruce Thomas
taking a duster to Willie Bridge — the NVA hit the platoon at night — my M-16 jams — screams of the wounded — Stamper and Thomas wounded by shrapnel — death of Archuleta and Yelland — Lt. Church ordered to stay on LZ Willie — Heath wounded and his gun knocked out — instead of reinforcements or medevac, the battalion commander lands alone — Battalion Commander nicked in the ear — we repel the NVA attack — we almost shoot our own reinforcements — rumors of my death greatly exaggerated — commander of the First Cav gives out medals — the DSC given to Lt. Col. Jenkins – an officer's account of the action at Willie Bridge (with a map) — the actual situation at Willie Bridge (a map) — the citation for Lt. Col. Jenkins' medal
Blown Up (Oct. 6, 1967), by Richard Dieterle
Charlie Co. war criminals assigned to us — fire put out with our own canteen water — we set up where foxholes had already been dug — hot food flown in — man blown to pieces as I watched — bits of intestine land in my food
LZ Mustang (Oct. 11, 1967), by Richard Dieterle
we enter An Lão Valley — its reputation and ruin — the old French bridge — the old French fort where we build LZ Mustang — cutting fields of fire in the monsoon — Army anti-intellectualism — short round — the bombardment of an NVA bunker complex — inspection by the high Brass — what price democracy ? — we leave the valley for the mountains
The Great Ambush (Oct. 25-26, 1967), by Richard Dieterle
I get a couple of special treats — pulling point — nearly swept away crossing a river — set up in an old rice paddy — the enemy walks right into our perimeter — one killed, the other escapes — Truck accidentally sets off his claymore — we move in the night — the return — Prof. van Tulp
Skirmish at the White Sand Dunes (Nov. 4, 1967), by Richard Dieterle
night skirmish — two teenagers brought to us wounded — we are told that they were later murdered by the chopper crew — a revelation in my old age
Thanksgiving (Nov. 9 - 23, 1967), by Richard Dieterle
my family's military background — my grandma's father's brush with a cannon ball — my belief that I would never be hit with solid shot — our activities on the 9th of November — our new middle-aged Sergeant — smoke rounds — a smoke round skips off the fallow paddy with grim results — solid shot is still with us — sanitation in the rear and in the field — the outhouse and the cat hole — Alcala's misadventure — answering a call of nature: American vs. Vietnamese — burning human dung — intestinal worms — our special Thanksgiving Day in the field — after a true Army mess, we are sort of thankful
The Firefight at Đại Đồng (Dec. 7 - 9, 1967), by Richard Dieterle
contact made at Đại Đồng with the NVA — the death of Lt. Sullivan and the strange assault upon him — we fly in on a flight of Hueys — we link up with Bravo Co. and move on line — Bravo Co. takes KIAs — Mechanized Infantry join us — we are shot to pieces in an open field — death of Tewkesbury — most of Mechanized unit made casualties — “Bullet” Bouchard retrieves Tewkesbury’s body — scout chopper shot up — Bullet throws a WP grenade and is hit with a piece of phosphorus — carbine shots from our rear — Bullet jumps into an APC, charges and crushes an enemy bunker — general withdrawal — death of Winslow — Top hit by a falling tree — second assault — it stalls at the same place — an APC goes up in smoke — our center is “in the air” — individual assaults move the Infantry line forward — I assault a position with my rifle accidentally in the “off” position — our platoon split — I run part way to them and signal them to come up — Thomas advances with his machine gun right up to the enemy entrenchments — we rush the enemy trench — four NVA killed at point blank range — other enemy soldiers found on our right — Charlie Co. shot up by Guns à Go-Go — next day begins with a barrage — miraculous escape from death — massive CS gas attack, half the company without gas masks — hit by pinhead-sized ’79 shrapnel — I knock out a bunker pulling the pin of the grenade with my teeth — we return to LZ English the next day on just one Chinook chopper — “Wild Bill Elliott” Jenkins says good-bye — After Action Report — newspaper account — DSC citation for “Bullet” Bouchard — the entry on "Bullet" Bouchard in the Congressional Record — a poem by Maj. David O. Valandry
Almost a Friendly Murder, by Richard Dieterle
how we set up for the night using ponchos — I settle down for a night’s sleep — a machine gun opens up, and I barely escape “friendly fire” with my life
The Firing Line, by Richard Dieterle
the old time firing line — ARVN lead comes our way — I do not take cover
Deacon, What’s This? by Richard Dieterle
R.’s character and determination — picking up a booby trap — Blue Deacon with “F” Device — a nice ceremony
The Dead Forest, by Richard Dieterle
a forest of gray trees — Agent Orange
Sergeant Washburn and Lieutenant Moore (Late December, 1967 - February 1, 1968), by Richard Dieterle
the positive role played by Sgt. Washburn — Washburn's daring one-man patrol — his success — Lt. Moore takes over our platoon — the tension between Washburn and Moore — Moore's encounter with a suicide squad — their grisly end — a routine set up in the boonies — fatal shots in the twilight
Riding the Skids, or, An Army of One (March ?, 1968), by Richard Dieterle
the meaning of “riding the skids” — the sensation of flying in midair — my first experience — “Sky King” — I ignore the ban on riding the skids — the problem of a hot LZ — how I almost became an “Army of One”
Homosexual Incident (March, 1968), by Richard Dieterle
we search for a company moniker — one of our guys gets a dozen homosexual letters at once — he later rapes an 80 year old man — the Marines think up a company nickname for us — rapist returned to the field in the hope that he would be assassinated
The Lost Platoon — the Tragedy of March 25 (March 25, 1968), by Richard Dieterle
taking it easy on LZ Sharon — 75 NVA bodies strung out along the road — lieutenants discuss taking action against me for smoking grass — news that 2 Platoon made contact — gunner’s arm almost shot off — 2 Platoon “lost,” surrounded but protected by artillery FO — they cannot break out — the vast fleet of slicks that come to pick us up — I jump from a very great height — the frustration of our probe — the death of Giddings and Orwig — our Chiêu Hồi deserts — firing through a cloud of CS gas — we attack in XVIIIth century style, but told not to fire our weapons — we make contact, but have to fall back — small arms fire directed at my Gun, we fall back to next hedge row — B-40 rocket kills Witt and Schmidt — we are back at the tree line — 2 Platoon fends off the enemy — we return to where we started — I am given an anti-tank weapon — mortar attack followed by B-40 rocket — decimation of the 1st Platoon: death of Leonard and Thoman — our guys in the rear show up for us — enemy withdraws during the night — liberation of the 2 Platoon — tragic letter — Operational Report
The Death of Giddings (March 25, 1968), by Larry E. Nunn, with Jerry Prater
the burden of command for those who rose from the rank of Private — air assault to Thôn Xuân Dương — I appoint Giddings to be the point man — heavy enemy fire: Giddings hit and pinned down — the fire was so heavy that we could not cover Giddings — Giddings shot dead — the pain of losing a long time friend — my feelings of responsibility for his death
Khe Sanh Campaign (April 5, 1968), by Richard Dieterle
I am given command of the guns — the Marines in a fix — air assault to establish LZ Snapper — the Guns of Co Roc — guns miss us — moonscape — B-52s shake the earth — the tragic fate of the 1/5 — Operational Report
Staying Awake (April 6, 1968), by Richard Dieterle
our position on a spit outside Khe Sanh — enemy probe alarm — two new men flown in — how one of them stayed awake — Medevac
A Shot in the Dark (April 8, 1968), by Richard Dieterle
the jungle in I Corps — NVA spotter walks up to our position and is shot — After Action Report
Thompson’s Hill (April 9-10, 1968), by Richard Dieterle
we run into the enemy concealed and dug in — death of Thompson — we return, enemy flees — the face of death — Thompson’s body lost at Đà Nẵng — our FO shells enemy night convoy — After Action Reports
The Booby Trap (April 12, 1968), by Richard Dieterle
we fly to LZ Sharon only to leave it for the boonies — we set up at an old site — the K-9 dog sets off a booby trap — the death of a young man — the risky way we remedy the situation — we move to another site
R&R at China Beach (April, 1968), by Richard Dieterle
my watch is stolen — atmosphere of hostility — I nearly get caught with a bag of grass — mortar attack
Bravo Company’s CO Gives Advice, (April 22, 1968), by Richard Dieterle
a dopey idea — something for us to think about — I fire off a LAW
A Shâu Valley (April 26, 1968), by Richard Dieterle
plan to auto-gyro into A Shâu — commander of the whole division chews me out — we land without incident — tank knocked out, D Company captures a deuce and a half — digging in — walking through a minefield — the living black cloud — crash of the C-130 — a man crushed by an air drop — hit with a pebble while on guard — discipline problems — sergeant has his foot blown off — we steal rear echelon’s rations — a racist move against Lt. Ewing — Operational Report
Trip to Đà Nẵng (May, 1968), by Richard Dieterle
Mike and I chosen to go to Đà Nẵng — looking for Thompson’s body — “shortosis” — going through Phú Bài — Đà Nẵng is like being “back in the World” — incident with Air Force personnel — the ghoul ambulance driver — we do not find Thompson’s body
Welcome Home Baby Killer (May, 1968), by Jerry Prater
emotional wounds of combat veterans — I receive orders to leave Vietnam — Ed House and Larry Nunn are on my flight home — land at Ft. Lewis where we are given new uniforms — hostile protestors at the Seattle airport — prejudicial behavior of the stewardess — arrive at Dallas and run the gauntlet of another hostile crowd — welcomed home — people distanced themselves from combat veterans — my wife's betrayal and our divorce — the price we veterans paid
Why Am I Still in the Army? (May 21 - Dec., 1968), by Jerry Prater
options for concluding service — I report to 2Armor Division at Fort Hood, Texas — dragging out processing — the disrespect shown the old First Sergeant — riot training — training West Point cadets — I am charged for meals — Nunn and I become members of the Color Guard — frustrations with the Army — the Army refuses to give an exit physical — what the VA later found — the Army's failure to help veterans readjust to civilian life — despite all, my service time was one of the best times of my life

Topics
Glossary
Cav Patch, by Richard Dieterle
China Beach TV, by Richard Dieterle
Close Calls, by Richard Dieterle
Hand Grenade Brown, by Richard Dieterle
M-16, by Richard Dieterle
Medal of Honor, by Richard Dieterle
My Role as Interpreter, by Richard Dieterle (incomplete)
Water Torture, by Richard Dieterle

Killed in Action
✪  May 1967 - May 1968  ✪
A Statistical Chart of Casualties

Photographs
266 Photos, 1967-1968
Photographs of LZ Willie, 18 July 1967
Selected Photos from 1966
Photos from the 2015 Cav Reunion

Films
A Film Showing LZ Willy, 7/18/67

“A” Company Rosters, Vietnam War
31 July 1965, Ft. Benning
31 August 1965, Enroute
31 January 1966
28 July 1966 (now complete)
31 October 1966
31 December 1966
30 April 1969
31 October 1969
31 May 1970
30 November 1970 (incomplete)

Unit Strength
The Strength of Line Companies in the 1/8 Cavalry, 6 Nov. 67 - 29 May 68 (with a Graph)

The Odyssey of “A” Co. Across Vietnam
Index Page for Chronology (from DSJs)
Index Page for Mapped Chronology

General Maps
Southeast Asia
South Vietnam, Political and Topographical
Indochina, Air Fields
South Vietnam, USAF Air Bases
Indochina, Topography
South Vietnam, Administrative Districts
South Vietnam, Provinces and Corps Areas
Indochina, Military Regions
Indochina, Population Density
Indochina, Ethnolinguistic Groups
Percentage of the Viet Ethnic Group by Province
Indochina, Precipitation & Monsoon Air Flow
South Vietnam, Land Use and Vegetation
Indochina Infiltration Routes
Agent Orange Spray Missions

Maps of Places Within South Vietnam
Pleiku (Camp Halloway)
An Khê and Vicinity
An Khê (Camp Radcliff), Detailed
Qui Nhơn
Bồng Sơn, LZ English, LZ Two Bits
Bồng Sơn, the An Lão Valley, and Tam Quan
The White Sand Dunes and Liễu An (2)
Túy An (1) in Relation to LZ Geronimo
LZ Willie
The Actual Situation at Willie Bridge
LZ Sandra, LZ Mustang, and the An Lão Valley
LZ Mustang and the An Lão Valley
An Qúi (1), 9 November 1967
Đại Đồng in Relation to Tam Quan
Camp Evans and LZ Sharon
Thôn Xuân Dương and Quảng Trị
Thôn Xuân Dương (Detail)
Off LZ Sharon, 12 April 1968
A Lưới Airstrip in the A Shâu Valley
Khê Sanh Area
LZ Stud
Đà Nẵng

Links


A Company, First of the Eighth

Military Times Hall of Valor — Thomas D. Bouchard

Charlie Company 1st Battalion 8th Cavalry, 1968

Jumping Mustangs

8th Cavalry Regiment Association

8th Cavalry Regiment (United States), Wikipedia

1st Cavalry Division, America’s First Team

1st Battalion 8th Cavalry Regiment

1st Cav Memorials

1st Cavalry Division Museum

Crossed Sabres Newspaper

US Army Center of Military History


Other Sites by Richard Dieterle

The Encyclopedia of Hočąk (Winnebago) Mythology


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