4:39 | David Harrington describes the harrowing experience that flying in & out of Vietnam via chopper was every time. Facing enemy artillery fire and, at times, total darkness called for precision and focus from every member of the platoon.
Keywords : aircraft helicopter chopper airlift darkness focus precision perimeter VC (Viet Cong) artillery Mekong River Claymore mine
David Harrington recounts his upbringing in a military family which led him to enlist and attend basic training at Fort Dix in New Jersey.
David Harrington speaks on his time in Dong Tam and what it felt like to finally be able to enjoy some rest & relaxation under mortar fire.
David Harrington recounts his time as a platoon leader leading a mission to wipe out enemy combatants. After taking control over a small village, David Harrington called for artillery but an error with the maps led to some rounds coming too close for comfort.
David Harrington recounts a particularly harrowing experience fighting Viet Cong while his platoon was under heavy fire from RPGs at their company basecamp Camp Rowe. Harrington recounts one of his injuries and a member of his company that came to their rescue in that moment.
David Harrington talks about his shrapnel injury that led to his airlift and hasty surgery. For his time on the scouting mission that led to his injury, he received the Purple Heart and was amazed by one of the fellow recipients of the medal.
David Harrington remembers being sent home on leave only to return to combat in rural Vietnam. One particular experience left him without an escape route in the mountains, hoping for some friendly assistance.
Photos of MACV advisors and their South Korean counterparts provided by David Harrington. He fought as a MACV adviser to the South Vietnamese regional forces in 1968-69 after being rotated out of the 9th Infantry Division.
These photos of Mobile Riverine Force troops were provided by David Harrington. Mr. Harrington fought with the 47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta to destroy the Viet Cong presence in the Mekong.
David Harrington provided these photos, taken in mid 1971, of aerial views of the A Shau Valley. Mr. Harrington was an operations officer with the 101st Airborne Division and participated in the division's A Shau Valley operation.
Photos of David Harrington and his unit at Camp Eagle, a major combat base garrisoned by the 101st Airborne Division. Mr. Harrington was stationed at Camp Eagle as a operations officer for the division.
Photos of Dong Ha in 1971 provided by David Harrington. Mr. Harrington was at Dong Ha as an operations officer while determining if the NVA was preparing to launch a large scale offensive. That imminent offensive was the 1972 Easter Offensive.
Photos of Fire Base Tomahawk provided by David Harrington. FB Tomahawk was base near Hue that was garrisoned by the 101st Airborne Division. Mr. Harrington was stationed at FB Tomahawk while an operations officer for the 101st.
These photos of the ill-fated Operation Lam Son 719 were provided by David Harrington who was an operations officer with the 101st Airborne Division, which provided assistance to the ARVN forces invading Laos as part of Lam Son 719.
Photos of Hue in 1971 provided by David Harrington. Mr. Harrington was stationed near Hue at Fire Base Tomahawk while an operations officer for the 101st Airborne Division.
Photos of Quang Tri in 1971 provided by David Harrington. Mr. Harrington was an operations officer with the 101st Airborne Division and was sent to Quang Tri to determine if incoming ordnance was artillery, which would signal that an NVA offensive.
The patrols at the forward fire base were the scariest thing Larry Jennings did while in Vietnam. He was the supply sergeant but he also supported the line companies on their missions. Trip wires, rockets from bamboo tubes and mined bridges were a few of the dangers he faced. Then there was the sacred water buffalo.
They were hunkered down after fierce fighting when the call came from "Ghost 4-6." It was a group of wounded men who had pulled themselves together after the ill fated march to LZ Albany and were lost in the dark. George Forrest sent a patrol to find them, and in an incredible act of bravery, medic Daniel Torres stayed through the night with them and saved many men. Captain Forrest still had to write a gut-wrenching letter to the mother of a missing soldier. Part 3 of 4.
After the column was devastated by an NVA ambush, wounded Americans were scattered in the darkness. After his captain heard one such group calling for help on the radio, Freddie Owens joined a patrol to find them, guided by a gunshot every few minutes. Once there, medic Daniel Torres volunteered to stay with those who couldn't move and protected them through the night with medicine and a machine gun.
The NVA was a trained army, but the Viet Cong were ordinary people, and that included women, children and old people. Larry Jennings was constantly on edge as he rode by the rice paddies, wondering which one of the workers out there would suddenly fire on him. He spent some time off in Saigon, which had it's own problems.
In a letter home, Tommy Clack expressed his worry that something bad was going to happen and it did when his unit engaged the NVA near the Cambodian border. He saw the enemy soldier stand and fire the RPG that changed his life forever.
Larry Jennings saw some of the younger soldiers in Vietnam going astray with the local women, which he attributed to the very young age of the men. Out in the field, friendly fire was sometimes a problem, affecting our Australian and Korean allies as well.
The RPG that severed Joe McDonald’s foot didn’t kill him. The machine gun fire that hit him as he still tried to help others didn’t kill him. The grenade taped to his hand might have killed him if the VC had found his hiding place.
As Marine Captain Ron Christmas fought to regain the city of Hue, he found the enemy adept at concealment and surprise. Every soldier in a spider hole was armed with a rifle and a RPG launcher. He also encountered a nun with an AK-47. His action during this time earned him the Navy Cross.
Drafted in 1968, Larry Jennings spent almost a year at Fort Hood before drawing overseas duty. He asked if he was going to Germany. No such luck, it was Southeast Asia. The air base was under rocket fire when he landed and he had to crawl to a bunker, weaponless. Soon, he was up to speed and assigned to the 82nd Airborne as a supply sergeant.
Upon his arrival in Vietnam, Roger Hamann is assigned to serve as a "Rustic", communicating with French-speaking Cambodian troops from the back seat of an OV-10. Though he flies dozens of combat missions out of his Thailand air base, one in particular still haunts him.
Larry Jennings was in transit to a new outfit when the Viet Cong launched a furious attack on the holding company's base. Once that was over and he got to Pleiku, he was struck by the different environment that resembled his home. He was supply sergeant for an engineer company with a lot of heavy equipment, a tempting target for Charlie.
A veteran of World War II and Korea, Frank Noonan served long enough to make it to Saigon on the first American warship to venture up the Mekong River. There, he observed a German civilian use an unusual defensive technique when attacked at a sidewalk cafe. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
Larry Jennings was a little older than most of the guys he served with in Vietnam and he tried to steer them away from the bad choices that they could easily make. Many of them looked up to him and took his advice, including one who didn't make it.
Larry Jennings returned from Vietnam knowing full well what the reputation of returning veterans was. He points out that women and children die in every war and in this particular war, many of them were in the ranks of the enemy. He does have fond memories of one child, a little girl at an orphanage near his base in Pleiku.
Every night, a clearing patrol went out to sweep the area ahead of the unit in preparation for the night. Dale Ney tells what happened on one search and destroy mission when the clearing patrol did not return. What he found the next morning haunts him till this day.
He was used to discipline, so Marine boot camp wasn't so bad for Michael Marshall. When the drill instructor asked if anyone was unhappy and wanted to go to the Army, he thought surely no one would step forward.
Daily life included a shower from a hanging 55 gallon drum and maybe some C-rations. Larry Jennings was stationed at Pleiku where he engaged in search and destroy missions in addition to his job as supply sergeant. He reveals why the enemy had a better rifle and which was more dangerous, the line or the rear.
Larry Jenning's engineer unit was ordered out of Pleiku and back to the Saigon area. After a long trip that included passage on LST's, they settled in and waited. He had a short time left and he was trying to keep his head down when his buddy organized a trip to Saigon.
Keeping a positive attitude and a sharp mind while captured was essential to staying alive as a prisoner of war. Spending time in the Hanoi Hilton, Heartbreak Hotel and Little Vegas was difficult but they found ways to work through the hard times.
Brice Barnes remembers his first operation providing security for Medical Civilian Action Program and the bartering he did with some Vietnamese children. After the Tet Offensive, he remembers having to deal with a lot of the bureaucracy that came with the ongoing war.
Vietnam veteran Larry Jennings describes the use of Agent Orange to deprive the enemy of its hiding places. It really worked well, but in 2001, he joined the long list of personnel who had lingering effects. He also had a small shrapnel wound, for which he received no Purple Heart.