5:58 | One night, while Laurie was eating dinner, the USS Sanctuary got a call about a plane crash. She vividly remembers the patients coming aboard, and the aftermath of this incident, including one boy who was MIA. As difficult as this experience was, it was nothing compared to the Tet Offensive. New wounded were coming in constantly, and trying to care for all of them at once was emotionally exhausting. (Interview conducted at, and with the assistance of, the Military Heritage Museum- https://freedomisntfree.org/.)
Keywords : Laurie Druyor Vietnam USS Sanctuary Da Nang Vietnam helicopter crash patients Tet Offensive injury/wound plane crash
Laurie Druyor grew up in Methuen, Massachusetts. Her dad was a mechanic and her brother was in the Navy before her, so joining herself didn't seem like a bad idea. After joining, she began her orientation for the Navy Medical Corps and went to Great Lakes Naval Hospital. When it came time to choose where she wanted to go, she chose Vietnam. (Interview conducted at, and with the assistance of, the Military Heritage Museum- https://freedomisntfree.org/.)
After her medical training for the Navy, Druyor went aboard the USS Sanctuary Hospital Ship to Da Nang, Vietnam. While in Da Nang and on the ship, she cared for a cluster of badly damaged patients, some were even burned from nasty landmine explosions. The worst part for her was that many of the patients were also children. (Interview conducted at, and with the assistance of, the Military Heritage Museum- https://freedomisntfree.org/.)
Druyor talks about what it was like working aboard a sizable hospital ship rather than a hospital on land, and expands on seeing the awful effects of war on the children. At a few instances she would go into Da Nang to operate remotely on patients, but those times were few and far in between. Fortunately, she and the other medical personnel experienced no close calls while they were doing their jobs. (Interview conducted at, and with the assistance of, the Military Heritage Museum- https://freedomisntfree.org/.)
After her year in Vietnam was up, Laurie Druyor went back over to the United States to Key West, Florida. She was lucky enough to meet her husband, who was also helping serve in the Vietnam war as a helicopter pilot. She gives her closing remarks and reflections about her experiences in war and what she hopes everyone watching will take away from this. (Interview conducted at, and with the assistance of, the Military Heritage Museum- https://freedomisntfree.org/.)
The missions were continuous, one after the other. When they were out, they were totally alone, nowhere near any installations, so the River Rats had their food dropped right onto the boat by helicopter. John Wilhite's weapon was the M-60 machine gun and he used it both on the boat and in defensive positions on shore. Once, he overheated it and the breach popped up and smacked him in the face.
Barry Howard just missed an appointment to West Point, "Thank the Lord!" Instead he went to the Naval Academy where he got in trouble more than once with pal John McCain. Then it was on to pilot training in yet another branch, the Air Force.
While going down a ridge line during a rainy night, Lowe and his men started getting mortared. Lowe was frantically trying to figure out their next move, but Dasher Wheatley instead chose to play in the dirt with a night crawler. Lowe was baffled at Dash’s behavior, but Dash responded with some words of wisdom that Lowe would never forget.
George bailey describes Ash and Trash missions. He describes these missions as beneficial and excellent learning tools that aiding him in learning how to manage the use of an aircraft. He also gives an overall inside look at his experience in Vietnam and the different locations he traveled to.
Flying in a reconnaissance jet over North Vietnam, Ron Mastin was never aware of ground fire until the day he was shot down. Just a small thump thump and the plane was going down. He and Tom Storey ejected and he had a few serene minutes in the air before the ground came up. He had made it but he had no idea where Tom was.
Terry Sater joined the Navy in 1966 with hopes of avoiding going to Vietnam. His initial deployment was aboard the USS Enterprise stationed off the Coast of Vietnam. After failing Electronics School Terry was assigned to the Mobile Riverine Force Training in California.
Compared to the infantry, the living conditions were like a Holiday Inn, says helicopter mechanic John E. Walker. They had Vietnamese women to do the laundry and manual labor, although he didn't really trust them. He recalls an older friend there who taught him to play chess and keep on the straight and narrow.
During Operation Lam Son 90, Lowe notified Captain Haugen that the slope of the rocks indicated they should take a different path because there was a higher chance of them finding water that way, and so the men continued toward the Quang Tri River. All of a sudden, they came upon a weigh station packed with Viet Cong.
The job of forward observer is a vital one in combat and Frank Cox describes how he did his job in Vietnam. The forward observer feeds data to the artillery battery for targeting the enemy. On one memorable mission, he called in over 1700 rounds, a record at the time.
The new concept of mobile troops using helicopters was used extensively in Vietnam. COL Walt Russell was aboard one when he felt an odd sensation. Reaching up, he felt where a sniper round had blown a hole in his head “the size of a cigarette pack.”
It was already late and Jim Benson had a river crossing to deal with. Once there, he called for the rope, a vital piece of gear for the crossing. Private Dewey had forgotten the rope. Private Dewey was a train wreck, but when the shooting started, he was the man you wanted by your side. The next day, after a sleepless night with the listening post reporting movement, they made a startling discovery.
In 1969, the worry was that there would be another Tet Offensive. That did not materialize, but there was plenty of combat. Marine Captain Paul Van Riper tells the story of a large encounter with the 141st NVA Regiment during which one of his men, Lance Corporal Lester Weber, charged the enemy with such fury that he is now part of Marine history.
When he flew into Vietnam, John Wilhite could hear mortar fire as they landed. The men scrambled out of the plane and took cover in drainage ditches. They weren't even armed, so it was quite a welcome to Vietnam. The first stop was the mess hall where the food wasn't quite cooked and the cooks were missing.
In his first taste of action in Vietnam, Dennis Haines participated in the clearing of a large bunker complex. Inside, he spotted a Russian pistol just sitting there, begging to be a souvenir.
Sergeant Robert Johnson, one of Lowe’s comrades, was known as “Pockets” amongst the Vietnamese soldiers because of his uncanny resourcefulness. Johnson was a tough man and the men looked to him as a leader, but when he started behaving strangely, Lowe ordered that he return to Quang Tri.