4:51 | Can I cut the mustard? Tom Agnew was apprehensive on the way to Vietnam and wondering if he was up to the task. He was assigned as a medic in a helicopter evacuation unit, known as Dustoff. On one of his first missions, he learned not to triage the wounded too quickly. (Caution: coarse language.)
Keywords : Tom Agnew medic Vietnam Chu Lai I Corps Americal Division Montagnards Harry Newling Graham Bose John Dilman Jimmy Powell check ride Dustoff
Tom Agnew was an Army brat who always wanted to be a soldier and a hero. When it was his term to serve, Uncle Sam decided he would be a medic. He was apolitical, so it didn't bother him that he may go to war in Vietnam. He would be going to try and save lives.
You could get a lot of ground fire when you were going in to land at a hot LZ. Medic Tom Agnew remembers a lot of them, especially the one which he departed dangling from the end of a cable. While he was out there, a tracer round went by his head and made him angry, so he took out his pistol and fired back, which must have greatly amused his antagonist.
After a huge typhoon devastated Chu Lai, Tom Agnew was sent to a different Dustoff unit at Da Nang. The job was the same, medical evacuation. This late in the war, it was more often ARVN troops.
Something good can still come out of a bad war. Modern EMS was borne from lessons learned in Vietnam by combat medics such as Tom Agnew. He passed on those lessons while training emergency medical personnel in his postwar career. First he had to deal with protestors and a tendency to hit the deck when he heard a loud noise.
A good first step for future generations remembering something about Korea and Vietnam would be actually including them in history books. Allyn Johnson was involved in both conflicts and he is bothered by that. He also has some strong opinions on whether it was worth being involved.
When the generator for the TOC went out, Ed Fulghum went to the Marine engineering unit that was his support for such things. He walked in and the sergeant across the counter asked him what he had to trade. Well, that was one thing that always enraged Fulghum in the Army. It was on. (Caution: strong language)
For Larry Washington, Vietnam is very hard to sort out in his mind. He knows we did not "lose" the war, like so many in the media try to tell you, but he also knows that the stated reasons for a war may not be the true ones. For him, it was the price he paid to succeed in life.
In a conversation with his brother, Ed Fulghum got some insight into leadership. His brother expressed something that suggested he was a poor leader and it made him realiize what a decent job he was doing. As a 1st Sergeant he had a great record and he also had two Medal of Honor recipients in his unit.
Larry Washington was in high school and kept hearing about a helicopter pilot training course. Then, when he sat in the Army recruiter's office, he saw a brochure about the same thing. I want to do this, he told the recruiter and he proceeded to pass all the tests and secure a slot in pilot training.
Huey pilot Larry Washington arrived in Vietnam in his winter greens because he had departed from a very cold New Jersey. It was amusing when the veteran pilots in the O-club speculated on how long the greenhorns would last. He was assigned to a cavalry outfit in the Central Highlands, where the terrain was challenging for a pilot.
Ed Fulghum's nemesis was his battalion commander, Col. Mooney. He disliked Mooney and Mooney hated him. While training in Hawaii, he disobeyed the colonel's absurd order about how fast to drive during a training exercise. Later, in Vietnam, he achieved perhaps his finest victory against him, totally by accident with a hot outhouse.
It was his first combat mission. Rookie Huey pilot Larry Washington watched the captain land the ship on a tricky hilltop and then, on the next sortie, he had to do it. That was the day he really learned to fly in Vietnam.
The next shell would hit his boat, for sure. That's what it looked like to Walt Lineberger, but it never came. The next move was to go help some troops who were on the river bank and taking recoilless rifle fire. For his actions during this rescue, he would be awarded the Bronze Star. Part 3 of 3.
Gene McCandless listened to the war stories of his older relatives and, when he came of age, he heard the bugle. After his single mother passed away, he sought out his father to sign the papers so he could join the Marines when he was seventeen.
His father was a turpentine worker and he put Donald Singleton to work at an early age. The young man resented it but he learned the value of hard work. He thought about joining the military from an early age and when he saw his cousin decked out in Airborne gear, that was it. He was going Airborne.
His last day in combat was memorable. On his first flight of the day, Huey pilot Larry Washington snagged a tree on a gun mount. On the second, he struggled to control the aircraft when several issues arose at the landing zone. He performed a beautiful maneuver to recover but the rest of the day did not improve. All he could do was keep in mind that it was his last day.
Once he was promoted to Corporal, Gene McCandless was able to become a crew chief, responsible for his own Amtrac. He had a good crew, although something did happen to the vehicle while he was away on leave. Later, he worked with some Korean Marines, which was a great experience.
Walt Lineberger learned some things in Vietnam. One is that Americans and people of another place and culture are more similar than different. He also learned confidence, which he brought to his business career. He benefited from good leadership in the Navy, but he had one big disagreement, which he felt put his men at risk.
The dangers were many. Sappers could sneak in and blow up your helicopters. Your own illumination rounds could kill you. The most dangerous missions for the Huey pilots were the LRRP missions, inserting and extracting long range reconnaissance patrols. Pilot Larry Washington remembers them well.
The draft was lurking, so business school student Walt Lineberger got himself tested and qualified for Naval OCS. After being commissioned, he had a tour on the USS Northhampton but was cherry picked for another assignment. He was sent to the Mobile Riverine Force in Vietnam.
He had a decent experience returning from Vietnam. First, Huey pilot Larry Washington managed to meet a fellow pilot he wanted to see before he left, then he had an uneventful journey without protestors. He stayed on as an Army pilot for a while, which helped him decompress from his combat experience.
At some point in Tom Fleming's Vietnam tour, he began doing check rides for new pilots assigned to his FAC squadron. He went for a wild ride when one new guy saw his first anti-aircraft fire. When anyone was shot down, everything else stopped while every effort was made to recover them.
The rotation system in Vietnam was terrible, according to Marine platoon leader Hubert Yoshida. It was the first war where individuals rotated in and out, which was a burden to both units and troops. He tells the story of one young Marine from an Honor Guard outfit who petitioned to go to a combat assignment.
He had read about the Kent State protests but the news from back home didn't distract Huey pilot Larry Washington from the job at hand. It wasn't about politics, you fought for the others on the crew. He reflects on the fate of a friend on a different crew, whose passing had an effect on him years later.
Gene McCandless had been shipped out of the war zone to Okinawa to await his eighteenth birthday. When he got back, he was sent to Marble Mountain, where he was reunited with his buddies from the Amtrac unit. His job was to transport Marines around their area of operation and support them with supplies and logistics.
The racial climate in the late 60's was tense everywhere. From his high school days to the Army, racism and segregation played a big part in Donald Singleton's life. He faced a soul searching moment when he was deployed to the streets of Washington DC after the assassination of Martin Luther King.
The warrant officers had their own officers club. They had to, after a brouhaha at the main base. Huey pilot Larry Washington recalls the rowdy volleyball games and the hooch ladies who could never get his laundry right.