4:45 | The bullet barely missed wrecking his knee. Jack Jeter was in for some hospital time before he could go home. Once he did, he was amazed at the blase attitude of his friends about Vietnam. Part 3 of 3. (Caution: strong language.)
Keywords : Jack Jeter Vietnam Bien Hoa Fort Hood
Jack Jeter was a little older when he was drafted, 23 years old. His training was at Fort Polk, over the hot Louisiana summer of 1968. He didn't think any place could be hotter or more miserable. Then he got to the jungles of Southeast Asia. (Caution: strong language.)
After settling in and meeting the company, Jack Jeter was amazed at how little action was occurring where they were. Then the unit moved further south and his platoon set out on a short sweep. The point man spotted a trail and the platoon leader decided to follow it; a very bad idea. Part 1 of 2.
Following a trail while on patrol, Jack Jeter's platoon veered off to the left and walked right into an enemy base camp. Luckily, most of them were further down the trail, waiting to ambush the Americans. Left on their own in a ferocious firefight, they were surprised when the company commander arrived on the scene. Part 2 of 2.
Saddle up! The call went out and Jack Jeter's platoon headed out to reinforce another unit caught in a firefight with the NVA. As they reached the scene, his buddy Snag Johnson was hit in the leg but kept on firing. They got out of there and and began an exhausting trek with Snag on a stretcher. (Caution: strong language.)
The day Jack Jeter was wounded was the third day of serious firefights. His commanding officer, Captain Barry McCaffrey, was wounded on the first day and the temporary replacement had his own ideas about how to proceed. That led the unit right into big trouble. Part 1 of 3. (Caution: strong language.)
In the middle of the firefight in which Jack Jeter was wounded, someone ran out and picked up a wounded man and got him to safety. It would be decades before the issue was settled. Exactly who was that? Part 2 of 3.
After leaving the Army, Vietnam war veteran Jack Jeter got fulfillment from an old hobby, racing motorcycles. He built a successful business and was getting on with his life when he got a strange phone call. It was time to reconnect. (Caution: strong language.)
Once Jack Jeter was contacted by one of his buddies from his unit in Vietnam, he caught the reunion bug. It became his mission to find guys and reconnect.
What do you want future generations to remember about the Vietnam War? Jack Jeter has a definite idea about that. (Caution: strong language.)
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.
Originally from Minnesota, Ollie Maier grew up on a farm and quickly learned how to drive a tractor at the age of 9. His uncle was right in the middle of Pearl Harbor when it was attacked, and his cousin was a pilot long before him. Seeing the planes soar over his head while he was in the fields inspired him to become a pilot as well. While in college, he took flying lessons, and was the only one of his group of five friends to pass his flying test for the US Air Force.
Louis Gonzalez was born in the Philippines and moved to San Francisco when he was only thirteen. Before that his brother had joined the Navy when he was eighteen, so it was always in the back of his mind to follow in his brother's military footsteps. He joined the US Air Force on the buddy system with his friend Dave Rogers. After he underwent his basic training and flight training, he was ready to assist in the Vietnam War. He ended up leaving for Vietnam on December 20, 1970.
Maier graduated from his aviation cadet program in 1957 and was sent to gunnery school. He was assigned to a missile wing in Germany and eventually went on to become a T-37 instructor. After that he was sent to Vietnam, and despite most of his missions being focused on dropping bombs from the air, his favorite missions were the ones where he got to help the soldiers out of the firefights down on the ground.
While in Tan Son Nhut, Gonzalez had a myriad of memorable experiences which he talks about, as well as volunteering to go to Bien Hoa. While there, he had his first close call in the form of an enemy rocket attack. He was so close to the blast radius that he kept a shrapnel souvenir to always remind him of how close he came to losing his life.
Sadly, at one point Maier lost his flight lead from another mission, named Ron Bond. He talks about how this happened even though he wasn't there to witness it, as well as another mission he flew with Ron when he was still on active duty that was also during the heat of the Tet Offensive.
Doug Moore grew up in Arkansas with no family history of being in the military. While in college he was enrolled in the ROTC program and went to training as soon as he graduated. He went to flight school at Fort Rucker, then to Fort Wolters for helicopter training, and was instructed to go to Vietnam shortly after. His trip over to the foreign country was incredibly rough for a number of reasons, and it turned into a month's worth of time getting there.
Debby Moore grew up in Stockton, California. Although her father was the commander of a B-29 in World War II, she originally had no intention of following in his footsteps. She entered college at the age of 17 and eventually found her way into the Special Services for the US Army.
Gonzalez got his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base and his aircraft mechanic training was at Sheppard Air Force Base. It was around this time he married his high school sweetheart, and was at the time stationed in Tucson, Arizona. When he flew to Vietnam, he was stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base. While in Vietnam, he remembers that there was always a lingering problem with drug use. He tells about the first times he saw other kids smoking cigarettes laced with heroin.
After getting wounded in his first Vietnam tour, Ayson got out of the hospital and went to flight school. After that he was sent to medevac school to learn how to become part of an aircraft rescue medical team. He explains exactly what a medevac team is and does for those who may not know. From there he had his second tour in Vietnam, helping rescue as many injured infantry men as he could.
After a month of painful travel, Doug Moore and his medevac team finally made it over to Vietnam. There he had a lot of interactions with the Vietnamese officers and people, and quickly caught on to the behavior of the North Vietnamese Army. The north invaded a lot of small towns and convoys and stole all their resources. It was Moore's job to evacuate wounded soldiers from the battlefield by flying them away by helicopter.
Once she joined the Special Services, Moore essentially already had a one way ticket to Vietnam. She landed near Saigon, and had to undergo orientation for a few days. She learned to default to the ways of the army, such as telling military time. She remembers that the men and women shared living space, which was highly uncommon in the 1960's considering most college dorms were separated by gender.
Rollie Sterrett was vaguely aware of the war in Vietnam, which was really just beginning. At the Air Intelligence Training Center, he learned photo interpretation using photos from the Cuban missile crisis. Upon graduation, the entire class was informed they were all going to Vietnam
While up in the air, most of Maier's missions included dropping bombs on the enemy. While on one mission, he distinctly remembers his plane getting shot up and how he got away from the area to preserve the aircraft. After receiving word from the forward air controller that there were no other planes he could use, he chose to continue flying the damaged plane for the rest of the mission and received a Distinguished Flying Cross for it.
While flying medevac missions, Moore was shot at a great deal as his team was in the air. He talks about two times he and his helicopter were hit, one of those times his helmet was hit and it was right by his left eye, and he thought he had been blinded from it. He spent five days in the hospital as a result.
Gonzalez talks about his specific job constructing, repairing and using aircraft and how he would get them in the best shape possible before the pilots would use them to fly. While over there, he found it increasingly difficult to help his peers cope with ongoing problems with drug use and alcoholism.
After he got back from the mission where his plane was damaged, Maier was promised a Silver Star in addition to his Distinguished Flying Cross for the act of bravery he had up in the air. Unfortunately, the forward air controller who was supposed to follow through with awarding him the Silver Star, codenamed David 26, had gotten shot down and evacuated back to the US shortly after. He did, however, receive yet another Distinguished Flying Cross despite technically disobeying direct orders from his flight lead.
Moore talks about a specific mission where he and his team had to go in and help pull as many imprisoned people out of the Prisoner of War camps as possible. This was almost immediately after he got out of the hospital for his injury, but Moore wasn't phased by it at all.
Debby Moore had a few tough assignments, but the hardest one for her by far was her first one with the medevac unit. While over there, the mascot dog turned out to be female and had puppies, and one of the guys she was working with really wanted one of the puppies. She saved the dog for him, only to find out later that he'd been killed.
The level of accuracy Maier and his Squadron had during their bomb dropping missions was astounding. During one run, they were able to hit the same target over and over again without fail. When the Tet Offensive broke out, Maier was tasked with flying more missions.
When he was working on planes in Vietnam, occasionally Gonzalez would get requests from the other men to go to Saigon to make calls back home. He would gladly help them by flying them over and back in one of the airplanes. In addition, he tells of another close call he had that was so horrific that just the memory caused him to give up hunting forever.
Doug Moore talks about meeting his future wife, Debby, in Vietnam all those years ago. Although they met when they were still young, they would not pursue a romantic relationship until later in life when they reconnected forty five years later at the Vietnam Women's Memorial on Veterans Day.
It was finally time for Gonzalez and the other men at his air base to hightail it back home. As soon as he could he called his wife and told her the news. During this time they moved to the east coast, and he got to see one of his good friends get married. He gives his final reflections about the Vietnam War and what he hopes future generations will take away from a historical event like this.
Moore's experience coming home from Vietnam was pretty ordinary compared with the troops. When she got back, she started noticing early signs of post traumatic stress disorder popping up in her life that were triggered by things such as loud noises. She spent a few years teaching, but eventually went to Korea and worked for the Special Services again.
During the Tet Offensive, Maier remembers the deadly rocket attacks that were used against him and his fellow men. When he got airborne, he could see where the NVA was shooting the rockets from but he hadn't been cleared to hit it. At the time, one base had called for backup but all other divisions were busy, so Maier took it upon himself to drop the flares that he had on the wings of his plane, even without permission from radar.
Debby Moore will never forget the mortar attacks she heard off in the distance. It eventually became so common that she began to easily tell the difference between incoming and outgoing mortars. When they got a new doctor, she had to help him calm down when he thought outgoing mortars were incoming. She also talks about the dangers facing women in country, which people often don't know about.
After his tour in Vietnam was over, Maier got a flight back to the United States and landed in San Francisco. He sadly had a falling out with his wife at the time, and went back to being a flight instructor. He gives his reflections about the Vietnam War, talks about his good friend who got shot down and taken prisoner named Tom Curtis, and his final thoughts about everything that had happened during his time in combat.
When Rollie Sterrett got to Vietnam, he initially had to squeeze with seven others into a Saigon hotel room while they waited for assignment. He was assigned to the Directorate of Targets at 7th Air Force HQ, where he learned the intricate inter-service politics at play in the air war. He also soon shared the frustration with the micro-management of the war coming from the White House.