Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans

COMBAT STORIES FROM Vietnam

Howie Bachman | 3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment - Army

4:58   |   The green tracers started coming in on Howie Bachman's position. He determined that it was really another platoon that was under attack and moved to reinforce them. After the fight, they found blood trails leading into a village and were eager to go looking for the wounded enemy. No, we're not going to do that. That's how a massacre starts.

More From Howie Bachman

Keywords   :     Howie Bachman    Vietnam    tracers    blood trail

Videos ( 19 )
Vietnam
  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  8:28

    Howie Bachman had his sights set on Annapolis but their football recruiter didn't talk to him. West Point did and so he switched his allegiance and managed to get an appointment there. He says it's a great place to be from but being there was different.

  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  5:16

    It was decided that all West Point graduates would go to Ranger school. Howie Bachman was in that first class of non-volunteer candidates. When he led the last patrol exercise, he out foxed the opposing force and they weren't very happy about it. He got married and shipped out to Germany.

  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  10:06

    Young lieutenant Howie Bachman was at the East German border when he found his name on the list of officers that Robert McNamara was poaching from the unit there to go to Vietnam. He helped build up a cavalry troop from scratch and shipped out with them to Vietnam but, when he got there, his promotion to captain was accelerated and he had to leave that unit, winding up as advisor to an ARVN armored cavalry unit.

  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  ARVN Advisor  |  7:35

    Howie Bachman had no training as an ARVN advisor but there he was, advisor to a Vietnamese armored cavalry unit. They were based in the lowlands between the mountains and the sea. Their primary vehicle was the M113 armored personnel carrier, tricked out with extra machine guns.

  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  ARVN Advisor  |  10:12

    The first activity of note, after Howie Bachman joined the ARVN unit he was advising, was a devastating friendly fire incident. No one in his unit was hurt, but there were scores of casualties in the infantry unit they were reinforcing.

  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  ARVN Advisor  |  6:04

    ARVN advisor Howie Bachman returned the fork his counterpart gave him at chow time and asked for chopsticks, since everyone else was eating with chopsticks. This gained him a lot of respect. When they were at a village, two laughing little girls were doubtful that he was a real American and their reasoning surprised him.

  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  ARVN Advisor  |  8:13

    Near the end of his tour, ARVN advisor Howie Bachman was patrolling in an unfamiliar area when the vehicle in front of him was hit by an anti-tank rocket. A platoon of Montagnards was wiped out and when the Vietnamese wouldn't touch them because of cultural prejudice, he had to step in.

  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  6:11

    Howie Bachman didn't experience any anti-war protests when he returned from his first tour of Vietnam but he did drop to the floor when his wife scared him at home. A little adjusting was needed. He got command of a tank company at Fort Hood but was then tapped as an aide-de-camp, a job he was not suited for. He started making it known to armor branch that he was available for another combat command.

  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  11:29

    Howie Bachman arrived well prepared and experienced but his second tour of Vietnam was not starting off well. He was locked into an insulting job and reluctantly put his head down and worked. In the course of his mundane duties, he met Mustang, the commander of the 3-5 Cavalry. Sir, I'm a prisoner at a staff job. I will take any position in your fine unit.

  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  8:44

    Rescued from his lowly staff job, Howie Bachman visited each company of his new unit, the 3-5 Cav. The last one was actually an attached company, Dreadnaught Charlie. It's commander did not run a tight ship and his job was in jeopardy.

  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment  |  10:33

    Dreadnaught Charlie was a mess. The tank company had been run in a lax manner but new company commander Howie Bachman had them shaping up fast. It earned him an uncomplimentary nickname but then the men saw that he ate what they ate and slept where they slept. Then came the infamous overheard radio conversation that really earned their respect.

  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment  |  8:19

    The brass didn't like to send out the big tank recovery vehicles so when one of Howie Bachman's tank commanders got stuck by a creek, he used his own resources instead. One of his clever plans backfired, though, when a booby trapped Claymore he was preparing exploded in his hand. Evacuate to Okinawa? No way!

  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment  |  8:56

    No one in armor had ever done it. When he assumed command of C Troop of the 3-5 Cav, Howie Bachman had his second combat command in a row. He began to assert his usual leadership style which meant that the men hated him at first. That would change.

  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment  |  6:32

    A long range patrol unit came into the night position of one of Howie Bachman's tank platoons. Unfortunately a specially trained anti-armor NVA unit followed them. Fortunately, one of them triggered a trip flare. The battle was on. When it was all over, a PFC had some heartfelt words for his commander.

  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment  |  7:32

    No one had ever heard of this happening. A faulty mortar round blew up in the tube, killing three soldiers. Howie Bachman had that lot of mortar rounds taken out of the ammo stocks. When it came time to fire some rounds for night time positioning, the men refused to fire the mortars. He had to take matters into his own hands.

  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment  |  3:27

    An infantry platoon was attached to Howie Bachman's armor troop for a small operation. It was the hot season and they came in dog tired and parched. Would you like a Coke? The platoon leader looked at him like he was from another planet.

  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  3:41

    Howie Bachman had commanded back to back units in combat, a unique feat for an armor officer. This set him up for a nice career even though he inadvertently missed out on a plum job with General Creighton Abrams.

  • Howie Bachman  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  7:00

    Howie Bachman opines on the strange and beautiful things he saw in Vietnam. He knows a good spot for a golf resort. Then he pays tribute to a couple of leaders who influenced him in his career and helped him understand and practice good leadership.

Cold War
  • Howie Bachman  |  Cold War  |  Multiple Units  |  8:03

    His second return from Vietnam was a little hazy due to the friendly and generous flight crew on the airliner from Seattle to Houston. First it was grad school for Howie Bachman and then a career that alternated between the Pentagon and command in the field. While at Rice University, he set some people straight about how real soldiers felt about the Calley trial.

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