Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans


Bill Acebes | 173rd Airborne Brigade - Army

4:44   |   Two things Bill Acebes remembers vividly from Vietnam: the lack of drinking water in the field and the teak trees he used for cover. Ponchos were used to collect rainwater but there was something wrong with that and he can taste it to this day... The teak trees were good for cover but could also prevent evacuation, as he learned during a particularly bad day.

More From Bill Acebes

Keywords   :     Bill Acebes    line company    M-16    water    hepatitis    teak    medic    LZ    machete    chain saw    poncho    blood    helicopter    Vietnam

Videos ( 8 )
  • Bill Acebes  |  Vietnam  |  173rd Airborne Brigade  |  7:09

    As a child, Bill Acebes picked fruit alongside his parents. As a man, he entered the service along with his brothers. Going for airborne meant extra money and, he thought, the chance to study electronics. First he had to face the rigors of basic training.

  • Bill Acebes  |  Vietnam  |  173rd Airborne Brigade  |  5:39

    Still believing he was going to study electronics, Bill Acebes arrived at Ft. Gordon for the next stage of training. When he asked about radar, he was informed that this was the infantry and he was the radar beam. The last stop was jump training, where the sergeants "all came from hell. You could see it in their eyes."

  • Bill Acebes  |  Vietnam  |  173rd Airborne Brigade  |  4:58

    Bill Acebes arrived in Vietnam in the midst of mortar fire and thought, "We're gonna start fighting from right here!" Volunteering for a new organization using long range insertion by air, he quickly found the action hot and heavy.

  • Bill Acebes  |  Vietnam  |  173rd Airborne Brigade  |  7:15

    Bill Acebes literally dodged a bullet when he fell down during an operation in Vietnam and the ricochet hit a WWII veteran who was still serving. He couldn't escape the sharp edge from a C-ration lid, though, and that led to an angry exchange with a medic. In what he considers his closest call of the tour, he noticed, just in time, the tiny trip wire next to his Lieutenant's boot.

  • Bill Acebes  |  Vietnam  |  173rd Airborne Brigade  |  6:07

    During his first tour of Vietnam, Bill Acebes experienced the distaste of searching for a missing soldier who turned out to be a coward but he also enjoyed the awesome sight of a new Huey Delta gunship. As he was leaving, he made Sergeant, then could barely get out of the country due to incoming fire. After a short run at college, he returned for a second tour as an advisor.

  • Bill Acebes  |  Vietnam  |  1st Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment  |  5:11

    With Airborne training and two tours of Vietnam behind him, what Bill Acebes really wanted was to go to Ranger school, but those slots were hard to get. It took a little luck and a friend who was an aide to a General to make it happen. Once he had his Ranger tab, a chance encounter in a hallway gave him his next boost.

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