4:05 | 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.
Keywords : Louis Gonzalez Vietnam Philippines San Francisco CA Air Force Special Operations buddy system Dave Rogers basic training flight training mansion resort farm Baguio mountains Navy brother Southeast Asia high school draft Florida Tucson AZ starvation
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. However, as difficult as this experience was, this was nothing compared to the Tet Offensive. They had new wounded 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/.)
After the column was devastated by an NVA ambush, wounded Americans were scattered in the darkness. After his captain heard one such group calling for help on the radio, Freddie Owens joined a patrol to find them, guided by a gunshot every few minutes. Once there, medic Daniel Torres volunteered to stay with those who couldn't move and protected them through the night with medicine and a machine gun.
In a letter home, Tommy Clack expressed his worry that something bad was going to happen and it did when his unit engaged the NVA near the Cambodian border. He saw the enemy soldier stand and fire the RPG that changed his life forever.
The RPG that severed Joe McDonald’s foot didn’t kill him. The machine gun fire that hit him as he still tried to help others didn’t kill him. The grenade taped to his hand might have killed him if the VC had found his hiding place.
When he was company commander at Cua Viet, Richard Jackson had great success in keeping the area clear of enemy. After his combat commands were finished and he was a staff officer, he was asked to visit the replacement unit and advise them. His journey there and back was worthy of a Hollywood movie.
They were hunkered down after fierce fighting when the call came from "Ghost 4-6." It was a group of wounded men who had pulled themselves together after the ill fated march to LZ Albany and were lost in the dark. George Forrest sent a patrol to find them, and in an incredible act of bravery, medic Daniel Torres stayed through the night with them and saved many men. Captain Forrest still had to write a gut-wrenching letter to the mother of a missing soldier. Part 3 of 4.
The Colonel told him he was going to take over Mike company. Get over there and straighten it out. Richard Jackson was glad to have a command and he got to Cam Lo by nightfall. He had just settled in when the NVA gave him a welcome.
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.
During his first tour of Vietnam, medic Franklin Monroe was happy to be issued a .45 because it could get pretty dangerous when the compound was attacked. Eventually he sought out some heavier weaponry. He recalls those firefights and also the traumatic time a soldier stepped on a mine.
It was hard to find the enemy. Charlie would disappear into his holes and only come out once the Marines of Mike company had left. Richard Jackson's men tried probing the ground with sharp sticks, but they broke too easily. What they needed was steel. Thus was born the "Mike Spike." Part 1 of 2.
Curtis James returned from Vietnam to an assignment as director of personnel at Parris Island. This was the last post for the Marine Corps staff officer. His favorite was the Pentagon, where he initiated a brand new office to coordinate military crisis response.
His company command at the Cua Viet River was just the way Richard Jackson liked it. He was given free reign to take care of his area. He describes the tactics he used to fight the enemy and recalls one memorable fight in which his men and an NVA unit charged at each other in darkness.
Curtis James was the first officer in charge of a Pentagon effort to manage crises during the Cold War. It was a brand new office inside the giant headquarters and, after running that for a while, he served in Vietnam at MACV in Saigon, managing the logistics of the war effort.
To beat a guerrilla force, you had to become like them. That was one of Richard Jackson's realizations when he commanded a company of Marines up near the DMZ. He describes a life defining moment during a firefight, when he realized what it would take to be successful in this war.
He was lucky to get a job with an office during his second Vietnam tour, managing a platoon of medics. Then when the war was being turned over to the Vietnamese, Franklin Monroe began medical missions in the streets and started organizing escape for refugees.
Richard Jackson recalls the time when he was stuck in a helicopter with a general observing the battle field while his company of Marines were getting battered down below. When he finally got down to the ground, he repositioned the unit with a mad dash downhill from their exposed position.
After basic training, Edwina Morrison was assigned to the 30th Engineer Battalion at Fort Belvoir. The finance and accounting specialist may not have put boots on the ground in Vietnam, but she got the soldiers paid. She remembers the funny looks she got when she showed up and they expected a man.
Company commander Richard Jackson tried to be as unpredictable as he could with his Marines, following no set pattern and changing tactics constantly. This worked so well that his unit received praise from up the chain of command.
After her enlistment was over, Edwina Morrison returned to college, where she really wanted to be the whole time. After collecting two degrees, she became a clinical social worker and eventually founded her own firm where she was able to help people; her real purpose in life.
He'd made a decision to always take training seriously and learn as much as he could about what he would face in the field, and when Richard Jackson got to Vietnam, it saved his life. As he was walking on patrol, he heard a click, something he'd heard in training, but this time, it was for real.