5:06 | He was drafted, but with a college degree, he was eligible for Officer Candidate School. Mike Paque went through basic training and advanced infantry training, then it was off to Fort Benning for OCS. It was tough, maybe tougher than what was coming.
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Newly minted Lieutenant Mike Paque was at Fort Polk, moving large numbers of draftees through training and on to Vietnam. It was not a satisfying job, so he volunteered to go ahead and go himself. He knew he would be going, anyway, so he might as well get out of that place.
Mike Paque had just arrived at division headquarters in Pleiku when he met the supply officer, who was about to rotate home. He wound up with his job by virtue of his business administration degree and began to improve the situation and make friends.
He was a supply officer for his first three months in Vietnam, but they decided to send Mike Paque into the field. When he got to Camp Hard Times, the CO made him the supply officer for that unit. Vietnamization was underway, so that outfit was disbanded and he went to a mechanized unit as a platoon leader.
Camp Hard Times was in a valley which led up to the mountains and was there to block Viet Cong movement down from the high ground. Mike Paque remembers the village next to the camp and how pleasant the people were in their rural life which was almost untouched by modern times.
You used a lot of artillery support when you moved. Mike Paque was leader of the scout platoon and when they moved in their armored personnel carriers, they would walk artillery fire in front of them to clear the way. At other times, they were air mobile, traveling above the fray in helicopters.
The airmen didn't like the infantry's dirty boots on their PX floor, but they changed their tune after a Viet Cong attack. Those infantry boys were welcome, after all. Mike Paque recalls that, after that incident, his entire division moved to the Cambodian border in a bid to clear out enemy refuges.
Camp Radcliff encompassed a huge area. It was so big that, when a VC mortar was tracked down, it turned out that it was being fired from inside the camp. Soon after that, the battalion moved to the Cambodian border, where Mike Paque watched ARVN units move in to rescue civilians from the Khmer Rouge.
Mike Paque's unit was operating in a beautiful mountain valley south of An Khe. It was gorgeous country, but every morning there were newly buried mines in the road. They were easy to spot, thankfully, but one day they found a spot in the road that was much larger than usual.
When his time in Vietnam was up, Mike Paque flew to Cam Ranh on a C-130 with some odd Air Force procedures in flight. He made it there and had to wait three days while the Army watched departing soldiers for signs of drug use. Then it was home to a fractured country, where many people despised him for doing his job.
Why were there US tanks in Vietnam? Mike Paque answers that question and tells what happened when a new commander thought he had a better idea about how to use them. It was a civil war there and a difficult situation for an outside force to intervene on one side.
You didn't move at night unless you had to. Mike Paque took patrols out and they always made a secure position at night. He only had two disciplinary problems during his time as a platoon leader. One guy wanted to play his radio on patrol, but the other one had a bigger problem
While on foot patrol, Mike Paque's men found a whole case of rounds for an M79 grenade launcher. Too much to carry and not going to leave it for Charlie, so he prepped a charge to blow it up. It didn't go as planned.
Anytime you would move, you would walk artillery in front of you to clear out the enemy. This was how you did it, but someone high up decided that we were spending too much on shells in Vietnam and made a rule that you would have no artillery support unless you had enemy contact. Mike Paque reveals what happened next.
When he got to his assigned base at Cu Chi, Tom Buchan finally got a weapon but they didn't give him any ammo. He was a tanker by training but the platoon sergeant put him on an APC. There's got to be some mistake, he thought. They bedded down for the night at a fire support base and, when he woke up and struck a match for a smoke, all hell broke loose.
Platoon leader Bill Pearson sent out a squad to set up a night ambush and when they made contact, it was with a much larger VC force. With the rest of the platoon, he set out to find them and bring them back. When he located the besieged squad, the battle became intense and they were in danger of being wiped out. In a desperation move, he called in artillery on his own position.
Greg Lowe had no use for the anti-war sentiment growing on college campuses. He arrived in Vietnam and took command of an MP company guarding Long Binh post. When a soldier killed a civilian in a traffic accident, he learned about the humility and dignity of the Vietnamese.
Following a harrowing first day of combat, Tom Buchan was surprised to find hot food flown in and cots to sleep on. He managed to finally get himself on a tank crew through sheer will and intelligence. It was the day he helped out one of the APC crews, though, that earned him recognition.
It was the most intense action he saw during the war. Mike Morris describes the hour long battle with an NVA unit that made an unusual frontal assault. When daylight came, it was a grim scene, with hundreds of enemy dead.
Greg Lowe's MP's had to search thousands of Vietnamese civilians every day as they arrived to work at Long Binh post. There was less VC sabotage than there was just plain thievery. Outside the base, soldiers were tempted by cheap drugs, which were plentiful.
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.
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.
It was a night to remember when Bob Hope visited Long Binh post in 1970. Greg Lowe enjoyed that show, particularly when his driver got a lap full of Lola Falana. Then it's true confession time as he reveals the source of the steak and lobster served at the monthly parties.
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/.)
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.
Greg Lowe discusses his visits to the Vietnam War Memorial and the veterans group he is active with, who were partners in the 50th anniversary commemoration activities. He fondly remembers the troops love of a classic Eric Burden tune and he pays tribute to the ROTC supply sergeant who taught him about leadership.
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.
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. His action during this time earned him the Navy Cross.
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.
He was an Army brat who was attracted to the service. Greg Lowe went to Western Kentucky University, where he excelled in ROTC and was an enthusiastic member of the Pershing Rifles. After receiving his commission, he spent a year in an armored unit and a year in a cavalry unit, but, in fact, he was a Military Police officer and he was destined for Virtnam.
Since his roommate was the personnel officer, Greg Lowe was able to skip the routine of waiting in a replacement detachment when his time was up in Vietnam. His relationship with his father was strengthened when he got home because of the shared experience of combat.
Tom Buchan learned a lot in Vietnam, a lot about combat, third world countries, politics, poverty and a lot about himself. When he got off the plane after it was all over, some anti-war protestors taunted him with hateful speech. He nearly lost it.
The Vietnam War was starting to slow down when LC Johnson arrived in 1972. His logistics skills were needed to get some expensive furniture used by the brass back to America. He did have one spine tingling moment during a rocket attack, but thankfully his battles were mostly played out on the baseball field.
Around Cu Chi, you almost never saw the enemy who was shooting at you. He would pop out of a hole, fire off some rounds and hide again. It was maddening to Tom Buchan, but at least there weren't many booby traps in the area. He did nearly run over a land mine, but was saved by a driver who cut in front of the tank.
After his reserve unit had been dissolved, Tom Buchan was working in his auto mechanic shop when he got a letter from Uncle Sam. He went to Fort Carson to a mechanized infantry unit. "I'm a tanker," he told them, but he was put to work as a radioman and then as a driver. He might have finished out his obligation stateside but he got into a ruckus in a bar. The CO didn't like that.
Greg Lowe was a company commander and then Deputy Provost Marshal at the giant Long Binh post in Vietnam. He put himself in the rotation as duty officer and he recalls an incident involving a Coast Guard commander who was over served at the club.
He was a rebel who hated school. Tom Buchan spent most of his time trying to stay out of trouble when he began to get interested in the draft he knew was coming for him. Wanting to choose his specialty in the Army, he joined the reserves to become a tank crewman.
Bill Pearson was walking along the top of a flooded rice paddy dike when the man in front of him stepped on a booby trap. The explosion wounded that man and the man behind him, but he was untouched. When his radioman was hit, he had to carry the litter through the deep muck.
The nickname of the MP company was The Bloodhounds. Someone stateside sent them a bloodhound puppy who grew into a real beast. Greg Lowe recalls that his name was Andy, that he was an honorary captain and that he loved to torment the domestic workers.