Bill Davis, one of our South Carolina interviewees, contributed the column below to the August 2011 issue of Stay Thirsty. Bill, a former IT executive recruiter, now drives a cab in Myrtle Beach, while he researches and writes about a book about the Vietnam War.
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The following account has been exhaustively researched by David “Doc” Snider, Historian for the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion and a 1st Reconnaissance Bn. Corpsman in Vietnam (1969) and by W.F. ‘Bill’ Davis, USMC (1970 – 1977). The names and events are real.
The American Forces in Vietnam faced the combined forces of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), a formal and well-equipped army, and the Viet Cong, sympathizers who lived by the Ho Chi Minh philosophy of farmers and villagers by day – soldiers by night. To the Marines in Vietnam, they were collectively known as “Charlie.”
Saturday morning, March 2, 1968
The fifteen-member team named Texas Pete sat on their packs beside the helicopter Landing Zone at Camp Reasoner. They were in “hurry up and wait” mode, second in line for insertion into the bush. The sun had begun to climb in the sky and warmed the back of their necks. In the distance, the clear sound of returning CH-46 transport helicopters could be heard. Lt. Clebe McClary turned and shouted “the birds are inbound, saddle up!” The CH-46 hovered down to the LZ in a big cloud of red dust and quickly team Texas Pete lumbered on board as other teams with other destinations began to assemble at the LZ. McClary ordered the team to “lock and load.”
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