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BRAD'S VIETNAM EXPERIENCE
~written 30 years after the day I was wounded in Vietnam~
On 7 Feb 67, two days before I turned 19, I began basic training. I got on the bus in Long Beach CA in the late afternoon which took us to Fort Ord CA. After Basic Training I went to Fort Gordon GA for AIT (Advanced Infantry Training), then on to Fort Benning GA for Airborne Training. Then it was on to Fort Campbell KY for Jungle Training. In Mid Dec 67 we flew on Lockheed C-141 starlifters to the Bien Hoa Airport. Convoy 10 wheelers took us to Cu Chi, northwest of Saigon (III Corp). We were introduced to the ways of the vietnamese and participated in training drills, to acclimate us to the hot weather. On our first night out in the jungle we spent the evening laying around in the bushes. We did not rest easy as it was STRANGE being in a real war zone. Any noise made us jump. We could not talk or smoke. No shooting may have taken place that night but you got scared over and over again. We were all in this together and it was our first taste of the terror which was to come. We got on 4 propeller C-130's and flew up to Hue (I Corp) where I remained till I was wounded. I was an M-60 machine gunner. The M60 is a 10.4 kilo, belt-fed machine gun capable of firing 600 rounds per minute at a range of 900 meters. It served as the basic infantry platoon automatic weapon and was also mounted on a number of vehicles including helicopters. On 13 Mar 68 I was hit in the head by schrapnel (metal fragments). I lost my left eye. I was flown by Huey helicopter with the other wounded and KIA's to a tent hospital in Da Nang, 60 miles away. No other machine saved as many lives during the war as the Medevac Hueys. After being assessed, I was flown to the Naval Hospital Ship, USS Sanctuary. There I was operated on and remained for 15 days.
On 1 Apr 68 I was flown with hundreds of other wounded servicemen to an Air Force Base in San Francisco. From there, I was flown by helicopter to Letterman General Hospital to a waiting ambulance. From there I was carried inside by stretcher. After recuperating I was sent home in July to await retirement which became effective on 7 Aug 68. Some may think me bitter for what happened to me as it profoundly changed the course of my life. I am not bitter in the least, though. I went to Vietnam to serve my country and thought I was going to be fighting for a noble cause to free the Vietnamese people from Communist oppression. I am forever thankful to God for sparing my life and giving me a second chance. The only thing that really saddens me is all those who DIDN'T get that second chance. I guess that is why I spend so much of my time trying to help my fellow veterans. I am still 100% disabled due to my injury in Vietnam and am unable to work because of a severe memory impairment but I don't have to sit back and play the part of a victim. I will do what I can to assist those who need and want help and I will do it till the day I die!
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