Highland Tour IV

The 1/92nd Field Artillery
Association - Vietnam

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Ollie's Friends


I am sitting on the trail, and Reg Karg is standing. Reg was my gunner when he first came in country, and went on to be Section Chief of gun 4. After I went home, he won the Silver Star at Phu Nhon. I would like to say I taught him everything he knew, but I think that, after meeting his parents, he already had what it took to be the excellent leader that he was. Reg was about as unassuming person as you would ever meet. He was uncomplaining, and reliable. We have recently gotten in touch again, and he is still that same kind of person I remember so well. It is nice to know that some things never change!





This is Joe, Rocky, and me. Rocky got me through the early part of my stay, and Joe got me through the middle of my stay with their good humor. There was hardly a subject they could not make fun of in some way I would find amusing. This picture is taken just minutes before Rocky heads over to Plieku Air Base, and goes home to his beloved Gary, Indiana. Joe (on the left) was from Monogahela Pennsylvania. When I visited him, I was treated royally by everybody I met. They are friendly people there in western Pennsylvania.



Here is one of the true characters of my stay in Viet Nam. This is Mike, and we called him The Mayor of Plieku, because he had been there for two and a half tours when I met him. He was still there when I left. He was from Chicago, as were several of the guys in the unit when I arrived. Mike was also known as Magilla, after the truck he drove of the same name. He, or more correctly, someone rolled the truck just before I arrived. When I came on Artillery Hill, one of the first things I saw was that truck, all beat up. I knew right then that war was hell! It was people like The Mayor that made war survivable. He made any work detail an adventure, and time seemed to fly when he was around. I passed him in rank, but I still looked up to him because of his knowledge. Everyone needed friends like him to get through the bad times.




This is David. I don't know who took this picture, I never did get one that would show his face. David came over from the 4th Infantry when his artillery unit went home. He was an E5, and became Reg's gunner. I can't explain why, but Dave and I seemed to hit it off right away. He fit right in with the spirit of the unit, and I don't think there was a subject that Dave and I didn't talk about. Like most twenty-one year olds the subject most discussed was women. We were both sure we knew what we were talking about! David got wounded down at Phu Nhon, and we lost contact. Out of the blue about a year ago, he contacted me, and we have kept in contact ever since. I felt bad, because I got a one month drop on my extension just before he got wouned. For twenty nine years I have carried the guilt that I should have been there, that I could have done something to prevent it. It was only recently that I discovered that I would have been gone anyway. I wasted twenty nine years of guilt on this guy-geeeeeeez!



This is Bill on the left. He, Reg, and I were called " The Sergeants Three" as we ran around together. David joined the group, and threw everything out of kilter, but then, he was good at that! Actually, Charlie Battery got along well as one big family. We had our little differences of opinion now and then, but I don't remember any big problems like race, or rank like I saw in other units. I had friends in every gun section, and felt welcome everywhere in the Battery. The FDC guys took time to teach me the rudiments of their job. The cooks would share their after-hours specialties (pastries to die for, and chilies that would raise the dead!) The Chief of Smoke (Platoon Sergeant) took time to teach me how to lay the guns. Everyone seemed to add to my education, and helped get me though the war.

A little postscript about Bill. He and his wife Didi came to visit me in San Diego after he came back from Viet Nam. I took them to visit Sea World which had not been going all that long back in 1971. We were sitting watching the Killer Whale show, when Didi was picked to be kissed by Shamu, the 15,000 lbs. Killer Whale. I got a picture of the kiss, but I wish I would have gotten a picture of the look on Bill's face when Didi was walking down to the tank. He had only been home for a week, and he wasn't so sure that she should be anywhere close to a Killer Whale! She survived, and I later visited them in Iowa.

Here is a picture of the crew of Gun 6 out at Dak To II. From left to right: Johnson (he was the one hit by lightening) Frank Camacho, Johnson (yes I know, Johnson&Johnson) he was my hootchmate there, Tommy Gray (the workaholic), and, I am sorry, but the name of the man on the right escapes me. He and I extented our tours there at the same time. The Captain had us over to sign the papers at headquarters hooch, and as we were headed back toward the gun, a few 122s came flying in! We looked at each other from our hastily found hiding place, and without words we both knew we wondering if we had made a good choice. You can see that J&J are short. They are about 30 days from leaving, and everything that is happening at this firebase is not making them happy. I wasn't jumping for joy either, and I still had eight more months to go! We are digging a channel through the pit wall to drain water from the nights downpour. Dak To could be hot, and dry one day, and a swampy mess the other. This is one of the swampy mess days. That is part of Rocket Ridge in the background. More than once, we took 122s from there. When they weren't coming off the ridge, they were coming from directly behind me.

So ends the fourth page of my tour in the highlands. If it seems like all I did was praise my fellow troops, that was my intention. I am, by nature, easy to get along with, and the few people that I didn't like would not get a mention on a "friends" page anyway. We were young, and naive, and doing extrordinary work under very difficult conditions. We had every right to be at each other's throats, but we were not. Any difficulties were usually patched up quickly. Survival depended on trust, and we trusted each other with our lives. I have never experienced the absolute teamwork we had there since I became a civilian. I am proud to have known each and every one of these men.

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