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I recently came across this FB group page and found myself intrigued by many of the posts. The page was created to show the world what these young soldiers endured during a difficult time in American history. Here’s some of the pictures and posts:
Any grunt will tell you, living and fighting in the jungle, rice patties, the delta and mountains of Vietnam was beyond words. ACo 1/508 82nd ABN INF spent time in just about all the areas of operation just mentioned. it wasn’t just contact with the enemy, but having to endure the elements. Flesh eating ants, the deadly snakes, scorpion’s, rats the size of cats just to name a few of the things we all hated. Not mention the dislike for us by civilians back home.
Booby traps that were crude but very effective. Running out of water and have to drink from bomb craters and rivers.
Most of us prayed for not so serious wounds, some actually didn’t care what kink of wound, as long as you could walk and breath. The goal was just to get a break in the rear where their was hot food, cold shower and a beer.
During our tour with A co 1/508 82nd ABN INF grunts only experienced a hand full of times spent in a base camp witch was considered to be the life of luxury. We never thought getting injured would be such a joy.
Pictured below is a happy trooper going to the aid station, and 3rd Platoon on yet another trip to the muddy water hole of a bomb crater.
Since we lived in the elements, jungle fatigues with no holes in them were a premium.
If you see a man wearing a Combat Infantry Badge from Vietnam, shake his hand!
We all felt like we had some of the best training of any soldier going to war. Basic Training, Advanced Infantry Training. Airborne jump school. Training for war and actually going to war are two different things.
Yes the physical part of combat wasn’t an issue for most of us. Carrying 100 plus pound rucksack in 100 plus heat was difficult but most could and did handle it.
The phycological end was whole different animal. If you asked any Infantry man (Grunt) he will tell you, it’s after the battle is when reality sets in. Your mind has been going a hundred miles an hour… “Then Its over”.. for now.
Were sure you’ve heard of something called PTSD. 50 years later we all still suffer in one way or another. Traumatic events from combat live on for life. Every day after the “Nam” is a bonus day in life. Never take any day for granted. Live the best you can. That’s what the most of are still doing today. One day at a time.
Love each other. Never take anyone for granted. Life is like a vapor, It appears for a moment, then It’s gone.
One of the ways we coped with the horrors of war was to live by the grunts motto. “IT DON’T MEAN NOTHIN”!
Our good friend and fellow grunt Jim Gaertner came up with these powerful words. IT DON’T MEAN NOTHIN’………..”“It don’t mean nothin’………”
We used to say that a lot in Vietnam. At the end of the day after humping an 85-100 lbs. rucksack plus weapons and ammo, and every muscle and bone in your body aches? “It don’t mean nothin’……….”
Wearing the same ragged, filthy, sweat soaked jungle fatigues for weeks and weeks on end without being able to bathe like a normal human being? “It don’t mean nothin’……….”
Living in the jungle like an animal, becoming one with them by necessity to survive? “It don’t mean nothin’……….”
Walking point down a well travelled enemy trail, smelling the cooking fires of the enemy, sensing their presence but unable to see much because of the thick jungle foliage? “It don’t mean nothin’……….”
Pulling your watch (guard duty) at the gun position (M-60 machine gun) in the middle of the night in darkness so black you can’t see your hand in front of your face, listening to the night sounds of the jungle and wondering if “Charlie” is out there stealthily crawling up on your position to kill you, you silently praying for daylight? “It don’t mean nothin’……….”
Getting a “Dear John” letter from your wife or steady girlfriend back home? “It don’t mean nothin’……….”
Firefights and cries of “Medic!”, “God!”, “Jesus!”, “Mommy!”……….cries that will haunt you all the days of your life? “It don’t mean nothin’”……….”
Watching good men die, including a best buddy, powerless to do anything for them, telling them they’re gonna be O.K. when you know they’re not? “It don’t mean nothin’……….”
It don’t mean nothin’??? WHY did we say that??? We said it because we hurt so bad no other words would come. We said it because we couldn’t afford the luxury to grieve, to cry. “It don’t mean nothin’” you say???
No, it meant everything………EVERYTHING……….That is all. SGT ROCK, VIETNAM-CAMBODIA 1969-1972
This is what 45 plus days in the bush looks like. No showers, no clean cloths, pulling ambush at night while sleeping a few hours. eat C-rations out of a small can. (most of the time cold) Learn to live on a few hours of sleep a day.
Everyday is the same. Searching for the enemy, and when you find him it turns into a moment of shear terror. When it’s over you get the wounded and K.I.A’s on a medevac helicopter and continue your next mission. Then it’s more of the same.
Carry a hundred pound rucksack in a hundred degree heat. Almost everyday someone would pass out due to exhaustion.
Water was a premium. When we ran out we drank out rivers and streams as well as bomb craters filled with monsoon rain.
Most of us came up with malaria and dysentery.(the gift that keeps on giving.) then later in life came the effects of Agent Orange. We are still fighting and still dying. Most of us have the attitude, any day after the Nam, is a bonus day in life!
These Boy Solders from the 82nd Airborne endured some of the worst conditions known to mankind. Always wet along with sweat burning their eyes, Then their Deadly snakes, scorpions and mosquitoes constantly buzzing around your ears. Fire ants who love to bite. It’s like being stung by a yellow jackets.
They were just out of high school (18-19). It didn’t take long to be hardened to the core. That’s what months in the bush does to you.
Not to mention what it does when we went home. Some of us still carry guilt for just surviving. Most of us are now in our 70’s. Even through it might have been 50 years ago, at times it seems like 5 minutes ago.
Those of us who remain will never forget our fallen brothers. Love for each other. That’s what we had. At the time America hated us. The media and protesters took over. (Amazing how somethings never change) Those who returned threw away their uniforms and tried to blend in the best they could. Some went and hid. Not saying a word about what they just went through.
Today we do our best to LIVE everyday to the fullest. It’s all about LOVE. (Photo above is from our sister battalion A co 2nd Platoon 1/505 infantry (ABN) 82nd Airborne) Grunts waiting for extraction by choppers.
John Rafter left this comment regarding one of the posts contained herein: Another thing to point out was that the 82nd was one of the units that fought two very distinct wars after arriving quickly as TET smoldered in Feb. ‘68. One in the hills surrounding Hue, in the highest mountains, and thickest jungles in northern most I Corps, and then in latest Sept. ‘68 the 3rd Brigade shifted to the III Corps rice paddy lowlands, small villages, and tunneled woods to the nearby Tan Son Nhut Air Base, and Saigon’s NW outward boundaries….and furthest to the Parrots Beak’s border, and side trips to the Ho Bo Woods. And even into the flooded Delta on some sloggy missions. We even caught the monsoon rains twice with this move, as the heavy clouds found us again…..rotting the boots off our feet about every four months. Great photo Gentlemen….looking good, and recognize you 50+ years later. Doc R., 1/505, Charlie Co., 1st Platoon.
All pictures were donated by the grunts and their families of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne, Vietnam 1968-69. This group is also looking for all former members – if you are one, please contact them at the link provided below.
These posts (with permission) were all pulled from the following non-profit FB website:
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