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October 1, 1967

Left Campbell around 10:10 this a.m.  Rode a commercial American Flyers Airlines to Oakland, the flight lasting six hours.  I was plane commander as the only officer on the flight.  Boarded the USNS General Weigel.  We have a room with four beds…The rooms are given according to rank, alphabetically.  Had a very good meal aboard ship, candied yams, cottage cheese, salad, corn and broccoli.  No main course though because all choices are definitely not kosher.

October 2, 1967

Second day on the ship.  I have to stop calling it a boat since the Navy takes offense.  The tentative sailing date is still October 3, 1967 at 1400…

October 3, 1967 - Tuesday

…Pulled out around 1430, under the golden gate bridge.  The water was a bit choppy  and we (I) saw many troopers this evening with sea sickness.  So far I've been lucky but I suspect most of it is due to the fact that I'm taking Dramamine and compazine… I moved up into the sick bay area, away from my quarters.  This will make it easier for emergencies and sick call, as well as very convenient for me.  

October 4, - Wednesday

Saw around 95 troopers on sick call, a very high percentage of sea sickness, with most of the men from the most forward section of the ship.  Also had a little excitement when one of the hospital patients passed out.  PFC Wells was with him and prevented serious injury.

October 6, 1967

Sick call has finally let up a bit.  I was beginning to wonder if we really did have enough seasick pills.  We almost made a boat-to-boat transfer, but the waves were much to high to do it safely.  We will definitely stop off at Midway to let off two men who cannot continue, and another whose father died.

October 7, 1967

My medics have taken over most of the sick call routine procedures now and are helping the ship's medics considerably.  Navy medics undergo a far more extensive training program than do army, since they are more frequently isolated and have to be more self-sufficient.  Most of my medics have attached onto their navy counterparts and are pumping them for as much medical information as they can.

…The medics also look for leadership from the Sp-5 (specialist 5), who by virtue of having completed a tour in Vietnam and survived, is now a hero to the men, and feels he can contradict a medical opinion and/or advice of the doctor and get away with it.  The doctor related an experience regarding this very problem.  He had been giving a talk to his medics on the immediate care of sucking chest wounds, and outlined a program for them.  The Sp-5 got up in the class and said that the doctor was nuts, that it wasn't the way to do it, and that he should know because when he was in Vietnam he had a sucking chest wound on a trooper, did something completely different, and the patient lived.  It's very hard to sell the Sp-5 as well as the rest of the men that the care was completely wrong and the patient survived in spite of, not because of, the treatment.  His reasoning was wrong, his treatment was wrong and the result was merely fortuitous.

We set our watches back for the second time today.  We are getting up earlier and earlier, and I'm having a heck of a time keeping busy until 0800.  I was joking with Curt that a trip to the latrine has become a monumental and celebrated event since it breaks up the monotony of the day.  We also occasionally go on deck with the troops while they undergo the physical training program.  It is important for the men to stay in top physical condition, so they have about an hour or two each day devoted to exercises.

October 10-11, 1967

After staying up most of the night, I went to sleep very early in the morning and almost missed our stop at Midway.  Our ship came within a few miles of shore and a small tug came to us and transferred the people off.  The entire island appears very small since you can see both ends of it from the ship.  It almost seems unbelievable that thousands lost their lives during World War II for that little bit of property…

We also crossed the international date line so tomorrow will be Thursday.

I had a little gastroenteritis this morning which I think was due to the malaria pill.  I still haven't found the answer on how to satisfy the military's requirements to take the pill and my guts' total rejection of same.

October 17, 1967

Lieutenant Washington and the platoon sergeant presented a list of medics who will not get off the ship in Philippines.  We had a few objections, but basically I thought it was fair.  In general, only those that had been in some sort of trouble during the trip were to be excluded.  (In actuality, we stayed at Subic Bay longer than anticipated and it worked out that all the men had a chance to go ashore.). 

October 19, 1967 

 We arrived at Subic Bay around 1800 hours… I went to the Chuck Wagon, an eating place on the navy base, with several of the other officers.  Although shipboard food was always excellent we were reaching the end of the voyage and thought it might be quite a while before we had read steaks again, so we all had beef.  Needless to say all of us went overboard.  We stayed there and listened to some very good western music for about an hour and then moved to the main officers' club where they had a terrific band and a very young Filipino singer.  She belted out song after song for several hours for us and we stayed and danced there until approximately midnight…

When we returned to the ship men were pulling, pushing, fighting, carrying and dragging drunk troopers back on.  One, a Private Shannon of our battalion, put up quite a fight; it took nine people approximately half an hour to round him up and get him aboard the ship, cussing all the way.  When I attempted to help, the private took a few good healthy punches at me but fortunately his footwork wasn't all this it should have been and he missed.  Later on he became Sergeant Shannon and was one of the first of the unit to be awarded a Bronze Star for valor.  I saw him several times in the aid station during the tour and each time he would be attempting to get back out on the field as soon as possible after treatment.  Another man, a captain from one of the aviation units, and was very drunk and spent fifteen to twenty minutes hollering invectives at me although I'm not sure why.  Since I had spent the evening drinking cokes and was completely sober I resisted the urge to fight.  He subsequently went upstairs and fought with Sergeant Chassion, a few of the navy boys, and some of the members from his own unit.  I thought to myself that if this obnoxious person was an example of an officer I was getting out of the military as soon as possible.  (This also proved to be a hasty evaluation since when sober the captain was a fine gentleman and apparently was reliving some of his previous experiences while with a combat unit.).  Fortunately all of my medics got on board in good shape.

October 20, 1967

All of the men got liberty again today...  It's amazing that some of these troopers within forty minutes of leaving the ship manage to get drunk that it took three to get them back aboard.  We took six boys to the hospital for examination and went to the town of Olongapo right near the base at Subic Bay.

The town was one of the highlights of my trip so far; I thought things like this only existed in the magazines.  There was filth and garbage littering the streets.  The cabs were World War II jeeps, very garishly decorated, and every other store on the main street was a bar.  Women accosted us on the street and made every attempt to have us go into the bars with them.  Very young boys would start a conversation with a serviceman while their companions tried to steal what they could when they had the opportunity.  Many a trooper would converse for a few minutes and find that his watch and wallet were missing.  Six of us went into one of the bars the navy men had told us about as soon as we sat down, several women came to the table.  Another group of men at a nearby table, I later learned, had a watch stolen and two wallets taken.  After Lieutenant Kessinger and I left, one of our officers apparently couldn't resist and went into the back room with one of the girls.  When he had his trousers off a portion of the wall opened and someone very deftly grabbed his pants, took the wallet, emptied it of the money and threw the wallet and trousers back into the room.  All of this usually happened so fast that the "gentleman" could not react very rapidly.  It will be a long time before the men and I will let him forget the experience.

Lieutenant Kessinger and I had quite a time returning.  It was about a ten block walk to the gate and seemed more like running a gauntlet.  I stayed one pace behind and to the right of the lieutenant and managed to catch a few hands attempting to get into his pocket.  Immediately after that we went to the officers' club and about forty-five minutes later I was able to contact home.  We were cut off once and I made another contact twenty minutes later.  I returned to the ship for what I thought would be the last time but when I got there several fights had broken out and I ended up by going back to the hospital with a truck load of casualties.  After sorting things out I rushed back in a cab (incidentally, I paid for all these trips out of my own pocket) and made it back to the ship just prior to leaving port.

October 25, 1967

We arrived in Cam Ranh Bay today and after a brief but very colorful ceremony drove the sixty miles to Phan Rang, the base camp of the 101st where we were greeted by several dignitaries including General Mathieson, the commander of the first brigade… Now that the initial shock of coming into country is over we can look around the Phan Rang area and see the extreme beauty.  The sky is as blue as I have seen it and the foliage is tremendous.