one of our many trips to the bush, Alpha Company teamed up with
elements of the 1-61 and their tanks to conduct search and destroy
missions. This was my first encounter with these mechanical
monsters. We were told by the LT to mount up, but stay off the lead
tank in case it hit a mine. So I chose a tank a little back in the
column and settled in for the ride. At first I thought, man, these
tankers sure have it made. They had cases of c-rations, beer, Army
cots and everything but the kitchen sink tied onto their tanks and
here we had to carry everything on our backs. Man, they had it made!
As the column moved out I leaned back against my rucksack and held
on for dear life. Those things may be big but they are in no way
slow. Soon we could barely hear ourselves think, for all of the
noise and the dust almost choked us to death.
times, when they had to move or wing the big gun around, the tank
commander would warn us. Maybe I was not paying enough attention, or
I did not hear him, but all of a sudden the turret started to move
and somehow, my weapon caught on something and broke clean in half.
I was left holding nothing but a plastic stock while the other half
of my weapon fell to the ground. The tank behind me just ran right
over it, smashing it into the ground. There was no use trying to
tell them to stop through all the noise. A couple of guys in the
squad riding with me just laughed. They thought it was funny.
finally arrived wherever we were going. I told LT Rees; he said he
would call in and to see if he could have one sent out. No such
luck! There would be no resupply till the next morning. I would just
have to wait. I thought, this is great; a night in the bush and no
weapon. My guys said, "Hey Sarge, if the gooks hit tonight, you can
beat them over the head with your stock." Funny bunch of guys! Well
thank goodness, nothing happened that night and sure enough the next
morning, out came the resupply and a new M16 for me. After a few
days of beating the bush with our tanker friends, we went in for a
three day stand down.
thought the whole busted weapon deal was laid to rest, but, OH NO,
not with the Army. I was called to report to the orderly room where
some REMF officer questioned me on what happened. After I told him
the story, he then informed me I owed "Uncle Sam" $240.00. I could
not believe it and was told the money would be deducted from my pay.
As soon as I left the orderly room, I went straight to LT Rees'
hooch and told him what had happened. He could not believe it
either. He said he would look into the matter. I don't know who he
talked to, but a few hours later he came back and told me not to
worry about owing "Uncle Sam" the money and that the weapon had been
written off as a combat loss. Can you believe it? All of the money
that was wasted everyday in Vietnam, and the Army was worried about a