Sp4 Max T. Leach

FDC,  2/9th  Bravo  Battery 1968-1969


Drafted 14Mar68 - Ft Worth, Texas
Basic Training - Ft Polk, Louisiana
AIT - Ft. Sill, Oklahoma

My Drill Sergeant noticing my family name asked me "Who are you?".  I answered: "I am an American".  Later I told him I was adopted, that is why I have LEACH as a surname.  I am of Chinese Filipino ancestry.  He probably thought I was a VietCong getting basic training secrets - just joking!  I remember Capt. Stephen H. Brunson, my Company Commander, 1st Bn, Company "B".  I was successful in basic training and won the American Spirit Medal.

In June, 1968, I reported as a new candidate to Office Candidate School (OCS) at Ft. Sill .  I remember encountering newly graduated OCS soldiers.  They were rushing out onto the grounds from their classes.  Two Caucasians soldiers saw me and hollered for me to come over.  I was surprised.  The shorter one said, with a loud angry voice, “I’m going to Vietnam to kill people like you!”  Both laughed with delight. I was shocked and could not do anything but stand there.

This is one of many reasons why I chose to not continue with OCS.   I did not want to become an officer; this would prolong my military duty to four years.  I was on a "military leave of absence" from a JC Penney store in SF as a department manager and therefore someday I had a chance to become a store manager.  I have a B.E. in Psychology and wanted a career in retailing and not in the military.  I dropped out in my fifth week of OCS and was sent directly to Vietnam along with other dropouts.  In October, 1968, I was assigned to 2/9th "B" Battery in FDC as a 13E20.  At this fire base I was the only Asian American in FDC, with the exception of another Asian American from Chicago who was a gunner. 

Oct, 1968 - Oct, 1969
FDC - "Bravo" Battery, 2/9th

I spent approximately six months in the FDC.  Someone heard that I had a good life as a civilian.  He liked me so much, therefore he reassigned me to the Infantry as an RTO with the FO team.   The Infantry was delightful, marching through wet, rainy jungles and mountains chasing "Charlie".  At night we slept at the side of the mountains with the mosquitoes, etc.  To make this short, I caught malaria and had to be evacuated by helicopter.  The helicopter had no doors; both sides were open.  I nearly fell out.


Later, I was assigned to the infantry outside our firebase, which B Battery supported.  As I recall, there wasn’t an FO or RTO team.  Someone had told me that there would be an FO at a later date. No one told me if the prior one was KIA. It turned out I was acting FO and RTO for a short while.  I called in fire a few times, first round smoke then if it looked good and didn’t have to adjust, HE was called next.  I was scared as hell.  I didn’t know what I was doing.  I used my experience while in FDC to remember what to do.  I don’t recall the name of our infantry unit.  I was just sent out with no briefing or information.  I don’t recall who finally came to serve as an FO. The Capt. of the infantry unit, as I remember, always smoked his pipe while looking at a map. He always had a worried look on his face.  The point men in our infantry were stressed all the time.  We encountered a few Vietcong in which our soldiers took care of. Thank God we encountered no heavy enemy engagement.


Our infantry unit was always moving and searching for “Charlie” through thick jungle, hillsides and deep ravines. At times, we were sleeping on hillsides.  I didn’t know where we were going.  I just followed wherever our Capt. directed us to go.

I remember one incident when two of our soldiers were posted on one of the dirt jungle trails. They had camouflaged themselves really well and were waiting to ambush “Charlie”.  Early morning, we heard several rifle shots and then more rifle shots.  We found out later our soldiers had encountered two Vietcongs walking the dirt trail; surprised they threw a smoke grenade. In the confusion the enemy escaped.


The dead Vietcong bodies seemed unreal. The skin looked white and  light yellow in color.  They seemed plastic, unmoving and lifeless.


I recall our infantry unit going to the central highlands of Pleiku. We came upon a village with long thatch wooden houses. The houses must have been about 100 ft. long and 30 ft. wide. The people were called Montagnards. All the family members lived together in this long house. They were friendly people.

Honorable Discharge: 24 Oct 1969

In Hawaii, I was discharged from Schofield Barracks.  Also, I received my certificate of naturalization in 1969 from the United States District of Hawaii.  Yes, I became a US citizen and a proud American.

Rarely do I think about my tour in Nam because of the negative connotation it invokes. Being in FDC, I remember I was ordered by my FDO to go outside the firebase to be assigned to the infantry as an FO for 3 months. I did not volunteer.  I reluctantly did my duty not wanting to disobey.  Soldiers knew the high risk of being an FO. I called in Fire to the enemy while an FO, also carried my radio. I was always self-conscious of the radio antenna being 2 to 3 feet above my head...an obvious target.  Fortunately, I saw only moderate enemy encounters; called artillery fire only a few times.  I would like to know how many FDC personnel was ordered to become a temporary FO? ***
As I recall, my FDC personnel where SP4 Jay Flamme, PFC Joseph Gloystein and others.  The FDO was Lt Charles Stout.

***Webmaster's Note:  More than you can count!

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