December, 1968 - January, 1970
2/9th Arty & 1/69th Armor
4th Inf Div, 3d Brigade


I was inducted into the U.S. Army on 12June68 at the Cincinnati, Ohio induction center. There, I lifted up my right hand and swore an oath to the Constitution and the flag that flies over this country. Then we left for the Cincinnati airport to fly to Fort Polk, Louisiana (Little Vietnam) for basic training. From there I was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. (I was placed in a radio/electronics MOS).  And I had no idea how I was picked for this. I did not  know one thing about radio or electronics, another army mistake. On the second day, I asked how I got picked for this, so they told me that I would be reassigned to a new MOS. From Fort Sill, I was sent to Fort Leonard Wood to start training as a 36K field wireman pole climber, radio operator, how to work with SOI, and how to setup and use a crypto machine. From there, after going home on  leave, I would go to Vietnam.  I was already engaged, and I asked my fiancée to marry me before I had to leave for Vietnam. This took place on November 30, 1968. I have three girls and 9 grandkids, and we are working on 44 years plus if it is God will. I think I left the States around the first of December.  

I arrived in Vietnam around 12Dec68, at Tan Son Nhut air base. Two days later, I was at Camp Enari, headed to the 4th Infantry Division 3rd Bde. One day later, I was standing in the 2/9th Artillery Headquarters Service Battery. In just hours I was told that I was going on a convoy down south to Ban Me Thout. This was my first convoy riding as shotgun on a 3/4 ton. We were going down south to bring a gun battery back to Enari. Before we reached Ban Me Thout, one of the APC tracks was hit by a B-40 rocket . …. THIS IS WHEN I LEARNED A LESSON, THAT I WAS A NEW BOOT ON THE GROUND. You need to clean your M-16 when you get it out of the Armory…(you better clean it).. IT WILL JAM UP. The round would not eject. Gasoline will work to clean it good and fast. And keep a cleaning rod taped to the stock of that M-16. Loading up the gun battery, the next day we made it back to Camp Enari with a clean run on the road.  

Two days later, I was on my way to the Oasis (with a clean M-16). I was told that I would be going to the HQ at the Oasis and on to the 1st of 69th Armor unit, I would be working in their  Headquarters TOC, clearing all artillery firing grids around 1/69th and bringing up gun batteries for fire support, for the FO in the field with the 1/69th.  I would be working for Lt. Robert Baird, who later on was HQ company CO at Camp Enari, and he made captain at the Oasis. I also worked with Ronald L. Watts, who was from Lexington, KY, and Eugene E Lea from MO.      

There is a story about how I got to the 1/69th. Back at Camp Enari, that First Sergeant really  liked his Jack Daniels.  So, when we were all assembled together, waiting on that old first sergeant (and he was old) to tell us where everyone was going, he came out of his office about ten sheets in the wind. I should have gone to "A" Battery, and Robert Brown, who I went through AIT with, should have gone to HQ at the Oasis. Robert Brown and I were AWOL for a month or two, until one of the pounding typewriter clerks, figured it out.  As an RTO, I liked working from 2300 hrs to 0700 hrs; if something was going to happen, it would start around dark, so it was quiet. I would just make sure that everyone in field was awake and on the radio.  

Sometime in early January, 1969 I was sent out to help Lt. Steven Riley Huffstutler and his RTO. They needed help on the radio at night. I remember that it got cold at night up there on that mountainside. It was high up in the clouds, hot in the day and cold at night. I kept my field coat when I came over from the States. I did not turn it in and it kept me warm at night in the mountains of Vietnam. I have a photo of Lt. Steven R. Huffstutler when we were together. The Lt. was from Mentone, CA. I would like to get that photo to someone that is in his family. I was only with him about a week, or two that  fire base it was guarded by CIDG’s. Lt. Steven R. Huffstutler was killed in an LOC chopper crash on May 18, 1969. The Lt. came in country 28 of August 1968...  If you read this and you knew Lt. Heuffstutler, I would like to hear from you; and if you are a family member, I live in Dayton, Ohio and I’m in the phone book. Email address is ( or (dcox05@gmailcom).  


I was sent back to Oasis and 1/69 Armor. On March 3, 1969, Company B of the 1/69 armor got in a tank battle with North Vietnam Army at Ben Het. This was up near the Laotian and Cambodia  and South Vietnam border. This is when the North sent five PT76 lightweight tanks to hit Ben Het. The B company 1/69 Armor was guarding a special force camp at Ben Het. B company took out two of the PT76 and a light track APC. Sometime on or around March 3, 1969, at the Oasis we were told to get ready to move. We were bugging out for Ben Het. By the time the other 1/69 B company that had been  working west of the Oasis near the Cambodia border on highway 19 got to the Oasis, it was dark. They told us we were bugging out in the dark. The convoy headed north to Camp Enari and Pleiku and on to Kontum then to  Ben Het. We were in a jeep pulling a trailer and behind an M-88 tank wrecker. After leaving Pleiku City, headed north on HWY 14 about halfway to Kontum, with the road blocked with anything that the VC could drag out on the road for about a half a mile, the convoy went off the road on the right side, because the left side was close to the jungle and the right side was flatter and more open. Sometime later, I remember, I heard what I think now was a round that went buzzing by the jeep, but at the time I had never heard that sound before. I had seen a flash from the top of a big dead tree on the left side near the edge of the jungle. I think all of us in that jeep were going deaf from that M-88 tank retriever muffler. About halfway to Kontum is about the time when an M-48-A tank went off the road and right through a big mud hooch, right in one side and out the  other, with dust and dried mud flying everywhere. That hooch was right up next to the road and that tank kept right on going. We had been on the move for hours and everyone in that convoy was getting tired. Some of the tankers in that convoy had not had any sleep for 48 hours, so I think someone fell asleep at the stick and went off the road.   In Kontum we stopped just for an hour or two and then back on the road head to Ben Het. We left Kontum and the convoy headed north to Dak To on Hwy 512. When we got to Dak Mat Kram, the convoy crossed the Dak Poko river on a pontoon bridge and headed to Ben Het.  

The time I spent at Ben Het with Lt. Baird and Watts plus Lee is a time I will not forget. We had to stay alert at all times. That first eight days at Ben Het, I think we had about 98 rockets and mortars, if I remember that right. I think everyone knew where all the HOLES were to dive into. We had a bunker in a bunker to get away from the 122mm rockets.  I remember when a 122mm rocket hit a bunker that one of the gun batteries at Ben Het was using. I went to help load up the chopper with wounded on the dust off. I think there were three KIA that day. I know for sure one was killed--that one is burned into my mind. If I think about it now, it was one of the big guns--an 8 inch SP or 155 SP that got hit that day. One day early in the morning, a 122mm came in and hit a M-548A cargo carrier track that had been put in a hole that a dozer dug out for it. The track was loaded with tank ammo and everything you could get in it, like mortar rounds, HE rounds, M16 ammo--you name it and it was in that track. That track cooked off all day and into the night. That 122mm rocket started a track on fire, as well as a jeep and one 3/4 ton truck. That day everyone kept their head down and stayed in a bunker. I think that I had heard that someone at the special forces camp had somehow come up with a telescope; this is how they found the cave the rockets were being fired from. They hammered the cave with 8-inch and 155mm rounds until it was closed. Someone told me that it had a big door in front of that cave. I have a lot of pictures of Ben Het.


Around the end of March or early April, we headed back on the long drive to Pleiku and Camp Enari and the 4th Inf. Div. I was glad to get to the 2/9 Artillery HQ rear. I got cleaned up and turned in everything. I looked like a NEW BOOT. I headed for the Oasis HQ forward. I am not quite sure when I got to the Oasis, but I was sent out with a captain as his RTO. I can not remember his name, but he was with Lt. Steven R. Huffstutler and me on a mountainside in January. We ended up down southwest of  Ban Me Thout at a Montagnard Special Forces camp. The Montagnards had run into a North Vietnam Army supply unit. They went at that NVA supply unit for two days, and then called for an air strike on the third day. The 4th  ID sent a split battery down just in case. I think it was two 105's. It turned out nothing happened. While I was there, some airborne rangers came into camp and all of them had been over in Cambodia. They were doing everything they could do to the NVA over in Cambodia, digging all kinds of holes for bung pit, laying land mines, trip wire claymore mines and booby traps. This bunch was a group of nuts--all of them had two or three tours in Vietnam. We had sat around for a week or so. Then we got a chopper out to a base that had a runway, and caught a C-7 Caribou back to Pleiku. Then we headed back to the Oasis. I went to work around HQ helping out the Commo team running field wire and just cleaning up the compound.  

By May, I was doing anything to make the time pass at the Oasis. Monday, 12May1969, is a date that all that were there at the Oasis will not forget. I remember  rounds started coming in that night. Mortar rounds were hitting everywhere, and B-40 rockets were hitting the trees. A field phone hard line cable got hit and cut in two. Because this line came out of the fire direction center, the FDC could not bring up the guns at the Oasis. The communication officer got the Commo Sgt and me to run line on the ground to a box on a telephone pole, with rounds hitting all around us. Then I was asked to take a prick (PRC) 25 radio to a bunker. I think it was bunker number 1 or 2. I remember it had a guard tower next to it. All the time at Ben Het and all that was going on around us, it did not get to me. But taking that radio to that bunker, I could see some trigger happy GI taking a shot at me with all that was happening at the time. I kept low in a drainage ditch that ran along the front of 4th ID HQ. Our FDC had called the bunkers and told them I was coming out to bring a radio for them to use. Later on, they came and told me that I was going to be put in for a medal. I told the sergeant I was just doing my job. A mother’s prayers work, and God will talk to them and make them aware of what is going on. After getting home in 1970, on Mother’s Day my mother told me about what had happened to her last Mother’s Day. She told me that the Lord woke her up from her sleep on Saturday night late. Early Sunday morning, she got my father up and told him that they needed to pray for Steven right now. My mother prayed all day Sunday and that night.  

TAKING A JOB AT ENARI                                                                                                                                                                                                          

I had been to Camp Enari and was headed back to the Oasis with the mail room and message center clerk. He would bring the mail and paper work for the Sergeant Major and Battalion Commander. The clerk told me he was going home in a week. It came to me to ask him what his MOS was, when he told me that it was 36-K, the same as mine, I knew that I had to ask for the job. When we got to Oasis, the first thing I did was go find the Communications Officer. When I found him, he was walking from his tent to the FDC.  I stopped him, told him that the clerk was going home, and that I wanted his job. I had been out in the field for six months and would like that job. He looked at me and thought for a minute, and then he said OK. I think this was around June when I got to Camp Enari. My new job was going to 4th  Division HQ, getting the mail and all paper work, and taking it back to 2/9th Hq and getting the mail ready to go out to all batteries. I would take the mail out to the Oasis. It was a good job.  

I would help the commo group sometimes, when my job got slow. I would go and bring up the RTT rig on line in the morning sometimes and anything else that I could do. This kept the First Sergeant off my tail. My job was exempt from guard duty and all other duties. This 1SG was one that no one liked--he had no friends, not even other sergeants.  One of the men who had been in the same unit in Germany with him told everyone in our unit that one morning someone in the formation came out of formation after him with a knife, and an officer disarmed the GI before he got to the first sergeant.  Someone even tried to get him at the 2/9th Artillery Hq Svc Btry before I got there. I was told that someone booby trapped his foot locker, but he found it first. No one liked to come into Hq, Service Battery at Camp Enari, from the field , even for rest or even to going to the PX because of that first sergeant. One of the gun batteries set up a supply tent down near the motor pool and sent in a sergeant to run it. The sergeant was given a letter he was told to give to the 1SG if he came calling for bodies to do work around the Hq Svc Btry. That letter had came from the Battery Commander.  The BC had the Supply Sergeant read the letter before he set up the tent at Hq Svc Battery. Well, that 1SG came calling and that sergeant told that 1SG he could not have his men, and then handed him the letter. I was told that he hit the top of that tent, and went storming off to see Captain Baird, the CO at the time. Baird told him he could not do one thing about it.  Sometime later on, I was loading up the mail and getting ready to go out to the Oasis, when the 1SG walked up with his M-16 and flack jacket on. He told me he was going out with me to the Oasis. We left and he was real pleasant and talked a lot. But on the return trip, he was quiet as a mouse hiding from a bunch of cats. Later on I heard that he got a butt chewing, from whom I do not know. But I was told this, by a Hq Svc Battery clerk that when he left to go home he did not get promoted????  One day one of the clerks at the Hq Svc Battery asked me to take him to 4th Division HQ. I told him I had to stop at the PX and pick up something for the Sergeant Major out at the Oasis, so off we went. When we got to the PX, he took some papers out of a folder and took one out and ripped it up. Then he pitched it in the trash can.  Later, on the way back from Division, he told me what it was he had ripped up. It was the 1SG’s request orders for Germany. This sergeant had spent most of his army time in Germany, and he had a German wife and had kids over in Germany. With no orders, the clerk told me that he would get orders to the States, when his time to rotate came up, and if we were lucky he just might get stationed in the US.  

After the 4th ID turned over the Oasis to the SIDGs, they moved the forward HQ to Camp Enari. I got more added to my job since the courier was going back to the states. I got his job added to mine, and now I was the one that went to Division HQ to pick up the SOI and radio frequency changes when someone would lose their SOI or frequency booklet. This happened a lot.  We would get a call from Division and off I would go to 4th ID to pick up a pack to be sent out to all the batteries.  Then I was off to all the gun batteries to make a deliver. I had a lot of flight time in choppers before coming home. I would sometimes go out with the 2/9th Bn CO, or the Sergeant Major,  to get SOI and radio frequencies out to the gun batteries. About the middle of December, it was time for someone else to get some flight time in a Huey -- a new boot named Jesse White from Tennessee. We hit it off--I was born in east Tennessee. When you get short, it’s time to stay in base camp. Around 12 January, I was headed for the States and Fort Lewis, Washington and then on to Dayton, Ohio and a wife and a new life.  

The Army and me were not done yet. About a year and a half later, they wanted me at Fort Drum to help out a reserve unit from Springfield, Massachusetts. Well, I had just been laid off. This would be fun and I’d get paid for it. Well, they put me in an infantry unit in a heavy weapon squad, mortar and recoilless rifle. I did not do much in that two weeks. I did drop some mortar rounds in a tube. An army officer with a swagger stick came around, and they told him I was in Vietnam. He asked me about this mortar unit. I told him I would not want them shooting for me. They’re too slow getting a round out. I did get something from them, and it was ringing ears--just like in Vietnam--no ear plugs.  

Well that was my time in the army. I know there is more in this head of mine. It’s just locked up somewhere in there. I would not trade it for anything, but I would not want to do it again.    




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