Team Member, Richard Allen
Sgt. E5, Senior Medic
Assigned to the old Lang Vei Camp
BRAVERY IS BEING THE ONLY ONE WHO
KNOWS YOU'RE AFRAID.
- David Hackworth
Arrival in Vietnam
Late in the afternoon on January 17th 1968 I arrived in Camron Bay, South Vietnam. SF guys didn't arrive in A-teams, but as individuals, just like everyone else. I Gotta tell you that trepidation followed me off the plane. The heat and humidity hit me right in the face as soon as I hit the door of the aircraft. Although I wasn't going to experience my 21st birthday for a few months, I thought, if I live to see that day, this was a heck of a place to experience my 21st year of life.
Arrival at Lang Vei
When we got close to the Camp I saw someone on the ground pop smoke. I realized that this was the real thing, no more practice... I saw a non SF guy waiting on the helipad as we were coming in. Just as we started to touch down I hopped off. Within what seemed like only a second, a couple of mortar rounds hit near the helipad and the chopper started its ascent. The guy was waiting for the chopper through his gear on and grabbed for the chopper as it took off. I jumped into the nearest pit in anticipation of more incoming mortars, but then realized the threat was gone because there was no worthy target, just me.
At around 1800 we started receiving incoming artillery rounds. I was at the new camp eating dinner and at 1830 I went back to the old camp, by jeep, accompanied by SP4 Johnson. The artillery kept up until dark.
Shortly after 0015 on February 7, 1968 Sgt. Ashley sent Joel Johnson Ashley's/my bunker to wake me up and notify me that there were "tanks" at the wire. I told Johnson to quit screwing around because I had just gotten to sleep. He said he was serious and ran out of the bunker. I looked around and saw that Ashley was gone. I thought "this ain't Kansas no more Dorothy".
Joining Special Forces has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made. When I joined at 19 I thought that I was making a 3 year commitment, however I have subsequently found that my choice effected my entire life. My service during the Vietnam era impacted my professional career, and not in a positive way. In interviews, the interviewing manager confessed to me their "reasons" for not (being able) to join... Head hunters finally told me to take my references to service in Vietnam, and "especially" my association with "Special Forces" off my resume. In the mid 80's I was interviewing for a very good paying job, and the owner of the company said "You have a fine background, but it says you served in Vietnam, and I am afraid you will have a Vietnam flashback". My response to his statement was, "if you're talking about raping and pillaging, it has been a couple of weeks". I figured that if he got my joke, I had the job, if he didn't, then hopefully he got my point. I didn't need to wait for his response.
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