1LT Ford Mays

2018-10-21 Mays.jpg

Most of my tour was at the Qui Nhon Ammunition Depot with a TDY to LZ English at Bong Son. Our work days were 0700-1900, 7 days a week. The depot was infiltrated and blown up twice while I was there. The most memorable was March 23, 1969 when my CO, CPT Wm. John Ahlum, and our driver, SP4 Jerry Lee Peterson, were killed. Literally by the flip of a coin it was CPT Ahlum and not me. His birthday was the same month, day, and year as mine. In addition to Purple Hearts, they were also both awarded Bronze Stars w/V. RIP

We honor you, Ford Mays.

(#Repost @http://tcvvm.org/project/ford-mays/)

Henry Ullrich

2018-10-15 Ullrich.png

I was drafted in 1966 and sent to Vietnam in Jan 1968. I was 20 yrs. old when I arrived in country. I was assigned to the Third Sqdn. Fourth Cavalry, 25th Div. at Cu Chi base camp about ten days or two weeks before the Tet offensive started.

When the Tet offensive started we were sent to Than Son Nhut air base which was about to get over run. Most people in America will never know how close America came to loosing an entire air force base.

We stayed mostly within the Third Corps area of operations. It seemed like the combat was just never ending. Being in the 3/4 cav. we were constantly on the move looking for the enemy. They were never hard to find. The worst day was April 13 and 14 which was Easter Sunday. We started with 32 men in my platoon and when the sun came up on the 14th there was only 3 of us left that could still walk. This was probably the worst day of my life.I still have nightmares about it and still agonize about the lives that were lost for absolutely nothing.

The smell of death, blood, gunsmoke, burned rubber, scorched metal, burned bodies and clothing as well as the sight of all of this will stay with me the rest of my life.

I was once asked if I thought of myself as a hero. I just thought of myself as doing a job which was what I was trained for. However I still think of every one that I served with as heroes many of which were from Texas. They were all heroes in my mind and will always be.

I used to think of myself as lucky to have survived without any serious injuries. This only lasted for a couple of months. Since that time I have always had “survivors guilt”. I have wished for a lot of years that I would never have survived when so many didn’t. This is a difficult thing to overcome.

We honor you, Henry Ullrich.

(#Repost @http://tcvvm.org/project/henry-ullrich/)

AZ2 Frank Bodden

2018-10-14 Bodden.jpg

From January to August of 1968 I served with the air wing on the USS Ticonderoga, CVA-14, with VFP-63. Our pilots flew the F-8 Crusader, a fighter jet that instead of being armed, had camera bays on each side of the fuselage and the nose cone. Our pilots flew unarmed, always accompanied by two fully armed F-8 Crusader escorts. The squadron pilots flew over enemy sites taking photographs. The film was then brought back to our ship, where our photo interpreters examined them for possible targets or to assess damage done by past raids.

In March of 1968 one of our pilots, Lt. Michael Wallace, was flying near Khe Shan when his aircraft was shot down by ground fire. His escorts and Ltjg. Larry Boline, another of our pilots, watched helplessly as his plane went down in flames, and Lt. Wallace never ejected and was killed. It wasn’t until maybe 20 years later that his aircraft was found in the jungles, and his remains were returned to his family.

While on this WestPac cruise I took many photographs of shipboard life on the Ticonderoga. I took two photographs of Lt. Wallace and other officers playing volleyball on the lowered forward elevator. I posted those pictures on Facebook and Flickr, a photo sharing site.

On Memorial Day of this year, 2013, while browsing through Facebook, I saw a posting by a person trying to locate me, telling his cousin that he stumbled across my pictures on Flilckr. The pictures were of Lt. Wallace playing volleyball. Lt. Wallace was the uncle of this man, Zach Wallace, Lt. Wallace’s brother, and he was sharing this information with his cousin, Kristin Wallace, one of Lt. Wallace’s two twin daughters who were about a year old when he was killed and never knew their father.

I immediately responded to Zach and Kris via Facebook. While Zack lives in Seattle, Kris lives about five miles south of where I live.

Zach, Kris and I corresponded via Facebook and email, exchanging information. They were both excited because, not having known her father and his uncle, they had never seen any photographs like this of Lt. Wallace, especially in the last week or so of his life.

Even more exciting to all of us than finding each other is the fact that Larry Boline, the young Lt. and fellow pilot of Lt. Wallace, who looked up to him as his mentor and who actually saw his plane crash in a ball of flames, was the fact that Lt. Boline, after getting back to the States, visited Mrs. Wallace, helping each other through this ordeal, and wound up getting married. Larry and his wife live in La Jolla, about 12 miles south of me.

Lt. Boline called me shortly after this all happened, and we made arrangements to have lunch together: me, my wife, Lt. Boline and Lt. Wallace’s twin daughters, who were raised by Lt. Boline and his wife, the former Mrs. Wallace.

We had a great reunion. I brought all the photographs I had taken on the cruise, and Lt. Boline brought his cruise book of that cruise, and we spent a couple hours over lunch talking about Lt. Wallace and memories of our WestPac cruise.

This was the most memorable Memorial Day of my life, and one I shall never forget.

We honor you, Frank Bodden.

Ed. Note: The author dedicates this story Lt. Michael W. Wallace, USN, Operations Officer, VFP-63, 1968. The photoghraphs include the author, Lt. Wallace, and the twin daughters of Lt. Wallace.

(#Repost @http://tcvvm.org/project/frank-bodden/)

COL John Erskine

2018-10-13 Erskine.jpg

I’m a graduate of Temple High School and Texas A&M and I served in Vietnam in 1964 and 1966. First tour was as a 1Lt, 1st Special Forces Group and a second tour in 1966 as a Captain, 5th Special Forces Group. I am proud to be a Texan and to have served in Vietnam. My family has served this country from the very beginning and I’m proud to also be a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. I retired as a Colonel in 1987 and am grateful for the opportunity to serve.

We honor you, John Erskine.

(#Repost @http://tcvvm.org/project/john-erskine/)

Chuck Machin

2018-10-7 Machin.jpg

ALTA VISTA — Engineering skills came in handy for a 1957 Osage High School graduate while he was stationed in Vietnam.

Chuck Machin, Alta Vista, enlisted and first served in the Air Force from 1958 to 1962, later working as a foreman in an Osage body shop for a few years.

“I didn’t have no money to buy the place, so that’s when I decided to go back to the Air Force,” said Machin, 77, who re-enlisted and served from 1965 to 1969.

While in the Air Force, Machin attended six different schools, learning to repair aircraft with sheet metal and to X-ray planes to find internal cracks.

He had no combat training when he was deployed to Vietnam in 1965 at age 26.

Although Marines could fix aircraft in a neighboring hangar with an M16 slung across their back, Machin said he wasn’t allowed to have a weapon due to his lack of training.

“When I got there, they took our rifles away,” he said. “I didn’t have a rifle or pistol the whole year there, no protection.”

Machin worked on planes within a guarded perimeter in Da Nang, the central part of the country. Since he had to “start over” when he re-enlisted, he often worked on big jobs, which meant a number of second shifts.

 

While their compound was supposed to be guarded, Machin said they were overrun by the enemy one time.

“I had bullets flying by me,” he said.

 

He was often in downtown Da Nang riding around in trucks, something he said wouldn’t have been safe near the end of war. “They would have shot you in a minute,” he said.

Skilled in plumbing and carpentry, Machin transformed his tent into deluxe accommodations, making a screened-in porch, floor, sidewalls and picnic table. He also had electricity, but since the wattage was different the light from bulbs was dim.

“I was kind of an engineer,” he said.

 

A handmade sign on the entrance read, “Home sweet home.”

But sometimes it wasn’t so sweet, sleeping close to the flight line.

“The young lieutenants would take off straight up, causing a sonic boom,” Machin said. “It was terribly noisy.”

 

He was also responsible for installing plumbing in a building that went up and he made a couple of inventions — a motor-operated sled ejection system and an apparatus to keep hands from getting burned while using flares at night.

Machin, who was married at the time with a family, was paid $3,000 — about $23,000 in today’s dollars — for his year in Vietnam. He fixed bicycles as a side job and used some of his earnings to buy equipment to shoot photos and video.

He also got to see a couple of celebrities — Roy Rogers and Dale Evans — in a USO show while in Vietnam, and was able to see Bob Hope from a distance.

He laments the fact that he missed an opportunity to talk with John Wayne by just a couple of minutes.

 

As he repaired bullet holes on aircraft, Machin was exposed to Agent Orange, which he said was stored in huge tanks inside the planes.

“It soaked into my shoes,” he said. “They didn’t wash the aircraft, so you had to watch your step because it was slippery.”

 

Machin has since had health problems he believes are related to Agent Orange exposure. He also struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, which he says “comes and goes.”

“My opinion of PTSD, it is real and it will get you,” he said.

After he returned home from Vietnam — to “not one person shaking your hand, no party, no parades” — he built an auto body shop in Topeka, Kansas.

 

Machin, who says he struggled in school and had trouble reading, has since owned five businesses and has been a plumber for 58 years. He is also a classic car enthusiast.

Proud to wear his newly-acquired Vietnam veteran cap, Machin has kept track of everyone who’s thanked him for his service — 30 people to date, he says.

We honor you, Chuck Machin.

(#Repost @https://globegazette.com/news/local/they-served-with-honor-chuck-machin-alta-vista/article_71455f69-876e-560c-91fe-4c5b5f70e485.html)

LT Nicholas Prevas Jr.

2018-10-2 Prevas.jpg

At first, Nicholas Prevas Jr. was hesitant about talking to documentary filmmakers about his Vietnam War experience.

He’s 69 now, retired and living in Highland with his wife. They have two grown children and four granddaughters. His yearlong tour in Vietnam seemed such a long time ago.

“But the more I thought about it, I thought, ‘This is more than just my story,’” says Prevas, who served as a second lieutenant in the Army. “It’s about the infantry platoon I led. … It’s for the guys we lost. It’s their story too.”

Prevas is among 100 local veterans who recounted their war experiences for “Maryland Vietnam War Stories,” a three-part Maryland Public Television documentary airing from May 24 to 26 [2016]. Each one-hour segment will air at 8 p.m. on Channel 22.

Inspired by a Ken Burns documentary on the Vietnam War, due to be released in 2017, and modeled after a similar project by a public television station in Wisconsin, the MPT broadcast will be followed by LZ Maryland, a commemorative event in June at the Maryland State Fairgrounds that is open to the public.

“The event will belatedly thank them for their service,” says Ken Day, the executive producer of the documentary. “Vietnam veterans were treated very poorly when they came home. People literally blamed the warriors for the war.”

About 130,000 Marylanders served in the military during the Vietnam War era, according to MPT.

Because many Vietnam veterans are now experiencing health effects from aging and exposure to Agent Orange, Day says, “We did feel a sense of urgency.”

Prevas was assigned to troop duty in the summer of 1969 and ordered to Vietnam, where he served in the 4th Battalion of the 3rd Infantry Regiment known as the “Old Guard.” By then, the U.S. was scaling back its commitment. But, Prevas says, “we still had the same area to cover. … We were disastrously short-handed.”

Some comrades were forced to patrol without a radio; claymore mines weren’t always disarmed properly; maps weren’t accurate; and patrols were longer, with fewer breaks.

“At my level, it was a harrowing experience,” says Prevas, who came home for Christmas in 1970 and went on to have a career in the Army Reserve and as a business analyst for the federal government.

Prevas still remembers being greeted by war protesters at a Seattle airport on his way home, and the general lack of interest about his war experience.

“No one was interested in hearing your story back then,” Prevas says. “I’m grateful for this. I think it will be educational.”

By Laura Barnhardt Cech
For Howard Magazine

For more information on the documentary and the veterans involved, visit mpt.org/vietnam

We honor you, Nicholas Prevas Jr.

(#Repost @http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/howard-magazine/ph-mg-ho-vietnam-war-documentary-20160504-story.html)

 

RP Moon

2018-10-21 Moon.png

I Joined the US Marine Corps Sept ’65. I was assigned to 5th MarDiv in the Spring of ’66 and went to Vietnam in July of that year. In Sept ’66 I was wounded and transferred to Great Lakes Naval Hospital until May ’67.

On discharge from the hospital I went to Schools Bn Quantico and returned to Vietnam in ’69 and was assigned to 1st Force Reconnaissance Company. My second Vietnam tour ended in Sept ’70 and I returned to the U.S. My next assignment was Embassy duty in Prague. I was medically discharged in Jan ’73 from H&S Co. H&S Bn. 1st MarDiv.

We honor you, RP Moon.

(#Repost @http://tcvvm.org/project/rp-moon/)