BigWindow BackArrow
War Stories

Coming to D Troop

John "Willi" Williams

This is Willi's recollection of unforgettable experience of traveling from the Land of the Big PX to D Troop via the ancient country of Viet Nam.


It's the Saturday after Thanksgiving '66. My Mom, Dad, Sister, and then girlfriend Melanie and I sit out in front of the Oakland Army Depot in my old '64 Chevy SS Impala, I say my old because my Dad bought it from me, saying our good byes.

I report in and find the huge bays with bunks stacked 3 and 4 high and only three other guys in a bay big enough for 3 or 4 thousand and no one wanted to talk. I laid on the top bunk looking across the bay thinking this may be the last time I get to see the lights of Bay area.

A lot runs through your mind at that time. I was wondering what was in store for me. Would I make it? Would I be a chicken? Would I have a job in the rear? Would I even be around helicopters? I'm sure we all had our thoughts, but being alone you have a lot more time to think than with a bunch of yahoos trying to be macho.

About 30 or 40 some odd hours later I find myself stepping off the 707 into the blast gates of hell with an ocean of humidity, and we are greeted by a band. A lot better than an artillery barrage. We get on a bus and the windows are screened in with extruded steel like you see on a heavy BBQ from Texas. We ask why and are told it keeps the grenades out. Crap, I guess it starts now.

Long Binh REPO DEPO was the Army's version of hell and I think they made it that way so you would be sure to report when your name was called for your assignment. I sure felt sorry for those guys being called out to report to Infantry Divisions and Tank Companys, and Artillery Assignments. Wait! Wait! I'm 67N not 11B, I can't go to the 25th Inf. Div.

After a long ride in a deuce and a half with a bunch of other replacements, all of carrying unloaded M14s (I guess we were supposed to use them as bats) we made it to some place called Cu Chi. I imagined I would find a rough base camp, I wasn't too disappointed, but we were again greeted by a band.

As we were getting our Division orientation the arty unit behind us touched off a few rounds and we all messed our pants as we dove under the bleacher seats, much to the delight of the speakers providing us with the orientation, some old Msgt. and a Donut Dolly.

Wait, Wait I'm 67N, not 11B I can't go to a Cav unit.

I reported to D Troop. I was assigned to the maintenance hooch like most new 67's. As I was stowing my gear I noticed the guy in the next bunk was hand cuffed to it. Later on he had to go pee and I asked what the deal was. Someone said he was an AWOL and was going to LBJ in the morning. My first thought was "Where in Hell do you go AWOL here?" Turns out he would go to Saigon, roll a soldier with R&R orders, and go where ever those orders took him. Apparently it had worked more than once for him.