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War Stories

The Untold Truth - September 1966

Herbert Beasley


“The Past Is Never Dead, It’s Not Even Past” William Faulkner

The incident happened late one night in September of 1966 in hooch #29. The evening started out the same as many a night in Vietnam. Some guys were writing letters others just relaxing in their bunks. The five of us consisted of: Raymond L. Holloway, Larry Carroll, James White, myself (Herb Beasley), and Bob Tegelman. Four of us door gunners and the fifth Aero Rifle Platoon member were sitting on foot lockers drinking beer and telling stories, laughing, just having a good time trying to forget about where we were.

Corporal James Spencer's bunk was located on the opposite side and at the other end of mine. As the evening proceeded on Carroll pulls out a rolled joint of Marijuana and made the suggestion that we smoke it. Most of us had heard about Marijuana but had never seen it before. J. White we thought knew more about it being that he was from San Jose, California.

Being young, dumb, and stupid we decided to light it up. What the hell this was a new experience to explore, we wanted to explore everything. After all you might be dead tomorrow. All it seemed to do to me was to make me sleepy. I would stick to alcohol my drug of choice. That was the first and last time we smoked Marijuana in Vietnam.

While we were passing this joint around I noticed Corporal Spencer get up from his bunk and leave the hooch. I got up and followed him and saw him go into MAJ Prosser's hooch (the Executive Officer). I returned to hooch #29 and reported what I saw to the rest of the guys and that Spencer had ratted us all out to MAJ Prosser. I told the guys if any more of this shit in the hootch it had better disappear.

When Spencer returned he looked down at all of us and did something that seemed strange to us. He took his 45 pistol out of the holster and placed it under his pillow. In what seemed like a very short time both doors of our hooch burst open. In came two Army CID officers dressed in plain clothes followed by MAJ. Prosser. When MAJ Prosser entered someone yeld “Attention,” and we all jumped to our feet. We were told to stand at attention by our bunks and foot lockers. We were all searched along with our foot lockers and bunks. Nothing was found. If there was any Marijuana left in the hooch it had disappeared.

L. Carroll was hauled off by the Army CID officers but returned that next morning. That morning we were all called in one at a time to see First Sergeant Petty. After you left his office you needed to sit in a bucket of water to put the fire out he had lit in your ass.

There were no Article 15’s or other disciplinary action taken against any of us. There was no proof and none of us were talking. No one had ratted any body out. We had all stuck together.

I never saw any Marijuana or heard of anyone smoking it for the rest of my tour. We had learned our lesson.

Corporal Spencer was labeled a Rat by us. We didn’t talk to him and felt that he could not be trusted.

I wrote this story with no intentions of shedding any disrespect or harm the reputation of any member of “D” Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry. We all probably made some choices that were not in the best interest to our Military Service. But as long we learn something from those mistakes and never let it happen again, then we become better Soldiers.

Corporal Spencer was still a Brother and when he was KIA on January 24, 1967 no one had anything bad to say. We all felt a deep sadness for his wife and children. I believe I felt the worse because he was flying in my place, he had taken my bullet. I felt extreme guilt. These feelings still linger to this day.

Corporal Spencer was just doing his job reporting an incident unbecoming to the Army and our Military Service. We labeled him a Rat and could not be trusted. We were wrong! Spencer gave the ultimate sacrifice, his life for our Country. He deserves our respect and he has mine.

Corporal James P. Spencer May 3, 1940 - January 24, 1967 “You are not forgotten”

SP/4 Herbert D. Beasley