The first time I saw him I knew I better stay out of trouble as this officer looked tough. The first week Cpt. McVeay was with us I was called to the Captains office by a Colonel. The Col. had me in the Capts office chewing my tail up one side and down the other. He said his girl was in trouble, seems she had told him I was to blame, I wasn't but that didn't matter... I knew I was in deep shit with the Capt. Later after the chewing out the Capt. took me aside to have me explain. I did, and he told me I was better off staying on post till we shipped out. But sure enough, the night before we shipped out I got busted for fighting and being off post. They took me to the hospital to fix my busted up teeth. When I left the hospital the Capt. was there to take me back. He didn't say much at all, he just kept shaking his head.
Well Brother Patrick I'll chat with you later, hope you like this story,
Okinawa to Catecka: Some Memories - by Bob
don't know what exactly the higher ups were thinking when we docked at
Okinawa for a brief liberty and introduction to what was to come. But after
they finished dropping the "bomb of reality" of what we were going to encounter
at our destination "Vietnam, Republic of " they had the bright idea of
bringing in a truck load, and I mean "Truck Load" of beer to where we were
at White Beach, Okinawa.
awash with testosterone
of: Bob Fulk)
of the troops who made their way in the early years to "The Nam" did so
by General Class Troop ships such as the USNS Upshur, Geiger, and Gordon.
These crafts carried two thirds of the U.S. soldiers to Vietnam; later,
most American troops arrived by air. Those who came later were denied the
joys of these "pleasure cruisers".
the following serve as only a small example of just what was missed.
if you will 1100 Marines and 2200 Army soldiers, not counting the crew,
average age about 19, for three plus weeks crammed deep in the holds and
scattered all over the deck of a transport ship.
of: Dick Barry)
On to Catecka -
"We continued on to the harbor at Qui Nhon where we began to make our way across Vietnam all the way to the Cambodian border. One of our many assignments had us attached with the 1st Cav and landed us with the first wave at the Catecka Tea Plantation.
keep in mind what we have just been told; where we are going and what we
are going to face. We are all mostly around 18-20 years old and we've been
cooped up on a ship for three weeks eating cream chip beef. Well, to say
the least, most went wild. I'm not sure what all happened that night, it's kind of a blur but when I was brought back to the ships brig there was fighting everywhere and the on board brig was burning."The Brig Was Burning!?"
Yeah, here's what happened, so I was told. The story is, one guy killed
another and the MP's put the alleged killer in the brig. Now the buddies
of the one that was killed took it upon themselves to seek revenge for
their fallen comrade by removing a foam rubber mattress, put it in the
brig, and set it on fire... the alleged killer died. The effect did not
end there. They were taking lots of other guys that were in the brig off
the ship on stretchers. I saw Fraiser, one of my buddies from B battery
6/14th on a stretcher... he was almost dead.
The sounds of fighting lasted long into the night. At mornings first light you could see... coming from somewhere deep in her holds... the Gordon was still smoking."
remember it was really hot and muggy at Catecka so all the pilots and enlisted
men had thier shirts off and were arm wrestling and playing chess or cards
on the choppers. It was as if there wasn't any rank just a bunch of kids
having fun. We had a large aluminum pot that we were heating up C-Rations
in and looking forward to a nice hot meal. We never had a chance to touch
that food as moments later... all hell broke lose.
Our Commander Captain
Riley J. McVeay was a heck of a guy and a great leader. He took complete
command of the situation when we found ourselves on the receiving end of a barrage of mortar fire. McVeay order up a chopper and told the
pilot to get him up and over to the three VC morters that were firing on
us and doing the most damage, he and that pilot kicked butt and wiped them
all out. I remember choppers flying over me firing rockets... what an unbelievable
noise, and the heat from those rockets, Man! I hit the bottom of my foxhole
and thought the whole world was coming to an end. When things settled just
a bit Cpt. McVeay organized and personally led a search and distroy mission. I
remember his words to us were, "Stay in a line behind me and don't stray from where
I step." as he led the way. He pushed a clear path for us to follow for
quite a long way. I don't know for sure exactly how far before he caught
a toe popper... Phamm! What a guy, he took it in the foot by that booby
trap... but never stopped, he just kept on pushing.
was in my foxhole later that night when the "old man" (McVeay) radioed me
to say he was sending me two replacements so I could get some rest. Two
cool black guys ( new recrutes ) from the 101st airborn showed up soon
after. They knew what had happened throughout the day and night and were
quite understandably nervous. So I left the good work to them and I drifted
off to sleep, well, almost. They were a bit jumpy, (who wouldn't be? just
when I would drift off to sleep they would see something move and give
me a nudge. This went on for a while so finely I told them if anything
moves call the old man and report it or if they can ID it... fire on it.
Well that was a mistake. It probably was about fifteen minutes later when
one of them opened up the with his M-60. The old man was on the horn in
about ten seconds asking "What the hell is going on Lund?" I told him and
man did he chew me a new... well you get the picture.
was McVeay, and this was Catecka"
had always hoped that he could find his Commander and talk with him someday.
Well that day has come.
located Riley J. McVeay last year and has shared many letters and
emails with him.
wrote me about some of them:
June 15, 2003 -
a short note, I told Jim McVeay a while back I wanted to buy him lunch some
day... well he took me up on it, I hope to be in Biloxi Mississippi around
next week-end, been 38 years. I'm going to take pictures so I'll send you
June 27, 2003 -
had a ball in Mississippi, Jim McVeay is as tough as ever and keeps very
busy. I got a few pictures. I told him when I first saw him after all this
time (38 yrs) I figured he'd still be nine foot tall and bullet proof.
I had the privilege to meet his wife of 51 years, she is a true southern
lady. I always knew if I found where he lived I'd go see him and as soon
as I was invited for a visit I was on the way. I wanted to tell him in person
how I, and a lot of other guys in '65, were glad that if we had to go to Vietnam
that we had him for a commander. We had a lot of good laughs when I told
him about some of the things I was pulling before he took over. I had a big
car back at Fort Sill and needed money for chasing girls so I was loaning
money to guys in the middle of the month for 50% return payday, like $5.00
for $7.50, and a few other scams, Jim said he over looked a lot because
he came up the ranks. His main thing was getting us ready for VN, and to
look out for us... he did that well!
Photo of Jim
McVeay during Bob's visit - June 27, 2003
Qui Nhon, An Khe, Catecka, Pleiku, E5, 6/14 B Battry 1965-1966