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This memoir on the Vietnam War completed by Robert R. Amon Jr. is currently awaiting a publication date.

 

 

This domain name and website is currently under construction, being developed for the initial introduction and promotion of Rice Roots.

 

 

Please email Mr. Amon for any information on the book, this website, or the use of the book title Rice Roots. This website will include photos and sample chapters. Thank you for your interest in Rice Roots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Chapter 2

'Rice Roots'

 

JANUARY 29, 1969

Diary Entry:diary

Up at 6:15 - starting to get into the swing of things. It doesn’t take anyone too long to get into a pattern. Had breakfast with Chuck Emery, Don Loveless and Dave Jones - all 1st Lieutenants. All of us are going to IV Corps. Chuck is going to An Xuyên - from what we hear there are many VC there too.

Chuck Emery and I became instant friends five days prior as we picked out our bunk locations upon arrival at Advisor School. The 9th Infantry Division combat patch on his right shoulder and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge on the front of his fatigues caught my attention.bunks

At first, I had settled on a bunk near a screened window, about midway down the long plywood box we’d be calling home for the next three weeks. But I noticed he chose a bunk near the door.

“Closer to the bunker,” he said, looking in my direction.

“Okay,” I thought, “the rocket attacks.” I immediately moved my gear to the bunk next to his by the door. I found myself impressed by this individual, by his common sense, enthusiasm and sense of humor. Chuck was an unmarried 1st lieutenant, a product of infantry OCS at Ft. Benning. He wore glasses, stood over six feet tall and was from Long Island, New York. He had arrived in Vietnam in late September 1968 and was sent to the 9th Infantry, but when the opportunity to become a combat advisor and work with South Vietnamese troops presented itself, he jumped at the chance. He was truly eager to make a difference at their level.

I was still wearing my gold 2nd lieutenant bars, and although Chuck was slightly younger than me, he was infinitely “older” in Vietnam experience. Three months is an eternity in the field. He was street-wise beyond his years, and because he technically still outranked me, I think our relationship went a little like: “I’ll take you under my wing.” We spent the next fourteen days studying, eating, drinking beer together and preparing ourselves to become advisors.

JANUARY 30, 1969

Diary Entry:

Had classes on medical subjects, supporting fire, weapons, RF/PF offensive operations and of course, language. Get two hours a day and an hour of lab at night. Food is good. This is like R&R for some guys who have been humping it with the infantry. Gives them a chance to relax and clear up jungle rot.

The mix of men at Advisor School was fascinating. Except for Chuck Emery, who already had a little time in Vietnam, Lieutenants Loveless, Jones, Gozia, Youngblood and myself were all new “in-country.” Fresh meat from “The Real World." The FNGs, the Fuckin’ New Guys. The six of us were the "Delta Guys," all of us headed to IV Corps.

Most of the others in our classes already had combat time in Vietnam. Many of them, including Chuck, had already been awarded the Combat Infantrymen’s Badge (CIB), given only to those who had been assigned to an infantry unit for a minimum of thirty days and had engaged in at least one firefight. Most had seen more combat than that. The CIB was fitting: a silver rifle on a blue background, encased by a silver wreath.

The combat veterans’ fatigue shirts also carried the unit designation patches of the outfits they had served in, giving each one a “combat personality.” They stood in formation next to us in the morning. They ate lunch in the mess hall at the next table. All of them had personalities inseparable from their recent assignments. They had been selected to be advisors because they had been exemplary soldiers. They laughed about their extreme physical discomforts, about close calls and “body counts” imposed on them by former commanders. They spoke amongst themselves about buddies killed, dumb military decisions, freak accidents and “contact” with the enemy. They shared a common air about them, all individuals, yet somehow, all the same person because of what they had experienced. They were already “Vietnam Veterans” in my eyes even though they hadn’t gone back to the States yet.

I didn’t fit in with them - I had no CIB. I wore brand new, almost shiny, unlaundered jungle fatigues with no combat patch on my right shoulder. Most of us had no stories; we weren’t even sun-tanned. We hung out with the other new lieutenants, not wanting to be, yet sensing that we were, outsiders. We asked questions of one another: “What state are you from?” The veterans asked questions of no one. They didn’t want to know where anyone was from. It didn’t matter.

We talked about college, about baseball, about growing up. They had no interest in that. They very often spoke in three-word sentences. When we were near them, we kept our mouths shut, trying to pick up something, anything. What was it like? If they thought you were eavesdropping, they would stop talking and stare directly across the table at you until you had to turn your eyes away. We were virgins.

FEBRUARY 17, 1969

Diary Entry:

Hungl1100: Chopper picked me up. Flew me to Hóa Quản Village outpost MAT (Team 88) and met Lt. Darden, my team leader. Also, SFC Ponce, light weapons man; SFC Guerrero, heavy weapons man; and SSGT Parson, the team medic. Good men. There will be five of us in all. Live in a grass hut inside the outpost with a tiny bunker attached to the side. Also met two counterparts, Trung Úy (1st LT) Quoys, and Thiéu Úy (2nd LT) Hungl of the 168.

From the open door of the Huey, my first look at the outpost at Hóa QuảnA was not what Chuck and I had imagined. It was in terrible shape. The mud “berm” walls were significantly eroded from the previous monsoon season. The single strand of concertina wire along the moat which surrounded the outpost had gaps in it. I wasn’t prepared for the number of women and children in the outpost either, explaining the holes in the barbed wire. Dai Uy an MeThey had cut out sections as a convenience to relieve themselves on the other side of the berm. The firing ports in the berm were sagging, gaping holes. From the air the whole thing resembled a miniature medieval fort made of chocolate that had been left out in the sun too long. Now the chocolate was melting in the heat and the people inside the fort were a swarm of multicolored ants, bustling around in the goo.

 

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