Recon personalities

Page 1

NOTE:  With a couple exceptions, the pictures on these pages
are my personal property and cannot be used without permission.

 

 

This is me on the first day in the company area in Nam.  It's not hard to tell the "FNG" by the new, crisp, jungle utilities;  literally just issued minutes earlier (I haven't even pinned my rank insignia on the collars yet).  Even more telling is the bright white t-shirt.  It didn't take the t-shirts long to turn a dingy yellow-brown from the water they were washed in.  It's clear that I haven't had my office call with Top Tuttle as well since I'm still sporting a "Stateside" haircut.
 

On the left is LCPL William E. (Fast Eddie) Bolin and on the right is Roger Hausauer.  We called Roger "Little-John" for obvious reasons; he was about 6'3" tall.  Little-John and I arrived at the same time and this shot was taken within a week or so of our arrival; he also has shiny new jungle utility trousers.  Bolin was from Alabama and Hausauer was from New York State.  Unfortunately, the slide has acquired a scratch right over Bolin's upper lip.
 

This is Recon Team Dutch Oven on the LZ.  This was prior to my second patrol (and before the call sign was changed to Grim Reaper).  It's pretty obvious from all the stuff on the LZ that we weren't going out on a "hump."  On this patrol we were headed to a permanent OP on Hill 452.  Hill 452 was about as low-threat as patrols got in northern I Corps and a team usually drew that assignment after a particularly rough patrol. 

It was an observation post situated on a lone hill out in the middle of the valley.  The sides were so steep that it was accessible only by helicopter or by scaling a long rope on one end that led to a finger ridge that jutted out of the hillside about 100 feet below the summit.  On this first trip for me to 452, we scaled the rope hauling all the supplies you see here up by rope. 

They later brought some Seabees up who built a rather small wooden LZ that hung off the southern edge of the hill.  After that, we were able to land right near the crest.  The only problem was that the platform was so small that the CH-46 could put the rear wheels on it and the ramp but the front wheel hung out in space off the ramp.

At left is Fred Brisch.  Next to him is David "Stick" Nelson and Rufus Johnson is next to Stick.  Sitting on the ammo crate is the Platoon Commander (Dutch Oven-6) LT John Dunn.  John was a Mustang officer (prior enlisted) and one of the best Marine officers I even knew. 
 

This is our Recon Team in April of 1967, just about the time our name changed from RT Dutch Oven to Grim Reaper.  On the left in front is Mike Bell from Utah.  Next to him is Cleofus "Roddy" Rodriguez from Texas (I inherited the M-60 from him when he rotated home).  Back row left to right is David "Gator" Thielen, also from Texas.  I am next to him (carrying the M-79 grenade launcher at this time).  Stick Nelson is next to him and Hospital Corpsman 3cl Wayne Highum is to the right of Stick.  Next is Rafael Triana.  Ray was from New York City.  On the far end is David "Gertie" Gugich from Washington State.  Even in Vietnam, Gertie was probably the most cerebral of the bunch.  After the war, he published several books of poetry.
 

This picture of me was taken at the same time as the one above.  I've got two M-26 frag grenades taped to my web gear.  The card taped to the stock of my M-79 is the 7 of Spades.  Each of us had a different spade card on our weapon (if you look at the picture above, you can see some of the other ones).  When carrying the single-shot "blooper" I was always concerned about not being able to get access to additional ammo in a hurry. 


We didn't have the fancy  grenadier vests that were beginning to make their appearance with the Army SFs and the Navy SEALS.  My solution was to wear a couple bandoleers of 6-rounds around my waist and to hang about 8 more bandoleers over my web belt.  They were definitely easier to get to but had other drawbacks that I didn't envision until I actually got out in the bush with them.  They made me considerably wider in girth and it was hard to move through brush, vines, and such.  Those same vines and brush also pulled some of the bandoleer tabs open and I lost several rounds when they fell out.  Needless to say, I only did this one time.  From then on I wore a couple bandoleers around my waist and the rest went inside my rucksack. 

 

This was our company commander when I first arrived; Captain Albert King Dixon.  Captain Dixon was a great skipper.  He was from South Carolina and was an All-American running back for the University of South Carolina in the late 50's before becoming a Marine officer.  He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel and went back to Sough Carolina and was the Athletic Director for the USC in the later 80's and early 90's.

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