ARVN Recollections

The dialogue below started with an email from Roger (Koop) Koopman (68-69)
Roger (Koop) Koopman (68-69)
HQ & A Battery

"For some of you just info but for some receiving this my thoughts from my time there like you, interesting even now, so many forget or don't know. I have always wondered why, we Vietnam vets, never get together with ARVN vets (some of who were very brave good soldiers trying their best just like us.

I saw many I wish I bothered to get their names, is it bitterness, guilt or lack of trust? We and they fought for their country (lost blood). Theirs and our politicians lost the war for both of us, not them or us. We and they fought as best as we could considering.

We got to come home, they were stuck or lost their home even if they escaped. Have any of you revisited there? I remember deep discussions a few times with some (a few who are probably dead) of them and found common human ground and was invited (honored to be a guest with their families) to eat and visit in some family homes for a meal with ARVN soldiers, when in the rear, after I had gone to the field with them in combat.

I am sure most of them suffered greatly even more after the war as I am sure most all were left behind but frankly I would enjoy talking with some fellow ARVN soldiers from their perspectives because they, like us, risked much, they were expendables too.

Anyhow, I think it's a fellowship that we have missed and ignored mutually as soldiers/vets, a lack of honoring each other, but why? Many didn't have the privilege of meeting other then the commercially available types or boom boom, as it was easy to forget they were real people within their own culture. I think it dishonors them and us as we fought against the same enemy. Just my two cents."

Dan O'Brien (69-70)
A Battery

"A Btry 1/83rd 8 inch howitzers were given a march order at midnight from FB CANNON due to a heavy threat and an NVA Regt less than 2 hours out by foot. We blackout-drove six clicks back to Blaze under two roaming COBRA's in late June 69.

We stayed at BLAZE until October. Many grunts took a stand down during that stint. A Btry was introduced to RIF. The ARVN Tigers at Blaze were to accompany the US infantry units on evening patrols. That never happened because of mistrust of some of the ARVN being on the side of the north.

Instead, A Btry was tasked to take their place with ten of us and ten infantry on each RIF. After about 10 days, the grunts left for the boonies and our LTC Sykes had us continue the RIF's until we left BLAZE in October. While with the grunts on RIF's we came across some tunnels on the west side of the SONG BO River. The grunts threw some smoke grenades down the holes and put a rain poncho over the opening and waited for them to exit somewhere nearby. They said the VC would piss in their underwear and hold it up to their nose and it was as good as any gas mask. I'd like to hear the take on the 327th 101st ABN INF on meeting the ARVN at some get togethers.

At Blaze we were told to teach the ARVN's the artillery positions on the gun so as they had a reason to be at Blaze. We became Advisors to the ARVN.

The projo's were too heavy at 214 pounds a piece and they had real trouble lifting the tray to the gun hooks. Our smallest projo humper was James SKEETER Call who was MOS'd as an airborne rigger before sent to A Btry. He weighed about 120 and could hump joes all night long. Skeeter is on the left in the picture. When the Infantry came off stand down and left, they strongly advised us not to take the ARVN on RIF's, even if the BN commander said to do it. In the group picture of six, the M-60 is ours and not theirs.

James "Skeeter" Call and Paul Picciuto (L-R)


ARVN Tigers

Dan O'Brien and ARVN Tiger at FSB Blaze


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