Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Delta75 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:30 am

Niner...you are the only person that I know who didn't wear socks. Guess you had tough feet from running around barefoot growing up in Alabama. Heck, you probably got your first pair of shoes when you entered the Army. :lol:

A lot of us did not wear underwear because of the crotch rot (ringworm) that you would get. It was years after Vietnam before I could get back to wearing underwear.
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Niner Alpha » Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:02 am

I didn't wear underwear either for the same reason as you state. I did keep and wear the T shirts though.

This photo attached was taken about early August of 1970 in the last hectic days of the battalion. It looks like I sent the film home and it was developed about October while I was finishing my last few months with the 101st.
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Gabriel Cale » Wed Oct 30, 2013 5:23 pm

Hello Everybody!
I'm Gabriel from Italy and I'm the M60 gunner in the pics that Giovanni posted above! :D
Thanks a lot for the help you're giving to us, I'm so honoured of that.

I'm writing this post because I have a big question, my next setup for our reenacting group would be a Sniper, with the xm21 rifle.
Do the 9th Infantry snipers operated with the infantry?
In that case, what kind of stuff they wore?

Thanks again for your help!
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Niner Alpha » Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:09 pm

Thanks for asking a question Gabriel.

We had snipers work with us. Actually the sniper with the most kills in the Vietnam war was in the 9th Division. But they weren't part of the company rosters. They were sent to different companies from time to time for a few weeks to work in one platoon or the other. They were actually assigned some place above Battalion level. My guess they were Brigade level. The ones I observed close up...only a couple... they were strange at best and not the kind of soldiers I thought of as "normal" in a way that I never could exactly put my finger on.

Snipers had the M14 sniper version rifle, like the xm21 you mention, and most of the time they had a starlight scope matched to it. The Starlight allowed them to actually "aim" at night at whomever came along. They didn't carry any particular equipment other than for their own needs. I don't think any of them shared the platoon load...like carry some of the 60 ammo, or carry some claymores or trip flairs.

Snipers got rewards for killing. A kill would get them a few days of in country R&R. I remember one that almost shot up some kids out gigging frogs one night he was so hot to kill something. He didn't that night as cooler heads prevented it.

Some regular soldiers volunteered for in country sniper school. I'd imagine the snipers I saw might have been from that school.

The snipers I observed didn't go out on their own like the famous Marine... Carlos Halfcock... or whatever his name is. They would just go along with one squad of one platoon and if some enemy came into view they would get first shot before the ambush was blown.

If you are going to portray a sniper ... wear basic gear. No extra stuff like claymores, smoke grenades, machine gun ammo. etc. You are an "army of one" kind of guy.
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Gabriel Cale » Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:32 pm

Thanks a lot, mate! That's very useful for me!

Do they wore different uniforms (like tigerstripes and erdl) or they were just dressed as normal infantry soldiers with jungle uniforms m56 gear and m1 helmet?
Do they carried rucksacks?
I'm asking this because it's really hard to find pictures of snipers in action.

Thank you again, it's a big pleasure to talk with you. :)
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Niner Alpha » Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:44 pm

No special fatigues on the ones I saw. Regular plain OD issue green. Now...this is just as I remember it from 43 years ago...so take it with a grain of salt. They had ammo and water, and C rations, the usual web gear. They used ammo pouches because of the larger magazines, instead of bandoleers most of us used for the smaller M16 magazines. They may have worn a helmet or they may have worn a jungle hat. They didn't paint their faces up with grease paint camouflage like you see various places. They didn't have any of the suites that made them look like a walking bush. The only thing special about them was the M14 with the big starlight scope mounted to it. If they carried anything in a pack it would be a small one. No heavy duty ruck sack.

Maybe some other guys will comment over the next day or so.
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby pointman » Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:51 pm

To their M79er, a couple of things.

I carried a "blooper" or "thumper" (M79) for awhile in the 9th and a short while in the 1st Air Cav, until I went to walking point. Don't recall ever seeing one with the sights on it, except in training. They were usually removed as they tended to catch in the brush. In a firefight there really wasn't a lot of time to mess around with the sight, most 79-ers I knew just learned to fire by guess and usually got good at it. It had a kill radius of something like 5 meters all around the explosion, so you didn't have to drop it on a dime (coin).

The other thing I noticed is that you have your right thumb laying across the stock behind the safety. I was taught to always lay my thumb on the right side of the weapon, never behind the knob. When the weapon kicked, the safety (maybe had knurling) could do some damage to the webbing between the thumb and the index finger. Don't know if it ever really happened to anyone, but I wasn't going to find out personally.

I preferred to walk towards the rear to put a little more distance between myself and any contact. The rounds had to travel something like 28 meters before they would arm, and I can remember several occasions when contact was so close, some rounds were not exploding, and close enough that one round which did explode put a piece of shrapnel through my upper lip and into my bottom lip.

I wore a vest with many pockets designed to hold a number of grenades, don't remember how many any more, but it was heavy. I don't know if the vest was Army issue or home made and hand me down. In addition to explosive rounds, I carried a couple tear gas rounds, flare rounds, and buckshot rounds. This vest was worn over the top of a flak jacket, which tended to keep you sweaty. Most everybody else carried some extra belts of M60 ammo for the gunners, but I was exempt because of all the grenades.

John
3rd Platoon, Co A, 6/31st, 9th Inf Div
Co A, 2/12th Calvary, 1st Air Calvary
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Delta75 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 9:31 pm

Snipers....In addition to the Starlight scope that was, of course, used at night, a sniper would also often carry a standard scope for daylight shots.
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Niner Alpha » Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:23 pm

Gabriel. Now if you want to go beyond sniper....although nobody will believe it....... try the crossbow and arrow lone hunter. This guy was for real, although he was in and out of the Company before me, in 69, and only know about him by hearsay .

Click this link:

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=246&p=682&hilit=Hawaiian+sgt#p682
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Giovanni R. » Thu Oct 31, 2013 7:10 am

Thanks for the info Niner Alpha! Funny story about the hat, I have mine tucked in the trousers side pocket.. Indeed it's a really useful con comfortable item!

About the Two Niner Two did you think that the radio that we are displaying on the table will fit too?

Concerning undies, already heard about "going commando", I don't know if I'll be able to down the habit to wear 'em! :P

pointman wrote:To their M79er, a couple of things.

I carried a "blooper" or "thumper" (M79) for awhile in the 9th and a short while in the 1st Air Cav, until I went to walking point. Don't recall ever seeing one with the sights on it, except in training. They were usually removed as they tended to catch in the brush. In a firefight there really wasn't a lot of time to mess around with the sight, most 79-ers I knew just learned to fire by guess and usually got good at it. It had a kill radius of something like 5 meters all around the explosion, so you didn't have to drop it on a dime (coin).

The other thing I noticed is that you have your right thumb laying across the stock behind the safety. I was taught to always lay my thumb on the right side of the weapon, never behind the knob. When the weapon kicked, the safety (maybe had knurling) could do some damage to the webbing between the thumb and the index finger. Don't know if it ever really happened to anyone, but I wasn't going to find out personally.

I preferred to walk towards the rear to put a little more distance between myself and any contact. The rounds had to travel something like 28 meters before they would arm, and I can remember several occasions when contact was so close, some rounds were not exploding, and close enough that one round which did explode put a piece of shrapnel through my upper lip and into my bottom lip.

I wore a vest with many pockets designed to hold a number of grenades, don't remember how many any more, but it was heavy. I don't know if the vest was Army issue or home made and hand me down. In addition to explosive rounds, I carried a couple tear gas rounds, flare rounds, and buckshot rounds. This vest was worn over the top of a flak jacket, which tended to keep you sweaty. Most everybody else carried some extra belts of M60 ammo for the gunners, but I was exempt because of all the grenades.

John
3rd Platoon, Co A, 6/31st, 9th Inf Div
Co A, 2/12th Calvary, 1st Air Calvary


Thanks John, really interesting too... I'll pass the intel to our grenadier!

About the vest if it was an army issue it should have been one of these two models, one with velcro straps and one with plastic snaps:

Image Image

but it could be a "mama-san-made" too. Did you recognize something? Other than that, in which years did you serve?

The crossbow man story is really incredible!!!
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Delta75 » Thu Oct 31, 2013 8:26 am

SFC/MSGT Naipo Robertson. The first time my platoon met SFC Robertson, he dropped by shortly after Delta Company arrived at Vinh Kim to take over from another company. I thought that we were taking over from Bravo, but it may have been Alpha. At the same time, I believe that I was told that SFC Robertson was assigned to a MACV team that was operating in Vinh Kim. He was a scary site...he seemed to be huge, and he was quite old when compared to the rest of us. He was wearing a beret and carrying a cross-bow and starlight scope on his back pack...he carried an m-16, and had a large Bowie knife on his hip. He stopped by to introduce himself, and to tell us where he was going, and how he operated. He warned us that the local RF and PF units were manned by VC, because he had watched, with his starlight scope, VC come and go from their small mud forts at night. He told us where he was headed and that he liked to set up one man ambushes on an L-shaped trail, where he could take out the last man of a VC patrol with his cross-bow without the VC knowing where he was. I believe that my pointman Barry Wible might have gone out with him once to learn from him.

In talking (via email) to his son and a former MACV man who served with him...I learned several things.
(1) He was at some point a professional wrestler in Hawaii.
(2) He was an expert in martial arts.
(3) He carried a small sack of sand with him that he used to constantly squeeze to make his grip strong.
(4) He was always sharpening the Bowie knife and one could shave with it.
(5) The local Vietnamese were scared to death of him. They would warn their kids that if they were not good, he would come and get them.
(6)) Truth or Fiction...who knows: Apparently when he was in Special Forces, the team that he served with was almost wiped out a the VC, and that a Vietnamese who served with them had been the turncoat who set them up to be ambushed. After that he went on a one man rampage and Life magazine even had a picture of him holding VC heads on a stake. Because of this he was demoted and transferred from Special Forces. He still hated the VC, thus his one man nightly ambushes.

Quite a man!
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Niner Alpha » Thu Oct 31, 2013 9:04 am

Giovanni the radio cable should look like a standard coaxial cable and should connect by screwing an end with a standard female fitting to a threaded male fitting on the radio ....like you were hooking up modern electronic equipment. The antennae end should be a screw on fitting too. You keep the pole balanced by running wire...about like clothes line... from two or three feet under the antennae head to the ground and staking. Three lines placed 120 degrees apart for balance. The radio you have should have such a male port for fitting.

Best picture I can find at the moment is this one. You will see a couple of 292's and one thing that looks like a tv antennae. This was at a Navy outpost called Tra Cu. I think the tv antennae thing was used by the Navy for something.....being the Navy it probably was TV.
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Gabriel Cale » Thu Oct 31, 2013 10:38 am

Wow, these are gold infos. :)
Just a few more questions about the snipers.
Do you remember if they carried pistol holsters in their webbing?
You talked about small rucksack, something like arvn rucksacks or just buttpacks?
Image
Image

Cool story about the man with the crossbow! :D
I imagine that it was super rare to have non conventional weapons!
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Niner Alpha » Thu Oct 31, 2013 11:13 am

Guys would carry whatever they had. Small Alice pack would be good. That "Arvin" version would be good. Just don't carry some big monster pack. Don't think either of the couple of snipers I remember seeing had any pistol....but they may have. It's a long time ago. If you got one and want to use it in your acting out the part...go for it.

Here's a picture of me with the small Alice you see at my feet.

Incidentally this was the photo that got me to start this site. Mike Kirby and I were at an Arvin compound acting as a relay station for some other company that was on an Eagle flight out of our normal AO and battalion HQ couldn't talk to them without a relay. I think I was along to connect to the arty support battery...Arvin or US. Mike took the photo and he had two copies and gave me one later on while still in Vietnam. Back a little over a dozen years ago he had signed the book at the 9th Division site that has since bit the dust. I sent him an email asking if he remembered me and he sent me back a jpg of this photo that I also had a copy of. "Sure I remember you", he wrote back. The possibilities of the internet really blew my mind at the potential for finding guys scattered over the four corners of America and... some cases ...the world.
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Gabriel Cale » Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:03 pm

That's perfect because I have the arvn and the tropical rucksack too!
I just have to find a starlight scope, but it seems quite hard to find! :D

Internet nowadays has a great potential, it's so good that it can reunite people that served in the army in the 60's.
It's also great that people like me and Giovanni could talk with veterans like you and have some informations that aren't written in the books!
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Niner Alpha » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:54 am

Here is a wild thought that came to me recently. If any re-enactor wants to add a little to his, "in the know" kit for cheap, go on ebay or to a flea market, and get a Kodak instamatic box camera. They used 126 cartridge film back in the day. If anybody still makes the film it is probably specialty and over priced. The camera shouldn't cost more than a few dollars even if in good shape.

The Kodak was used by probably more GI's than any other camera. It was easy to use. It was cheap. More importantly it could get rained on, dropped in the mud, drowned in a pocket crossing a stream and still ...after drying out....keep on ticking. All the photos I took in Vietnam were with one of the Kodak instamatics and I'd say probably most of the photos in the site album were taken with one just like it.

I think I had the 104 but there were others starting with the model 100. The only difference between the two was the flash. The 104 used a cube and the other had a pop up hood...that you had to put flash bulbs in one at a time. Probably nobody used the flash in Vietnam so that feature didn't matter.
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Delta75 » Fri Nov 01, 2013 4:04 pm

Absolutely on the Kodak 100...all my photos were taken with one.
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Gabriel Cale » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:49 pm

Thanks a lot, I think that I'll buy one, they're very cheap. :)
It's perfect to make a vintage impression on the pictures! I think that 126 films aren't still made, but you can find some old kodak ones (expired, but it's not a problem) for about 20$ or less.
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby pointman » Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:54 am

Giovanni

I came in country "Disneyland" in April 1970 and took part in the Cambodian invasion shortly after. When the last of the 9th Division was pulled out I was sent to the 1st Cav. I was there only a short time, 1-1/2 to 2 months, and started as the M-79er, but moved to point when the former point got cold feet. I was suppose to walk it 1 month and then they would rotate it to someone else. On 1 month plus 1 day I was in the LT's face, but he said walk it one more day and he would have some one else assigned the following day. That last day was the day a trail watcher with an AK47 saw me before I saw him, Oct 30th, Vietnam time. I spent from that day until May 1971 in one hospital or other, until I was discharged.

Two pictures here, one of me sitting, May 1970, everyone getting ready to move out. Note that the M79 has neither sights nor a sling, both which tended to get caught in things. Besides I don't remember anyone ever slinging arms. That was for stateside drill. Before I inherited the jacket, I was carrying rounds in a sling type arrangement, you can kind of see in the picture. One round went in the chamber as soon as we left the gate, which on this day was Ben Luc, Long An Provence.

The second of me standing behind a barrack in June of 1970, was after we had came back into Ben Luc from a patrol. We would often go out in the afternoon, set up a dayhold to wait for darkness, then move into our ambush position as the light faded. We were then up in the morning and would go back into base camp for the day. Other times they would pick us up with choppers (Eagle Flights) and drop us off to walk through an area. The choppers would come again, pick us up and drop us in another spot. This went on most of the day until the Battalion commander ran out of allotted air time. They didn't waste air time picking us up the last time, we usually had to set up an AP for the night, then walk back into base camp on our boots the next morning.

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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Giovanni R. » Thu Nov 07, 2013 11:10 am

The infos provided are always very useful and interesting.. I'll manage to get a camera too! Gabriel is working good on the sniper impression and I hope you will soon see something from him!

One thing I noticed in this pic:

Image

Is that the guy on the right is wearing a "special" flack jacket, it was an experimental model that had removable bulletproof plates along with the standard fragmentation protection.. Not easy to see it in period pics.

pointman wrote:Giovanni

I came in country "Disneyland" in April 1970 and took part in the Cambodian invasion shortly after. When the last of the 9th Division was pulled out I was sent to the 1st Cav. I was there only a short time, 1-1/2 to 2 months, and started as the M-79er, but moved to point when the former point got cold feet. I was suppose to walk it 1 month and then they would rotate it to someone else. On 1 month plus 1 day I was in the LT's face, but he said walk it one more day and he would have some one else assigned the following day. That last day was the day a trail watcher with an AK47 saw me before I saw him, Oct 30th, Vietnam time. I spent from that day until May 1971 in one hospital or other, until I was discharged.

Two pictures here, one of me sitting, May 1970, everyone getting ready to move out. Note that the M79 has neither sights nor a sling, both which tended to get caught in things. Besides I don't remember anyone ever slinging arms. That was for stateside drill. Before I inherited the jacket, I was carrying rounds in a sling type arrangement, you can kind of see in the picture. One round went in the chamber as soon as we left the gate, which on this day was Ben Luc, Long An Provence.

The second of me standing behind a barrack in June of 1970, was after we had came back into Ben Luc from a patrol. We would often go out in the afternoon, set up a dayhold to wait for darkness, then move into our ambush position as the light faded. We were then up in the morning and would go back into base camp for the day. Other times they would pick us up with choppers (Eagle Flights) and drop us off to walk through an area. The choppers would come again, pick us up and drop us in another spot. This went on most of the day until the Battalion commander ran out of allotted air time. They didn't waste air time picking us up the last time, we usually had to set up an AP for the night, then walk back into base camp on our boots the next morning.

John M79er


That's a really impressive report, I can't even imagine what it has meant for you.. Only thing I can say is that at least you have now the possibility to talk about your misadventure. Thank you for sharing it with us.
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Niner Alpha » Sat Nov 09, 2013 7:34 pm

Giovanni, I had no idea at the time that the flack jacket my RTO is wearing in the photo was special. True...I don't remember anybody else having one like it either. I sure didn't. He, like me, officially belonged to the 2/4th artillery and we both were given minimal equipment by Delta Battery of that battalion. I feel pretty sure that's were he was issued it.
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby pointman » Sun Nov 10, 2013 2:17 pm

Robert

Maybe I have asked before. Was the picture with the pith helmet taken in Cambodia? The other man looks familiar, but the name escapes me now. I almost swear he was in the 3rd platoon (Hall's).

The dike you are sitting on and the tree line in the distance, reminded me of something similar in Cambodia. We sat on the dike and watched the tree line in the distance, as jets dived in dropping napalm into it. As the jets roared in on their dive, you could hear a lot of small arms fire from the tree line, then silence just before the napalm exploded. The NVA were popping up from their holes and firing small arms at the jets, then diving back inside before the napalm blew. Pretty ballsy stuff.

Early on everyone hated the flack jackets and left them behind or ditched them somewhere. We were accountable for them and had to pay for them if we didn't have them. Same with all the other equipment. But the army had something called "Combat Loss", which meant if you lost something during a firefight, you couldn't be held responsible for it. After a firefight we made a list of everything we didn't have and reported it as a combat loss, and everyone was happy. I "lost" at least one flack jacket that way. Finally some commander put their foot down and decided to have a formation, and it was going to be trouble if you didn't have a flack jacket. I had a flack jacket in the barracks, but somebody ripped it off so they wouldn't get caught without one, so another grunt and I circulated around the camp and found one unattended, and replaced mine.

The majority of our injuries in the 6/31st at the time were fish cans, so flack jackets were important to keep your upper body protected. The Viets ate a lot of fish, a lot of it coming in smaller cans. They would take the empty cans and fill them full of explosives, combined with pieces of glass, metal, or even rocks. These would be tripped by wires, sometimes even sticks. I remember one that was probably triggered by a stick on a trail. I was somewhere around the 5th or 6th in line to walk past it, and some guy three or four more behind me made just the right step and set it off. Luck of the draw.

These were often planted around their perimeters. As you came upon them, you often would see a "MIN" sign warning you. I suppose it also warned their own people, but I also guessed they put them up to slow us up and give them more time to evacuate in another direction. Another advantage, if one of us tripped a fish can, we usually pulled back and dusted the injured guy off, which would have been another delay and more time for them. Occasionally though they would booby trap an unexploded shell or set a higher explosive device, and those you didn't walk away from.

A good Veterans Day tomorrow all. I took the day off, going to find a few free meals for the day.

John
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Niner Alpha » Sun Nov 10, 2013 2:29 pm

John that picture with the NVA sun hat was taken outside of Chantrea in Cambodia waiting for the choppers to come in to take us somewhere else in Cambodia. It was a few hundred meters outside the wooded fringe of the large rectangular village . There were miles and miles of open, dry paddy running the length of the village. The remaining enemy troops made a run for it out the end of the village at the NW end the day before. The guy besides me in the photo could well have been in 3rd Platoon. I don't remember his name. I think he may be in one of your photos in the album too. I'll look.

I remember those mackerel can booby traps. I remember the red ones that looked like the old individual serving Donald Duck orange juice cans we used to see when we were kids. I always wonder why they didn't paint them green or otherwise disguise them better. I remember thinking at the time that the VC probably figured the sight of the things was better than the casualties because the it was effective to let lots of us see them where we might just pass by them without either noticing nor setting them off.....like all of us had experiences like you said about passing by a booby trap unnoticed and them some guy several people behind you setting it off.

Chantrea is on the map in the middle circle I had written the number 3 on.


I think I found one of your photos with the same guy you are talking about in it. Isn't this guy at the bottom center, who is turning around to the camera the same guy?
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby jbayer » Sun Nov 10, 2013 2:46 pm

Robert,
The guy in the pic looks like Randy Sprinkles, platoon leader and later XO in Delta. Any chance that's him?
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Re: Vietnam war 9th Infantry Division reenactment from Italy

Postby Niner Alpha » Sun Nov 10, 2013 2:49 pm

No John Bayer. The guy in the photo was just another Alpha enlisted grunt. One of John Bullock's third herd, looks like.

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