THE VIET NAM VET
It's a very unique club -
I see it everywhere -
I see man embracing man -
A tear that says, "I care!".
There's a special look in eyes
That words cannot explain -
I see joy for this life -
Sometimes the living pain.
There's a camaraderie
That's very rare these days -
They let it show without shame
In so many different ways.
I wasn't there, (thank the Lord.)
So I can't really know -
I can only sense and feel
Those things which I see show.
The patience, understanding -
Which only they can feel -
There is something very special
And something very real.
ON OR ABOUT JAN 8 1969, I DEPARTED A SMALL TOWN IN WEST VIRGINIA AND
VIET NAM.. AT THE TIME, THE ONLY THING I KNEW ABOUT IT WAS THAT THERE WAS A WAR
GOING ON THERE AND THAT I WASN'T INTERESTED. I FLEW TO CALIFORNIA WHERE I
WAS PROCESSED AND PUT ON FLYING TIGER AIRLINES AND WAS GONE.
WE LANDED ON JAN.11, 1969 IN BIEN HOA. STILL TO THIS DAY I CAN REMEMBER THE
FIRST THING I SAID TO JOHN LYAL, A FRIEND OF MINE, "THIS PLACE STINKS, AND IT
MAY BE A NICE PLACE TO VISIT BUT I SURE DON'T WANT TO STAY HERE." A FEW DAYS
LATER WHEN I HAD COMPLETED PROCESSING, I WAS ASSIGNED TO THE 11TH CAV. BEING
AN "FNG" I ASKED IF THEY WERE A COMBAT UNIT AND WAS ADVISED THAT IT WAS A I
WOULD BE LUCKY TO MAKE IT OUT OF THERE ALIVE. I WAS TRANSPORTED TO BLACKHORSE
JUST OUTSIDE OF XUAN LOC, AND WAS ASSIGNED TO "C TROOP" WHICH
MAY I ADD WAS THE ONLY GOOD THING THAT HAPPENED WHILE I WAS THERE EXCEPT R&R
AND MUCH LATER MEETING GARY SAWVELL, WHO BECAME MY DRIVER ON C-29,
ONE OF THE SHERIDANS.
AFTER A SHORT TIME GARY BECAME ONE OF THE BEST DRIVERS IN THE TROOP AND EXCEPT FOR THE TIME HE ALMOST BLEW MY HEAD OFF WITH HIS 45 ,WE BECAME CLOSE FRIENDS. GARY HAD THE UNIQUE ABILITY TO LISTEN TO THE RADIO AND READ MY MIND BECAUSE AS SECTION LEADER I DIDN'T HAVE MUCH TIME TO TELL HIM WHAT TO DO DURING FIRE FIGHTS.HOWEVER HE ALWAYS WENT IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, KEPT AN EYE OPEN FOR THE GOOKS AND WAS ALWAYS WHERE HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE WHEN HE WAS TO BE THERE.
I LEFT VIET NAM , THE CAV AND GARY IN JAN, '70 AND WAS LATER TOLD THAT HE AND
ANOTHER FRIEND OF MIND WERE KILLED GOING INTO CAMBODIA. IN LATE 1999 I WAS CONTACTED BY
DOC. BLEVANS AND HE SENT ME AN OLD TROOP ROSTER AND MUCH TO MY SURPRISE THERE WAS GARY'S
ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER. WELL I CALLED HIM AND WHEN HE ANSWERED THE PHONE I ALMOST CRIED
AND HE ASKED WHY AND I TOLD HIM THAT I WAS TOLD THAT HE WAS DEAD. SINCE THAT
TIME I HAVE GOTTEN BACK INTO COMPUTERS AND HAVE FOUND SEVERAL FRIENDS AND WE
HAVE BEEN E-MAILING EACH OTHER. SOME MORE FREQUENTLY THAN OTHERS. MY POINT TO
THIS STORY IS THAT IF ANY ONE READS THIS YOU SHOULD REMEMBER THAT THE GUYS
YOU MET AND FOUGHT WITH IN VIET NAM ARE PROBABLY THE CLOSEST FRIENDS THAT
YOU WILL EVER HAVE, SO TRY TO FIND ONE OR TWO OF THEM AND RENEW OLD
FRIENDSHIPS, IT WILL BE WORTH IT. -
My name is Gary Sawvell. I come from a town in Iowa colled Bettendorf. I graduated from high school in 1968 and went into the Army in October of 1968. I took my Basic Training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and my A.I.T. at Fort Knox, Kentucky. I was sent to Vietnam in May of 1969 and was assigned to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, based at Xuan Loc. I was assigned to 2nd Platoon as an M60 gunner on an M113. After being in-country approximately 3 weeks I was assigned as a Sheridan driver on C29 and met Danny Weasenfoth, C29's Tank Commander and the Tank Section Leader. I owe a lot to Danny for all the things he taught me and I owe him a lot of respect for how he took care of his crew. We had a very uncanny relationship that doesn't always fit tank crews. We had the ability to kind of read each other's minds. I always thought Danny was an outstanding Tank Commander and when I was promoted to Tank Commander a lot of the things he taught me I still did with my own crew. Although we came from very different backgrounds we shared basically the ame interests, including, most important, being good soldiers and devoted to our crew, our platoon, and our troop. If I had to do the Vietnam experience again, I would sure be honored to drive for Danny Weasenforth again.