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Vietnam War Diary - Me and Johnny Vann

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  • Vietnam War Diary - Me and Johnny Vann

    John Paul Vann & Staff at Pleiku SVN.

    Lt. Colonel John Paul Vann was an American patriot who became the highest ranking US civilian in Vietnam .. he was killed in 1972 when the helicopter ferrying him from a visit to a brothel, crashed on the way back to his operational headquarters.


    After military ops in the Courtney Rubber Plantation and adjacent forested areas thru December into January 1970, taking a rest break in Vung Tau the fellow I was with suggested that if we were to really experience the Viet Nam experience we should drink a little beer, smoke a little marijuana and go to a brothel.

    We have a smoke and a couple beers then head up town .. after paying pay Mama San two chicks take us with them, in the rooting cubicle I decided that at nineteen years of age I could do a little better, I had heard lurid tales of dreadful diseases and did not want to get one and tell the chick I have changed my mind.

    I still have the MJ, she has a smoke with me and gets a couple beers .. movement and noise indicated the cubicle on the opposite side had an occupant, the chick pushes the bed over and looks across she has closed her mouth waves at me to join her, a thin Caucasian male forties was being served civilian clothes neatly stacked.

    My girl giggles loudly then ducks her head, the guy having sex face up is an American says "say man who the f--- are you anyway," I say "sorry mate my girlfriend made me do it," he tells his girl "have you ever met a God damn Australian with good manners" .. that was the first time I caused Johnny Vann liver shrinkage.

    The next time was in October 1970 I was a Lance Corporal machine gunner and was asked to attend an Orders Group .. intelligence said a supply train was leaving the village of Long Dien that night, I would be point MG in a twelve man ambush placed to intercept them.

    After being delivered by road we made our way across flooded rice fields and took up positions in a cemetery, we had machine groups at two points of a triangular position and a command radio group in rear protection, I would be the machine gunner right front.

    I sighted two banks of Claymore Mines on a paddy bund and could deliver enfiladed fire across an arc of one hundred and twenty degrees, nightfall and the flooded fields became a myriad of lights the villagers were chasing fish and crustaceans with candles and torches, later in the night the fields were deserted and in my gun group I was the only one awake.

    We had been sent some guys who had been shelled by the New Zealand artillery losing two men killed, while on a night exercise just a few hundred meters outside of the wire at Nui Dat July 20 that year .. I let them sleep.

    The Australian Government had decided to reduce the commitment to the Vietnam War, and had decreed that when the 8th Battalion rotated home in November that year it would not be replaced, might be this was a going away present in response to the government’s decision, organized by Mr B52 himself, master war criminal John Paul Vann, who was known to be active in the area.

    At around eleven o'clock a beautiful Vietnamese girl came along she had a steam cooker of food in one hand and a bag of rice in the other, she had a WW2 Japanese rifle slung across her back and looked like she had stepped straight out of a propaganda poster.

    I had met a beautiful girl in Vung Tau and just as I loved her, I knew this beautiful girl was going to meet someone she loved .. standing up and placing my finger in front of my lips that she make no sound, I showed her the correct path and saw her safely away from the militarized area. About midnight bursts of automatic rifle fire sprayed tracer across the rice, I lifted the M60 into position.

    Mist had spread across the paddy fields and a group was moving out of the village in the dark and thru the mist finding their way with hand held flashlights, I leveled the machine gun it fires at a cyclic rate of five hundred and sixty rounds per minute, I had twelve hundred rounds in a waterproof rucksack each fifth round tracer kept clean and free of dust.

    Navigating across flooded rice paddies is a zigzag type of thing as way is made along bunds and dykes, we were going to intercept them none the less since their way toward the Long Hai Hills met up with our position in the cemetery, a couple of times they lined up with the sights then I had them broadside on as they tracked toward my position.

    I could see about seven lights and as they drew closer saw some were down lower and closer to the ground than others, as though the person holding the torch had short legs .. from about fifty meters downrange they got onto a bund that brought them walking in a line directly toward my machine gun, and into the field of fire from both banks of Claymores.

    For about twenty meters till they turned onto another bund, their lights dimming in the mist as they zigzagged toward the hills .. the next day there is a hell of a stink, another O Group and some officer says "you must have seen them" I tell him "I saw them alright," he says "well why didn’t you fire," I told him that I much preferred they went their way unmolested.

    They get long faced because it was an operation organized by the Americans, Johnny Vann was in charge of intelligence just there and was said to be right p*ssed off .. read more about John Paul Vann in Neil Sheehan's "A Bright Shining Lie" the best book about the Vietnam War.