The worst night of my life! In May 67 I went to work with LSI and ended up at Phu Loi as a chopper mechanic.
Transferring to Vinh Long in the delta I survived the worst night of my life when 3 rockets land in the civilian hooch and killed my roommate Calvin.
Worst thing for me has been not being able to remember Calvin's last name and to contact his family. The things I know of "Calvin" are that he was married and had a young daughter. He had served 3 years in the Army, got out and went to work for Boeing in Washington.
He received a draft notice from the county he was from in Texas. He ignored the notice because he had already served 3 years. Another notice and this time the lawyer at Boeing explained he had volunteered but had never been "drafted."
At that time in 1968 he was the last eligible male in his county and would have to serve or leave the country. Calvin's choice led him to Vietnam as a civilian noncombatant chopper mechanic.
He died the 13th week he was there.
The last thing I remember in that tin shack we called home was awaking to the sounds of someone screaming in the middle of the night that his foot was gone.
Calvin and I leaped off our steel cots to the concrete floor before explosion. The small parachute hanging on the ceiling was burning and I knew there were live wires in the room.
My question to Calvin of "Are you all right?" was answered by the coldest silence I had ever known. I could sense Calvin was no longer there and I experienced for the first time what it was like when a soul is no longer in a body.
Making my way through the hole the rocket had blown in our room I struggled through the mud to the radio bunker at the foot of the radio tower just outside our hooch.
The GI inside told me I could not come in.
About that time I spotted an ambulance and chased it down but they refused to pick me up. I had gotten shrapnel in my back so close to my spine they never removed it. Also metal in my butt and through my arm and many tiny pieces, which surfaced through the years.
Knowing where the dispensary was I ran for it and was the first to arrive. Just as I had gotten inside they carried in a fellow worker who was screaming, "Oh God help me.” Jim's face was so I only recognized him by the PJ's he was wearing.
I told the medics to leave me until last and after removing all my clothes, covered only in a sheet, the chopper ride seemed like I would freeze to death. In My Tho, there were so many people that we were lined up on stretchers outside on the sidewalk.
I still have some scars from that night, but the worst thing of all is not ever getting to know Calvin's family.
Someone, somewhere has to know who Calvin was.