Some time around March 1971, the higher ups decided we needed a break. The U.S. Army had a beach set up just for this purpose. It technically was the 101st Airborne’s beach, but since we were all on the same side, they let us use it. In Country R&R usually lasted about 3 days and ours did but just barely. It was pretty cool, ocean front property. The only indications of the war was the constant buzz of helicopters whipping up the beach, and the vietnamese on the next beach over. They weren’t there for fun though, just fishing to get something to eat.
The first day started off badly. One of our guys broke his back body surfing. He wasn’t killed but his war was over and they hauled him off to Japan.
The next day was my turn. I was far out in the surf, when I noticed one of the helicopters that flew low along the beach was turning around. The gunship started wailing on the water just in front of me with all their machine guns at once. I couldn’t get out of the water fast enough. Then all the Vietnamese charged into the water and dragged the biggest white shark I’d ever seen onto the beach. There must have been 500 bullet holes in him. The Viets carved him up into steaks in no time. I had enough of swimming for awhile, and my hat was off to those chopper guys.
That night a typhoon blew in during the night and levelled most of the hooches we were staying in, including mine. There wasn’t anything to do but ride it out, and the next morning crawled out of the wreckage.
Thank God, this R&R only lasted 3 days…