Ain’t Released Me Yet
Memoirs of a REMF
Copyright© 2016 by Robert B. Martin, IV
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without express written permission from the copyright owner, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal. I have attempted to recreate events, locales, and conversations from my memories of them.
Another Birthday in The Army
“Aging can be fun if you lay back and enjoy it.” ..........Clint Eastwood
The monsoons departed as March arrived, marking the beginning of my eighth month in Vietnam and the anniversary of my 26th birthday. I was older than most of the troops in the battalion, many of the officers, and except for the senior ones, most of the NCOs. I was called an old man and asked dumb questions such as, “Why are you in Vietnam? Aren’t you too old?”
My mother sent me a dartboard with real darts for my birthday. We could now get rid of our hooch’s homemade dartboard and stop using the Atropine syrettes for darts. Atropine was the antidote for nerve gas, which was never used. A syrette was a cartridge of medicine with a spring-loaded hypodermic needle. The cap was removed and the cartridge was jabbed against a muscle of the body (usually the thigh). The hypodermic needle was driven into the muscle by a spring and the medication was automatically injected. Atropine was one of the three most common syrettes carried by medics. The other two were morphine (for pain) and epinephrine (to revive a stopped heart). Atropine syrettes were issued with our gas masks and since my hooch-mates worked in supply, easy to obtain. We would activate the syrette by pressing the cartridge against a board, which released the spring causing the needle to shoot out. We then used them as darts. It was something to do.
The 5th Marines began to pull out of Vietnam on March 24, 1970, and we hoped this meant the war was all but over for the U.S. and we would all be going home soon. We could at least wish.
The temperatures would soon be back into the high nineties and low triple digits now that the monsoon season was ending. It was time to reopen our firebases in the A Shau Valley so the infantry could begin to reclaim the valley from the NVA once again.
March also meant that our BC, CPT Rankin, was transferring to another job, and our new BC would be CPT Tom Austin, another Georgia boy. This made two captains from Georgia in a row. CPT Austin was a big, friendly red-headed guy with a great sense of humor. We would soon become friends and be on a first name basis when no one else was around. He served as our BC for only about four months before being wounded on FSB Ripcord, resulting in his being evacuated to the hospital ship Hope and, eventually, back to the World.
Continued in Chapter 43, Unconventional Soldiers.…