.It was January 1968 I arrived in Vietnam at Cam Ranh Bay. I was assigned to company D, 87th Engineers Battalion 18th Brigade 35 Group. We arrived at HQ Company of the 18th Brigade located on the world's larges sand hill in Cam Ranh Bay. Our first night in country the base came under enemy mortar attack, sending us all running to the sandbag bunkers. We had no flack jackets, helmets or weapons as we were new arrivals only of few hours earlier's. I was so scared I almost shit my pants.
The next morning we were given our combat equipment and our M-14 and were flown across the bay to Dong Ba Thin where my company was located. I was assigned to Headquarters Platoon, and would be working directly with the First Sergeant and the company commander. The four companies of the 18th Brigade assignment was to build QL-1 from Cam Ranh Bay south to the Pahng Rang Air Base. Other Engineer outfits were building the bridges between the cities also. Headquarters Platoon along with the others worked 10 to 12 hour days to complete our assignments and at night the VC would destroy most of the work we achieved. It was and never ending cycle of rebuilding what they destroyed. Myself along with Len Costantino, John Adamson, Fred Bryley, John Lincrum, Henry Deats, Gary Tuttle, Cliff Hayes and David Young together until December of 1968 when we were reassigned to the 687th Land clearing company at Dong Ba Thin, Many of the 87th Engineers were reassigned to form the 687th Land clearing Company. We were given all new equipment during the reassignment new Caterpillar D7e dozers, with Rome Plows, 4 new 10 ton trucks with flat bed trailers, 4 new TPC with 50 cal machine guns we thought this was so great and excited at the same time. Our equipment in the 87th was old and needed work done to keep it up and running. We had no idea what we would be doing with the 687th, our minds were running wild with ideas. We all knew that our lives would be much different then it was in the 87th Engineers.
My Platoon leader was 1st Lt. Lee, he was a great guy and we became great friends with. I was assigned to our Platoon's gun jeep, which held a 50 cal. machine gun: man oh man was sure no one was going to mess with me and the boys of the Boondock Bandits. The unit begun to grow larger each day as new guys were coming from the states. The ole boys from
the 87th engineers all had time in country and when the new boys came we would let them know. Some of us were short timers with only 60 to 90 days left in country. In January a few weeks after being assigned to the 687th I remember one new boy, he was from West Virginia and talked country, he was crazy from the start, talked about guns and taking care of those assholes. His name was Charles Harper, we gave him his nickname of "Crazy Charlie" and he did not take any crap from anyone. Who would ever know that 38 years later we would become best friends?
Then there was "Gabby" he could talk about anything, he would get us laughing on more than one occasion, ole John Adamson the oldest SP/4 in the Army, Clifton Hayes "Ira" he couldn't wait to shoot that 50 cal machine gun on his TPC. We all took turns learning how to operate these new toys. At that time we didn't know how vital they would be to each of us in the 687th LCC.
On or about February 10th the company was ordered to go out and clear the jungle near the small village of BaoLoc located near II & III corps borders. After a few days at the village we were ordered to move south about 15 clicks to Basar. This is where we were ambushed by the VC again the 173rd Airborne Infantry was our security support and one of the boys took a direct hit from an AK-47, I believe his name was Green, he was EVAC out and we never saw him again. This would be my last action in Vietnam I left the 687th as I was rotating back to the states. It would be nearly 38 years until I would make contact with any of the guys that I served with in Vietnam. In 2004 I started looking on the Internet seeking information about the 687th Land Clearing Company, I first found David "Gabby" Young. Then in my American Legion Magazine Charlie "Crazy" Harper was trying to locate members of the 687th so I phoned him in Ohio. From there we started putting together more members of the unit. We held our first 687th Boondock Bandits reunion in September 2005 in Pontoon Beach Ill. It was so neat to see so many of our comrades that fought side by side in Vietnam. Some of us still showing the wounds of that War. Remembering our friends that did not come home with us. We remember those that died and those that became ill from the chemicals that were sprayed, just to kill the foliage. Little did our government know that so many Vietnam Veterans would fall ill and even die from these chemicals that were used. We continue to fight the battle still after 40 years. Each member of the 687th were scared in some way during the long battle in Vietnam, but the Brotherhood that we built kept us strong and together. And finally 38 years later this Brotherhood who had fought together has again came together to become the Brother Hood again. And to form a new Band Of Brothers, stronger and wiser. Welcome Home and God Bless You All!!!