Photographs, 101st Airborne Division, HHC G2

Vietnam 1968-1970 Lee Hill Tour, 101st Airborne Division, HHC G2 Lee Hill, Vietnam, June 1970. Taken during his second tour These photos were taken during Lee Hill's tour at Camp Eagle, Republic of Vietnam (RVN), between November 1968 and July 1970. The photographs were originally scanned in 1999. They were rescanned in June of 2001, when I knew more about enhancing their appearance. Some pictures taken by Dave Hornell, who was with USAF Weather at Eagle from March 1968 to October 1968, can be viewed on a separate page. Other links are scattered here and there on the page. For example, a Joanne Rivet, who is searching for information about an uncle who was killed while serving with the 101st, sent such a kind letter of appreciation for this page and for what Vietnam vets experienced that I asked her permission to let others read it. You can do so from this link. Another link points to Steve Nirk's photos. Many of them are of the 801st Maintenance company and Phu Bai. This link points to a very large, clear overview of the headquarters company area of Camp Eagle, including the underground DTOC and the G2 office. Anyone wishing to communicate about these photos please send e-mail to Lee Hill or to Dave Hornell. The visible photographs are actually pointers to larger versions. Just click anywhere on a photo to bring up a larger version. Other Camp Eagle vets I have recently communicated with include Mike (Raccoon) Mahoney, Bill Clements, Phil Orlikowski, and Al Fuerst. Al was with the 101st MI Company, Targeting Team, at Phu Bai.

Camp Eagle, looking south, November 1968, early evening

The first photo looks south over Camp Eagle late in the afternoon, from the west of our hooch (a big tent at that point). The tent fabric looks red because of a permanent coating of dust. That's the G2 hooch to the immediate left; I've forgotten who lived in the 'front' hooch. The G2 enlisted men, including myself, lived in the G2 hooch. It was home for several months in the Fall 1968 monsoon before it was replaced with the plywood and tin structure that appears in subsequent photographs. That rocky red dust was our lawn. If you look carefully, you can see a soldier walking by on the 101st Headquarters, Headquarters Company's (HHC) "Main Street." Somewhere behind him is the shower room, which was actually a screened-in hooch not much different than the ones we lived in. The soldier is walking east toward the HHC mess hall and the 2/17 Cavalry. What you see in the foreground and background is a very large base camp several miles in diameter. The place may look primitive, but notice the power lines, and we had "running" water in our showerhouse. Our fellow soldiers in the bush had it much worse. The miniature valley in the center background eventually became home for the Camp Eagle PX and the helicopter landing pad for the division.

Camp Eagle, looking south, November 1968, early evening The second photo shows me, Lee Hill, sitting in the background, probably later on the same day, judging from the darkening sky. This was taken probably in early November 1968, because the tents haven't been replaced yet with hooches. You can see how relatively primitive the company area still is. The engineers were gradually replacing the tents, like the one on the left we lived in, with the plywood and tin structures like those you see in the right background. The dark dots you see on the tin roofs are actually sandbags put there to help hold down the roof in windy rainstorms. I remember that I worked nights, went to work at 7 PM, and I used to sit out there a spell before I went to work. I was probably wondering what I was going to do for the next 11.5 months. This was a serious matter. It doesn't show in the photo, but I had hit bottom, and I remember considering all sorts of unattactive possibilities for getting myself out of that situation. I catch myself thinking sometime that I could go back and revisit the place, but you know it would be unrecognizable, so maybe it's a good thing the hill in the skyline was included in the photo; it would be the only way a visitor could orient himself. The red trashcan in the background was actually a compulsory item for a company area like ours; I forget its actual purpose. And those ubiquitous sandbags had a very functional purpose: keeping us alive when the other side shot at us. The yellowish tint you see in the sky in these photos is not an artifact produced by the aging process; the sky often did look like that.

Lee Hill, left, and Mike Mahoney Photo on the right, looking south again. Not much has changed in the physical campscape behind us; the tents are still dust-red, the sandbags are still a dusty green, and the tents in our background have been replaced with what to us were luxurious plywood hooches with real tin roofs. The yellowish cast to the sky was common. The stencilled red can is the same as the one in the photos above. That's me on the left, blinking with flawless timing. You can see from my arm patch that I was a Specialist Fourth Class (SP4) when the photo was taken, which tells me that was probably late 1968 or very early 1969. That's Mike Mahoney to my left, pipe in hand. Mike called me on 12 February 2004 and gave me his e-mail address. His nickname was The Raccoon, from the Beatles' song Rocky Raccoon. He was from Orange County in Southern California. He told us he was a recording studio backup singer for groups like the Beach Boys. He also described Jim Morrison's performances in the studio. Look closely at his right lapel and you'll see his DTOC pass, which we wore in our early days and later abandoned. We needed the pass to be allowed into the DTOC, which was a very large underground bunker roofed over and covered with sandbags. It was the division headquarters for the 101st Airborne Division, and had to be guarded 24 hours per day. All of us G2 guys had sprouted mustaches too. This was a frequent meeting time for the G2 guys (actually, Mike and I) who worked the night shift. We usually woke up about 4 or 5 PM, and hung out doing this or that before reporting for work at 7 PM. Opening a few beers was a popular pasttime.

Lee Hill, December 1968 Left, me again, same basic scene looking south across Eagle, same brand of prework analgesic. The photograph is blurred, which I can't help. I think the jeep or truck tires that appear behind us were attached to a flatbed trailer used to haul around cans of fuel oil and other necessities. Notice the DTOC security pass, the dead giveaway for a cherry (a new arrival), and the classic OD T-shirt. I don't look quite so nuts here, so this must be some time after the previous photos. Originally, in November 1968, I landed in a bad situation at G2. We had to assemble a very large complex report (the INTSUM) for pickup at 6 AM each morning, and I didn't know how it was put together. From watching the experienced guy, I couldn't figure out how it was done. Then, he rotated home, and the other new guy, Mike Mahoney, and I had to figure out how to put it together. I abruptly discovered Mike also didn't know how to put the report together. There was serious stress there. Once I got a handle on things, a heavy weight was lifted from my shoulders. I got used to the place after a month or so. It shows in this picture. Note the ubiquitous power lines against the sky. G4 (Division Supply) ran a generator behind their hooch a few doors to the east, which was OK, except they had to change the oil every 24 hours at 10 AM. All of us night guys would have just gotten to sleep after coming off work and partying a while. We had some good times, usually 7 AM to 9 AM. Everybody else was going to work, and all of us night guys were up on top of our hooch, perched on our galvanized tin roof with our iced coolers, drinking beer, the Doors and the Beatles going full blast on our tape decks, and waving to all the coffee drinkers flowing beneath us. Each of us had a fan, which was all that let us sleep in the heat. At 10, off went the generator and fans, and we all woke up afloat in our own sweat. Nothing for the night guys to do but hang up the poncho liner to dry out, and stagger around, trying not to kill each other, until the generator came back up.

PFC Jim Miley and SGM Catherwood The photo in this paragraph was taken in the G2 office, angled toward the back door. Order of Battle would have been the hooch immediately west of us, which you can see through the screen. G3 would be across the "street," and G1 was further down the street, and the camera would actually be pointing straight at the Division Tactical Operations Center (DTOC) entrance. The security passes that let us get in the DTOC are visible on their shirts. That's Specialist Fourth Class (SP4) Jim Miley on the left and Sergeant-Major (SGM) Catherwood to his left. Catherwood would have been the G2 Sergeant-Major (E9, the highest enlisted rank). The SGM is the original author of the nickname "Sweet Lou," which he gave to Sgt. Diamond. This would have been December 1968, as you can tell by the Christmas tree. A few Christmas cards are stapled to the wall behind them. Catherwood was one of the funniest, best guys I ever knew. I'm sorry to say he rotated home a few months after I arrived in country. The hooch was probably brand-new at that time, judging from how shiny the galvanized roof is. I'm not sure what the two saws were hanging on the wall for; we never used them. One was probably used to cut our Christmas "tree"; I'm not sure what the tree was actually made of. This hooch was the G2 office. I came to work to this office every evening, seven days a week, at 7 PM, and a coworker and I typed up and assembled the Intelligence Summary (INTSUM) for the preceding 24 hours. We typed it on stencils and ran off the document on a mimeograph machine about 4 AM each morning. Then it had to be stapled and collated. The resulting document, anywhere from 10 to 30 pages in length, was picked up by a courier about 6 AM. He landed on the helipad behind our hooch. The INTSUM was then disseminated all over American military units in South Vietnam. The two soldiers pictured, Miley and Catherwood, were day-shift workers at the end of a workday. I had probably shown up for the evening "shift," and photographed the two from my desk along the west wall of the hooch.

Sergeant Mark Bredahl, left, and SP4 Lee Hill This photograph is blurry, which means there is only so much I can do with it. Actually, I did too much with it, as you can tell by the excessive redtones in the photo. That's me on the right, the 'big guy' in his shirtless glory, including hair on his youthful head, and that lean, mean fighting machine to my right is Sgt Mark Bredahl. If I remember correctly, Mark arrived a few months into 1969, maybe February or March. I've no idea what was going on in that photo; I would guess I was poking fun at the sergeant's stripes on Mark's collar. If I recall correctly, both Mark and Dennis Diamond were shake-and-bakes. Those look like jump wings on Mark's cap. Note Bredahl's left hand on my ass; well, combat will do that to a man's mind. I'm guessing this was taken in front of the 'back' hooch, looking toward the 'front' hooch's back door. Note the ubiquitous box of M60 machine-gun ammunition behind my left knee, which we used to store all kinds of stuff in. And, for the first time in this series of photographs, the tents are gone. The engineers have replaced them with plywood and tin. It has always surprised me that I don't remember when that happened. Notice, directly behind my left shoulder, that residents have begun building plywood walls to enclose their cubicles. I'm sure the new hooches were a nice improvement to our living situation, but I will never forget the roar the monsoon rains made on that tin drumhead. In January 1969 we got 30 inches of rain in 24 hours. That's why you see the plastic still draped over the window screens behind us.

SP4 Lee Hill, January 1969 Next photo, your narrator again (Lee Hill), this time in Aviator Cool sunglasses. This is my Larry Csonka imitation. Unfortunately, almost all my photos have my face in them, which can't be helped. This photo should be looking north from the east of our hooch. That would be our hooch behind me, and looking very fine I might add. That was our home for a year. Let's not skim over that fact: that dusty hovel behind me is where we lived, survived, partied, and counted down our days for a year. The hooch should have been new, though it doesn't look so, except for the shiny tin on the roof. Monsoon rains and dust age plywood and tin very fast. That hole behind me must have been for a bunker, a ubiquitous feature of Camp Eagle, for protection from rocket/mortar attacks. You can tell the monsoon was still on us because the screens are still plasticed over. I think you can make out a jeep or three-quarter ton truck passing on the road behind our company area. I would be facing west, toward 501st Signal. Look how dry the ground is getting; the monsoon must be clearing out. I remember in Vietnam, some afternoons the sky would turn green-black, clouds would boil and whirl down on us, I mean ON US. We thought it was the end of the world, first time it happened. If that happened in the states, here in the Midwest, people would go nuts, grab the kids, dog, cat, and flee for the basement. Over there, it would just go away, clear up just like that. I've never experienced that since.

Lee Hill, March 1969, on guard duty at the Camp Eagle perimeter John Wayne Hill. Here I am, profiling heroically for the camera. This was taken one of the nights I pulled perimeter guard at Eagle, which I did two or three times a week. I was probably standing atop one of the four bunkers our headquarters company was responsible for. That could be a fellow guard behind me, or maybe a bag of the equipment we had to bring with us for guard duty. That's an M79 grenade launcher I am loading. The gold tip of the round, which looked just like a giant .22 short round, clearly shows in the photo. The ball-point pen in my pocket must be a carry-over from a day in the office. My wristwatch, a gift from my mother, shows prominently, because I always wore it for perimeter guard duty. I couldn't wear it all the time, because it reacted badly with sweat and humidity, and quickly turned my wrist green. None of us wore dog tags around our necks for the same reason. But the watch was necessary to divide up the hours of the night into 10 PM-12 AM, 12-2 AM, 2-4 AM, and 4-6 AM shifts. Guard duty, now there was a bizarre experience. HHC was assigned bunkers 14-17, right next to the 2/17 Cavalry (Cav). The Cav was basically a mobile infantry unit, where the mobility came from helicopters instead of horses. Many of them were straight-leg infantry who had paid their dues in line units in the bush. As you can imagine, they had a certain disdain for the non-grunt guards adjacent to their bunkers. They liked to sight in their mortars on our sector. Some nights their marking rounds would land a mite close, and I learned later they got a kick out of terrorizing the HHC Clerks & Jerks next to them. And we had a quad-50 next to bunker 17, on the rise. It was supposed to be used to repel a 'human wave' attack. Every few months the 2/17 (second-seventeenth) Cav would come out to try and test-fire it, and it usually took them an hour or two to get the thing working. The weapon froze up in that humidity. When they did get it firing--four fifty-caliber machine guns firing simultaneously--it was an awesome spectacle. But we all knew it would have been useless in a sudden massive ground attack. And the FEAR. I always pulled the 2-4 AM shift because I didn't trust my fellow guards to stay awake. It got so black out there on the perimeter you couldn't see your hand, and then you'd Hear Something, convince yourself it was sappers, this was The Night, and so on. By the time I went home, I was pulling guard 2-3 times per week, and it got to be unbearable. And then in the mornings when you got off, strung out from no sleep and itching and stinking of military mosquito repellent, you still weren't off guard duty yet: both machine guns had to be broken down, cleaned, reassembled, and approved by the supply sergeant. This process permanently removed any interest I had for weapons, and I haven't fired one since July 1970 ETS.

Lee Hill, Camp Eagle perimeter, March 1969 In this paragraph, another perimeter guard shot. That's me with the rifle and Camp Eagle back behind me. You can see how close some hooches were to the perimeter. The yellow-overcast sky is no accident; it was truly that color. I was posing for a fellow guard with my M16 rifle on some sandbags, aiming at an imaginary attacker coming through the wire in front of our bunker. I like this one. First, its simple lines: it's just a soldier with a rifle. Second, you can see how easily a soldier can mold himself around and fuse with some form of cover or protection: sandbags in this case. And third, it vaguely shows the Vietnamese graves behind me. I was on top of our bunker, which was really a metal box about 10 feet square. Sandbags were always packed around its walls. The bags absorbed concussion and shrapnel, and helped dissipate the impact of a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG), a bazooka-type, shaped-charge round designed to penetrate armor and defensive walls. The bunker walls had slits cut in them, so that we guards could shoot through them at the attackers, just like the slits you see in castle walls, but they were a joke. No one of us was stupid enough to jump inside that bunker. First, there was always a foot of water in those bunkers, from the rain, and who knew what creatures were slithering around in there. The rats were about the size of American housecats and completely fearless. And second, the bunkers were a favorite target of the attackers' RPG crews. The bunkers were the first thing they blew. So the typical layout of one of these bunkers included 2 machine gun pits in front of each bunker, with an M60 machine-gun, a gunner, and ammunition in each. The remaining two guards were assigned to the top of the bunker where they operated the field phone, the M79 grenade-launcher, and prepared the flares, hand grenades, and claymores for use.

Lee Hill and M60 machine gun, Camp Eagle perimeter, 1969 Another perimeter guard shot. There's our compulsory Martian sky again. This photo is blurred, but I wanted to scan it anyway. It's interesting because I remember how heavy a loaded M60 machine gun was. I was a big guy, but it was a job holding that thing up. The picture's also interesting because it includes a glimpse of the observation tower on the crest behind me, past bunker 17. This gives me a way to orient myself. Those must be Vietnamese graveyards somewhere behind my left shoulder. I remember this shot. I was in charge of the bunker because I was E5, and the three guards assigned to me were supposed to do what I said. I assigned one of the guards to one of the two M60s. The ammo for it was so rusted into its box that it took two of us to pull it out, and I told one of my guards to clean it, because not even an M60 could have fired the stuff, which is saying something. He refused. He explained that he would run like hell if we actually got hit anyway. So I explained what would happen if he ran under fire, and he realized that he would live longer if he stayed on the bunker and got killed by the Viet Cong. He started to snarl some rat-reply, but I saw him realize that I was serious, and he started cleaning the ammo belt, but he gave me a look that made it plain he would only stop long enough to shoot me before he ran. Now that was a swell night, knowing the cockroach was right next to me in the dark and he was more dangerous than Charlie. What a swell night THAT was, and in all honesty, it did occur to me to fire off a pre-emptive strike (the full-auto type) between his beady rat eyes. I was due to rotate home the second and final time on 24 July, some four weeks away, and short people do not need that sort of action. And we did get hit that night at 3 AM, 25 June 1970, 122 mm rockets hissing right over our heads, and the first thing I did was lock and load so I could off the maggot before he got me, but the scumrat had got himself behind his M60, steelpot and flakjacket on picture-perfect, which of course was a welcome sight with those nasty things flying past us. Things got worse though. You may recall that the HHC bunkers, numbers #14 through #17, were in-between the spot the Viet Cong liked to launch their rockets from and the aviation wing behind us deep in Eagle they like to launch them at. A 122 has a real flat trajectory, and if the gunner was a little short, the nasty things landed on us or sounded like they would. And one of them did burst real close behind us, indescribable blast, orange sparks flying everywhere. Stunk like brimstone. And we had to keep our heads up, since the VC liked to coordinate the launching team with their sappers. They knew a normal GI--any human being for that matter--is going to jump in a hole, put his hands over his helmet, and quiver. So then the VC sappers, who would already be inside the wire, would just run by undetected with their satchel charges, heading for the helicopters, fuel tanks, whatever, maybe without even bothering to kill the guards. So we had to look straight ahead, right into the paths of these incoming rockets, when every cell in your body is screaming, GET DOWN. So this 122 blows behind us, and I'm quivering in terror and getting ready to off this guy, I forget his name, when the flare over us suddenly burned out. Instant blackness, and at the same time, the guard on top of the bunker started screaming, THEY'RE COMING THROUGH THE WIRE! Um-hum, that was what we call a Tight Spot. So I became religious. I went straight to the Guy In The Sky, and I said, in these exact words, "God, if you get me out of this one, I'll be a f***** monk." Well, the Big Guy kept his end of the deal, but I reneged on my end, as I have on all my other transactions with the Almighty. Nobody was coming through the wire, the guard was so rattled he was hallucinating. Flares came back, sun came up a few hours later, but that little glimpse of hell left a permanent mark on me. Funny, seems like getting shot instantly initiated me into a type of fraternity, and I've felt a kind of brotherhood with any soldier anywhere who's ever been shot at.

The G2 Christmas Eve party, December 1968 The photo in this paragraph shows the G2 hooch Christmas Eve party, 1968. This is a jump back in time to a couple months after I arrived in country. It's a rare gathering of the daytime and nighttime G2 enlisted men. Working clockwise, that's Ches Elkins at extreme left; he rotated home a few weeks after I arrived. You can barely see Roger Reese's head behind him. Mike Mahoney is in the white T-shirt. Next is sergeant Dennis Diamond (Sweet Lou). That's your narrator on his butt on the floor. Sweet Lou is right behind me, and that's Rick Sakowich to my left (I located Rick in March 1998), holding the Confederate Flag. Under his left hand is the compulsory trashcan full of beer and ice. If you look carefully in the ice bucket under Rick's left hand, you'll see a can of the dreaded Black Label beer, which we drank a lot of in desperation in the early days. The stuff tasted awful and sold poorly, and so accumulated in towering stacks of pallets at the PX. Sooner or later a beer famine struck, and we were forced to drink the stuff, encrusted top and bottom by high-humidity crud. That's Jim Miley's confederate flag. He probably took the picture. You can barely see presents under our 'tree'; they're most likely cookies from home. The tree is sitting on an empty crate of mortar rounds. We were still living in the tent; our hooch had not yet been built. Looks like a wall of ponchos behind us, maybe hung up to keep the monsoon rain out. You can see a rubberized bag of equipment, which we all had, hanging on the wall in the background. A patch of bare plywood floor is showing. At the upper left you can see the Akai reel-to-reel tape deck that Mahoney and I bought. It had speakers built into each side, and you exposed them by pulling out these little flaps that covered them. Mike and I are the only two night-shift G2 people in the photo. I suspect we were supposed to be on duty at G2; we had probably slipped off temporarily to join the hooch party.

The G2 hooch, Our Home, Our Gang, 1968 Our Gang, standing at the rear (north end) of the G2 hooch. My favorite photograph. That was our home for a year. We're looking north here; the perimeter was a few hundred meters behind us. Note the plastic ceiling; that's a layer of visquene under our canvas tent roof. We were still living in the tent; our hooch hadn't been built yet. Starting with the two people kneeling in front, Henry Jordan is the black guy in the center. He was actually from G3 (Operations) and a terrific guy--he was from Texas, like Ches Elkins and Jim Miley, who's probably taking this photo. That's Roger Reese, kneeling beside him, in the Aviator Cool glasses. Roger was clearly in a good mood; he thought being photographed was hilarious. Standing, working clockwise from left, is an SP5 named Jim Wheeler, who was a crew chief or gunner on a chopper, the aviation outfit down the street, but he liked hanging out with us G2-types, and moved in. The HHC First Sergeant (Britton) noticed him after a month or so and threw him out. Next, to Jim's left, is Mike Mahoney, pipe in left hand, and then myself; and of course, the unmistakable Lou, Sgt. Dennis Diamond, in full bloom. That's a locket around his neck. This is my favorite photo. Got the 101st patch, the Screaming Eagle, dead center. You can see the primitive state of our existence. It amazes me that that layer of canvas and plastic were all that stood between us and the monsoon out there coming down on our heads. At the front left of the photo, you can see that someone has built a wood frame around his cot, which we all did sooner or later, to provide something to support our mosquito netting.

SP4 Lee Hill, May 1969 Photo at right, here's another jump in time. This is May of 1969. I do wish I looked a little brighter in these photographs. At least I've got my eyes open in this one. One of our hoochmates had built this enclosed structure at the back (north) end of the G2 hooch, as most of us had done, and I was visiting him in the evening. In fact, I should be standing in the same spot I was in the preceding photo. I worked nights then, but all of us would slip away now and then for refreshments. Notice how much the galvanized roof has lost its shine, and the ever-present fan to my left for the heat. I've still got an SP4 patch on the left shoulder, so my July 1969 promotion must not have come through yet. That summer was basically a good time, because I could see my R&R and DEROS date coming at me.

Lee Hill and puppy, May 1969 Photo, this paragraph, was also probably taken in May 1969. I still have the SP4 patch on my uniform, so I'm still two months away from my promotion to SP5 in July. And you can see my DTOC security pass in front of the pup's face. I'm lucky to have this photograph. For one thing, the close-up focus AND the visual depth are terrific. The pup, photographer, and I are at the south door of the G2 hooch, and we have a rare look all the way through through the hooch to the north (or "back") door. That should be my cubicle to the left, just inside the back door. At the same time, through a window at the right edge of the photo, you can see a glimpse of sky. See how my hoochmates have put up plywood "walls" around their cubicles. Outside the door, you can see sandbags piled atop the underground bunker outside the door. In fact, we are looking into the bunker. It was a comfort in my young age having that thing just outside the back door. Just behind the sandbags is the company road that wound around Camp Eagle (in fact I think our bunker was partly dug under the road). The perimeter is a few hundred meters past those sandbags. The HHC chapel is just to the left of the back door, across the road. Notice my sweat-soaked fatigues at the knees and back. Very hot. These puppies showed up from time to time; I don't remember where this one came from or what happened to her. I'm pretty sure this was the front door of the G2 hooch. We seem to be looking straight through the hooch and out the back door, toward the northern edge of Eagle. As I recall, we lived only a few hundred meters from the perimeter. The floor looks clean, the place looks orderly and aired-out; compare it to the gloomy plastic-ceiling earlier shots. It amazes me that the same living space could change so much in character. When I first arrived, November 1968, it was the heart of the monsoon. It was cold, and the humidity was always close to 100%. It was BAD. We lived in tents at that time, and the canvas was always soaked with rain, plus we had to hang panchos and whatever plastic we could scrounge up against the screens. No ventilation. You never escaped this clammy slimy feeling. Our laundry would come back from the Vietnamese laundry smelling worse then before we sent it. No heater for the shower, so we bathed in what felt like icewater. Mud a foot deep everywhere. The one thing that kept me in line was a verbal slap in the face I gave myself every day, that there were lots of soldiers who had it much worse, out on the line in worse conditions than ours, no roof, shower, or three squares, and getting killed too.

The G2 hooch, New Years Eve, 1968 At the left is another photo from later on in the same party, New Years Eve, December 1968. The camera's flashbulb lit up the left side of this photo, emphasizing the green mosquito netting. For whatever reason, partiers at an aviation wing down the street, all of them wearing a trademark red rag on their heads, which had something to do with their unit motto, had left their own party and joined the one going on in our hooch. I worked nights as usual, but managed to be there anyway. You can see Sakowich lighting up a cigarette to the right. I had a tape recorder and microphone set up that night, and for some reason, the guy with the cigar in the center began talking into my microphone. I had told him I was taping a cassette to send home to my family, and he talked into the mike for about an hour. I'm sorry to say that the tape has disappeared. Somehow, I managed to get stinko and still get back to work. We had to have the G2 Intelligence Summary, the INTSUM, ready for a courier every morning between 6-7 AM, and as far as I know, that sucker was ready.

The following photo was a bizarre situation. It would have been August or September 1969. I don't know who took this shot, maybe an army photographer. It's blurred, unfortunately, and I can't change that. Note the censor's stamp, the five-pointed star, over our heads. Four of us--myself on the extreme left, Sakowich next, then Jim Miley, then Bruce Winthrop had been promoted to E5, and the Army had this ceremony called 'wetting down the stripes'. Beer was poured on the SP5 or sergeant patch; you can see that mine is still wet. I was a night guy, so I had just gotten to sleep about 10 AM, and they came and woke me up, somebody threw a shirt on me and dragged me out to the front of the hooch, which explains the intelligent expression on my comatose mug. That's the part I remember, wanting to strangle this dumb colonel for waking me up. The other three new SP5s were day guys, and they're having a good time, but I was a hard sleeper in those days and half asleep, as you can see from my Alert Expression. That's LTC Somebody shaking Jim Miley's hand. This shot was taken basically in the home stretch of my first tour in Vietnam.

July 1969. Lee Hill, Rick Sakowich, Jim Miley, and Bruce Winthrop getting promoted to E5

I've only included one photograph from my second tour in Vietnam (December 1969 to July 1970). Again, the photo is unfortunately blurred, but you can see some interesting things. When I came back, I was still with Headquarters, Headquarters Company (HHC), at least on paper, but I actually moved out of the company area and deeper into the center of Camp Eagle. I was attached to the Open Mess System, the clubs the Army maintained for its enlisted men and officers. In this photo I was standing outside the building that doubled as our living quarters and warehouse. I was a slot machine repairman in my second tour, but in this photo we had "taken the day off" from our regular work to fill sandbags and do other work around our compound. The concertina wire behind me may not look like much, but the point is, it surrounded our compound within the larger surroundings of Camp Eagle. In other words, the defensive situation at the base camp had evolved to the point that each internal compound had its own mini-perimeter. So, I was relatively safer in this location, but the irony is that our next-door neighbor was an artillery battery. The howitzers, including a trio of eight-inchers, don't show in this photo, but they were there, and on more than one occasion, their muzzle blasts knocked me flat on the ground and temporarily addled my senses. I suspect that is the source of the tinnitus I have lived with ever since. And the photo shows another quality more than any other: the HEAT. I can feel it just looking at the photo. I'm not sure what that black structure behind me is, and that may be a tank rumbling down our road.

Lee Hill, June 1970

I've added links to a few more photos I scanned in from 101 Airborne Vietnam '69, a "yearbook" for soldiers were at camp Eagle in 1969. The images are too big to include in a page that already takes a long time to download, so I'll just offer optional links to them:

This page was last changed on 26 March 2010