All posts by weweresoldiers


            Today I received a gut wrenching story from Robert Cammann. Robert lived through hell on earth at LZ Ike. The 2/5 of the 1st Cav was on LZ Ike before the 2/8 of the 1st Cav. moved in. Robert’s story makes one wonder how any infantryman survived a year in Vietnam. I am publishing Robert’s story here just as he wrote it for me. There are names of men listed at the end of the story that I am certain Robert would love to hear from.

 I was introduced to L/Z Ike on June 18th,1969 2 weeks after arriving in RVN.I had spent a week in the bush w/ D2/5, 1/6 & this was my 1st experience on any L/Z.I was to pull gaurd duty that nite w my sgt. so he could show me the ropes.I was to sleep next to him at one bunker but for some reason they moved me to another bunker.We pulled our shift(10-12) & he woke up the next shift & walked me back to my bunker. I crashed outside the bunker,don’t know how long & was awakened to the s—- hitting the fan. It was sheer bedlam shooting over the berm at anything & everything. It wasn’t long & there were gooks all over the place, inside the l/z, in our bunkers; in front of us behind us,everywhere. The place was lit up, explosions everywhere, fires all over, shooting all around. Then I saw some of our guys out in front running into the l/z. Our L/P’s were trying to get back inside, you had to make sure you weren’t firing up our own guys.We were litterally shooting eyeball to eyeball, shooting into our own bunkers. The big guns were firing point blank. Finally things tapered off. When daylight came, it was complete & total shock. I found out my sgt. was dead,shot where he slept. There were 14 dead gooks laying outside one bunker near the log road. We policed up 34 dead gooks. The rest of the day was spent filling sand bags & rebuilding everthing. That nite was spent on L/P out side the L/Z, gooks running all around us. I prayed they wouldn’t detect us. We were observing them all nite through the red eye. I guess they were probing & setting up for another attack, but it remained quiet that nite. Next day was sandbags,rebuilding, preparing for another hit. No one could sleep since the 1st nite; everyone was exhausted. That nite we took turns trying to sleep. I had just sat in the bunker doorway & bearly closed my eyes when all hell broke loose. Here we go again, but this was even more intense & severe. They litterally overran us. They were everywhere, in the bunkers,the big gun pits, the CP.I really thought we’d get completely overrun. I really don’t know how we repelled this attack but eventually the sun poked through. The devastation was unbelievable & indescribeable. Plt. 1/6 in those 3 days went from 37 guys to 7 guys. Me & stevs Brookshire had a week w/ D2/5, 1/6. LT. was gone, Plt. Sgt. was gone, it seemed like everyone was gone. Sgt. Mac was put in charge of what was left of 1/6. I didn’t have enough time to get to know any of the guys. I prayed that the rest of my tour wasn’t going to be like this. God Bless to all who were there.God Bless everyone. Within the next few days we started getting replacement troops. I have a few names I can sort of remember. Maybe some of you guys can help me out w/ some info: John Rauh(n.y.), Joe Brucculleri(n.y.),Larry Schmidt[Twiggy](n.y.),Bob Smith,Steve Brookshire[Hoss](Winston Salem,N.C.),Joe Czarnecki(Detroit?),Dave scherer,Walter Ken Saylor[Popeye](Detroit?),John Hines[Hiney](Mundelein,Ill.),Larry Whitehead[Running Bare](Poplar Bluff,Mo),John Tournet,Mike Spong,Dan Grailian,Orland Fasel,Terry Moynihan; My name is Robert Cammann[NEW YAWK]D2/5,Plt1/6,June3,1969-June3,1970RVN. I’d be more than happy to hear from any of my heroes.      Luv you all!!!     God Bless you all!!!!

 Posted by Randall at 3/13/2011 7:52 AM

Categories: 1st Cavalry Airmobile, 1st Cavalry Division, 1st Cav, US Army, 2/5 1st Cav, Vietnam


Written by SP4 Richard Craig
in the Cavalair newspaper

 This article has been preserved by Charles Berg and I am posting it here for the heroism of the brave men who fought with Charles on LZ Ike.

      TAY NINH—-The six men on the listening post, already heavily concealed in thick underbrush and bamboo, crouched still lower as they heard the unusual noise to their front.

     Stirring as cautiously as possible, Sgt. Johnny White raised his head and peered into the darkness.  Ahead of him, six North Vietnamese soldiers were busy setting up an 82mm mortar position.

     As he turned to alert his fellow soldiers, the chilling “whoosh” of 107mm rockets sounded overhead as they slammed inside the perimeter of Landing Zone Ike, a firebase 15 miles northeast of here.

     It was the beginning of round three in the fight of LZ Ike, an isolated piece of real estate in War Zone C, manned by the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry and long a major impediment to the NVA blocking their main infiltration and supply route in 111Corps.

     It was the second time in less than 48 hours and the third time in less than a month that the enemy, in ever-increasing numbers, had been thwarted in attempts to overrun the LZ.

     In a dawn sweep of the battlefield, 90 enemy bodies were found.  Five soldiers were detained.

     The LZ was hit by 30-35 107mm rockets, about 40  57mm rounds, 80 B-40 shells, 45 82mm and 60  60mm mortar rounds, and received heavy 51 caliber machine gun fire.

     The listening post, trapped to the northwest of LZ Ike, was ordered to return to the firebase.  The six men soon realized they were caught in a cross-fire but continued their flight towards the friendly position.

     “I’ve never seen so many enemy in my life,” said Private First Class Mario Mejia.  “We fragged the mortar position when we pulled back and kept fragging a path straight towards Ike.”

     “We were lucky to get back,”said SGT White.  “not one man on the LP got as much as a scratch.  It was a miracle.”

     Huey Cobra artillery helicopters added to the aerial firepower.

     “The smoke was so thick by the time we got there it was difficult to detect targets,” said Captain Reave Ross, pilot of one the Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 20th Artillery aircraft.

     Over 200 rounds of tube artillery were fired in support of the LZ during the night.

     Contact was broken at 2:40 AM as what was left of the enemy force evaded to the north.                           I hope this is helpful to anyone looking for information about those nights.WAR IS HELL.!!!  

 Posted by Randall at 3/30/2011 6:11 PM

Categories: 1st Cavalry Airmobile, 1st Cavalry Division, US Army, 1st Cav, LZ Ike, Vietnam


Glad to find your website,My name is Chuck Berg I also served with D 2nd 5th Air Cav from Jan 1969 to Jan 1970.I stated out as pointman for 3rd platoon My Squad leader Sgt David King was killed after a sniper attack Feb 20 , later I was part of a mortar platoon till our Sgt James Hilliard was killed May 26 our company was mortared after finding a weapons cache along a trail,I was also wounded at this time, He is in the Life magazines One weeks dead June 1969 .I was the Rto for the 3rd platoon Leader the night LZ Ike was attacked , My good friend Martin McZeal {Zeek} was killed June 18  he was in 1st platoon. Elijah Ingram June 19, Kia, On June 20  Capt John DeMay,Joe Goetzer Jr, Craig Hanson, Keith Olson,Larry Poling Were also Killed All of this info I have gotten from my searching the internet and finding the web site 5th US Cavalry and 2nd 12 Us Cavalry 1st Calvary Division It Has alot of information plus Memorial pages for each Company That’s how I have gotten most of the names. From what I can remember the first rocket hit our Company Commanders bunker,Killing Capt DeMay  My platoon leader took over command and helped to get the guys out on the listing post back in to the Lz.It was a miracle.After being wounded for the second time June 20 sent back to Tay Ninh to recover, is were I must have Got the Cavalair news paper with the article about The assault on Lz Ike, Caption reads THIRD ASSAULT ON LZ IKE CATCHES LP OUTSIDE WIRE,RESULTS IN 90 NVA DEAD. it is dated July 23 1969.I have had it since I returned from Viet Nam  .I can either send you a copy ,or type it to you, what ever you would like for posting on yor site. Reading the stores everyone else has posted has brought back alot of memories from that year that most of us have hidden away for 41 years so hoping this will help .

 Posted by Randall at 3/31/2011 11:01 AM


  During the past few years I have come to realize that those of us on FSB Illingworth on the night of March 31, 1970 and the morning of April 1, 1970, when the battle took place, were used as bait to draw the enemy out for a decisive battle. The situation was weighed and we were determined to be expendable. I know that many will blast me for this statement, but it is a fact.

  Jerry Granberg and Randall Richards are beginning work on a book about FSB Illingworth and the terrible battle on April 1, 1970. In the book we will compare the things that Washington and the upper level brass were saying was happening during the month of March 1970, with what was actually happening on the ground. Then we will go around the berm and tell the stories of men who fought in the battle. These stories will be told based on reports that we get from people who were there and who fought in the battle. In the appendix we will list every story exactly as written by the contributors.

  The battle at FSB Illingworth became a lesson for the 1st Cav in Vietnam. Mistakes were made that lead to needless loss of lives. What happened on FSB Illingworth was a gross injustice for the men who fought on that base. Much of the information about Illingworth has been swept under the rug to protect the honor of men who made the decisions that led to that horrific battle. Now is the time when we must speak up and let our story become part of written history.

  If you were on FSB Illingworth during battle on April 1, 1970, I invite you to contact me and let us tell your story. If you cannot write your story for any reason please do not dismiss this invitation. Contact me and I will make arrangements to record your story and type it for you. For some of you it will be hard. It was hard for me to talk about Illingworth for many years. No, that is not correct! For many years I could not talk about Illingworth without crying and becoming very emotional. Only by talking with my buddies I served with and by writing about the battle have I been able to overcome the fear of the pain and fight my way through the tears.

   If you know someone who was on FSB Illingworth during battle on April 1, 1970, I beg you to please contact that person and get the person(s) in touch with me. Their story needs to be included in the book.

   I know that time has dimmed much of your memory of that battle. In some cases you may have decided that some of the horrible things you remember happening did not happen because they were so bizarre. Go ahead and tell it the way you remember it. If we find it too outlandish, we will attempt to help you corroborate the events with other witnesses. Needless to say, if you were in the rear shaming or if you weren’t on Illingworth, we do not want to hear your story. There are plenty of good stories consisting of true occurrences without adding swagger or ‘John Wayne’ shenanigans. Please do not embellish your story by adding things that did not happen.

  We need every story from every person who was on the fire support base. It has been 41 years since the battle on FSB Illingworth took place. If our story is every going to be told, it must be now. Don’t take your story to your grave without letting people know that you stood up for your country and fought when called upon. Let people know that you did not run from your duty. If you fought on Illingworth, you are a hero, and we want to tell the world that you are a hero. Please help Jerry and I in this effort.

 Posted by Randall at 3/31/2011 11:24 AM

Jerry and I are still planning to write the book. We have done a good bit of work on it. Jerry says that it just brings back so many bad memories that he has a hard time with it.  He gets really mad when he realizes how many men were lost as they were being used as bait.

Categories: E, 1st Cavalry Airmobile, 2nd Battalion, Firebase Illingworth, 1st Cav, 8th Cavalry, Echo Company, Mortar Platoon, Mortar, Vietnam, 1970, 1st Cavalry Division, US Army


I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the soldiers and airmen who participated in the battle of Firebase Illingworth on April 1st 1970.  I have you and especially the families and friends of the 25 men who contributed their lives to thank for 41 wonderful years.  Since that morning I have lived a very full and prosperous life.  My four adult children and my grand children have you to thank for their very existence.  I am completely convinced that without the bravery and unbelievable effort of the men who fought on Illingworth that night I would not be here today.

I have had the opportunity to thank some of you in person. I regret not making a greater effort to thank each and every one of you.  I especially regret not calling Cpt. Laidig at least one time while I had the opportunity.

 I can only imagine the sacrifices that the friends and families of those 25 men have made over the past 41 years.  Please say a special prayer of thanks by name for those  listed below, their families, friends and the others who struggled on Illingworth, I will.

 A Trp, 1st Sqdn, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR)
SGT Kenneth Ray Hodge, Johnson City, TN
CPL John Lee Smith, Millbrook, AL

A Btry, 2nd Bn, 32nd Artillery
SP4 David H. Lassen, Clarence, NY
SP4 Terry L. Schell, Chicago, IL

HHB, 2nd Bn, 32nd Artillery
SSG Lawrence E. Sutton, Portland, OR (Bronze Star “V”)

B Btry, 1st Bn, 77th Artillery
PFC Thomas R. Bowen, Forestville, CA
1LT Cleaveland F. Bridgman, South Dartmouth, MA (Silver Star)
SSG Benjamin V. Childress, Knoxville, TN
SGT Syriac Hebert, Pine Bluff, AR
SGT Robert H. Lane, Concord, TN

HHB, 1st Bn, 77th Artillery
SP4 Thomas J. Murphy, River Falls, WI
SSG Steven J. Williams, Portland, OR

A Co, 2nd Bn, 8th Cavalry
CPL Billy P. Carlisle, Pelahatchie, MS (Silver Star)

C Co, 2nd Bn, 8th Cavalry
CPL Leroy J. Fasching, Wibaux, MT

SGT Robert A. Hill, Lowell, OH
PFC Roger J. McInerny, Richfield, MN
CPL Michael R. Patterson, Dearborn, MI
SGT Gerald W. Purdon, Cincinnati, OH (Silver Star)
CPL Klaus D. Schlieben, Richmond, VA

E Co, 2nd Bn, 8th Cavalry
CPL Bobby L. Barker, Harvey, IL
CPL Nathan J. Mann, Warsaw, MO
SGT Brent A. Street, Inglewood, CA (Dist Svc Cross)
SGT Casey O. Waller, Cumberland, VA (Dist Svc Cross)

HHC, 2nd Bn, 8th Cavalry
SGT David G. Dragosavac, Meadville, PA
SGT Sidney E. Plattenburger, Charlotte, NC

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, John

John W. Ahearn
1111 Sparkman Drive
Boerne, TX 78006
Cell; (210)365-3713
Phone: (830)229-5352


April 9, 2011, Ed Collins finished his last battle here on earth and passed on to be with our God.

 Ed Collins was one of my heroes in this life. Ed was the man I told about loading on a chopper the morning after the battle on FSB Illingworth. Ed had been placed in a group that was to be loaded on one of the last choppers because no one thought anyone in that group could even live to get to the rear for treatment. I did not know Ed at that time. He was just a badly wounded man who needed help. When we approached the chopper with the stretcher carrying Ed, the door gunner waved us back and said they couldn’t take any more. We move back and put Ed down on the ground. I looked up and saw the door gunner waving for me to come up to the door. I went up and he said the pilot wanted to talk to me. I went up to the pilot and he told me to put rest of the wounded men on the chopper. I asked how he could carry all of them. He said it would be a while before another chopper got back to the site. He said to load them and then for everyone to pick up on his skids and run with the chopper as far as we could. We propped Ed up in the door gunner’s seat. Then after loading all the remaining wounded, we lifted on the skids and ran with the chopper until we could run no more. The chopper gained speed only feet from the ground and then lifted up at the tree line and made it out. For many years I wondered what happened to that man. I always thought that he probably died before he got to the med station.

 After I wrote about this in my article on FSB Illingworth, Ed contacted me and told me that he was the man that I wrote about. He and two of his daughters traveled to Ft. Sill, OK in 2010 for the memorial service for the soldiers who gave their lives on April 1, 1970, at FSB Illingworth and FSB Jay. When I saw Ed coming across the parking lot, I decided it had to be him. He walked straight up to me and said, “I believe you are Randall”. We hugged and cried and neither of us could believe that we had come together after our unfortunate, chance meeting 40 years before. Ed came to our E/2/8 reunion in Warm Spring, GA during October, 2010. He planned to attend our reunion in October of this year, but now we will have to wait a few years to see each other again.

 Ed Collins was my hero because, though he had much wrong with his body, he never complained, but rather, he chose to be positive about the life he had. During the battle on Illingworth, all the muscle was blown off the top of Ed’s arms and shoulders. The doctors redirected muscles to fix Ed where he could move his arms. Before our meeting in OK Ed was diagnosed with cancer and based on the time line given to him by his doctor, he should have already been dead. But Ed felt that God allowed him to live long enough to make it to the memorial service. Thankfully, God gave Ed a year beyond the memorial service to spend time with family and friends.

 Ed Collins was laid to rest with full military honors in Anderson, SC at M.J.”DOLLY’ COOPER VETERANS CEMETERY. My wife and I attended the funeral and were touched by the service.

 Posted by Randall at 4/29/2011 8:24 AM

Categories: E, 1st Cavalry Airmobile, 2nd Battalion, Firebase Illingworth, 2/8, Vietnam, Echo Company, Mortar Platoon, Mortar, 1970, 1st Cavalry Division, US Army


As Featured On Ezine Articles    

I came into country at Cam Ranh Bay.  I had been in country for a few days and had been through Cherry School.  On the 9th day of September 1969, my name was called out as being assigned to E, 2/8, 1st Cav Div.  We left for Tay Ninh.  When we got to Tay Ninh we were told where our company headquarters was.  When we got there I thought this is not so bad.  I saw lots of sand bags and plenty of places to take cover.  About the time I decided on what looked like the place I would want to be during an attach, we were told to come pick up our gear.  We were shown the supply room where they gave us a pack, an M16, 10 empty M16 magazines, a poncho, a poncho liner, a soft canteen, and some bug juice.  I packed the stuff into the back pack in the same order that it was given to me.  We were then told that a Chinook would pick up in a few minutes.  By then it was probably 4:00 pm.  We loaded on the chopper. That big chinook flew a great distance to take me and Sgt Huggins out to LZ Ike.

    After the chopper had been in the air for quite a while, it started to circle.  I looked out a side window.  There were people running around in what looked like a field of mud surrounded by a mud berm.  It looked like a creek ran through the middle of the mud field.  The chopper started a decent.  Huggins asked the rear doorman what was down there.  He said, “Your home.”  Huggins turned and looked at me as he said, “No, Man!”  Well sure enough, they made us get off the chopper and wade through mud into the LZ.  We were met by Sgt Brown.  He was a real jolly guy who started out by showing us a Chinese hand grenade.  He said don’t be like the dumb ass we sent home yesterday.  He pulled the string and blew his balls off.  Brown never smiled.  He said, “Now this is serious so you always listen to what I tell you.”  We were all ears.  I had been trained in mortars in AIT and in NCO School.  I’m not sure Huggins had ever been in mortars.  Brown told Huggins that he would be in mortar FDC and that I would be going out with the Recon Platoon the next day.  I said, “But all my training was in mortars.”  Brown responded, “I don’t need any mortar men.  You’re going with Recon.”  I asked, “How many of these men have had mortar training?”  Brown snapped back, “None of them, but that don’t matter cause I spent a lot of time in artillery.”  I was reminded of the term “military intelligence”.  Sgt. Brown showed us a small metal hooch that had a poncho on each end with a couple of sandbags laying on each poncho to hold it on.  Brown said “now put 3 layers of sandbags on this hooch then you can go to sleep.” We looked at each other in complete amazement. Sure, we thought. Where’s the damn sand?

  We put a few bags of mud on the hooch and then gave up, crawled in, and laid down to try to sleep. Shortly after we got in the hootch, all hell broke loose. We figured out that we were having a mad minute. Tried to go back to sleep, but I just laid there listening to the sounds on the LZ.  Some time later, I don’t know what time, explosions started going off way to close to us.  We sat up and looked at each other.  We decided it had to be incoming.  We started digging in our back packs to get the empty magazines that had been issued to us.  About that time shrapnel came through the poncho and cut a large hole in my air mattress.  I plopped down on the pallet.  Someone yelled from outside, “Is somebody in that hooch?”  We reluctantly answered in the affirmative.  He said get out on the berm and start firing.  I told him we didn’t have any ammo in our magazines.  He told us there was plenty of ammo at the berm.  I crawled out and briefly met Sgt Kilgore.

    I crawled toward the berm.  On my way, I crawled right into what had looked like a creek from the air.  I thought I was going to drown.  I hung on to my M16 and scrambled out on the other side.  I crawled up to the berm and asked for ammo.  Somebody threw several magazines to me.  I loaded my rifle and looked over the berm.  Right there in front of me was a gook about thirty feet from my location.  On the trip to Vietnam, I worried that I would not be able to kill someone when faced with the need to do so.  It had really bothered me, but I did not tell anyone about my concern.  As my eyes fell on the gook I unloaded a twenty round clip into him.  Oh well, so much for fear of killing.  When the brown fecal matter hits the rotating wedge, training takes over and you do what you have been trained to do.  Thank you God.

    That night the squad leader of Blue 3 was wounded and medivaced.  The next day Sgt. Brown assigned me to that job.  He said, “Now I need a mortar man.”

 Posted by Randall at 8/12/2008 12:30 PM


While guarding the Song Beh Bridge, we had some spare time to think about the good times back home. One day Billy McDaniel (Georgia) and I were talking about the things we missed the most. We talked about Sunday dinners, fried chicken, pies, cakes, hard work on the farm, our parents, and then about homemade ice cream. We both had grown up in Georgia where homemade ice cream was a tradition. It was usually made on the weekend when family members had time to talk about old times while turning the ice cream freezer. Billy said, “I sure would like to have a bowl of good old homemade ice cream right now.” We thought how silly it was to be dreaming of such a wonderful thing while sitting in the heat of Vietnam. Finally, one of us said, “Well darn it, let’s just figure how to make some.” And that we did.

   Now for those of you unfamiliar with the process of making homemade ice cream, let me explain how this all works. In a normal ice cream freezer there is a tub (traditionally made of white oak), a smaller covered metal container for the ice cream mix, and a dasher that scrapes the inside walls of the metal container to keep the liquid mixed with the frozen material as it freezes. There is a geared device at the top with a handle sticking out the side to turn the metal container inside the wooden tub. Which side, you ask. It don’t matter. If you are left handed, just turn it around, but be sure you still turn it clockwise. People use do tell the kids not to turn it backward because that would unfreeze the ice cream. And, of course, most ice cream freezers now have a motor that turns the device.  The dasher turns in the opposite direction or on some models just remains stationary. The wooden container (some are now plastic, of course) has a hole in the side for water to drain out. The way it works is this: ice and salt are put into the wooden tub around the metal container which contains the ice cream mixture. Why salt, you may ask. Well, the salt lowers the freezing point of the water in the ice. Yes, Yes, freezing point and thawing point is normally 32 degrees Fahrenheit. But adding salt lowers that freezing point (thawing point) so that the ice cream will freeze. The hole in the side of the wooden tub carries the heat out of the ice cream mixture. Heck of a refrigeration process if you ask me. It is really very simple. So this is the process and the device that we were going to try to mimic in the heat of Vietnam. Well, if you don’t understand this, email me and I’ll try to explain a little more. You are probably thinking ‘Yankee Ingenuity’, but for some reason Yankees just did not seem to care for or appreciate our simple delight. Anyway, on with my explanation of our mental gyrations to reinvent the ice cream freezer.

   We decided that we could indeed figure out how to make the ice cream. We talked about the process of making the ice cream, what had to happen to make it, and what parts there were to an ice cream freezer. We needed a clean container for the ice cream to be frozen in. We needed a dasher to scrap down the sides of the ice cream container, and we needed a large container that would hold the ice cream container and a salty ice bath. We quickly decided that we could use a mortar illumination canister to contain the ice cream mixture. These containers were clean, made of aluminum, and skinny enough so that the heat would transfer out of the mixture quickly. We decided that a 8 inch ammo container would be large enough in diameter to contain all the necessary parts. The only problem was that the 8 inch container was too deep. We found a used coffee can and turned the coffee can upside down in the bottom of the 8 inch container. When we placed the illumination canister back in the 8 inch container, it was just right. The illumination container was sticking up about 3 inches above the 8 inch container. We figured we could turn the illumination container with our hands. Next, we had to find something to use as a dasher. The dasher in an ice cream freezer removes the ice cream from the sides as it freezes and mixes it with the ice cream mixture thereby lowering the temperature of the mixture. Eventually the temperature of the entire mixture decreases until the entire mixture freezes.

   We started a serious search for the parts for the dasher. About mid afternoon, Georgia showed up with a solution. He had come up with a small piece of metal that he stole from some ordinance stockpile. He had a wooden handle on which to attach the metal piece and some wire to lash on the metal to the handle. The process was going to involve at least three people. One would turn the illumination canister, one would hold the dash handle and scrap the sides, and one would keep the device loaded with ice and salt. We knocked a hole in the side of the 8 inch container about one inch from the top to let the water drain from the container carrying the heat from our mixture. We were in business. Now all we needed was the ingredients for our ice cream.

   We had a small tent mess hall at the bridge. They usually had some milk. We went under the back wall of the tent and found the milk stored in a cooler. We stole a bag of sugar, a pretty large chunk of ice, a bag of salt, and some vanilla flavoring. Back at my sleeping hooch we mixed the ingredients together in the illumination canister. By now a couple of guys had come along asking what we were doing. At the time I had a sleeping position on top of an old bunker. It opened our toward the perimeter. I had a poncho swung up for a shade, and that is where we did all our strategic planning for this mission. It was also where we assembled to carry out our rendezvous with one thing we missed from home. I remember that Slim Eubanks was one of the people who came to see what we were doing.  Now Slim was from Alabama and also knew all about homemade Ice cream. Slim offered to turn the canister. He was eager to invest in this new enterprise that Georgia and I had devised. I am not sure who else was there. Jimmy Elliot and Clint Reed may have been there also. We were having a hell of a great time. Finally the mixture was frozen. It was like Christmas time for a bunch of boys from the south. We were so excited that we were giggling. We started pouring up the ice cream into Styrofoam cups (also stolen from the mess hall). We tasted it and Oh My God we were in heaven. About that time Captain Jones had walked up on the other side of the bunker. Now he thought we were up there smoking some whaky baky. Captain Jones said, “What are you guys doing up there?” We got very still and did not know what to say. Slim said, “I think we better tell him.” I then said, “Sir, we are making homemade ice cream.” Jones said, “Bullshit guys, what the hell are you doing up there?” At this point Slim said, “Come on up here Captain and have some homemade ice cream.” The captain crawled up on the bunker, walked around back, and we gave him a cup of the best homemade ice cream that had ever been produced in Vietnam. He tasted the concoction and said, “Well I’ll be dammed. Man that is great. How did you guys make this stuff?” At this point we were pretty certain that we would not get in trouble for stealing from the mess hall!

   Several times during that year in Vietnam, we made our delicious concoction. It was always exciting and almost as though we were consuming forbidden fruit. We made our ice cream at least one time after Lt. Mike Russell came to the mortar platoon. Mike is from Louisiana and also appreciates good homemade ice cream.

   Through these many years since my tour in Vietnam, I have dealt with many memories of that war. Most of those memories are terrible remembrances of a dark time in the history of our nation.  But the one memory that always warms my heart and the hearts of all my buddies who had the honor of sampling it is the fond memory of homemade ice cream in Vietnam.

When I tell this story, I think I fail to give Billy McDaniel the full credit he deserves for this invention. Every time Billy and I would come up with a need for our device, Billy would take off and be gone for a while. He would then show up with some improvised contraption to make it all work.

Posted by Randall at 9/28/2008 4:50 PM



For many years, I have been looking for a personal connection to Firebase Illingsworth. Something more than a photo or casual mention in a book. I was looking for a personal account of what occurred on April 1, 1970 so that I had a better understanding of what my brother Roger went through before he was killed. I want to thank Mr. Richards for bringing me just a little bit closer to that connection.

 Paul D. McInerny

 I am thankful to Paul for his comment. I chose to post it as an entry because it is so powerful. This is an example of the value stories from Vietnam have for other people. Anyone wishing to contribute can do so by sending email to me at this site.

Thank you Paul,


 Posted by Randall at 10/7/2008 11:43 AM



After 32 years two Vietnam veterans, Emilio (Gabby) Luna and Charles Rushing, Jr. of Northport AL, were reunited Friday Mar. 22nd 2002 in Bay City TX


 Gabby arrived in Vietnam in June1969. Rushing nicknamed “Alabama” (most of the guys never knew the others first name) arrived in Vietnam in September of 1969. They were in the 1st Air Calvary Division, 2/8 Echo Company, Mortars. Rushing and about 12other Troopers were transported by helicopter to Firebase or Landing Zone (LZ)Ike to replace the wounded or dead. LZ Ike was attacked the night before Rushing arrived, with heavy mortar fire and sappers. (Suicide soldiers of the North Vietnamese army (NVA) with explosives strapped to their persons or carrying explosives in a bag.) Gabby received a head wound and was evacuated along with others to the rear area for treatment. As new Troops they were called cherries or fresh meat. Rushing did not meet Gabby for 8 day’s. The 1stAir Cav. 2/8 moved off LZ Ike a week after Gabby was wounded. Echo Company’s Mortars and Heavy weapons were flown by helicopter to a bridge on the Song Be River. The mission was to guard the bridge, send out patrols and set up night ambushes. The two saw each other for the first time at the Bridge. “Gabby saw me and I guess he felt someone needed to look after me because I weighed only110 pounds at that time. He had taken me under his wings and called me Little Brother. He was determined to see me through the war at least until he returned to the world in June of 1970.” But through a twist of fate, Rushing was the one that helped save Gabby’s life. “The next six months were filled with constant moving from LZ to LZ. The weather was always a problem. It was either hot and dusty or raining. Most Firebases were named; LZ Mary, LZ Carolyn, LZ Becky, LZ Gloria, LZ Illingworth but many had no names. Theses places were set-up for a week to10 days, called jump LZ’s. We were always on the move, always very close to the Cambodia border.” In December of 1969 at LZ Mary, Rushing was infected with malaria (both strains). HE was sick three weeks with chills and high fever. A Sergeant First Class was in charge of sick call and would not let the Medic send him to the rear for test and treatment. Gabby made a move that probably saved his life. “I did not know this for 25 years. I was airlifted to the rear area and received medical treatment This was six more weeks of sickness.”

 “March of 1970 The1st CAV. 2/8 mover to Firebase St. Barbara, in the shadow of the Black Virgin Mountain. Gabby had always been next to me along with a lot of other great guys to whom I grew close to. About nine of these guys and myself have been meeting once a year in different location for seven years.” LZ St. Barbara was an Old French Base built in the 1950s when France occupied Vietnam. IT set in a prime location, supporting troops and firebases on the Cambodian border and also troops at the bottom and top of the Black Virgin Mountain. The NVA owned the middle of the mountain.  Because the Base had been there for so long, the French army and the U.S. Army had placed thousands of mines around the outer perimeter for protection. “This would be the reason for my 32-year search for my friend Gabby.” Gabby had 90days left in country (SHORT) the name given to guys with 100 days or less. This was the time that he felt really good about making it home alive. He was getting out of the field, going on R & R to Australia for two weeks. When he returned he was to report for a rear job and kickback and enjoy his last three months of the war. The day was March 26th, 1970 a day the two men will never forget. Gabby had already packed all of the belongings in his life in 1rucksack with a pair of flip-flops tied to the top. He had bought two pair that morning and gave Rushing one and he kept the other pair.  As fate would have it THE Captain would not let Gabby on the last helicopter leaving for the rear area that afternoon. “I already said my goodbyes and he had given me a piece of his mind on how to stay alive for the next six months.” Rushing said. That was the morning of the 26th.

 That same afternoon around 2 p.m. a group of guys including Rushing were stringing Constantine wire in an area outside the perimeter. This area was supposed to be cleared of mines.  They were told which area was clear and which area was not. They had been out about three hours and out of the blue there stood Gabby. “ He was there to relieve me and I asked why? (WHY? was my favorite word in THE NAM.) He said THE Captain would not let him leave. I asked WHY? That was the wrong word at the wrong time.”

 Gabby was an E-5Sergeant that was (SHORT) mad and did not want to be outside the perimeter. He said the captain would let him leave on the 27th A.M. “In a very nice (NAM)Voice he told me TO GET THE HELL OUT OF HIS FACE. I thought it was bull shit that he was out there but I knew it would do-no good to argue with him. I walked the path that was cleared of mines back to the Perimeter. When I reached the berm (a dirt wall around the perimeter of the LZ about seven feet high) I heard an explosion, turned and saw Gabby lying on his back covered in dirt and dust. He was about 100 yards away from me.”  Rushing risked his own life by running through a field that was not cleared of mines. “It was the shortest distance to Gabby. I was not thinking, I heard no sounds, saw no sky, no people, nothing. I remember him trying to push himself up with his arms behind his back. I knew at that moment, time was our enemy. I had to reach him as quick as possible. Reason was not working in my mind. I believe that shock or fear or LOVE of a BROTHER had taken over. The other guys were frozen in time, not knowing if the area they were in was clear of mines. When I reached Gabby all I could do was hold him, not knowing what to do or say.  I had no medicine, I had nothing. I was telling him that everything would be OK, just hold on. He then asks me to straighten his legs. I didn’t know what to say, I was a 20 year old kid, just married, in a GOD FORSAKEN land that I NEVER liked in the first place. What do you say? I held him close and told him that his Legs were gone. He then said WHY ME? “Alabama” WHY ME? I had no Words, but through the tears, blood and dirt, I told him that GOD HAD A PLAN FOR HIM!  but I didn’t know why. I could not understand why this happened to him and not me. I had been walking in the area for over three hours and made it through the Open field. I don’t remember how long it was before the Helicopter arrived. It couldn’t touch down in fear of landing on a mine. It was about three feet from the ground and hovering above us. The Medic dropped on top of us, in fear of mines around this area.  During this time Gabby never lost consciousness. The Medic opened his bag handed Me a rubber hose and told me to tie it around Gabby’s right leg to stop the Bleeding.  He knew the leg was completely off so it was easier for me to work with. He was working on the left leg because it was somewhat hanging on. He then gave me a Handful of needles and said start sticking him. I said where? He said anywhere you see skin. We each had about 4 needles and soon the morphine started to work. Gabby stabilized and the bleeding slowed. The Helicopter had moved away from this area for its own protection, but was motioned to return. It again hovered about three feet above us making it easer to lift Gabby inside. The Medic and I placed the left leg on Gabby’s chest and lifted him up to the door gunners inside the chopper. The Medic was next in the chopper. I picked Gabby’s right leg up and handed it to the Medic. My last words to Gabby that afternoon were that I loved him, and to hang-on, YOU’LL be OK and back soon. Knowing part of this was not true; I MAY NEVER SEE HIM AGAIN. He Also knew that he wasn’t coming back to THE NAM! I also knew he would never Walk again, at least not on his own Legs. Even worse I wasn’t sure he would livelong enough to reach Saigon. The Medic then reached out for me to get in, but I refused.He asks my name. I said “Alabama“ no your world name. I told him, and asked WHY? I need to know whom I’m writing up for The Silver Star. I said “JUST KEEP HIMALIVE.” I guess it got lost in the mail. (I NOW HAVE Gabby.) Over the years I wish I had flown with him, but at that moment I didn’t want to see him die. Neither He nor myself knows the Medic’s name. I consider that moment in time my 15 minutes of HELL! That day I walked away unhurt but changed For life. Over the years I have often questioned myself  just how close all of us came that day of stepping on the wrong piece of ground? Maybe one inch or two inches, we will never know. I do know one thing, Gabby would never wear his pair of FLIP-FLOPS!”

 After the accident Gabby flew to Saigon and was treated there for five days. Then he spent 28 daysin Japan, unconscious all that time. When he awoke he asked the doctor where he was and how long had he been there? “You are in Japan and badly hurt, this is you 20th day. He also said they had lost him three times. Gabby said that the last thing he remembered was the hospital in Saigon, the night of March 26th1970. “He was too tough and mean to die.” Rushing said. After returning to the United States he went through eight months of rehabilitation. He and his buddies in rehab were running the nurses crazy. THE HOSPITALS staff could not keep Gabby and his five friends from sneaking out. Legs or no legs this group of WAR VETS. were out and FREE looking for (party time USA)the big city of HOUSTON. He returned home, married had two sons, now 30 and 27. Rushing and his wife Robin have no children, but they do now. Rushing began looking for Gabby about12 years ago. “Until then, I was too scared of what I may or may not find.” The search was especially hard, as Rushing never knew Gabby’s first name because he went by his nickname from childhood. Ironically, as Rushing was looking forGABBY, he was looking for Rushing by putting advertisements in war magazines, but to no avail.  Rushing finally found Gabby’s phone number through a  friend that had served with him, Lieut. Mike Russell, but had no idea how he found the number. “When I called GABBY almost 18 months ago I was so nervous, I could hardly  pick the phone up. That nervousness is the reason I waited three months to call. When I finally heard his voice my emotions went wild, the tears and joy were on both ends of the line. We talked about family and friends and how our lives had changed over the past 30something years. Gabby asks me what I looked like?  I was still 5’7,weighing in at170-lb., my hair was white, a big change from THE NAM. He said he was 175-lb.dark hair and stood 4’6. At that moment I KNEW his life was good.” When the two saw each other for the first time, in 32 years (almost to the day) on Friday afternoon, March the 22nd 2002, they both hugged and cried with JOY in their hearts. They said it was if they had just seen each other yesterday. The event started with a fish fry at RAM’S a local establishment. Gabby did all the cooking, crab cakes, all different fish, and hushpuppies. After closing THE RAM a group of friends and family went to THE OASIS club. “Gabby is the most amazing person I know. His character, his out look on life is unbelievable. I’m amazed at the way he works his wheelchair and drives his SUV. He fishes on his boat, or off the sandy beaches in the water, in his wheelchair! The VA people do not understand why his chairs are rusty and corroded. I heard he was fishing, in the water, off the beach, when he hooked something big. It pulled him out of his chair through the water to the second sandbar before he could cut the line. I don’t believe anything can stop him.” He coached little league baseball and football for 16 years as his children were growing up. He is a service to his community and a landmark in Bay City. “Gabby has in one weekend helped me with the agony and guilt that I felt over the years. He is an inspiration to my life, and living proof of a true survivor!”  “This weekend has been an emotional roller coaster. I cannot explain it but I can feel it. I feel as if a missing part of my life has been filled,” Gabby said.

  “I’m happy to be in Bay City—-everyone has been so hospitable—-and to be with Gabby again, ”Rushing said. “Gabby’s brother had a cookout at his home, Sunday afternoon. I met his two brothers and one sister, his mother, and more family and friends than I could count.  The ONE moment I will never forget is when I met his mother, Mrs. Luna. She hugged me, cried and thanked me for helping her Son. I’m thankful that you      both are home together again. With tears in my eyes I hugged her tightly. Gabby’s family has veterans from WWII, Korea, Vietnam and The Gulf War. That’s a lot of WARRIORS in one family.”  Rushing and his wife Robin were married during his tour in Vietnam. She says that Gabby has been apart of her life over the past 32 years because of the story she has heard. “When Charles and the other guys started meeting seven years ago, Gabby was one of the main topics of conversation. He is a wonderful man. I have love for him, his two sons, his family and friends. I’ve grown close to them all

in a short time.(Especially Roland Zarate who I Nicknamed Matthew.” ) This trip is one of the high points of my husbands LIFE.” A trip for Gabby, his sons and friends to Alabama has already been planned and the two vow to stay in touch.  “I have found my lost “LITTLE BROTHER.”  He has been in my heart all these years, and he will never lose one another again,” Gabby said.


 Posted by Randall at 9/2/2009 12:39

Gabby Luna passed away December 1, 2009

Charles Rushing was laid to rest August 28, 2016