The Only One

In August 1971, from my unit Company C 34th Engineer Battalion (Construction) in the Mekong Delta, I received orders to proceed to the the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. At this point no one I have ever run across knew how this could happen. From there I was told my new assignment was as an engineer adviser in construction and demolitions with the Royal New Zealand Army. I was taken over to Free World Forces Headquarters and the New Zealanders picked me up. I found out that I had been assigned to the First New Zealand Army Training Team Vietnam. They were a 30-man detachment located on a Special Forces compound in Chi Lang, Chau Doc province at the foot of the Seven Sisters Mountains. These were on the Cambodia/South Vietnam border in the Mekong Delta. Some people called it Hill 613 but its name was Nui Coto Mountain. We worked with the Vietnam National Training Center and Company B 43rd Special Forces Company. By this time, without leaving the country I was starting my third tour. On March 27, 1972, on Nui Coto I was wounded and in May 1972 we were to leave Vietnam. There were very few Americans left in the delta and Saigon area; most were up north. So with no real way to leave, the New Zealanders arranged to have me go home with them. We left Can Tho, Vietnam, and headed to Singapore and the British Forces compound to debrief and stand down. After one week we left there and headed to Bruno where we stayed overnight. The next day we headed for Alice Springs, Australia, and stayed overnight again. Then the next day we headed into Wellington, New Zealand. Sounds like a long trip? It was; we were in a C-130 the whole time. I stayed in New Zealand at the Royal New Zealand Engineer compound in Palmerston North for 30 days and toured the north and south islands of New Zealand. It was there that I was awarded the Royal New Zealand Engineer Badge. The New Zealanders flew me home to San Francisco (no, not in a C-130). Not knowing what to do or where to go, I checked with the Army receiving team at the airport. They had me taken to the Presidio where I signed into an engineer company up on Fort Scott. The three pictures are of the Chi Lang Patch, myself sitting on top of Nui Coto Mountain. The rifle next to me is a New Zealand Army L1A1 7.62 mm automatic, self-loading, and a 30-round clip. You could rock and roll with it, and the Royal New Zealand Engineer Badge. I was wounded four days after the picture was taken. This was during the Eastertide Offensive.

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