E. Jonathan Holmes

INTO THE NAM

Into the Nam went the 9th Marines;
on a beach at Da Nang they stormed ashore.
Getting used to C-Rats and cold canned beans,
they were ready to die for the honor of the Corps.

It was still ‘65 when some others landed,
like The Herd and The Big Red One.
Sent to Bien Hoa and An Khe they banded,
Tropic Lightning, Screaming Eagles, each by the ton.

Back in The World there was less to fear,
for nothing was as bad as a day in The Nam.
Trench Foot; Kraits; and ALICE pack gear,
were first to unnerve even the calm.

On patrol in the bush was a bad time for all,
with punji stakes, toe poppers, and trip wires around.
Grunts looked for Charlie with many a close call,
tough going near Cu Chi where tunnels abound.

Riding a Huey into a Hot LZ,
1st Cavalry did meet the NVA.
M-60s and Bloopers made noise near Plei Me,
and the valley called Ia Drang was red that day.

F-4 Phantoms flying low level strikes,
began what was called the Rolling Thunder.
Ho Chi Minh Trail resorted to bikes,
which made the Gooks start to wonder.

Dust Off missions usually saved the day,
when the Viet Cong did their worst.
Medevac Choppers only a few klicks away,
extracted the wounded who needed help first.

Brown Water Navy patrolled the Mekong,
especially the Rung Sat Special Zone.
Most hoped they wouldn’t be too long,
as the Swift Boat’s engine continued to drone.

Summer of ‘67 saw heavy fighting at Con Thien,
in the north on the edge of the DMZ.
Green Berets and Cidgees had been over-run,
and for miles NVA was all the Marines could see.

By the time most had the thousand-yard stare,
thoughts of their DEROS date had been stirred.
Thirty days and a wake-up their only care,
short-timers waited for the Freedom Bird.

The taking of the hill numbered 875,
was a job that was given to the 173rd.
November near Dak To – not many alive,
but cries of wounded can still be heard.

The Five O’clock Follies in the city of Saigon
could not explain the massive build-up.
Many a coffin being made by the Cong
would help to bring their courage up.

Recon and Rangers could see it coming;
the SEALs and MACV-SOGs saw it too.
The NVA and VC were up to something,
then in ‘68 it all came true.

For 77 days around Khe Sanh,
the Marines kept fighting so bitterly.
The Tet Offensive had barely begun,
at Lang Vei was left only Willoughby.

Fighting for the Citadel in the city of Hue,
how many really died – none can tell.
Suicide Squads hit Saigon during the day,
and even the U.S. Embassy almost fell.

By May ‘69 they were at Hill 937,
up in the A Shau Valley highland.
The 101st fought hard ‘till day 11,
later Hamburger Hill was just abandoned.

More Cherry LTs and FNGs
were unsafe for others while In Country.
Humpin’ through jungles, daring not to sneeze,
‘till a sniper would zap ‘em from the trees.

In late ‘72 most things had gone sour,
and Grunts just tried stayin’ alive.
General Abrams you see, had lost all his power,
and the South did what it could to survive.

Nixon had decided that we would slowly pull out;
our allies didn’t need us anymore.
Winning the war was now in doubt,
as politicians wanted us out of the war.

The fall of Saigon was a great big mess;
it had come in April of ‘75.
Many returning Vets were treated as less;
most thought they were lucky just to be alive.

People now know that the War is over,
except for the night-fright here and there.
For the Vietnam Vet it’s no roll in the clover,
when you’ve been through Hell and there’re few who care.

Many good men have their name on The Wall,
who gave their lives far away in The Nam.
Remember the Vet who answered the call,
when you see him – extend him your palm.