Old 12-24-2018, 08:57   #1
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Christmas 1970

Received from My Brother Murph (SS, PH, CIB) this morning

12/24/2018 Philadelphia Inquirer - Philly Edition eEdition

A Christmas Eve in Vietnam: Bob Hope, Mass, floor for a bed

Murphy, Schumacher, distribute your C rations and ammo. Ahelicopter is inbound. You’re going to the Bob Hope show,” bellowed my platoon sergeant, Staff Sgt. Joshua Carney, a lean, second-tour veteran we all admired.

Thus began my Christmas Eve journey, December 1970.

I was serving as an infantryman in the Americal Division in the mountains of I Corps, just a short helicopter ride from the Laos border, with my brothers, a resilient group hailing from all walks of life and the four corners of the United States. Most of us were 19- to 20-year-olds, draftees and enlistees with low draft numbers like me. I just had completed four months in triple-canopy jungle, with all the benefits of sleeping on the ground in the rain, including putrid smells, mud, hunger, and, yes, the North Vietnamese army.

What we all had in common was that we wanted to be home for Christmas. But that would only be in our dreams.

As our helicopter lifted from the jungle floor, Icould see my buddies looking up as we sped off to the rear area. I felt a bit guilty leaving them behind, but I knew they were happy that somebody was going to spend the most important eve of the year in what we substituted for comfort, the “rear.”

Upon landing at Hawk Hill base, I was given a new uniform, a hot shower (first one in a month), and good old Army hot chow. Then I was off to Da Nang with other GIs, all of us collected by helicopter, much like the Polar Express did for the children on their way to the North Pole.

We made it to the show and it was just as I had watched for years on TV, except I was right there with Bob Hope, Ursula Andress, and thousands of exuberant GIs and Marines.

After Hope ended with his signature song, “Thanks for the Memory,” we were back on our trucks speeding to base before nightfall. On arriving I asked if I could attend Christmas Eve Mass, a tradition in my Irish Catholic family. I served for years as an altar boy, dressed in my cassock and surplice with a starched collar and bow tie.

I was in luck again. A Vietnamese priest was saying Mass in a small chapel.

With 20 or so GIs cramped into the chapel and a sermon in a language I could not understand, it was not like being home for Christmas, but for an hour I was with my God. The war, the incessant anxiety, the physical exertion all melted away as we sang “Silent Night.”

As I walked out into the yard, I looked up and saw a shooting star race across the heavens. What a sight for a homesick grunt.

With no place to stay, a bunker that housed helicopter pilots answered our call for a place in the “Inn.” We slept on the wooden floor.

Dawn came too soon and we returned to the jungle and our unit. Our Christmas Eve journey was but a memory.

Within three months, Spec. Bob Schumacher and Staff Sgt. Carney were killed in action. I was on an Air Force Medevac plane back to the States and a six-month stay at Valley Forge Army Hospital.

Whenever I hear the first carol of the Christmas season, my mind goes back to Vietnam. I thank God for my blessed life and family and remember Carney, Schumacher, and the others who sacrificed all. I say a prayer for peace on Earth.

Dennis Murphy lives in Wayne with his wife, Anne, where they raised three children. He is retired after a 40-year career in higher education.

Pictures. Murph is the dude with his "Hands in his fucking pockets" Schumacher is standing next to him. Staff Sgt. Joshua Carney in the second picture is standing in the middle, he's the E-6.
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Last edited by Penn; 12-25-2018 at 22:12. Reason: Added pictures
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Old 12-24-2018, 09:34   #2
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Thanks for the read. Merry Christmas to everyone, especially those who will spend it in harms way.
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Old 12-24-2018, 12:20   #3
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Thanks for the history Penn.
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Old 12-24-2018, 13:30   #4
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Salute! Merry Christmas, all.
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Old 12-24-2018, 15:48   #5
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Thank you for sharing that and Merry Christmas to all.
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Old 12-24-2018, 17:30   #6
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CHRISTMAS in VIETNAM.

A very nice account of what it was like to be in Vietnam during the Christmas Season in 1970. Interesting to note how many of us think of those who were KIA or MIA, BNR (Body not Recovered) In December 1964 our Det.A-333 just returned from a deployment in II CTZ Central Highlands to Machinato, Okinawa minus 2 SF soldiers who were KIA, Sp.4 George Underwood panel 1E Row 59 and PFC.William Toth Panel 1E Row 69. It has been 54 years; STILL SAD. Tom Kelly C Company 1st Special Forces Gp. (Abn) 1 SF
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Old 12-24-2018, 17:55   #7
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Penn, thanks for sharing your story.

The best thing about Christmas (to me) isn’t really that we give presents, eat a big meal and celebrate the (hypothetical) birth of Jesus. It’s about the memories associated with the significant period of time that occurs every year because of it.

The best thing about Christmas is remembering those events like they happened yesterday...good, bad, or indifferent, we remember those people and events we shared time with.

Thank you and Merry Christmas!
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Old 12-24-2018, 19:16   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom kelly View Post
A very nice account of what it was like to be in Vietnam during the Christmas Season in 1970. Interesting to note how many of us think of those who were KIA or MIA, BNR (Body not Recovered) In December 1964 our Det.A-333 just returned from a deployment in II CTZ Central Highlands to Machinato, Okinawa minus 2 SF soldiers who were KIA, Sp.4 George Underwood panel 1E Row 59 and PFC.William Toth Panel 1E Row 69. It has been 54 years; STILL SAD. Tom Kelly C Company 1st Special Forces Gp. (Abn) 1 SF
“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.” George Eliot

May Spc4 Underwood and PFC Toth continue to live on in your memory. Merry Christmas to you and all those who have given up theirs for us.
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Old 12-25-2018, 08:52   #9
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Very sobering.
Makes one grateful no matter which season one’s in on this Christmas Day

Have a very merry Christmas all!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Dog New Trick View Post
celebrate the (hypothetical) birth of Jesus.

!
That faith brought a miracle across no man’s land in 1914
https://m.*******.com/watch?v=q3fiJFCCqMg
Hard for me to imagine blasting to smitherin the individuals you just sang carols and exchanged gifts with.

This year is 200 years anniversary of Stille Nacht. Very kind of the Austrian embassy to put posters and attended the small church service on compound.
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Old 12-25-2018, 10:58   #10
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On December 24, 1970 US soldiers from the 2nd platoon, A-co. 1/327th infantry of the 101st Airborne Division were killed or injured by US friendly fire when a 105 artillery round landed in the NDP just 30 minutes prior to the 24 hour cease fire of the Christmas holiday. 9 where killed and at least 9 were severely wounded.

I was in the same AO, doing the same thing, in command of B Company, 2/327. We listened to the incident unfold on the Arty net. RIP brothers. No Slack.
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Old 12-25-2018, 11:09   #11
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Bob Hope

Several days before Christmas, 1970, my company was deployed outside Phu Bai, to deter any mortar fire, as Bob Hope and his troupe put on their show.
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