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08-10-2009, 04:19 PM   #136
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QuoteOriginally posted by hillerby Quote
Straightshooter....
No, he wasn't a FNG, but in that shot we'd already secured the area. We were just waiting to get the word to "saddle up, and move out". His position was on the eastern most edge of our position, so the majority of our people were further to his left. This would have had him pretty well protected on that left side. His right side is pretty secure in that you could see for miles out to sea, and there wasn't anything there. Additionally, we had gunships and scoutships overhead at most all times and they stretched our perimeter out much further as they had an overhead view much further out.
I'll say however, "that's pretty observant" on your part! Most people wouldn't even have given a thought to the fact that he was "skylining" himself.
Geez, while I didn't look THAT closely, I totally missed the second guy behind the plant. I just saw the one guy out in the open. I guess camouflage really does work!

08-17-2009, 02:08 PM   #137
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A couple more pix

I'm gettin' way behind on getting scans done! I've posted a couple more "operational" type shots again.

1. Crossing Rice Paddie: This photo shows a fairly typical situation that the soldiers faced daily (often several times daily). In this shot, we were moving out of a small village to go to the next village across the way. The objective is to get across the rice field (an open are) and into the tree line on the far side as quickly as possible. These were prime areas for rocket, machine gun and mortar ambushes. As you can see, all of them men are getting spread out and not be "bunched up" in groups. Since mortar and machine guns are ideal "area" weapons, we tried to make it a little more difficult. The real danger is in approaching and moving into the tree line (good spot for an ambush).
2. Throwing a Brick: In this shot, the GI is throwing a brick in an attempt to knock down a small column holding up a portion of the roof. This, in hopes that the entire structure would collaps on it's own (which it ultimately did). This was in a known enemy village, thus we had no reservations at all about destroying everything in sight.
Now that I think about it, these were taken in the same village as the "Burning Hootch" photo which is earlier in this thread.
In the second photo, you'll note this guy is carrying three canteens of water!
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08-17-2009, 02:21 PM   #138
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great photos! when I was a cadet (I know.. playing soldier) when we went on orienteering exercises and what have you and at our summer camp at Ft. Sill I always carried four, five when I could get away with it. a PITA when your down in the muck though...
08-17-2009, 03:26 PM   #139
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Seamius,
Been to Ft. Sill many, many times! I spent about 12 years in the Army Reserve after I got out of the Regular Army. I ended up as an instructor and taught some leadership courses, Light Infantry course, and an Air Assault course as well as a Map Reading and Land Navigation course.
As difficult as some of those were, I was a lot of those "playing soldier" types ace some of them.

08-17-2009, 03:37 PM   #140
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wonderful Ft. that is, even if it is in Oklahoma. (a Texas boy myself). its actually a bit of an honor to know I trained on some of the same courses you taught on.
08-17-2009, 07:21 PM   #141
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Yes, Thanks for your service hillerby!

This is an awesome thread, I love hearing these untold stories. Please keep posting more stories and pictures.

Alfred
08-18-2009, 03:54 AM   #142
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Thanks for the stories.
Today is the remembrance day to the Vietnam Vets over here, 'Long Tan' day.
Everytime I hear the the song 'I was only nineteen' I get a chill down my spine. The job those young blokes did shouldnt be forgotten..........

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08-19-2009, 09:03 AM   #143
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Long Tan Day in Australia

I just wanted to make a post of a little different nature today. I noticed in several previous responses to our thread here, several are from "down under". Additionally, I've received a few private e-mails from some of them.
I spent some time on operations with both the Aussies and the Kiwis while I was in Nam. I think I posted a few pictures of them earlier in our thread.
Yesterday, was Long Tan Day in Oz! It's a very somber and important day for those "Diggers" who fought alongside the Americans so valiantly over there. Since Vietnam is often thought of as "an American War", it's often forgotten that there were soldiers from Australia, New Zeland, Philiipines, Korea, to name a few. I was lucky enough to have spent a little time with forces from all of those places.
The Aussies and the Kiwis have a very special place in my memory because of the way they treated Americans as well as their incredible bravery and professionalism.
Most of you have never heard anything about the Battle of Long Tan, so I'd urge each of you to do a "youtube search" for that phrase. What you'll find is a whole series of video clips about that battle. It will take you the better part of an hour to view them all, but if you want to really know what it's like to be a Combat Photographer, just watch those videos. Motion Picture footage tells a much better story in many ways than the still shots. Both will always have their place in history, but the MoPic guys took some incredibly good footage.
Their incredible bravery and fight for survival ranks right along with my own 1st Air Cavalry battle in the Ia Drang valley, 101st Airborne at Hamburger Hill, and the Marine Corps at Khe San, and other famous fights by Americans. The Aussies hung on and demonstrated their incredible valor and ability to drive the enemy from the field in spite of taking tremendous casualties. They were supported by Artillery fire by the Australian, New Zeland and American batteries nearby.
It saddens me that so very little is known and appreciated by these brave soldiers. I can assure you that I remember, respect, and appreciate each and every one of them. I consider them a part of my Band of Brothers in every way! A soldier is a soldier, and it really makes no difference what uniform he wears, they all bear the same burden and pay the same high price.
If any of you from down under read this, I appreciate it if you could "copy and paste" this posting to some forum that will be seen by those who might appreciate it "down under".

08-19-2009, 05:16 PM   #144
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Appreciate the thoughts Bob. I'm afraid this is one of the few fora I attend so have nowhere to paste to. Yes that war is a mystery to quite a few here I think, even me, though I think our soldiers efforts there are still slowly being more "appreciated" here.
08-23-2009, 08:40 PM   #145
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As a Kiwi I too would like to say thanks for this amazing account of wartime life and hardship. I've just read this top to bottom page after page

I have heard very little about NZ's involvement in Vietnam over my lifetime, so it comes as a small surprise to know we had an impact over there. I know Kiwis played their part in WW2 and were known as pretty tough shrewd soldiers.

I read "Chickenhawk" when I was in highshcool a few years back, and it left quite a mark on me.

More photos and stories are always welcome Bob. Thanks for taking the time out!
08-28-2009, 06:46 PM   #146
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Best thread on the forum. I've enjoyed following this thread. Again, thank you for sharing Hillerby.
08-30-2009, 07:08 AM   #147
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Training a Combat Photographer

This posting may end up being long, or even come in "installments" due to length. I've been giving thought to this subject ever since we began this little "enterprise".
I was inducted into the US Army on 14 Feb, 1966, thus everything that you read here will relate to the training we received at that time. I'm sure a lot has changed since then, but photo school was very different.
Everyone going into the Army at that time underwent "Basic Combat Training" prior to going to any kind of specialty training. My Basic was at Fort Bliss, Texas. Basic in the Army and Marine Corps at that time was pretty similar. You were taught all the fundamental skills of a soldier: marching, military courtesy, etc. The primary part of basic though was to learn the fundamental skills of an Infantry Rifleman. How to shoot, acquire targets, hand to hand combat, and all the rest.
Following that I was sent to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey where the Army Signal School was located. All of the photographers (still and mopic), photo lab technicians, etc. were sent there. They each had their own specialized course of instruction. The still photogs and lab techs were both cross-trained in the other's specialty, although the cross training was like an abbreviated version of the other skill.
All of the Army specialty schools begin on the assumption that you don't know anything about the subject. IF, on the other hand, you do have knowledge of the subject .... FORGET IT! There is, after all, The right way, the wrong way, and the ARMY way.
The still photography course lasted about 3 months if I recall and included members of the Marine Corps. The Corps didn't have a photo school at the time, so they went through the same training we did. In fact my platoon consisted of about 70% Marine Corps personell.
Our training emphasized the basics! We learned how a camera and lens works (and why). This involved a pretty good understanding of the physics involved in lenses and their construction as well as how the physics of light are involved.
We were issued a full kit that consisted of a 4 x 5 Speed Graphic camera. This kit included all the film holders, flash unit (flash bulbs...no electronic flash) and of course, the camera itself.
If you've never used this type of camera, it's a learning experience in itself! NOTHING is automatic! Focusing is done manually through a focusing finder, then the picture is composed in a view finder. Film is loaded (one film holder at a time). The shutter speed, aperture setting is done manually and the sutter is cocked manually. Learning to shoot pictures from action shots to still life on this kind of system will force one the think about every single exposure beforehand. On the other hand, we would soon become proficient enough that using the camera was pretty much instinctive.
The actual training involved reading assignments for the next day's class. We'd then go into a classroom and that instruction involved explanation and demonstration of techniques that we'd previously read about in our books. There would then be a brief period for questions and discussion. The classroom portion was followed by drawing an issue of film (usually 10-20 exposures) and then we'd go out (on our own) and take shots required for the assignment. This practical application assignment was generally very specific in the type of shot and conditions under which it was to be shot. We'd usually be given a couple of hours to shoot, then return to the classroom. At that point all the film was collected and rushed over to the lab for processing and printing. The instructors would then critique each students shots and grade them. All of this was done every day (sometimes twice a day) with a different assignment each time.
This method of instruction was pretty thorough in that you got almost immediate feedback on what had been taught earlier in the day. At the end of each week, we'd have a review of that week's training and a practical application test of those concepts. Those end of week exams (both written & practical) were pretty high stress situations for us. They had a very heavy hammer that was held over our heads back then. There was a war going on as well as an ever increasing draft for that war. We were told over and over ..."You think this is a game! We ain't playing grab ass on the corner here. **** up or try to play mind games with us and we'll ship your happy ass to Fort Polk, Louisianna and put you're butt in the Infantry and send you directly to Vietnam!" Even though most of us had requested and enlisted for photo school, that threat was not taken lightly by any of us. I think we had a couple of guys who had been drafted and by luck of the draw, were sent to photo school
Hell, we were all so "young and dumb", it never occurred to us that the U.S. Army was gearing up and training photographers for what would become (and still remains) The Most Photographed War in American history! There wasn't single one of us then who even thought we'd end up in Vietnam as Combat Photographers. Most of us laughed and joked about going to Hawaii, or Germany, or Paris to take pictures of visiting dignitaries or something. The final irony was that 3 classes of about 40 each were sent to Nam'.
Grades were everything in that school and everyone in all the various schools studied very hard. As it turned out, the photo school sent virtually everyone of us there. We had two guys who got assignments as photographers at the US Embassy. One went to Paris and the other went (I think to the Phillipines). The irony is that both of them almost failed the course. In fact, they both would have failed had some of us not helped (coached) them on their final shooting assingment so they would get a high enough score to pass the course.
I'm going to conclude this installment as it's getting rather long and I don't want to bore ya'll to death. I'll get another installment ready in a few days.
Thanks for all the kind words about this thread, it's been a challenge for me, but it's also forced me to reflect on some things that impacted my life in a very real way.
08-30-2009, 08:24 AM   #148
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Bob, please don't worry about boring me. I belong to 6 or 7 different forums. When I get a msg that a new had been made to this one, I drop everything and go read it. It is an absolutely fascinating thread.
08-30-2009, 11:04 AM   #149
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I always look for your new posts here Bob. If you ever decide to host a Pentax Boot Camp I'll enlist in a blink of an eye.
08-30-2009, 12:43 PM   #150
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What's a "Pentax Boot Camp"? That sounds like something I'd like to do ... then again, I've been to "Boot Camp" w/ the Army and that's NOT something I'd want to do.
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