Jocko Podcast 218 w/ Ike Eisenbach: Pinned Down, Shot in The Head, Still Winning

Jocko Podcast 218 w/ Ike Eisenbach: Pinned Down, Shot in The Head, Still Winning

this is Jocko podcast number 218 with
echo Charles and me Jocko Willick good evening echo good evening in the Marine
Corps in Vietnam first and the second lieutenants made up about 65% of the
Marine officers killed in action now if you if you add captain’s Marine Corps
captain’s Oh threes on to that you get to about 85% of all Marine officers
killed in Vietnam were in these these relatively junior ranking officers these
were the platoon and company commanders and if you go to 1968 1968 was the year
with the highest number of Americans killed in action in Vietnam 16,000 899 that’s over 1400 per month 1,400 per
month killed in action now to put that in perspective a little bit during the
heaviest fighting when I was in Iraq which was in 2006 there was 823
Americans killed now obviously every single loss is a is a tragedy
but during the Vietnam War the tragedy was 20x that number 20 times more people
killed in 1968 in Vietnam than there were in Iraq in 2006 that is just a it’s
just a different level now in total in Vietnam there were four
tene thousand eight hundred and thirty six Marines killed one thousand three
hundred and eighty seven of those were officers so that’s basically ten percent
of the Marines killed or officers and as I already said eighty five percent of
them were these junior officers now if you just run that mouth math out a
little bit there’s generally around gonna be one officer in an infantry
platoon and there’s gonna be around forty guys which means that these
officers make up for about 2.5 percent of Marines and then again just by my
estimation just some rough math that means that these young marine officers
were about four times more likely to be killed than the enlisted guys and you if
you think about that you know you wonder what why is that how’s that happened
well from from a tactical perspective first of all the enemy knows what I say
all the time and that is that leadership is the most important thing on the
battlefield and because of that the enemy aims to kill the leaders and then
on top of that marine officers are trained to be the first one on the
ground the first one that’s off the helicopter the first one that’s out of
the vehicle the first one in in the combat situation and then the last to
leave the last load the helicopter the last to get inside of an APC so right
there your chances go up because you’re in it longer and that might only be an
extra thirty seconds but those moments when you’re inserting you’re extracting
from the battlefield those are the most critically dangerous moments usually and
then on top of all that you add to the fact that as an officer you generally
lead from somewhere near the front of the patrol
maybe you’re behind the point man maybe you’re behind the point man in the first
automatic weapons gunner and since you’re in the front of the patrol well
that increases your exposure to booby traps it increases your exposure to
ambushes and then of course on top of all those things when the time comes you
actually have to lead you actually have to step up you actually have to make
decisions you actually have to get your men to maneuver on the battlefield
that’s what your job is and by the way that job district description is not
just some theoretical job description this is what the marine the young marine
officers in Vietnam actually did then here’s a here’s an example of what a
young Marine Corps officer did in Vietnam the President of the United
States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to second
lieutenant Charles Robert Eisen back the United States Marine Corps for
conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as platoon
commander with Company D 1st Reconnaissance Battalion first Marine
Division FMF in connection with operations against the enemy in the
Republic of Vietnam on 4 July 1968 second lieutenant Eisenbach was leading
a reconnaissance patrol when the unit suddenly came under intense small-arms
and automatic weapons fire from a numerically superior north vietnamese
army force and the lead elements were pinned down realizing the seriousness of
the situation he immediately directed the remainder of his men to maneuver
to aid the beleaguered Marines while he fearlessly moved forward to direct the
fire of his men ignoring the enemy fire impacting around him he moved about the
fire-swept terrain deploying his men into advantageous firing positions and
directing their fire until he was seriously wounded although he was
partially paralyzed and unable to move he continued to direct his men while
simultaneously adjusting airstrikes and supporting artillery fire upon the
hostile positions disregarding his painful injury he resolutely controlled
his unit throughout the remainder of the firefight his heroic and timely actions
were an inspiration to all who observed him and contributed significantly to the
accomplishment of his unit’s mission by his courage superb leadership and
unwavering devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger
second lieutenant Aizen Beck upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps
and of the United States Naval Service now when you hear an award write up like
that you kind of have to ask yourself who who
are these men where did these men come from where did they learn this level of
courage and bravery and where did they learn to lead well there’s an honor to
say that today we have one of those men with us as a matter of fact we have that
man the man whose silver star citation I just read his name is Charles Robert
Eisenbach or Ike as he was known and he’s here to
share his story so that we can learn some of the lessons from him about
leadership and about life Ike thanks for coming on appreciate it my
pleasure great great to meet you and luckily your
your son and your daughter put together a bunch of information kind of a
timeline of your life which made it really easy for me to prepare for this
podcasts because that’s normally what I have to go back and do but Matt
appreciate you doing that not a problem and it starts off where I where I always
like to start off these podcasts in the beginning so sir let’s talk about your
childhood let’s talk about like what was young Ike doing where’d you come from
what young Ike wasn’t around but young bob lazar Bobby because I was Bob with
Bobby to the family before I went in the service and then about a week into the
Naval Academy bleep summer squad leader got us all out one night
and gave us nicknames some stuck some didn’t like stuck so that’s the way that
was but when Bobby was growing up but Bobby’s dad was a current naval officer
and just somewhere just to the right of Attila the Hun I would say it was a it
was a hard man but we had an interesting childhood moved every couple of years
back and forth the East Coast West Coast spent a couple of years and Lima Peru
and ended up in at Subic Bay and the Philippines graduated from high school
out there so it was an interesting childhood did so was he was he in World
War two he was he was a naval aviator he out of the Naval Academy class of 36
flew PB wise as he used to say flying used to be fun you know he had put on
the silk scarf go up 45 minutes or so I said then somebody invented this damn
PBY which stayed aloft for 12 hours and flying was not so much fun after that
but that’s that’s what he did in World War two he was in the Olongapo in the
Philippines when the war broke with this squadron which I think was VP 101 they
kind of got out just by the hair of their chinny chin chin worked their way
south down the Philippine Islands to Java current-day Indonesia and then end
up in Perth Australia from there he think he came back to the US for about a
year and did whatever they did with folks in the world war two back then and
went back picked up command of a seaplane tender the San Pablo and worked
his way back up the specific with a MacArthur’s group I think it was the
Battle of Leyte Gulf not as a combatant because there’s such seaplane tender
doesn’t ever you know 1 or 2 5-inch guns are they they didn’t go out there and
shoot it up with anybody we hope not no no yeah they carried a bagasse and
ammunition so that wouldn’t have been a pretty picture after world war ii you
know came back i didn’t he didn’t see me until I was a year old I guess I didn’t
know what I look like because he said my mom’s pictures were just nothing blur
so and we just picked up the family from there started moving sister was born a
couple years later after after I was born in Arlington Virginia I said we
cope we come back to Cara Knott Oh once or twice you know before they rich
before that’s right it was the it was the ferry back then and that was a big
deal of course when you’re a little kid that was very fun you know when Europe
when you’re a parent I guess they’re just a pain in the butt because you’re
trying to get back and forth to Coronado from San Diego on a time schedule
it’s how long how long did he stay in for he was in for 26 years had a heart
attack out in the Philippines his last duty station and back in the 60s a heart
attack was you were just automatic medical retirement so they shipped him
back to Newport and he was retired probably up to about 27 28 years how old
were you at this point I was in first year college the University of Utah when
he had his heart attack I went into the Naval Academy the following year so when
you were growing up were you thinking about I mean obviously if you went to
the University of Utah where you did you want to go in the Navy at that point
well my my dad being my dad you know he had prepped me for the Naval Academy
you know we visited there when I was younger and everything like that and
when I was about a junior in high school he would start with them well Bobby yeah
why didn’t I do that be a graduate from high school and you know I didn’t have a
good answer no answer was gonna be just right I knew what the answer should be
but so but I eventually I started to say well dad I think I’m gonna go to college
that kind of satisfied him for a few months and then he came back and said
well who do you thinks gonna pay for that well I had me stumped for another
couple of months but to finally by the end of my junior year I said dad you
know I think you’re gonna pay for it and so that’s who stopped that so we’re
gonna have the Philippines graduate from high school out there has 17 in my
graduating class all-time high for George Dewey junior senior high school
and I still you know I wasn’t gonna go to the Naval Academy us that this wasn’t
in my scheme of things so three of us got accepted the University of Utah I
went the University of Utah because it was the one school that accepted me out
of high school I’m not that I had bad grades or anything I had decent grades
and good recommendations but that’s just you know the way things worked out in
the early 60s this was 62 when I graduated from high school so three of
us went off from are graduating from my graduating class after just Salt Lake
City and were enrolled as freshmen at the University of Utah
there was a get-together of all the freshmen before schools officially
started and no know who was up there on the stage but he was touting the
diversity back that of their entering class and so he’d have you stand up and
said am i half free gentleman here from the Philippines we’re just damn pleased
so that’s three Gringo’s kind of stood up and girl look at this like you’re
from the Philippines yeah oh yeah you know technically we were which you know
leads me to it really what I thought at the time was quite a funny story we uh
it’s in Utah at that time that you couldn’t get anything higher than a 3.2
beer but and you know you couldn’t smoke and unless you were older than 18 which
you get tickets for if they caught you do they’d be in Salt Lake City police but somehow we liberated some beer one
night and we had a guy in the dorm who had a car so we went up to Canyon Road
that evening and we’re drinking beer up there next thing we know there’s a cop
car by right behind us that cop gets us all right you guys get out of the car
there was the three of us from the Philippines and a friend of ours who was
dad was in the diplomatic corps so he starts at one end it’s a no were you
from Philippines sir next get Philippines me Philippines and so he
comes in the last kid he says I suppose you’re from the Philippines two kids us
no sir I’m from Saudi Arabia so they said you know guys if you go
back half mile up the road we don’t go that far so meanwhile we had dumped the
beer and everything so yeah that was just that was the deal
it Salt Lake City and then at what point did you start thinking I’m gonna go to
the Naval Academy instead of continuing with your career at the University of
Utah my career at the University Utah was fading fast she always say I had
joined in ROTC and really enjoyed that but the rest of academics really you
know weren’t my forte about Christmastime
my parents were back in Newport Rhode Island so I caught a train back to there
for Christmas and and that’s when my dad I had some serious talks about you know
what I was gonna do and I said well I promised him I had to promise him that I
would apply to the Naval Academy and I wasn’t you know that keen on it but I
got to keep dad happy happy dad and he kept that $50 a month spending money
coming which typically was spent long before I’d arrived so I applied to the
Naval Academy took the SAT one weekend and it did surprisingly well
and a couple of months later I get this little envelope in the mail and I’m
thinking you know gosh well actually was a packet I guess it’s
table and I was thinking I was afraid to open in my roommate say you know if it
was gonna be a rejection letter it’s probably just a simple letter he said
he’d get a packet they’re probably gonna you’re probably in so sure enough I
opened it up I’ve been accepted presidential appointments from JFK and
and it went off I am I had some interesting experiences as an NROTC
kiddo at uni at Utah and one came from a senior enlisted marine there was a Gunny
just an outstanding jet he he couldn’t do enough for you he organized the
little programs on the weekends where we go out and set up ambushes in the
canyons up up from Salt Lake’s there up from the University of Utah and it
really is how you kind of I think that that’s where I got the idea that I
wanted a marine from Gunny whose name I can’t
remember but it was you know World War two you guy I don’t think so I think it
was more of a Korean guy okay you know just outstanding he couldn’t do enough
for you and he in my speech class to give a a a speech that used a a prop and
so we had just had a class on the Thompson submachine gun now you can’t
imagine doing that you couldn’t do this today so I had hey Gunny can I brought
laptop from sub-machine yeah you know I got a Tuesday from my speech class it’ll
be gone for a couple of hours I head up I had a guitar case from somebody on the
on my floor in the in the dorm that I carry it in so I I’m carrying I’m
walking across campus with this guitar case with a Thompson submachine ain’t
got it didn’t make a thing of it you know
back then it’s again this was sixty fall of sixty two got to the speech class and
I said you know I kind of shut the class up I’m here to talk about know my
whatever I don’t forget what word I use but I didn’t my weapon here but my
device here in the case of course everybody thought was gonna be guitar
pop that was Thompson submachine gun the prof really keels over so I give him a
little spiel it was very well received I must say I think I got an A for the
speech but he he gave me a pretty good tongue lashing about bringing such a
thing to a classroom you know much more ease to give you any other grade yeah no
probably not but you know it was fun so uh when you when you how long was it
between when you got your acceptance letter then when you actually showed up
for a bleep summer showed up for pleep summer on June 26th of 1963 I probably
got my acceptance letter and March March April something like that and were you
were you mentally prepared for plebe summer I believe I was yes in fact I had
pretty much come to all stop active academically at
when I got the acceptance letter because they had had my first semester grades
and that was all they were going to evaluate so I kind of ditched college
for the next four or five months there was a joke I heard later in the and the
I wrote and then an ROTC unit was later that the they joke that the way to get
in the Naval Academy was a flunk out of the University of Utah but I did okay
there I struggle with academics at the neighbor look at everybody looked at it
more as a leadership laboratory I guess you know and then so so now it’s 1963
you said you started started yeah are you guys even thinking about Vietnam at
this point you know or not I don’t even recall you know hearing
about Vietnam at Utah that fall we had you know heard and been not part of but
you know the whole deal have been about the Cuban crisis that’s that was all the
news that fall we followed that pretty closely but now I don’t think we had
heard about Vietnam at all yeah I think I mean things were not really escalated
there at all you know so not at that time
it’s no surprise and you were in a I mean you have some pretty notable people
in your in your Naval Academy class well this is true I became friends early
on with a fella by then at that time went by Larry Larry north and now it
goes by Ali I wanna one of my friends in the class after that was Jim Webb he was
a boxer I was a boxer North was a boxer a bunch of punch the guys I hung out
with boxers we had a felony Maurice Smith who later on became a two-star
seal and I believe the first one to to carry two stars I’m not sure about that
but a good guy captain of the track team at Pete pace and the class first marine
to ever be chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
four stars you know pretty pretty heavy-duty company
yeah and then what about what about what Staubach with you guys to stomach was in
the class of 65 it was two years ahead of us but our plea beer the first year
there was the year he won the Heisman Trophy which of course that argued well
for plebs because after a football game if he won you’d have carry on that
weekend and if you beat army you got carry on meaning you didn’t have to
brace up in the halls and and you know chop around in the halls
and you didn’t have to sit on the last couple of inches of your chair in the
mess and I know you got another guy that have got some information on a a guy by
the name of tax Tech’s Harkins fella from Texas needless to say was my
roommate plebe summer and plebe year one of several met him when I first came
into the room with a seed bag full of gear that I know I had a stencil
he’d been there a couple of hours and introduced himself is Maurice well I did
a double-take I don’t think Maurice was gonna fly I’m sure a couple hours later
when when I was worn out from hearing about how great things were in Texas you
know he became text and text stuck he’s still text to this day good guy there’s
some note about him trying to kill a firsty man that wasn’t text oh it was
North I stopped North going into this first YZ
room early morning when we had when window closing detail in the winter
you’d have to go and close the upper class windows and he was headed off to
this first class room with a with a bayonet bayonet and he was gonna do this
guy yet this guy was a horseshit beyond belief you can’t do that you’ll be in
serious trouble buddy yeah you can’t kill someone you’re gonna get instance
forever that’s a good advice right there Clee beer was a little different back
then I think not quite the same anymore so you talked
about boxing and were you a boxer before you showed up there
negative no no you just got into it when I was not a particularly athletic young
man but boxing was something that most of everybody started out from ground
zero with no experience so that’s kind of what I did
bleep summer and took it on a plebe year and boxed plea beer some youngster year
which is sophomore year and same class here junior year
first class year senior year I was in academic trouble shall we say so yeah I
wasn’t on the boxing team but I did run the boxing sub squad where freshmen and
sophomores ended up if they fail boxing as part of the PT curriculum you’d have
to go to a sub squad this was for every sport until you could you know you just
subsequently tore the sub squad pass just so you get a D because you couldn’t
have an F did they make you I know guys that I know that went to the Naval
Academy they made him box for a semester they made him wrestle for a semester
they made him do judo for a semester do they make you guys do wrestling and judo
we we did wrestling boxing we had some part of the PT curriculum where it was
mandatory you had two years of boxing lessons two years of wrestling two years
of gymnastics okay and four years of swimming and they fit in all kinds of
one of the things of squash and golf and track but yeah first two years you had
made some mandatory things that you had to pass that’s a part of the PT Creek
and didn’t have judo hmm well it still boxing and wrestling is a is an awesome
base to have as a fighter and then you go in there oh yeah you’re pretty good
to go yeah and then what I know you did some cornering for some of the guys you
know and when they were boxing I did that’s my
a senior year first class year and North was in the finals the boxing finals you
could win your Navy in your letter in boxing even though it was a not an
intramural sport so much but it was a more of a club sport but we didn’t we
didn’t box against other institutions they do now there was all within the
brigade and we have champion we’d have you know quarterfinals semifinals and
finals and I was in North’s corner the year he won his n boxing against another
well-known Naval Academy graduate Jim Webb well I think you’ve had on your
program before and shall we say it was interesting web web had a lot of
experience boxing he boxed Golden Gloves I believe before he came to the Naval
Academy or at least city and county type boxing state boxing from wherever it was
dis dad was stationed at the time but he and north never they were two folks that
were butt heads I think their entire careers and whenever they would run into
each other certainly at the Naval Academy and certainly when they were
boxing but it was an interesting night so this is a legit grudge match it but I
think that probably would be fair to say it how’d it go down North won much to
everybody’s surprise North was the was a Street Fighter and the web was a more
polished boxer here yeah that’s I mean if you boxed if you boxed certainly at
the Golden Gloves level even not like the county level you’re you’re a really
good that’s what yeah yeah so that’s that’s a that’s a big achievement
well that somehow there’s been you know people who look backwards in it that
always comes up when you start talking about North End or whip it was the
boxing match everybody knew it was a did it distance it did the distance being
only three rounds you know back then yeah bar there two hundred rounds of
three-minute rounds because sometimes they have amateurs box turning around
I think there were two minute rounds so six minutes of your latte and I know the
rest like kind of wiped you out and you know five six minutes but we were we
were spent when you know at the end of a boxing match either spent because all
you could do to just pull yourself out of it out of the ring and what did you
wet like for boxing for use as you were new to boxing and you weren’t much of an
athlete before what do you think you took away from boxing well don’t quit I
mean I went to the semifinals my junior year got knocked out of the ring by that
guy my opponent got back up got back in the ring
took the standing eight-count and finished the fight and I know I met a
Marine officer a year later when I was you know on service election-night
was able to select the Marine Corps and he said gutsiest thing I’ve ever stayed
well thank you sir but in honor you don’t quit it ain’t over until it’s over
and it was over that night for me but you mentioned from the Gunny that you
worked with that the University of Utah that you were thinking Marine Corps when
you showed up at the Naval Academy or was that was that that did you stick
with that the whole time I did you know my dad being career Navy I knew I would
I could never fill his footsteps and heeds it he was perplexed why we want to
go Marine Corps he asked me straight out one time I think was a first year a
senior said ma what is it that the Marine Corps second lieutenant has that
a navy instant doesn’t have you know they got three hot meals a day a nice
bed with sheets to sleep in so what is it Marine Corps single tenant got that a
Navy incident doesn’t have I looked at him I said yeah I think it’s respect and
the old man down Wow yeah that’s that’s definitely that’s
definitely shots fired for sure and my grandpa was not somebody you probably
want to say that to all the time though well he was not the nicest guy he just
was sir like I said a little to the right of Attila the Hun and there was a
couple of ways to do things there was his way and there was everybody else’s
he he took me out for a dinner before I you know got on the train to head off
from the Naval Academy for him up from Providence Rhode Island where I could
catch the train back then and he said he told me he said Bobby you graduate from
the Naval Academy and I’ll buy you the car of your choice oh thank you Dad
four years later I’m getting close to graduation I said dad you remember when
I when I when I when I left for the Naval Academy just told me you buy him
with a car my choice if I graduate he looked at me said did you get it in
writing know it as you as the other thing that’s on the folding is it’s in
1963 when you show up there hey I’m gonna be a Marine
but you there’s no war going on now we fast forward it’s 19 well 1967 you know
and Vietnam is now I mean Vietnam really started to escalate in like 1965 1966
even more in 1967 I mean you guys now know in the Marine Corps what you’re
signing up for there’s no mystery oh no no no we know precisely what we were
signing up for there was a board I think this has been referenced in other places
and books and articles aboard of you know those who’ve gone before us those
have died and it was starting to fill up with you know pictures and names from
Vietnam so yeah we understood that but you know having I’m sure been come at
yourself that as you know you it’s not gonna happen to you yeah maybe the guy
on the left or the right but not to you’re bulletproof this in your own mind
and so you know you’re worried about maybe getting maimed I don’t think we’ve
been worried about that you worried about possibly getting killed but then
hey there’s nothing that for that you know your your worries are done and and
then your family picks up on it or you thought you might get a little you know
flea flicker flicker flicker or wound or something like that and get a Purple
Heart but you never figured you know you might come back without limbs or
otherwise you know markedly impaired that just never entered your mind I’m
sure if it did you would have been useless to your unit the the guys that
are all all going for the marine option at the academy its competitive right
it’s like it’s hard to get that brick is it hard to get that marine option coming
out of the Academy oh well I’m not I can’t speak for today because today
they’ll have like 250 you know guys and gals go in the Marine Corps in my day
and in the years in the 60s and before there was a certain percentage of a
class that could go Marine Corps we had some just about 900 guys in my class and
we had 86 slots and they were divided in half from the that took half from the
upper half of the class grade wise on half of the lower so you could get in
the Marine Corps saying being the middle of the lower half of your class when a
fellow who was in the lower part of the upper half of his class wouldn’t have
got selected because those you know 43 slots were gone
and I got slapped 86 when I went down for service election night I was
sweating bullets but what I got it in fact that a good friend of mine it was a
couple of numbers behind me offered me two grand for my spot if I would give it
up and so cuz he wanted to oh my god I knew how much he wanted to go to Marine
Corps I said you know I can’t do that either you know that he I know that but
they it was competitive in that respect it was you know academics played a lot a
big part in it yeah the Marine Corps does that
with the way they give your jobs in the Marine Corps to like coming out of the
basic school I know like they take like the class would break it up into thirds
and like the first you pick your job so he could be the number one guy and you
might you already you if you keep the number one guy you can get your job but
you might be the top of the next third down and you get your selection then the
top of the last third and you get your selection so it’s a it’s it’s a way that
they distribute the people so that not every single the the top of the class
goes everyone’s goes infantry and the whatever job it’s at the bottom we get a
bunch of people that weren’t the highest performers right exactly the Marine
Corps smart it’s about the Marine Corps of the Marine Corps Marine Corps
understands that it’s about the Marine Corps because they haven’t lasted this
long without being able to put up a good fight both you know in a nation’s Wars
and back in the DC area when the time comes along for keeping the Marine Corps
the Marine Corps and now as is your dad talking you anymore about looking at you
and saying hey son there’s a war going on and he’s you know obviously being in
the Navy in a world war two he knows exactly what the Marine Corps does and
he’s is he having many more talks to you and saying hey you might want to think
about this a little bit more no not a one you know he kind of respected my
decision I guess and just you know let me go at it like I say is an interesting
person I got back to Bethesda after I was shot spent 12 months in Bethesda he
came to see me once which for him was probably enough and actually for me it
was enough you know but I you know I later on found out that you know he
obviously was affected you know by about my being moved I kind of joked at him
one day one day we were out you know barbecuing some hot dogs or something
and I said dad Jim was collected on my life insurance what are you talking
about Bobby this is one day you almost got that tensor ten grand
you know servicemen is a group life insurance from from from my demise of
Vietnam don’t talk like that that was it that’s it that’s that’s the affection
you got absolutely that was the yeah that was they understood me
and the compassion that I got from bit so you get done with you get done with
your Naval Academy you graduate and now you’re going to the basic school right
right do you remember what rank you are at the
academy look how close to the bottom oh I think I was a since on server
selection night went down in groups of 50 which is why I was sweating we
getting a place in the Marine Corps because you know they could have all
been gone by the time I got down there in the last group of 50 because I was in
the last group of 50 answers that question you weren’t
anchorman so you didn’t know I was like oh mama I didn’t get the dollar from
everybody but oh is that what the last time was that’s right right right you
know I’ve never confirmed but the last person in the class gets a dollar from
from every blessing well so you can walk off with you know six seven eight nine
hundred bucks the this spot of distinction I guess or
or not well we’re still graduated so I guess at that point it doesn’t matter
and you got paid unlike my class we were kind of put out by coz our anchorman was
a foreign national I think from a country that didn’t even have a navy so
we were like don’t even wanna fuck over this book maryska and of course we did
because that was just that’s a tradition it’s always been that way
so uh you show up at TBS and now it’s 1968
you know I know graduated in June of June seventh of 67 and I put in for the
first basic school class that was forming which is a first of July that
was that the beginning of the fiscal year
back then July 1st so you know I had a few weeks at home boom right back down
to the Quantico to start the basic school okay so you started in this
summer sometimes I’m 67 right and then what how
well did the Naval Academy prepare you for the basic school I think pretty well
of course we didn’t ever get into the tactical side of things at the Naval
Academy for for the Marine Corps but you know you
were in good shape you obviously could wear your uniform whichever it was a
Marine Corps Navy bit of a well because you’ve been doing it for the past four
years and I had gone to jump school between my summer leave between junior
and senior year and I the physical requirements for that we’re pretty
demanding you know we’ve got data Fort Benning in August after cruise and Maine
that baby is hot that red clay in Georgia
reflects that heat and you sweat I saw those Midshipmen coming and of course
you know we were we we’d be running around with navy chairs and any cadre
fellow you know staff sergeants I could pop up and you know halt us and drop us
for push-ups and everything which we loved I don’t think there were any UDT
or sealed groups going through when we went through but they just ate the
program up you know yeah needless to say yeah I went I was one of the eventually
seals stopped going to Airborne School at Fort Benning Georgia and started
running it in-house okay but yeah I was lucky enough to go to Airborne School
and and yes the the instructors down there definitely appreciated our
presence of those no yeah certainly did it’s ridiculous to because we’re coming
out of you know buds right literally a week or whatever you know we travel
cross-country we show up there so we’re in really good shape so there was really
nothing that they could do to us exactly hurt us and we just would and of course
that encouraged guys to be you know wise asses and you know why would it make you
do pushups you can’t make me you enough push-ups so is that that whole thing
going and and now now that you’re a TBS though well now you know exactly what’s
gonna happen you know you’re gonna go to Vietnam right regardless of your MOS
that you came out with of course I want to be a no.3 and most of my friends did
too oh yeah that’s a good point so it’s not
actually guaranteed so I’m thinking you still have to do a service selection
inside or like thinks I drink exactly exactly you put in for your top three
and and you hope you get number one of course and and the most guys did
you’re pretty savvy about your capabilities and your you know likes and
dislikes by the time you get 2 tbs I think regardless of
where you come from you know we had a lot of recent ROTC grads some recent OCS
grads and enabled academy grads and you couldn’t distinguish who came from what
pipeline you know they’re all pretty motivated folks back then and I’m sure
all the instructors must have been guys that were coming off of towards they
were just back from their tours beyond time and they were all captains or above
yeah very sharp guys they didn’t didn’t pick a slacker soon enough to be his
instructors at TBS and how I mean compared to the Naval Academy was it
just a totally different vibe of seriousness because they know what
exactly what their prepare you guys for it sure was you know you’re here out on
problems day time problems nighttime problems didn’t matter when they ended
and if you got back and turned in any gear you checked out 3 a.m. in the
morning you’re still up you know at Oh dark thirty the next morning no you
didn’t do that the Naval Academy you know your head study hour and stuff like
that but now there was a definitely heightened level of serious seriousness
at the basic school again all the instructors were giving you straight
poop you know because they had just come back from there or recently back my
platoon commander we have a platoon of about 50 guys it was a captain to Silver
Stars you know well decorated big guy you know they don’t take again it Marine
Corps looks that you all kinds of ways they look at how you did a basic school
your height versus versus your weight some other foul obviously other factors
before they assign you someplace like if you’re if you think you want to get two
to eight and I and be part of that in Washington DC you know you’ve got to be
like six feet or higher and taller or whatever cuz you know they’re sending
the cream with the cream of their crap because you’re you know you’re
representing a United States Marine Corps in front of the public on a
regular basis and rightfully so all the services do that you know that the
guards at Arlington or you know four feet eight and sloppy
you know they’re all standing tall and looking good and very professional
needless to say how hard was it to you know when you when you started picking a
job obviously you said you wanted to be an infantry infantry platoon commander
and how much competition was there for that what did you have guys that were
like oh I’m not doing that I’m not doing that job you can have it was there was a
competition for it it was only competent there we didn’t feel competition you
know obviously had to do well on the old course and all the different evolutions
and he had to pass the PRT and you know you had to do well and land navigation
daytime nighttime do well on the rifle range of pistol range but that was that
was just part of the competition of TBS you were always competing with your
métier what do you call your classmates classmate yeah your classmates at TBS
but you know a lot of guys wanted to go infantry and obviously not everybody was
gonna go infantry I don’t know what the selection process was but I had a good
friends were unable Academy not really a good friend but he he was he was one guy
that would go I say are you gonna go in four three two also meaning also and of
course you had no idea yeah it depends on what the Marine Corps what their
selection process was and whether you made or not and he ended up not getting
infantry which was probably probably a good move for him and the Corps is there
any is there anything that you had to struggles with when you’re going through
the basic school other than maybe you know the old course or something like
that but I was just that you know a eight-minute struggle and as long as you
were doing the best the best you could you know that they didn’t beat you up to
higher or mark you down but no I didn’t really feel there was anything that was
gonna hold me back and their training you with all the tactics small unit
tactics naval gunfire calling for fire all
there are you feeling like you were you feeling like you were getting good
preparation for the battlefield I did what that what the base of school does
is it teach you everything you need to know as a company level officer you know
from your time as a second lieutenant up to to captain after that there’s an
another school there’s I’m not sure what it’s called but you know for for senior
captains and new majors but yeah I felt well prepared they had a Vietnam village
built up in Quantico staff of course by Vietnamese and you know you practice
that you know you did hilla copter operations you did you know walking
insertions you didn’t land navigation daytime and night
which I’m sure you know it’s a different horse of a different color he’s indeed
yeah but he was apparently was pretty proficient a graduate 7th in the class
not first like Webb did in his class but that’s that’s ok 7 was good enough
letter accommodation coming out of the basic school and that’s 7 out of class
how many had about two hundred four years okay no so it seems like you were
better at the field craft than you were at the academia well this is true in
fact in fact it you know I got shot in the head and I have classmates who said
who still say to this day yeah we think that made you smarter yeah because I did
go on to graduate school and get a masters and a PhD yeah you know after I
was retired out of the Marine Corps and and maybe there’s something to that I
don’t know so then yeah so the basic school is what six months long about
five and a half then yeah they’re shorten it up five and a half months
long you get done with the basic school you get infantry right and then what
happens I got selected for reconnaissance replacement training
which was a couple of weeks in Southern California we get Pendleton again from
more supporting arms training in artillery that sort of thing there and
then a week at Coronado are learning about a naval gunfire
support did you use the the board was they call that the smoke board did they
have the little fake terrain set up that you could call for fire on I went to the
I went to the Marine Corps naval gunfire school and they had this terrain board
and it was kind of like a it must have been built in like 1975 and you’d call
for fire if you got in the right spot little smoke would come up through that
spot it was like you were looking at you know through binoculars somewhere it was
pretty good no I never had never saw anything like that only where we were
actually filing firing a real live artillery at Belton and at the naval
gunfire support school we had this big board but it was it was blue you know it
was the ships that in the ocean per se but that was interesting because I did
one a night get to fire the cruiser Providence in Vietnam which was which
was fun you know they could they couldn’t use their six inch guns because
they’re too flat so use their five inch you know bringing in direct fire on we
had a bunch of lights below us I think folks were trying to move move their
troops around another night but and we you know what this this was on call for
so we used it so you got to use the naval gunfire I did like a dream of mine
ever since i sat there on that little training boy it was a dream boxer and
then I got to use my Bravo Zulu term at the end of it I confer they’re almost
the real robbery I was ooh yeah that is outstanding
that is outstanding I’ve never even I never even got close to even remotely
thinking about calling for day with a fire for real so I probably worked too
close to you know big waterways yeah yeah and I don’t know there’s always
that thing where guys want a fire you know a bunch of different weapons
treating combat right and I had one guy get shot in the chest but it hit him in
the chest plate so yeah I wasn’t with him but they actually had video that’s
he gets shot in the chest plate and so he’s all mad
he’s mad and he shoots a bunch of machine-gun rounds and and someone goes
hey shoot your pistol and – he goes he looks at it but why he says what would
make you feel better so he ball system out and shoots that – but and I’m sure
if you would have had a naval gunfire who knows maybe he would have maybe he
would have gone for it I don’t know about the pistol you know when we fired
the 45 for qualification down on the TBS I think our instructor actually told us
you know in combat if this is all you’ve got you know you’re probably just better
off throwing the pistol atom and shooting at them because you have a
better chance of hitting it the bad guy on the other end did you guys not have
inventory officer course back then cuz that’s like a you know multi-month
course now after TBS we did not know you or you’re considered good to go you know
after graduation on TBS yeah I know now they have a ten-week officer or infantry
officer training course which I think would be I’ve been outstanding but we
had what we had so so uh you go to this you go to this recon course mm-hmm and
so now you get are you getting jump jump pay and all that stuff now no you know
even though let’s jump qualified if you’re if you’re not in a unit that
maintains your jump qualification in the Corps you don’t get jump a in fact we’ve
got to Vietnam and first recon battalion there was only one company you know
there that maintain their jump status that was Charlie Company and they were
the Force Recon company they did the same thing as the battalion Recon
companies did but they did maintain their jump status that’s all they got
jump a and every extra 75 bucks a month which is a big deal back then so you end
up you end up going through this recon training and then what happens in its
time is it time to deploy – you know it’s time to get on a bus and head up to
Air Force Base in San Bernardino don’t know the name of it
the flood or flue order at Okinawa spend a week there so that kind of trip would
dribble you in are you with are you with all different branches of servicemen are
you just with Marines at this point just with just with Marines at this point you
know going over flew on Saturn Airlines I believe you know a non-scheduled
non-skid airline total canal oh just like civilian was there civilian
what do they call hostesses stewardesses on stewardesses oh yeah yeah yeah
a few stews by defendants but typically you wouldn’t have anything to do in
Okinawa while you waited for your for your assignment to be flown into country
but when I got to look at when we got to Okinawa there was about five of us that
were travelling together we had been at the Recon replacement training together
and we were just milling around the receiving area after we got off the the
plane and somehow I got up above oh somehow it’s a higher up than the crowd
below me and I’m watching it and there’s this young Lance Corporal with a
clipboard he’s going to each of the second tenets that I had you know my
buddies and asked him some question and they’re going No so I said I said this
poor kid yeah I’ve been in this position before huh I’ll find out what’s going on
so he didn’t he but he needed his is a company Gunny or something had sent him
down he needed a signature from an officer to run three plane loads of
Marines through a little program on an Okinawa where they your fam fired the
m16 because never I know none of us had ever seen an m16 muscle s fired one
before we went into Vietnam I say it fam fire familiar race fight from my
familiarize yourself fire the m16 before you went in country made sure all your
shots were up-to-date and all your paperwork was up-to-date so I said sure
you know so I signed for him I’d have to get up every night every other night
while I was there for about a week meet a incoming plane about 2 a.m. in the
morning find the senior enlisted guy on the plane form these guys up take him
over to a barracks how to draw a mattress you know flop down it’s on the
beat you know how to be out next morning at 7:30 in the morning go to chow then
we start him through the little of a program that you had to go through
before he could get in country so I’d met my three planes a little more than a
week’s time I was definitely afraid my officer buddies we’re gonna rotate into
country before I did didn’t happen we all went off together but there’s an
interesting leak would you shoot in the basics Cory I’m 14 and 14 you know now
how do you feel about the m16 when you got it I loved it lightweight and a most
lightweight unfortunately most Marines in Vietnam
found out that I had pitted barrels and sure enough I had a trade mine and you
know what the two after I got there with one one that was a newer one with a good
barrel and that’s crazy you guys didn’t even get get even shoot that weapon
don’t say you got that Okinawa what’s right and then was the other training
course that are giving you like basic like preparation for Vietnam jungle
navigation or something like that or in Okinawa you know you were just you were
just kind of on your own until you rotate it in Khe Sanh was getting hot
then still ISTA we used to go to some three Shack Operations Shack of some
outfit on Okinawa and hear the morning brief about Khe Sanh and kind of look at
each other anything you don’t want to get sent there no no no so then you
spend that so you spend that one is a week in Okinawa about yeah I know you
guys all fly over to Vietnam right right where do you find two dan egg and then
when you get there what’s that process like that for us we get there in the
evening it’s dark again somebody met your yo took you off
somewhere you grabbed a mattress flopped it down in some barracks at the end of
the runway and you slept until next morning with all this F worse take it
off above you know sleep did you have that stereotypical moment that people
talk about which is you know the guys that are going home the guys that are
rotating at home after their year and you see
at the contrast between the the new guys showing up with their brand-new gear and
the old guys that are heading home and they look like they’ve been through hell
and back no never saw anybody that was going home you know down at the Nang Air
Field you know didn’t didn’t see him we arrive sometime in the mill the night
and it was dark and we had no yeah you know you have that little kind of
internal feeling of impending doom or dread or something I don’t know what it
was maybe was just your adrenaline pumping you know that you’re finally
gonna get in country and you know what what’s gonna you know you’re gonna take
incoming rounds while you’re landing no there’s no yeah it’s a normal landing
you get off to get off the aircraft or you know somebody meets its officers
this way I listen to guys that way you know drew your mattress try to sleep for
the rest tonight do you know where you’re heading at this point you knew
the division you were going to first or third third was up north in North I
Corps first was down around around at an Ag and you know I was going to the first
division you didn’t even know if you’re gonna get to the recon battalion you
went to division the next day we went to division we got introduced with
commanding general for some reason and we were required to sit down you gave us
a big book rules of engagement you had to read that sign that you’d read it and
understood and then you got sent off to to a two-year unit and but three of us
were lucky enough to go to the reconnaissance battalion the other two
they went off to regular grunt units infantry units so when you get your
assigned to recon and then what do you do you guys drive up there do you take a
helicopter up there how you get up to your actual unit the actual unit 1st
recon battalion was located just below and across the street from Division
Headquarters he said yeah you’ll walk down there and as I said before we had
the one cup one company Charlie Company it wasn’t with the battalion in denying
it was forward based at feu by they’re the ones that kept up their jumps
at us and one of my buds who had gone through the Recon replacement training I
was slated to go up there because I was single up to the force reconnaissance
company and he asked if I would mind giving that position to him if it was
okay with the colonel because he was married and expecting their first kid oh
I needed that extra 75 bucks I was just happy to be there
I said sure take it if that’s what you want yeah that’s no big deal
yeah so he went up to he went up to the force company and fooled by I stayed
there with a battalion and Danang and there was the you know what was checking
in like I mean you’re showing up there your new guy these guys been in country
and this is something that it always surprised me about Vietnam is that you
guys would rotate well just one individual individual right placements
right whereas for me all my deployments were unit yes whole unit is going in and
the whole right sleeve and and so that’s got to be it’s got to be a weird thing
showing up as a new guy and there’s a bunch of people that have been there for
between I guess between two days and 360 whatever days right your hair I mean my
my working premise when I got to Vietnam was that anybody who was there a day
longer than Iowa then I had been there was a day smarter but the situation or
day more experience and by god I was going to listen to this person you know
but interesting enough my platoon wasn’t even there they were aboard ship with
the afloat battalion and we’re in car always kept a battalion float off the
coast of Vietnam it could jump into an operation you know at a moment’s notice
give or take and they always had a reconnaissance platoon with them and
they apparently used them pretty much as point for the battalion so that was not
a plum job but my my platoon was its outgoing platoon commander it was a Bork
ship so I didn’t see them for two weeks I just I had nothing to do except I got
tasks to sit on court-martials and you know I had the unit grades quarterly
grades or something something like that would do I had to go home
guys service record books and give them a grade for their performance over the
last quarter without annoying and without have her having seen them you
know you this was gonna be used for promotions so I did the best I could you
know I took in service record book how long the guy had been the Corps in
country I been wounded what was a level of education you know I signed a few
points and then you know like one to ten and then I added everybody points up and
I had agreed to give him and recommended the top three for promotion or something
like that it was crazy but I had to do it switch what you did we were just
complementing the brilliance of the Marine Corps I mean you gotta tell a
story like that then okay so then did you eventually get flown out to the ship
to be with them or did they no they came back they rotated rotated back they are
just filthy dirty I think that came right from the bush and the lieutenant I
got to talk to for about ten minutes because he was like overdue to rotate
out of country so he just he just wanted to get a shower you know a uniform and
get back down at an and what I uh what pearls of wisdom did he give you in
those ten minutes he he told me a who the who the best guys in the platoon
were and who I think he thought I might want to keep my eye on and that was
about it no no tactical and I saw no exact
Achilles on anything that’s interested you know I always say that leadership is
the most important thing and what he was trying to give you as a heads up on
who’s like who’s the best guys and from a leadership perspective that’s
interesting he just wanted out but but I was in a hooch yeah you know with with
other lieutenants second first offense who’s been there you know anywhere for
him maybe two months to four months and they were filling me in on
I don’t have play operate how the deal operated was there anything that
surprised you that you were her and hearing from those guys anything that
you know you said oh I didn’t really expect that the only thing that really
surprised me I think once once I got into recon and got working with him was
that occasionally you had to go out far enough that you weren’t under anybody’s
artillery fan you know you weren’t on rarely where we were under the 105 fan
and the one five five fan usually and then there was army 175 which were very
scary thanks because I the word was this they could click on a they could you
know bump out a click when it when they fire these things they were big we flew
over him one time when I looked at him I swear
they drooped you know 175 artillery face they were huge i swirly drooped and then
of course if you were out past the 175 fan you had nothing but air to call on
and that losses took about 20 minutes to get there and pilots never really
trusted ground officers to you know to bring them in correctly so they’d always
want to fly out an aerial observer you know a lot of these little spit get
planes you know caller in the back and I don’t know what they were Oh V tens I
think but that was kind of surprising this but our killer over there was
fantastic great but you know they were on call 24/7 obviously best thing I ever
fired was Marine Corps self-propelled eight-inch there like it looked like a
big tank with a eight inch you know fired an eight inch shell when they were
accurate to the nth degree unbelievable but basically artillery was
excellent over saved our bacon many a time
when you it’s been two weeks your your guys get back you take over splatoon
commander right what’s your intro meeting with the guys in the platoon
what do you say to just kind of introduce myself probably told him the
same thing that I stole you if you’ve been here one day long and I have and
you got a better idea or everything you do talk to me you know
I’m here to listen you know I want you all to get back home obviously you know
intact and not tacked in as we used to say in fact the five and a half months I
was a platoon commander we only took one serious casualty and that was me and I
wouldn’t have it any other way we were extremely lucky but we were also pretty
good you know we didn’t do dumb things there were folks who would like harbour
at night near a trail and hope bad guys would come down it just so they could
try to set up a hasty ambush no no no once once your troops knew that you were
serious about their welfare we’ve done anything for you and of course you’d do
anything for them I had 25 23 Marines of my platoon made me call a corpsman they
rotated in and out according to the will of the Italian aid station the finest
young men ever cell unassembled I know most potent commanders say the same
thing but this kids were average age in 19 hours education ninth grade you know
but they were taught they were primo if I’d have told him that we’ve been tasked
to flap in Hanoi drop in with a river raft and paddle up and free the folks
out of the Hilton they would if they were they’d have been right there maybe
there were just great kids what was that was kind of normal
well first of all was your first operation they went on with these guys
well first thing that I did was turned out to be a
Tet 1968 broke on my first snap-in patrol I was they tried to get you on a
snap-in patrol or two before you started leading your guy so you know you were
just you know you’re just there is to observe and learn
and your patrol leader might be in III in my case it was an e5 sergeant e5 and
we got up this Ridgeline and after crossing this path it looked like the
i-5 of people paths and we got now it was smooth and we got up into a bad
bunch of brush and some rocks and we were looking up the ridge line your
Center for four NVA come cooling down down this Highway so four and then there
were eight then there were 16 32 cities your first
mission is the first yes exactly is this your platoon no I
was with long yeah and the leader the platoon leaders need five well yeah the
petrolia was an e-flat role he was an e5 right young man great gang man and so
his rule of thumb was where there’s four there’s more because I only saw these
four guys come out of the jungle down this Ridgeline first let’s go set up an
ambush no sergeant no no no where there’s four
there’s no we stopped counting at 400 and by now we had artillery coming in we
had air on the way we had a aerial observer up there
we fired artillery all day all afternoon into the night into the evening we have
Puff the Magic Dragon dropping flares with with the Jets coming in underneath
it we could drop a napalm at night oh it was unbelievable and this is your first
night what are you doing the call for fire no no it’s urgent my stars do it
yeah you know I was I was there to learn and to the pucker factor was like this
yeah guys would go on that one or two snap-in patrols and never see anything
but and this they might come to Vietnam yeah and they maybe have a little too
laissez-faire attitude but this was my welcome to Vietnam and I thought it was
great I mean we were dropping our tour around
these guys they’re running down the path toward our position you know and they
were they were in the brush they’re not on the path but they’re in the brush we
had brush we had rocks on like our north side and our east side
and West Side East Side and south side Weston North Lee has had brush and
there’s you know North Vietnamese are there in the brush coming toward us
they’re crying and they’re screaming you know yelling for mom whatever whatever
you do and that’s your North Vietnamese soldier and they when they bring a run
right into us so start brings in artillery behind us real close you know
Danger Close so we got shrapnel flying over our heads
and of course this this dissuades these bad guys from coming toward us also had
a kid set up when he should have been a laying flat like a Mushu pancake took a
piece of shrapnel right in his face and knocked out a few teeth and cut open his
lip in the room and the shrapnel is dropping down it burned right through
your through your utility shirt burn your skin you just you just endured it
it was a hairy so Danger Close rounds coming your first night out at Vietnam
well welcome to the war thank you guys and you guys maintained your your
clandestine they’re still alive oh yeah how many guys were out there with you ah
probably about ten eleven that was a heavy Patrol yeah all right so now at
how many of those snapping patrols did you do to what was the next one
light-second well next one was wasn’t even wasn’t that interesting from a
tactical point of view but it was gonna be a led by a lieutenant who had got a
little tanked up at the O club the night before I hadn’t given the patrol
patroller so we’re down there waiting for on the LZ away before the insert
hilla coppers to get ready to take us off come down the hill was the battalion
commander Lieutenant Colonel he comes over to our patrol points to the
lieutenant sir Pat get back up pack of year you’re going to the grunts you know
boom he was colonel system against Lance Corporal
system controller I think you guys can run some trouble yes sir no problem so
we did it was great but shit can this guy sits right there on the spot and you
could do that in recon I had to do it once to one of my guys what’d the guy do
that rated you fired him on the spot I had my patrol was like cut in half I
led my platoon was cut in half I let half of it you know anywhere from eight
to ten guys depending on who was not on our and our who wasn’t sick that sort of
thing and my two I have to start ie6 Staff Sergeant here and the other Pathan
we flip-flop about about halfway through my tour when I was about five five and a
half months ago and so you know my the guys I led we were our code name was
West arch we had an excellent reputation of attire they were fast day like they
felt like they were kind of distant cousins in the platoon but I know I got
okay about pep talk that night with with perform at the patrol order so you know
you guys are guys are just like west are no different and you know again 9th
grade education same age you know same skills and so I went to my little spiel
and you know you know my reputation I’m done commander
you know administrative leave your stuff unit you know how I operate anybody
doesn’t want to go go a fast day now one kid raises his hand okay you don’t have
to go pack your gear get out of here don’t you’re not sleeping tonight with
these guys you know and I don’t know whatever happened it was I never came
back from that Patrol you know but I’m sure it was taken care of so when you
start getting into what was the kind of typical mission that you guys were doing
typical mission was you know we’d go out on a six seven day patrol we just were
just snooping and pooping that’s what we called it
finding a trails that the enemy would use race campus would you guys answer on
helicopter would you guys just foot patrol no always hillock upper yeah it’s
always here pick out a spot and and get dropped off and then what was your word
your SOPs once you guys got inserted we got up we start hopefully it was where
the the insert LZ was where you know the Operations Officer her the operations
Shack said it was sometimes it wasn’t there
but you know that’s why you know as a patrolling I did it when I got in the
helicopter was dump my gear get out my little map mmm and insert myself between
the pilot and a co-pilot because if you didn’t know where you were when you
started the patrol you aren’t gonna know where you were for the next six seven
days where’d you guys insert in a daytime in the nighttime it pre-dawn in
the dusk when would you guys go in wait going in daytime we’d be down to Elsie
waiting by about 8 o’clock in the morning birds would come in if they
weren’t being used for medevacs and stuff for some operation that was going
on about mid-morning they do up and get a brief from the intelligence folks at
first recon we’d be sitting around there and then they come back down from their
brief we’d pop on the aircraft and it’s off we go so like midday you’re getting
miss day yeah that was pretty much probably generally he hit the and then
what you hit the ground and what would you guys do as soon as you hit the
ground what was your what was your standard operating procedure so pay with
the DD and get out of that LZ fast yeah nothing says rains are coming in here
then a bunch of helicopters come into landed we have two two Huey’s now we’d
be on a 240 sixes oh okay you know yeah army had Huey’s you know transport
troops Marine Corps did anytime in a Marine Corps they probably about sixty
helicopters in Vietnam on any given day about half of them would be air worthy
so we had Huey gunships Huey’s I guess carry the brass around but then we
didn’t use much troop transporting all 46
so big old 40s all noisy 46s I did would you guys just like we always used to do
something which was sit look and listen so like we would you know go two or
three hundred yards away from the LZ and then we’d all just stop up and just
let’s get them yeah yeah pretty much the same way yeah
and then would you guys have different areas where you were headed to
specifically we did we had a patrol route that was pre-planned and an
extract point that was pre-planned now and froze rarely went you know according
to the pre-planning which the the you know the operations Shack did you know
we didn’t do that we’re actually telling you where where yeah where we’re gonna
go in at but they have a recommended patrol route which we’d stick to if we
could couldn’t all the time and then we get out at this point where they had
recommended yeah again sometimes it would work sometimes it wouldn’t what
was it before how often would you guys be contacted by the enemy you know it
wasn’t all that frequently because I you know we did we were good we were snooped
at poop with your purpose of being there was to not right you know in recon your
job wasn’t to you know find them fix them and Foxtrot them yeah you didn’t
get online with 9 or 10 guys or 11 maybe and say charge you know your idea was to
gather information but if if the situation was to your advantage
you could you could you know if if the leader felt that it was worth the effort
set up an ambush but normally would bring artillery on if we saw groups and
I probably ran 21 patrols and I’d say probably good three quarters of a weed
we don’t we had fire missions on top of bad guys well that’s that’s I presented
well there’s one other thing like I think what you go through
what do you were in Ramadi brother but there was there were some of my guys in
Ramadi that would get contacted a lot there was one
one group over in Eastern Ramadi and they did I was I was actually briefing a
I was briefing the CG sort of commander who’s the colonel that was in charge of
all Special Operations and I said you know sir the Mike my group that served
you know six seals that are over in eastern Ramadi I said they’ve been
they’ve been in enemy contact 23 straight operations and I’m lucky and I
didn’t plan this for dramatic effect but my Intel officer who’s running the
Tactical Operations Center comes walking in and says hey sir just just want to
let you know that the guys out east are in contact right now and I looked at the
colonel I said make that 24 missions in a row but there was definitely some some
hot hot areas yeah it was pretty much expected if you were going out in Ramadi
that you were gonna get in contact by the enemy and I don’t know what the
percentage was but it was it was a vast more it was very rare that my guys would
come back and had a head and shot their guns man you know very rare yeah but but
75 but I also what was interesting when I came home from that deployment and
would talk to some of the Vietnam guys depending on the platoon depending on
the seal platoon in Vietnam there’s guys that shot their weapons on a six-month
deployment shot their weapons three times four times and there’s other
platoons in Vietnam with a shelter to drop their weapons a hundred extra ten
so it all depended on and my first deployment to Iraq I think I shot my gun
we got like four or five firefights so really not not that big of a deal and
then in Ramadi I don’t did that numbers the numbers just very high for as far as
the whole task unit getting into getting into big gun fights but three quarters
of the time you know that’s that’s a lot of fire missions well but yeah but they
weren’t gun fights per se you know they’d be you eyeballing somebody or
some place or some trail crossing or some little village you might come
across in the middle of nowhere one time we came across out a cornfield
in the middle of jungle I mean it was it wasn’t jungle per se because there was
no high tree canopy over it was just a feel a clearing in the
of the jungle with rows of corn eyes but this is not your typical jungle plant
uh-huh so we’d get a little higher ground we’d watch to see if and we come
no came in there and settle down there’s no a few hooches there – whereabouts
were you guys operating in Vietnam we are operating north south and west of
Danang first reconnaissance battalions mission was to – to patrol the rocket
belt around the airport a Danang but that wasn’t particularly that far out so
we didn’t a lot further out looking for you know main main line NVA forces and
or where they where they camped out the trails they used etc etc but gunfights
were relatively rare which is a good thing because you can’t see anybody in
the jungle anyway you’re typically just firing blind so that was one of the nice
things about the m16 it would put out a lot of fire for you and that’s what you
needed over there you know you didn’t need a heavy bullet necessarily to to
knock guys down but the 7.62 or 5 point whatever was just fine my what a 7.62
that’s the big heavy that’s the import yeah when you were when you would get
these mission taskings kind of from above above from the from the battalion
right we think they’d give it to you that how long with the planning cycle
take for you guys to come up with a plan and do your briefing and all that about
24 hours wasn’t it wasn’t hardcore boilerplate like nowhere near the detail
that I know that you all went through in Ramadi but you know it was just you we
were out six seven days back two or three so that was a regular schedule you
you knew I mean the kids were already the Marines were already you know their
weapons were clean if we had done things that we needed to do administratively
like you know go down to the gas tent check all the gas masks and stuff that
had all been done I’m kind of that 24 hours in between were you carrying the
radio no I had a a radioman primary radio man
was right behind me and I had a had a secondary radio man toward the end of
the patrol and you’ve taken what ten seven eight guys ten guys something like
done guys I usually went heavy you know so you got ten guys how many damn
batteries did you have to carry for an eight day Patrol would you get
resupplied because were you using the the 77 the prick 77 radio was one prior
to that blue or at prior I get pricked 25 for 25 yeah there you go
not necessarily the best thing but it was pretty good yeah
line is Lunger line of sight yeah yeah but but I mean you must have had to
carry a lot of batteries for that thing we didn’t I mean I guess the radio man
had extra batteries but we didn’t typically you know go through that much
battery man I was a radio man and it was ridiculous the amount of batteries in
the early days cuz we got much smaller radius later on and then come up water
which you guys just refill canteens on rivers and whatnot we would if we could
find water but we went out with eight to ten canteens because you didn’t know
what are you gonna find water and if you found it you don’t know what it was
gonna be potable or not but we were taking clay off and on I say
more often than not in the mountainous type area mountainous being you know
thousand meters or higher and if we came across running water that you know was
moving along I thought it was find safe to drink until I went to this little one
day school put on where’s chief corpsman who talked about how the fill each larva
could be you know expelled into the water and just bubbled down with the
water yes after that iodine tablets every time we refill so never headache
problems how about food food we had Korean air sea rats he’s a Korean air it
Korean era Oh could really era 1954 it would say on they’re just playing sea
rats and cans MREs were brand new
what’s there and and but we occasion on two patrols I think that we’ve managed
to steal some MRIs from somebody in the army fine dining
yeah yeah but see they used water so that was it was a it was a they were a
better meal but they would use water so it was a six to one half a dozen to
another we and then would you guys patrol during the day and then lay up at
night that’s the frats affirmative yeah we’d find the nastiest meanest video
taken at night and crawl in there and harbor would be in our harbor site did
uh did they use dogs to try and find you nope never saw a dog in Vietnam are in
the jungle anyway apparently a recon had taken out dogs and handlers in the early
days and the dogs just couldn’t handle the heat and the terrain so they handler
we got up carrying the dog out so that was a you guys know do you guys
bring claymores to set up around we did what play marks claim works and
sometimes a little anti-personnel mines which sounded like a great idea until
the next morning when the guy who’d put them out
gotta go retrieve them yeah you got to go receiving maybe has six mines out and
it kind of like what five Oh so we would be moving out in the opposite direction
claim our was a good weapon it sounds like you’re you’re you’re op tempo was
like go on a patrol you’re out there for six seven days you come back you you
rest your refit you spend three four days in camp something like that two or
three maybe two or three yeah yeah it’s a pretty pretty quick turnaround you
know you didn’t have time to settle in and get comfortable anywhere and then
it’s back out were you guys just skinny as could be we were yeah I went over
there waiting 150 pound front here 55 pounds which was my weight at the Naval
Academy came back I was 123 when I got back but part of that was the previous
like nineteen days remember our shuttle I got back in the States
I didn’t eat too much yeah I was being fed for one thing I know most the time
was red jello and I wasn’t real appealing I couldn’t look at red jello
for about five years after that did you do you guys have any night-vision at all
like a starlight scope yeah we had fixed positions that we would go to for
sometimes for long as much as two weeks and they were essentially high points
like a hill a hundred meter high hill and they’d have a permanent radio we
have a permanent radio relay station on there and and patrols would just rotate
there every couple of weeks to provide security for that guy because he was up
there for like three plus months and on those we would take we had starlight
yeah and we’ve watched the valleys and stuff below us but never use them that
much you know you know going out in the field that much you guys must have
really been I mean you guys must have been really good and really efficient
out in the field after doing a field after field op after field out for six
seven eight days every time did you feel like you guys were kind of part of the
jungle at that point never never felt really part of the
jungle but it certainly got more comfortable in it
one thing that you always had to be very careful about and in the work that recon
did was heat casualties you know you took a serious heat candle that’s an
emergency medevac which is again you know announcing to the whole world of
this Marines out here and when I’m you know down with the heat carefully as a
consequence the days we were back in the area
first Platoon Delta Company pee-peed every day people thought we were crazy I
took my heat casualties on Freedom Hill Road you know running two and a half
miles down to an F miles back including myself and I’m stopping to Barbara never
had a heat casualty in the five and a half months I’m gonna patrol some was
very proud of yeah if you gotta carry enough water for
that though really right no you just had to ration yourself you know and each
individual LC said eight canteens you bring in 1881 contains a lottery bet and
that’s when I last year eight days citrus citrus unless we got extended
which was not unheard of you know they hit the Marine Corps helicopters would
be you know some operation would start while you were on patrol they beat ask
for medevacs and you couldn’t get out the day were supposed to just you prayed
I guess would be the nice thing to say that you got out the next day because by
then your food was exhausted your water was either gone or shrill shark yeah we
used to have a lot we have a heat casualties in training out here and
encountering out the Imperial Valley where it’s 120 degrees and it’s tough
and like you said a guy can go from he’s fine to all sudden he’s like a
legitimate length ology that again matter that’s right yeah let’s go to July 4th 1968 what was what
was going into that operation what was the what was the overall operation that
you guys were looking to do we were looking to find an old LZ a place called
Charlie Ridge you said you had uh neighborhoods in the areas that were
hotter than others and hurmati we had the same thing of course in Vietnam you
know some places were known as hot spots he had almost guaranteed you know
somebody was gonna shoot a few rounds at you coming in or going out if they
didn’t find it during the or you didn’t find them during your patrol but we were
exposed to a flip-flop you know we’d go in and another team would come out on
the top of this mountain and the team had gotten lost they didn’t know where
they were so they finally somehow you know scraped there Sierra together and
and we went out we flip-flop with them but we were way far away from the same
they were three or four thousand meters away from this a mountaintop where we
were supposed to flip-flop with another team
so I really pushed the patrol to find I think this place must be really hard to
find if these guys couldn’t find him no no they just were lost but we found
that thing on the second day the old old firebase on the top of this mountain you
know like three years of sea rats on the side of the mountain because we had envy
a walking trail below us I’d stop and have lunch eat old sees a ham and lima
beans I think supplied half the NVA in Vietnam because the Marines just always
pitched those things nobody we call them Hammond mothers nobody ate
them but so well he had a flip-flop so I didn’t want to get too far away from
this LZ because I run another LZ with him you know three or four klicks so we
were gonna you know we harbor debt night moved off into the jungle outside the LZ
our harbor that night had some big rocks around us that we were very good
position and at night I would pre plot fires you know artillery targets
north-south-east-west around our position Casey had to call him in the
middle of the night you know figure out what the what’s our six you know numbers
here know these targets were already plotted in so we woke up the next
morning and we were just gonna kind of lay low all day long in that area wasn’t
something you really wanted to do but yes since we were scared of a flip-flop
and battalion really wanted us to do that because it hadn’t worked you know
when we had gone in we weren’t we should have gone in where we were going out but
they want something wanted to flip-flop so I said the Lord is gonna lay low for
this day and we’ll be out of here the next morning well that morning I guess
some you know 12 men and behave recon Patrol walked a close aboard or came by
close aboard I never heard him I just they either saw a flash of emotion must
go we were eating breakfast or they heard us which I don’t think they did
because we were super quiet but all of a sudden that just you know all this
automatic fire opened up and fortunately was over our heads you know because
that’s pretty typical happen in the jungle
shoot hi but I had a big rock had it behind me so I’m getting guys maneuvered
around starting to call the artillery when a bullet apparently hits the rock
behind me comes back hits me in the head from behind goes forward boom mom down
and I’m almost history next thing I know my Kermit is doing a pat down on me
apparently the bullet had gone through my floppy cover and didn’t knock it off
and he wasn’t till he saw blood starting to run down the side of my face that I
realized the moon was up here but because there was nothing visible so
he’s doing a pat-down and I knew what that meant
I knew I’d been shot and I knew he didn’t know where it was but I never did
figure out it was in my head or in the head I could clue that sometimes that
morning because we were on a ground for about another four hours before they
tried to get us out that I had been bitten by a centipede it had some nasty
centipedes over there whose the venom apparently attacked your
central nervous system so that was my working theory that morning was that I
had been bit by a centipede how long were you unconscious for you got hit I
was it unconscious just for a few seconds because you know one minute I’m
kneeling I’m a lean green mean fighting machine a next moment I’m a lying down
I’m a lean mean green stalk of broccoli how much how much time had passed
between the the initial fire incoming fire and you getting hit it was really
just a matter maybe of three to five minutes okay you know I’m trying to get
guys positioned in recon we did not want to fire back if somebody you know
started firing at you they didn’t really know where you were especially with this
fire going hi and the last thing you wanted to do really was fire back was
this but now we know where they are and then they you know so the deal was not
to fire back just bring in supporting irons as quick as you could but
eventually of course the guys started to fire back
it was just a little too hot and I just thought of this I’m guessing you guys
wouldn’t carry like a heavy machine gun with you like an m60 or something no we
didn’t too heavy and and then we have two more guys tasked with ammunition
mm-hmm and you can’t really you know I’m getting all those things stuck quickly
and I need a jungle but occasionally we did occasionally the you know the
pouring water that I would get from battalion would say you know you’re
taking an m60 on this patrol bigger group had reports of X Y & Z in this
area and you might need it so great obviously somebody had a volunteer to do
that and my littlest guy and sniffing it was Mouse
he would always father carry the m60 a great kid great good never really had to
use it in the jungle which was good but Caitlyn would carry it so here you are
you’re five minutes into this gunfight you get hit you’re unconscious for a
very short period of time and then you come back to and how do you feel when
you come back again didn’t know what happened again my first thought was the
centipede thing but sounds were muffled color it was gone things were moving in
black slowly and black and white around me and sounds were very muffled by now
we they’re killer we started to come in we had a brand new second lieutenant
with us he was on his first snap-in patrol he apparently assumed command
along with my experience corporal who was my normally was the patrol leader
for this Patrol and together they they managed the situation and we got
everybody out I was the only one who wounded take that back
crew chief on the hill a copter that picked us up was wounded he was on a 50
caliber and got hit in the hand but we were the only two wounded I was the only
guy on my patrol water and the corpsman standing the same class hospital man he
kept me alive for the next four hours until I could get me then today how bad
were you bleeding apparently bled out
there’s a there’s a cavity down the center of your head call the superior
sagittal sinus it’s like an upside down triangle and it drains blood your brain
and that was nicked by the bullet it was just close enough to midline to
nikla superior sagittal sinus like murder my caramel just get bloody
battle battle dressing after battle dressing on my head
everyone my whole day needless to say we’re you like passing back out and then
waiting back out I was I was I remember I knew I could hear the helicopter
coming in and I knew we’re about to break out of the jungle to run to the Z
the helicopter was coming in that we had been on the day before so I took all the
strength I could about to open my eyes and look up and all I saw was tracers
confirms in kind of over us from all plugs of the company Pam this is serious
you know who you’re I got a I got a some information that that your kids gathered
up and one of them one of them was a note from Captain Frederick Rick Jay
Wilson the third and he woke this little kind of description of what happened he
says I was the pilot of the ch-46 YT TAC 13 MMH 164 that rescued your team well
you couldn’t know was that a lot of people including your recon team
responsible for getting you to the hospital I vividly remember the mission
because my crew chief was wounded that’s the guy you just talked to help he like
you also survived and prospered he and I received Silver Stars for our actions
that day you tend to remember things like that I flew 928 missions in Vietnam
and didn’t have one was my hairiest I first heard that your team was in
trouble and you were wounded when I was landing at the neighing hospital with
another medevac because of your head injuries I was able to get a corpsman at
the hospital before I headed out for the rescue it turned out to be the corpsman
Terry Daley was from my hometown of Wakefield Rhode Island I found this out
20 years later when Terry’s wife showed up at my sister’s house with an old copy
and strife that covered the mission your team evidently ran into an NVA base camp
that no one knew was there and was and was greatly outnumbered because of your
wounds and the combat situation that extraction was requested I was the
closest to the action the problems soon became apparent that the team needed to
move about 200 yards to an old bomb crater where I could land I called for
gunship support and some fast movers what I got was four flights of phantoms
dropping bombs pretty close to the team and for Huey gunships I was circling
overhead for about an hour before the team got to the only feasible landing
zone on the ridge they did a good job suppressing fire until I was landing
fortunately the bomb crater also protected me somewhat and we were
getting we were we were able to get everyone on board I was a little short
on fuel but that worked on my favor because I was also about 2,000 pounds
over gross according to my co-pilot who was wondering if we could lift off in
the meantime your team and my gunner were engaged in a firefight your team
knocked out all the windows on my bird but I didn’t object because they were
covering my butt we managed to take off and took a few
hits out on the way but thanks to the Huey’s escorting me I was able to dive
off the ridge and get out of range long story short we weren’t able to get
everyone to a hospital and the NVA got a beating so he had to like just take off
and just fly over this Ridge right his yeah apparently just kind of dove off
the ridge and you know eats food came back up I heard that this that this
thing was so riddled with bullets this helicopter was that the Marine Corps
helicopter facility was across the highway from the impossible in the neck
they wouldn’t fly it over there they call for a tug to took to tow it over
there and we’re gonna try to put that thing back in the air that day man he
continues on it this was a nice I’m taking like bits of this from a nice
letter that he wrote but he says I understand
you count that day as an alive day which is a very good thing to celebrate I was
probably one of the few Marines who enjoyed their tour in Vietnam Thailand
primarily because I was saving lives and rescue you Recon teams I also love the
flying since he would never let you fly like that back in the States one of the
best things to come out of Vietnam was the improvement of medical care you’re
proof you are proof that as the survival rates from Afghan as are the survival
rates from Iraq and Afghanistan I hope you ever wonder wonderful 50th REE
birthday happy birthday marine and that once again that’s Captain Frederick Rick
Jay Wilson the third he was the command pilot that day and a bird that told me
on the team out saved all our lives no question about we did do you guys under
the threat of being overrun at some point soon I tell the truth Jocko I have
no idea of really my memory of that day was pretty sketchy
I’d I talked to him on the phone last year and he said they had a circle
overhead for an hour because they just couldn’t set it down there was no
possible way and they estimated probably 200 NBA on the ground and that’s part of
the reason why they weren’t able to fly it back to it squadron because small
arms fire through rotor blades you know as an infantry officer I always felt
very comfortable on the ground and very exposed on a helicopter I just figure
those four things were flying magnets that made a lot of noise and but of
course the the aviators felt just the other way they were felt safe in their
bird and we never wanted to be on the ground but never I had that I feel the
exact same thing as you I don’t I just never liked any sort of machine I didn’t
I didn’t like any of them I wanted to just be on my feet exact you know and
yeah that feeling that you have an ala copter where you’re up flying and all
you see is all you all I see when I’m flying a helicopter is threats and you
know and you can’t even come close to cover law at least on the ground I can I
can cover some of the threats when you’re in an aircraft it’s like
I’m waiting to get shot – that’s what it feels like to me when you when you
remember coming to or when you remember what they do with you once you got in
the hospital you remember much of that no I
I remember the the helicopter landing because that my head bounced on the
middle damn couldn’t but someone anything my
head I remember them picking me up and put me on our stretcher because they
grabbed my belt and picked them pick up my middle and it felt like I felt like a
girl just going right through me I faintly remember the sound of hearing
this guy that sound like it was on the other side of a football field saying
negative vitals negative vitals negative vales and then the next thing I felt
this rush on my chest like that that’s okay because you know they’re getting
the heart back up checking you know oh so they were like doing CPR yeah yeah
well I was parently resuscitated three times just after the helicopter landed
at the NSA denying the hospital but my corpsman had been straddling me the
whole time in Gila copy room was pushing on a heart to keep keep blood flowing
and it was say not my best day but you know oh yeah what I’m here talking about
it so yeah that he’ll take you that might have a huge difference believe me
because there’s no reason I should be when I left Bethesda after a year my
attending physician was the chief of Neurosurgery he called me in his office
and said hey I can’t okay I wish it medicine could take credit for this but
nah he said we can’t he says I don’t know what it’s whatever you want to call
it you know karma luck God whatever you want to call it I wish it was medicine
but it’s blessing I figured he was a prettty leading expert on head injuries
how long so you you get you get to the hospital and you’re there at some point
they must have got you stabilized they must have yeah as I understood that
the the chief neurosurgeon from the hospital ship just happened to be there
that day like give it an in-service and I’m like that and
they were on me like flies on steak I just remember waking up being extremely
cold and hearing a baby cry cry and cry and cry and I said this can’t be right
I’m a man maybe I’m not here you know but sure enough it turned out there was
a farmer told me later in a couple days later that there was a baby that had
been burned you know due to a u.s. force action who was you know this was like a
ward that was a tensive care ward apparently and there was a baby and a
couple of mama signs and the baby did cry almost all the time that’s what I
remember my troops came just say goodbye 22 of them they let him in groups of 2
all I could do was cry I just I didn’t have words for other than say he’s like
keep your head down and stuff like that but I knew by then that I had a head
injury and I knew it just slowly gone I mean no one told me you know that this
left side was paralyzed along with my right leg no one told me that it just
came to me over time when I would try to do something the only way I could get
attention so I had this perfect left paralysis down side my faith would talk
like that I’ve raised my hand they tied it down for the bed rails because that’s
all the IVs were in the right arm well I was I would helpless I I wasn’t I’ve
never been so miserable as that moment when I tied that arm down and it’s just
the trauma to your brain that it caused you to be paralyzed in your left arm and
and was your left side here my left side of my body in the right leg it was a the
bullet had blown away a 3 by 7 centimeter defect in my skull and it had
penetrated the meninges nicked the parietal lobe and the frontal lobes and
tore the superior sagittal sinus oh that’s a woman that’s incompatible with
life as we know it but Here I am telling you about it so you know one of your one of your guys
once again your your kids at an awesome job getting scattering some information
one of your guys Robert Wood daily Baird the third no and you’re a third – I’m
second okay I I fought it for some reason he says he said he thought that
you were third but yeah so he’s the third he was a Lance Corporal in first
Platoon Delta Company first recon battalion and he talks about and he
starts off kind of tell him what it was like for him to beat you and how
impressed he was with you as a leader and actually felt what you talked about
earlier was like you know that he could tell that you you cared about the troops
and then it gets to this point where he’s coming they’re coming out this
journey to say goodbye to you and so here’s what Robert Wood daily bear the
third says he says then that afternoon the team made a solemn journey to the
Naval Hospital to see the lieutenant everyone watched the scenery without
really seeing it as we rode along in a six by truck we were too worried about
him we arrived and went to neuro ward Bravo – we can only see him two at a
time and since I was new I was last I waited when my teammates came out they
looked pale then it was my turn I was nervous I entered the world ward
it was lengthy with empty racks here at the near end each rack was covered with
a crisp white sheet ready for its next visitor on a long shelf on the right
there were plastic models of planes ships and cars that the patients had
made I walked onward one of the healthier men was putting together a
model plane on the left was an ancient papasan
with white hair his beard a dirty gray contrasted with his hospital tunic a
nurse with an angelic voice attracted my attention I noticed her face firm with
conviction and wondered how I how she could work in such a tragic place she
was feeding a baby seeing that struck me deeply the baby
was burned over 70% of its body I pressed onward but paused wondering
what I should say patience filled the beds at this end of
the ward unhealed wounds burns scars and vacant stares stabbed out at me half of
a face there no eyes and no arm legs here bodies covered with gauze seemingly
mummified the morbid display made me realize how truly bad war is but the
worst was yet to come I passed Harry Mun Dorf and Rudy Seville they
were coming out somehow they didn’t look the same as when I’d seen them a short
time ago there he was in the last raft on the left he lay on his right side and
glanced up with glazed eyes when I approached a turban of bandaged bandages
covered his head his pale face showed no emotion except sadness and his eyes were
red from crying all the time we talked he stared at the airborne parachute
wings on my chest as if they were something he wanted very badly he told
me when I had first joined the platoon that he hadn’t gone to jump school yet
and that he was looking forward to it he started by saying hello Baird how you
doing I said good afternoon sir I’m fine his voice was weak like a child who was
afraid at times I could barely hear him he added again to the conversation by
thanking all of us and I replied that it had been the least we could do then I
asked him if he’d be back at recon in three months or so a tear came to his
eye and he said he would never be coming back you see he said my legs are
paralyzed I choked up and my skin crawled and I was unable to speak a
silenced cold and heavy a silenced cold and heavy prevailed finally he broke the
silence saying Baird you’re a big man and there’s something I
want you to do keep your head down there keep your head down when you’re out of
the bush this statement hit me and grabbed in my heart and I screamed
inside myself deep deep down somewhere that I never knew existed I promised him
that I would would and bid him my fondest farewell turned and walked away
I wanted to run from him from them the whole world I wanted to run past
those helpless men in those metal beds out to the street and far far away but I
kept my control and walked at a brisk pace the echoes of that scream resounded
inside me again and again threatening to tear me apart
suddenly the anguish melted away as I stepped out into the brutal tropic Sun
but the feeling that I had still ran like hot lava through my veins the ride
back home was the same no one looked at the scenery or at each other nor talked
with anyone each was involved with their own
memories of second lieutenant Charles Robert Eisenbach the second he was a man
with such a brilliant mind and exuberance to be alive now he lay in a
hospital suffering a far worse fate to him than death his once healthy body was
now frail and flimsy like a person who had always been an invalid left only was
his mind and he had too much time to think and reflect upon what had happened
and what was going to happen it was a great strain and shock to see him with
hope he will work his way back because he does have guts and what’s interesting
about that that’s a that’s a heavy you know rendering of what happened but
that’s actually from his personal journal that he kept while he was in
Vietnam those are the thoughts of whatever probably a 20 year old kid
seeing this unfold yeah well needless to say alas Carol Baird I
think he had a year of college it was kind of a platoon spokesman he became a
writer and a poet so he you know he obviously had a great command of the
English language and maybe saw some things or invented some things that
weren’t necessarily there but that was his reality that’s fine with me I can’t
can’t argue with it nothing he said in there I don’t think was untrue I was
what we call a hurt and Gator fact I remember they they told me that I was
going to an Army Hospital in in Japan well only thing I knew was that Marines
when they got wounded we anomaly went to a Naval Hospital in
Yokohama so I just pistol little hissy fit and said why are you sending me to
an Army Hospital not knowing that this Army Hospital in Camp Drake outside of
Ketchikan Air Force Base in Japan was where all head injuries what that was
their specialty was headed head injuries so they finally got a doc in there to
calm me down and and tell me how this was the place I needed to be and one
Hospital was just as good as another which of course you don’t believe when
when it’s not you your services hospital but hey you know I was 23 old kiddo and
you know I had been a naval hospitals before I had had always gotten great
care and that’s what I was expecting and it turned out this general Support
Hospital that I ended up that was first-rate I was there for like ten days
before I was a stable enough to to make the plane trip back home and interesting
place surface attendees you’re there they do any why are they doing surgeries
aren’t you or are they just trying to let you heal up they’re just kind of
letting me heal up in there they’ve started physical therapy on my had
tremendous spasms in both my legs and my in my left arm so they had physical
therapy make some braces that they put on my feet and it made a hand brace
where I was my thumb sticking out like this and one of my arm would spaz this
thing come to beat me in the high I have to hold this arm down
I was miserable there was just a young kid to like to my right who’d lost and I
was an Air Force airman and had lost her anion denying and that was just that was
this problem that was a major problem and he had been tasked to be my feeder
and my smoker you know it was a smoker that it and I would just crave a camel
and he’d have to be around to handle it because I couldn’t deal with it but
terrific kid and his and they really they took excellent care of me in this
hospital just like it did everybody else so the the spasms in your arms and legs
which we were all immediately all of us just laughed when you told that story
that is pretty disturbing but that had to be a little bit of a good
sign because some kind of spasm means that there’s some nerve signal get in
there well exactly and what it was was a screwed-up signal in always there wasn’t
you know telling the thing to do anything useful it was just you know
telling these muscles to fire you know again from the from the damage to area
in my brain as I understand it and looking back on it but that was your
where’s your mindset that you’re going now from hey I mean when you said you
were paralyzed when you initially got hit and now you know you can’t move your
leg you can’t move your every one of your legs or your left arm right right
but and what did you in your mind did you think okay I might be this might be
it you know I might be paralyzed like this forever well of course you don’t
know what the future holds I mean none of us do but the better you become the
more aware you become of your limitations and yeah you start to think
you know how long is this gonna last is this forever what am I gonna do for the
rest of my life you know you know you’re not gonna be a marine guys you know have
a job description Murray’s fruit you know in wheelchairs like that but the
one saving grace I always thought was while I’m single at least there’s not
you know a wife involved and a child on the way like most of my contemporaries
had but conversely the guys who were you know as I found out later on it
professor the guys who were married felt it was much better to be married because
you had this you know direct support system but you were coming back into and
you know you knew this woman was gonna be there they all they weren’t of course
always you know things don’t last a lot of times when you get big changes like
that in your life unfortunately but the guys were married that’ll be much better
to be married and those of us who were single that was much better to be single
but sure you say you know that’s the first question out of here your mind is
when you get to your final destination which for me with Bethesda Naval
Hospital was dot how long am I gonna be here well they don’t have any idea they
don’t know how Recovery’s gonna unwind so finally my
doctor said to me hey you could be here for two years and I can’t guarantee that
you’ll walk out even then I thought to myself oh damn he doesn’t know who he’s
dealing with my plane I got shot on a fourth of July my plan was to be back in
Vietnam by Christmas with my guys you know that didn’t work out but that was
my plan uh-huh you know and I work hard to make it happen it didn’t happen you
know a year later I walked out of there under my own power with a leg brace and
a cane and got out an ambulance and was driven down the road 95 go to the VA
hospital in Richmond Virginia where I’ve stayed to another four months but you
don’t know what’s gonna happen at here’s it’s a it’s it’s a slowly evolving you
know kind of mental process you go through yeah you hit a point I I did and
I know how the guys did too cuz we talked about this well you’d say why me
you know why me God well I just happen to me and I don’t know if other guys got
there got an answer to that question but I did I over time this answer evolved
you know and the answer was why not you Eisenbach
who are you you’re no better than anybody else I put down that little blue
planet but you’re no worse either so you’re just gonna have to go with the
punches and that’s the answer you know why not you you’re no better and no
worse than anybody else I mean that’s a little hard for I think for some people
to stomach but that was the answer I got and you know it’s it served its purpose
okay why not me this is it this is the way it
is I guess and what I yeah I just have to take it a day at a time and do my
best to get better and see where I end up and and when I get to that point you
know I’ll make decisions about what I’m gonna do for the future which I you know
I did and now I had a lot of locational counseling from the VA when I get
flushed you know out out of the service and out of the VA system I got a lot of
look like I several occasional camps I got interest tests that I take you know
because the question now is okay what am I gonna do for the rest of my life well
not surprisingly I scored highest on military officer
she I just was one of those a couple of months ago second highest was FBI agent
oh that sounds good but again they don’t have job description for guys who limp
you know and finally it is court third on teacher I said yeah that’s
interesting and that evolved and the thing about becoming a therapist and
specifically a speech therapist I had a speech defect that I just kind of
overcame myself at Bethesda by slowing down and trying to think about what I
was gonna say before I said it and I got the nickname Spock because my
speech became very delivered but when I was just spontaneous apparently and I
never heard this but my roommate would say Eisenbach
I said what he said always with that language I said what life you know we
maybe had some visitors couple of gals from people I know who are overseas him
getting up he said it was chant it was filthy that’s it
really I never heard it and I said yeah so I started to slow down myself and
fight it think about what I would say but speech therapists kind of stuck in
my mind after this vocational counseling that I got that’s eventually what I
became was a speech-language pathologist so he’s saying you’re said speech was
filthy you mean you were like swearing oh yeah oh yeah just using every filthy
word lightly like uh what’s that Tourette syndrome is that what it’s all
about so let’s enjoy it I mean I had no idea that I was doing that I didn’t hear
cuz what you just did it naturally like that’s how you talked kind of thing or
like why didn’t you remember it I know it wasn’t how I normally would speak it
was just it would just come out and totally the in a totally inappropriate
situation you’re not amongst the guys but you know amongst visitors you know
and like I said I didn’t know what’s going on but you uh you kind of glanced
over the fact that that you know you’ve got the feedback hey you can’t you can’t
stay in the Marine Corps anymore and you it sounds like you you figured that out
yourself but at some point that’s that’s got to turn into a harsh reality or
that’s what you wanted to do you’re in Vietnam your platoon commander you got
the best guys in the world and all of a sudden in one day it’s gone it’s right
it’s gone and you don’t know what’s gonna replace it but yeah eventually you
get before a physical evaluation board and what I had hoped for because most of
most of my roommates and most of the guys there I knew that had Marines they
had orthopaedic industries you know they’ve got stitched up with a machine
gun in their legs or whatever they got put on the temporary disabled retired
list that allowed you five years to regain your ability and and if you could
you you you would get a chance to go back into the Marine Corps on the other
hand if you got better the VA could drop your disability rating down so it was
kind of a double-edged sword most guys just wanted to get out but for guys like
me that they call lifers because I wanted I wanted a career right and I
argued that I could fly any desk well that that was fine but that wasn’t gonna
that wasn’t that wasn’t gonna fly I was gonna be retired but as long as I was on
the T DRL the temporary disabled retires this I thought well I got a chance but I
got a I met the VA hospital not but I’ve been through my physical evaluation
board they’ve asked me questions and I’ve got a transcript of it my doctor
submitted statements and stuff like that and they said well we’ll look at you on
the T DRL and I said great cuz I’d have five years to work myself back in the
Corps came through my loaders for retirement or came through one day and
when I was in the bleeding Hospital permanent disabled retired US no chance
of ever getting back boy yes beyond just talking about I was on the phone to the
Secretary Navy’s office which I got through to and I had some nice older
woman right there who obviously had her this story before you know I was
promised that T DRL but I’ve here I’ve been permanently retired she said well
lieutenant you’ve got to understand that you know we’ve done this a few times
before and we kind of know the the history of these kinds of injuries and
your board did recommend the permanent retired disabled this not that temporary
so you know we have to go with what they say and of course they were right
but again you know I was you know I’m right now I’m old man at 24 right and
I’m being retired excuse me I didn’t that’s not the plan but that’s how it
all worked how long did it take you to realize how long did it take you to
accept that so you you kind of got through the the why me why not bread
bread how did you how long did it take you to get through this fact that okay
now the Marine Corps your your sacred Marine Corps has has made this decision
you know I’m still thinking about some 50 odd years that’s right yeah I’m still
now I got a new why me questionnaire but no I I I adjusted I went down to
graduate school got a master’s degree in a the speech Department the University
of Florida and they weren’t quite sure what had walked through the door when
apparently when I arrived I wanted to know where the coffee mess was and
they’re all look at me like the what well you know the place where you get
you just drop in the morning get a cup of coffee and pay a dime or whatever
well we don’t know what they like that we’re gonna get one do now we do now
that’s right and most of my classes were on the third floor of this building
which had an elevator from went up to the third floor but it didn’t work
hadn’t worked in years and so I went to my advisor I said look this three
flights of stairs has killed me throughout three times a day you know we
got to get that elevator work as well can’t do it like no way hasn’t worked
since I’ve been here the prophecy I said well we’ll see about that he said well
what are you gonna do I said well I’m gonna go talk to the president the
president what President President Lee University except you can’t do that
really watch me so I did he wasn’t there but
his it’s like chief of staff was who happened to be a guy who had kind of a
an arm injury from World War two and he said well it can’t be repaired can it
that’s what they’re telling me sir is it I’ll take care well next day it was
working just fine and work for the next three years my Master’s broke down day
how uh we kind of we kind of jumped over this part how long were you in Bethesda
for total I was in Bethesda for a little over 12 months and and throughout that
time you know when you showed up when you got wounded you could move your
right your legs or arm what was the progression like getting
you back to – you know the best I goodnight yeah well it was a physical
therapy occupational therapy you know once today which I decided once a day
was good twice might be better so I argued for that and pretty soon I got
that by November my right leg had started to get remarkably better my left
leg still wasn’t real useful but that you put a brace on it and and I could
bite November I was walking not granted I had a crush on one side on the right
side a loft ran correct you know the metal things and called polio crutches
back then but I don’t know what their I called off grand crutches because that’s
a guy who invented and acquirement on my left side but I was walking you know and
of course they went back to I found dropped the corpsman and and went to two
loft grant crutches dropped the right the left one after a while back to the
right one then dropped that to a cane and the leg brace on my left and I did
fine for about 42 years that way about eight years ago my right leg decided to
take an early retirement on me and so I had to start wearing a brace on that leg
and and I was falling too much so they put me into an electric wheelchair which
is what I scoot around a house and around town and
that scooter over there is what it flies my my I will cheer it out and fly it’s
247 pounds and it doesn’t fly but that flies that breaks down into four or five
parts of my wife can do it usually by Iran of course this weekend we’ve had
the kids to help her you just throw it that back up low I know some of the
girls though speaking you’ve fallen down some of the notes had you uh wearing a
football helmet while you were down there
it sounds like that made of quite an impact on some of the places that you’d
visit with your football helmet on well you know I was falling when I started
that you know walk independently at the hospital and I had a left foot drop
which means the brace was supposed to bring it up so it clears all the little
obstacles and there you don’t have to pay attention to when you got to good
feet but I would fall into elevators because they wouldn’t re-exam
and I’d fall into everybody in there so eventually I started they get they say
you need a football helmet yeah because you got the right right I’ve got I’ve
got a defect up there you could put your hand in my defect and take it take my
pulse just like this where I squeeze hard the thing would pop up but wouldn’t
you get a titanium plate in there oh that was after about a year at the end
of them a year they waited a year before they put a plate in your skull because
it was considered at a minute the contaminated ruled I’m not sure what
that meant to the medical people but it meant to me it meant you waited a year
and put the plate in but so this football helmet my dad got it from the
University of Delaware where he worked and it was blue with you if I’m Michigan
saying with you know yellow stripes so in occupational therapy I got a can of
olive graft painted with my makeup you did everything with my lab I spray
painted this thing I loved rap my roommate at the time he had been there
long and I had and apparently I was the the perfect roommate for him because I
had lost my sense of smell and taste and apparently he’d been in a body spica
cast from here you know dad it was nice for like six months and he stunk to high
heaven so I didn’t smell up so I was probably the perfect his sister got this
button book where you had a blank button and a bunch of things you could put on
the button and but it also had some you know bullet holes with the shattered
glass strike Thanks so I pull post on the front of the front of the of the
football Hamlet and and I had a a little badge
well maybe three inches around said my head is a depressed area and I’d wear
that on my mom my bathrobe around the hospital my guy
nobody would drop and look at me I’d read that look at me at home and they
just they can’t move up out of the way they didn’t want to mess with this guy
he might have been crazy dark dark humorous popular we are family well dark
humor you know it Bethesda at that time there was probably all always about a
dozen of us young lieutenants you know between the 8th floor and the 14th floor
of the Roosevelts erection the tower anyway and we had we didn’t know it at
the time but we had a great group dynamic going on there was always
someone who was worse off than you so when you started to feel sorry for
yourself I started to get down your buddies would come in as hey what about
you yeah what about ice Mike over there what about but Tucci over here so-and-so
Smitty hmm and and sure enough there was always somebody better off that he was
putting up the good fight so you know you never got too down on yourself those
are those are important lessons that you know for life right you bet you bet I
mean we can complain I’ll be there for I’ll be the person complaining about oh
I oh I I jammed my finger and I want that about it cuz I can’t do something
that’s like no what you need to do is be quiet and as I always say do what you
can you know your can so you get down somehow I’ll go back to college you got
the elevator work it you got a and how long does it take you
how long it can take to get your your doctor would you get your doctorate in I
got my doctor and speech-language pathology you know with a minor in
psychology but at first I had to get the master’s and I I’m not sure how the
University of Florida looked at my transcript from the Naval Academy and
how they factored in you know weapons the navigation and and course like that
I thought I took but I had to do a whole lot of a undergraduate courses before I
could you know move into the graduate level course so it took me I think about
three years to get the master’s degree going to school full-time and the VA was
you know picking up the tab for that VA it’s been very good to me I’m very good
and I know there’s a lot of complaints out there about the VA and I’m sure some
of them are warranted to some degree or another but you’ve got to understand
with the VA you know it doesn’t happen yesterday doesn’t happen five minutes
from now it happens it’ll happen down the road
but as long as you you know check every box and go from a B C D and try to jump
from A to F you know it’ll all work for you mm-hmm great outfit at what point
did you meet meet Jerry I met sherry after I had my master’s degree and I
worked for a year down in Orlando at an Easter Seals community and was a great
experience my one of my little profs at the University of Florida invited me to
come back up to the Medical Center there and become one of the staff speech
pathologists at the Medical Center and I said great which so I did that Sheri was
a staff occupational therapist had an office that kind of across the hall from
me we met we met and being dull normal about these things like most men
apparently I I didn’t catch on fast enough so we had a mutual friend it
wasn’t the other master speech pathologist there and she had us over
for dinner one night great and then I still I still didn’t get it so we were
at a convention one time one summer and we were having lunch together and myself
and the other speech pathologist who was also a friend of Sherry’s and she said
Ike what do you why do you think I invited you and sherry over for dinner
you like this she said listen if you don’t when we get
back from this convention if you don’t ask her out in two weeks
she’s gonna ask you uh oh so you know I asked her out and we went out we did it
for a while and eventually you know everything fell into place with and we
got engaged meanwhile I had kind of given up on marriage I had dated a fair
amount and you know I was just running into wall after wall so but I decided
you know I want to be a dad I love kids I’d always loved kids so I went to the
Children’s Aid Society of Florida and I wanted to adopt a kid oh well back then
it and this was now the late 60s early 70s they looked at either like you had a
hole in your head of course which I did so that was okay but I’m mad but they
said look they gave me all the stuff to read and all his exercises to go through
and said yeah you come back in a couple of months and if you still want to
pursue this thing we’ll talk about it well so I did and this process took
about nine months but eventually I was approved I mean they my everybody my
family had to submit the letters and all my friends and they just they sliced and
diced me one side up one side and down the other cuz they weren’t gonna let one
of their kiddos get in a home some kind of freaky guy yeah and which you totally
understand but getting engaged all that went away you know if you’re gonna get
married that’s what they want they wanted obviously a two-person situation
for their kids and a staple so if you got engaged or something like that
during that this process it was over but I had been accepted and sure enough as
soon as we got engaged I call my caseworker and told her just a great way
to go and book things adoptions off though okay okay that’s fine we’ll do it
the old-fashioned way which we did I did and at this time you still
suing your doctor and at this time I am pursuing my doctorate at this time
that’s right yeah and that was about seven years going to school halftime and
working halftime you know I’d get a fellowship at the VA and you know
halftime research fellowship er or clinical fellowship and stuff like that
and go to school halftime my VA money had run out by then so I was funding
this which was fine with me and then at some point you get you finished with the
marriage you get married and you start having kids this is true
Matt Matt he’s a third kid oh there we go
my time to shine yeah this is your moment
what uh what was it like for you yet growing up with the dad you know I I
don’t think it was a typical childhood compared to my friends he would charge
in her and it probably felt like 4:00 in the morning but it was probably more
like seven o’clock wake us out we’d all be out in the
hallway in line like formed up ready to go prior to school and he would you know
do what he called belly Busters that was basic morning PT with the family you
know obviously like it was very limited but we did like push-ups sit-ups jumping
jacks want to see how fast it’s about to the one thing I was they get up
yeah and so it was just like I don’t think anybody else’s kids did that at
the time yes right there you go uh-huh you would wake us up
by like playing revelry you know I knew what revelry was before I joined the
military it was it was they couldn’t chew gum it was somewhat control cast
there was a lot of discipline there that maybe other kids didn’t have we got a we
got put on restriction which I didn’t know what that was until I went to naps
and I supposed to be grounded as opposed to being grounded on restriction and
that’s just what it was called and we had to like explain what it was to our
friends and respect you what is that so we have to explain that’s being
grounded yeah he was kind of like this this a hero to like a lot of our friends
though because he was like he was really good with our friends and he was just
like kind of like a wild man he was notorious throughout the school system
of not being a guy to mess with if you were like a school administrator
I think the kids I’m not in the notes but I’ll tell this story I think it was
sixth grade and I had a friend who would get in trouble in class regularly and
you know what you know I’m the youngest kid so a lot of teachers knew who I was
and my sisters were probably better at school at that time than I was and so
you know the teacher pulls me aside one day and she’s okay you need to stop
being friends with Chino just a bad influence on you and so I go
home tell my dad that yes well we’ll see next day like it’s you know the school
that has like the loudspeaker that like clicks on from when the office calls and
I think you know one of the one of the office staff is like uh yeah mister
Schneiderman I think mister Eisenbach is here she was like oh great I’ll send
Matt down to the office and you could kind of hear it in the voice of the
office staff and they’re like no no he’s he’s here to see you and the whole class
is just like what is happening so yeah it was is clearly different you know
it’s you know the growing up with like somebody that is like the essence of the
rancor like discipline kind of like iron-fisted it’s what people think
but fair sure yeah that’s what we’re contes that’s most of the time like you
there are things that you know you just have to do because that’s way I want
them done or that’s why I’m in our house right which is like that’s what he wants
so you know you kind of had to grow up learning just to like you know roll with
that sort of stuff which is you know a lot of what you see in the military is
like we do things this way just cuz it’s the way we do it um or it’s because the
way out I want it but you know not everything is like that in the military
you know you get you know input which oh like eight years old I have a lot of
input in things but so at what point did you decide you were to go to the Naval
Academy uh like him we would schedule trips around the Annapolis area to go
visit friends and we’d wind up you know at the academy or you know we
psychological warfare right we’d go we go to San Diego for spring break and go
check check out the Naval Station things like that and so you know I’ve kind of
known for a while I hope you know I’m gonna be a pilot that’s kind of what I
want to do and I think the best way to go about that is probably good with an
able cat and so I had probably early high school
kind of had that idea in mind like him I probably wasn’t the best student ever I
got better over time but at that time I don’t really like put a lot of effort
into school and homework so I had to get out what was called Naval Academy prep
school which is just you know basically an academic year to get you ready for
the Naval Academy I found out about restriction there well I’ll tell you if
I can my one of my favorite stories about Matt was when he was getting ready
to apply for the Naval Academy you know I thought he had taken the PSAT or
whatever that is a preset and I thought well we kind of bump this up a little
bit so you know I’ll challenge him so I made a bet with our I bet I can score
higher on the SAT that you can he looks me like of course I got three heads and
14 ears oh good so I I meanwhile has
strategically bought some of these uh prep books that I was leaving around the
house what we played a win over here that’s right
yes what would he would buy into those you know he didn’t but we scheduled the
SAT and we took it man the results come back and you know you
got to be careful what you wish for I had scored a minute I had like a 650
or 750 out of 800 on the English side he’s looks he’s dead no one ever gets
750 English so that all just came back to haunt me you know I beat upon that
but Nate here you know yeah a lot of things going for him he was an Eagle
Scout he’d lettered in a couple of sports at
high school and he did he had a good interview with a blue and gold officer
fella who kind of recruits for the Naval Academy and you know around the area and
they got him all over the country probably helps that he knows all those
people too well I don’t think so but and I didn’t
know anybody on the on the admissions board it wouldn’t helped if I did you
got in there yourself but you ended up being a submariner though mm-hmm
you know the Naval Academy like any selection program is gonna be tough and
there’s only a limited number of spots and there’s you know physical
requirements after me you know I have 20/20 vision anymore so probably being a
pilot was not in in the in the works for me so I just went you know I think I got
selected as a Surface Warfare Officer and then you know I didn’t necessarily
want to do that I wanted to do something different or more challenging and so I
wouldn’t ask to be a submarine officer and you have to you have to ask to get
an interview with the naval reactors personnel and so you know I wouldn’t saw
the captain on the yard who was the head submarine officer there and you know he
looked at all my stuff and said you picked the wrong major I was an econ
major at the time and again probably to have the best grades ever but I was good
enough in math and science that he let me through onto the Naval reactors
interview so I went from there you got to go still kind of like old school
where you used to have to go interview with Admiral rickover and he’d play mind
games with you they still they keep that tradition alive
you still go interview with the four-star that’s head of naval reactors
but fewer mind games more just you know technical interview and then go and how
many years did you end up your I did 6 I got out in 2012 July of that year so
just a little over six years and so like what are you doing now I am what I call
fully retired and enjoying it immensely after after my speech pathology career
kind of it just kind of petered out here in the Pacific Northwest it’s a whole a
different atmosphere and ballgame for halide health professionals than it is
on the East Coast which was okay but so I
in about 1995 I went into selling life insurance and mutual funds which which I
enjoyed but wasn’t wildly successful at but was successful enough to you know
pay the bills and keep some income coming in but finally I I ditched that
and decided to live a life of leisure she always say but you know every day is
a little bit different you know getting up in the morning it’s not typical you
got to get braces on and and make sure you don’t fall out of bed you know one
of my theories is gravity always wins and it always does you know so and
everything’s just a little bit more difficult but it’s okay it sure beats
being a Taunton kind of looking up with the sod which is where I theoretically
should be well we are certainly glad that you didn’t end up there egg wise
and that you ended up here it’s a it’s a probably a good place to wrap it up just
awesome to sit and talk with you well likewise chuckle did you have any
closing thoughts Matt anything that I missed I don’t have any closing thoughts
well just one thought here’s it’s as you will almost always miss in the service
and frankly in any kind of industry or stuff like that and that’s the the part
that your spouse place for you my wife has been terrific over the last 41 years
she’s a the level of my life and be the mother of my children and you know I I
just I don’t think I could get through a week without her she she helps me she
points out where I’m you know turning left when I maybe we should stay the
straight and narrow you know she’s a good cook she’s pretty good at
management well and I love her dearly
well that’s that’s awesome and yeah like we can often overlook the the the
families you know whether it’s right the husband the wife the kids they all make
a huge sacrifice but for those that are still in the military you know they
always make the sacrifice we were to support you know their spouse so
absolutely to the families out there that are out there supporting the
spouses thank you to you all and sir you know it’s it’s just an honor to sit here
and talk with you and and thank you thank you for coming on the show more
importantly though obviously thank you for your for your service and your
sacrifice you as well go ahead also you yes yeah well we’re waiting on that echo everybody serves in their own way we we
you know the sacrifices that you made the efforts that you made you know it’s
what allows us to be here today as a free people doing what we’re doing so
thank you for for put your your own safety and your own life on the line for
this country and we deeply appreciate it well like you were here serve us again
and for all those out there who have served and are serving you know get
something awesome thanks like free Tibet and with that Charles Robert Ike
Eisenbach has left the building and honor to have him on to talk to hear
his perspective kind of a crazy life starting with growing up in the
Philippines yeah well the father his dad sound like
a character yeah a character he’s like yeah the he’s like from the Philippines
right but not technically Filipino so you know yeah you’re from the
Philippines like not computing it’s good interesting stuff and this is awesome
for us to sit here and of course get to get to talk with another hero another
individual that just steps up and overcomes reminding me reminding us
right that we need to do more that we can do more
is there anything echo Charles that you recommend that we should all do yeah
what is it jujitsu okay course okay I think of the
many reasons to do jujitsu I think we’ve concluded number one is that it’s fun
that should be however I don’t know if it’s the biggest reason I’m not sure
it’s the reason that will keep you with it oh yeah there’s so many strong
reasons though we’ll just say fun / beneficial here’s the weird thing like
on social media somebody asked me all these different questions mmm all these
different questions about what would you do if what would you do if you have
trouble controlling your temper do jujitsu what do you do if you have
trouble detaching or what’s your good way to learn to detach do Jiu Jitsu
what’s a good workout to start getting in shape to Jiu Jitsu what’s a good way
to let off steam and not get stressed out Jiu Jitsu you see what I’m saying
yes it’s Just Answer ANSWER Answer is your answer so yeah pretty much across
the board what we are saying do Jiu Jitsu yes when you do Jiu Jitsu you got
to have a key for sure you’re gonna need a key so when you do key this is the key
you’re gonna get or Jinky it’s not just one origin geek get as many as you want
but you have different selections what I’m saying I’m saying so one of the
reasons to get an origin key not that it’s fun it is fun to get in or Jinky
for sure it is fun to get it origins but oddly enough they’re factually the best
well more person feels when they shop yes yeah ever thought what do they call
it like some therapy like shop therapy is that what it’s called shop therapy
yeah it’s called so no well yeah I don’t know if
but it’s that situation where it’s like therapeutic to go shopping some people
just go window-shopping i think what i have you ever heard me rage against
consumerism cuz i’ll do it right now well you know by everything right yeah I
think what happens is there’s a certain level of gratification that you get from
building something making something right yes whether it’s a brick wall
whether it’s a rien drywall in the kitchen like it there’s a there’s a
satisfaction that you get from it from creating something yeah well I hate to
say it but sometimes for some people shopping starts to kind of replace that
and and you know they want to create something cool they can just click on
Amazon and it’s common and they kind of get a little bit a little dose of it
feels good yes so there is that when you buy an Origin key I will say you feel a
little bit what’s better though is when you buy an Origin key what you kind of
feel you look when you buy some random thing off of him you don’t
know where that thing came from right it you’re not connected to it no you know
you buy an Origin key you know what you know exactly what’s happened exactly
where it came from you know what it means it’s true you
know what it represents sure you know that it has so yes so it’s yourself an
Origin well what you’re talking about is completely correct what so I had both so
you know you’re taking say making something or doing something creating so
yes so this may or may not count so I switch to the dorsum doorknobs in my
house big time right you see I’m saying no but you got gratification right yeah
right satisfaction you felt good about especially you shut that door too close
to drink yeah shut solid yeah well one of them the locking thing was like
jammed up yet it was a thing it was just giving me issues like given did you
overcome this state of my doorknob that was like that wasn’t any acceptable
state okay this is in my room fixing that whole situation was like that
something that needed to be done and I did it by myself same thing with a
different doorknob it needed a lock it didn’t have a lock
okay so there’s three altogether with
different issues some saying but okay so I did it yes universally you overcame
overstatement did it gratification but on top of that I shopped for the new
doorknobs on Amazon and I got gratification from that to seem sane but
so that fact does remain but with the ghee you have that dish the additional
gratification that not of course there the best season in the world but they
are made in America imagine that like you know you’re a kid you want the best
car yes right yes but it’s hard to afford that car yeah or Jinky it’s like
oh you want the best giko you can afford yeah yeah you can make it happen
yeah or you could go get but they’re not the not best d up to you but I mean it’s
well that’s on you though yeah let’s face it that’s on you that’s not
encouraged behaved on man come on unless get your ghee
or Jinky at origin mein kampf yeah and the good thing is if you need other
clothing items outside the realm of jiu-jitsu outside the realm of keys
outside the realm of rash guards then you can get other clothing materials
such as t-shirts such as hoodies such as yes jeans american-made denim yeah
same deal and you might be thinking well why stop there don’t worry we didn’t
stop there you can get you can get boots too you can get origin boots made in
America but what you know where the leathers from though where it’s from
America you know where the stitching is from though yes it’s from America but
you know where they’re actually assembled though to be honest with you
America and and then there’s some some supplementation yeah yes the most
important kind of supplements by the way the ones that work and well in they sent
in the case of milk the kind of tastes like dessert so yes that is the best
kind supplements in my opinion but but joint warfare krill oil these are for
your joints keep you in the game that’s a big deal like doesn’t matter how much
I just yeah that is the deal it’s the deal if you’re not in the game
then you just sort of not at all yeah like you know how like you
know the kind were you like you’re super strong but like your elbows are jamming
you up so hard like right you’re not strong no anymore because your elbows
can’t take it seem sane so yeah joint warfare krill oil also discipline this
for your brain mm-hmm brain and body it’s a brand body sort of scenario look
at you becoming every day one for me by the way
oh you’re on the D train all day or we wait D plane discipline plane the D
plane who said that I think Dave Burke oh is that really
good tell use a weight good do you think I I’m pretty sure I’m not sure let me
confirm that later but nonetheless discipline free rein every day it helps
totally does how monk helps every day too especially when you’ve got that that
little post dinner do you want a little something let’s face it you let’s face
it steak is awesome mm-hmm we all know that mm-hmm but let’s just
face the facts sometimes you get done and you got that little craving yeah a
little that little want she wants something
called dessert but you know it’s not part of the plan do you know you just
not on the program you know it is not on the path certainly yes cake it’s not on
the panel but that’s okay we got you you can have dessert you get some shelf some
bulk you also for the kids warrior kid milk so same deal same thing same deal
but more engineered for the kids would you say is that safe to say engineer for
the kids so we can end engineering for the kids you know I’m not even gonna
mention it but there is an art of artifact artifacts wrong word a product
mm-hmm that I we sampled at the Vitamin Shoppe situation we allowed to talk
about this because it might be like against some big reveal plan assume
saying are you talking about milk bars it’s been revealed okay
all right there you go well nonetheless look that is gonna be like another level
even another layer of post dinner dessert situation zoom scene yeah I do
know what you’re saying because it is a candy bar that’s straight up good for
you yeah legitimately good for you oh yeah don’t
think about that doesn’t taste like this is not normal this is this is good yeah
it was different than what I was used to do for sure unless you have any you know
buddy I have of those right now I’m in smoke bars I have 200
oh you grabbed them all see that’s where they were super did those go cuz you
know I kind of wanted someone oh I never want anything like I’m always like oh no
keep it no you can have it no you know cuz alright alright that’s just my kind
of my personality like I don’t even want to have that other stuff ya know I they
were like oh oh I took them all I put them all right in my car okay all right
all those no you did the right thing I don’t want to become over building a
plant take make them yeah cuz no one could make what we wanted yeah okay cool
you can’t figure it out cool watch this Bouldin bars
many more bars this you need anyway so yes so mote bars not not currently
available but on the horizon on the horizon choco whitey is available right
now yes if you need something organic in your life because you want to feel like
one of those people that is you know healthier healthier than you are now you
can come back at them what’s almost it’s that organic actually yes it is
otherwise I wouldn’t put it in my body a certified organic what step so there you
go and by the way this stuff is all available at the Vitamin Shoppe
nationwide which is pretty it’s convenient bottom line yeah and the only
that’s not a little troubled with convenience right because convenience
all of a sudden you know what is there a slippery slope to McDonald’s no there’s
no don’t let that happen yes sir also we have a store called
Jacko’s store they always said yes we have a store we do but it’s not just you
and me it’s all of us we the whole collectively everyone here as a store of
your own store yeah our own store mm-hmm we could have called it that but we
didn’t think of that back bed a store or just you know our store the trooper
store for people that are just getting after it anyways if you if you’re
getting after it maybe you need a rash guard maybe you need a t-shirt maybe
need a hat if your echo you don’t need a hat cuz he doesn’t wear a hat
no very early I’ve never seen you with a hat not even for one second not even in
the cold weather no I don’t think wait maybe I send you an origin beauty I
think you’ve never seen me in cold weather oh yeah you thought I was cold
weather 1900 yeah you must add a hat on out there I don’t know if I didn’t know
yeah I had a beanie oh yeah you ready oh and the last chocolate or calm yes
represent while you’re on the path that’s where you get all this cool stuff
also subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already I think it’s important
varying levels of importance but yeah do it leave a review if you in the mood
it’s kind of cool it’s kind of a cool thing to do to kind of like just confirm
where you’re at in your mental space mmm I think they’ll forget about the
grounded podcast which is part of the deaf core network you didn’t know about
that did you we got a whole network called the deaf
core network yeah we’re building a network sure we got free podcasts on it
Jaakko podcast grounded podcast and warrior kid podcast yeah you can
subscribe to all of them if you want or non of them whatever you can also check
out warrior kid soap at Irish Oaks Ranch calm there’s a kid who’s been a warrior
kid since day one in the game and guess what he makes his own soap from goat
milk goes that he raised and we have a new soap a new soap it’s called well
it’s got some active ingredients that help fight against bacteria I don’t even
know what I’m talking about well microbial microbes yeah those
funguses fungi fungi yeah all these things all these things all those things
need to be defeated so we have a soap and it’s called killer soap and if you
use it it will help you to also YouTube YouTube cannot be interested in the
video version of this podcast or excerpts from the podcast you don’t
necessarily want to watch the whole thing all at once
all the time or let’s just say you might think that the world would be better
place if as the world unfolded and things happened that part of the world
exploded or caught on fire yes cuz echo because he has command of virtual
reality he can make my words make things explode he can make my my kettlebell
make things blow up yes he can make his own magical powers be revealed in forms
of like sparks if I’m so inclined yes so that’s echo Charles he may not be able
to control everything in the world but on the jaakko youtube channel he can
make things happen yes sir in video why sure I having these
explosions in a while but you know yeah we’re gonna continue that from time to
time I think I hope we also got an album called psychological warfare it’s a
little psychological hitter if you need a little bump to get you over a bump you
can check that all on iTunes Google Play or any mp3 we got flipside canvas comm
where Dakota Meyer is making visual representations of discipline pure
distilled onto a canvas that you can then hang on your wall and it will keep
you on the path also got a bunch of books leadership strategy and tactics
real manual way the warrior kid got three of those books got Mikey and the
dragons for the little kids got to discipline equals freedom Field Manual
the audio version of that is a is on iTunes and Amazon music and Google Play
as an mp3 we got extreme ownership and the
dichotomy of leadership the fundamentals of combat leadership that I wrote about
with my brother lave babban we have a shell on front which is our leadership
consultancy and what we do is we solve problems through leadership go to a
tional on front comm if you need to help in your organization with that we got EF
online which is online leadership training
get you up to speed as a leader go to EF for that we’ve got the muster
which is our live conference gathering seminar I got to think of a better word
cuz it’s better than all those three things every one that we’ve done has
sold out this year we are doing Orlando we are doing Phoenix and we are doing
Dallas if you want to come go to extreme ownership calm every one of these that
we have done has sold out and these are gonna sell out too so get there earlier
and also if you need leaders at any level in your organization check out EF
overwatch comm for executive leadership check out EF Legion comm for frontline
leadership these are our platforms to connect the vets that have experience
leading with companies that need experienced leaders go check out those
platforms also wanted to say talking to Ike asking him about any charities he
wanted me to mention and he said the Semper Fi fund which does a bunch of
stuff for Marines for marine families for Marines that are transitioning
outside out of the middle out of the Marine Corps and also helps them out
with their health and wellness so that’s Semper five fund org and also
he wanted you to check out the Fisher House which is when troops get wounded
and they’re in the hospital for an extended period of time the Fisher House
provides them with a place to sit provides their families with a place to
stay in the area so it’s Fisher House dot org it’s a grip both these
organizations are great organizations so check those out and if you feel like you
want to hear more from echo and I you know for whatever reason if you want to
throw a correction at us if we made a mistake which is entirely possible we
probably need it well we’re there we’re all on the interwebs and we’re also on
that means we’re on Twitter we’re on Instagram and we are
on the frozen bunk then you can find echo echo Charles and I am at Jocko
willing and thanks once again to Charles Robert Bobby Bob Eisenbach
Ike an absolute honor to meet with him today to talk to him and hear his
incredible story of service to America and the rest of the veterans out there
that are on active duty the ones that have already retired that’s left the
service all of you that have put on the uniform thank you for your service and
of course the same goes out to our police and law enforcement and
firefighters and paramedics and EMTs and dispatchers and correctional officers
and Border Patrol and Secret Service you take other care of us here on the
homefront and you are appreciated as well and to both those groups thanks to
your families for the support that you give to the folks that are wearing the
uniform and everyone else out there you know when you think about when you think
about the challenges that you face that I face that we all face what challenges
are we up against what what external power is trying to hold you down go
through your little battle your little battle in the world and then if you can
you can remember you can remember someone like Ike then you can remember
what he did facing these challenges shot in the head a wounded paralyzed
hospitalized and you know what any one of us can fold under those challenges of
life you can do that you can fold you can give in or
you can do what I did then what I does every day which is take on those
challenges by getting out there and getting after it so until next time this
is echo and Jocko out

45 comments on “Jocko Podcast 218 w/ Ike Eisenbach: Pinned Down, Shot in The Head, Still Winning

  1. John Gonzales Post author

    Itโ€™s a SIGN OF THE TIMES!!Warfare IN Vietnam was night & day compared to all other campaigns,Desert Shield/Desert Storm,Iraq,Afghanistan.Triple canopy jungles compared to wide open desert & mountainous terrain!!The MINDSET of warfare compared from then til now again night & day.This day & age BODY COUNTS of U.S.seviceman arenโ€™t being aired on the nightly news nor is the mindset of HUMAN WAVES or expected casualties.As times change so does warfare!!๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

  2. James G Post author

    Boring!!!!!!๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ก!!!!๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿ˜ก!!!!!๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ !!!!!

  3. Susano Post author

    thank you jocko for sharing your life experiences and your advice..I'm from Brazil and you have been helping me a lot!๐Ÿ’€๐ŸคŸ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

  4. Irish Technical Thinker Post author

    Good evening! This is the type of storytelling, by the crackling fire that snaps golden embers as we all sit together. Just listening.

  5. The Chin WARRIOR Post author

    Who actually took the time out of their day to THUMBS DOWN this Excellent Podcast?! You must have never worn the Uniform!! Iraq Combat Veteran 06โ€™- 08โ€™ !! THUMBS UP PEOPLE!! GET SOME!!!

  6. Raidas Eidukaitis Post author

    โ€œYouโ€™re not going to find happiness. You have to make it. So get out there and make some happiness.โ€ ๐Ÿ†
    – Jocko

  7. Chloe Hennessey Post author

    My brother got his class ring from West Point this year. Iโ€™m so proud of him!
    You guys telling stories gives me a little insight in to what goes on.

  8. Wesley Bradshaw Post author

    Anyone know how a 90% disabled vet can get an attorny to work on his child support? He's never missed a payment a day in his life but doesn't have the income to keep paying the old rates from when he was active and working. His name is Joshua Ovitt, E7 US ARMY 16.5 years and he was just discharged last year. The VA can't help him with a Civil case and the court facilitator literally told him to just go be a door greater at Walmart. He resides in Pennsylvania and the case is in Washington. Any advice at all on what he can do will help, I'm literally begging here.

  9. Ricky Taufa Post author

    Funny, I finished this episode on the stitcher podcast app, but I always end up coming back to YouTube to listen and watch the visuals as well. Love it. Can't wait for the next episodes. God Bless yall. Oorah๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฝ

  10. Paul Raver Post author

    Especially during somewhat older wars, it is usually the Plt LT, Plt SGT and a CPL that clear houses and can make or break an engagement.

  11. andthecowsaysmoo4 Post author

    Jocko looks, sounds, thinks, and behaves like I imagine the lovechild of Captain America and Thanos would.

  12. Ivy Stiles Post author

    Jocko, always challenged by your podcasts. Please allow me to offer a critique of your analysis of Marine officers' casualty rates during Vietnam; I offer this based upon a study I undertook last year looking at every Marine & Navy name listed on the Virtual Wall from the initial entry to 1968. I was awestruck at how many Marine aviators were killed, some were fixed wing but the majority were chopper crews. Not all were shot down, some crashed for mechanical reasons, during the early fielding of the CH-46, several fell apart in mid-air. I in no way mean to denigrate the bravery of the leadership of combat arms Marines, just wanted to offer up the bravery of Marine aviation.

  13. Peter Roszell Post author

    Jocko, you've gotta get this gentleman on the podcast (General Spaulding) re: the cyber war with china.

  14. Balthazar Post author

    Hey Jocko, do you plan on having Jonny Kim on in the near future? I remember you tweeted that it would happen following his astronaut training.

  15. Matthew Kolb Post author

    Capturing these stories while these men are still alive is a true service to this country and its history. You da man.

  16. Roy Kaufman Post author

    I can follow – the SEALs I went through airborne school it was a joke. I made friends with those guys.

  17. Dan G Post author

    This was amazing. I listened to this at work today and the time fly by. Ike and Jocko had such a good reporte.

  18. Benjamin Goulet Post author

    Thank you sir for your service.

    what a fucked up war honestly from all of my gathering at 34 years old. I canโ€™t even imagine. May God give you peace and rest, I closed my eyes and imagined laying there at night trying to sleep while fighter jets fly overhead… great recollection of events. Thank you again sir


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