MARINE CORPS TANKERS VIETNAM HISTORICAL Foundation's

Vietnam Personal Accounts

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Coming Home

by Lloyd "Pappy" Reynolds © 2008

 

     Having arrived in Vietnam in December of 1966, I was due to go home in January of 1968.

     In December of 1967 my Platoon moved from the "Rockpile" to Camp Carroll just before Christmas.

     I had gone to see the First Sergeant about extending my tour. Then we went out on a sweep and ran into some heavy fighting. When we returned to the Company C.P. the First Sergeant asked me if I still wanted to extend. I said "Hell No!" Some of the Marines that had come over on the same ship that I did had by then gotten their orders back to the states. I didn’t (probably because of my stuttering extension). Off I go to the First Sergeant again. Next thing I know I get orders to report to Third Tank Battalion H.Q. to see the Sergeant Major. There I get orders to go home and await further orders.

     Now I’m off to Okinawa. Wow now I think I’m on my way. Well not so fast.

     When I had re-enlisted to go to Vietnam in October 1966 I got orders to report to Staging Battalion at Camp Pendleton. There I was told they had no uniforms for me, so I was issued a set of "Whites" and put on Mess Duty until I could get uniforms.

     Every day I checked in at the Company Office to see about uniforms. One day I’m in there and the Gunny hollers at me "Hey Marine where in the hell do you think you are! In the "Horse Marines?". Well as I had served in the Fourth Marines as a grunt from 1960 to 1962 and I had on Cowboy Boots (remember no uniforms or boots available). I told him "Why, yes I did serve in the "Horse Marines". He kinda went high and to the right. We promptly went over to supply, and guess what they produced enough uniforms to get me to Vietnam. Sox, skivvies, T-shirts, boots, utilities, and khaki’s. No Greens or dress shoes.

     Now I’m in Okinawa and it’s December and the uniform of the day is "Greens". I don’t have any. Cash sales doesn’t have any. The Px doesn’t have any, (they did have Dress Shoes though, but not my size. I bought some anyway). After begging some of the other Marines going home I managed to scrounge a set of "Greens" (none of which was my size and if it came to an inspection I would have done it in alphabetical order). All this took a few days but now I’m on my way.

     I get a military flight right to El Toro in Southern California only about thirty miles from home (my parents whom I haven’t told I’m coming). After customs, I get a cab to take me to Arcadia, CA. We get there and my parents are not home. He doesn’t have change. So he takes me to a Liqueur Store where I get a bottle of Southern Comfort and change. He takes me home and I give him his $50.00. Into the garage and start on the bottle. It’s a week night about 2100, my parents aren’t home, I’m half splattered, so I walk down the street to find a house with the light on so I can use the phone to call my ex-wife to find out when I can see my daughter. I find a house, explain my situation and make a call. She’s not home. At the house the people tell me there son is in the Army in Vietnam and had just gotten wounded a few days before. The father and I swap war stories and his liqueur. When I leave I kinda crawl back to my parents house. There home, (found my Seabag and half a bottle of Southern Comfort) welcome home son and then I just kind of pass out.

     The next day I get a good breakfast before they both have to go to work. Clean up my act and again try to get a hold of the ex-wife. Get the ex-mother in law and a song and dance. (This is for a whole other story.)

     That night I figure I’ll go out and have a few. Put on my (ill-fitting) "Greens" and do the town.

     Borrow my father’s car, and off I go. I hit a few Bars and there is nothing exciting, but then I get in this one place and every one starts buying me drinks. Hey wow this is for me! After a while I go back to the Pool Table where some guys are shooting pool. Get in a game and this one guy say’s he’s a Marine (Reserve). After some talking, things just didn’t sound right. His answers sounded phony. I have a few more drinks and leave. As I’m leaving I notice this car following me. As I turned down the street of my parent’s house it was still behind me. As I sped up he turned off his lights. I pulled in behind my parent’s house and ran inside and got my pistol. I got back outside and hid in the bushes just as he pulled up across the street (with his lights off). He got out of the car and came across the street to the edge of the driveway. I'’m hiding in the bushes beside the house and I’m thinking, "two more steps and he gets three center of mass". He just stood there for what seemed like and hour but was probably only a minute or two. Then he turned and left. To this day I don’t know if he was just trying to see if I got home safe, or just maybe wanted to talk with me, or meant me harm. All I know was that he was just about two pounds of trigger pull away from getting killed. I’m just glad that he walked away.

    Two nights later my parent’s took a female friend and me out to dinner. They wanted to go to a place in Hollywood. They had requested that I ware my (ill-fitting) uniform. So we went to dinner in Hollywood. We had a good dinner and as we were leaving the restaurant a hippie type kid comes up to me begging. I told him to shove off and get a job. The asshole called me a baby killer and spit at me. Next thing I knew, I had him by the stacking swivel and ass and was propelling him towards a store window. The only thing that stopped us was my father getting me in a bear hug. Last I saw of him he was running down the street holding his neck and cussing at me.

     The rest of my leave was uneventful. I finally got orders to report to Fifth MP Battalion at Camp Pendelton. (Me an MP?) The day I reported in I got a ticket from the base MP’s for running a stop sign. (It was hidden behind a tree.) I asked the "Skipper" if he could fix it for me. He said, "Fix it yourself Sergeant Reynolds." I did later that night. I went and cut the tree down. Still had to pay a fine for the ticket. Don’t know what would have happened if I had gotten caught cutting down the tree.

WELCOME HOME MARINE.