MARINE CORPS TANKERS VIETNAM HISTORICAL Foundation's
Vietnam Personal Accounts
How I Ended Up in Vietnam
by Richard 'Ric' Langley
3rd Tanks, Charlie Co., July 1966/August 1967
Here is a brief history of how I ended up in Vietnam.
In January 1966 I was drafted, along with many others, into the Marine Corps. I completed basic training at San Diego and then tank school at Del Mar.
I left the states on July 5th 1966, for WestPac. Upon arriving in Vietnam I was assigned to 1st Plt. “C” Co. 3rd Tanks which was located at Phu Bai, South Viet Nam. Two weeks later I was in a Jeep riding shotgun with the Co. 1st Sergeant heading for Dong Ha and the 3rd Tank Bn.. Almost as soon as I arrived we were ordered to move North in support of Operation Hastings. The tanks and crews were loaded on LSTs for the trip. They were an number of extra crewmen. Since I was a ‘FNG’ I got to take the Jeep ride north for a sight-seeing tour of the country side. Upon on arriving we set up at Dong Ha and began operations.
My platoon took part in all the major operations in and around the DMZ. We were the first tanks to disembark at Dong Ha, the Rock Pile and Con Thien. A lot of our time was spent at Cam Lo, Gio Linh and Camp Carroll.
I was wounded in early March 67, in the Con Thien area. At the time I was wounded we were ambushed and took several RPG hits one penetrating the turret killing the gunner and starting a hydraulic fire that we were unable to control. When I returned from the hospital ship things did not change.
We spent most of our time in the field moving from firebase to firebase doing what ever they ask of us. In late July 1967, I was in Dong Ha waiting for my flight date when an artillery attack at Con Thien killed four members of then 4th Plt. “A” Co. and wounded several others. The next morning as we were hauling ass for Con Thien I was in a shot up tank with two guys who just arrived from the States . I spent the next couple of weeks in the deepest bunker that I could find on that hill.
My rotation date finally came and I was outta there! Things were coming down hot and heavy and I had stretched my luck to far already. I spent 13 months and 13 days in Vietnam.
I served with the greatest guys in the world, some I still keep in touch with some of them. I have tried to find others but have not been successful. I have only fond memories of those I can’t locate.
During the time I spent with 1st and 4th Plt. we had eight people killed, some very close friends. I believe everyone else was wounded at one time or another.
Some times I think it was the worst time in my life and other times I think it was the best. I do know one thing for sure it was the most intense time in my life. Forty years sure has gone by fast, seems like yesterday.