My First Day in the Field (The Jungles of Vietnam)
By Louis Ferrari, Army
Writing Type: Prose
By Louis Ferrari
I was drafted during the time our country was fighting in Vietnam. After basic training, I was sent to advanced infantry training. I got a leave to go home before going to Vietnam. My company in the First Cavalry Division was on a landing zone (LZ), where a small base is set up and where soldiers get artillery support from howitzers when coming into contact with the North Vietnam Army and Viet Cong.
One morning, we all were given our supplies -- water, ammo, food, and a few other items. Our packs could weigh anywhere from 55 to 70 pounds. The temperatures were always over 90 degrees, with the humidity around the same percentage. Though most of the time we traveled by helicopter, that day we walked off the LZ into the jungle. While training in the states, we learned about weapons and got physical training. Yet I never had a pack on my back with any weight until I got to Vietnam. So here I was, thousands of miles from home, with a heavy pack on my back, with temperatures and humidity in the 90s, out of the LZ, thinking “I have to do this one whole damn year!”
Thank God for being pretty fit then. While we were walking in the jungle, we all were pretty much soaked with perspiration. Nobody wore underwear. Wearing that would just make you wetter.
While walking, I came upon a small log. Trying to go over it, I must have been pretty tired, and I did not lift my foot high enough. I tripped over it and landed on my face. I didn't get hurt. A few soldiers helped me up. I heard someone radio a call up ahead and say, “Let's take a five-minutes break. We got a new guy down.”
I thought to myself, “Wow, these guys are some companions.” That caused me to feel good. We then set up for the night. Aside from being awakened for guard duty. I slept pretty well. So that was my experience of my first day in the field in Vietnam.