Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry

The Gunfighters


Memories by Jim Fontana, 1st Platoon



I remember one day crossing the
Pacific Ocean on the USNS Upshur, we were being hit by large waves. At first we were up on top playing with the waves as they were coming in over the bow of the ship. But then they got a little too close together; I don't remember who it was, but some guy got washed down onto the deck and split his head open, so they made everybody go downstairs.

They started showing us a movie,
Texas Across the River, with Dean Martin.

During the movie we must've gotten hit by a wave sideways, because after it hit the ship everyone watching the movie was rolling around on the floor, even the screen and the projector fell over. I learned later, when we got to
that we were like 2 from the ship rolling completely over.




On the ship, people were always getting seasick. In fact, a lot of people, especially at first, carried paper bags with them.

Dennis Roberts I used to stand outside the head and as someone would be coming out, someone that we knew and recognized, Roberts would suddenly say, Look out! Look out! Hes about to throw up.

And I would head straight toward the guy, put my hands over my mouth and suddenly make a loud burping noise. The guys would jump back like crazy. It was hilarious.

One of the guys in our company when we did it to him, he literally threw me up against the wall because he thought I was going to vomit on him. Roberts and I thought it was really funny, but a lot of the other guys apparently didn't.



Shortly after the battle began, when 1st Platoon got back to the cemetery where mortars platoon was, I almost blew the heads off John Carlson and somebody else when I started shooting again. I started firing over their heads and they were in front of us. They were screaming and yelling because I almost nailed them. (Sorry John.)

After we secured the area and were shooting out into the rice paddy at NVA, I looked over at Donnie Kaiser and he had blood all over his face. About that time I picked off a gook in the paddy at about 200 yard or something, and Kaiser gives me the thumbs-up cause hes all doped up on meds. He said, H-e-ey Dead-eye. At the time, it was funny.





I lucked out and got a job in the rear in early March 1968, not long after the ambush at

Lo Giang(1).  


I kept telling our Company Clerk, Harry Thompson, that I wanted to say this one thing to our Puerto Rican top sergeant, 1st Sgt. Miguel A. Rodriguez. Thompson kept telling me not to, that Top might send me back out to the boonies.

But finally one day I stood up from my desk in the Orderly Room, stretched and said, I think I'm going to go to the shitter and take a Puerto Rico.

Tops head immediately snapped up, but then he began laughing.

Often, after that, he would stand up and say, I thenk I go the shitter and take me a Guinea.

A while after that I told Thompson I had something else I wanted to say to Top. Thompson again warned me not to, but I had yet to learn a lesson. So one day in the orderly room I stood up and said, I think I'm going to go to the shitter, take a Puerto Rico and wipe my Rodriguez.

Again, Tops head snapped up, and he looked at me, and then he started laughing his ass off.

From then on he would say, I gonna take me a
Guinea and wipe my Foontana.


Jim Fontana

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