Memories from Bob Moles 67-68


Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry

The Gunfighters


Memories by Bob Moles, 4th Platoon



Preface ...


I served from 1966 to touch-down in Fort Lewis, Washington, on September 30, 1968. Ron “Harvey” Norris, Earl Shubert and I trained together. We did infantry training and 81mm mortar training in the same units. Shubert was very young, just turning 18 before we climbed aboard the USNS Upshur. He died in 1992. Norris was older, 24, and married, and still lives in Texas.

Norris came across as a grouchy bear, but was a big softy inside. Shubert married before we went overseas and Norris' wife became pregnant before he left. I met the rest of weapons platoon from April through June of 1967, and the rest of the company as well. Looking back, we were so closely knit, it's no wonder we feel about each other the way we do.




Training with A Company was a week-long event, going out to the field on Mondays and returning to good ol’ Fort Hood on Fridays.  We practiced flying into “hot LZs” on choppers, piling out and finding cover. On one such maneuver, Fred Willard left the barrel (tube) of the 81mm mortar on the chopper.

Now we grunts had several nicknames for our platoon sergeant, Bill Lunsford. Some of those included “Frog,” for body shape, “Iron Lung,” he had one, and “Asshole,” which was our general feeling about him.  So, when Willard noticed he’d left the mortar barrel on the chopper, he turned to Lunsford and, without thinking, said,’ “Frog’, I left the barrel on the chopper”. Lunsford immediately turned and started waving at the pilot.

Later we noticed Lunsford staring at Willard; but, he never said anything and was apparently unsure of what Willard had said.

When we questioned Willard about it later, it was evident he had no idea what he had called Sgt. Lunsford.                                                                                                        Bob Moles at Ft Hood



Lunsford threw Weapons Platoon a picnic before we left for Vietnam, obviously wanting to remain in our good graces before we were issued live ammo. His wife attended. On a dare I asked Lunsford if his wife was his mother (she looked to be quite a bit older than him). He said, “Moles, that ain’t my mother, that's my “Mama”.




On Labor Day weekend, 1967, Jim Brewer and I drove my car from Fort Hood back to my parents’ home in Missouri. Brewer’s parents and future wife, Sue Jane, were waiting on us. In those days, most highways were two-lane and the night speed limit across Oklahoma was just 50 mph. We tried to run at 80 to 90 per most of the time, and were nearly always fortunate to be behind a driver going the limit when the Highway Patrol appeared. But with only about 30 miles to go, Brewer asked how much further it was--and the red lights immediately came on behind us. Try as I might I couldn't talk my way out of a ticket.




Several times throughout our tour ARVNs (soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam) were attached to our company. One such time we were walking through a village and a when we emerged on the outskirts, one of them had stolen a bicycle and was making an old mama-san carry it. This was just too much for Ron “Harvey” Norris, who walked over, knocked the ARVN on his ass, and sent the mama-san back to the village with her bicycle. For the rest of the day that ARVN watched Norris with fear in his eyes.




Sometime in July, 1968, Weapons Platoon was at a firebase way out in the boonies. We had to man all the perimeter bunkers except for one, which was full of ARVNs.


We were stretched pretty thin, and sometimes there only two of us to a bunker--meaning we had to stand a lot of hours of guard duty. The ARVNs had it a lot easier, since there were about 10 of them in their one bunker.


One night Mike Bonk walked over to their bunker and discovered they were all asleep. So a few of us sneaked in, collected their stack of weapons, and then went back in and started flipping their hammocks. The next night we tried to check on them again, but the ARVNs had learned their lesson; they posted two guards—one facing out, the other facing in.

         Mike Bonk with pipe




Every day one of the ARVN went to a nearby village and brought back cokes to sell. Initially they were $.50 apiece, but then he began charging $.65 and finally $.70 or $.75 each. I wish I could remember who had the good idea, but I can't. Regardless, he collected our empty bottles and put them in a pile in the middle of the LZ. (I'm sure all of you will remember that in Vietnam the bottle was worth more than the contents.)

When the ARVN came to collect the bottles, our man said, “From now on we pay $.50”. When the ARVN told our guy no deal, one bottle went flying over the hill to the rocks below. By now the ARVN was squealing like a pig. When he said $.65, bottle number two sailed away. In no time at all, cokes were back to $.50.




Once, at Tam Ky Airstrip, before heading out for Que Son Valley, Mike Bonk, Rudy Lorch and I were attached to a platoon of CIDG (Civilian Indigenous Defense Group). They were reformed VC, trained by Special Forces, and a Special Forces E-6 was with them as an adviser.

CIDGs normally were stationed in their home area, and I believe these came from the village of Tien Phuc. Most of them carried rifles with cut-off stocks and 30-round banana clips. They shot on full auto.

The E-6 gave this advice to us: If they run you run with them, don't fall behind, and don't ever get out in front of them, because within 50 yards they will shoot anything that moves.
One night we were dug in and sitting in our foxholes when a trip flare went off; that bunch of CIDG jumped up and ran off into the darkness yelling and firing.


I glanced over at Bonk and he just looked at me and said emphatically, “Hell no,” so we just sat there.


                                                                                                                                  Robert M. 'Rudy' Lorch

Bob Moles

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