Stories by Gerald Burleigh
    One night on ambush on the Grand Canal I was on second watch.  I was asleep. I woke up hearing whispers coming from up in coxian flat.  So I got up to see what was up.  I crawled up in Coxian Flat and Boat Captain said Ebert saw three V.C. on the bank that we were tied up to.  Boat Captain told Ebert to go into Weldeck and man the 50 Cal. Machine gun and for me to get in my gun mount. When he popped the flare Ebert was to open up with the 50 Cal. and me with the M 60 if we saw the V.C. But before the Captain could pop the flare Ebert opened up and killed 3 V.C. pigs.  How he saw anything through that thick bamboo I do not know.  The pigs were on the other side.  This guy was more dangerous to us than the V.C.  He would fall asleep on his watch so I learned to sleep with my ears open.  I could hear a cat walking on carpet before I left from over there.
    At a little base camp on So Vam Co Dong River at Go Dan Ha SVN they had this South Vietnamese Barber about 6' tall that would cut the sailors hair and would trim around your face with a straight razor.  I noticed he never said a work but was always listening.  We left that area for about 3 months.  We ran into some boats that had just come down from that base.  As we got to talking, I brought up the barber for some reason and one of the guys said "oh, you didn't know we killed him trying to overrun the front gate one night."  I kind of swallowed hard thinking that I had a V.C. cut my hair and trim my face with a straight razor.  You never knew who was who over there.
    While we were working out of Go Dau Ha, we had only been in Country a few weeks, so a LTJG Pra said he was going to take us under his wing (he was there a month longer than us). We went out on patrol with him one night. We were patrolling south of town on the river when we were ambushed. He got so rattled that he had the map upsidedown and called artillery to the north side of town.  I'm glad we didn't need help in the firefight.  This was just the beginning of his "good" leadership.
    In the area where the water was clear we would swim around the boat.  On the sides of our boat and behind the bar armor was styrofoam.  Sticks and things would gouge out small holes.  As we swam we would see small green snakes in some of these holes.  They looked like our non-poisonous green Garter snakes.  It wasn't until some time later when we had S. Vietnamese sailor trainees on the boat that we asked one of them if the little green snakes were poisonous.  He said, "bite you, maybe you die."  The bamboo vipers  were deadly.  We even had a few get on the boat.
    I had a hole in the port exhaust just above water level and the port engine kept breaking alternator belts.  I would let a couple of these belts lay on the deck plate in the engine room before I would throw them away.  One day I just opened the engine room hatch and without turning on the light, I reached down and grabbed a handful of broken belts but one of the belts was soft.  It didn't take me long to turn loose and turn on the light.  What looked like a pile of broken belts had a dead black snake among them.  A green snake had crawled through a hole on the exhaust and fell in the bilge and got black oil all over it and died on the deck plate.  I always turned on the light after that.
    My first night on the boats in Viet Nam we were tied up to Mother Ship USS Benawea.  We were about 3 or 4 boats in.  I was standing watch.  It was a clear night and I was watching the stars.  I noticed several shooting stars that looked kind of funny; there was a sputtering  instead of a tail.  A couple of minutes later the ship opened up with Quad 40 mm.  I was watching mortar rounds going over the ship and hitting Do Tam Base on the other side.  Learned something new everyday.
    Our division was leaving Do Tam and going up close to the Cambodian border near Chau Doc. Half of the boats were to leave one day and the other half the next.  We drew LTJG Pra again to lead our group (what luck).  He had been harping all week that he had been brushing up on his map reading and hoped all the boat captains had.  Well the boats that left the day after us got there a day ahead of us.  We didn't know if we were in Cambodia or not; he had us lost.  We were at GQ the whole time.  They had to send a helicopter out to find us.
   We were setting ambush one night on the Grand Canal and were tied up to some trees.  About dark we heard someone laughing in the trees but couldn't see any Hootches around so we called in for clearance to fire.  We shot M - 16's and the laughter got louder.  We shot some  M 60 and 79 rounds at the sound, still the laughing got louder.  We shot some 20 mm and still we heard the laughing.  We figured it must be a recording after all we shot in there.  The next morning one of the STAB boats stopped and checked the site out.  They found a hootch in the trees we couldn't see and a Vietnamese dead drunk.  The hootch was shot all to pieces and not a hair was harmed on the drunk...go figure.
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