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Looking at Dead Guys

by Tony Swindell, Combat Correspondent, 31st PID, HHC 11th LIB

I left LZ Bronco and the 11th Brigade and DEROSED at Cam Ranh Bay in late August 1969, the same place I arrived a year earlier. I came in on a Flying Tigers DC-8 stretch jet with no internal compartments, and went out on one. The trip home was non-stop 18 hours to Ft. Lewis, and all we had were cold hot dogs and warm Cokes, and those ran out quickly. I didn't know a plane could stay in the air that long. The pilot made a circle around Mt. Rainer, then got on the intercom and said, 'You're home now, guys'. It was deafening inside the DC-8 after that announcement. I remember a group of us heading for a mess hall for some real food, and saw guys in khakis and dress greens doing KP duty. They were waiting for a flight to Vietnam, just like we had done. Made me sick to my stomach, because I knew some of them wouldn't be coming back on a Freedom Bird. I couldn't even look at them, even though they were staring at us. You knew exactly what they were thinking.

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