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Tom Skiens, 2/09

These pages were developed from approx. 11,000 pages of daily staff journals. I collected the first journals by buying about 1,500 pages from the national archives in hard copy at about .07 cents a page. I kept a copy of about 500 pages of journals from Les Hines that I had worked on for him. I think I converted JPEG to PDF for him, not sure. This cost about $200.00 as I had to buy the PDF program and learn to use it. Bruce Flaherty sent me about 9,000 pages of staff journals that I believe were collected in a collaborative effort with Les Hines that was funded in large part by the ADVA. I never did get all this story from the parties involved.

Now, I need to drop backwards in time by 15 to 18 years. I was married to a girl for four years who had 4 kids of her own. I would sometimes mention John John and how someday I wanted to find out his real name. One day she offered to write our senator and ask him for the information. I gave her the information, she wrote the senator and a couple weeks later we got a reply. The senator said all I had to do was write the national archives and request copies of the S/2 S/3 daily staff journals or duty officers log, DA form 1 nov. 62 1594. I didn't know the name or date of the event I was looking for. I wrote the archives and requested Journals for the time period of Dec. 20 1967 through January 30, 1968. I had to start somewhere.

Two or three weeks later I received a package in the mail from the archives. I read several pages and then found Sgt. Paul Maddox's name. I couldn't handle any more. I put the journals away for five years or more. The next time I opened up the journals I had filed for and received a 30% service connected disability from the VA. I had promised myself that if the VA approved my claim I would become a lifetime member of the Americal assoc., the Old Guard assoc. and the DAV assoc. I saw Les Hines name in the ADVA news letter. I contacted Les and asked if he had any S/2 S/3 journals because I could not afford to buy them from the archives. Les didn't know what I was talking about so the first chance I had I went to a Mailbox store in Boise Idaho and had them copy my 1,500 pages so I could send them to les. He claimed he had not seen the journals before and didn't have any more info for me. I faded away again and for several years.

Several years later, about 1999, Don Fox contacted Les Hines looking for people from the 4/3. Les gave Don my address and he wrote me. During his hand written introduction, Don Fox, Charlie 1/1, told me about getting wounded. I recognized the event because I crawled over to him and called a dustoff. I wrote a letter back adding details he had left out like, there was a hooch over to the left and a tree line to our right front. We felt each other out. He wrote another letter about another event and I added details for that like, when we got to the body another squad had removed the gooks ear. I told C 1/1 about the staff journals because he wanted to get a copy of journals for his event on April 22, 1968. I then told C 1/1 about John John and my search for his real name. C 1/1 replied in a letter that he knew all the names of the people involved in the John John event because it was his squad and his platoon and the event was three days before he was gut shot. C 1/1 told me who John John was, I cried for a week.

C1/1 would later get divorced and turn from a person who would not say shit if he had a mouth full to someone who wrote me fuck you letters. I ignored the letters because he had found John John. I later wrote the VA several fuck you letters and helped C 1/1 go from a 70 to 100% rating. People from C 4/3 contacted me about a reunion in 2001 in Chicago. After the reunion I drove to the wall and left mementos. Then I went to NC to see C 1/1. This was about seven days before the two towers happened.

Jump to 2005. I am retired and reconnected to the ADVA and C 4/3. The ADVA , Les Hines and Bruce Flaherty are gathering the Staff Journals for all 46 months the 4/3 was in Vietnam. It seems like everyone is wanting to take credit for finding the S/2 S/3 daily staff journals when in fact they were in the archives all the time and a senator told me about them years before. Bruce Flaherty was sending copies of the journals to everyone who requested them. Most everyone was using the journals for their own purposes which include writing a book or documenting events during their tour. I received a complete set from Bruce and started to develop the SITREP's. I may be the only person who has read all 11,000 pages of the staff journals twice.

Dave Curtin AKA Finder, from C 4/3 was building a website. I start sending him info from the journals in what is now the SITREP format. I also send him the dead list. I get an e-mail from Harold Titus (AKA The preacher). I work the story up, get permission and send, "Preacher and the rice bowl", to Finder. I also give Finder, M & M or Monumental Moments to post in his website. I was real unhappy with finders work. He was more interested in selling hats and T-shirts than honoring my dead. When he posted my dead list in alphabetical order I blew a cork. At that moment I decided to build a site to honor my dead in a unique and respectful way.

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What is the Mechanical Ambush?
Jim describes it in a letter to Tom Skeins as follows:

The mechanical ambush was actually a booby trap made with our claymores. We would set them up with trip wires on trails like the enemy did for us. The only difference was, we could dismantle ours and take them with us when we left an ambush site. So while they were in use we were always in the area to monitor them and always took them with us when we left so friendly's couldn't be hurt later. Thus, they weren't considered booby traps and against the Geneva convention. Hence the term 'mechanical ambush'.

They might have improved them later in 1970-1971 but the first ones we made consisted of trip wire, claymore, battery, clothes pin (the spring type pin) and the plastic spoon handle out of our c-rations. As you know, it took only three volts to set off a blasting cap that ignited the claymore. So a small battery was used for the current, you would cut the claymore wire and wrap the exposed wires around the tips of the clothes pin. Then use the plastic handle of your c-ration spoon for your trip wire. Put the spoon between the wires of your clothes pin and sting your trip wire across a well used trail. Always hooking your battery up last from a safe position. When anyone came down the trail and walked into your trip wire it would pull the plastic spoon handle out of the clothes pin letting the two wires touch completing the circuit and the claymore would explode. Usually resulting in a body count, they were very effective as you can see from the sit rep on the LZ Buff site. We got creative as time went on and was making larger mechanicals by hooking more claymores together with primer cord. Hope this explanation was helpful. ~ Jim

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