Lai Khe, Vietnam is just north of Saigon. Known as "Rocket City" by my dad when he was stationed there from October 1968 to Oct 1969. He was assigned to the First Infantry Division (The Big Red One) as a radio teletype operator. It was a Heavy Helicopter base and home to some serious armored cavalry divisions.

The Robinhoods and Crossbows were the 173rd Aviation Company, they referred (appropriately) to base camp as Sherwood Forest. They fought in Nam from 1966-1972. They had business cards that read:

24 Hour Service

173rd AHC
CROSSBOWS
Professional Extermination
DEATH ON CALL

CALL
LAI KHE
VIETNAM

Another Helicopter regiment my father talked about was the 11th Cav. (11th Armored Cavalry Regiment) The Black Horse. He used to tell me, "These were some BAD dudes Bob". They wore cowboy hats like state troopers! He would tell me about the Hueys coming over the jungle hills - right out of Apocalypse Now.

In June of 1969, a K-9 Unit called the Scout Dogs were stationed at Lai Khe. They were the 41st Infantry Division. Trained to detect ambush sites, clay mores, weapons, food and ammunition, these dogs were a major asset in the jungle. The ability to detect booby traps, made these dogs the unsung heros of the war that never came home (they had to be euthanized).

Lai Khe was also home of the 1st Infantry Division Radio Station, KLIK which was originally a repeater station of AFVN (American Forces Vietnam Network). The station provided news, music, and feature stories about the armed forces in Vietnam.

My dad never talked much about Vietnam. He did talk about his friendships there, and whenever he ran into another Vet, he always talked with them. Asked them "when they were over?" and that he was in the "Big Red One". He left the army as an E-5 sergeant, he was also a chaplains' assistant. He learned how to drive a stick shift by driving a jeep in the war. When he came home, he sat in the kitchen, drank a bottle of Jack Daniels and pinched himself for a day straight. My mom said that the next day he ate Bologna sandwiches, apples and about a gallon of milk. He never liked the Fourth of July.

I've never been to Lai Khe. Nor can I ever ask my dad about his experiences in Vietnam. I could only write this by the notes of a speech he gave to the "Oral History of Vietnam" class at my high school.

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