My branch of the army was the US Army Security Agency (ASA), we were actually tasked, given our mission, by the NSA and were the military arm of the NSA. Basic training at Fort Jackson South Carolina, basic training company B-10-2. Advanced training was six months at Fort Devens, Massachusetts being trained as a Morse Intercept Operator, Military MOS: O5H (known in the ASA as a Dittybopper or Hawg). Spent two and a half years at Torii Station Okinawa with the 51st Special Operations Command intercepting Chinese army and diplomatic radio communications and one year in Vietnam as a member of the 856th Radio Research Detachment (cover name for ASA units in Vietnam) working as a member of a two-man Radio Direction Finding (RDF) team (one of three teams) attached to the 199th Light Infantry Brigade doing short-range radio direction finding (MOS O56 known as a Duffy) on fairly close enemy radio transmissions. We lived in the field with the infantry 40 to 60 days at a stretch, then would retire to our home base (Brigade Main Base, BMB, at Long bien army base for resupply (and a huge drunk). Typically we would be in BMB for two or three days and then redeploy to the bush for another 40-60 day deployment. Ask away!

OMG... Thank you all for making this a fun IAMA for me. It is late here and I must retire to me bed. I have not answered all of your questions, sorry, but I will answer all I can beginning tomorrow morning. Thank you again and good night.

This thing is done, I have attempted to answer all questions. If I missed you, sorry. I had much fun, even you little shits with the weird remarks were fun. Thank you, ALL.

Comments: 942 • Responses: 71  • Date: 

hudsen104 karma

Was your time overseas actually characterized by the classic Vietnam era music that we know and love such as Creedence Clearwater Revival and Jimi Hendrix? Or in reality did you just hear little music at all?

Dittybopper190 karma

Yes there was music but being in the field we didn't get to hear a whole bunch. We could tune in AFVN radio if we had a radio. I remember lots of MoTown, Elvis style rock and some of the newer rock, the beatles and such. Always like "Run Through the Jungle" by Creedence but don't remember if it was popular during or after my tour. That song said it for me, something spooky out there waiting for you. Loved Country Joe and the Fish's "Fix'n to Die Rag." The Beatles Sgt Pepper album came out while I was in-country but I didn't really get to listen to it until I returned stateside. Now Hendrix I loved, I actually met him a couple of times when he played at the "Boston Tea Party," a club I put on light shows at after returning from nam. Very nice fellow.

mammadoodle65 karma

Holy shit what was it like meeting Jimi!? I know I'm getting a little excited, but he's one of my idols and probably the biggest inspiration for my guitar playing. I often think about what things would be like had he not died.

Dittybopper111 karma

Jimmy was a very nice and easy going dude. I liked him. Don't have any huge stories about him as I only met him like twice when he was backstage.

kiwicado78 karma

What were your opinions of the protesters? Did you ever go into the underground tunnel network? Did you see men getting trapped in the hidden traps? And aside from the war what were your impressions of the country?

Dittybopper217 karma

I myself protested the war when I returned to "The World," I had earned the right and felt deeply that the war was a bunch of bullshit and needed to end, I wanted my brothers home. I have seen the tunnel opennings but never went down in one - no F'n way. Admired those that did though, tough lil fuckers. I never witnessed anyone in a trap but have seen booby traps explode from a distance. My impression of Vietnam was that it could be very beautiful (especially from the air) but one didn't have much time to sightsee.

doglover3333144 karma

Bless you. I am your age, and many guys I knew did not return. Fuck that war, fuck the wars now, seriously.

Dittybopper241 karma

Yeah, fuck war.

treebox24 karma

Have you ever seen the documentary 'Why We Fight'? (2005)

Dittybopper12 karma

Don't believe I have.

weebeasties53 karma

My dad was a Vietnam Green Beret. I know it sounds cliche, but after a few glasses of wine at Thanksgiving, he told us that one of old squad (? not sure if right term) mates called him to chat. My father discovered that he's the only one from his group not on "full disability" (ie mentally ruined). My mother cut him off the wine that evening and that's the most we ever heard of his experience save a few pics and choice Vietnamese phrases.

Dittybopper27 karma

The green beenies went though some heavy shit so I can believe you on the mentally ruined remark. I have known a few and they were also on disability.

SkaterDrew3 karma

What did the green beret soldiers do differently?

Im not American so I don't know a whole lot about what happened.

Dittybopper3 karma

They were tasked to train the vietnamese army at first but that changed during the war and a lot of them were used as special ops troops doing small unit missions such as recon.

mkvgtired16 karma

I'm sitting in Hanoi as we speak. I was actually very surprised how I have been treated. Most of the people that are younger are incredibly friendly. I just celebrated a Vietnamese guys birthday with him the day before yesterday. There are those that are always out to con you, but considering how much the Vietnamese could hate us Americans or Europeans, I have been surprised how well I have been treated.

Also, Vietnam is supposed to be beautiful. I just took a decent hit cancelling my train tickets and should be buying a motorbike today to see some of the often overlooked beauty here. What cities/areas were you stationed in? Maybe I can send you pictures of how they look now. Either way, I'm hung over and rambling. Sorry for any misspellings, this browser says everything is spelled wrong.

Dittybopper8 karma

you just enjoy your vacation, have a ba-mi-ba for me. I don't need any photo's so just have fun.

deader11765 karma

Is full metal jacket relatively accurate (at least the vietnam part) to what it was like over there?

Dittybopper141 karma

FMJ I couldn't watch when it came out. I have watched the beginning and the basic training and that is very accurate IMHO. I have also seen snatched of the movie but its too real for me.

AntiWanklerot5 karma

Little known fact: R. Lee Ermey was the military adviser on that movie, hired to train someone else to act the part, but got the job because he was so genuine.

Dittybopper18 karma

He was excellent, reminded me of my DI, Sgt. Savage. Sawed off lil fuck but you knew not to cross him. I managed to make acting platoon sgt in basic and he rode my tail when he had a chance. When we were undergoing gas training and had to go into the CS chamber he really got me. We were to dawn masks, enter the chamber, unmask and shout our name rank and serial number, mask and leave... We entered five at a time, my group goes in, we unmask and shout. I'm about to put the mask back on when I hear "Private Pxxxx, before you put that on tell me about your day." I'm holding my breath but near choking, the gas has attacked my eyes, my face is buring like its on fire. "A good day Sgt." I raise the mask... "Private P, detail to me the striping of an M-14 rifle." That was it, I sucked in a breath and instantly began coughing like mad which only made things worse. "Get the hell out of my sight P!" I ran out, it took 30 minutes before I could breath right. My DI looooved me... hehe

welltheresAbacon62 karma

Did most soldiers at your base take some kinds of drugs to pass time? Also what was your worst experience during the war?

Dittybopper135 karma

There were drugs around but my time in VN was before it became too common. Guess where the infantry grunts got their dope? Off the VC/NVA they killed while out in the bush. I smoked it only once when I was new in-country. Kicked my ass and I never wanted to be that high in that war zone again so left it alone.

Queefmonlee28 karma

My father was a marine in the war during 69-70 and he said he and his squad was given what we refer to as speed regularly to keep them all awake for long periods of time. He said it was the worst hes ever felt because he was so tired for being up for more than 48 hours at a time, but being unable to sleep because of the drug. Nice one government.

Dittybopper25 karma

yes, speed, that is what the medic's gave out.

shamusisaninja60 karma

We all hear about the horrors of war, so I want to ask what was the most beautiful thing you witnessed during your tours?

Dittybopper130 karma

The sunrises and sunsets - out of this world! Watching the animals down to the smallest bugs because they were like nothing in the US. I remember this animal that came walking into our jungle base once, odd looking thing with racoon eyes and a long upright tail, body like a cat. We called it a cattoon. Never found out what it was, friendly little cuss though. Witnessing the closeness of the troopers around you and how they would do anything for a mate. You should understand that things generally went by in a blur of constant work at just getting along day-to-day and any beauty only remains as a very quick snapshot.

Wugsby12 karma

Was it maybe a binturong? They're native to that area

Dittybopper6 karma

that looks like it. Thanks. It hung around for the better part of a day, walking around sniffing at things. Not friendly, but not aggressive. Guys were trying to feed it all sorts of C-rations but it wanted the peaches.


Have you ever read the book The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien? If you have, can you relate to any of the events in the book?

Dittybopper42 karma

I have read the book and would like to do so again - its been years ago and I hardly remember it but do remember liking it.

Slizzard2650 karma

Did you wish that you had Sympathy for the Devil/ CCR/ The Doors playing in the background wherever you went?

Dittybopper106 karma

Sympathy for the Devil came out soon after I returned and it was my anthem! I totally understood that song and its still one of my fav's and can get me rocking (and thinking).

[deleted]16 karma


Dittybopper45 karma

Fuk'n cops... trapped us between buildings In DC and cut off all exits - then beat hell out of anyone they could get to. And, yes, gas too. But I was used to it and played on.

oragoner47 karma

What's your fondest memory of your tour? Thanks for all you did.

Dittybopper147 karma

Getting a radio call from my commander telling me to come in on the next chopper cause my tour was over. I broke out a bottle of Old Grandad whiskey and began to drink. By the time I got back to BMB I was druck as a skunk. One other good memory was learning that a buddy of mine had survived a sapper attack on his base and was okay.

Philip469546 karma

How many men have you killed? (sorry if im a bit forward)

Dittybopper87 karma

No problem, it is a dicey question though. Only two that I am sure of, there may have been others but I'll never know. the two were killed as a direct result of artillery fire directed at my teams DF effort. The infantry sent to search the area confirmed that the radio site had been blasted.

RuffDesperado39 karma

No questions here, I just wanted to say thank you. As a soldier, I am fortunate enough to have the benefit of a society that is generally accepting of my profession, if not appreciative. I cannot imagine what it was like to be drafted (not sure if you were or not though), and forced into an unpopular war on the other side of the world, just to come home to a society where you are spit on. Thank you for paving the way for soldiers like me to serve, and thank you for taking the time out of your Memorial Day Weekend to do this AMA.

Dittybopper42 karma

Thank you my friend and brother in arms. Welcome back. Long life to you and I hope you have not seen or been near anything that drives you crazy.

trevor5159017 karma

Soldier here as well. What he said. Thank you.

Dittybopper4 karma

Ditto to you brother

camthrowaway238 karma

What was the Tet offensive like for you? How do you feel about Vietnamese people now?

Dittybopper73 karma

The Tet offensive was intense. My partner and I were rocketed, mortared and the next day pinned down by a snipper. My team, he and I, had been deployed to Bien Hoa Airbase just a couple of days before the attack. We witnessed the ground attack but it was at the other end of the runway from us so all we got were tons of stray bullets flying our way. Saw a Spooky gunship get hit by a RPG as it attempted to take off, crashed near us and burned most of the night. The Viet's are at peace now, let them be, I didn't much like them when over there but I never met any that were not trying to kill me.

ADD: The May5th Offensive that followed Tet was much worse for me because I was on FSB Stephine SW of Saigon and we got hit pretty bad. A five day and night fight.

camthrowaway223 karma

Thanks for answering. Your account of your time in Vietnam seems fairly convincing to me but you'll probably want to get some proof of your service to avoid being downvoted into oblivion. If it has to be confidential then you can use the "message proof to the mods" link on the right hand side of this page under "Verification System".

Anyway two final questions, what have you been doing since? Has there been any kind of fallout of your time in Vietnam (PTSD or the like)?

Dittybopper55 karma

I understand about proof, I did query the Mods before putting out the IAMA but have not heard back. I have spent my life as a graphic designer/illustrator. Yes, PTSD ever since. I just recently, about a month and a half ago, went through an intensive PTSD program at the VA. It helped (they are quite good at this now-a-days), but PTSD is a life sentence, you never fully recover from it. Sadly I know that now 45 years after the events. I try and help our returning vets from the recent wars as much as I can because I know that if they get early help they will be so much better and not suffer nearly so.

flagamuffin32 karma

How does your PTSD manifest itself, if you don't mind me asking?

Dittybopper82 karma

Usually there is something that sets me off, a good example is the 4th of July fireworks and people setting them off all over the place - drives me up the goddamned wall. Makes me startle and makes me jumpy. My nerves can't take that. Other things have happened such as me seeing a vietnamese fellow walking toward me coming down the street - he was a dead (no pun) ringer for a dead VC I once say, spooked hell out of me and I dreamed about him that evening. Huey Helicopters, their sound, takes me right back to the field, never fails. I am much much better now about all of that but still, now and again, something gets me.

flagamuffin27 karma

Thanks for the answer. Glad you're getting over it.

Dittybopper55 karma

I like "flagamuffin" that's a good handle.

flagamuffin21 karma

Thank you! Love my cat more than anything in the world, her name's flag, she's a bit of a ragamuffin, etc.

Dittybopper59 karma

My cats name is Mouse, she loves that name (near as I can tell).

jellybiro36 karma

Another question: what was your experience of soldiers from other countries such as New Zealand/Australia/Thailand? Also, what was putting up with the climate like, with the humidity and heat?

Dittybopper109 karma

Right out straight – the fucking climate was BRUTAL. Two seasons: Hot as hell, it sometimes got 130 (I was down south), with 100% humidty day after fucking day, The slightest movement stired thick powderyt dust that got into eveything, or, monsoon rain, again, day after fucking day. Rain pouring in sheets and mud up to your knees everywhere. covered in mud, everything. And we lived out in it constantly.

Yes, Aussies, those crazy motherfucking Aussies! Was at Blackhorse once for two days and those dudes got me totally shitfaced and enjoyed doing it too. Love those guys, have a special place in my heart for Aussies.

SamTheOperator36 karma


Dittybopper31 karma

What sort of proof do you need?

jpjones734 karma

What was it like coming back? Was the general public respectful?

Dittybopper104 karma

No, they were not, not by a long shot. No one spit on me personally but I endured lots of verbal abuse. One learned to never wear the uniform in public if it could be avoided. One was constantly asked "How many babies did you kill" and other deeply offensive questions like that and endured remarks that were terrible. Actually coming back, living and breathing, unhurt, was f'n wonderful, amazing - but then the remarks and such began and one wanted to just get back on the aircraft and go somewhere you felt wanted - by the side of your trooper brothers!

meaty99102 karma

My family and I are Vietnamese, and my grandfather fought for S. Vietnam. After the war, he was sent to a work concentration camp by the VC for ten years. When he finally got out, he was given an opportunity to take his family to the US, and that is how I got here.

Even though the war did not turn out the way we wanted it to, I would like to take this moment to personally thank you for your support against the VC. If it wasn't for the US involvement, I certainly would not be living in the US and would not be having the opportunities for a good future that comes with it.

Dittybopper13 karma

Well thank you very much. Tell your father that I have utmost respect for him. I am aware that it was no kind of picnic for him or his family. Wellcome to the US and I hope you all are doing well.

jpjones722 karma

Follow up question do you feel that veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars are treated more respectfully today as opposed to when vietnam veterans came home?

Dittybopper84 karma

yes, I believe our current crop of vets are treated well - and they should be. Don't let me catch some ass giving them any shit, won't stand for it. They deserve our respect, they didn't start the wars but by god they served and must be respected for that. Now get off my lawn (joking).

jpjones719 karma

Haha I share your views, you and any veteran just did their job and should not be disrespected just because of the politics involved in sending them over there. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your service and wish you well in the future.

Dittybopper24 karma

Kind words and I thank you also

a206132 karma

As an American thank you for your service. Also pardon my English, it is not my native language.

Now for questions. I understand there were large instances of rape of Vietnamese woman by the US Army such as in Mai Lai, but how common was it to see American soldiers raping Vietnamese woman? Was it more like an occurrence that happened at every village the American stopped at or was it typically a rarer event? If the latter would you say this offset by the amount of prostitution in the region as well?

Dittybopper98 karma

Well... I can only speak from my own experience and my small part in the war. I don't believe rape was common but I do know of one incident I became aware of during my time there. A squad of troopers from a fire support base I was on went outside the base and screwed several whores operating in a grass shack and refused to pay the mamasan when they were done. When she protested they showed her their weapons and left. That night the troopers, who all lived in the same bunker, heard noise to their front and fired off their claymore mines - which all blew their payload back at the bunker because the VC had snuck up and turned the mines around (they are directional), made the noise, and sat back to watch the fireworks. No one was hurt but the message was delivered.

Mr_Spam_Man27 karma

How do you feel about the war? Are you angry because you see it as unjustified like many others do?

How well has Hollywood portrayed the war? Do you feel that any movie has even captured what it was actually like to be there?

Dittybopper70 karma

Hollywood never gets it right, they tell stories and do not mind exaggerating and getting facts in the way while telling that story. The beginning of Platoon, where they are hacking through the jungle, is a very good depiction of what it was like over there. The godawful heat, bugs, and the treatment of the new guy is very good.

plushsicle22 karma

Is Apocalypse Now an accurate film?

Dittybopper85 karma

Fuck no, its an an alagory badly adapted from Conrad’s "Heart of Darkness” It misses the point in my book and my impression of the movie was that I was watching a cartoon of Vietnam. I mean Coppola tried but I just think he was too close to his subject and too involved in being a big shit director to understand anything about the actual war. Then again I don't believe his goal was to portray vietnam as it really was but to make an intellectual statement about the war using props from the era. Michael Herr’s book “Dispatches" was quoted extensively in the movie and his book is hands down the best to come out of Vietnam.

roadkill_connoisseur27 karma

you're a funny fucker aren't you

Dittybopper55 karma

Coming from Roadkill_Connoisseur I'll take that remark - grin

Dittybopper66 karma

I have always been angry about the vietnam war, it was a shitty little war with a lame excuse for being "Stop southeast asia from going communist." Weirdly enough I am proud to have been a american soldier and to have served my country. I am particurlly proud to have been a member of the ASA.

roperac27 karma

Wow, one of the best AMAs I have ever read, thank you. And thank you so much for your service.

Dittybopper15 karma

Why thank you very much, glad you are enjoying it.

[deleted]26 karma


Dittybopper23 karma

Kind of you - thank you for what you do for our vets. A job needing doing!

moomeeo25 karma


Dittybopper68 karma

yours is a good question. One NEVER really relaxed in the bush, you were always expecting the shit to hit the fan. You developed an almost surreal sense, an animal grade sense, of your surroundings. You learned to distinguish between the slightest sounds – dangerous or not dangerous – and react in an instant. Sleep was sometime difficult but after a few nights of wakefulness you simply had to sleep and your body put you in a coma for a few hours. Had to happen. That was the cycle. I discovered about two-thirds through my tour that some part of my mind was watching over me 24/7, it never slept. The realization came when I was walking across a field heard incoming mortars, I hit the dirt in a wee depression in the ground, a little fold and as I did it came to me that my mind had been all business as I walked that field and was noting every little bit of cover as I progressed, so I knew instantly where to fall. Living conditions in the bush were extremely basic, the only extra comfort things you could have with you were small items, soap, toothpaste, a change of socks. Not much else. It was dirty, often wet and always dangerous. One slept in your boots and pants with your weapon (I carried an M-79) next to you, and a bayonet close. Yes, generally, but not always, attacks came at night. They had the night, we the day. During the day is when I'd take my boots off, wash socks and pants.

ShadreOroflor7 karma

You used a M-79 rather than an M16/M14? Was that your role?

Dittybopper9 karma

Yes, carried an M-79 and had a 38 pistol in a shoulder holster. Loved that thing, it gave you the range with a powerful HELLO! I kept a buckshot round in it when just milling about but had two gasmask bags of ammo for it, one with HE rounds and the other for buckshot and beehive rounds. Role: member of a two-man RDF team attached to the infantry in the field. We were mostly positioned on firebases but sometimes placed with other types of units so we could aid the infantry by having the best shot at DF'ing the enemy and therefore supporting the infantry and developing targets for them.

shalafi7123 karma

Can you talk about R&R? What did you do with your free time? Or did you really have any free time? For example, could you travel in the region?

Dittybopper109 karma

I did take an R&R, one was able to after six months in-country. I went to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia for a week. Had a great time, fell in love with my whore, drank myself to oblivion, toured the souks, and saw the film The Good, The Bad and the Ugly for the first time. Loved it.

Their were in-country R&R's to places like China Beach but I never got the chance to go.

YourAuntie23 karma

Thank you. That is all.

Dittybopper39 karma

Kind of you, thank you Auntie.

VivaLaBeaver22 karma

There are IAMAs from ex-servicemen every other week in this sub-reddit; some are quite open, some are not ready to tell the full story. I have to say, I really have a lot of respect for the candid and unreserved way you explain your opinions and experiences, without passing judgement on the curious. I've been addicted to IAMA for 2 or 3 years now - yours is one of the best I've read. Really fascinating! Thanks for taking the time to shed a bit of light.

Dittybopper16 karma

Thank you for your remarks - its been whooooosh... and I've only begun to answer back channel questions....

jellybiro21 karma

What was your experience with reporters and photographers during the war? and the reception you faced when returning home? Also, how hard was it trusting the Vietnamese around you, was it incredibly demoralising and worrying when you knew that they could be VC and you were possibly trusting them? Thank you for any answers you provide, I've just finished studying the Vietnam War in my secondary school history classes, it was incredibly interesting looking at it from different points of view, but we've never really had anything from the army, more people in the government administrations.

Dittybopper40 karma

I had zero interaction with the press in vietnam, my job was classified and we didn't advertise ourselves. I have remarked on what it was like returning - not fun. I didn't trust ANY vietnamese, would just as soon kill them as look at them (I never did such a thing). There was no way to know who among them was the enemy so the best thing to do was avoid them. I'm glad schools are teaching about vietnam these days, you younger folks need to know that history because I would hate for us to repeat it.

jellybiro11 karma

Thank you so much for replying! Your answer was really interesting, a lot of Vietnam war films seem to show a reporter tagging along all the time. In our course, there was also a lot of emphasis on how anyone could be VC. Very few people in our history class knew anything about the war (although we are English) but for us, what seemed so shocking was how easily it seemed to escalate into something so big.

Dittybopper29 karma

I did see press types from time to time but never interacted with them, it was none of their business what my partner and I were doing. You have to understand the time-line of vietnam. It was slow to build, became huge, and then tappered off over several years. Tet 1968 was the highpoint. The american people were pretty supportive at first, but the longer the war dragged on and the more the nightly news showed of the violence the less support the war had until eventually there was a huge backlash against the war. I believe the main reason it went on so long was because no sitting US president had the balls to extridite us from the war - read the Pentagon Papers by Danial Ellsberg, Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan for some heavy information about vietnam.

allthe_gundams20 karma

How much do you feel that the military has changed in the eyes of the public since your time in it? Are soldiers more respected now?

Dittybopper34 karma

Yes, 180 degrees and I am damned glad for them.

nowellmaybe18 karma

Spent my first ten at Jackson, also. I swear, that place goes from middle of winter to middle of summer overnight. Ha!

How long did it take you to readjust to life after getting home? I'm a fobbit pogue, but I kinda worry about some of my combat arms friends who haven't "come home" quite yet.

Dittybopper33 karma

It took for fucking ever and in some ways I'm still not back. Yeah, Jackson sucked, I was there in july, the sand, oh hell, the sand... I hope your Combat Arms buddies do the right thing and get some serious councilling, PTSD is nothing to mess with, its real, and really impacts ones life. Good luck to you.

kristina_kim18 karma

Did any of your relatives fight in previous wars like WW1, WW2, or the Korean War, and how did that influence how you felt about the war?

Dittybopper70 karma

Oh yes, lots. Ther's a rumor of a relitive at the battle of cowpins during the revolution. My great great great grandfather was a cavalry trooper in the US civil war, my dad was career army, a Sgt Major (WWII, Korea and VN twice). He was in vietnam at the same time as I. He was up country, me in the delta down south. He came to visit once and I was called in from the field to meet him, I took him to Saigon and we partied for about a half day then had steaks at the Continental hotel before driving back to Long Bien.

mrsdale61 karma

That sounds like it must have been bizarre. "Oh, hey dad, how's the war going for you?" "Fine, son, and you?"

Dittybopper94 karma

It was weird. He didn't know it but when I was walking to meet the chopper to return to base to hook up with him it was discovered that there were old mines all over the damned place. Left over from the French war. I had to stand in one spot for three hours while mine sweepers were working the area until I was cleared to the pad. That experience was fresh on my mind when we met. I didn't tell him that until just last year - his remark, the crusty Sgt. Major "Well, it was a war after all." Right now I can hear him caughing in his room, I take care of him now that he is 85 with failing health.

readditaur17 karma

Have you been back to Vietnam? Would you go back?

Dittybopper48 karma

I have zero interest in going back, best leave it be. Might bring back my PTSD like a mad mo'fo.

merrumel13 karma

My Dad recently returned from his final stint in the UAE/Afgan, is there a way that I can speak to him about his experiences without offended him?

(He is a quiet man at the best of times, and I would hate to ask him anything in an insensitive way).

Thank you for all you've done.

Dittybopper3 karma

Express your interest to him but gently. If he does not come forward i'd leave it be for a while.

dmol12 karma

Any close death experiences.

Dittybopper41 karma

Several, but I was never wounded or hurt except for having a piece of wood blown into my eyebrow from a 122mm rocket the night of Tet 1968. No purple heart for me.

obedobedo12 karma

How are you coping ? Do you still keep in contact with the people you served with and how are they coping?

Dittybopper24 karma

So long after the events of that war I am doing fine, still a bit jumpy at times. It comes and goes. I do, I have several friends that I talk to regularly. I used to go to reunions but don't do so now.

obedobedo11 karma

I have a friend who served in 3RAR and he is the first vet that I spoke to who was very open about his experiences in vietnam. He introduced me to the rest of the his platoon / squad and a lot of them aren't doing very well at all. Even though it was a (i'm guessing) nasty experience for you what is one thing that happened / you saw that makes you smile from the conflict to this day?

Dittybopper28 karma

The only smile I get is, first, surviving, and second remembering the absolute joy I expereinced when leaving the country. I am not overwhelmed with bad or terrible memories. That stuff tends to fade with time and there has been plenty of time since vietnam. It got nasty at times but you have to understand that just being there, living in it, was a pretty nasty way to live. In the field things were basic, armed camping is what I called it. The daily grind of keeping clean, keeping your weapon cleaned, moving all the time and building bunkers, the heat, the humidity was an exhausting existence that wore you down. Being in a war is not all shoot'm up, its work, hard hard work, and mostly boring as hell. I had an interesting job, listening in on the enemy radio transmissions and tracking them via DF, that helped. I was with the infantry but not a PART of the infantry. I was not required to go on sweeps, trudge through the jungle searching for trouble. My job was to closely support those that did. I'd like to think that I was good at it.

mattdangerously11 karma

My father served two tours in Vietnam when he was a teenager. When I was growing up, he never really talked about his time there. All I knew was that he was a chopper pilot, and that he was given a Purple Heart after being shot down. It wasn't until a few years ago when he started opening up about it (found out he had a lot of medals, including a Bronze Star with a Valor Device). I asked him once why he didn't talk about it, and he said it was because of the way vets were treated when they came back. (Pretty sure it was because of PTSD as well, though he wouldn't say it.) My question is, how long after you finished your tour did it take for you to be able to talk about your experiences in the war?

p.s. Happy Memorial Day, and thank you.

Dittybopper11 karma

Probably 10 years and for the same reason your dad gives, no one was interested and if you stated you were a VN vet you'd get snarky remarks. Much respect for your dad btw, chopper pilots had it tough but were brave beyond limit IMHO. I hated it when a chopper dropped me off and flew away (the loneliest feeling in the world to hear those motors fade), LOVED it when they returned and picked me up.

mattdangerously4 karma

One of the stories my dad did finally tell me was pretty crazy. He and a couple of other choppers were flying around when they came upon a small group of soldiers about to get ambushed by about 100 or so North Vietnamese soldiers. So the choppers swooped in during the ensuing firefight to rescue the Americans. Afterwards the Army wanted to give all the pilots Silver Stars, but my dad turned it down since he thought the rescued soldiers should get them too because they were providing cover for the choppers. No one received the medals after that. Dad said the other pilots were pretty pissed that he cost them their medals, but he didn't really think it was a big deal.

Dittybopper4 karma

Love his attitude, chopper pilots (and crews) were my hero's. Tell him thank you from one vet to another.

shallowpersonality10 karma

I have a question about the public protests. You said you participated 40 some years ago. I would like a compare/contrast of public protest then as compared to now. I only know what I read and watch, but it seems that protests then carried more weight (aside from or maybe because of the Kent state shootings). It seems that after 40 years, the govt. has gotten really good at not allowing protest/public voice to interfere with anything.

Dittybopper13 karma

I think you are right, protests now-a-days seem tame to me, I don't know why that is and maybe its just me and my perspective from protesting back in the day. We were ready to go to war, meant what we were protesting against. Now, I have a feeling that folks these days cherish their causes just as much as we did and could show some fight if pushed. After all, its our country and i think folks still care about that.

omgitsfaye9 karma

I was wondering how you feel about the My Lai massacre. I mean, in your experience, did it seem strange that soldiers couldn't question their orders even though they didn't agree, or was it just the way things were? sorry if i'm phrasing this badly; I'm just wondering whether you can share your thoughts about it as a soldier during that time.

Dittybopper7 karma

I feel (and felt) awful about My Lai, couldn't understand it. I witnessed nothing like that and in fact i knew that extraordinary steps were taken to avoid civilian casualties. My Lai, I know now, was the exception and caused by extremely bad leadership. embarrassed me to be in the same army as Lt. Calley. i would hate to have to live with what those troops did, it was every kind of wrong.

sassr9 karma


Dittybopper8 karma

I have not, will look for it.

moronic_semicolonic8 karma

questions: how has your ptsd impacted your life, family, and work? also, do you have connections to other veterans? what do you think we as residents or the u.s. government can do to better care for veterans and their families?

i ask because my father enlisted at age 17 (he was sure to be drafted) and returned in pieces. he was homeless or shifting between mental institutions and prisons for about thirty years. he left my mother before i turned two, and i wasn't able to reconnect with him until a few years ago. our relationship remains awkward but loving despite his absence over the years. he is much more stable now, but the ptsd continues to inform his actions and intensify his emotions.


Dittybopper15 karma

Great questions and I'm sorry that the war screwed your dad so and your relationship with him. He can STILL get help at the VA btw. PTSD impacted the hell out of me and my life, I am lucky I didn't end up like your father. I believe what saved me was getting into art, in fact I know that to be true. I became immersed in first pottery and then art school and later graphic design and illustration. I was able to bury myself in it all and push the PTSD away, but not forever. It creeps back in the smallest cracks. I hate it. I lost a marriage to it. It still stalks me but I got its name now and know how to combat it due to some intense VA help. Recommend to your father that he look into some VA help, it might do him a world of good even now. Good luck to you two and think you for the question.

Skuggsja7 karma

Scanning newspapers from the Vietnam war, I'm amazed at how much info the press got access to. Encounters, losses, etc.

Do you feel that DoD has clamped down on information, or was all the stuff the newspapers wrote in the '60s just hogwash?

Dittybopper31 karma

No, the military was pretty open to the press in vietnam but came to regret that later in the war. There was some sensationalized reporting in vietnam but the press got it right for the most part. The military these days BECAUSE of the vietnam war controls the hell out of the press. I'm glad the troops have the means to do their own reporting via YouTube and such. We, as citizens, must have truthful informationn about what our government is doing with our troops. Those fuckers in Washington DC are supposed to be our representives and our opinions should count with them. I am not so sure that is the reality however.

Skuggsja10 karma

Wow, thanks for responding. I'm a journalist, and it frustrates me when officials of my country refuse to give me the most basic info. They always refer to the soldiers, i.e. "let them do their job in peace" and I understand that. But mostly the ones at the top seem much more bothered by independent reporting than the common soldiers, provided the journalists know what they're doing (some don't).

Dittybopper20 karma

Good luck in your journalisim career, kind of a tough roe to hoe these days and keep your moral compass. The military has swung completely around these days about having news cover the troops. This whole embedding deal is just bollocks in my opinion, as near as I can tell it is a way to control information. Have you read Dispatches by M. Herr? Do so, you'll see the military in vietnam attempting to control the information but failing by and large.

[deleted]7 karma

What is your favorite Vietnam movie? What Vietnam movie is the most "realistic". Thank you in advance for your answers, I find this to be fascinating.

Dittybopper11 karma

I believe I've answered that above.

wesleyt896 karma

Thanks for doing what you had to do. My uncle was also a Vietnam Vet, I know they were not treated like they should have been a lot of the time when returning home. My uncle was an alcoholic for many years. Thankfully he has conquered his demons. His father was in WWII, my moms side of the family has deep roots in the military. What I want to ask you is do you view yourself as a racist? I'm not really sure if my uncle would be considered a racist or not.. I don't think he is honestly. Something my mom recently said really got me thinking though. She said she went to the doctor with him once, and a doctor had an intern. After the doctors left he said that he could tell that guy was Vietnamese. She asked how could he tell and he said he didn't know, he just could. Just he had a feeling, and he couldn't explain it but he felt certain. My mom said he didn't say anything negative about the person, that is not what I'm getting at. Can you describe how my uncle can tell something like this, and if you have any similar stories. Could you elaborate on how you look at people, as well as the war we are in now. What is your view on Muslims? What is your opinion on the Vietnam war? Do you think we had a reason to be there. How about the war we have now? I am in no way trying to start a debate on wars and if they are right or wrong... I am just very curious to hear an honest opinion from someone that has experienced war, like yourself. Not hear to judge, I am hear to learn. Thank you :)

Dittybopper19 karma

I too "self medicated" for years after returning from vietnam. Drinking does NOT help, it is counter productive (you returning from our current wars take note). Racist!? I don't consider myself a racist in the sense that I hate another race just because they exsist. I come from a racist culture, the south and the US in general, but I learned early that its individuals one should judge and not a whole race because of the few assholes. I don't know your uncle but you should know that in the orient one learns to distinguish between the various ethnic groups, japanese, chinese, Lao, vietnamese etc. pretty quickly so I can understand him "knowing in his bones" when he spotted a vietnamese man. I have remarked elsewhere on my feeling about the vietnam war, and current wars, so look that up. Muslims are fine in my book as long as they don't use the Koran to justify terriorism because there is nothing in that book that should lead them to do so. Thank you for your questions.

roller_coaster6 karma

What's your opinion on the war in Afghanistan? Do you think the United States or any other country should invade another country to safeguard their own? It seems it just causes more problems than it solves.

Dittybopper35 karma

Afghanistan... Good reasons to go there after 9/11 but its gone on far too long now. I don't believe higher US government thought through the long game (they never do) so now they are stuck with the place and attempting to country build (badly) before high tailing it. I hope we can extridite ourselves and get the troops home sooner rather than later.

Invade other countries, in general no, but sometimes you gotta do it if the threat exsists. Don’t see any country out there that merits that right now though. Lets get the troops home and rebuild our country for a while why don't we.

[deleted]13 karma

I do agree with you on Afghanistan.

So what about Iraq ? Was that worth it in your opinion ?

Dittybopper92 karma

What a goat fuck - bush outta be horsewhipped for that mess.

[deleted]6 karma

You're awesome.

That is all.

Dittybopper11 karma

bet you are too, thank you

PulseAmplification6 karma

I went to Jackson for Basic back in 2000. Thank you for your service!

Dittybopper12 karma

ah the memories... SUCKED! smile, thank you too trooper

Dittybopper4 karma

I know, i also know the fellows doing the intercept of all of that when it happened.

loneflanger3 karma

What kind of gear was used at that time for direction finding and other communications interception?

Dittybopper6 karma

Spotted your question as I was about to shut down for the evening. Lots of different types of DF gear. I was on a PRD-1 RDF team, we called the unit a PURD. It was a short-range unit. There were lots of airborne DF efforts, and a large HFDF net that coverd the whole country based in Field Stations such as at Phu Bia up north and Davis Station down south. While in-country I was not aware of these nets but learned of them talking with fellow ASA'ers at reunions. I could have extended my tour for six months and been a member of a ARDF unit but I had had enough and went home while the getting was good. The PRD-1 was a cranky piece of crap, the humidity in VN played hell with it. Bodies of water bent its incoming signal and gave a false bearing (true for all DF gear) The 856th RRD ran three teams which were positioned to cover the 199th infantrys Area of Operations (AO). To cover that we PURD teams were often positioned with odd units such as special forces bases that dotted the country and ARVN units.

Primary intercept radio receiver for a field station was the R-390A, an excellent receiver, in the field and in intercept vans was a smaller version of the R-390, its, first cousin, but I forget its military "number." I used them when first in-country to learn the mission, then was trained on the PRD-1. I had not had any prior DF experience.

I used the R-390A on Okinawa, actually two of them positioned side-by-side with a pair of headsets split between them so you could monitor both ends of a conversation. We Morse Intercept types typed the intercept on a typewriter known as a MILL because it only typed CAP's. I could, and would like to, go on but I'm very tired and must hit the sack.