101ST AIRBORNE PATCH

101st Airborne
Yearbook 1968

There is a Soldier
Arrival
Decisions Makers
Support
Tet 68
JebStuart
LLRP's
Brothers in Combat
Carentan I
Vietnam People
Carentan II
Battle of Phouoc Yen
Delaware
Serts
Somersetplain
NevadaEagle
Battle Nuike Mtn 
III Corps Fighting
Awards
Departure
Memorial

- Video -
COMBAT MISSIONS OF THE 1ST BRIGADE

Vetshome.com





Departure

They came down from the north, quiet and determined Screaming Eagle warriors returning home. Behind them are the battlefields without names and the towns with names no one can pronounce. Behind them are the dust and the rain and the heat and the cold
They arrive at the 101st Airborne Division Replacement Co. in a mood of cautious optimism, All year they have seen others leave.  Their eyes have occasionally caught a glimpse of a homeward bound commercial airliner.
Still, they know records can get misplaced, exotic diseases can keep them in quarantine, the rear does get rocketed, airplanes do crash.  Going home is important, and even the remotest threat is not taken lightly.
Replacement Co. is a pleasant surprise. Out-processing is done quickly and efficiently by clerks who smile and treat each Paratrooper with the respect he has earned
Harassment doesn't exist. The few days of waiting are spent having uniforms cleaned, acquiring needed insignia and ribbons, clearing war souvenirs for the trip home, getting haircuts...and talking.
At night, there are the luxuries of movies and clubs and showers and PX's....and there is more talk.
Conversation is strange.  It is not the amiable conversation of civilians or the rough good-natured banter of soldiers.  Instead, there is a series of individual dialogues, near soliloquies lost in the silence of deep thought.
Subjects for discussion are limited.  Talk of home is confused, excited and a little apprehensive.  A lot changes in a year, and no one ignores the fact he is going home a partial stranger.  Everyone wonders about the changes and how he will adjust.
Talk of the war is limited.  Men speak of friends and good times.  They discuss the war as a political issue; combat and death are forbidden topics.
One soldier learned to appreciate things.  "Simple things," he said, "like a floor or a bed or three square meals a day.  Things I knew I was lucky to have....I never knew how lucky though."
Another Screaming Eagle found out what it means to carry responsibility.  "Before, there was always someone backing me up.  Over here, if you don't do your job, someone gets hurt.  It makes a big difference."
"You can't be selfish here," said one trooper.  "Other people are too important.  If you are going to make it, you'd better take care of your buddy.  You need him awfully bad."
Some mean learned about the Vietnamese.  "I was fortunate enough to work with them on many occasions.  At first, I thought they were inscrutable Orientals," smiled one man.  "Then I saw that they  were people just like back in the states.  They're trying to raise their families and send their kids to school and get better jobs.  Some things are pretty universal.  I really hope things work out all right for these people."
More than one man came to know his God better.  "A year makes you realize there is more to living than having a good time," one soldier said.
The plane tickets usually arrive on the fourth day.  It's the end of the waiting.  The baggage is on the bus, and everyone is sitting on the benches of the outdoor theater.  The Division comes to say good-bye.
A senior officer appears on the stage, and his voice is filled with pride as he tells them what they already know but need to hear.  He tells them of the courage they have shown and the hardships they have endured.  He talks about the terror and the boredom, the seven days a week they worked and the job they did.
Then it's over.  The band switches from martial music to "California Here I come."  The buses are loaded and start to pull away.
And then it is there, through the bus windows, thumbs up.  The eternal, cocky, confident thumbs up that came before and after the worst of them -- A Shau, Cu Chi, Song Be, Quang Tru, Hai Lang, Phuoc Yen,  Phuoc Vinh.  The thumbs up that has always been and always will be there as long as there are Screaming Eagles.

Departure Photos