|There are no ivy-covered walls and the atmosphere
on "campus" is hardly intellectual, but few schools are held in higher
esteem among Division Paratroopers.
For every lieutenant and junior enlisted man in the 101st, the
first stop after joining the Division is the Screaming Eagle
Replacement Training School at Bien Hoa. The curriculum consists of
only one course which lasts five days, but four years of college could
not be as important to the education of any combat soldier. Lessons
learned at SERTS have saved many lives.
Besides providing a transition period to adjust to a tropical
combat zone, the school offers refresher instruction in virtually
every subject covered in Basic Combat Training -- with specific
application to the Division's area of operations.
Troopers who have never handled an M-16 or an M-60 soon regard
them as old friends when they realize they are the surest tickets to a
freedom bird 12 months away. Training day and night under the
watchful eyes of handpicked, combat-experienced NCO's, the
replacements become familiar with virtually every weapon in the Army's
Vietnam arsenal--as well as Charlie's.
A realistic enemy village and jungle trail acquaint new Eagles
with the mines and booby traps they will strive to avoid for a year.
Reaction courses, guard duty, classes in first aid and field
sanitation and, sometimes, an unscheduled mortar attack, all serve to
prepare young Paratroopers for the months ahead in I Corps.
By the time a replacement graduates from the rigors of Camp Ray,
a gain in confidence will accompany his improved physical condition.
The last day of the course often includes a patrol outside the peri-
meter, but by now, a young Eagle could not be more ready to meet his