Spotlight on Veterans – US Army Soldier Bob Smith | Falmouth Columns

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Bob Smith bravely served his country in the United States Army from 1968 to 1970 as a soldier in the Vietnam War.

Private Smith grew up in Abington and underwent basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, where he underwent rigorous training that would prepare him for the jungles of Southeast Asia. Private Smith was sent to Vietnam in May 1968.

“We flew to Ben Wah in the middle of the night. I was assigned to a company of infantry-trained soldiers who were part of the 1st Cavalry Division, ”he recalls. “I was in Vietnam just one day and we were ambushed … hit and run … all the time, hit and run … NVA [North Vietnamese Army] was relentless, ”he recalls.

Private Smith’s missions would take him deep into the very dangerous jungle at the bottom of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. “I was assigned to Song Be… we were in constant conflict and always had to be on alert for the threat of enemy ambushes,” he said.

When asked how he handled intense day-to-day fights, he replied, “Your nerves were on edge all the time… we didn’t have time to play dumb or fool around… you. instantly recognized the sound your AK-47 makes… specific sound… you know it right away… the crackle… I still lock myself in my basement downstairs on July 4th… been doing this for over 50 years… when you are in the jungle in a shootout, you shoot, NEVER aim … it’s you or the enemy.

He continued, “Our platoons were unusually close… had to be… had to support each other… had to think the same… never forget to be on patrol in the rain… side rain… we stopped for about 10 minutes… a Bengal tiger was hiding in the bushes and getting ready to pounce on one of our guys… our sergeant shot him in the air… that’s what I mean about the other’s back… really depended on each other.

What were the missions in the jungle like? “Getting in and out by helicopter… two weeks at a time… we protected Alpha, Charlie and Delta’s companies… in rotation… I was at the front several times… nobody wanted to be at the front (expletive)… had to do watch out for the ANV traps… they were masters at it in the jungle… saw four to five good men lose limbs… another guy… was my friend… bamboo shoots went through him… he held his hand as he died.

Asked about his absence for the holidays, he shared this: “It was the worst place you ever wanted to be outside of an NVA prison camp… no words can describe the loneliness you feel, especially when you are in the jungle… but you I had to try to put that aside and stay focused and on my toes… you had to treat it like any other day… lose your focus, get dark and you die… purely and simply.

Any other memories, apart from his experience in combat? “I was off a patrol on December 23 … back at base camp … I was sitting in front of a tent collecting my thoughts while smoking a cigarette … for some reason, j I wanted to go to a morgue they set up in a tent … no. I don’t know why… I walked in… saw only one youngster… a child… the first day in the fight he was killed, they said… sat down next to him and just cried… didn’t never forget this show.

He continued, “We (Vietnam vets) never had anything when we got home… some people say it’s the same old story but I’ll keep sharing that same old fucking story… it’s my right and that’s what I fought for… it wasn’t looking for a medal or a parade, just a “thank you”, nothing more.

Private Bob Smith, welcome home and thank you for your service to our great country.



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