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The Monsoon Season of ’68

Category: Veteran Stories
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101st airborne rice paddy vietnam

Whenever I talk about this subject people are amazed when they learn about the seasonal weather in Vietnam…

For a six week time period after Tet we ( B Co 1/502nd Inf 101st Airborne Division) did not see the sun for 42 days! It was not that it rained like crazy everyday but it was often cold and damp. Our location was in I Corps in the rice paddies east of the mountains and in the A Shau Valley.

Sometimes it did rain all day long and other days it was just cloudy or a fine mist. On patrol it was a bit burdensome because of the uniform of the day. At time we wore a field jacket and others times we might have had a poncho on. Forget about finding a dry spot to sit down on a break or finding a dry place to bed down. Believe it or not in the country and jungle that was remembered for the hot steamy jungles it was really cold at times.

Temperature got down into the 50’s and 40’s especially in the mountains and with the wet is was miserable. Bedding down and trying to use your poncho as a tent was a problem too. You first had to deal with the wet ground and the the rain coming off the trees as well. Somehow the water always seem to find a way down your neck and back under your clothes.

Talking about clothes, the uniform of the day was a tee shirt, a jungle sweater, your fatigue shirt and a field jacket. Another issue was wet feet. In a country with many rice paddies and small rivers and streams forget about keeping your feet dry, in many areas it is an impossible task.

I can remember a log bird coming in one evening and bring in all kinds of things, among them mail, hot chow and dry socks! Finally dry feet again. I put them on immediately.

It was dinner time and we set up a perimeter and took turns eating and reading mail. So happy that I had dry socks on soon, but that didn’t last. Within the hour we were wading through a small stream on our way to a night defensive position and my feet were wet again, lesson learned.

When the patrols hit the roads for a march somewhere there was plenty of mud to deal with as well. Hopefully this note brought back some more unpleasant memories but at least we can laugh at them now…

-Ronny Ymbras

1/502 101st Airborne Division RVN ’67 – ’68

Author of Fallen Never Forgotten: Vietnam Memorials in the USA

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