Sent: Saturday, August 09, 2003 9:34 PM
Subject: Re: Welcome home Big Time!
Dutch died in Jan 2008
What a great thing to hear from you after all these years. My memories of our time spent together are still vivid (thank goodness). First and foremost it makes my heart soar to hear that you are in Alaska and doing well and loving it. Doesn't surprise me that you're a PA, still out in the bush helping people.
I don't know if you really remember me but I sure remember you. Sounds like we got to Mike 3/3 at the same time. I hit DaNang on Friday the thirteenth, 1969, got to Mike Co about the 18th, right after they went through a very bad ambush. Jumped off the chopper as a BNG to Mike 3/3 somewhere out in Leatherneck Square, and not 40 feet from the chopper popped a trip flare that my soon to be squad had put out on their perimeter. The first guy to meet me was a tall man with a round, pock-marked face. He was sweating like a seventeen year-old getting ready to knock on the door of Christy Brinkley on his first date. He looked me right in the eyes and gave me a smile that said," Follow me, I'm you're friend, just listen up, we're tight here, we take care of each other." His name was Jesse Parks from Oceola, Arkansas.
One incident you might remember: As a BNG all the fellas told me that pretty soon it would be my turn to walk point whenever we had a platoon sized or squad sized patrol. Of course I was anxious about it but the fellas gave me as many tips as they could and I absorbed the info as much as possible and just waited for the inevitable. We had a fresh 2nd Louie because we had lost one on the 17th. We had third platoon moving out to somewhere else and the new Lt. called out for point man to lead it out. After a bit of talk it was determined that I had been there long enough (about 2 weeks), enough to get acclimated to the heat and mosquitoes, and it was now my time to begin walking point. No problem, I knew it was going to come sometime and here it was. OK, fine , what the hell are you gonna do? Throw a tantrum?
I put it on full auto and head down the trail. It's hotter than Satan's waiting room with some asshole cooking burgers in there on a Hibachi. I'm walking my first time point like elk hunting in Montana. Look around take a step, look around, take a step, ad nauseum. The guy in back of me we call "Wally", his last name is Carter and he's from San Jose but I can't remember his real first name. Finally Wally is fed up and he comes up to me from behind and he says, " Hey asshole, You're a Brand New Guy and you don't know your ass from a hole in the ground and it's hotter than fuck out here and you are going way too slow, now get your ass down the MF trail before we all die of heat exhaustion." It didn't go over well with me . I stopped and turned to Carter and started screaming at him that if he didn't like the way I walked point he was welcome to it, otherwise he better keep his San Ho-MF-Zay mouth shut. We got to where we were going and I felt hunky- dory that I made it through my first point walk.
However the very next time we moved out, which was a day or two later, this new Lt. calls out, "Saddle up, Tuchschmidt lead it out." I was scared and confused. Everyone had told me that point was on rotation basis. I stood there, looking around, quite anxious and fearful I might say, waiting for the oversight to be acknowledged, corrected and for some other Marine to be designated as point man. I waited, and there was nothing. I looked at my fellow squad members and I could see in their eyes that they were as perplexed as I and they didn't know what to say. We were all standing there and as I looked at each man I saw something that will never leave me They didn't say anything, but they looked at me. They stood there with their packs on and their M-16s. they were eighteen, nineteen, twenty years old... looking at me straight in the eyes. I could see the exhaustion in their eyes, it was that mental stress, not physical. And their looks said, ' We don't know, you don't know, but we're with you, we are your brothers.'
I stood there looking at my brothers and suddenly this new 2nd Louie walks up to me. Before either he or I have a chance to say anything Jesse Parks steps up and says, " Excuse me sir, but in the past we have always rotated point."
The Lt. looked at Parks and said, "Well Parks, that was the old days, I'm the Lt. now and I like the way Tuchschmidt walks point and he's going to be permanent point man."
That's the way it went down for a while until I lost a lens from my eyeglasses on the trail one day and thought I was home-free on the walking point crap and when I told you about it you reached into your pocket and pulled out a lens and said, "Is this yours?"
Do you remember that incident? I gotta go, I'll be keeping in touch. Few names I want to throw at you just to get some rebound: Gavne, Carter, Parks, VanDiver, Heavy(real name?), Blue, Bados.
Lemme hear from you at your leisure, most of all stay well.