I had been searching for Bob for many years when I decided to find him no matter what it took. I would like to say that I was very sorry to hear that Bob passed away in 1995 in Oregon. This story is true and is dedicated to his memory....
To start with, Bob was a good man. He had a great sense of humor, loved music and fast cars. We both graduated from High School in 1968. I was a jock and a drinker from the hills, Jackson, CA, and Bob was a stoner from the city, Vallejo, CA. We normally would not have gotten along so well, but we had one common thread, we were both from northern California and were thrown into the US Army at a young age. Even though I was only with Bob from February 1969 to October 1969, I had made a friend for life. I have often thought about him and what he was doing throughout my life. I will miss him....
I met Bob on February 13th, 1969, at Fort Lewis, Washington. I was drafted into the US Army as Bob had enlisted. We were both 18 years old, standing in line to go into the chow hall for breakfast. Before we knew it, we were getting our hair cuts and receiving our new G.I. clothes and boots. Bob and I were bunk mates. Bob had made friends with the boys from the bay area of California and I had 3 friends from my county. There were about 12 of us from California. During this time, Basic Training, we were confined to our company area because of the Spinal Meningitis that was going around the Army bases. We could not leave the company area for the 8 weeks of Basic, so Bob and I spent a lot of time together during our free time. We would hang out drinking beer, eating pizza and playing pool. At other times, we would spend our time writing home and listening to music. Bob liked the heavier music, (Iron Butterfly and Led Zeppelin) to name two, while I was into the Motown type of music ( Four Tops, Little Stevie Wonder). They kept us really busy mentally and physically in Basic and before we knew it, our 8 weeks were up and we graduated.
The date was around April 13, 1969. Bob and I were assigned to Advanced Infantry Training which was located just a crossed the parade field. We lost more than a half of our California friends after graduation. Again, we were confined to our company area. Bob and I were again bunk mates. We were in "AIT" for another 8 weeks. We continue our same routine of hanging out, drinking beer, eating pizza and hamburgers, playing pool and listening to music while we wrote letters home. One late morning Saturday, Bob was laying at the foot of my bunk as I sat there reminiscing about home. I noticed that Bob was unwrapping a piece of gum and started to fold the tin foil wrapper into what was starting to look like a 1st Lieutenant bar. As we were talking back and forth, Bob looked up at me and said, "you want to go and mess with the guys over in Basic"? I ask him what he was talking about. He said, "the barracks next to the barracks that we were assigned to in Basic, has a 1st Lieutenant that looks a lot like you from a distance. If I can get this tin foil wrapper to stick to your hat, we will go over there and mess with them on how dirty their barracks look and order them to clean it up." Being 18 years old, we didn't consider that we could get into a lot of trouble for impersonating an officer, but it was something to do besides going stir crazy. Bob used some gum and believe it or not, the home made silver looking bar looked just like a 1st Lieutenant's silver bar. Bob and I went a crossed the parade field up to the barracks and Bob went inside first and yelled, "Officer on the floor!" Someone yelled, "attention", and everyone ran to the front of the bunks and came to attention. I started to walk down the center of the bottom floor and started to yell, "this place looks like shit, I want this place cleaned up immediately or someone will pay." It appeared that our impersonation was working for about half way down the barracks when someone said, "he's not our Lieutenant, he is someone else". I knew we were had, the fake silver bar has fallen off, so I turned around and looked at Bob as he turned and around and started to run. We were chased out of the barracks and down the hill. We ran as the Basic Training guys stopped at the hill as they could not cross the parade field or they would be in trouble. Once back at our barracks, and after we caught our breaths, we laughed and laughed and of course, told all of our friends of what he just did.
For the last two weeks of AIT, the Army lifted the Spinal Meningitis confinement. We had a formation and was told by the Sergeant that we were free to go on a weekend pass but the stay away from a street called Pike Street in Seattle because it was a bad area. As soon as the formation was over Bob and I ran over to the taxi cabs that were waiting for us. Bob and I quickly got into a cab along with two other GI's. The cabbie asked us, "where to"? in which Bob quickly replied, "take us to Pike Street". Before we knew it, we were on Pike Street. The bus station was on Pike Street and I am not sure but I think the Sergeant said to stay away from Pike Street because he didn't want anyone to go AWOL to home. We stopped in several bars but we couldn't get served because we were under age. Bob did ask an older gentle men if he would buy us a beer from the local liquor store and the man came back out with two cans of beer for us. Bob and I rented a room in Seattle for the night and the next morning was Sunday, Mother's Day. Bob and I went to the Space Needle and went to the top of it. We found a pay phone and Bob and I took turns calling home and telling our mothers Happy Mother's Day. Before we knew it, Bob and I were graduating from AIT. We received our new Orders. They were sending Bob and me to Fort Benning, Georgia, for Non Commissioned Officer's School after a 2 week leave to home. Bob and I were the only two picked out of AIT to go to NCO School. This meant that Bob and I would be leaving the last of our other California friends as soon as we left on Leave. Bob and I thought about it and were really reluctant to be going to NCO School, because after 12 weeks and completion, we would be promoted to 18 and 19 year old Sergeants and be shipped to Vietnam and be in charge of an Infantry Squad. We went to our Sergeant and explained that we had thought that we would not make good Sergeants with out some type of experience and how could we get out of the assignment. Our Sergeant went on to explain that it would not be a problem, just wait until we get to Georgia and tell the Sergeant in charge at NCO School that we did not want to be there and he would take care of it, with no problems.
Bob had purchased an airplane ticket to home and my Mother, Sister and my best friend Chris, from High School, drove to Fort Lewis and picked me up after graduation for the ride back to home. The date was around June 13th, 1969. Bob and I were home on a two week leave getting ready to go to Fort Benning, Georgia, for NCO School. Bob drove to Jackson and picked me up while on leave because he had two tickets to Iron Butterfly who was playing at Fillmore West in San Francisco, CA. I had never been to a concert in the Bay Area before, especially one with Iron Butterfly playing. Oh, I had been to a half a dozen or so in Sacramento, but nothing like a hard core band and not in San Francisco where there were lots of hippies.
We arrived at the Fillmore a few minutes before the warm-up band started. There were lots of people attending this concert. As I looked around, trying to take it all in, Bob was not impressed like I was. "Have you been here before", I yelled over the crowd noise? "Yes, just follow me", Bob replied. There were no chairs, everyone was sitting on the floor with their legs crossed. Rows after rows, just like there were chairs. Smoke filled the air in the dim lit room we were in. You could see the smoke going up through the lights that were shinning on the stage. I asked Bob if there were any cops there, and he said "yes". I said, "I guess they don't care if we smoke"? Bob said, "they won't bother anybody". This was crazy, this wasn't anything like Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento.
What little light that was on, suddenly dimmed. The warm up band started to play. I was still trying to take it all in. Bob and I were sitting on the floor with our legs crossed. Bob was on my left as we faced the stage. We were near the back of the rows of people. Since everyone was sitting on the floor, everyone had a good view of the raised stage, not a bad view from anywhere. I looked behind us and I could see two San Francisco City Police Officers. As the music played, the man on my right nudged me with his elbow and as I turned to look at him, he had a jug of wine in his hand and passed it to me. I looked at the wine and was trying to figure out why he passed it to me, Bob said, "pass it to me". I gave it to Bob and he took a drink out of it and then passed it to the guy on his left. All of a sudden, the guy on my right nudged me again, he had a lit doobie and was passing it to me. I took a glance of my right shoulder to see what the cops were doing. They were just watching everybody, not doing anything, like Bob said. Next, the guy on my right passed me a hand full of pills. I turned and gave them to Bob who in turn passed them on. At the end of the concert, one of the band members took his guitar and smashed on the stage. The guitar start on fire and the smoke really started to fill the room. I knew I was on a contact high from the marijuana, but I wasn’t sure if the fire on stage was real or part of the show. No one was moving too fast to put out the fire, so I guess it was part of the show. What a show, what a night for this Jackson Boy.
I left California on a Friday afternoon and arrived in Georgia around 9:00 p.m. and after getting processed in, it was around 11:30 p.m.. It was so hot and humid that I sweated all night. I met Bob on Saturday. After he checked in, he found me, where I was holding the lower bunk for him so we could be bunkies again. We reminisced about our short 2 week leave. Taking turns telling our stories of seeing friends, parties we attended, catching up with the family. We discussed about how we were going to tell the Sergeant in charge on Monday how we did not want to participate in the NCO School because we did not want to go to Vietnam being young Sergeants with no experience and being in charge of other GI's. Our plan was made. Both of us took the rest of the day and walked around the Base finding the Chow Hall, EM Club and PX. When Sunday came, Bob and I decided that we needed to go down on the track and run a few laps to try and get acclimated to the heat and humidity. After the second lap around the track, Bob was red as a beat and I was sick to my stomach. We thought, if it is this bad here, what is Vietnam going to be like. We didn't know for sure we were going to be going to Vietnam but being young Infantry men, our chances were very good.
The date was around June 27th, 1969. It was Monday morning and all 200 men that were assigned to this NCO School were in formation. Bob and I stood in the last row in the formation. The Sergeant In Charge went on to explain what would be covered in School and if we successfully complete the School we would be promoted to Sergeant E-5. It would be a promotion two ranks above our current rank, just by completing the School. Bob and I were not buying his BS. The last thing the Sergeant said before we were going to be dismissed to get ready to go to our first training class was, "anyone here that doesn't want to be here, raise your hand". Like clock work, Bob and I raised our hands as high as we could in the air so he could identified us. He then said, "everybody except the 2 that raised their hands are dismissed to go and get ready for class. Bob and I were starting to think that we were given bad advise from our Sergeant in Fort Lewis. The Sergeant made a bee line to where Bob and I were standing. He wanted to know why we didn't want to attend his NCO School. Bob and I took turn explaining why we thought it wasn't a good idea for the two us to complete the training and be sent to Vietnam as young Sergeants. He went on to explain to us that it wasn't that easy to get out of NCO School once we were assigned to it. The only way we could get out of it was to be kicked out of it and if that was what we wanted, he would make sure our next duty assignment would be Vietnam. He then dismissed us and told us to think about it and to go and get ready for class. Bob and I decided to give NCO School a chance. We complete the first week of class. NCO wasn't really that bad and if we had really want to complete it, I know that both Bob and I could have made it through without any problems. Bob and I decided that if the only way we could get out of NCO School was to get kicked out then that is what we would do. Each Friday afternoon, the 200 man class would have an inspection of our selves and equipment. We came up with the plan that when the Sergeant came and stood in front of us, looking us up and down, as we stood there at attention with our rifles in front of, that when the Sergeant went to snatch the rife out or our hands to inspect the cleanliness of it, that we drop the gun right as he reached for it. Our plan was set. We knew that being that careless with our rifles would get us kicked out for sure.
On the up coming Friday, Bob was standing a few men away from me in line as the Sergeant made he way to him. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched the whole thing unfold. Just as soon as the Sergeant went to snatch the rifle from Bob's hands, Bob dropped the gun right in the dirt. The timing was perfect. The Sergeant was so mad that I think he they were alone he may have swung at Bob. "Soldier get down and get that rifle and you are on Report". We never been on Report, but I knew we were on the right track to be kick out of NCO School. The Sergeant was getting closer to me and I was getting nervous. I figured that he might think that the same thing was going to happen with me. I had to think quick. As he ordered me to attention, there was no hesitation before he was snatching the rifle from my hands. I knew that I couldn't drop it because there was no hesitation, no time to react. So, I did the only thing I could, I did not let go of the rifle once he tried to snatch it from me. As I looked at him, he let up on his grip from the rifle and once he did I let go and right to the ground my gun went. Again, he yelled, "Soldier get down and get that rifle and you are on Report". The deed had been completed and the wheels were in motion.
After formation, the Sergeant dismissed everyone for a 2 day weekend leave except for Bob and I. He said that he knew what we were up to and that we were on report and that he would be watching our every move. He said that what we did was strike one and we had two more to go He then ordered us to do KP (Kitchen Patrol) for the next 2 days and that we would not be going on 2 day leave like everyone else. Bob and I spent 8 hours on Saturday and 8 hours on Sunday in a 10x10 foot building, filled with potatoes with a big garbage disposal in the floor in the center. The only thing we had was a potato peeler We were separated and we each had our own building to peal in. This gave me plenty of time to re-thing our decision of trying to get kicked out of NCO School, but after talking with Bob at night, we were more convinced that we were doing the right thing for our circumstances. The next week of classes, we would receive strike two and three. Bob asked around and he heard that we were going to be training in CS gas. Putting on and clearing our gas masks and making sure all is clear before we gave the order to take the mask off. Bob and I picked out a person who we were going to mess with in Gas training because we figured he would tell on us to the Sergeant if we were up to no good. During the CS gas training we knew that the signal was when we heard the pop the gas grenade makes when it is deployed. Our plans were set. Bob stood on one side of our victim and I stood on the victim's other side. Bob and I were just waiting on the pop sound as the Sergeant was giving some long drawn out speech when the grenade was deployed. Our victim was the first one in our group to yell, "Gas". Once that was said, everyone was supposed to take out their gas masks and put them on and clear them. The victim reached for his mask and as soon as he put it in front of his face to put it on, Bob slapped the mash out of his hands and it fell right on the ground. As soon as the victim bent over to pick it up, I kick the mask as far as I could away from him. CS gas will make you cry and makes it hard to breath but we knew that the victim saw Bob's face and I know that he looked right at my name tag on my uniform. Strike two was on it's way. After training, our victim went right to the Sergeant and told him the whole story. After training that day, the Sergeant held Bob and I over and just looked at us and the only thing he said was, "strike two".
Bob and I were cigarette smokers in the Army like most Army guys. At NCO School, you had to Field Strip a cigarette once you were through with it. That meant when you were finished smoking the cigarette you rolled it through your fingers and let the tobacco fall on the ground but you had to keep the cigarette paper and filter in your pocket until you could find a garbage can to dispose of it. The Sergeants would not stand to find a cigarette on the ground that was not Field Stripped. Strike three was being planned. On Wednesday night, while Bob and were at the EM club having a few beers and playing a few games of pool, we decided that every cigarette that we smoked that night, we would put in our pockets and take them back and scatter them in our company area. This would make the Sergeants furious and they would be looking for any smokers who drop cigarettes on the ground without Field Stripping them first. Strike three was now in place after Bob and I threw out butts on the ground before we went into the barracks. The next morning, none of the Sergeants mentioned anything about cigarette butts. It was School as normal. Around 10:00 a.m., we were released from class for a break. Once outside, about 8 of us from the class started to smoke. I knew something was up because I didn't see any Sergeants outside. I told Bob that I think we were being watched. As we finished up our cigarettes, Bob and I decided that we would just flip ours on the ground while everybody else Field Stripped theirs. Just as Bob and I flipped our cigarettes in the air, before they even touched the ground, three Sergeants came from no where and busted us. "So you like littering? Here is what happens to people who litter, you two are on report and you just make Strike Three. You will finish your day policing cigarette butts and you will be confined to the barracks until given further order." Well, it worked, Bob and I were officially kicked out of NCO School.
We were told that we would have to move out of the NCO barracks and into a holding barracks. There we would be assigned to a work detail and as long as we did not get into any further trouble we would receive Orders to our next duty assignment. This process could take up to 2 more months. Bob and I were at Fort Benning, Georgia from June 27th, 1969 to August 28th, 1969. I was assigned to an OCS (Officer Candidate School) brigade and worked the night shift from 6:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. sitting in their day room to answer the telephone in case of emergencies. Bob had a similar duty but was assigned to another NCO brigade.
It was around the middle of August when Bob and I were informed that our orders were cut. Bob and I went up to the mail room and were handed the Orders. Just as we expected, both of us were assigned to Vietnam and starting August 28th, we would be shipped home for a 30 day leave before reporting back to Fort Lewis, Washington, to be flown to the Republic of South Vietnam. I know my heart hit the floor, even though I knew it was coming, but to finally read it, it was now real. Bob and I made plans. While on leave, Bob would come to Jackson and stay with me for a while and I would go back with Bob to his house and stay with him before we had to leave for Vietnam. While we were still at Fort Benning, Bob told me that he talked with someone who told him that I did not have to go to Vietnam because I was the sole surviving son in my family. Bob said that I needed to go to the Chaplain's office and talk with him. Bob was trying to help me get out of Vietnam. Off to the Chaplain's office I went. He told me that it was true, I did not have to go to Vietnam but I had to verify that I was the sole surviving son in my family by calling my mother and having her get 4 certified letters from different sources to prove I was the surviving son. I rushed back to Bob and told him what the Chaplin said. I was feeling a little bad for Bob because he might have to go to Vietnam without me. But, I watched the National News about the war, it was serious stuff and people were getting killed everyday there. Bob understood and said that if he had a chance like mine, he would not go if he could get out of it. I made a phone call to my Mother that evening. I explained that I received Orders for Vietnam but I didn't have to go because I was the only male DeMusey left in our family to carry on the DeMusey name. I told her about the 4 certified letters that I needed and if she could, get the letters started right away. My Mother went on to tell me that she thought that Vietnam would be a good place for me to be and it would probably make "a man out of me". I told her that my chances of being killed over there were great since I was an Infantry man. She went on to tell me that she would not get the letters for me. After I hung up I went back to the barracks and told Bob not to worry about going to Vietnam alone, I would be right there by his side. I went on to tell him about my conversation with my Mother.
On August 28th, 1969, Bob and I boarded a plane to the San Francisco airport. My oldest Sister met me at the airport and I was on my way home. Bob’s brother John picked Bob up. The 30 day leave went fast. Getting all my friends together was a chore because most of them were going to College to beat the draft. Bob drove to my house in Jackson, in his Corvette and stayed with me and met most of my friends. We had a keg party in a field with a bonfire. Cars were parked around the fire with their doors open with all of the radios on the same station. Bob told me that this was really nice. While he was with me in Jackson, we went to the local dance in Sutter Creek, CA, and had fun dancing. We went to a few parties at my friends house and sat around talking. I said good bye to my family and friends.. There were many tears shed, but I tried to keep them inside. I didn't have any problems with my mother. I knew she wanted the best for me, and there would be no easy way out for me. As Bob and I pulled away from my house, I could see my two little sisters, Barbara and Elaine, standing in the drive way, waving good bye, and tears came to my eyes. I knew I wouldn't see them for a year, if I was lucky.
On September 26th, 1969, Bob and I left my house in Jackson and drove to Vallejo where he lived. I spent Friday and Saturday night at his home. I remember that when we reached their home there was another corvette parked there. I asked Bob, who's car is that when he told me that his younger brother John also owned a corvette. For two nights, Bob and I were on the go. We partied and visited his friends. We came in late at night and slept late in the morning, only to get up again, clean up and start all over.
Bob told me that he wanted to take me to San Francisco tomorrow and we come go to Haight-Ashbury and go into the clubs. The next day, Bob and I got up and just had a lazy morning. Bob received a phone call as I was getting dressed for the day. Bob came and asked me if I remembered a guy by the name of Dan who we both went through Basic Training with. I told Bob that I couldn't remember him. Bob said that he was home on leave too and that he was going to Germany and he wanted to go out with us tonight and take in the clubs. It sounded good to me. Our plans were to pick Dan up around 6:00 p.m. at his house and then head to Haight-Ashbury.
Bob and I left his house around 5:40 p.m. to pick up Dan. Dan's family had bought a new house in a brand new sub-division somewhere in the bay area. As we drove in the new sub-division, I could see that only 5 to 6 houses were occupied and many, many more were being built. We finally arrive at Dan's house. It was a two story house with what appeared to be a three car garage attached. The garage appeared to be bigger that our house in Jackson. As Bob got out of the car he said, I'll be right back, I'll get Dan. I got out of Bob's corvette and stood along side of it to have a cigarette. I could hear music coming from Dan's garage. The music was good. It was a band practicing their music. I was starting to get into the music. I tried to peek my head around to get a look into the garage without being noticed. Shortly, Bob and Dan came out to the car. I did recognize Dan as he said Hi! Bob said, you ready to go. I said, we don't need to go anywhere, we can stay here and listen to the band that was in the garage. I asked Dan what the name of the band was because they were really, really good. Dan said, it was a band named "Santana". He went on to say that they had just got back from back East where they played at Woodstock and now they were touring the Bay Area and needed a place to practice. Since Dan's sister was the girlfriend of the drummer, they were allowed to practice in their garage. Dan said, remember the name "Santana", they will be big some day. All three of us got into the corvette and we left to go clubbing.
We arrive in the Haight-Ashbury area and Bob found a place to park his car. We hung out on the street and watched the people walking on the street. I had never seen "hippies" before and this was all new for a Jackson boy to witness. After Bob, Dan and I got a hamburger to eat, it was time to go see if we could get into some of the clubs. We entered the first club we came to and we were lucky enough to get served beer from the bar. Music was playing and cigarette smoke filled the club. I was amazed at the amount of people that were in this club. All three of us found a table and sat down and drink our beer. Dan was talking to Bob and he told him that "Big Brother and the Holding Company" was playing in one of the clubs tonight. I had no idea of the band they were talking about. I grew up listening to Motown music. We ventured out of that bar and walked the street and were taking in the sights. There was a lot to see, buildings, people and cable cars. We had gone into several clubs and it was now around 11:00 p.m.. As we left one of the clubs we were walking in the direction of Bob's car when Dan saw a sign outside of a club that said "Big Brother playing tonight". As were got closer to the front door of the club, I could hear a female voice that sounded like she was singing blues. She had a screechy voice, very unique. Dan told Bob that it was Janice Joplin. I had never heard of Janice Joplin and I didn't think the music was that good. She was singing, "Take another piece of my heart", as we could only listen from outside since the club was packed. We stood outside the club until the band took a break around 12:00 midnight. We then left and drove Dan back home and dropped him off outside of his house as we all said good bye. Bob and I left and drove to Bob's house and went to bed. What a great night in the Bay Area.
Sunday morning, September 28th, 1969, Bob and I were driven to the SF Airport where we took a flight, sitting side by side, to Fort Lewis, Washington, where it had all started back in February. From Fort Lewis, we boarded a plane to Anchorage, Alaska. We were only on the ground for short time before we were in the air again. We flew for hours before we landed in Japan. We were allowed off of the plane for few minute and Bob and I took advantage of it. We stretched our legs and then we had to get back on the plane and continued to fly. It was around 10:00 p.m., when we landed in Da Nang, Vietnam. Our date of arrival to Vietnam was September 29th, 1969. This meant that our date of departure would be September 29th, 1970.
It was dark when we got off the plane. I remembered that it was warn and humid, but nothing like Georgia. There was a funny smell in the air. We were hurry onto a bus which drove us to an incoming barracks. Bob and I took the same bunk, and like always, I took the top and Bob was on the bottom. We slept through the night and the next morning, after they fed us, we had to attend an in-coming meeting where we signed all kinds of paper work. We were told that we were to write home every week, even if we didn't have anything new to tell the family or we would could possibly get into trouble. After about an hour in this meeting, we were released. We next went and were given new fatigues and jungle boots. We had to change clothes and wear our new Army clothing. After lunch, Bob and I were relaxing from the long flight, a Sergeant came in and took those of us that did not receive our new Orders and put us to work filling sand bags to replace some of the ones that were stacked up around the barracks. We asked the Sergeant who was supervising us if there were many rocket attacks at this Base and he went on to tell us that it was a weekly occurrence. He said that if we were going to be here for any length of time, we would see what he was talking about. Bob and I looked at each other and said, Thank God, only 364 more days to go.
Bob and I were in Da Nang for only 2 days when we received traveling Orders. We were going to be transferred to South Vietnam and we were leaving the next morning. After breakfast the next morning, Bob and I were driven to an Air Force troop transport, 4 engine, air plane. When we first drove up to the plane, it was just starting up. Smoke was coming out of all engines. We looked at each other and I said, "so this is how we are going to die". We were ordered onto the plane with our duffel bags. Once inside we saw that all of the seats had been removed. We had to sit on the floor. No seat belts, no seats, nothing. One of the crew members threw us each a parachute and was told to sit on it. We could use it if we were shot down, but he didn't know how many years ago the chute was packed. Before we knew it the plane was in the air. It was loud, wind was blowing all around us, dirt being blown all over us and the plane shook like it was about to fall apart. We sat on the parachutes and leaned our backs on our duffel bags. In about an hour and a half, we were descending, getting ready to land. We were landing at Bien Hoa Air Force Base in South Vietnam. An Army jeep was waiting to pick up Bob and I. Were driven to the south end of the runway. I could see that there were 5 big top tents set up near the runway. The driver of the jeep told us that each tent had a sign up in front of it. The first tent as A-D, the second tent had E-H and so on. He told us to go to the tent that had the letter of our last name and our new Orders would be there. Bob and I looked at each other and said, "Oh shit".
There were about a hundred or so GI's out there just like us. Over a loud speaker you could hear someone saying, "men, line up and get your Orders. Once you receive your Orders, listen up for your name being called, that person is here to pick you up to take you to your new Unit." I told Bob, "I am going to get in line and get my Orders and as soon as you get yours, meet me back here so I can find out what Unit you get assigned to." Bob said, "okay man, I don't like this, but I will meet you back here in a few." I made my way up to the front of the line. I was asked my last name and was handed my new Order. I was assigned to Blue Tigers, Delta Troop, 3rd of the 17th Air Cavalry. All I could focus on was Air Cavalry. The first thing that came to my mind was, maybe I will be a door gunner on a helicopter. I started to move to the back of the pack to where Bob and I were to met. He was already there. Bob said first, "where are you assigned?" I gave him a copy of my Orders and told him that I think I was going to be in an Air Cavalry Unit. I asked Bob, "where are you going?" He started to pull off a copy of his Order and tell me who he was assigned to when a Sergeant was yelling for Bob, “where are you?" Bob said, "I gotta go, I have your Orders and I will keep in touch, take care." I could hear another Sergeant yell, "DeMusey, William S., where are you?" With that, I went to shake hands with Bob, but we ended up hugging, and together we turned around and walked to our Sergeant's voices. My Sergeant was the closest, so I came up and said, "DeMusey reporting for duty." I quickly turned around to see where Bob was. I lost him in the sea of bodies that were moving towards their new Sergeants. It was like I left a relative. This was the first time that Bob and I were separated in the Army. He was like my brother. We had experienced the same experiences. We talked almost every night since February. Before I could even think about it any more, reality was setting in. I was more worried about Bob because I think he said that he was assigned to the 1st Cavalry. He would be straight infantry. I was assigned to the Air Cavalry and that sounded like being involved with helicopters. The Sergeant that was picking us up wasn't even assigned to the 3/17th Air Cavalry. He job was to drive us to the helicopter waiting for us at the end of the runway. There were 7 of us that were in the jeep, assigned to Delta Troop. We loaded the waiting helicopter and soon lifted off and we flew from one side of the Base to the other side where we landed. After we checked in and were assigned to one of three platoons, I quickly found out that Delta Troop was the only infantry unit assigned to the 3/17th Air Cavalry.
I soon found out that, yes, I was infantry, and the only thing helicopters had to do with us, was to transport us into and out of from dangerous situations. I was made a Sergeant's radio man. We were very busy and soon days turned into months. On January 2, 1970, while on a mission, my newest close friend in 3rd Platoon, Barney McCoy Smith, was killed along with our Sergeant. Things were not good and I would wonder how Bob was doing? Sometime in January, my Unit moved from Bien Hoa to Di An, South Vietnam. We were on a rotating schedule. We would pull a 7 day mission south of Saigon, move to Long Bien for 7 days, and then rotate back to base camp (now Di An) for 7 days, and then start it all over again. One of the times we rotated back to Di An, after we put up our gear and finished showers, while in the 25 man tent that 15 of us lived in, I heard a familiar voice. I could hear the voice say, "is there a Bill DeMusey that lives here?" I looked up, Oh my God, it was Bob. I yelled, "Bob, down here." It was like be reunited with a family member, a brother. I had not seen Bob for the last 3 1/2 months. I went to shake Bob's hand, but soon we were hugging. "Great seeing you Bob, you on leave?" Bob went on the tell me that he was AWOL (absent without leave. He went on to tell me that it was bad where he was at. They made him the 60mm machine gunner. He was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division. He said that he saw so much action that he just had to get away and come and see me. I asked him how in the hell did he find me since we moved about 45 miles northwest of where we were at Bien Hoa. He said he hitch hiked down Highway 1 and got a ride with a GI driving a big old truck to Bien Hoa. Once there, I went to were you guys were located and found a truck driver who was picking up some of the last stuff left behind in your guys move to here. He was getting ready to leave to drive here to Di An to drop it off and offer me a ride. He drove me all the was here. This was the first tent that I stopped by and here I am. We talked all night. We went to the EM club and drank beer and listen to music, just like old times. I told Bob that he couldn't stay too long because I did not want him to get into any trouble. Bob agreed and we partied into the early hours of the morning. The next day, Bob and I went to the mess hall and after we talked into the early afternoon. He decided that he needed to get back so he didn't get into too much trouble, so around 5:00 p.m., after dinner, we said our good byes and Bob hitched a ride from one our truck drivers to Highway 1, where Bob said he would have no problem getting back to his unit. That was the last time I saw Bob while in Vietnam.
On September 29th, 1970, I boarded a "Freedom Bird" from Vietnam back to the "World". When I was boarding the plane to home, I looked for Bob. I got up several times before we took off and didn't see him. I first thought, I hope he made it out alive. I was wounded three times and received 1 Purple Heart. I just hoped that he was either on another flight out today, or maybe he left the day before. God I hope he was okay.
Once off the plane at San Francisco, I was trying to see if Bob had been on the plane by taking my time walking from the plane to the terminal. People were standing outside the chain linked fence with their faces pressed up against the fence yelling, "Baby Killers, Murders, Rapist" and other insults along with spit coming from all directions. I soon gave up lagging behind looking for Bob because the spit was coming to close. I thought, I just got back from putting my life on the line for the last year and this is my welcome home.
I did not see Bob while processing out at San Francisco. My sister picked me up at the airport and drove me home to Jackson. I was having a hard time adjusting to being home. I often wondered how Bob was doing. I soon realized that I did not have his phone number, didn't know where he lived other that Vallejo and I didn't even have a way to drive there. My friends stopped coming around except for a few. Nobody wanted to talk about the war, not even my Brother-In-Law. So, like most Vietnam Veterans, we just kept it inside and went on about life. I would believe that is what happened with Bob. In August 1971, I married my wife. If it wasn't for her, I probably would of ended up in prison or would have died at an early age. This August will be 44 years the wife and I will be married.
The last time I saw Bob was sometime in the winter of 1971. The wife and I were coming out of Mel's Diner in Jackson after eating when a corvette came pulling into a parking space where I was standing and almost hit me. I thought, what the hell is a matter with this idiot. I heard, "Bill!" I looked inside the car and it was Bob. He and a young lady were stopping into Mel's for a cup of coffee to go, because they were on their way to Lake Tahoe to go skiing for the weekend. We talked a few minutes while their coffee was being prepared. We hugged and said that one day we would get together. This was the last time I ever saw Bob. I ended up going back into the Army in 1972 to 1974 and was stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado. I heard that Bob worked for the VA somewhere in the bay area, but don't know that for a fact. Bob had met my best buddy from High School when he came and stayed with me before Vietnam. Somehow they hooked up several times when Chris was going to Berkeley College. Chris still tells the story of how Bob and he went out drinking and to the car races in Stockton, California the night Chris turned 21, which was May 25th of 1971. On the way to Bob's house after closing some bar, Bob blew threw a stop sign near his house and a Policeman saw him. Bob decided to out run the cop and the chase was on. Chris said that Bob turned off his headlights in the corvette and they skidded into Bob's garage and closed the garage door and the cops never did catch them.
I found out that Bob had two failed marriages in his short life. I know for a fact that he suffered from PTSD. I miss him every time I think of the Army or Viet Nam. I wish I could have been more involved in his life.