In Feburary of 1968, the first platoon (B 2/47) was sent to a fire 
support base just outside of a rubber plantation called Long Tan or Khan - it has 
been too long for me to remember the correct name and besides, who gives a 
     There was a very prosperous village located next to it and a 
smattering of hootches all around. We would run patrols and APs but basically it was 
a kick back situation for awhile. It got ugly later.  There was not much in the 
way of enertainment but we managed something so we would not go completely 
     During the daytime, a sweet and very cute girl we called Susy would 
sell us cokes. She was always smiling and would joke around with us. Her age 
was indeterminate so we respected her like a younger sister. We had a 
sergeant in our platoon by the name of Norman Erbland. He was respected by all and 
well-loved by all. He was 24 and considerably older than the rest of 
us, an old man for a grunt. When Norman was around, he was a barometer for the 
platoon. He was always upbeat and smiling, like I said, a great guy. 
Susy was always flirting with him and he was her favorite. I have to be 
truthful here and say that I think that everyone had a crush on Susy. 
We used to tease Norman about her and he would sheepishly turn his head and 
     One day the platoon discovered a VC/NVA bunker complex. We captured an 
NVA nurse but instead of searching the bunker complex and setting up an 
ambush (that made too much sense to higher ups), they had us vacate the area 
and called in Tac Air. Our Lieutenant (a good man) always listened to 
enlisted men and I asked him about the decision. He told me that we would come 
back the next day and I told him that they would be waiting for us. Let me 
emphasize that the Tac Air was not the Lieutenant's brainchild, that 
was the "higher ups." I am sure you know who the higher ups were, the same ones 
that Abraham was going to offer his son Issac to on the stone altar. But I 
digress. We went back to the complex and two troopers were on point, Hasty and 
Erbland. An AK went off on automatic mode and Norman was mortally 
wounded, he died within a few minutes of being wounded.
Life went on but something was definitely lost. His death knocked the 
shit out of the morale of the platoon but we recovered. We eventually left 
that FSB and went on to other areas of Disneyland East.
I was sent to Ft. Hood, Texas. During my eighteen months there, I met a 
brother (as in Soul for you rednecks out there) and he served with the 
2/39th, another good unit that had their share of woes. He was in the 
the same FSB that we had been in but had come in after we had pulled out. 
The people that lived in that area were women, old men, and children. 
Anyone that was capable of humping was humping for one side or the other. I do 
believe it was for the other side. It was rumored that Susy's father 
was a Main Force trooper and I do believe that it was likely so.
I asked the brother if he knew Susy and he grinned and said that he 
had. He then told me that the VC had warned Susy not too fraternize with the 
Americans. Susy disregarded the warnings. The VC got hold of Susy, 
raped her, and then cut her to pieces. After he finished, I walked away and sat 
down. I wish I could be like the French and say, "Ce'st la guerre." I can't. All 
I can say is... that fucking war,... that fucking war.

submitted by John Driessler, 4/21/01

More submissions by John Driessler

Widow's Village
True Stories


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