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Christmas Dinner 1966

No presents, no Santa Claus, just rain and more rain. Christmas day December 25, 1966. Convoyed from Dong Ho to a site that later became Camp Evan. Spent the afternoon digging in and laying our howitzers. Instead of Santa, we got mortared and the grunts, a ground attack. Then the rains came. Wet powder, swollen ammo boxes and fiber containers. The call for illumination coming from every direction. Then a night move that put us in a river bed. During the night The dry river bed became a river. Morning found my section on an island. Some positions were flooded. Unfortunately the Howtar (mortars mounted on pack howitzer chassis) had been located below us, but no one knew that an earthen dam was there and since water seeks its own level, the battery was completely submerged.

Christmas packages from some schools in California were delivered and soon as they were opened, the stationery and envelopes were soaked. The candy and other goodies were added to our Christmas dinner of Turkey Loaf, Ham and shrapnel, Meatball and beans, crackers and cheese without the benefit of fire to heat anything. HO! HO! Merry Christmas!

Albert Dixon, GySgt, USMC, Ret.

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MSgt Juan Reyna, USMCR - April 26, 2020

Just like GySgt Dixon, no presents, no Santa Claus, just rain and more rain. With 4 other Marines manning one 106mm recoiless rifle from H&S Co, and two squads from Charlie Co, 1/7 sitting on top of PF Hill. Fighting holes full of water, you just sat on the sand bags during your watch. Just had to watch for snakes that also headed for the high ground due to the surrounding water filled rice paddies.Turned 20 two days after Christmas, but didn’t care (no Birthday presents either), I would be going home in a couple of months. At least we had a tent for the five of us and pallets for a floor. Every now and then you’d see a snake passing through the pallet. I don’t recall that we had anything special from any other day. PF Hill was about a mile from a small village on Highway 1 somewhere around Chu Lai. All I knew was that it was called PF Hill because it had been used by the French and or the local Popular Forces during the French part of the war. Trenches were still there, we just had to prop them up a bit.

Bob Mauney, Cpl of Marines - April 26, 2020

Oh yes, I remember that Christmas too well. I was in A Co. 3rd Shore Party Bn. We convoyed out form Thuan An east of Hue and set up just north and across the river from Camp Evans. We only knew it as either Fire Base Chinook or CoBi TonTon (spelling?). Our Lt told us to dig in and pitch our shelter halves over our holes. We knew that wouldn’t work but he persisted. We did what we were told to do except we wrapped up in our ponchos and slept on the ground in the rain outside of our shelter halves. The next morning we looked inside our shelter halves and the holes were full of water. That ground was so muddy that tanks bellied out and had to be pulled out by tank retrievers. Three of us took our ponchos and shelter halves and made a hooch near by. Two of us came up with air mattresses so we took turns sleeping in the middle so every third night at least one of us was a little dryer and warmer than the other two. I know we stayed wet, cold and muddy for several weeks. I can’t remember the exact dates but some time later we convoyed over to the Camp Evans area. As we were going in our truck driver started to pull off of the road in tracks where another vehicle had gone at some other time. Just before the he pulled over the convoy commander came by and told everyone to move up one position. We didn’t know why but our driver did as told. Just as we started getting down off of our 6x the truck behind us pulled off where we stared to and hit a booby trap and blew up. I do remember that the right front fender came over our heads as we were taking cover under the truck we had just off of. It happened pretty close to the 4th Marines Aide Station as I recall and Corpsmen were there within seconds of the blast. They came by us with two Marines on stretchers. I don’t think anyone was killed but they sure looked pretty dazed. Luckily the truck was carrying supplies with only the driver and his “shotgun” man on board. We then manned the LZ on a little knoll near the back of the base. I also remember that a tank ran over a booby trapped bomb killing it’s crew and some grunts that were riding on top. To this day, I remember staying out next to the LZ for a couple days with parts of seven (I think) bodies on four or five stretches before the weather let up enough to get a chopper in to get them out. Those were hard times for everybody involved, some more than others.

Ronald Hoffman - April 26, 2020

We were told that operation was to last two weeks. We ended up out there in the rain for 8 days short of 3 months. I was in the Comm Section of C/1/13 while Dixon was on the guns. Since it wasn’t a social gathering out there we never met. We only wanted to get dry and get the hell out of that place. My birthday followed Christmas by two days. My birthday present was one can of Ham & Lima beans. Just what I wanted with a nasty case of the S**ts. If anyone wants to know just what it was like that Christmas, it’s all in my book, ‘To Hear Silence’ at Amazon. It was one muddy, rainy operation that was called, Chinook 1 & 2. The area became known as Camp Evans after Paul Evans (age 20) who was the first Marine killed out there.

Ed Noll - April 26, 2020

Darn it GySgt Dixon, some guys got to have all the fun on Christmas day. Hope this one is even better Albert. Semper-Fi brother Marine

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