Vietnam In The Pictures And Words Of Eric Schwartz

 
Thank You Eric!  To you and the many others like you. 
The ones who came home, and the ones who didn’t.

The Last Patrol – It was 40 years ago
this is a team picture taken at the end of sept 1970. I did not know it at the time, but it turned out to be my last patrol. When the team returned from the bush, I was called into the office and was told that I had orders to leave for okinawa in the morning, thus my viet nam tour was over.

Eric Schwartz is a Vietnam veteran, a father, a mail carrier, photographer, a gardner and a friend I’ve never met in person. We met on the Flickr  photo sharing site on the internet where we share discuss our photographs.   Many of the images he posts are of him and his friends in Vietnam while serving as marines.  One of the things that strikes me as I gaze at his pictures is how young these men were. They should have still been boys, but they were forced to grow up at a time they should have still been out playing and enjoying their youth.

The photo to the right is of Eric with his children at the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. in August of 2007.

These days when not working for the U.S. Postal Service Eric spends much of his time making and posting images of his flower garden, scenes from places he visits and from daily life around his home in Oakland, Ca.  He is one of the lucky ones who returned home to a life more normal.  Some of his friends were not so fortunate. 

The words accompanying the photographs are those of Eric.  I let him speak for himself.  There is no way I could embelish what he has to say. 

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Crazed Nam Vets – 1st Recon bn reunion August 2001
top row left to right: Doc Upton, Cayenne, Ron Kline(silver star winner), Me
bottom row left to right: Larry Huffman, Crazy Jim

    

 Mad Moment – Vietnam 1970, we might have worn love beads, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t know the business end of an M-16.

 

 Doggie and Nano – Nano was KIA Nov 18, 1970
he was a quiet and calm young man
He was a true friend and
I think of him often.
photo by Larry “Lodi” Elkins
 
November 18,1970 was a dark day in Marine Corps history.
A recon team from the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion call sign, “Rush Act” was 3 day overdue from extraction and was out of food and water with several Marines injured. They were located on a high peak in the Que Son mountains (AT 967407) on a difficult slope. Many attempts were made to extract them in the days prior to November 18th but were thwarted by monsoon rains and clouds. On November 18th Major Ted Tobin set out from the recon helo pad with Lt Curt Rogers flying his wing. Tobin’s aircraft carried the CO of the 1st Marine Reconnaissance Battalion, Lt Col William G. Leftwich, his operations officer and several other extract certified Marines. While flying to the location of Team Rush Act, Tobin’s CH-46 experienced RPM surges that required it to land at LZ Baldy, several clicks south of there intended mission. At LZ Baldy it was determined that the “SPIE” rig would be transferred to Lt Curt Rogers CH-46 (Bureau# 154837). Once the transfer was complete the section departed for the pickup. LT Rogers flew over the team in bad weather but was able to spot them and began the extraction. During the extraction the weather deteriorated quickly resulting in extremely poor visibility. Lt Rogers reported he had the team and was departing the area. He was not heard from again. During the retrograde operation the following day it was clear that the CH-46 carrying Team Rush Act and all there command staff made a turn in IFR conditions and flew into the side of the mountain killing all 16 Marines.
 
 
Me And Doan – On a slow day in the Nam, Frank Doan and I take off our macho warrior masks and show ourselves as what we were beneath all of the stress of being on the front line……teenaged boys.
 
 
Hippy Me In The Nam – Flashback Viet Nam 1970   Here I am . . . I just spent a week in the weeds.  This photo was taken at 1st Recon Bm, 1st Marine Divisions rear area.  The place is called Camp Reasoner, (After medal of honor winner Lt Reasoner) LZ401, Da Nang.  Have you any clue as to how a person smells after humping the jungles of Nam?  Pretty fucking rank.  But now I am smelling fresh as a daisy.  I cleaned my rifle, stowed my gear, took a shit, a shower and a shave.  Then, I went over to the barber shop that was run by the Zips and got myself a stunning Marine Corps issue high and tight haircut.  Wow, ain’t I cool in my tiger stripe cammy shirt and my hippy dippy purple tinted peepers.  After spending a week putting my ass out on the line, doing what I loved best. . . Recon (OOH RAH!!!), I think that when the sun goes down, I owe it to myself to mosey over to a certain hootch, the one where the heavy People hang out, & have a toke or two of that fine Nam herb, and just chill with my homies, maybe they will have some fine tunes on the Sony reel to reel.  Cause you know what?  In a day or two I’ll be back out there mixing it up with Mr. Charles.  So what are they going to do shave my hair and send me to Nam???  OOH RAH and Semper Fi!! and welcome ack to the world to all of you arheads, Squids, cannoncockers, grunts, seabees, dog faces, GI you Number fucking tens, medics, corpsman, wingwipes, sailorboys, airdales, deck apes, snipes, skivvey wavers, scouts, dog handlers, shit birds, KPers, coke machine officers, m60 humpers, RTOs, donut dollies, nurses, chaplins, docs, cookies, river rats, tunnel rats, juicers, heads, rear area mother fuckers, supply clerks, ammo humpers, door gunners, crew chiefs, and all others who served in the Nam.  Wannabees take a fucking hike!!
* * * * * * * * * *
Welcome Home Eric!
 
 To see more of Eric Schwartz’ images from Vietnam and to read more of his words click here.
 
  Cosmos blooming in Eric’s garden.
To see more images by Eric Schwartz in addition those from Vietnam click here.
 
Text and images copyright Eric Schwartz and Dave Michael.  No part of ths article may be reproduced in any form without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

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2 Responses to “Vietnam In The Pictures And Words Of Eric Schwartz”

  1. Eric Says:

    Dave,
    Thank you so much for putting this up!
    this I really great…I hope that people who find this..will see us for who we were…just a bunch of young kids asked to do a very difficult job.
    eric

  2. Eric Says:

    It wasa great day

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