My name is Eddie Viers. I’m a veteran of the Vietnam War. I was seventeen years old when I went into the service. I was sent to Fort Holoberg, Maryland and Fort Jackson, South Carolina for basic training. When I first went into the armed services, I felt like it was the thing to do. A lot of people were going and a lot of people were leaving school to go. It was an accepted way of growing up. I felt patriotic. I volunteered for the draft because I knew I would have to go either way. Either I would have to sign up or they would make me. By the time I started the Vietnam War had already been in progress for quite some time. So, with the war, I had a choice to sign up or to go to Canada with the rest of the draft dodgers.
I don’t remember who my drill sergeant was at basic training, but I don’t want to remember him. I never got homesick really badly; they kept me busy. They taught me military conduct, basic operating procedures, AIT, using weapons, commands, etc. AIT is Advanced Infantry Training. That’s where you are given training in whatever field they need you in the most at the time.
I stayed in the U.S, for about a year before they sent me to Vietnam. I was transported by boat on the S.S. John Pope. It took thirty days and thirty-one nights to get there. We landed in Plieku harbor in Vietnam. We started out from Oakland, California. First coming to Vietnam was like an excursion into hell. It was totally foreign. It smelled horrible. Everything was different. The whole place smelled like the outside of a latrine. It was totally different…
I was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade and I was transferred from the 82nd state side, put in a 1049 as a request. We had to request to go to Vietnam because the base pay was eighty-five dollars a month. We received an extra fifty-five dollars a month for jump pay, so I went to jump school. I was stationed with the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg for a little while, and then I requested to go to 173rd because they were forming a battalion to go to Vietnam. I was then sent to Camp Roberts, Vietnam. My commanding officer at 173rd was General Love, though I never saw him. He had a U.S.1 D huey helicopter and he had a picture of a lovebird stenciled on the bottom of it so you could see it and know it was him. That’s all I ever saw of him.
I was a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol sniper. I guess Camranh Bay was the biggest town we’d ever visited, but it got most of its population from whore houses.
We saw Vietnamese soldiers everyday but we worked out of the office from South Vietnamese. We were a self-contained unit of only five people. Our patrols were our business and not be overseen unless we gave them support. They worked only for information, not our direct support.
We had very little time for relaxation or recreation over there. We worked out in the bush for thirty days and we were supposed to have five days off. This is because it took about two days to get out, one day taking a bath, and two days to get back in. You could be forced to go thirty days without a bath or a hot meal. We ate pork and lima beans that were made for WWII troops. It was processed for them, but there was so much left over because they had made it in bulk, so that’s what they would feed us. Either that or cheese and crackers that were canned inside of tin. The crackers were so hard, you could break your teeth on them and the cheese was so bad you could break the crackers in it. No matter what you got, it was all in a can and cold. We couldn’t cook it ourselves because you can’t risk fire or smoke.
As snipers we only killed officers because they were the leaders and if you kill the leaders, the entire army isn’t as powerful. You had to be extremely careful in the jungle for booby traps. You spent half of your time looking out for traps. They could booby trap a fence post. You had people fall out of line and point to the trap until everyone passed. There were bamboo pits, snake pits, mouse traps, bombs, mines, sticks that would set off artillery rounds and kill a whole group of people, traps that would slice people in half, and that’s just to name a few.
I used a M-1 grand customized. A sniper weapon. We used everything they had in their weapons stores except for a bull tribes, which we had expert teams do. We used a lot of plastic explosives, things like that.
Vietnam was like hell without fire. We slept on the ground, and you either burned up in the sunshine or froze to death in the rain. The ground was extremely rock hard one day and then the next, the rain made it so you were knee deep in thick mud. The insects were horrible. They have bugs there that don’t even have names yet. There were scorpions, mosquitoes, cockroaches, things like that. They gave us insect repellent, but it seemed to me like it just attracted them. It gave them something else to eat on.