About

office photo of me 10:24:13

Welcome to my blog

I’m Larry Beck but I use the pen name of lb woodgate for my blog.

This blog allows me to express views, often socially progressive in nature, to discuss an array of issues.  Some serious, others not so much.

I hold an B.A. from the University of North Texas (big whoop) where I majored in Sociology and minored in Political Science.  Yes, I have “palled around” with academics.

I served a stint in the Marine Corps back in the latter part of the 60’s and did a tour of duty in Vietnam, getting there one month before the Tet offensive exploded.  I saw the best and worst of people as a Marine and value the time, comradery and experiences I had but knew before my first and only enlistment was up that I was not meant for such a regimented life.  I am grateful that after going in as a kid I came out a bit more mature.

Pretty much everything interests me but I tend to focus on political and environmental science, religion, and elder issues.

I welcome any and all who share similar concerns and even those who don’t.  All I ask is that you keep it civil.  Respectful conversation, tolerance and a willingness to learn outside the box is what strengthens us as individuals and as a people.  Or at least it seems that way.

30 responses to “About

  1. I am also surrounded by conservatives (or, at least, Republicans) in Kansas, although there is a pocket of intelligent life in Johnson County, where I live.

  2. Hi Larry. I came across your comments on John Zande’s page. It seems we share similar views on multiple fronts, so I popped over here. Great stuff. I look forward to reading your work. By the way, Semper Fi, Devil. Good to see a fellow Marine on WordPress.

  3. Hi Larry- I, like Doug Dawkins , served with A Battery, !st LAAM Bn on hill 724 at Hai Van Pass from 10/66-11/67. I ran the supply function on the hill there for part of that time. When were you there? Have you been in touch with other Marines who served on 724? please do consider attending our reunion, or at least share you story, so we can relate it to others who attend. Semper Fi! brother. Ken Bruno

    • Ken, it appears that both you and Doug were stationed on 724 before I got to Vietnam which was early December, 1967. After sleeping just off of the DaNang airstrip where we were dropped off on a late incoming flight, I was picked up by a truck dispatched from 1st LAAM Bn “A” and taken to my new post. I was there for about a month when the Tet offensive broke out.

      We received incoming rounds for two nights with the heaviest fire on the first night. Some NVA regulars came up the east side of the mountain and tossed satchel charges at the missal launchers located there but did very little damage. Unfortunately for one of them, a young NVA officer was killed from shrapnel of the 16” explosives fired from the USS New jersey which was in the DaNang harbor at the time. The infantry unit stationed with us found his body on the other side of the perimeter wire the next day when they swept the hill for any other potential threats to our security.

      We had a couple of wounded, none severe, and the targets that they were apparently going for missed their mark. One of the targets was the generators that supplied power not only to our living facilities but to the BCC, radar and missal launchers. This sticks in my mind so vividly because about a week before we were hit I was walking down the gravel road from the command post cabin near the top of the hill heading back to my bunker assignment for that night near the living quarters below. As I was meandering down that road when a shawowy figure bolted across the road about 20 ft. in front of me. Startled just a little bit it crossed my mind that this was some huge animal. I recall even thinking it looked like a kangaroo. How odd since none inhabit that part of the world.

      It was only after we were hit and we could see that they were targeting the generators that it dawned on me what I saw was likely a human being, an NVA recon observer who had breached our perimeter to explore the hill to see where valuable targets lay. When he ran past me on the road that night he was coming from the area where the generators were located. Had there been a full or partial moon that night I would have better identified my shawdowy figure and, having my rifle with me and a magazine in it locked and loaded, I may have gotten off a few rounds.

      When we did get hit a week later I was at post #5, next to the shower hooch, near the bottom of our base camp. I was asleep at the time and my partner came scurrying down from the top where we stood watch and shook me to alert me of the incoming rounds. I threw on my boots and grabbed my rifle. I remember panicking just a little because I had only brought one magazine with me. Before Tet most of us never imagined we would be attacked so we were slack in our preparation for guard duty.

      I was able to get both flares off from our ammo box out of the bunker aperture. I recall hating that we had no more than two and wondered why no one else seemed to be setting theirs off. Later I was informed by the infantry unit commander that it was best to avoid lighting up the hill to give the VC a better view of what was going on. I don’t recall getting that information.

      I felt unsafe in my bunker once the shelling had stopped and began to imagine that enemy troops would be assaulting us. That bunker was a sitting target for a rocket or hand grenade tossed into the aperture. So I hustled outside about 10 yards away behind a big boulder where I could get a good view of the slope below me. As I was perched there I heard someone hustling down from the area from the where the mess hut was located and was able to see it was one of the guys who bunked in the same hooch with me. He had his rifle in his hand and no helmet. Turns out he brought no ammo either and we both laughed about it later.

      For some reason I had the presence of mind to play a little scare tactic on him as he bolted toward our bunker, yelling out “Halt, who goes there!” Under these conditions I’m sure he thought I would have fired at him so he started screaming “don’t shoot” and yelling out his name. He couldn’t see me as I sat there chuckling at the fear he was exhibiting knowing damn well I would have reacted in the same way had the situation been reversed.

      Later, as the sun started coming up and it was clear that the VC were not going to waste man-power on our position I became aware how much my feet were killing me. It was at that time I realized that earlier in the excitement of being attacked that I had put both boots on the wrong feet and wore them like that for the last 2-3 hours. Clearly adrenaline flow at high rates can supersede minor aches and pains.

      We never experienced any further attacks after the second night but we were a bivouac area for several Army (101st Airborne) and Marine combat units on their way North where the heavy fighting at Hue and Khe Sanh was going on. It was later discovered that the larger hill adjacent to us on the west side was heavily fortified by the VC and where they found a pretty sophisticated field hospital. It was terrifying to watch the napalm attacks on this hill. Unlike some who watched with me I remember not feeling the inclination to cheer on this brutal attack realizing that other humans may be underneath it all.

      I was just a kid of 18 while there but I remember after seeing some of the horrors of war for the first time then and in the months to come, my entire attitude changed from one of a gung-ho Marine to something of an anti-war advocate. That sensation only became more pronounced when I returned to the states in late December, 1968.

      I got an early out since my MOS as a radar operator was considered non-critical so not only did I leave Vietnam behind me when I arrived home but I left the Corps too. As I have stated on tis page, the experiences had in the Marine Corps were unique and memorable. The comaraderie I experienced as a jar head will be with me always.

      I wish I could be there for the reunion in May but I suspect I will most likely not. Please feel free to share what I have provided for you here and if you run into a guy from Oklahoma named Doug Graybill who palled with me while stationed on 724, give him my best regards. There was also a member of the infantry unit stationed with us that I became friends with named Robert House that I wouldn’t mind seeing again either so if he makes it there let him know I was thinking of him.

      I hope both you and Doug stay in touch and do let me know how the reunion went.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s