Saturday, April 29, 1972
Ready When You Are, Mr. President
The 196th Inf. Brigade troops dropped from the trucks to the ground burdened with full field packs and weapons. The rain beat against their faces and helmets as reporters informed them that only minutes before Nixon had announced that 20,000 more U.S. troops would be pulled out of Vietnam by July 1.
"He didn't say combat troops," said Spec. 4 Mike Crookston, 22, of Santa Barbara, Calif. "If he was going to pull us out he would have said combat troops."
In addition to protecting Phu Bai installation, the 196th Inf. Brigade is responsible for protecting American forces at Da Nang and the big U.S. air base there from which U.S. Air Force fighter--bombers have been pounding Communist troops and supply positions.
"As long as we have noncombat troops in Da Nang, we're not going anywhere, the busy, mustached GI said.
"Somebody's got to protect the fly boys," said Spec. 4 Randall Johnson, from Clearwater, Kan.
"I hope I get pulled out," said Pfc. Jerry Hernandez of Woodland, Calif. "I just want to go home."
"I don't see how come they don't set a date to pull all the troops out of Vietnam," he added.
The President also announced the U.S. would continue its bombing of North Vietnam.
"That's cool. Keep bombing the North," said Spec. 4 George McDonough, 20, Newburgh, N.Y.
"We're not looking for any contact with the NVA here," he said.
"Without the bombing the NVA would have been here already," one GI said.
"If he (Nixon) stopped bombing, we'll have to stop shooting," said Pfc. Wayne Nagel of San Pedro, Calif. "There's no sense in us going out and fighting them face to face when bombing their positions will do the job."
The resumption of the peace talks in Paris drew only criticism from the tired troops, who were back for a five day rest in the rear before returning to the field.
"I think Nixon's wasting his time. The Communist don't want to talk. They"re stalling. They want a military victory is all they want," said Spec. 4 Don Rudolph, of Paducah, Ky.
"They'll go back to the peace talks and we'll go back to the field," Crookston said.
"Ready When You Are, Mr. President", by Spec. 4 Ken Schultz, published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Saturday, April 29, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
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