Clinton Grenz Vietnam Experiences

Some of you have asked that I write about my experiences in Vietnam. I began this project some time ago. Several weeks ago, a writer and publisher contacted me to share my story for a book he is writing. He asked for the info that you will find in "My Story"

My Story

I shall never forget may 1969. I Stepped off an air conditioned jetliner at Lon Bing, South Vietnam, into a blast of very hot, humid air, into a 12-month journey of a fear of the unknown. As we were leaving the airport for Long Bing, the sirens began to blow. The Sergeant in the bus said we would get used to incoming rockets not to worry about it.
After briefings and orientation at Long Bing, I received my combat boots, ill-fitting jungle fatigues and steel pot. I was on my way to the largest combat division in VIETNAM, the Americal (23rd) Division, located in te heart of communism, a place called Chu Lie, f0 miles south of Da Nang. I stayed at Division Headquarters for seeral days for briefings by the Chief of Staff and Asst Division Chaplain.

I was told by the Chief of Staff, that I would be assigned to the 1st Squadron, 1st Cav. Battalion, to help the Commander with a number of serious problems this battalion was experiencing. Examples of some of the problems: the Command Sergeant Major had gone AWOL never to return to the Squadron, the chain off command had broken down, due to lack of respect and discipline, NCO's were drinking, GI's were strung out on Pot, and young officers were either doing pot or getting drunk with the GI's. The attitude was, "Go ahead and give me article 15, Court Marshal me and then ship me back to the states, I Don't care". The Chief of Staff informed me that the Commander, LTC John H Dure III, was one of the finest and straight Commander in the Division at this time who really tried to do his best as a Commander. Perhaps I, as experienced Chaplain, could help the Commander bring some order out of chaos.
My ride from Division Headquarters to Hawk Hill took some 20 minutes via chopper. The events that followed the next several months were nothing less the pure hell. Income rockets at sunrise and sunset, sapper attacks at night, mines blowing up jeeps and tanks, helicopters being shot out of the sky, many memorial services. This all brought about intense fear of the unknown frustration anxieties and anger as I tried to sort out why men lived such amoral ungodly lives and at the same time I needed to adjust to a combat environment and conduct those many chapel and memorial services and counsel individual soldiers when their friends were killed. It was only by God's grace and the protection of His angels that I survived mentally, physically, morally, and spiritually.

I arrived at my Unit on a firebase known as Hawk Hill located between TAM Key and Da Nam. Less than 30 minutes upon y arrival the fire base experienced incoming rockets. Major John M Hayes, Executive Officer met me at the chopper pad and proceeded to give me a tour of the Hark Hill 0erimeter and my hooch which was beside a small chapel made of wood and bamboo thatched roof. We had just begun the tour by jeep when the Major and driver hit the ground yelling incoming. I baled out of the back seat and hit the ground until the rocket attack stopped. His words to me were "you will get used to it. If you don't, you'll not survive." That particular rocket attack blew apart of TC Dure's Hooch away. We proceeded to my Hooch where the Major showed Me a weapon that I could use if any sappers came through the perimeter to my hootch. My office was located in my bunker, sandbagged hootch, which was also my sleep.
I never carried or used any weapon during my entire stay in Viet Nam. I prayed to God that His angels would protect me from all harm. To this day, I strongly believe God answered by prayers.



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