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About

This site is about my time and experiences during my two year enlistment in the US Army.  The main focus of the time that I was in Army will be the one year I spent in Vietnam (RVN).

You probably want to know a little about me.  My name is Val Wuthrich, I went by the nickman of  Woody while in Vietnam .  I was born in Idaho back in 1948.  I have lived in Idaho most of my life.  I’m married and work full time as an IT consultant in the resort town of Ketchum, Idaho.  I was in the Army from mid May of 1968 until mid May of 1970.  I spent one year of that time in Vietnam, from Oct of 1968 to Oct of 1969.  After Vietnam I was stationed at Ft Carson, Co.  I was glad to be back by the Rocky Mountains.  For years I just “forgot” about the “War”.  It was easier to try and forget.

Val Wuthrich with his M-79. Jeff in back ground.

 39 Responses to “About”

  1. Terry Stewart says:

    Val:

    I am presently stuck in San Francisco at the airport and decided to browse through the sign-in logs at the USO and found your name. You signed in on 13 October 1969 enroute from Vietnam to Ft. Carson. I was looking through the Idaho list as I am from St. Charles, Idaho. A google search brought me to your page. I just thought you would like to know.

    Regards,

    SSG Terrill “Terry” Stewart
    807th Medical Command

  2. Woody says:

    Terry, thank you for your comment. I do want to know about things like that. I have been trying to remember everything about my Army service, especially my time in Vietnam. I don’t remember visiting the San Francisco USO on my return from Vietnam, but I do know that I was happy to be back in the “World” and probably wanted people to know that I made it back alive. I’m so glad you found where I signed the book, then found my blog and left a comment. I would be interested in hearing about your Army experiences. Thanks again, Val

  3. Linn says:

    Your story of Terry Wender was good to read, he’s my cousin and I remember well the day we learned of his death…I was in 5th grade…..his mom was the strongest and most amazing woman I’ve known. Do you have any pics of Terry? Thanks for sharing.

  4. Woody says:

    Hi Linn, I’m sorry that it has taken until now to write a reply back to your post here. I think I responded to you with an e-mail. I’m hoping to keep all future writing confined to this blog. I think if some of the correspondence occurs behind the scenes it takes away from the richness of this blog. After all that is what a blog is for.

    I’m hoping you can share some of your memories of Terry here. As I told Anita I hope to be able to tell some more stories about us ‘boys’, Terry being one of the ‘boys’. We were together for a short time in Vietnam, but there was a great bound created between us.

    I talked to Anita today and she was a great encouragment. I hope I can write things that you all will want to read and comment on. Woody

  5. Casey Carlsen says:

    Val, I have been thinking of you over the last month or so and have decided to leave you a message. I have been to several trainings as a result of my employment. Wearing a gun to work every day and having the possibility that I may some day have to use it to save my life or the life of another the department has sent me to some training given by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (Ret.). I don’t know if you have heard of Grossman or his work, but he has written several books about the effects or psychological cost of learning to kill. I have read his book titled “On Killing” and found it very informative. He has another book titled “On Combat” which looks into the psychology and physiology of deadly conflict in war and in peace. I have been unable to get my hands on a copy of this book so do not know much about it. Any way I thought this would be something worth looking into if you have not done so already. I hope you are doing well and hope to see and speak with you sometime in the future.

    Casey

  6. Woody says:

    Casey, good to hear from you. I have been thinking about you also. I promised you that I would continue my last post, but I have been having a hard time writing it. I wanted it to segway into my memories of ‘Hamburger Hill’. I find it hard to believe that it would be so hard to write about so many years later. I think what it is, is that I’m afraid I won’t be able to do the story justice and worry about what people will think.

    I haven’t heard of Lt. Col. Dave Grossman or his books. I would be interested in reading his book “On Combat”. I know that the experience of war is hard on a person. We were so young and we were ill prepared to experience the things we experienced. Even after all these years I am still affected by what I experienced. I haven’t searched for the book yet, but hope to find it and buy it to read.

    I hope you never have to be involved in any kind of shooting in the line of duty. Can you tell me more about the training and support that you receive in that regard? We never received any type of psychological support. We just ‘soldiered’ on.

  7. Casey Carlsen says:

    I went to a training called “The Bullet Proof Mind” given by Lt. Col. Grossman. I believe he does several types of conferences and trainings each one geared to different people. He has a web site that has a lot of good information and also sells his books. Here is the website http://killology.com/index.htm. He has several publications on the website that are very good reads, I would suggest “Psychological effects of Combat” as one. I would guess this is a condensed version of “On Combat”.

    When I went through the academy in 2004 I don’t remember receiving any type of training. I know they had a class for my wife on the struggles of being married to a police officer and what to expect. I believe Melanie liked the class.

    During my five plus years as a police officer I have seen many dead body’s mostly from drug overdoses (accidental/non accidental),quit a few from suicide were a method was used other then drugs (gun/hanging), and some vehicular accidents. I have found that I am not as effected by see someone who had brought the harm to themselves ,suicide, as I am were it is an innocent person that was killed, motor vehicle accident.

    I think the one that has so far effected me was an accident were a small child was backed over in the parking lot of his apartment complex. His father was holding on to him telling him to hold on and keep breathing. I think that seeing the grief of the father holding onto his dying child is what really stuck in my mind.

    I am sure that I will continue to be confronted by tragedies throughout my career and hope that I will be able to help in any way that I can to lesson the grief for others.

  8. Woody says:

    Hi Casey, Sorry it’s been a while since you wrote. I decided I wasn’t going to reply until I finished the ‘Hot LZ” story I promised you. I have been struggling with getting it written because I wanted it to tie into ‘Hamburger Hill’ and I just couldn’t do it. I just don’t think I can do the story justice.

    I’m interested in reading Grossman’s book “Psychological effects of Combat”. I plan on getting it soon. I have been reading “A Life in a Year, The American Infantryman in Vietanm”, by James Ebert. At first I didn’t know if I would like it, but now that I’m over halfway through I really like it. Sometimes I can only read so much because of the memories it brings to the surface.

    Please write soon.

  9. Jane Peyton says:

    Having lost a brother in Vietnam, I am constantly looking at sites, hoping to find pictues of him. Your picture of the 3rd Squad with 7 men caught my eye immediately as the young man with hand on chin looks exactly like my brother. However, the dates don’t match up. You state you went to Nam in Oct ’68… My brother was with the 3/187 Bravo Co when KIA on 07Sept68.. His name was Charles Glenn Russell… Were it not for the differences in dates…

  10. Woody says:

    Hi Jane,

    Thanks for your comment. I would have answered sooner, but the laptop I usually use for updating my blog suffered a hard drive crash over the weekend.

    I’m sorry that your brother was killed in Vietnam. I know how hard it is for families to loose loved ones, especially in such an untimely manner. I know that it has been hard on me dealing with the deaths of the men I knew that were killed in Vietnam. If you would like, I may be able to put you in touch with someone that was in Bravo Company. It’s a possibility that they knew your brother. Let me know and I will see what I can do.

    Can you tell me more about your brother and his tour of duty in Vietnam? Do you have any pictures of him in Vietnam at all?

    Even though I didn’t know your brother personally, I still feel a personal connection to him in some strange way.

  11. Jane Peyton says:

    Hello Woody,
    Thanks for responding. Even tho the dates don’t match up, the resemblance to my brother is uncanny. I have always heard that we each have a “twin” out there, but this is amazing.

    And thanks for your offer to find Bravo Co., but I have been blessed and they found me. Many years ago I posted a message on Glenn’s page at thewall-usa.com. In 2006 I updated that same post with my new email address and not long after received an email from Bob Friedrich, Glenn’s C/O.(Bob knew his as Russell) Glenn was his RTO. Bob invited me and my family to their reunion in Ardmore, Ok. It was difficult yet very healing for me.. As for pictures, Yes, I have some of him in Nam. Let me know where to send them and I will be glad to share with you.

    Thanks again,
    Jane

  12. Woody says:

    Hi Jane,

    I have asked a couple of the guys that are in the picture if they could remember the name of the guy that looks like your brother. Unfortunately niether one of them remembered his name. I’m not intirely sure when the picture was taken. I do know that it was taken some time between mid December of 1968 and the beginning of May of 1969. I didn’t have a camera before December ’68 and Seargent Dunn went home the first part of May ’69.

    I’m glad you were able to find somebody that served with your brother. The “Wall” is a great thing, both the real and the virtual one. I was able to connect with the brother of my platoon leader (Douglas Dugger), who was killed in Vietnam, via a post on the virtual wall. Through that connection I was able to connect with my second platoon leader (Joel Trautmann), and my first squad leader (Alvin Dunn). Through Joel I found out about the annual “Hamburger Hill” reunion, which I attended for the first time this year. It was, like you said, a healing experience for me.

    I would love for you to send me the pictures that you have of your brother. If you would, please e-mail me your phone number and I will give you call to talk about getting them to me.

  13. Woody says:

    Hello, Is anybody there?

  14. Dale Dugger says:

    Hi Val, I was web checking and thought I would see if there were more postings. Well, I am here! Hope you are doing ok. Remember you can call me anytime . I am going to visit my Dad for about two weeks, starting 23Sep10. Jane Peyton probably met Capt. James Bond if she was at Ardmore, OK and Alvin. Keep in touch Dale

  15. Woody says:

    Hey Dale, Good to hear from you. I’m doing pretty well. How have you been doing? I’ve been stressing about work. I hope everything turns out okay. Glad to hear you’re going to visit your dad. Refresh my memory of Jane. I remember Capt. James Bond, but I really didn’t know him. I have been trying to remember certain things. I just re-remembered the memory of the post I wrote last night, http://vietnam68-69.com/2010/09/17/the-first-time-i-saw-the-symbol-for-the-rakkasans/

    I wished I could spend more time writing stories. I got stuck and I decided to back away from “The Hill”. I have been reading a book by James R. Ebert, titled “A Life In A Year”, The American Infantryman in Vietnam. I highly recommend you read it.

    Thanks Dale, I will give you a call soon. I would love to talk to your dad too. Woody

  16. Jane Peyton says:

    Hi Woody and Dale,

    I attended my first 3/187 reunion in 2006 @ Ardmore, Ok. I attended with one of my sisters, her husband and daughter. The reunion was hosted by Bravo Co and we were recognized at the dinner and presented with the black scarf of B Co.
    My sister talked about how life was back then and really touched a lot of people’s hearts. I did have the honor of meeting Capt Bond and a lot of other fine men, some that knew by brother, some that did not. But it really didn’t matter if they knew him, because we were all connected. (hope that makes sense to you) I made the reunion in 2007 and keep in touch with Capt Friedrich and Jim Vita. Both were very close to my brother.

    Jane
    ps: I also was able to get a copy of the book by Capt Bond “RAKKASANS A History and Collections of Personal Narratives From Members of The 3rd Battalion (Airborne) 187th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division Republic of Vietnam 1968.

  17. Woody says:

    Hi Jane, I’m glad to hear that you were able to attend a 3/187th reunion. I have heard about the reunion from Alvin Dunn. I don’t know if he attended the 2006 reunion out not. It is a healing experience to attend one of these reunions. I attended my first 3/187th reunion this year, it was the “Hamburger Hill” Chapter reunion and was held in Clarksville, TN and at Fort Campell, KY. It was a very healing experience for me. To be able to talk to the guys I served with and to see those that gave theirs lives be honored. The 101st Airborne has a great tradition of honoring those that have served in combat.

    I didn’t know anybody from Bravo Company, for that matter I didn’t know but a few men in Charlie Company. I wished I would have taken the time to get to know more of them and kept a record of who they were, even just within my own platoon. At the time I didn’t think of what we were doing as being historical, even though I should have. Please write soon. Woody

  18. Jim Vita says:

    Woody: What a great site. I served in Bravo Co. (March 68-March 69). What a year. We lost so many friends. Jane Peyton is a really great person and a great friend. Her brother, Charles Glenn Russell, was a great friend of mine and was KIA on Sept. 7, 1968. It was my privilege to meet her at our reunion a couple of years ago. Al Dunn is also a great friend as well as James Bond and a great number of others from Charlie Co. Our (B Co. commander Bob Freidrich) are great friends. We all started out from Phouc Vinh and then spent time in CuChi, Thrang Bang, Thung Lap, as well as Dak To, Dak Pec, Hue, Camp Evan and numerous firebases when we were not humping. You have done a great job on this site. We recently lost a great Brother(Ray Walker) that served on the Hill and was also commo Sgt. What a great civic minded man he was. Thanks for sharing your experiences and look forward to seeing more.

  19. Woody says:

    Hi Jim, It’s good to hear from you. We probably crossed paths while we were in Vietnam. Do you have a lot of recollections of your Vietnam tour. I have been trying to find people that remember some of the details that I have forgotten. I’m especially interested in knowing the names of the firebases and where they were located. I know most of the names, but I’m not sure where some of them were located. I wished I would have a kept a diary of where we and what we did. I joined the 3/187th right after they were moved to Camp Evans and spent almost my whole tour in the mountains west of Hue. I’m glad I missed out on most of the places you listed in your comment.

    Thanks on your kind words about my blog. I haven’t been doing much writing on it this summer. I have been trying to crowd as much outdoor active as can into this short summer. As soon as the weather gets colder I will start spending more time writing posts.

  20. Jim Vita says:

    Woody: I can think of a Few and will get back to you on the locations. There was FSB Stewart in 3 corp. and I also remember Rakkason, Jack, Brick, Birmingham and Helen. I’m sure there a few others and I’ll get back with you with locations and other FSB,s. Capt. James Bond wrote a book detailing our year from Dec. 67 through Nov. 68. I think he still has a few copies left. Al Dunn, as well as I, were among the first replacements to join the 187th. I was drafted as well as Al. I was originally ordered to the 17th Aviation group out of NaThrang and was to serve as a door gunner. What a shock when they assigned me to the 101st. I told them there was a mistake because I wasn’t airborne qualified. I was in Camrahn Bay. They just said get on the bus to be going to Bien Hoa. We attended SERTS (Screaming Eagle Replacement Station) for 5 days and the went to Phoouc Vinh. The “Wondering Warriors” never stayed long at any location. We were then assigned to work Op/Con to the 25th Inf. and stayed around War Zone D in there rubber tree plantations for a while and got our butts kicked in that area. We worked the Song Be River area for a while and then were sent north to take over FSB Rakkasan. What a mess. Being a PFC. I just did what I was told. Anyway, I’ll be back with you on other FSB,s. We never stayed long anywhere. Take care and I’ll be in touch.

  21. Woody says:

    Hi Jim, Thank you for the response to my comment. I remember some of those firebases, Rakkasan and Jack for sure I think. I have heard the other names, but don’t know for sure if I was ever on any of them. I hope you can supply me with some details about the firebases. My tour verily overlaps the time the Capt. Bond wrote about. I would like to get a copy of his book though. Do you know how I can get a copy from James?

    It’s too bad they messed up your orders and sent you to the 101st. I think it was one of the best things to happen to me to be assigned to the 101st and the company, platoon and squad that I end in. I think I was lucky to be there during the time I was. I guess we try to make the best of what we were handed. We did have a good squad and Sgt. Dunn was an excellent squad leader. We had a great platoon leader in Lt. Dugger and the Lt. Trautmann. We also had a great platoon leader with Sgt. Perez. I was lucky to make it through my whole tour with only a few minor wounds. As you know, luck played a big part in it, especially if you were a combat infantryman.

    I was like you and just did what I was told. Sometimes I didn’t like what I had to do, but I still did it.

  22. Jim Vita says:

    Woody: Capt. Bond’s address is charlie63187@cox.net He did a really great job on the book. I think he spent approx.6 years compiling info. and putting it into a hard bound book. He is one great Rakkasaan. Another couple of FSB are Barbara and Jane.
    I’d like to send you a few pictures. How do I go about that? If yu don’t like them, just let me know. Just keep up the good work. So much as been forgotten. I also have a great CD that Capt./Col Friedrich put together. Capt. Friedrich was put in for the Medal Of Honor but it was taken down to the to the DSC.

    I think you would really enjoy the Book that Capt. Bond put together. Take Care Brother.

  23. Woody says:

    Hi Jim, Sorry I didn’t get back to about sending me the pictures you have. I would love to get a copy of the pictures you have! If you have them in digital form you can e-mail them to me. My e-mail address is woody@vietnam68-69.com. If the files are too big to e-mail I can give you the information to upload them to this blog. If you have hard copies you can mail them to me. Just let me know if you need my mailing address.

  24. Jane Peyton says:

    jim Vita passed away on Apr 30, 2011 as a result of injuries received in a motorcycle accident. His final resting place is the Dallas-Ft Worth National Cemetery. Jim will be missed by many. Rest easy my friend.

  25. Shelli says:

    My uncle was in Co B 3/187 Airborne in 68-69. In was WIA on april 25 1969. shot down. He broke both of his legs and had a branch thru his leg/legs. Have you ever heard of this story?

  26. Jeannene says:

    I know this is a long shot but I have been looking for my father for many years now. I don’t have much information and don’t really know where to begin so before I put out this long story about him I wanted to first touch base with someone.

    Thank you for your time,

    Jeannene

  27. Woody says:

    Hi Jeannene, Let’s start with any information about your father’s service in Vietnam. Do you have information about him like that? Let me know, Woody.

  28. Sharon Smith says:

    By any chance, did you know David Pratt, 101st Airborne at Bien Hoa during the same time you were. If you did, would you happen to have any photos of him. All the ones I had were lost in a tornado. Thank you.

  29. Woody says:

    Hi Sharon, Sorry to hear that all the pictures you had were lost in a tornado. I didn’t know David, maybe someone that knew him will read your comment and reply saying they have picutres of him. Can you tell me more about what unit he was with in Vietnam?

  30. Terry Huffhines says:

    Greetings Everyone! I didn’t know any of you but I was there with you from Jan 69 thru Jan 70. Home base was Bien Hoa with the 334th AHC and also the Top Tigers AHC of the 68th. Good Times…and Bad Times. I will never forget those days in Nam.

  31. Fred Emerson says:

    Hi Woody, I just came across your website. Thank you for it. When your Platoon Leader was killed on 31 DEC 1968 I was a squad leader with Second Platoon of Charlie Company 3/187. There were three of us wounded in the contact made when the NVA came our direction. First was Slim with 3rd Squad and then Jackson and me with Second squad. I was point and Jackson was my slack man as we started up the mountain they had taken after getting by 3rd squad. They were waiting for us and opened up with automatic fire as we stated up and hit Jackson first through the legs and then me with the next sweep of fire. The Commanding Officer that took over after Capt. Bond was Capt. Griswold.who wrote to me while I was in the hospital in Japan and told me they recovered Ak-47s and two dead NVA, one on the left of the trail being an NVA LT that I had seen way too clearly. My time in Vietnam was from July 1968 until January 1969 when I was flown to Japan to later be sent home while my squad had to stay behind. I was a Squad Leader when I was hit and it effected me a great deal when as a patient I read in the Army Times about the casualties on Hamburger Hill. Four of my squad Chapman, Morgan, Pigg and Lawson were KIA. Chapman and Morgan had not only been my two Rifle Team Leaders, but my very good friends and Chapman had actually risked his life to save mine the day I was shot in Dec. 1968. I had recommended him for a Silver Star to Capt. Griswold at the time. It has taken me over 40 years to now begin to talk about this “stuff” again.. I believe Woody you understand all this. Last week I wrote a long email to Capt. Bond and among other things asked how I might get a copy of his book on the Rakkasans. Maybe I sent it to the wrong address. Don’t know, but haven’t heard back. Do you know if he is alright or still communicating with his “men” ? Thanks again for making this kind of exchange possible Woody and I would really like hearing from anyone who remembers any of these guys or want to share some of their memories of Alpha Company in Sept. 1968 or Cu Chi or our Firebase about being overrun and Capt. Bond going out to rescue one of his platoons on ambush patrol that were greatly outnumbered and anything else during that way too busy a time in 68/69. Fred Emerson

  32. Fred Emerson says:

    Hi Woody, I posted a comment on About before I saw that I needed to register. It is still listed on the About page when I don’t log in and says it’s waiting for moderation. Very new to this. Sorry. Do I need to post it again here? Briefly I was with 2nd squad of 2nd Platoon, Charlie CO. 3/187 and wounded just after your Platoon Leader was KIA on 31 Dec 1968. Wanting to locate Capt. Bond and see if I can get a copy of his book Rakkasans. He was my CO for several months and our Battalion experienced quite a bit during that time.Thanks for your time and what you are doing here Woody. It is really a good thing. Fred Emerson

  33. Karen Nicholas says:

    Woody – While I was not in the War , I did marry a Vet. It is nice to see now that they get together and enjoy each other’s company. It was such an uspoken time of their lives for so long and now it is the “exhale” that has finally come about.

    I am contacting you for an entirely different reason. I so a lot of Cold Case/ Missing Person research and have been asked to work on a John Doe case. Around the same time 69-70 a soldier went missing from Ft. Carson and I am looking for any one who may have wither known him or may have heard about him. His name was Robert J. Newborg.

    I have been unable to retrieve any information about him and would like to either exclude him or include him as a possible for a John Doe 1970. Any help you or your readers may be able to give would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for this and for serving.

  34. Ed says:

    Hi Woody,

    Thanks for your site. I was also a “grinning-ear-to-ear” at one time. I have always fired left handed, even though I am right handed. That’s because of severe damage to my right eye. The first time I fired the ’79, it hit me in the mouth and broke out a tooth. After the laughing was over, the instructor told me that it was not supposed to be fired left handed. I was not in ‘Nam, but I also struggle with some of same feelings you do. Hang in there, and we’ll get through it together.
    I enjoyed “Yellow Rain”, it brought back some memories of good times gone. Long gone. Old soliders don’t fade away, they stay up all night and tell war stories. It’s their way of healing.

    With Great Respect,

    Ed

  35. Javiera says:

    Hi!
    My name is Javiera, I am from a little country call Chile. I really enjoy reading this page and i have a cuestion; I really hope that you can help me :) .
    Today my father came to the house with a lighter that was from a north american soldier ( of the 68-69 Vietnam War). It has a really extrange simbol at the front, it is like a Panther jumping and behind her there is a parasailing.

    If you know what this simbol mean, or where I can know more about the vietnam war, I really will apreciate your help.
    With respect, admiration and gratitude.
    Javiera

  36. Jim Wolford says:

    Woody,
    I am trying to get in contact with James Bond. I have communicated with him in the past concerning a good friend of mine who was in A/3187 and was killed 6 Sept 1968 at Ap Trang Dau. Do you have a current email or phone number for him. I tried the 2010 address (charlie63187@cox.net) but it was returned as undeliverable. Thanks

    Jim

  37. Woody says:

    Hi Jim,

    I will check and see if I can get James Bonds current e-mail address or phone number. I have been told that he has had some ill health, but don’t know how he is doing now. I will e-mail you when I find out more. Woody

  38. Woody says:

    Hi Javier,

    Thank you for your comment. Zippo lighters were very popular with the soldiers during the Vietnam War. I still have two that I bought while serving there. One of them I had custom engraved on bought sides.

    I’m not sure about the lighter your father has. A jumping panther was probably a design that was offered for engraving. I know there were parachute designs available for all the airborne soldiers. You can do a Google image search for Vietnam War Zippo lighters to see some of the engraved lighters from the war.

    I’m curious to know how your father came to be in possession of a Vietnam War era lighter. There are people who collect them today.

    There is a lot of information about the Vietnam War on the Internet. There are also a lot of great books written by soldiers who were there too.

    Woody

  39. Tallman , Vic says:

    Bravo Co. 3/187 68/69, also attached to Headquarters Co. For short time, como section, left country November 7th, 69
    I have been to three reunions at Fort Campbell, Ky. This May 12 to 17 will be 45th reunion. Will you make it?
    I am going to try very hard to come from NM.

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