Vandegrift Combat Base (a.k.a. Stud) 
as seen from the west looking down from Signal Hill.


After about three days of processing back in the rear at Quang Tri, and wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into, I was assigned to Kilo 3/9 -- that's K Company of the Third Battalion of the Ninth Marine Regiment of the 3rd Marine Division. Aside from being a mouth full, it had a little history too, because Kilo 3/9 was the first American unit to set foot on Vietnam soil in March 1965. Now, in March 1969, I had set foot on Vietnam soil -- and it was red, wet, thick and sticky.

Then they trucked me up to a place called Vandegrift Combat Base, affectionately called Stud. I was told it was the "forward-rear" but it turned out to be just a big campground that just so happened to be hit by rockets on a too occasional basis.

Stud was located about 10 miles south of the DMZ and 12 miles northeast of a similar combat base with a more familiar name -- Khe Sanh. Stud took on more importance after the Marines abandoned Khe Sanh in the summer of 1968. Stud was the home to Ninth Marines, and others, and was primarily a staging area between operations in the real bush.

Anyway, some stranger walked me out to the "lines" at Stud and dropped me off with more strangers -- veterans with surly attitudes. It was dusk and when I was asked where do I sleep, I was unceremoniously told, "I don't give a shit, sleep on the ground, asshole. Just don't get in my hooch." I looked around and didn't see anything looking like a hooch but I did see a culvert pipe half covered by sandbags. So I slept under the stars (for about 15 minutes), until it started to rain all night. I had to find me a hooch ... (Please see photo No. 3.)


 Photos 1--9