At the time I served with the Tigers,(6/68-1/69) we were brought in by invitation only. Only the most experienced and qualified men were included. Although nominally a platoon sized element, most of the time we were lucky to have about 12 to 15 men. The team was lead most of the time by a Lieutenant and staffed by two medics, and sometimes an FO.
At the time I served with the Tigers, I had been in country about 6 months. After being with Tigers for about 3 months,we received out in the field a PIO photographer from the Division, SP/4 Stan Parker, an Infantryman who had been wounded a couple of times in another battalion. Some of the black and white photos taken here were shot by SP/4 Parker.
Tigers had been in a lot of contact prior to when these photos were taken. While Specialist Parker was with us, we would often ask him to take our photos to send home to our families. He explained that he would have no way of getting random shots back to us if he shot any, so he gave a roll to one of us, and let him get the pictures to each of us. 30 years later, Roy "Zeke" Blevins was going to go to the 101st Airborne Reunion in Omaha, Nebraska. He dug around in a box and found the roll of film that he'd gotten from Parker that day in Viet Nam. He developed the roll and brought it to the reunion. None of us had seen these pictures until that day in 1998.
Entered 11/8/98 The next 8 Photos were taken with a camera that had just been received in the field by Roy "Zeke" Blevins. The camera box is visible in the last picture in this series. The time is about Christmas time of 1968. The film was developed in 1970, and the prints have degraded over time.
We were young and strong and vital, and all we wanted out of life was to get home alive. It was my decided philosophy that the best way for me to do this was traveling with the Tigers. One cannot sneak in the woods with 100 men (a line company) but one CAN sneak in groups of 3 or 4. These were young men who took the art of combat very seriously.
These are photos of Jeff Paige. Jeff was a consumate warrior, and spent later time with LRRPS and Rangers. These photos are of Jeff on his way home for his first extension leave.
Taken in Ben Hoa, the 101st division Base Camp down south, near Saigon. Details of the uniform; Stingy brim hat: The guys from up north or back east seemed to prefer their hats cut this way. Jump wings on hat: Although we didn't jump in Viet Nam, the wings were an important distinction to those of us who wore them. Flower Power fatigues: We mostly wore Tiger Stripes, but had to buy them ourselves. These were issued to us. Double Eagles: Non camoflaged patches, since camo or not, we wore this patch as an icon of our status in life, paratroopers, Above the Rest! Worn on both sides, since after a year in a combat zone, we were entitled to wear the Eagle on the right side, showing assignment to a division in a combat zone.The left side is current division of assignment. Double Eagle soldiers were top of the heap. Metal sergeatnt stripes, on pocket: since uniforms were changed weekly in the field, name tapes and rank was not sewn on.Tiger patch: in 66 the unit had a round pocket patch, in later years, the patch was a black and gold banner type that rode over the 101st patch. Stance and look of confidence. Look back at the picture of Jeff, McGinley and myself, in the elephant grass in the middle of A Shau...we all had that look, young but ageless. 19 year old eyes that had seen a million years of horror and death...
Comparison photo: Tiger and a REMF. Jeff sent me this photo, of himself and a guy who's name he doesn't remember. What is so noticable in this picture is the distinct difference in appearence, carriage, and demeanor. There is more to this difference than uniform alone. REMF's had access to daily showers, slept on cots under a roof, ate in a chow hall, and went to movies, chased nurses, or cyclo girls, clean clothes daily, px trips. We didn't. Not everyone who lived in the rear was a REMF. Some were Nurses, Doctors and medics who cared for the wounded, Others kept the trucks moving up and down the highway,at great risk to themselves. Still others flew the helicopters in and out of hell. Jeff sent a quote with this photo. Neither of us remember who said this, but it goes something like this:
"...If I could have two Armies, one would be for display and would march, etc. The other Army would be comprised of warriors that had more to do than concern themselves with garrison life..."
Stan Parker, Division PIO, and Ben "babysan" Croxton, with captured weapons. 1968
LT Fred Raymond on hill 292, wherever that is. We had just taken a resupply, and were near Veghel. Note the defoliated trees. This is the terminal effect of Agent Orange. McGinley is on the extreme left side of the photo, Zeke Blevins is seated facing the camera, just below McGinley. Need names on the others. Lt Raymond was one of the most capable officers I ever met, before and since. His was the team that hauled the two men who were dropped by a helicopter back up the hill, and his platoon was one of helicopters shot down in the initial invasion of the area surrounding Veghel. He was a friend and compatriot of John Gertsch. His leadership of the Tigers was impeccable