I have a Story by Jack Hustwit

I have a story. I only served with the 129th for five months from early March 1968 to mid August of that year. I found the 129th web site today and read the history of 1968. At the time I was in the second platoon. W1 Roth lived in the hooch next to mine. I remember well the day he was wounded because it was my first contact with mortality in my young life. I was a new guy with only a couple of months in country. The second platoon leader at that time was Capt. Hines. The years have blotted my memory and I can't remember Roth's first name. I remember him as a quiet thoughtful young man who lived in the hooch next to mine. My hoochmate was Frank Buckman (Buckey)and Buckey shared the cockpit with Roth that day. I say shared
because neither of them were Aircraft Commanders at the time. Our policy at the time was to fly two senior PI's together sharing PC time until they were "blessed" with PC orders. Buckey told me the story later that day. They were tail end charley in a single ship LZ extraction, taking the last ROC's out. According to Buckey, Roth was in the left seat and just prior to pulling pitch a bad guy popped out of a spider whole to the right rear of the aircraft and emptied a magazine through the right cargo door of the aircraft. One round found Roth's leg and in that instant the instrument panel and Buckey were doused with Roth's blood. Buckey pulled in an arm load of pitch and they split most rickey tickey! Buckey, as might be expected was very upset about the incident. Later that day, or maybe the next I was tasked to "sanitize" and pack Roth's gear. It was a wierd experience. Roth was a guy I had drunk with and talked with over a couple of months. I was fond of him because he was a regular guy. He did his job and he did it well but he had not yet been hardened by the war. I guess the most poinient moment occured when I was in his hooch packing his gear. Someone had brought his flight helmet up and thrown it on his bunk. I picked it up and noted the inscription on the back, it read "What's It All About Alfie?" a reference to a popular motion picture of the time and a clever play on words. It was a question that each one of us asked, if only to our selves. I never saw Roth again after that day, but I hope he stayed that sensitive and introspective guy I knew for those few months when we were soldiers and young in 1968. In August I was infused into the 4th Bn 4th Inf Div. Gambler Guns, and I had more encounters with my mortality, but W1 Roth was the first guy that I knew and liked that was a WIA. Ps. I was the first guy on hand for the birth ofWwobbly 1. I remember the ear splitting screams issued by Shamrock and running out of my hooch, flashlight in hand. Nobody knew that Shamrock was knocked up. Who knew???

Copyright © 2001 by Jack Hustwit, All Rights Reserved