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The Vietnamese were getting ready for their Tet,  a Vietnamese New Year celebrated that year on the eve of January 30, 1968. Most of the soldiers had gone on holiday leave, so there were only two armored tankers patrolling the area instead of the usual five. From my bed, I could see that flares illuminated the sky.

Chuck Willis, Officer-In-Charge worked in the VOA Headquarters that occupied the front half of the building. The rear half was our residence. On Jan. 31, 1968 at 2:00 a.m., a deafening mortar blast and long range rockets woke us. Chuck and I scrambled to the bunker that was in the middle of our living area. We left the rear door open and positioned ourselves behind the sandbags. An hour later, a satchel charge tore through the front and interior walls exploding on impact, causing sand smoke inside the building. It was difficult to breathe so we used blankets to cover our noses to prevent smoke inhalation. We heard the office door open. The acrid smell of burning paper in the office thickened the air.

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Receiver room at the end of a long hallway. Guns were always kept in the office.

 

 

Amidst all the smoke and noise, we noticed a soldier pointing an AK47 semi-automatic toward us. Just before we walked out of the bunker, Chuck managed to grab a walkie-talkie and sent a message to the Receiving Station - "we're giving up". I don't know if anyone in the station received this message, but Rocco and Yra managed to get to Phu Bai Airport safely.

For several days, we walked mostly at night.   We were given Vietnamese hats (made out of palm leaves so that we would blend in with the Vietnamese, thus avoiding being spotted by "friendly planes".  We walked on rice paddies with only a T-shirt, underwear, and barefoot. Our hands were tied with wire behind our backs. A rope was strung underneath our armpits to keep us both in tow, one guard at each end of the rope. The guards marched us until we reached our destination. We slept on the ground with wet, dirty clothes with our hands still tied. Only during meal times were we untied. The soldiers fed us twice a day with rice and salt.

Page 2 - The Long Journey to the North
Page 3 - Camp Bao Cao
Page 4 - Camp 77
Page 5 - Camp Rockville
Page 6 - Hanoi Hilton

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