VIETNAM Thru My Eyes!

I joined the Marines in Dec. 1964 from Chicago. I grew up in bad neighborhood where crime was a way of life and most of my friends ended up in jail. So, at the age of 17, I joined the U S M C (in Chicago there was this thing you had to join the Marines or you werenít SHIT..... Of my gang of 12, only one ended up in the Army; the other 11 in the Marines. Most did not return!).
Now I had a place to stay and 3 meals a day. Vietnam was a place I knew nothing about. As a matter of fact, I did not even know where Vietnam was, let alone what the Vietnamese looked like.

After 8 weeks in Boot Camp and 4 weeks at the Rifle Rang (Camp Pendleton 1st Battalion 3rd Marines Fleet Marine Force, Pacific) I was a grunt 0311 infantryman 60mm Motors and M14 as well as a Grenadier 79 mm.
Boarded Ships in San Diego: 1st stop in Hawaii - 2nd stop in Okinawa for Jungle Training (I was assigned to an Army Base to attend Vietnamese Language School. Unfortunately, I never learned the language) - 3rd stop Japan and finally Vietnam.


We made a World War 2 style landing in Da Nang. All the Marines were nervous and ready to shoot; the problem was we didnít know who to shoot at. The first day we got a speech from Gen. Westmorland, Commander of all US Forces. I remember it was hotter than hell and the next day the Monsoon Rains came pouring down. I believe it rained for 3 months straight day and night, pure misery, drenched to your skin, mud floods in the jungle, blood-sucking Leeches, foot long rats, snakes and of course who could forget the giant mosquitos every where.

The sound of heavy Artillery 24-7, death and destruction was everywhere. At night we were sent out to set up a night ambush, sit there in the death of night till you hear the V.C. or "Charlie" as they were called, then open up and hope you made it back to your base camp in one piece. As a Marine you are committed to Kill or be Killed, then you had to survive the helicopter rides for they made an easy target for the Viet Cong and I saw many shot down. If you survived all that, you still had a constant fear of rocket attack which was very common. But the thing that worried most Marines was the Snipers. I remember being out on patrol one day and our lead man took a bullet through his helmet, which killed him instantly - God Bless my Friend.
I can clearly recall in 1966 Operation Utah, the 4th Marines were under a severe attack from a hill side. We were choppered in to help them out. I helped load the helicopters with body bags. I will never forget the Napalm that was dropped on the hill and scorched the whole hill side and everything on it. I remember later we went up the hill side and saw burned bodies beyond believe and a Viet Cong anti-aircraft gun with part of the barrel melted down.


My goal was to survive and to return to my family and girl friend (unfortunately most guys got "Dear JOhn" letters from their girlfriends). Fortunately, I had a minor run in with a thunderous explosion and got 23 stitches in my chest (I was awarded a Purple Heart). I believe it was from our own big Artillery that rained down on us by mistake. On a separate occasion as you can see in the picture two bullets hit my gun belt; one went through my canteen and the other graced my magazine. As you can see in the photo it just missed the primer. I believed I had to have COURAGE even under the toughest of times when you are scared to death. Dreaming of home kept me going.

I really sympathized with the people there; many of them had nothing more then their rice and grass shack. I always went out of my way to help them in any way I could. Unfortunately too many of them where in the wrong place at the wrong time and paid the ultimate price. I have always believed that we did the best job we can possible do, but unfortunately for all of us there the politicians and the anti-war protestors screwed everything up. I believe Jane Fonda (the traitor bitch) did more damage to our troops and their morale than she will ever realize. She should have been tried for Treason.

It has been more than 35 years for me and finally I put something in words. I took most of the pictures shown on my site and I chose to leave out the dead bodies both the Marines and the V. C. for they bring nothing but bad memories. I took these pictures and sent the negatives to my Mom who developed them for me. I didnít see the pictures I sent home until 30 years after. There are still over 100 that I have and may post in the future. Semper Fi to all who served!

Cpl. George Lisenko