From: Kendall McNabney
To: Richard Abell
Sent: Wednesday, July 30, 2003 11:08 PM
Subject: Nui at night

N.B. Just as you described the lights on top denote good guys of 25th ID.
From: Kendall McNabney
To: Richard B. Abell
Sent: Wednesday, July 30, 2003 11:13 PM
Subject: Tropical Lighting

You can see 25th ID owns the top of Nui but nothing below. It seemed like every Sunday PM there
would be an assault on Nui.
From: Kendall McNabney
To: Richard B. Abell
Sent: Wednesday, July 30, 2003 11:16 PM
Subject: 138# Weakling

This is what I looked like after days of sleep deprivation. My normal weight is about 158-160
From: Richard Abell
To: "W. Kendall McNabney, M.D."
Sent: Friday, August 8, 2003 8:37 AM
Subject: Potpourri of War

I trust that this will be my final edition of my recollections of Vietnam, a potpourri of war!
Please note that in all of these emails I have intentionally avoided (a) racial incidents, and (b)
the overtly sanguinary. I thought those matters best not discussed.

I do not specifically remember where, but I certainly do remember one morning while sitting upon the top of a
perimeter bunker gazing out in the distance and seeing a small hill in the far distance. While viewing this sylvan
setting the entire hill silently went "poof" up in a cloud of dust and debris. I was stunned. I can only deduce that it
was the object of a B-52 strike. You never saw the planes inasmuch as they were so high up and there was no
sound at the time of your observation. Awhile later, there would be the sound of the detonating bombs.

My basic recollection of "my" Vietnam is one of a constant cacophony of helicopters, small arms, and artillery. Quiet
was considered ominous! In the middle of the night there could be fire missions for the artillery and certainly
Puff-the-Magic-Dragon would have assignments. This latter was fascinating to observe at night. There was never
any sound; there would be the straight line flash of descending tracer rounds from a point in the sky as a pattern
was being fired at points on Terra firma. My recollection is that a football field could be covered in about ten
seconds. Charlie's casualties must have been horrendous.
Website Link for Information on
"Puff the Magic Dragon"

Click Link Below
It must have been at Firebase Blondin that I recall sleeping near the front of an artillery tube, probably a 105mm
howitzer. Of course it was pointed up; and, of course, we were not supposed to sleep near the front of artillery tubes!
It was a typical night of intense heat. We were not using sleeping bags, blankets, or anything else. Generally we slept
with our shirts off. I recall that I had some type of poncho to lie down upon. In the middle of the night the artillery
troops were evidently presented a fire mission. They quietly manned their guns, inserted shells, and fired with not
having given us any warning! In noise and concussion literally raised me (actually there were several of us and the
others had identical sensations to my own) up from my poncho an inch or more (at least we felt like we were being
raised up an inch or so). We were somewhat taken aback! The artillery gunners anticipated all of this and had a good
laugh. I have already mentioned in a prior email of our propensity for noise and trash. The enemy was not much

I recall during a recon patrol several days prior to the one of 5 April that I was on point security (second in file). The
point man had the machete. We were in heavy jungle. This time we were wearing flak jackets. He was cutting through
thick vines when all of a sudden he was cursing, dancing, and pulling off his clothes. Then the trooper behind me
started doing the same. I thought that insanity had become contagious. Then I started to do the same! When he had
cut the vines with his machete he had loosened them and up above us all were tree and vine connected termite or ant
colonies. They quickly descended upon us! Their bites were memorable. We did not commit that error again.

On a company size operation through the jungle I saw aged punji-spike pits. The camouflage coverings had
disappeared, the pits had some dead leaves in them but the bamboo spikes were still in place although weather
beaten. As previously indicated we were in an area of feeder trails from the Ho Chi Minh Trail into Tay Ninh Province.
The area was honeycombed with continually utilized North Vietnamese Army (NVA) (officially called the People's Army
of Vietnam or PAVN)trails for their troop infiltration. Ergo, their soldiers were unfamiliar with the terrain. Ergo, if they
left punji-spike pits as booby traps for us, it was more likely that their people would fall into them then that we would! I
suspect that this occurred several times to them before they decided to no longer leave booby traps around for us.
Nor were we concerned about finding trip wires to mines on the trails. Actually we avoided the trails and would parallel
them. When we crossed over their trails I noticed that they were well worn.
Once after traversing the hot jungle for a morning and part of an afternoon, I went down with heat exhaustion and held up the entire
column until I recovered. I had not even realized that I had fainted until I looked up and saw my companions looking down at me.
Warm water and salt tablets seemed to work. We also came upon whole areas saturated with our small bomb-lets, perhaps the size
of a hardball. I was curious and was about to pick one up when I was vehemently cautioned not to touch one. They could go off with
any motion.

On one sweep, I recollect our going through what may have been/or was to become a large excavated complex right on the border
with Cambodia. It may have been a hospital complex. The underground bunkers were extensive and large. We had hit them with a
B-52 strike. The bomb craters were immense, a good twenty feet deep and more across. We would carefully trek around them and
never into them. To our chagrin we found a copy of a "Playboy" magazine in one bunker that was more recent then the ones we had
seen! No doubt part of the Saigon dock corruption connection.

Hopefully, for your sake, I will not recall more! I appreciate your patience in presenting me these opportunities to have an incentive
to put my quill to parchment! Godspeed.
~ Richard

Nine Rules for Personnel of US Military Assistance Command, Vietnam
This card entitled, “Nine Rules For Personnel of US Military Assistance Command, Vietnam,” was
carried by soldiers.
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