Robin Bartlett

 Annotated Table of Contents

The Trail
Preface: Dragging Chains

1. My First Worst Day in Vietnam – Dealing with my first KIA
2. Training for War – Airborne and Officer Basic training
3. Ranger School: Learning to lead; preparing to kill
4. Back To the 82d – Gaining experience at the 82d Airborne Division
5. First Days in Country – Assignment to the 1st Cav Division (Airmobile)
6. Ambushing Gazelles – Creative ambush gone wrong
7. The Jungle Penetrator – Medevac in dense jungle
8. FNGs in the Field and Base Camp – New replacement story
9. Face-to-Face – Meeting the enemy
10. Pay Officer – Paying troops in the field
11. Blown Ambush – Failed ambush
12. Saturation Ambushing – Ambush strategy for hot, dense jungle
13. Recon by Fire – Enemy Base Camp – Calling for artillery
14. Beyond Artillery Coverage – Walking beyond artillery coverage
15. LZ is Green – Landing in a suspected hot LZ
16. Autorotate – Falling from the sky
17. Stream Crossing – Danger from stream crossing
18. Letting It All Hang Out – Failure to get the right size pants
19. Tracer Rounds – Starting a fire with tracer rounds
20. Surviving Leg Cramps – Becoming dehydrated
21. Ambush in the Rain – The challenge of an ambush in the rain
22. Escort to Laos – Escorting CIA into Laos
23. Tear Gas Attack – Use of tear gas on enemy
24. Night Firefight – How my squad leader saved the day
25. Hard Luck Simons – Soldier drafted illegally
26. Walking Point – I did it one time
27. You Fight It We Write It – Staff assignment at division headquarters
28. The Battle of the Parrot’s Beak – Battle interviews and report
29. Assistant Defense Counsel – Defending accused soldiers
30. Buying Art Supplies – Trip to Saigon
31. Welcome Home – Returning to the world
32. Butterfly Coincidences – Unusual coincidences
33. Attributions – Recognition of photographers and artists
34. A Boots on the Ground Point of View – Final summary
Glossary and Abbreviations of Military Terms
US and Enemy Weapons
Military Awards, Decorations and Assignments

About the Cover

Book Cover with Award Badge

The cover photo shows the platoon leader’s view of a helicopter combat assault. It is a view that I encountered more than 60 times during my tour, sometimes twice a day, except when I rode in the first chopper. That was a much different view. I always rode in the first bird when it was my platoon’s turn to lead the assault. The first helicopter and the men in it were always most vulnerable despite an intense five-minute artillery prep, Cobra helicopters working the perimeter firing rockets and miniguns, and door gunners blasting the edges before landing.

The men aboard the first bird wanted off and to get to cover as quickly as possible – often their premature jumps resulted in falls and injuries. Pilots wanted to pull pitch and get out of harm’s way and back to the safety of the sky. A hot LZ was always the worst possible scenario for pilots, soldiers, helicopter, and crew, sometimes resulting in death and tragedy.

About the Cav Patch

General Creighton Abrams, while commander of all U.S. Forces in Southeast Asia is quoted as saying: The big yellow patch does something to an individual that makes him a better soldier, a better team member, and a better American than he otherwise would have been.

General Peter W. Chiarelli, former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army (VCSA) and the 1st Cav Division Commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), said: Wearing the largest patch in the Army inventory also brings with it a responsibility to be the best.

Maj. Gen. John B. Richardson IV, the current 1st Cavalry Division Commanding General added: So, wear the patch proudly, and live up to the standards it represents. Draw strength and inspiration from the patch, from our history, from our veterans, from our legacy. That’s what it means to live the legend of the First Team.