ATLANTA VOICES: MEMORIES OF VIETNAM
Bob O. Babcock: War Stories Remembered
WHY EACH VETERAN SHOULD SHARE THEIR STORY
First Lieutenant, 4th Infantry Division, U.S. Army
Bob O. Babcock’s unit was hit by friendly fire in 1966. That night, he decided to write down his feelings about the war and what it was like to be a soldier. In this interview, he shares why veterans should preserve their story by writing down their experiences.
Bob O. Babcock's Vietnam War Photos
BOB O. BABCOCK'S STORY
Bob O. Babcock went to Vietnam in 1966, before it became an unpopular war. His recalls his primary mission was searching and destroying missions on the Ho Chi Minh Trail near the Vietnam-Cambodia border.
"We would have days where we would find nothing, but we were constantly alert, looking for people."
Being out in the jungle for days on end was trying for the soldiers.
"They rotate guard duty so you have one man awake and two asleep at a time, and then you’ve got a two-hour slot of guard duty. So if you’re lucky you get four hours of sleep at a time. One of the biggest problems for a leader was if you would go several days and not find anything. Its human nature to let your guard down if you don’t find anything and the bad guys are out there watching you and if you’re doing a good job they are going to leave you alone. If you’re making mistakes they’re going to hit you. But you get one bullet fired at you, and that’s good for about a week of being alert and ready to go."
One of the most important things Babcock took away from his war experience was the strong bond that exists among all veterans.
"I can identify with virtually any veteran from any war because wars are all the same. You’ve got the same feelings of fear, you got the same feelings of terror, you’ve got the same feelings of loss. The territory changes, the enemy changes, the technology changes but that bond never changes. It’s the same across all generations."