Terry Gumbert’s Viet Nam Experience

A high school classmate, emailed and asked me about my Viet Nam experience so I put together this quickie response. Thought maybe you folks might enjoy the photos.

I was assigned to the 36th Evacuation Hospital in Vung Tau, a beautiful resort city on the South China Sea. What was interesting was the beach area was a R & R center for American and allied Australian & Korean military from all over Nam and it was also the R & R area for the Viet Cong & NVA troops as well. “Sort of an unofficial no fire zone.”

We did have action on minimal occasions, during our first weeks we were mortared along with the airfield one night. We suspected the local enemy just wanted us to know they were nearby.

One day four American soldiers were sitting at a beach table and a hand grenade was tossed under their table, killing one and severely wounding three others. That was probably caused by those GI’s pissing off another American or a “friendly” Vietnamese troop.

One day as a Major and I were walking along a street to get lunch, an American soldier in civilian clothing went dashing past us from our rear. I automatically turned to see why he was running and a “friendly” Vietnamese soldier with an M2 carbine opened up fire towards the GI who now was ahead of us placing us directly in the line of fire. The rounds were actually singing past my head but neither of us were hit. I suspect (again) that the GI had done something that really pissed the Nam GI off.

I did volunteer and participate in MEDCAP missions where a medical team is transported to outlying villages to provide on site treatment to villagers. During these actions we were all armed with M-6’s instead of our normal 45 cal hand guns. I remember one where enemy artillery explosions were still hitting near the village as we approached the target village. There was a photo of me in the Spirit from that one as I handed out treats to the children in that village. The doctor with me that day was a Dr. (Army Major) Richard Wynkoop from Marion Center, Pa of all places, only about 15-20 miles from my home in Punxsutawney.

Here’s a few photo explanations of my year in Nam:


Our tent home. “Plush”


It was a life experience I would not have wanted to miss.

“We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.”
American Indian Proverb