Page 1. " In the late afternoon, after a day's march, he would dig his foxhole "

A one- or two-man hole that soldiers shelter in to protect themselves from enemy fire. Large foxholes allow soldiers to raise their head and shoot. 

In World War II, soldiers used slit trenches, but these offered less protection. Foxholes were the alternative in Vietnam.

Foxholes are not commonly used any more because technology has enabled better forms of protection.  

Page 1. " He would imagine romantic camping trips into the White Mountains in New Hampshire. "

The White Mountains form a mountain range covering about a quarter of the state of New Hampshire and a small part of western Maine. Part of the Appalachian Mountains, they are considered the most rugged mountains in New England. Most of the area is public land, including the White Mountain National Forest. It is most famous for Mount Washington, the highest mountain in the Northeastern United States.

Page 2. " Among the necessities or near-necessities were P-38 can openers "
P-38 Can Opener
Public DomainP-38 Can Opener - Credit: Jrash

Developed in the 1940s, the P38 was known as the John Wayne for its toughness. It was named the P38 for its length of 38mm, and also for the P38 Mustang fighter plane.  Some people speculate the C-ration can required 38 punctures around its circumference to open it.

Page 5. " Henry Dobbins carried the M-60, which weighed 23 pounds unloaded "

This belt-fed machine gun shoots 7.62mm bullets. It was introduced in 1957 and is still used to this day by the Navy Seals and Delta Force.

Several types of live ammunition are approved for use in the M60, including ball, tracer and armour-piercing rounds.


Page 5. " the standard M-16 gas powered assault rife "

The M-16 rifle is a lightweight, air-cooled machine gun, in use since the early 1960s. Colt bought the plan and ownership rights from Armalite, and has developed it into a weapon highly trusted by the US military.

The rifle is made of steel, aluminum alloy, composite plastics and polymer materials.

Page 6. " Ted Lavender, who was scared, carried 34 rounds when he was shot and killed outside Than Khe "

Than Khe, or Thôn Khe Xêng, is on highway 9 in Quang Tri Provence. It is located in northern Vietnam, about fifty miles from Nam Dinh. Than Khe was a smaller town rumored to have been a hiding area for the Viet Cong.

The remains of a helicopter pilot, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Donald Wann, were found near Hill 1015, or Dong Tri Mountain, about six miles southwest of Thôn Khe Xêng in 2008.

Than Khe is frequently confused with Khe Sanh, which is located nearby. Khe Sanh is famous as the location where the US Marines defended a remote air base in a vicious and drawn-out battle. This was reportedly the only time Americans abandoned a combat base due to enemy pressure. 

Page 7. " they carried M-14s and CAR-15s and Swedish Ks and grease guns. "

Swedish K
Public DomainSwedish K - Credit: SPEC. 4 DAVID SHAD
The Swedish K is a submachine gun that was developed in Sweden during 1944-5. It fired a 9mm bullet and weighed 9.25 pounds fully loaded with a 36 round magazine.

"Grease Gun" refers to the M3A1, a submachine gun introduced in World War II to replace the Thompson M1A1 submachine gun.  It has a high rate of fire and can be converted to use the ammunition and magazines of several other weapons, such as the British Sten gun. These characteristics made it a perfect weapon in Vietnam.  SMGs were used widely by all groups in Vietnam; many were weapons originally used in WWII.  Although the M3A1 became outdated, it was employed by several other nations and even by U.S. helicopter pilots.

Page 14. " Mitchell Sanders carried starched tiger fatigues for special occasions. "
Marine wearing Tigerstripe Camouflage in Vietnam, 1965
Public DomainMarine wearing Tigerstripe Camouflage in Vietnam, 1965 - Credit: US Marine Corps

Tigerstripe camouflage was worn by some United States soldiers in Vietnam, although it was not official issue. The uniforms were bought privately, and were thought to provide better camouflage in jungle conditions than the standard issue olive drab green uniforms.

Page 19. " They would check for casualites, call in the dustoffs "

Dust offs were medical helicopters that evacuated the wounded to a medical base.

Night attacks were common in Vietnam because it was easier to pick out a target. Therefore, dust offs were most often called for early in the morning.

Page 22. " a hospital with warm beds and cute geisha nurses "

Geisha were the courtesans of traditional Japanese society. They were hired as artists and entertainers for the wealthy. Traditionally, girls were sold into the geisha trade, and the 1998 novel Memoirs of a Geisha revived interest in this aspect of Japan. Geishas are known for their elaborate apparel, fashion, and makeup.