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Staff Sergeant
Earl Daniels

Edgar A. Goulet (sp00n)
[email protected]

2nd Bn 1st Marines
Golf Company 66-67
It wasn't very  long after we lost Lt. Spivey that we received another replacement and his name was SSGT. Earl Daniels from Georgia. I don't remember ever seeing Earl Daniels before serving in my first and  last patrol with third platoon under his command The majority of those guys in the third platoon in May of 1967 were nineteen to twenty one years old who had completed more than half their tour. About half of this group had been together for a while and was considered one of the more experienced platoons at that time.
Now all of a sudden we have a SSGT. Who probably recently re-upped to get that promotion but lacked the experience needed out there in the bush is only my opinion, I could be wrong but I don't think so.

Now all of a sudden, the man in charge of third platoon who came out of no where who's never been here before so his lack of knowledge was no better than what I knew when I got here about seven months ago. It's amazing how the Marine Corps could take someone who just arrived in Country probably a week or two ago and all of a sudden someone with little or limited knowledge was giving orders to experienced grunts, calling the shots wether or not he knew what he's doing or not as our lives were now more at risk as if we were all the NFG's.

Well it didn't take very long for us to know that this guy had no experience in the Bush, how could this war just started last year 1965 and the last war was the Korean War, so where did he get this experience from?  Just by his appearance alone told me that if anybody is going to drive this bus that the whole platoon is in, on the edge of a cliff who never drove a standard shift, it better not be SSGT Earl Daniels. Besides this fact and a lack of communication of listening to those who have been here a while, gave all of us pawns a bad feeling of insecurity as such was the case with Mr. Daniels at the helm.

Other than having a flack jacket, helmet and one of those new sinister looking black Matte  Mattel rifles with only one magazine, told us a story.  With that said, he gave most of us a bad feeling that turned out to be exactly the case. I know that he never confided with anyone as far as what he needed  to be prepared and geared up like the rest of us.

He wasn't even close as far as being prepared, as he looked out of place. Why he stuck out like a saw thumb as compared to the rest of us when I first seen him, as if this was some sort of a comical joke or something.

I mean if he would have asked one of his superiors any questions, they would  probably have questioned his capabilities about his experience in a combat zone, but that probably wouldn't have mattered as all they wanted were body counts, even if they were our own as they could just make believe we were the enemy and now fifty years later, I believe that those who survived are exactly that, the enemy, who are now a threat to the police unless we had joined  there ranks.

An again if he would of asked that same question to someone below his rank that also would have raised a red flag so he never bothered asking anyone anything about camping or surviving in the woods as he did not look like the outdoor type of guy.

One magazine is all that I seen in that rifle and it didn't look like he had any extras, or magazine pouches to hold those clips. I didn't think that he even had a cartridge belt because if he did have one , why wasn't there anything at all on his Cartridge belt? Going out in the bush without the basics for at least a three day minimum was essential but I didn't see a canteen, bayonet, a poncho, nor an E-tool or a pack to hold those delicious squares in those happy meals to keep us smiling

It was almost funny to watch as he was the cleanest grunt that I ever seen in the field as I actually felt bad for the guy as being put in-charge of this group of misfits Veterans most of which had been around a while and seen some shit. Most of these guys were well past completing their first half of their tour, as I wondered how long will it take before everyone knows this guy doesn't belong here. When someone is given command because of seniority  doesn't mean he has the experience needed for that position. That pecking order might work well State side when minor mistakes are not payed for in blood, those other trivial games that those who were power hungry to achieve some rank back in the World, were not tolerated here.

Picture a lance corporal coming to nam with no experience and taking over a squad, who on that squad would take orders from him, before he proved he was worthy, no one, but officers and Staff like an E-6, feel they have enough rank to led, but what they don't know is that any mistake could get us all killed.

I'm not sure what they taught those guy's in OCS training but Earl wasn't brass  but it seems like both NCO's or first and second Lieutenant didn't last very long here in the bush. I think if I could pick out the man in charge so could Charlie. The VC knew something odd about that only guy without a rifle. The guy humping that radio with that long antenna was not in charge but either the guy in front but more usual in the back of him was in charge.

If one guy made enough mistakes a was a liability to the group  he had to go, before he got us all killed, you 've all heard those similar stories before.  Factual stories or not, out there in the bush we could do pretty much what we wanted especially on a squad size ambush or patrol.

The highest rank guy was usually a  corporal who was promoted and sent to radio school was the case when I was there, but although technically in charge because he knew how to call in air support but he also listened and relied on those more experienced guys for keeping everyone alive from mines and ambushes, as it was a team effort all the way as we all fought for each other.

I felt like Earl wasn't a team player as he acted like he knew his way around but he wasn't very convincing and I knew that and he knew that too.

We knew that this guy in charge had the least amount of knowledge and we were hoping that we could teach him enough to get him through as long as he was interested in learning if he would be willing to listen to us pee-on's?

Lance Corporal Dave Moore was in charge of the 3rd Platoons First Squad he knew his shit. Jones-E, with the sp00n and Dave all worked well together an when Maverick show up he was all ears as he turned out to be one of us, and that fire team was special. We had a splib from Texas, a French Polock from Michigan, and a Buckeye from Ohio, and a sp00n from Rhode Island no one better than any another.

I thought of introducing my guys who saved my ass more than twice in the short four months or so that we were together because no one knew that this patrol was going to be our last patrol together as far as I was concerned.

That's right, my intuition had predicted that this guy posed a threat to all of our lives because he wasn't interested in listening to reason from a white chuck dude who recently became demoted for disrespecting a Major which is another short story that I will tell before I'm through

I never had seen Earl until this patrol started as we were hoping that this guy would be somewhat be open minded so he can learn something to avoid getting his ass killed and possibly taking some of our asses along for the ride causing our deaths to.

When I first arrived in Country, any tip from anyone of any kind of advice from anyone, I was all ears. I wanted to know all I could and I would even ask questions because I was a kid eighteen years old who wanted too survive and not let anyone down.

I'd rather ask a stupid question once and look dumb but know the correct answer than act like I know what I am doing and I get someone else killed. So I did ask a lot of questions and the guys knew that I wanted to learn. I want too know everything that I could rather than try to bluff my way thru and that was the impression that I got from Earl, bluffing,raising the bet, risking our lives as he didn't have enough to cover the pot. We wanted to know if he was good for it?as he didn't want to tell anyone that his credit was not good.

Even though no one even wanted to know a new guy never mind telling him anything but if you asked even a stupid question most of those short timers were more than happy too share their knowledge with you.

That's how I knew more than most guys early because I wanted too learn as fast as I could before I got to the bush and I know that's one reason that I got lucky and somehow got through my whole tour, and even today, fifty years later and I still can't believe that nightmare of being forced to carry that AR-15 and you cannot survive without experience, knowledge, Luck and a M-14.

Well those college guys would rather act the part as if they knew everything. Earl was not someone who like too listen as a staff E-6 Sargent he worked his way up somehow and was a lifer, not a educated OCS type of guy but I didn't know that nor did I get to know him very well either.

I could tell he had an attitude towards white guys and he looked thin and under nourish, even though he was about my height but that's on the short side for a splib, which was a name we used to describe a black man of color. Calling someone a splib was a way to show someone some respect as it made a big difference as white guy's were called chuck dudes and everything was cool.

I don't know why as I was on the short side myself and I never felt small or short like a lot of those smaller guys who acted weird, as if they had that inferiority complex that I call, "the Napoleon Syndrome." These guys who have this problem all seem like they always had something to prove and I could tell this Guy and the last guy that he replaced both seemed to have that same problem. I guess college makes you smarter but not bigger.

Well anyways, on this day we were headed out on a platoon size patrol and possibly a search and destroy type mission as nobody knew what was in store for us on this day as we were going somewhere and S SGT Earl Daniels was in charge. Everyone but Earl was geared up for usually three day minimum, just in case, because out there in th Field or the Bush, shit can happen really fast. You could be anywhere and If another platoon was having a bad time, why helicopters could all of a sudden just show up and we could be somewhere else in a matter of minutes or for a week or more, just like that.

And that did  happen more than a few times, so you never knew where they were taking you and when I would ask, the answer was always the same, "you'll find out when we get there?" those were the times that used to worry , when getting dropped off in the middle of nowhere, for some sort of rescue.    

Well, we were up front as usual my fire team seemed like we were always up front or in the rear, because we changed from that position twice before which led to Charles Clark setting off a mine that killed him and wounded another guy. He had been in country only a couple of months, at the most and he constantly asked why were we always up front? I guess he thought that his team could do a better job and should be given a chance to find out. Hey, give it a try, after hearing this complaint two maybe three times. If your team wants to take the lead, it's OK with us, and that was the end of him, on that very first try he died as everyone felt bad because I think he had a wife and kid, he was a tall splib, nice attitude, a tough looking muscular guy.

Those married guys seemed to be in that group of guys who got killed, more often. While those wise asses, is a slang for someone who is kind of an ass hole, but just to nice and  too cool to be a full fledge ass hole, so they were called a wise asses, Hey it didn't mean a thing. I was labeled a wise ass by Gary Machine gun Williams a Country boy from Pennsylvania, one of the best soldiers who I knew as part of his M-60 machine gun team when I first arrived in early  October, 1966.

So back to this patrol that all of a sudden started looking like a more familiar area as I don't remember the names of Villages as pee on's were not told very much except burn those hootch's don't touch anything, no souvenirs, blow up any tunnels before entering if you dare, most of us wouldn't fit threw those tight entrances anyway as I knew that having been stuck a couple of times  very cluster-phobic. I knew we had been here twice before, but not from this direction and the next thing that I know were taking fire, nothing heavy but somewhat steady and I was trying to locate where this fire was coming from, the next thing that I know Earl starts screaming at me as to keep my head down which is cool but you can't spend the rest of the day in that head down mode sweating your ass off from the heat in the rice paddy, waiting for a mortar team that would finish us off very fast if they were prepared so I wanted too move out of there as fast as I could.

Mr. Daniels wanted me to take the squad down the middle of that rice paddy right to that villa where we took  casualties twice before, as everyone was hearing this and looking at me like is this guy serious? I tried explaining the situation to Mr. Daniels about this place as both times before this place has serious VC and probably some NVA advisors but it seemed like Earl was determined to get our asses killed as he wasn't hearing anything of what we said to him.

Now I usually follow any order that is not like a total suicide mission and if it was somehow an order from someone like Lt. Butts who knew his shit, I would just say a prayer and go for it knowing this could be the end of me today. But this was not Lt. Butts or Captain Lynch, or Lt. Joiner.

I told Earl that he should re-consider a different approach, as he wasn't hearing any of it, he just wanted us to follow his order no matter what, when I said, "you do know there's no cover in that wide open Rice Paddy" and terrible footing as it got worst the closer we got and we could all get killed.

That's when I heard SSGT Daniels say that I don't care, what are you saying, that you don't care, after I heard that statement I never had Evil thoughts as bad as the ones that I was experiencing at that moment in time before, until I heard that statement by this MF.

Earl was on a power trip, spreading his wings as the leader of the flock.  I would have felt guilty if anything would have happened to him by accident as I was trying too help the guy, do the right thing, so I said Earl, "OK, you lead the way and I'll be right behind you," and he said, I'm not going, you are or I'm going to write you up "if you don't move out now". Hey, you can right me up but these guys are not going to die because of your stupid ass. He then told someone else to take the squad and the reply was, "if sp00n ain't going no one is going because he knows what he's doing, "while everyone was shaking their heads like yep, were not going.

Well that didn't go over really big, I was hoping that Earl would take the led just to see how far he would get before the welcome wagon open up on his ass, but I knew that wasn't going to happen as Earl wanted to gamble with our lives not his, he said he didn't care if we all got killed. At that point I was hopping for more incoming fire which this was the very first time I ever wished something that stupid as I was hopping for something else would unfold, which never did,  so Earl got lucky that day because I fucked up and most of you know why I'm saying that. I had compassion for the NFG which was a mistake and  I knew my war was already over as I was getting to soft getting short.

That was one short bad day for both of us as I was being transferred for disobeying a direct order in combat and I was going to be awaiting a General Court Marshal soon, within a month. As soon as we got back the Napoleon rat was pulling the rank,and race card out as if it were a wild Trump Card. I can still hear him whining pleading his case of insanity but he managed to get me transferred out of golf without any hearing because I had plenty of witnesses, so the race and rank card card was played by this professional brown nose suck ass lifer who was in his comfort zone Guys like him know how to get what they want and the next day I was transferred to H&S company, as far as I was concerned that was better than carrying that defective piece of shit, Mattie Mattel, and spending the rest of my tour having to put up with this piece of crap. I would miss my squad and fire team but everything changes so fast nothing seemed to stay the same for very long, so in a way Earl did me a favor.

                                                         Edgar A. Goulet (sp00n)

Staff Sergeant Earl Daniels