Ap Cho
A 13 day battle...



Here are some interesting exchanges of thought concerning the Battle at Ap Cho by the people who where there.  One man lived 30 years with a nightmare about this battle.  The truth has ended those brutal nightmares.  This is food reading for anyone that was there with the 187th  and lived through the stupidity of one ground commander in a C&C bird.

This is a perfect example of how people still carry and suffer from the scars of war so long ago.



----- Original Message -----
From: Calvin Sloan 
To:  Frenchy Gibeault 
Sent: Sunday, November 21, 1999 1:27 PM
Subject: The battle of Ap Cho:

     Hi Frenchy,

I just wanted to tell you that everyday that goes by I feel more and  more stronger.   I haven't for the first time in 31 years had a nightmare, since 11-11-99.  And I was due for one at that time you told me the truth, of that day in February 1968.

I'm so grateful to you Frenchy for setting the record straight, and I'm not sure of the spelling, but I will never forget  "Brelin"

"You will remain in my heart forever" Frenchy.

For 31 years I lived with the nightmare that I killed fighting men of the 25th infantry division.  And all the garble over the head set that we were "killing our own men and to stop firing", has got to be the worse sounds anyone could ever hear.  Especially when your 18 years old wanting to do your best in assisting the grunts on the ground in battle.   For 31 long years I feared that I killed so many of our own men.  Everyday since, I would just think about it and break down and cry.  "Every-night" before going to bed and falling asleep, I would start thinking of what I did "A secret that I thought was only mine", and know one else knew but me.  No-one but me Frenchy until I met you.   I know you are an honorable man and just wouldn't say what you did to put my mind at ease.  I will be forever grateful to you for setting my mind at rest Frenchy.

"For 31 years" I lived in my mind over and over and over again the "Battle of Ap Cho."   One bloody day, or 11 days  "if my memory is correct" (What a laugh that is:) All it seems that I remember is refueling re-arming and going back, day in day out.  Wake up at 4:30 am and coming back to the base camp at 9:30 pm, after fighting all day, going over to Berlin's hooch and getting stoned out of my mind, just to release the high anxiety of just that day of fighting, and then going back to the hooch only to awake to incoming rounds at 1-2 am every morning and running back to the flight line, and starting all over again.

 I don't remember when or why I quite flying, but assume that I was just fed up, with the killing or being a target.

But in regards to that day, it will still live with me now, but only as you said how it happened, not as I thought.

My wife and the rest of my family including my doctors, can already see the difference in the way I hold my head, no longer in "Shame" but holding it up as a proud man who served his country, instead of a shameful man that killed his own. Now I wake up in the morning feeling a lot better about myself Frenchy, that I did not kill our own, and I can enjoy my day without the thought and the horror of killing my own men in combat. That was a very-very heavy burden I carried for "31 years" and I will always be grateful to you Frenchy, for taking that burden from me. I haven't told my daughters yet of that day, I'm waiting for the right moment, but I'm sure it will explain the father they never had, only a father figure.

I often wonder if I had succeeded in my 7 suicide attempts to rid myself of the nightmares and horror of that battle and the thought of killing my own, what would have become of my wife and children if they had ever found out the real truth of that battle. And where would have my soul have gone if the last attempt was successful.

Frenchy, that Florida trip meant so much to me and for my family and friends, I will never be able to repay you for setting the record straight, on Frank Drinkwine's porch. The only thing I can do, is to do as you asked of me, and that was to help someone else, but I don't feel that is a fare exchange after living in shame for 31 years and then being set free.  But I will do as you asked, "only if", you will not hesitate to ask something of me when you want help for some reason or another, I will always be there for you, please count on that Frenchy for any reason at all, I'll be there.

 "Thank You Frenchy for my life",
            Clear Right,

              Calvin Sloan

** Response from  Robert "Frenchy" Gibeault..


Your letter is a powerful testament to your character.  Someone said, 'that does not kill us makes us stronger'.  I can't tell how happy I am that you are finally free of the stigma and shame of killing the men you were laying your life on the line, trying to save.  I know, I was there.  It happened to me as well.  Chuck and I were talking about the chicken shit C&C commander that day. That bastard got relieved the next day.  I believe it was him that planted that poison seed of 'killing his men on the ground that day'.  That LIE that stole so many years of our lives.  I'll tell you more of the story as you get stronger.

I talked to 'Charlie' Company commander, then Lt. Chuck Boyle.  He and his troops were on the ground for those two weeks, and he was the one in deep shit on the fifth.  He is absolutely delighted to find another fighting brother of the battle of 'Bloody Ap Cho'.  He is sending you a autographed copy of his book the 'Absolution', along with a letter that help you a little further down the road, home. Trust me here, the truth will set you free.

Your friend,


*** Message from Chuck Boyle. Former ground commander at Ap Cho.  One of the men that were in the real bad stuff....

Dear Calvin,
It is an honor to be able to send you an e-mail tonight, 31 years after you and your brave men flew into the face of one of the most horrendous battles in Vietnam ... a place called Ap Cho.

This is not "purple prose" I am writing to you, Buddy. I have some things I wish to share with you.

Frenchy Gibeault, our mutual friend, told me about you and your recent meeting in Florida. He had the good sense; wisdom--to forward to me, your most recent e-mail to him, for my consideration.

My name is Chuck Boyle. I was the company commander on the ground for Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, from the 1st of February 1968, until we leveled that place, 14 days later.

On the 5th of February, 1968, we were heavily engaged with the enemy. You know the scene. They were dug in good and I now know that we were facing two battalions. We had four men killed that day in my company, almost 100 wounded. They were assaulting an enemy machine gun position. You guys flew right off the ground, laying down that hot steel so that we could advance.  I can never thank you enough. The dead men would thank you today. I know.

Take this to the bank.  You, nor any of your courageous pilots and door gunners ever hit any of us. ...bet your ass, it was close.  Thanks. It had to be. I do recall a platoon leader, shouting that they "are killing us."  Hell,  everybody was shouting something. The chaos of battle is a phenomena that is impossible to describe. It wasn't helped any by that dimwit Battalion Commander we had in the C & C ship either.  He panicked and might have implied such a thing.

When the bullets are flying, people tend to exaggerate.  Someone probably did put that seed in your mind, that you guys were shooting us.

Never happened!!!

Of all the casualties we had that day and the following days, none of them were caused by friendly fire. We had 8 killed in my company, overall. The other units suffered similar casualties. It might have been 80 KIA, or all of us for that matter, if you hadn't done your job.

I don't think you could get this from a more reliable source.  I am not accustomed to boasting, so don't take it that way.  But, I was the principle ground commander for the entire operation. I could march every company commander, every platoon leader, and every grunt who still survives, and was in Ap Cho, in front of you right now and they'd all tell you the same thing.

If you need more verification, I will put you in touch with dozens of other grunts who were there. One of them, James Asher, is copied on this e-mail.  Your story is private and it is special, so we won't be broadcasting.  James is special.  He stood up in the middle of that heat and guided a dustoff in.  He drove a loaded truck loaded with white phosphorus ammo out of a ditch just north of Ap Cho  and brought it safely into Cui Chi, depriving the  enemy of it.  He is authentic, real and his memory is superb. He took pictures too. Geeze!

Tonight, I called him about you, explaining what you have believed for 31 years.  James immediately and without equivocation said "No Way!" He asked to be copied on this message. Call or write to him.

Now, my good friend, what can we say to you to erase the nightmare that has haunted you for 31 years? Not too much, I guess, except to tell you that you performed heroically.  You did what was asked of you and you did it well.

We have a large organization of Charlie Company Vietnam Veterans.  I write a newsletter for them. In every issue, we make it a point to recognize and honor those wonderful men in those choppers, that took us in, hot or cold.  They brought us out, one way or the other. No one on this earth has more respect for you and your fellow aviators than me and the men of Charlie Company.

So... Put it to bed. Hasten now, to your wife and children. Tell them what I said.

I am sending you a book about it. I have your address. My treat!

And, hey, that Frenchy is quite a guy, eh?  If he ever told a lie his tongue would break.

I'll write some more when I have totally digested this story.   I will hold you in my thoughts and prayers in perpetuity.

Welcome Home, Brother!

Love Ya,




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