Stand-Down is when a military unit receives orders to begin ceasing operations, and in our case, the 22nd Infantry would be standing down and withdrawing as part of President Nixon’s announced 100,000 troop withdrawal from Vietnam by the end of the year. That sounded good, but it didn’t mean that all of us were going home. Many of us were going to be reassigned to other units somewhere in Vietnam. I figured they would split us up and scatter us all over the country wherever remaining military units were shorthanded, and most of them were because new replacements were no longer arriving. I hoped that they wouldn’t send me farther north, and I also hoped that I would stay with either Jarvis or Bannar. I was getting “short” now, with only 60 days remaining in-country. I was now a “two-digit midget,” which is what we called guys who had less than 100 days left on their tour of duty. There were a few benefits to being “short,” especially when going out to the field. I was hoping that short-timers didn’t have to walk point wherever they would be sending me next. Back on base, it meant that I pulled a lot more daytime guard duty rather than being out there in the dark every night. Daytime guard was the safest duty of all and the most boring of all, but I wasn’t complaining. I spent day after day all alone sitting up in a tall guard tower watching the waves of the South China Sea roll onto the beach. The guard truck dropped me off at 06:00 (6:00 AM) and then picked me up at 18:00 (6:00 PM). I spent the 12-hour days daydreaming about home while watching the surf and watching the helicopters and planes arriving and departing the base. And then at the end of the day, I was able to sleep in a bed at night! It was pretty nice.
A chopper arriving at the base, flying over the concertina wire that extended the length of the beautiful vacant South China Sea beaches as far as you could see.