FSB – LZ – BASECAMP
The PX barbershop at Quang Tri Combat Base is shown behind
two cav troopers, Chuck Lea and Carter Fuller. Though just another of the
standard plywood buildings that were found all over bases in Viet Nam, the shop
sported a traditional striped barber's pole out front. In addition to a good
haircut, the scalp, neck, and shoulder massage was relaxing. The popping of
finger joints by the barbers usually came as a surprise to new troops at the
end of their first haircut. All in all, a pleasant experience.
Not dead yet. The last time you saw me at the hospital compound I had less than a week left in country. Most people got out of the field 20-30 days before they left...not me! For 7 or 8 days before my DVE date Alpha 1-7 went down and I just knew I would get to go back to base camp. Instead they put me on an APC. I was hot and had the 'pucker factor' to the max. I was riding on the back of the APC when it went down into a depression and suddenly up a rise. I fell off the back, and while lying there looking face up at the sky, decided this was my ticket out of the field. Went to the hospital and stayed until I had 2 days left in country. I figured no way would they send me out with 2 days left so I recovered and went back to HQ. They assigned me to shit burning detail! What a slap in the face. I could not let such an injustice go unpunished, so I pulled the 3 barrels out about 4 inches from the outhouse and filled them with mo gas. The shit burned nicely but 4 inches was not enough distance to prevent the outhouse from burning as well. There is a picture on the 4/12th web site of the outhouse burning...I forgot my camera or I could have had a MUCH better picture. There was a guy in the unit who bought a 38 revolver. He was an APC driver who wore thick glasses. He only had a limited number of 38 rounds, which he made dum-dums of. Were you my co-conspirator in stealing his .38 ammo? What a trip. Bill (William?) Dodds from Portland, OR was on Alpha 1-7 for a while. Talked to him 15 yrs ago. Got his number from directory assistance. Ronald Congleton from Paterson, NJ was the driver for a while. Was never able to contact him. Someone stole my photo albums from my footlocker at Quang Tri right before I left so I have less than 15 pictures of my time there and only 3 of me. Sgt. Robert Barrows the platoon Sgt and TC of A1-7 has hundreds of excellent pictures. If we could find him I would like to get some copies. I have some good shots of the new Sheridans I will try to get on the site. I couldn't ID any of the guys whose pictures are on the web. It's been a long time and very few were 1st platoon people. Do you have pics of 1st platoon during our era?
The Finance major woke me up early one morning, around 3
a.m. He told me to get dressed, bring my flak jacket, my weapon, my helmet and
my rifle. I was to meet him at the helipad ASAP. He left to wake another
soldier. While I stumbled and dragged all my stuff to the helipad, my brain
still befuddled with the lack of sleep, Jerry Malan stepped out of the shadows,
"Hey Pineapple, he said, "Where are you going? He was the last person
I expected to step out of the shadows to ask me. "I don't know, I honestly
said, "I have to go to the airport. "You're going to get new MPC,
Malan said. He disappeared back into the shadows as I walked on. Was I still
sleeping? How did Malan know? Was it true? I met the major at the helipad and
we took off immediately, heading on a southerly bearing. As soon as we were in
the air, the major revealed our destination was DaNang, our mission, he said
was to pull security and help him with picking up the new MPC. We were going to
have a currency change in the next few days. It was top secret.
The people at momma-sans whore/drug house knew about the MPC
exchange 3 weeks before it happened. No doubt before your major did, and since
I was a frequent flyer I knew too. Do you remember Sgt. Barrows calling in a
chopper for me to make a P.X. run while you were with 1st Platoon? I didn't go
to the PX, I went to momma sans for the supplies the troopers really needed. I
remember Cua Viet Navy Base and leaving there with the turret full of Navy
C-rations. We would have been main gun-less had we been attacked because no one
could fit in there. .
Hey John, I remember Weaver, he used to stand at the hooch
door so all you could see of him was his top half and roll that grenade of his
down the isle and we all would run like hell, then we got smart and painted his
toy fluorescent orange or pink or something like that so we would know it was
that dummy grenade of his, well he rolled that bright orange toy of his down
the floor one night just a laughing his ass off, we took one look at that thing
and then looked at each other and then ran like hell.....
Duke, 2nd plat 69
I agree too...Cua Viet was good duty...SUPER food....OK bunker guard, and a boat ride to ambush. Except that river seemed awful wide when the boat left. Very lonely out there on the other side of the river. Seemed like it rained almost every night I went out. The drag races on the beach were cool though!!! Nancy was a "homey" LZ. When we went to Quang Tri I felt like we had moved to the big city.)-: ???
You're right Turtle, my least favorite place was, I THINK,
A2. Or whichever one we were at closest to the DMZ. ( C2 was a bit south,
right?) It was the rainy season and I never did get warm. Nothing but red mud
and sand bags. I always liked the field better than any base camp anyway. I'll
never forget WATCHING those 175mm rounds when they fired the ARTY. Unbelievable
to me, to be able to SEE the rounds go out..and out ... and out...WAY out! What
was their range?
Speaking of Cua Viet, I remember in November of 69 that the
troop had to go back to Quang Tri for some type of inspection. The three mortar
tracks were left behind at Cua Viet. We had to pull fire missions every third
night. The nights off were spent at the club listening to Three Dog Night and
the like. The only problem, it didn't last long enough.
Does anyone remember the guy who came to the Troop sometime
during the middle of 1970 from the rangers, P/75th? Seems like he had been in
some really bad stuff, got stranded above the pink line of the DMZ for a few
days when the rest of his team all got killed. He refused to go out with P/75th
again after that, so they sent him to A 4/12. The first sergeant made a deal
with him, and in return for being the permanent shit burner at Quang Tri, he
didn't have to go to the field with us, either. Once he showed up for formation
stark naked. I don't know if he was trying to make like Cpl Klinger in MASH and
get a mental discharge, or if he just truly didn't give a damn anymore. One
night he apparently got tired of burning shit, or perhaps he was just angry at
the world. He filled the cut off 55- gallon drums in the bottom of the latrine
with fuel, and tossed in a frag. Really made a mess of things. At first it
seemed a bit weird, but after that lots of people probably chuckled a bit and
wish they had been the one to do it.
Hello from Memory Land,
From the e-mails floating by today I do remember the larceny in the hearts of all 4/12 troopers. I remember a certain summer at A-4 when FO and a group of Troopers went down to C-2 to look into the possibility of improving rations for the troop. The PC was loaded to the gills when the Mess Sergeant of the Artillery Battery caught one of the guys. I can't remember who it was but the Mess Sergeant had us by the short hairs. As we unloaded the PC from the back hatch two cases of goodies were stacked back in through the drivers hatch. (Those Arty guys never were too swift.)
That evening in front of the main bunker at A-4 we had one of the best cookouts ever. Steaks were cooked over an open fire. C-Ration Crackers were made in to the best canapés. Accompanied with sardines, cheese and pickled eggs. Every thing was washed down with the coldest beer that could be found.
Can anyone ever forget the taste of hot Fresca? That has to rank right up there with anything you wouldn't drink today.
30 Yankee Signing Off Read you 5 by 5
Whoo-ee! I was there! I remember the cookout! The best steak ever! Never had better in the army! I was a little nervous as the cookout went on and on as it got darker and darker. I kept expecting the NVA to send over .122mm guests, but nothing happened! Thanks for bringing it up! We used somebody's RPG screen for a grille. We kept eating and drinking and talking far into the night w/Capt. Robinson. (That scene in Apocalypse now: with Kilgore and his airmobile bunch making steaks rang true) I also remember earlier in the day, watching a mock tennis match between a couple of guys swinging imaginary rackets and hitting an imaginary ball. A crowd was watching and applauding the good shots. We were a very weird bunch. And hot Fresca was just the thing to hit the spot when you ran out of warm Schlitz.
One of the ways we acquired grass was to drive out of LZ
Nancy at a breakneck clip, up to the people that hung around the main gate
selling cheap mirrors and plastic bowls. As we passed, we threw a case of
C-Rations out. We went about 200 meters down the road, turned around, at the
same speed, we flew back. The gooks would then throw huge bags of grass at us
as we passed. Easily, these bags were worth about $100 in 'Nam, maybe $300 back
in the world. It was the best, most high quality shit available! We called it
the grass run.
???? you write about getting grass at the gate of LZ Nancy for C-Rations. One case of rations got you $100.00 bag of dope. (We all realize that we never inhaled and only did that stuff to let the brothers know we were cool) Let me refresh your mind. A case of C-Rats was worth $5.00. A case of cigarettes was worth $5.00. A shot of momma san was $5.00. a pack of ready rolls was $1.00. A $5.00 bag was about all you could fit in 2 Ziploc sandwich bags. A kilo (2.2lbs.) was $20.00 that would fill a waterproof bag. Cigarettes were free out of SP packs, cost $1.10 a carton at the PX.(did get some for $1.00 on that LST and got greenbacks in change for a $20.00 MPC which were worth 3MPC per greenback). I recollect it very reasonable. Name withheld by request. merk, merk.
Remember Capt Robinson? When we would pull into a base saying we could get most anything we needed here...Lots of nights out in the bush enjoying dehydrated steak and shrimp etc., that came from someone else's mess hall. Barrows says we stole a bunch of food and some of those insulated cans from some unit and under threat of CID involvement had to bring the cans back but was allowed to keep the food. I figured they deserved it since they wouldn't feed us or let us use their showers. Malan
Remember how the jeeps use to get borrowed? Got so bad they started chaining the clutch pedal to the steering wheel. Seems to me the CO had a hot one he kept for along time. Malan
Then during the Typhoon we rode out at Cua Viet (Nov? 69) I was on bunker duty. The wind was blowing the rain into the bunker sideways and was cold as hell. One of the guys on the bunker with me got into his sleeping bag behind the bunker to block off the wind and went to sleep. In the middle of the night the Lt (Canda?) came around on an APC to check on us and ran over the guy in his sleeping bag. Lucky guy got rolled under the belly but wasn't hit by the tracks. Malan
I'M SURE we were at Cua Viet for Thanksgiving because I remember a Holiday dinner in the field and I was in DaNang for Christmas. Don't know the month but we still had the M48s. 1st platoon alone was north of Cua Viet it had been quiet and I was bored since it was not a free fire zone there. I told Jersey (Congleton) who was driving that I wanted to drive that day. I threatened to empty the coax ammo box the next time I had a chance and he let me drive (he had sensitive ears). We left our NDP that morning and hadn't gotten 200yds in the very tracks we had come in on the evening before and we hit a mine. BOOM! I didn't remember it (most likely concussion) but Sgt Barrows said I had a .50 cal ammo can hit me and knocked me a little silly. Took forever to get A17 back to the river. We tried every which way to get 17 on to the navy 8 boat they had there. They could carry one tank and one APC only. We ended up getting an LST from somewhere and finally got her back to the navy base. The picture on the website of A17 in the water was taken when we were trying to get her loaded on those small boats. The road to Quang Tri was washed out and the NVA had control of the area so they couldn't get a flat bed trailer in to take 17 back to Quang Tri for almost a month. I stayed with her at Cua Viet during this time. Had my own hooch, had my own perimeter around it to keep the Navy who weren't invited at bay, ate 3 hot meals a day out of the navy mess hall, rode the river with the navy (out of sheer boredom), and enjoyed a hot shower when I wanted to. Best damn month I ever spent in the army. Malan
THEN there was the time at alpah4 during the monsoon I was sleeping under a poncho on the back deck of the tank. Sgt Barrows shakes me awake and ask me if hadn't heard that? I ask "Heard what?" He says that mortar round that went off. I told him I hadn't heard it. He points to mud and crap all over my poncho. I get up and see where the mortar round hit a few feet behind the tank. That's tired. Malan
Another funny story... Barrows always pulled last guard
shift from 5-7 AM. We were working out of either C2 or A4 and the NVA had been
shelling the place daily. A rocket had hit near enough to an outhouse that
Barrows used to ventilate it. We started to tease him that he better quit using
it as the NVA had it zeroed in. One morning he woke me up to take his place on
guard at daybreak so he could go to the outhouse. He had enough time to get his
ass planted when the rockets and mortars started hitting very close to us. Sgt.
Barrows came running out of the outhouse with his pants down around his ankles.
He was trying to pull them up and run at the same time. He had to run maybe 50
feet to a bunker. He never got the pants up above his knees during this run.
They might consider adding this event to the PT test stuff you do in basic
training. You know 100 yd. man carry, etc.
Jerry Just to help you with memories of Viet Nam I used to pull the 0300 _0700 Hr shift all the time because I had to make sure the Platoon was up and ready to go early every. To make up for pulling the last shift I always pulled a 4 hr shift. That morning at the outhouse we were going to escort the Engineer mine sweep team on the daily sweep back to Charlie 2 from Alpha 4. I was attacked by a case of "Gotta Goes when that mortar and rocket attack started. The rest of the story was pretty accurate
Then there was my R&R story. I waited until I had about 8 months in country to apply for R&R because I wanted to go to Sidney and someone had told me the longer you waited the better your chances of getting your pick. When my orders came thru I got Thailand so I was not a happy camper. I flew to DaNang and lined up at the R&R center behind 15 other guys in front of this Navy guys desk. After awhile it was my turn so I walked up to this guys desk and set my paperwork on top of it. This shit head jumps my ass and says if he wants my paperwork he will ask for it. (The bastard had looked at everyone's' paperwork that had been in front of me). This guy was an E-6 who must have weighed 300 lbs. and was all of 5'6" tall. It was all I could do to keep from breaking his neck on the spot so I picked up my papers and left. I went to Red Beach and found me a momma san for that week. When I got back to the troop they said because I had not gone on R&R the troop had lost an R&R slot. So if any of you guys didn't get R&R after that it was all my fault. Malan
OK more B.S. bout Nam, like the time Sgt Barrows came into the bunker at either Charlie 2 or Alpha 4 with his .45 caliber pistol in hand, pointed it at the floor and pulled the trigger. Boom it went off and scared the shit out of several of us including Barrows. I think he said "so much for the firearms safety lecture." Malan
Can't remember where we were but I'm thinking Charlie 2. Sgt DiSanto on A26 and Sgt Barrows on A17 get an offer form one of the Mech. Infantry company's (1/11?) for breakfast. They had an APC hit a mine the day before and while trying to retrieve it had another APC hit a mine. We got real eggs for breakfast and all we had to do was go out in the middle of a minefield and retrieve those APC's. In hindsight I think that job was underbid. Sure would have been if we had hit a mine but we were lucky that day. Malan
Cua Viet Navy base was the only place in northern I corp where one platoon actually got a night off every 3rd day. The Navy issued C-rats to the guys who ran the river but most of them managed to make it back to the base for the 3 hot meals the mess hall served and as a result they had a big fenced in area full of C-rats. I can remember leaving Cua Viet with the turret so full of C-rats that we would not have been able to fire the main gun if we had to. Lucky we never had too. Malan
You guys who were tankers will no doubt remember when we first got the Sheridans. They set up a firing range for us to train on. We were all a little worried because they told us the front end on the Sheridan jumped about 3 feet off the ground when you fired the main gun. Sgt Barrows, brave soul that he was, got in to fire the first round to show us there was nothing to worry about. He fired the damn thing and came out with blood running down all over his face. He had flipped the site cover half way up so that the sharp edge of the cover was over his forehead but the foam forehead rest kept him from feeling it. This put the sharp edge maybe a quarter of an inch away from his forehead. The recoil of the gun forced the cover towards his head and cut him all the way across his head just over his eyebrows. Nobody wanted to shoot after that. Malan
When I first come to Vietnam I hardly got time to see L.Z. Nancy before I was trucked up to Alpha 4 for my baptism. Hell of a place to break in. Couldn't believe you could see that NVA motor pool across the DMZ with that damn red flag flying above it. I always wanted to take a shot at it especially since I figured they were the ones that shot the rockets and mortars at us all the time. Anyway during the nights there I kept hearing this whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, noise going overhead and thought it must be a bird or big fruit bat or something. After a week or so I ask someone what the hell that noise was. He said have you seen those five foot long 100 pound pieces of shrapnel laying around on the ground around here? Jesus Christ! There weren't any bombs dropping close to us, that stuff was coming from WAY OVER THERE and flying over my head! . Malan
I don't know why but for some reason around the time of the move from Nancy to Quang Tri I was back at Nancy for some reason. There was a bunker there that wasn't on the original blue prints and in typical military fashion somebody decided it had to be destroyed. There was a brother in the camp maybe had a base camp job who was assigned to destroy this bunker. The plan was to burn out the wood supports and let the sand bag roof fill it in. This job was given to the brother who pulled the MO-GAS truck up to it and proceeded to run a bunch of gasoline down into this bunker. Good plan so far. Where he went wrong was standing directly in front of the entrance and throwing a trip flare down there to light it up. Burned his face, hair, hands, ect. I saw him sometime after that and other than having a bunch of pink spots all over where he was burned he was O thay. Anyone remember his name? Malan
The C.O. of Personnel and Finance at A75 Support was some kind of frustrated Green Beret Airborne Ranger dude. He has the airborne wings and the ranger patch. The major would send for me at least once a week and make me ride with him in a helicopter up to the DMZ, then to A4 or C2, where we'd land for a few minutes, then take off and look around the bushes and paddies a bit more. I'm a little puzzled since there are 2 other combat guys in finance, one from the 1/11th and the other from 1/61st, but he doesn't make those guys fly around with him. I'm very afraid, but I must hide it well. I wonder how many of these rides do I have to take before I can put in for an air medal? I love flying in choppers; the ride is fantastic. The major likes riding those little Loaches. I do too. I think he's crazy. We've never seen anyone on our little trips around the bush thank God. All I carry is 2 bandoleers of ammo. I guess in gratitude for me riding shotgun for him, the major made a call to the Cav to ask why the hell I hadn't been promoted to E-5 yet. He said he had Top schedule me for the next board. I was shocked, I didn't want to be promoted, I wanted to stay in Finance for the rest of the war. If I were promoted, I would have to go back to the field. I asked Top to ignore what that major said I didn't want it. (Pineapple.)
Do you remember the time they let the whole Troop stand down
at the same time in Quang Tri? We all went to the Brigade NCO Club together and
between everyone there must have been about $500 -$600 dollars of funny money
anted up in the middle of the table and one of our young NCOs walked up to the
bar with his boonie hat on and they were demanding that he buy everyone at the
bar a drink !! (about 60 people) and we hollered "After the Fight"
and all Hell broke loose, I remember someone shoved all the change in the pile
to the waitress and told her to keep it. They brought in two trucks of MPs to
break it up and that was the last time they ever let us stand down at the same
time and I think they put the Brigade Club off limits to the Cav . HA!!
Hey Bill, You where saying something about the barber we had at LZ Nancy. I remember after he gave us a shave and a haircut, he would crack our necks. It felt good ,but I always thought that he might be a VC. Could he have twisted our necks a little farther? I heard he was killed on a VC trail with the rest of the gooks. Big Al