Friday, October 12, 2007

Rocket Attack!









After doing my political rant earlier in the day, I'll go with my original post about the rocket attack at Nha Trang Air Base on October 12,

38 Years Ago Today
_________________

Actually it occured on October 11th stateside time....The US Government had decided to turn control over to the South Vietnam government Nha Trang AB.....thus the 14th Wing was being dismantled and many Air Force guys would be going elsewhere...I remember guys from the 14th SPS, our security police squadron had begun to move out in early October, I would be one of the last to leave on December 27th....now the Air Force would continue it's presence at Nha Trang, but the 14th would be gone....a smaller group of SPs would remain to help the Vietnamese.

From old newspapers accounts I have read, the VC and North Viet regulars wanted to show the South and the US military, that they were in position to take on Nha Trang....during my genealogy research, some newspapers told of 20 rockets smashing into the base....in truth, I don't remember much about it, except the one that hit the TUOC Radar Building and smashed into the base theater(an open air outdoor movie house)...it narrowly missed the Security Police Barracks....

I was on A Flight Law Enforcement, day shift(and to tell the truth, I can't remember if it was my day off or not)...but the attack happened around 5AM, according to my Nha Trang friend Bruce Thompson..he was working, when the attack came...me? Well I was sound asleep, I remember the hit that threw shrapnel into and around our barracks....didn't know what was happening, but I knew it was dangerous....I had a lower bunk, I rolled out, and under the bed I went. Another Nha Trang cop, Tony Niemotka, cubed with Marcos Payen, and tells the story of Marc rolling out and on top on Tony...if you knew Payan, he was a big guy, don't know if I wanted him to drop down on me off an upper or even lower bunk.

To tell the truth, it was all pretty much a blurr then...the security guys headed to their point, and we law enforcement guys headed for base police, to get our alert assignments...wish I could tell you more, but 38 years, and many years of forgetting my Vietnam experience, I just can't remember too much more....the VC were lousy shots though, because we lost no cops(and I don't think any AF personal were injured that day)....their attempt at scaring the US from giving control over the base to the South Viets didn't work...we lived to fight and drink another day....

Many of us went our separate ways....In December I headed for Tan Son Nhut, Tom Johnson left for Phan Rang, Harry Bevan and Marc Payan headed home, as did Phil Lange, Johnny Claflin to went on to Phan Rang ....Tony Niemotka, Duncan Copland, Melvin Sloan, Bruce Thompson, and others, either headed home or like me, we reassigned in country, all survived the attack, and we still survive today......most are members of the VSPA.




Nha Trang was a small base, located on a beautiful beach on the South China Sea.....even though I've never been back, the photos and videos I've seen show Nha Trang as a tourist spot, catering to Euros and Americans today.

A Nha Trang Street today looks like this:
{photos of the shrapnel I found next to the SPS Barracks, and the TUOC Building where the rocket went right through the roof.....5AM and nobody hurt in the building....I took quite a few photos that day...but this is all I have in my possession]
prh








































6 comments:

BRUNO said...

Be sure and copy these off, onto a disc or otherwise, then make a couple copies of each. Keep 'em in separate SAFE places.

Ain't nothin' worse than losing your pics to unpreventable disasters, or uncaring surviving relatives. I suffered the loss of mine from the latter---save 'em while ya' got 'em!

Anonymous said...

I was at Nha Trang from June 1969 to March 1969. I worked in the Communications Squadron. I clearly remember the night of the rocket attack. Many times I would go to the outdoor theater and ususally sat back near the Chapel. Had we not been on Yellow alert I may well have taken a hit because to the best of my recollection a rocket landed at the back of the theater near the Chapel! Thanks for you great post.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, correction June 1969 to March 1970

pat houseworth said...

Anon: Thanks for stopping by a few weeks ago...you are correct, the rocket that hit the theater was towards the back and across the street from the TUOC Building.

prh

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