2 years ago this February, five members of the Vietnam Security Police Association(VSPA), got together at the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB outside of Dayton, Ohio.
At that time the 5 of us, joined by my oldest son, Sam, got together. I had never met any of the other 4, while we were all connected, by region or serving together. None of them had served with me, we had only the shared experience of being Air Force Security Police guys who served in Vietnam during the war....and the fact we all lived within an hour of so drive of the Museum.
Back in late November 2008, we decided to get together again, and invite a few of our Midwest "brothers" to join us for an afternoon at the Museum, We planned to get together, BS, take a few photos, eat lunch, and tour the Museum and grounds.....we figured out that maybe we could get 10 or even 20 guys.....WRONG! If the weather cooperates, we are scheduled to have somewhere between 50 and 100 VSPA Members and potential members, along with wives, together at Wright-Patterson, on January 31, 2009. That very date, 1/31 is infamous in the history of Air Force Security Police History.
I arrived at TSN on December 27, 1969, from my previous in country base Nha Trang, RVN. I would spend the next 6 months at the "Saigon Airport" base....from one of the smaller bases in South Vietnam, Nha Trang, to the largest, Tan Son Nhut....from working Law Enforcement, to working night time(Charlie Flight) Security in the ECHO Sector from 8PM until 6AM, six days a week...Monday was my day off, if we were not under alert.
My first night on duty was the last day and first day of the old/new year...I went to work on December 31st and was relieved January 1, 1970. The bunker I worked the first night(I didn't know it at the time), was the spot of the old 051 Bunker...the very place where on the first night of TET 1968 the Viet Cong began their offensive on Tan Son Nhut Air Base...the very sight where 4 Air Force Security Policeman were killed in action on that first offensive thrust of the VC.....
The 4 SPs killed that night were all "Buck" Sargents, 3 were 22 years old, the other 21...William Cyr of Massachusetts, Louis Fischer, of New York, Charles Hebron of Texas, and 21 year od Roger "Butch" Mills of Maryland are probably the most 'famous' of the more than 200 Air Force Security Police killed in the line of duty during the Vietnam Conflict...however the others are remember as well, especially in the pages of our association on line home:
For more on the workings and history of the 377th Security Police at Tan Son Nhut, and the base itself, you can find much of what you need at these sites:
Charles Penley a survivor of TET night at Tan Son Nhut has put together a quality web site honoring the 377th SPS
and the Tan Son Nhut Association, this month, has photos and stories of the TET and men who fought and died at Tan Son Nhut on January 31, 1968:
As I said earlier, I arrived in Vietnam some 18 months after TET, and at Tan Son Nhut and Bunker 051 almost 2 years after the night the men of the 377th put it on the line. We will say a prayer for those that fought and died that morning 41 years ago....and those still with us and those now gone that survived that battle.
So January 31st will see many more than I thought possible get together in the dead of winter in southwest Ohio....some of us know one another, many have never met, except for the world of the Internet....pray for good winter weather for those traveling, even from as far away as Florida and Arizona for a one afternoon get together, as we meet and greet each other, and honor those that served and are no longer with us.
The cold and light snow continues, typical January weather in west Ohio, back to basketball, a Junior High double header at Waynesfield tonight...then Friday night and Saturday afternoon round ball at Fort Loramie for the weekend.
photos-Me in February 1970, getting ready for Charlie Flight duty mugging for the carmera at Tan Son Nhut/The 051 Bunker at TSN, the morning after and during the January 31, 1968 firefight with the VC/and the Defender Forteras Statue at Wright Patterson AF Base Musuem, where on January 31, 2009, Security Police Vietnam and SE Asia Veterans will meet, and honor the fallen and living.
From our February 2007 get together left to right Larry Dotson, Pat Houseworth, Wayne DeZarn, Rick Adams, and Mike Tillman....and me at the Statue on that frozen February day.