Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Baseball, Gutters, and July 1, 1969

Finished up the Junior ACME Sectional at Crestview last night, with fellow umpire Jim R behind the plate, in the first game. Van Wert eliminated Wapakoneta 4-3, scoring 2 runs in the bottom of the 7th, the winning run on a bases loaded walk. I did the plate in the 2nd game as Crestview took the nightcap 14-3 in 6 innings, to win the title. Both Van Wert and Crestview move on to the District at Rockford...I know at least Celina will be joining them, not sure of the remaining teams.

The cool temperatures and cloud cover were welcome. Tonight Sam and I do a ACME Sectional game at Van Wert...tomorrow a 4PM ACME Sectional double header at Lima Central Catholic. The rest of the 4th of July weekend will be filled with games, ACME, JR ACME, and a weekend American Legion Tournament at St. Marys will keep me busy...maybe too busy. I have to admit, I am getting burnt out after 3 1/2 months of solid baseball. In June alone, I worked 27 of the 30 days, July, after a fast start will be less hectic, but I will still do plenty of baseball, before getting some early August off before football begins. The money is good, so I'm not complaining, but my 60 year old legs and back are feeling the effects.

The crew from Lima came over yesterday and did the gutter work. So the roof, and downspouts are finis' Now, all I have to do is begin the painting...something I have been putting off. Now with white added to the green, beige, and red trim.....I am guessing this may take until October, depending on my bones, procrastination, and the heat.

The road to Vietnam--7/1/69____

I sat in a lounge at Honolulu International Airport for maybe an hour, had a couple of beers(back when it was legal for a 20 year old to down alcoholic beverages)...then climbed on the orange Braniff International 707 and we flew west towards the International Date Line:
June 30th became July 1st in the blink of an the time I would land at Tan Son Nhut(Saigon Airport) it would be July 2nd. But stops had to be made...First Guam, an American controlled island country, home of Andersen Air Force Base, and boat loads of Brown Snakes....I can't recall if we ever deplaned, but we refueled and across the great blue Pacific we continued, next stop was Clark AFB in the Philippines. We did get off for a brief stop at Clark, saw some of the base, and grabbed a bite to eat....climbing back on the plane, I knew what was coming____Next Stop Vietnam!

I was lucky enough to have a window seat, as we approached the Airport at Saigon, a place that would be my future home, some 6 months down the road...but not now, the great base at Tan Son Nhut, would be my processing place for a day and night, then it would be off to Nha Trang, on the South China Sea. I looked over the vast jungle of foliage of the forests that covered this war torn country that we were fighting and dying in...the reasons were still unclear then, as they are 40 years later.

The Arrival____

The plane sat down in the late morning of July 2nd...I did some early processing at the terminal, received some orders, my flight schedule to Nha Trang, a meal ticket for the Chow Hall, and some linen for my night's stay at the Transit Barracks.

I remember that night first night in this "war". I didn't sleep well at all. I thought of home, what I would be doing at Nha Trang, the dangers, how I would get there, and if my flight would actually make it. Alone, unlike those sent in full outfits with squadrons, etc...I was by myself, the only one from Dover AFB Security Police to be sent to Nha Trang, I would come to realize soon, just how lucky I was to be sent there, but on this night of July 2, 1969, I had no clue.

Then there was the sound of rockets and incoming in the far away I didn't know, but regardless, I didn't sleep well that night.

Next, the flight to Nha Trang_____

Back Later
Correction from Yesterday's Post____
My old hometown buddy, Bill Marshall, a fellow VSPA Sky Cop also from the small berg of Scott, Ohio, wrote to tell me he liked the story, but had a correction for way I could have went past Hearst Castle on my way from San Fran International to Travis AFB, unless we went 150 miles out of the way....right he was. As I didn't have pictures or notes from that day, I guess I had imagined that it was Hearst. I know we went by Candlestick Park and another large estate, that the bus driver mentioned...Hearst it was not, but it, whatever it was, was impressive, and stuck in my mind...thanks Billy. Bill Marshall has lived in Southern California since shortly after his days in the Air Force ended.
Photos-(1) top left...The inside of the Terminal Building at Tan Son Nhut, where thousands of us processed when entering and leaving Vietnam.(2) The Roof and east side gutters/spouting are complete, now my part of the job, the painting, begins(3)/(4) Entry control, where the Law Enforcement guys of Security Police were in charge...Andersen AFB Guam, and Clark AFB's main gate.(5)Tan Son Nhut aerial view, a base and it's perimeter that I would become very familiar with in 1970.


Grandpa-Old Soldier said...

Damn Pat, you sure have a good memory. The post is excellent.

Law and Order Teacher said...

I too, am amazed at your memory. I vaguely remember Travis, although what I really remember is your correct remembrance of us traveling alone. I went to Travis on my way to Okinawa.

I remember waiting three days in the BAQ for my flight. We flew Flying Tiger airlines and I think the flight took something like 10-11 hours. Nothing but ocean below.

We left Okinawa on TDY commando freight and sat on the floor of a 141, carrying our 24 hour duffle bag, helmet, M-16 and a whole bunch of orders. I guess they weren't kidding on this recall.

I remember getting off the 141 and being assaulted by they oppressive heat and humidity. Didn't sleep well either. They scared the crap out of us on the way over and on arrival telling about the attacks that were sure to come especially on Tiger (night) Flight.

Naturally, I was on Tiger Flight. I remember lots of noise, rockets, small arms and the damn rats in the bunkers. Made me love that M-16 and the M-79s. All together harrowing nights.

I was glad to get back to Kadena, something I thought I'd never say. Most of my memories are in pieces like this. Thanks for the post and the memories. It wasn't so bad almost 40 years later, huh?

FHB said...

Yea, cool post. You do have a good memory. Did you keep a journal or somethin'?

And I'd give my right nut for those temps. It's been in the 100s here for weeeks. When we have a cool day, like yesterday, it only gets to about 91.