Friday, August 19, 2011

The Summer of 69.....Nha Trang, RVN

I have written about my Nha Trang months(July through December1969) many times over the past 4+ years working on this blog...and as I mentioned, they were indeed my favorite times, and Nha Trang, with the 14th Security Police, my best duty station and jobs in the four years of Air Force.  On the other hand the 3 years stationed stateside were boring, and SP duty was, even after all these years, for the most part, pure unadulterated Chicken Stuff(crap, dung, etc)...  The people I met and were stationed with, became some of my best friends, and many of those I still have or have had contact with over the 40 years since I left the AF.

From those departed souls like Jack Friedl, from Moon Township, PA,  Phil Lange, my Law Enforcement boss at Nha Trang, and Joe Prokop, my basic training TI(Technical Instructor), who I would work with again at Tan Son Nhut(Saigon) as a those still living, like Harry Bevan, Bruce Dei, Tony Niemotka, Marc Payan, Bruce Thompson, Johnny Claflin, Richard "Jack" Gates, and even those I wasn't stationed with, but met through the VSPA(Vietnam Security Police Association), like Sam Lewis, Bill Marshall, Rich Gidcum, Tillman, Adams, Cowboy Smith, McCandless, Ramey, DeZarn, and a dozen others.  Lifetime friendships have been secured.  Others, like Melvin Sloan and George Huntley, whom I never saw after our Air Force days, remain in my memory banks for all time.

No, I didn't like much about the Air Force...never liked to take orders, give orders, be required to do certain things at certain times, press my pants, keep my hair cut and trimmed, so because of those and other items, I was in trouble much of my tour of much so towards the end, in early 1972, after an encounter with a smart ass First Lieutenant, I was asked to leave a couple of months early.  Sure I would still get my Honorable Discharge, because what I was supposed to have done, really had no witnesses.  So I would not have to serve the remaining 2 years of my Reserve Duty, and I would be denied the "privilege" of re-enlistment...that always brings a smile to my face...."Me Re-enlist"?...not in this life, not on this planet....way too independent in both spirit and with my mouth to put another four years, or even four more months wearing a uniform.

So. despite my dislike for the rules and regulations of the Air Force{I cannot imagine serving today with the Political Correctness that has infested the entire Military Complex, I would be in jail for sure)...that dislike did not include the vast majority of men I was stationed with....sure there were those I disliked, especially at my first duty station at Dover AFB, Delaware.  I was still a skinny punk from Ohio with a big mouth, who didn't know his way around.  I had run-ins with various "clicks" in our ranks, and with various "lifers" who I had little respect for, and did my best to make their lives miserable when I was on duty with them...Hello Tech Sarge Jack Adkins!

The duty was so miserable, in my mind, at Dover, that I finally was sick of it, and headed down to base operations, and volunteered for Southeast Asia...Thailand or Vietnam I told them, but I knew in my heart which it would be...and when I got those orders in May of 1969, I was of course apprehensive.  Unless you were a fly boy, being a Sky Cop, was just about the most dangerous job in Vietnam for us Air Force folks.  It turns out I need not have worried.  Except for almost rolling a Jeep on patrol at Nha Trang, and surviving a lightning strike at the perimeter fence, just a few feet from the guard tower I was in at Tan Son Nhut, the biggest dangers I faced in Vietnam were at the bars and brothels of downtown Nha Trang and Saigon.  The duty, and the bases, were about as good as it got for a 20/21 year old Security Police Buck Sargent....I would have no complaints. At least until I returned stateside to upstate New York.

As I have said on many occasion to anybody that would listen...if I had to do it all over again, I would have finished out my final two years in Vietnam.  I think some think I'm lying, others look at me like I am nuts, but in my mind, there would be no doubt, my final Air Force years would have been better served in that "Crazy Asian War" than freezing my ass off, and getting large servings of CS at the SAC Base in Rome, New York. But you can't change history and it is what it was.   And as it is, Vietnam, especially the 6 months in the Summer and Fall at Nha Trang, remain my favorite memories of those years in uniform.

And that is probably why I look forward to the two reunions coming this fall...The big camp outing for Vietnam and all vets in mid September at Howard County, Kokomo, Indiana...where thousands of Veterans will gather for the 28th year for anywhere for 3 to 7 days, depending on how long you can "rough" it....then in early October, the strickly Air Force Sky Cops from Vietnam and Thailand will get together for the 17th year, this time in Dayton at Wright-Patterson AFB, where we last held our get together in 2002.


Worked a scrimmage at Lima Perry last night, nothing tonight, then bright and early tomorrow morning, will work another scrimmage...this one here in Celina at 10am, between the Freshman squad of the Bulldogs as they host the Lima Senior Spartan frosh.

enjoy the weekend, back later>>>>

Photo-Me in the Summer/Fall of 69 at the Civilian Worker gate as you entered Nha Trang, AB, through the back side of the base.  TSgt Phil Lange and a couple of his senior NCO cohorts in early 11969 at Nha Trang.  Tango 10 Tower at Tan Son Nhut....the problem with these was the rain blowing in during Monsoon season and trying to stay awake on the overnight shift.  And me(left) and my buddy Harry Bevan on patrol at Nha Trang....Harry who is coming to the reunion this fall in Dayton, went home and became a Philadelphia Police Officer for 35 or so years.


Mike from KY said...

All things considered, Phan Rang had some advantages over humping B52s in the upper part of Michigan in winter! At least I felt like I was actually doing something worthwhile for a change.

FHB said...

The way you talk about Nam, you almost make me with I'd been old enough to go.

PRH....... said...

I'm just a strange bird FHB....I had my cousin killed in action, as well as my older brother's best friend. However, for me, being in the Air Force, even as a Cop, I cannot complain. Others hated the duty and the war, some came back with PTSD, or Agent Orange symptoms, as for me? I have said, I would have gladly spent the rest of my tour there, which would have been 2 more years. Many guys did...but it would have freaked my mom out.

My thoughts were, I was in no more danger their than I was hanging around bars and drinking and driving in the states....the dangers were around, but all-in-all, the odds of surviving for us Air Force guys, regardless of what we did, were pretty damn good. And in the end, it was a eye opening, or a door opening, view at life in another world. I don't regret a day of it, and compared to the Chicken Stuff I put up with after, in retrospect, I should have stayed.

Anonymous said...

Went back to the "World" from 377th couldn't stand the CS got a primo assignment from my decent 1st Shirt to Takhli then NKP in Thailand 28 months in SEA got discharged at Travis AB when derosed. Only regret didn't go back to Thailand to live after discharged. Worked perimeter armory k9 and LE. Am totally disabled from numerous presumptives of the big AO.

cs4u said...

Went back to the "World" from 377th couldn't stand the CS got a primo assignment from my decent 1st Shirt to Takhli then NKP in Thailand 28 months in SEA got discharged at Travis AB when derosed. Only regret didn't go back to Thailand to live after discharged. Worked perimeter armory k9 and LE. Am totally disabled from numerous presumptives of the big AO.