Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October 12, 1969...Nha Trang Rocket Attack

I was checking out the Vietnam Security Police website tonight, and noted a date...October 12, 1969:

http://www.vspa.com/aspprotect/vspa-nav-index-menu.asp

It said "Nha Trang AB, 0550 hours, Rocket Attack, 3 Rockets, No Injuries, No Damage"  Or something like that...I remember that morning well.  I and the rest of A Flight Law Enforcement with the 14th Security Police Squadron, usually woke up, showered and dressed in no particular order, and we at Guardmount, and on duty sometime before 8am...truth is, 42 years later I don't remember the exact time our shift got underway.  But I do remember that morning.

I had been in country about 3 1/2 months, so I wasn't exactly a rookie, but other than a few alerts, I had not seen much action either.  In LE, especially day shift(A Flight), we were usually watching entry control points to the base, or riding around in Jeeps, giving the guys on the LE posts breaks for lunch, or latrine breaks.  Frankly it was not hard duty....and as I've posted many times on this blog, that tour of duty at Nha Trang, was my absolute favorite of my nearly 4 years in the Air Force, nothing else comes close.  War Zone or not, Nha Trang, at least for Security Police was prime duty.

That morning however, just before dawn I, and the rest of our concrete barracks, were awakened by the sound, all too close, of something hitting the base.  As it turned out the radar or TUOC Building next to the barracks was hit, as was the outdoor movie theater, located right across the street.  We were out and about pretty quickly, and our Law Enforcement duties began a couple hours early.  As for the "No Injuries, No Damage" line...maybe no injuries, but I  can attest that there was damage...and pieces of the rocket, called shrapnel lying around...I grabbed a couple of pieces, put them in my foot locker, and still have them today...along with a few other pieces of memorabilia.

There were only a few of us, maybe a dozen, working A Flight Law Enforcement....the late Phil Lange was our NCOIC, as for the rest...I have contact with at least a half dozen, and three of us got together last week at the VSPA Reunion in Dayton....Harry Bevan, Tony Niemotka, and PRH....it brought memories flooding back, as did the mention of the rocket attack that occurred 42 years ago today.

back later>>>>

Photos-from Harry's Collection from the VSPA Reunion....left to right: Harry Bevan, Pat Houseworth(PRH), and Tony Niemotka, all three of us worked A Flight Law Enforcement and we in the barracks when the rocket hit....a piece of Shrapnel from the rocket attack at Nha Trang 42 years ago today...and the Base Outdoor Theater, right across the street from our living quarters...it, along with the Radio/Radar TUOC Building both took direct hits.

5 comments:

Mushy said...

Somewhere along the way I lost my 35mm film canister filled with shrapnel it took from my wall locker at Da Nang. Don't know why, but I'd like to see it again. Reminds me of how blessed/lucky I was to be on ORF that night.

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

We had a guard at the TUOC Building...don't remember his name, but a couple of guys from that flight, say he was white as a sheet, when they came to relive him, it was a close call...two of those suckers hit withing 50 yards of our barracks. Guess I really didn't think much of it at the time....but a few clicks one direction or the other, and the SPS Barracks would have taken a direct hit.

h. wilkinson said...

I remember the rocket attack, as well;I had 27 days to go until I rotated back to the states. I was with the 55th M I detachment at an old French hotel near the beach.we were out of range of the morter attacks the base occaisionly got, but when those rockets went off you could definitely tell the difference...a loud "ka-pow" instead of a muffled "whoomp" from the morters.I knew we were in range of rockets. My "pucker power" went up

a great deal for the next 27 days.

Robert A. Ramage said...

I was in 12th Combat Support Group, 12th Supply Squadron at Nha Trang from 10Jul69 to 15Oct69. A couple of other guys and I were charged with processing all of Base Supply in preparation of closing it down.

We were recommended for Bronze Stars, but the dummies in Saigon wanted to save them for the guys in the bush. They did however manage to give one to the TSgt in charge of the Inspection Section I was assigned to. Only to strip him of it a few months later as he was very deep into the Black Market. Owned a couple of whore houses around Nam, had a wife and kids over there as well as the ones he left back in the world. Wonder how he explained his going to LBJ for 2 yrs. then to Leavenworth for another 20 to his stateside family.

We also had a bozo named Navotny who I was stationed at Dover AFB, DE with. He got nailed going through the lockers of the "Sky Cops" barracks stealing money. Not sure how he was able to survive that one. Surprised you guys didn't shoot the SOB. I know, a waste of a perfectly good round. Our barracks was next to the Cop barracks, with our weapons conex between us.

I have been trying to locate some of my buddies from Nha Trang supply, but with no luck. How can I go about finding them? Roy Casper and Dave Boyler of Supply. Any help would be greatly appreciated. After Oct69, I was transferred to Cam Rhan Bay.

Robert A. Ramage said...

Oh yeah, that rocket attack came just 3 days before I transferred South.