Film Noir

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Processing the Memories, or lack of...part 1


Got out and walked yesterday, also began alternating my weight lifting regiment with Gladiator push-ups and other weight training in addition to those I do 3 days a week...why?  Frankly, Hell if I know, maybe it's the ego as I approach 63 this coming March, to show that I can still do this....what doesn't kill you just breaks down your body.

On the coming Grandson thing... youngest son Hal called, still no baby, and no plans on inducing labor...so Kaysn will come, it appears, when he is ready.  The actual due date is November 28th, but Lisa is more than ready, as the coming youngin' is already at the 8 pound plus mark....looks like he will be a Big One...just like his old man.

Weather~wise things have cooled, but he sun is shining, 40 for a high today, with some wind, so the walk may be a brisk one this afternoon...tonight I head for Coldwater to have a brew with "Wulfie" and Kent....

Processing Tan Son Nhut_____

I have written many times over the past 4+ years on this blog about my Vietnam "Experience".  Regular readers know that Nha Trang Air Base was my favorite duty, not only in Vietnam, but for my entire 3 years and 10 months in the Air Force....my "other" Vietnam base, Tan Son Nhut, located on the outskirts of Saigon, at times gets shorted in my flashbacks and memories.  As far as why?  Frankly I'm not so sure...but I have my guesses and opinions.

First off let me say, all of our Vietnam experiences are unique and different...no two could ever be the same.  As for the men of the Air Force Security/Air Police, I have not in the past 41 years since my return found two to be the same.  Some have, or claim to have PTSD{Post Traumatic Stress Disorder}, others suffer from the ravages of Agent Orange exposure.  I cannot, or will not, claim either...in my life, neither is something that I see as a part of my post Vietnam life.  My two duty stations, while different to the maximum in the Vietnam setting, are not something as I see as a negative.  We were cops, Air Force cops...some died, some were in short term combat, some like me, suffered from no more than a bout of insomnia.  Frankly, after the first few days in country, I never remember be scared, except perhaps while on a tower one stormy night on the Tan Son Nhut perimeter, when lighting was hitting near and around that 30 foot tower, and I climbed down out of that metal death trap and laid in the roadside ditch with the snakes and rats, figuring I was safer there than in that damn tower, not because of 'Charlie", but because of Mother Nature.

Despite the war around me, I just did not dread that year in Southeast Asia, and as I have said before, if not for the worry from the family back home, I would have spent the final two years in Vietnam, rather than with the Chicken Shit workings of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) at Griffiss Air Base in frozen upstate New York.  In fact, sick of SAC, I walked myself to base opts in the late spring of 1971, and volunteered to go back to Vietnam...but was told (1) The War is beginning to process down, so you can't go back unless (2) you re-up/extend for another 2 years.  Well, that took care of that, no way was I staying in the AF longer than I had signed up for.   I never regretted  joining, but that is not to say I liked military life...I hated every minute of it...I could not take orders, didn't like haircuts, and sure the Hell didn't like calling people "Sir" or saluting those,  that I had little respect for, and thought frankly that I was far more intelligent than{arrogant little prick that I was}.  So there I was...one more year at Griffiss, and then out on my own....perhaps in the long run, things were best that way...who knows what would have happened if I had returned, nobody but God, that I can say with confidence.

But back to TSN and the 377th SPS, my original purpose of today's blog post...

My friend from the VSPA, Charles Penley, created a web site for veterans of the 377th SPS a dozen or more years ago....and I discovered that site, about the same time I found the Vietnam Security Police Association{VSPA}....it was about that time I finally started to come to terms with my Air Force and Vietnam Service.  Not that I ever regretted either, but frankly for almost 30 years following Vietnam, I just choose to move on with my life and did not dwell on those years...they were in the past.  I hardly was ashamed that I was a Vietnam Veteran, but neither was I going to relive those days, while sowing my wild oats either...life had moved on once out of the Air Force, and back then, I was not into reminising, it just wasn't in the make-up, time sure has changed me, at least in that respect.   Now I embrace the bases and men I served with while in Vietnam and even those at Dover and Griffiss, my non-Vietnam bases...no I still hated the military service, just not those I served with or the service I performed.

To the point Patrick, to the point....Charles Penley, who served on "Charlie" Flight during the bloody Tet Offensive against Tan Son Nhut and the 377th SPS,  has updated his web site honoring those of us that served with the 377th SPS...and as was my point in this posting, the updated and new look 377th SPS web pages can be found at this link:
http://www.377sps.org/index.html 

You might even be able to find a photo of a 21 year old smart ass...listed on the ECHO Sector link, around the years 1969-70.  As for the Vietnam Security Police Association you can always find more about the life of the Air Force Security and Air Police in Vietnam there:
 http://www.vspa.com/aspprotect/vspa-nav-index-menu.asp 

And this is why I added "Part 1", as usual I've waxed nostalgic way too long for one sit down and read....more on this tomorrow, where  I will compare my memories, or lack of same, of service at Nha Trang and Tan Son Nhut.

back later>>>>

Photos-Top Left..the 1300 Compound of the 377th SPS, my living quarters were on the top floor of the second barracks in...there were two rows of 8 two story barracks, 16 in all, sandwiched between the Base Exchange/Movie Theater and the MARS Radio HQ...The map overview of Tan Son Nhut...I spent 4 months working the towers, bunkers, and flight line of Echo Sector, before working the inner sections of the base with the Resource Protection{Blue} Flight, both jobs under the cover of darkness on Charlie Flight.  Tango Tower 1{I believe}, me on my 21st Birthday, March 16, 1970, heading out to work my final days of Echo Sector duty, before switching to Resource Protection...The aftermath of the Tet Offensive at Bunker 051 in Echo Sector, where four Air Force Security Police heroes, including Charles Hebron(pictured) met their final fate on January 30,31, 1968...

{All Photos, with the exception of the one of me, are from Charles Penley and other Tan Son Nhut Veterans, with thanks}

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