Friday, November 18, 2011

Tan Son Nhut Memories, or lack of....part 2

As I headed out for my daily walk around the fairgrounds yesterday, after my weight lifting session, I realized that I would be needing a bit more clothing than I have in the past....so I donned my winter coat with "hoodie" attached.  The wind was whipping pretty strong from the southwest, and the temperature was in the mid to upper 30s, that would be the high for the day.  Today, and again tomorrow, it will be just as windy, coming out of the southwest at 25 mph or so, but temperatures will moderate, reaching the upper 40s today, and mid 50s tomorrow.

Tonight and tomorrow the Regional finals in High School football will be played.  Garry is still officiating, working the Backjudge spot at Wapakoneta tonight as WBL's Elida takes on one of the Columbus teams...due to Elida being in the playoffs, my Varsity girls scrimmage at Lincolnview has been canceled....tomorrow I have a Junior High scrimmage at Delphos Jefferson...taking next week off in anticipation of Thanksgiving, and the possibility of Grandson #1 being born...so far however, Kaysn is refusing to be rushed out into the world.

Tan Son Nhut part 2

I mentioned yesterday that my days and months at Tan Son Nhut, were completely different than those at Nha Trang.  At my first duty station, Nha Trang, I was situated on the South China Sea, we had a beach, and I worked day flight Law Enforcement... the 14th SPS was a small squadron, among the smallest, especially compared to what I would see at Tan Son Nhut.  I believe we had no more than a dozen of us working each shift, and perhaps, if you included Security and K9 handlers, maybe 75 or 80 Sky Cops at one time, on the base.  Also I remember many of the guys I worked with, and their names....Bevan, Claflin, Payan, Niemotka,Thompson, Walsh, Sloan, Lange, and others, and many of those I still have contact with today.  Fast forward to Saigon:


When I arrived at Tan Son Nhut on December 27, 1969, it was a completely different world...same country, still in the Air Force, still a cop,  but the location and duty were completely different.  Once I got situated in the 1300 compound, I walked over to the 377th SPS HQ and processed in.   It pretty much was a blur after that...I was assigned to C Flight Security with as many people as comprised our entire squadron with the 14th at Nha Trang...I ended up working mostly ECHO Sector.  My first night on duty was December 30th/31st and I {although I didn't know the history at the time} was placed at the infamous Bunker O51 location..."51" although rebuilt, was ground zero for the Tet Offensive nearly two years earlier, on the night and morning of 30/31 January 1968.  Four SPs lost their lives that night on that bunker, dozens of NVA and Viet Cong also lost theirs during the assault. 

Of course if you read news accounts of the day, or listened to the American Idiot Walter Cronkite, tell the world that we had lost the war, you would think TET was the American "Waterloo"...in reality, at Tan Son Nhut, and throughout Vietnam, the Americans and their South Vietnamese allies kicked the crap out of Charlie and the north...but of course in the minds of the haters of America, like Uncle Walter and the rabid left, that would never do....so they lied, and the suckers back home bought it, hook, line, and sinker.


After that first night at the new Bunker 051, I do not remember manning it again.  I would spend the next 3 months or so, working mostly the towers in Echo Sector, on occasion I would work foot patrol around the flight line and the LOX{liquid oxygen} Plant.  Then in March 1970, a new flight was formed...It was to be officially named "Resource Protection" or unofficially "Blue Patrol".  We were a small group of mostly trouble makers, long hairs, and guys they wanted to keep away from the inspecting eyes of superiors that liked "spit and polish", the men of Blue Patrol, were anything but spit and polish.


I would work the first week walking the building areas of the inner base..."protecting" the huge base from thieves both military and civilian....then, being one of the few NCO types, a  Buck Sargent, with time in country, but little left, I was assigned the Coffee Wagon.  I, armed with my M16 and .38 Smith and Wesson side arm, would drive that Jeep around for eight hours in the dark and make sure the dozen or so other Blue Patrol guys were awake, BSing with them, giving them coffee, fruit, milk, or a smoke...it was a great way to finish off my duty in Vietnam.  First however, I would take R&R in Hawaii...that, and more Tan Son Nhut, in Part 3, coming on the next post.


back later>>>>

Photos-Me, on typical duty at Nha Trang, before heading to Tan Son Nhut...The firefight at Bunker 51 with Tango Tower 4 in the background.  Bunker 0-51 in it's better days, before the attack of TET...Who Won the TET Offensive?  Not this group of VC who met their maker at the hands of the Security Police and Army at Tan Son Nhut on 31 January 68.  And finally the map of Tan Son Nhut the day following TET....Bunker 51 is located on the Western Perimeter of the base.

  {First photo is from my collection, the others, in order, ASIS International, TSNA, TSNA, and VSPA, with my appreciation}

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