Thursday, January 17, 2013
Air Force Days 1968-72...preparing for Vietnam
Hal, wife Lisa, and Grandson "K-Man" flew to Denver this morning....Hal called when they arrived, and said Kasyn managed his first plane ride with out any problems...a few days over the King Holiday and get some skiing while visiting Lisa's brother outside Denver in the mountains. Meanwhile next weekend, Nick and I will head to the Chicago area and take Sam's bed, furniture, and small items, to his apartment, which he moves into within the next week...the oldest son is settling in with his new job and life outside The Windy City.
Transiting from Dover to Nam....
After receiving my orders to Vietnam and a base called Nha Trang in April of 1969, I kicked back and did as little on base as possible. I kept on irritating the Hell out of Jack Adkins when I could, but I knew he would soon be a memory, like a bad rash that finally goes away. I had other items on my mind....First Off, "What the Hell is AZR School"? The combat prepardness course is what the Air Force called it....most, but not all cops heading for Vietnam would spend a week or so back in Lackland, learning the stuff we were supposed to be taught while in our original Cop School at Lackland, less than a year before.
M-16, Gernade Launchers, other small arms, including .60 cal machine guns, etc, were on the list...crawling under barb wire while receiving live fire above our heads were also part of the game plan...frankly I remember some of it, but hardly most. It turned out that AZR was sandwiched into my pre-Vietnam leave, and I do remember it worked out well. I was hitting the bars, drinking like I was a co-owner and getting a profit from the money spent...the week or 10 days in San Antonio was a good break, before heading back to Western Ohio...drinking more beer, and getting my mind ready for Vietnam.
I had heard that Nha Trang was close to the Garden Spot on the South China Sea...and that thought made me look forward to heading over all the more....Here I was, someone who joined the Air Force to avoid Vietnam and Combat, and here I was, heading to Vietnam after Combat training. Now that didn't mean I would see gun fire or any type of combat, and franly I didn't want to. I was just satisfied to get away from the Chicken Shit duty of being a Stateside SP.
I finished the final 10 days or so of leave...and Dad and Mom would drive me to the Dayton Airport...my schedule read like this...Dayton to Chicago, Chicago to San
Francisco, bus to Travis AFB.
Overnight in the Transit Barracks at Travis....fly out in the morning to Hawaii, Guam, Phillipines, and on to Tan Son Nhut, that base at Saigon. We left for Vandalia the morning of June 28, 1969, where the Dayton Airport is located and a flight to Chicago was boarding shortly after we arrived there...we rushed down to the gate...I could have taken the next flight an hour or so later, but why drag out the good-byes? I was in no hurry, but I didn't want to think about his either...so we headed for the gate in a hurry, I said my farewell and jumped on the 707 bound for O'Hare.
Funny thing about that flight...it was clear as a bell and the route took us right over Grand Lake....our house was located in Montezuma on the south side of the lake, right next to the small local airport...sitting on the right side window, I
could make out the small runway and my house as we flew over the Celina area....talk about a mixed bag of emotions?
From Chicago we had a bumpy ride over the Rockies, then things smoothed out as we headed into San Fran....a bus ride that took us past Candlestick Park and the Hearst Castle, and I was at Travis...with the 3 hour time lapse I completed some paperwork and got a bed at the barracks....tomorrow there would be time to think about what would lay ahead.
"The Flight to Saigon" is next...
Photos-The Terminal at Tan Son Nhut in Saigon around 1968...Aeiral Views of Dayton Airport/Grand Lake etc....and me and Mom just before heading to the Airport for my Vietnam Vacation on June 28, 1969...
at 1:38 PM