Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Looking Back....Again...Dover AFB, Delaware 1968/69

After hooking up with my old Dover AFB comrade, Howard Pritchard, after 43 1/2 years, I got to thinking...always a dangerous proposition on my part, about just how quick it all goes, a cliche' I know, but none-the-less, it is the truth....you younger readers will find that out soon enough, as us old folks fade into memory.

Howie sent me a couple of long e-mails last night on his life post Dover...I have began returing the favor, with my first installment this morning:


 

 

Pritch:
Sending a copy of this to Gates...he doesn't use his e-mail much, his wife Lisa sends me stuff on occasion, but if you would like to snail mail him, here is his address:
Richard & Lisa Gates
 
Anyway, I'll try not to bore you, but I enjoy looking back at those days...so much time has passed, and all of our lives probably turned out much different that we had thought, and despite the time, it still seems, at least to me, like a flash in the night, where did the time go?
I received my orders for Nha Trang in March of 69...couldn't stand Jack Adkins, our Hitler Like Tech Sgt any longer, and volunteered, didn't take long, I remember coming back from a visit on our 72 hour break from my Uncle's in Wilmington, and you and Turcotte yelling down the hall at me..."Nha Trang, Nha Trang"....I had never heard of the damn place...as it turned out, I lucked out...it was the best 6 months of my Air Force years...
Walsh, me, and Lippencott, went to AZR School(combat training at Lackland in San Antonio) in May, that was in the middle of my 30 day free leave before heading over...Lip [was a pain in the ass, even back then}, we traveled back to Ohio several times, once in a snow storm during our famous 5 days on 5 days off break over Christmas and New Years that day...I took the five days over Christmas, then worked one day and came down with the Hong Kong Flu and ended up in the Hospital for the rest of the break...couple of others ended up there with me, but I can't remember which guys it was...Gates maybe? and one more...somebody snuck a bottle of Johnny Walker Red into our room and we downed that on New Year's Eve....Hell I think that was Gates or you that got us that....little fuzzy on that one.
Once I got my orders, the rest of you started getting yours and our great little group was split up...I went to Nha Trang, Walsh to Hon Tre, out of Nha Trang, Lip to Da Nang, Gates to Da Nang...Turcotte, I was never sure, but I remember a bunch of you
went to Da Nang, and I felt lucky as Hell...Nha Trang was a garden spot.  I started right off in A(Day) Flight Law Enforcement, had a great NCOIC, Phil Lange, a Tech who I would hook up with later in life, when he became a teacher back in New Hampshire...we remained friends until he passed away in 2009. Phil left me all of his memorabilia and insisted he pay for my life membership in the VSPA before he passes away...great guy....even though he knew I despised the Air Force and it's rules. We downed many a cold beer and quality cigar together...
The 14th broke up at Nha Trang and on December 27th of 69 I was one of the last SPs left.....alone again, they shipped my ass to Tan Son Nhut with 12 hours notice..."C" Flight Security roaming the perimeter for 3 months at night, then the final three months working the inter-workings of that base at night on Blue Patrol...a squad where they put all of the screw ups{that would be me}...allowing us to keep out of sight from the brass and politicians that frequented the base...my job, as a buck sgt(had got my 3rd stripe in February of 70), was to drive a jeep, loaded with coffee, water, and fruit, to keep the 20 or so guys awake and out of trouble....that worked for me...it was easy duty to finish off my Vietnam days...Gates, who had switched from Da Nang to some other base...maybe Bien Hoa(?) came to visit me on an in-country R&R....I can't remember how the Hell he knew I was in Saigon...?? But we spent a pretty good afternoon and evening with me,  showing him the sights and women of Saigon....
I left in late June and was promised a LE Gig at Griffiss in upstate New York....on the non SAC part of the base...when I got their in August, that part of the base was closed down, and here I was, stuck in freaking SAC Security....the next 20 months I did my best, and succeeded in part, to drive the lifers nuts....those stories later.
As I said, if I had known what awaited, I would have stayed in Vietnam...frankly, if Nha Trang was still an option, I know I would have stayed...Tan Son Nhut was not awful, but it wasn't Nha Trang...I loved that place....especially the beach, and the downtown, not to mention the duty....
OK, I'll let you soak that up.....and back with more...I gotta tell you, this is fun, even though as SPs we only spent a short time together, it is great finding guys that served together...there is something, even with the guys you didn't get along with, that time brings back a flood of memories. I have found about two dozen from my days at Dover, Nha Trang, and Griffiss so far....love telling these stories.
 
So, that was my first installment to Howie...and got me to thinking...maybe, just maybe, I'll be go back and look/write about those Air Force years....and share them all with you. ...well at least parts, some stuff always has to remain in the "Vault"...the deep crevices of my mind....that just is the way it has to be.....{note, some of the above was "edited" to protect the innocent.. :)- }
 
back later>>>

Photos-Blogger and it's loading of photos is still screwed up....guess it has been for a week or so, but I managed to back door some...even though it's a pain in the ass.  Top Left-Robert Little III, Howard Pritchard, and Richard "Jack" Gates...from our days in Security at Dover.  Next me, at the "Mounds" the Nuclear Storage Site we guarded at Dover...spent many a night "humping" those suckers in the wind and cold...one of the other dutes included guarding Nuke uploads ...here I am on a far outpost on the distant runway at Dover with a C-141 and some Nuclear material on board...and finally, today as I collect my memories and look back at it all.

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