Wednesday, July 2, 2014

45 Years Ago July 2, 1969....arriving at Nha Trang

I had began my Vietnam vacation a couple of days earlier, leaving from the Dayton Airport, through O'Hare in Chicago, San Francisco and Travis AFB....I then jumped on a Braniff International flight to Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, and finally setting down in Vietnam at Tan Son Nhut Airbase outside of Saigon, on July 1st....There I checked in at base HQ and got a nice comfortable barracks complete with bed, in the humidity and stench of a early July day in my new country for the next year.....that night at TSN, I could hear the rockets and their concussion sounds and feelings into the night....first night in this war torn craphole, I didn't get much sleep.

7/2/69  Off to Nha Trang

Little did I know at the time that Tan Son Nhut would be my next duty station in Vietnam....but that was months down the road and my orders told me that I had to get to Nha Trang anyway I could and as quickly as possible.  The one thing I should mention, the Air Force, at least most of us, unlike the Army and Marines, did not get shipped together as a unit....we moved back and forth between bases and countries as individuals....I knew nobody that I served with for those first few weeks in country....I would meet up with old mates from Dover AFB in Delaware, down the road...but I had to get to Nha Trang....a small base next to the resort of a city on the South China Sea.

That morning I packed up my duffle bag, paper work, etc, and headed for Base Operations where they processed my orders and told me to head back to the TSN Terminal, and catch a soon to be flying out C~130 Cargo Plane that was "Non-Stop" to Nha Trang....five crew members, and older Mamasan women, and a few smelly goats, along with the cargo on board, that was soon in the air....cargo doors open I got a great view of the Jungles below...some apprehension  but little fear, after all, nobody would be shooting at a "Cargo Plane"  would they?[little did I know the history}....what seemed like hours, but my guess was only an hour or so, I saw the sea and adjoining beaches as we descended towards the small base and runway.....landing seemed surreal as we taxied toward the tiny terminal on the metal that adjoined the concrete runway.

Off with my "stuff" I checked in and asked "Where are the Security Police Headquarters"?  Soon I was out the door and a few minutes later, waked into the Cop Shop and announced who I was.....within minutes{at least it seemed} I was told I would be working Law Enforcement on A Flight{day shift}...How the Hell I lucked out, having been in Security at Dover, was beyond me....but I was happy as a clam....and thus it began, what would be my favorite six months in the Air Force, nothing else comes close, and as I look back, if I would have been allowed to finish my 4 years(I still had almost 3 to go) at Nha Trang, I would have without blinking an eye.

War or no war, it was grand duty....working day shift Law Enforcement 6 days a week, the beach and downtown open to me whenever I choose to go, what more could anyone ask for in a "War Zone"?

Many, some who had it much worse than me, others looking to evoke sympathy, some with major health, mental and physical, do not look back as I do....and if not having to return to Saigon and Tan Son Nhut in late December of 1969, I have little doubt I would not have left Vietnam, especially Nha Trang, until my discharge was in hand...that is my story and I'm sticking to it!

That arrival day was 45 years ago today.....and most of what transpired is as clear as it was when I was a lad of 20....I look back with a smile, the next year, especially the next six months would not be bad at all for a kid from western Ohio and the beaches of Florida's Gulf Coast.

back latere>>>>

Photos'  Arriving at Nha Trang July 2, 1969....My first Beach Photo, probably a day or two into my tour...complete with my Stateside outfit and a can of warm and nasty Black Label Beer....on duty at the Civilian Gate, and on LE Patrol with my buddy Harry Bevan, who I still have contact with today and have hooked up with him a VSPA Reunions...Harry, now retired, became a Philadelphia Cop for many years....Nha Trang Beach, now a tourist hotbed as it looks today and below my favorite shot of me with the V100s, taken by Harry in August 1969.

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