1. JOHN FOSTER 4/66 - 4/67
I was at Phu Lam 66-67 and in country from 65 to 69. Was at the Tropo site, the one with the big billboard antennas. It was about as far from the main gate as you could get.
Think my MOS was 26L, it changed a few times as I rarely worked at my original MOS.
Was at TSN, Nha Trang and Pleiku before going to Phu Lam. Got out of the green machine and came back to Nam with Page Commo Engrs. Worked at TSN until 69 then did a year in
Thailand. Lived in Cholon until Tet 68 when the neighborhood went to hell.
When I got to Phu Lam I stayed in the barracks for a week until they set up a rack in a hotel in town. Then it was on the economy. The ride out to Phu Lam was something. That place was on the edge of indian country. Big question was "why don't they hit us?"
Best reason I heard was that Charlie was plugged into our commo and needed the circuits
more than we did.
Thanks, my address is P.O. Box 2205, Arcadia, CA 91077.
The barracks were built when I got there in April? 66. The row next to our tropo compound became a problem for us tropo guys. When they built the new EE building, tower and power building they also put in two 10,000 gal. fuel tanks. The site layout print ended at the fence and the engineers doing the work didn't know barracks were a few feet away. That was a major FUBAR. In Dec 66, I ran a crew of NFG's to fill sand bags as we were to fill and pile enough bags to hide the tanks. That my friend is a lot of bags.
Surprised the Philippine bands were still coming to Phu Lam when you were there. We would only be at Phu Lam to work, but as shift leader and with civilians to cover us, I would take my guys to the shows. When I left the club gave me and engraved Zippo. It was stolen off my desk at work in the US in 1980.
Not surprised the Phu Lam was one of the first places hit in 75. They needed, and used the commo. I was told the tropo shot to Nha Trang stayed up and in use after Nha Trang fell.
I never got pictures of Phu Lam. When I was there you couldn't carry a camera around in the compound. I did and an MP took it away then his Sgt. exposed the film. An up country buddy in MI told me that was funny as we knew that they knew just about everything that happened at Phu Lam. A few days after I told him about the film he came by to tell me the Charlie knew about the new flowers planted around the barracks.
From the day I got to my basic training Co., all through Ft. Monmouth, all we heard was "your gonna go to Vietnam." In Pleiku, in July 65, we knew there was going to be a buildup. The first shirt came and talked to me while I was manning a .50 Cal on a day post and told me "the whole area out there will be filled with American units soon." He was right will ol'Mac was thinking about it. The draft was stepped up in the fall of 63. The IWCS commo system was designed in 64-65. I was sent to tropo school in early 65. Clearly the go was on by 64. Nuff of that.
You guys talk about calling home. That was a major fixation up country. We tried everything. Sat nights in aircraft on the HF calling McClellan AFB, they were good guys and would do the patch until we killed a battery and they were looking for who done it. I got lucky one night from a bunker. Talked my way through the "switches" to Tiger in Saigon. Some decent guy put me through to McClellan. I told the airman I was in Nam and needed to talk to Massachusetts and he put me through. Then the next guy dialed up my Mom. It went like this:
"Mom? Mom? this is John."
"Your son, John."
"Don't fool with me. My son John is in Vietnam."
Oh well, my Mom wrote and told me about the prank call. Later I would make calls from the USO in Saigon.
Building #40 is a power building. Just above the power building were the fuel tanks. The Tropo site is a separate installation from the rest of Phu Lam. When the engineers were laying out the site the blue print stopped at the fence (It ran from the top billboard antenna in a line to #37) and did not show the barracks. When the tanks were installed it was quite clear a well placed explosive could turn the barracks residents into crispy critters. My last few weeks in the Army saw me tasked with keeping a crew of FNG's busy filling sand bags to protect the barracks.
#39 is the EE building. Both were build in 1966 by Page Communications Engineers as was the microwave tower.
I worked in the Tropo vans with John "Jack" Shandick in 1966 with a DEROS in 1/67. We
watched the construction as the Long Lines site went from two tropo shots and a Philco MW shot to Vung Tau. The LL BTN South CO was a CPT Polanski with a couple of LT's from time to time. As I said we were a separate unit completely. One night the site NCOIC, E7Perez, left word we were to paint some stuff including a ladder. Well, after an hour or two, maybe three, in the club, we started to paint. I was a SPC-5 and the shift NCOIC, Sgt Koble, was an E6. Ralph Koble was a good sargent but knew nothing about the tropo gear. We had a deal, I would handle the technical stuff and the techs and if I had a problem he would take over.
We were all standing around slopping paint on this ladder when the main site had a practice alert. Guys are running by loaded for war and the lights go out. Out, that is, except for our little work party. Koble said they didn't tell him about the alert so let us keep painting. We all had our shirts off so we were standing there in our white T-shirts (right, WHITE) under a bright light ignoring the huffing and puffing, just painting away.
Soon a COL shows up, could have been a LTC but the story is better with a full, by God, silver eagle wearing COL. He stops in his tracks, he can not believe what he sees. "What are you doing?" he bellows. SP5 Donald McNabb says, "We are painting a ladder." I busted a gut trying to keep from laughing, but we all giggled a bit. "Who is in charge here?" the COL asks, somehow displeased with our lack of concern for his alert. Koble, being the ol'sarge he is, points at me and says "He is." There followed a brief discussion about the reason for not joining in the current exercise, why we were painting and me saying something to the effect of being part of another unit, not being advised of the practice drill and how Sgt Perez insisted we do nothing but paint the ladder or there would be hell to pay. I guess we impressed him with our coolness
under fire cause he left about then. Sgt. Koble allowed how I was doing fine. CPT Polanski did mention it the next time I saw him and suggested we henceforth join in when the signal corps played grunt.
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2. BRUCE GREINER 12/66 to 12/67
When I was their one of the guys pulling guard didn't get relieved in time and the mps wouldn't answer the field phone so he dropped a sand bag from the tower into the mp shack which was near the front door of com center at that time, still brings a smile to my face, but suppose he pulled a lot of guard duty after that show.
We had a major Richard Burke at hue/ phubia in early 68, called him lighting burke cause when ever we had incoming, he was always the first one in the bunker now matter how close anyone else was, If this is the same major richard burke, which it has to be, when he deros's bout mid 68 or a little earlier he was assigned to germany.. all I know of him. Bruce ps... he must have been xfered up from phu lam with the rest of us in early 68, which was rite after the pubelo was seized by north korea..
Also Howard, that WO1 Charles Schaffer was in charge of the fixed crypto section when I arrived in dec '66. all I no of him also.. bruce
A year or so ago I talked to John Doskicz [ also a 32g20 from phu lam] on the phone and he told me about a guy we worked with at PhuLam 66 to 68 [ last six months at hue, phu bia in a crypto van with JD, Myself , Bruce Cohan, Dennis Diaz and Roger Enough] any ways he had kept in touch with Enough and told me Roger Enough had died of cancer in 94 or 95.
When that C5 [carrying children from the orphanage in 1975] crashed, I know there were
survivors, as a Civ doctor[american] was escorting the orphans back, [if I can find his name will pass on] with his daughter who was 18 at the time along with many other escorts, His daughter died and this was kind of ironic as she had protested against the war years earlier and now died this way! I know there were other survivors but don't remember all the facts. P.S. Also one of her brothers died during the war and was a GI..
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3. RON FRIEDMAN 8/66 to 11/66
I had the opportunity to Revisit Phu Lam in January, 1997. Was there as 1lt sig corps 8-66 to 11-66 (Saigon Overseas Switchboard) and then built receiver detachment 11-66 to 7-67 N. of Long Binh. Receiver detachment is now in a young eucalyptus forest. Has anyone else been back? LTC Ryason and then LTC John Brown were commanders when I was there; Col. Berry was Commander of Regional Com Group. Anyone there when I was there? It has been more than 30 years, but I'd like to hear from anyone who was there when I was. Ron...Boalsburg, PA.
HOWDYH-I visited with my family--wife, son (20), daughter (15)--late Dec. early Jan. We visited Saigon, Cholon, My Tho, Tay Ninh, Cu Chi and the Cu Chi Tunnels (very interresting),
Dalat and places in between. Long Binh is an industrial park Phu Lam receiver detachment N. of Long Binh (I was OIC building it 11-66 to April 67) is all gone, not a sign. Bien Hoa is an VN air force base. It is mostly built up from Saigon to north of where Long Binh was. Saigon is the same, but different. All of the clubs are closed..though you are still solicited. The names of the streets are different (tu do is renamed and bars are gone.) It is twice as big and twice as busy, but still the same. When we were in Vn there were only 300 Americans in the whole country. In Hanoi we had to be off the streets by 10 PM; we always had to turn in our passports and our itinerary was pre-approved. You need a visa and you have to declare When and where you will
arrive and leave the country. It was strange going back. I think we won the war. The dollar is the coin of the realm; the language of commerce is English; the vietnams are united and strong militarily and act as a counterbalance to China in SE Asia; the people like American movies, music, everything. Capitalism prevails. Over 50% of the people were not alive during the American war (which they call "the former times"). They have changed the name of the museum in Saigon from American War Crimes Museum to Military History Museum. We won the war there; but we lost the Vietnam War here in the United States and the fallout will be felt for generations. If you are planning a trip (or anyone else), please E-mail for help or suggestions. OK to post this as I would like to hear from anyone at Phu Lam or receiver detachment. All the best, Ron (Gekki)
Jkish-Do you remember the day in October or November, 1966 when the keying list was lost? I was OIC that night. The MP's came and got me after I went back to the hotel in Saigon. Col. Ryason or it may have been Col. Brown by then wanted me to take the rap. Lt. Ray Liverzzani the adjutant saved me by pointing out that I did not have a top secret clearance..only secret clearance and I was not authorized to know that the crypto stuff was there in the back room vault. They hung a W-4 who was on R& R in Japan. Busted him back. I was a trouble maker and they (Major Otzuka) shipped me off run convoys to Tay Ninh and then to set up the receiver detachment N of Long Binh. I didn't get to Phu Lam much after that only twice a month. Well, good to hear from someone in the past. (Was at Saigon about a year ago...Phu Lam is totally gone...there is a park in its place...see my former report to the group.)
I remember going out to Tan Son Nhut and helping unload boxes of toys sent over on a
national guard C-141...loading deuce and a halfs and driving them to the orphanage. This would have been December, 1966. Ron
Huyen put me in touch with Tung. I spoke on the phone with him this morning (6/2/99) at his home in Florida. I was the lieutenant who was in charge of the Long Binh-Phu Lam receiver detachment (11/66 to 7/67) when it was just being built by P, A & E. Tung was a radio technician. He was the senior Vietnamese at the site and I used him as translator, etc. toward the end of my tour in June, 1967 Tung invited me to his house on the Vung Tau road in Ho Nai. He served me lemonade, showed me around his small house, introduced me to his wife and children, showed me his prize pigs and gave me two gifts which I still have.
A sergeant Denicola died at receiver detachment of a heart attack while I was OIC there. White, ruddy complexion. Balding; Hard drinker, big joker, tough-guy gone pudgy. I was not on the site at the time, but it happened when the men were erecting the 204 foot microwave tower, that was linked to us at Phu Lam. I went to another unit about 5 miles away to visit a college friend who was also a Lt. When I got back they already had taken the sergeant to the field hospital near Bien Hoa. But the men told me he was dead.
The infantry Captain...a Marbury...assigned to Phu Lam was in charge of security at the receiver detachment. One night he woke up and couldn't breathe. Last I heard in 1967, he was still really sick in Walter Reede in Washington. Apparently the organic material in the soil contained a virus or bacteria that invaded his lungs. He was not signal corps. I hope he recovered as I remember that he was an exceptionally fine man.
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4. JAMES KISH 6/66 to 6/67
I was stationed at Phu Lam from June, 1966 to June, 1967. I was the day shift leader in the crypto area for the first part of my stay and then was promoted to SSGT, which I was then in charge of crypto repair.
After 30 years, I can't remember a lot of names, the one that does come to mind is Angelo Fuggetta (probably misspelled it). Angelo worked with me in the back office (kind of like my private secretary, just kidding). He was either from New York or New Jersey.
I spent a lot of time in Cholon. As a matter of fact, I along with a couple of other guys rented a house in Cholon for awhile. One guy was a Sgt. (E5) that worked in the office in the crypto area (can't remember his name).
I also remember the Aussies, at one time I had rented a single room across the street from the hotel that they stayed in. I also remember that they had all the beer (for free) that they wanted, and like you said it seemed like they were always plastered.
Not sure if you were there the time our supply clerk went out on a trading mission with some other outfits and came back with a deuce and a half full of steaks. For a few days after that we ate steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I remember watching the Vietnamese fishing in the fields right outside the main gate where the day before there was no water there. I couldn't believe it, I stopped and this one guy showed me the small fish he was catching. I think I remember reading that the fish go into hibernation when the water level goes down.
Ron, Jim Kish here. Do you remember the time that we had lost the list of codes for the crypto gear? When the afternoon shift leader and I went to do our required inventory before changing shifts we marked our check list as the code list being there, where in fact we forgot to check it. They had re-done the check list and moved some items around so as it was not in a logical sequence. When we came to the check off box for the code list we were at the other end of the room, we checked it off as being there and said we would verify it when we got to it, but forgot (whoops!). I guess they noticed it missing later in the shift. I was coming back from Cholon and when I got to the gate the guards told me to report to the ComCenter as there was a problem. I remember searching everywhere including going through the incinerator looking for any
evidence that we may have burned it, with no avail. I was surprised to hear that the Warrant officer took the heat for this one. I know they were after me, but Col. Brown saved my butt. Can't believe they wanted to hold you responsible. This little incident kept me from getting my E6 ranking at that time, but I did make a short time later. I guess the Officer who was handling the case was a little ticked that I got off the first rap and then get promoted. When I think about it, it must have been the guys in the vault that were probably at fault, because it was during the day that the Sgt. (E5) in the vault made a complete inventory by taking everything in the vault and probably never brought the codes back out.
You made the statement that you were OIC that night and they brought you back from your hotel. I had Staff Duty NCO one night, and remember only seeing the OIC earlier in the evening and then never saw him again (you guys spilt and left us holding the bag, heh!). Before he left he said he was going to make the rounds and for me not to leave the office and to man the phones. I also remember that night getting a call on one of the field phones, the guy on the other end seemed a little shook up and asking me where we wanted the air support, and I asked him for what and he told me he heard we were under attack. This, of course, got my attention and I told him to hang on the line and I went outside and found it to be as quiet as good be, and told him he must have the wrong place, but it sure scared the hell out of me.
Do you remember a James Gleason, he was a civilian that I saw at Phu Lam once. He was my room mate when we were stationed at Camp Zama, Japan. He got out of the Army and went to Nam as a civilian.
I remember the time we were restricted to base for about 2 weeks and guys were getting a little antsy. They had a few entertainers come in during that time, and from what I heard we were suppose to have a stripper, but because of the condition most guys were in they canceled it.
I remember one day when this little tornado came through and messed up a building in
construction, I think it was to be the em club. I didn't see this event, but what I heard that happen was a mortar landed between a couple of barracks and didn't go off.
The first week I was there me and a couple of guys went to Cholon and had a few brews. On our way back the taxi driver stopped a few miles from the base and refused to go any farther, that's when we noticed the helicopters circling the base dropping flares. So here it is pitch black and we are walking up to the base, the mp's at the gate told us to get our weapons, we arrived at the supply to find out that they were out of weapons, so we just basically stood around and watched the show. It turned out to be nothing.
I remember one of the Crosby brothers (like in Bing) came to the base, I believe around Xmas, to do his thing. He was a little under the weather and could hardly talk, but did his best. Mostly I think we just talked with him.
There are a few of you that remember there was a lot of drugs when you were there, I don't remember that being a big problem when I was there 6/66 to 6/67. The only drug issue I remember is that the Sgt. (E5), can't remember his name, that worked in the vault would indulge in a little pot once in awhile. I remember him as the nicest guy, but when he got high (booze or pot) he was nasty, would pick a fight at the drop of a hat. We shared a villa in Cho Lon, along with another guy, and I remember one night hearing this screaming and moaning down stairs. I went down to find this call girl bleeding like a stuck pig (pardon the pun). I guess he wanted some certain sexual favors that she wasn't into, so he cold cocked her. She was cut above the
eye pretty bad, it probably would have taken many stitches to sew up. I calmed her down, took
my first aid pouch and patched her up gave her a few bucks and sent her on her way never to be heard from again. I don't think he ever remembered the incident.
Carl Glander mentioned the Corporal Klinger of Phu Lam in his notes, I don't remember him personally, just the stories I heard of his accomplishments. I remember the 2 + ton full of beer and steaks one time, another was he traded c-rations for film (or it may have been the other way around).
There were some mention of the horrible food in the mess hall, I don't remember the food being that bad when I was there (of course I only ate there the few months I lived on the compound). Although I do remember finding beetles in the bread. I remember being told that I slept through the boiler blowing up in the mess hall. After the first few weeks, being kept up with the mortars, etc. I got used to the commotion and had no problem sleeping after being on duty for 12 hours and 5 hrs in the bars in Cho Lon. I remember the day, after a big binge, being at work when they were laying new cable troughs in the crypto room and cutting the sheet metal with saws. The noise was too much, and I asked to have the rest of the day off and got it, what a relief. Those
were the days that you wished to die.
Does anyone remember the guy who had a bird (don't remember what kind) in the barracks? I believed he worked days and the guys that worked nights complained about the bird making a lot of noise and keeping them up during the day. I guess he refused to get rid of it, so the guys cleaned and cooked the bird and had it waiting for him on a plate when he got off duty. He was not a happy camper.
Someone mentioned the fact not to lose any Red Cross messages. I remember a Red Cross
message that didn't get through on time, this is where someone's family was killed in a car crash and he didn't get the message until after the funeral. I remember a big investigation where they were trying to find out who dropped the ball. That must have been a terrible blow to this fellow, I can't imagine how bad he must have felt, or how bad the guy at fault must have felt.
Someone recalled the incidents where someone would try to rip you off on a cyclo. I had a few experiences myself. Once when I was leaving the compound with a small AWOL bag of booze, hailed a cab and got in. This young kid stuck his head in the window mumbling something in Vietnamese, before I realized it his hand went into my shirt pocket and off he went with a pen and whatever else I had there. It was nothing worthwhile, it just pissed me off, so off I go chasing him through the fields. I just then realized the booze was in the cab and wondering if the driver was going to make off with it. It was then I made the decision the booze was more important. I stopped and looked back and the cab was still there. That's when I noticed this papa-San babbling and pointing, the kid had dropped my pen. Grabbed my pen, jumped in the cab (panting like a dog) and headed off into the sunset. Another experience in Saigon when a half dozen young girls were all over my buddy and I, with, it seemed like a million hands, going through all our pockets and grabbing at our watches. After a short time we were able to free
ourselves with everything intact. I look back and feel sorry for some of those kids, they probably needed our valuables more than we did.
Fuji, AKA Angelo Fuggetta, do you remember the day when a big box of parts came in, we
started unpacking, pulling out packing after packing, and then finally found 1 or 2 small fuses. The guy at the parts depot must have gotten a hold of some real good stuff.
What I remember from the Cholon Px was that the Korean troops did not have any rations cards and could buy whatever they wanted in whatever quantity. They seemed to know when the good stuff was coming in (stereos, etc.) and they would buy the whole lot.
I heard about a guy shooting himself in the foot, don't know if it was the same guy you were talking about. I heard he did it so he could go home.
You remember more names than I do. I only remember Angelo Fuggeta and a S/SGT. Flowers
(in crypto) that I took over from when he left. I remember Col. Brown (mostly because he kept me from getting court martialed when we lost the code list - or so he led me to believe). There was a couple other guys that I hung around the bars with, believe it or not I think I just remembered one guys name (Alan Best) not sure the other fellows name.
At the time there wasn't enough room in the barracks and they had us staying in the hotels in Saigon. After awhile the Sgt(E5), that worked in the vault, and another fellow and myself rented a pad in Cholon, just a short crawl from the bars. I remember one tenant that we had that was not invited, a huge rat! We borrowed one of the live traps that the ARVN's used at the base to try and catch him. We did finally trap him but, by the time we got down to the trap the thing had broken through the wire. After that we certainly gave him much more respect. One night the Sgt felt someone messing with his feet, thinking it was one of us, he reached over and turned his night light on and saw this huge thing staring him in the face, yuk!
Do you remember the one crypto repair fellow, I believe his MOS was 342 (we only had two), that was on the day shift. He would always stay over, I guess he had nothing better to do, to help out the 2nd shift guy. There were times he would stay over so long he could not come to the work in the a.m. and I had to roust him out of bed. Then someone introduced him to some of the bar girls and then I couldn't get him to work for a different reason.
Do you remember the fire we had in one of the 26's near the rear door? I think it was a ground problem and the darn thing just went up in flames. Do you remember the mortar that landed between two barracks and did not go off? Everybody was milling around the thing (I guess waiting for it to explode). Do you remember "The Phantom"? There was one fellow, could have been you that seemed to have a problem with the way the Army did things and would always voice his opinion by leaving me notes. I would answer him as "The Phantom" and leave my responses on the bulletin board, at the time I thought it was cute.
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5. CARL GLANDER 11/66 to 7/68
I was in Nam with Bruce Grenier...seems like it was about Nov. of 66 til July of 68...I extended after the first yr tour for 6 months...I was a 32g2 in the com center..I remember a lot of stuff that happened..most of it was after the TET offensive of 68..B4 that was routine stuff...The night of the TET..I was on duty as the trick chief for the crypto center...we used to monitor the news over the machines..we always had the incendiary bombs hooked up..my job was to throw the switch if we got overrun...was ready to do it at the time..not sure in my old age if I could now..You know the feeling as a gung-ho 19 yr old...I remember we had a big steel door in the back of the center that went to the outside..just beyond the EM Club...we used to get hamburgers etc...when a guy came back..we had to kick the hell out of the door to get anyones attention inside..cause the door was so thick...
That night I heard the door go boom..boom...I yelled to everyone else I would answer it and I went to yell to see who was there...then I heard the shrapnel hit the metal..I started to yell when the sirens went off..the lights went out and needless to say..all hell broke loose...the try started ringing it's bells for a ALERT..I read the try..it said that Saigon was under attack...after that..it's all history as to what happened...TET of 68...Phu Lam was never the same..we lost two guys that
night who were on a communications run to Tan Sunut (?)..can't remember the spelling...does anyone remember the race track in Saigon between the airport and us ???? That's where they were gunned down in their jeep...
Does anyone know that the VC used the race track to build an underground city...they held fake funerals across the street they buried coffins full of weapons and ammo..and on the night of TET,...they came out from under the track and dug up the weapons and hit Saigon and Cholon...the guys from Phu Lam were just happening by when they came around the corner to about two thousand VC loaded with weapons from the cemetery...the driver was found in the seat of the jeep full of holes..amazing..the guy riding shotgun was a little over a hundred yds away...no one could figure how he ever made it that far...
One other note..my first guard duty was overlooking the delta out back..I watched the jets drop the napalm...it looked like a big rainbow of red pizza sauce falling...being a young kid from Conn...I wrote my sister to ask if there was such a thing as a small oven I could actually make pizza in...yes...a month later I had it in my locker...we cooked chef boyardi pizzas ever since...I can tell stories about that oven and the pizza parties with the Sgt.'s and officers in another letter...guys stopped asking home for cookies..send pizza mixes...we had a foot locker and a wall locker full of mixes..we even got the PX in Saigon to stock mozzarella cheese...I left that oven to the guys in Crypto when I left around July of 68...
I remember a lot of stories about what happened..just bad on the names of people...all the shows we had...the bands (bad) from the Phillippines..singing San Francisco...and I wanna go home...the Crypto kid who showed up and was against the war...he wasn't allowed in the ComCenter..then we got mortared a month later and he made it out of bed just b4 the shrapnel went thru his pillow..hit the overhang of the barracks...then they blew up a latrine..direct hit in the commode...hit our truck pool...every truck had at least two flat tires....they hit the tape ape section of the ComCenter with two direct hits...we had to move whatever ttys left into the crypto and pass out the tapes..we became real good at winding the long yellow ribbons !!!...
Too many stories to tell at one time...it was a trip...good and bad...sandbag details...mama sans trying to clean the floor of the showers when we were trying to shower..dee dee mow mama san...u #10 GI...u want to fuckie my sister..etc...she #1.....long time..short time...Saigon Tea....taxi cabs and the infamous Cowboys....everyone was after our money or our lifes...nice to know we're all here
now for the most part...
I read your download letters..this is really cool..after all these yrs all of us remembering the good and the bad...the guys that wrote about the TET and the two guys killed from PhuLam..man..I thought I drempt some of this..but I did think they found both guys...the guy who wrote the letter knows better for sure..had the names...
Ironically..the guy that rode shotgun that night was supposed to be me...I always made that run except that night I only had a partial crew..one out sick and one on leave or R&R (I&I)...they called me to go and I had to tell them I couldn't...I really used to enjoy the 10PM or later runs down the streets..it was cool out and the streets were empty...if u saw anyone..u were authorized to shoot them...curfew stuff...to this day I thank God I was short personnel or I wouldn't be writing this...true story...On a better note..anyone out there remember the guy with the pizza oven in the barracks ????hahaha...wonder what ever happened to that oven...probably wore out the elements....we actually had an inspection of the barracks one time and the cpt. looked under my bunk and saw a box in the back corner against the wall locker...Who's bunk is this he yelled...Mine SIR...what the hell is that box soldier...pizza mix I said SIR...get it out..I pulled it out and he made me count the boxes..I think it was about 20 or so....he asked me what the hell I did with them and I told him we make Pizza...HOW he yelled..in an oven SIR...what oven ???...in the day room SIR....show me soldier...so I did...He smiled..the first Sgt. smiled and said they would be back about 7 pm that
night..Soldier..U make the pizza..the 1st Sgt.. and I will bring the beer...they did...and we did...hahaha..really happened...
Back to the war..the VC ran some mortars in one night and missed the complex except for maybe one or two...a few days later I was on guard duty in the back tower and saw a rocket with flames go over..then another...didn't know what the hell it was until they exploded in the village down the road..then the sirens...the darkness...always threw me off why the lights went out so we couldn't see where we were going when the enemy obviously had us in their targets already...pitch black...HELLO....
The crazy VC used the same range from the mortars as they did with the rockets..obviously the rockets travel farther...probably a good reason why PhuLam never got demolished...they couldn't remember the coordinates...I'm gonna have a hard time remembering what I have already wrote at times so forgive me if I repeat a story...my 50 yr old memory (age) fades and comes back..probably that 33 beer we drank at the end of the month when we were broke...balm di balm ???...formaldihide big time..ok cold...real bad warm..always joked that if we got killed they wouldn't have to embalm us and the army would save money on our funerals....joke then..but looking back..we were just
kids..invincible we thought...
I apologize to all that may read this if I refer to Tape Apes..old expression...besides..us Crypto guys felt very important at 19 yrs old...we were just as #10 GI's for not buying Saigon tea...hahaha...Phu Lam was a great duty in Nam...if there was such a thing..I really enjoy talking with u guys...very relaxing after all these yrs...I hope everyone is cool and our families understand what we went thru..even if it wasn't a major film production..
On a closing note to this ...I've used the expression many times in life when someone has busted mine...What u gunna do ???send me to Viet Nam ???? been there done that....amazing the effect...
By the way..I remember the 50 caliber incident...a company of GI's parked out front in our safe zone when we had an alert..just a practice...we had 50 cals in the bunkers...one guy pointed one at the trucks a pulled the trigger..there was a shell someone left in it and it hit a guy..one of ours...they opened fire on us not knowing who was shooting..didn't last but a min..but an unfortunate incident....it did happen...one night we were attacked by mortars and 2 of us ran out of the comcenter to man a bunker...we couldn't get the foot locker open that had the ammo..the officers had a party earlier and one came around drunk as a ...said he'd be back with the key..he
never came back and the alert was off an hour later...next day..sandbag detail...we went into the bunker to get out of the sun and could finally see...opened the breach..a freikin' 8-10 inch lizard jumped out and ran down the barrel into the rice patty....then they got the key to the lock...locker full of M60 ammo..NO m50...boy were we prepared or what ?????
Does anyone remember the little guy who was in charge of the motor pool and the food at the mess hall..forget what the title was he had..but about 5'5"..I think it was something like Sully???...he was a corporal Klinger of PhuLam...would get rope..change it for steaks..change it for ice cream..and swap it for beer..or..anything in between we needed at the time...I went on a few missions with him in a douce and a half..rode shotgun as usual...he was there in early 67...as little as he was..I remember cause I'm not a big dude and he was smaller than me...he always looked like he just came out of the jungle...but man could he wheel and deal...another person I remember who was there and can't find is a Sgt. Phil Lafland...anyone remember or know about him ???
I did a lot of sand bag detail cause I liked being outside in the sun..(now in Florida)...we used to build and build..yet the bags would fall apart in a couple of months....finally they figured out..the little gook who sprayed for bugs was spraying an acid based spray that ate the bags apart...he was VC...who wasn't besides us...unbelievable how we lived there and even the people let on post were against us...wish I had the $$ I spent on Saigon teas...First time I went to Cholon to get a little..a few of us went to several houses looking for the right woman..hahahha. Finally settled into one..legs got tired of walking...never even got undressed when the local
policia busted the place...all the girls ran out a window and across the roofs to escape..they caught 2 girls downstairs and wanted all us GI's to be witnesses in court..wanted names..so we became..Mickey Mouse..Donald Duck etc...hahaha...1st Airborne...only here for a night..haha...just dropped in haha...
Does everyone remember eating the k rations for a while..I was the guy that traded all food for the deserts..wouldn't eat the stuff myself...I think we went about 2-3 weeks of having to eat that crap..I remember..the mess hall took all the labels of the cans cause the guys picked and choosed too much the first couple days...so u went mystery
food til u popped the top....
Last thing this time...remember having to stir the big containers of juice around and around so all the bugs would go to the edges by centrifugal force and u could get a glass to drink without bugs in it ???
Just throwing out a few more names..amazing how they come back at times... Victor
Bloom..John Kane.....Richard Black...Sgt Crocker....Angelo Fugetta...Dan DeAngelis... Anyone remember any of these guys or their whereabouts ???...I know Angelo in NY.. and Dan DeAngelis in Conn...Kane was from Jersey..Black from Alabama..Crocker from Tenn...Bloom I think was from New England somewhere..maybe Mass..???... Kinda neat how all the names etc. come back when u talk to other Namers and it rekindles ur memory..hell..I thought I lost mine many yrs ago..
Was there for the TET for sure....I remember watching "to sir with love" on the big screen on the side of the em club...always had weekly movies there...had shows on stage..phillipine bands singing American songs....favorite song...SanFrancisco...everyone stood on their chairs and
danced !!!!....eventually the em club was built and we went inside..did the same thing !!!!hahaa....
Had a whole company of infantry move in after Tet..they set up tents and threw up sand bags like we never did...they spent about a week there..we were supposed to get attacked according to the inside info of the army...never happened..but I'll tell ya what..those guys were REAL animals....we all looked like dummies in our spit shined boots and starched fatigues..they were INFANTRY....they looked too mean for us to even recognize..haha...nice guys though..just been through a lot more than anyone in PhuLam....
Anyway..I'll think on this and try to come up with stuff....Phu Phu was different in 67-late 68....a lot of mortar attacks and we even got belted with tear gas (from our own troops)..when I was the Sgt. of the guard one night...wiped out the motor pool with mortars..flat tires all over...we ate c-rations for a month...they took the labels off the cans so no one could pick and choose...ugh...some of that stuff was unedible.....
That was PhuPhu in 67-68....not a hell hole like the jungle..but not swimming pool either...still find it hard to believe that came about....WHY ???...hell man you are in Vietnam....
The duece and a half was full of steaks and beer ok...I'm Carl Glander..SP5 a 32G2...Angelo..myself and a supply Sgt named Scully went on a mission...we went to the front lines ..if there really were any...traded rope for tents..for beer for ice cream for ice...u name it..we came back with the steaks..!!!!....took us all day...but Scully really knew his way around...we were young and adventurous for sure...we had a blast..I have pictures of us in the 2..on that day...hahha...remember it well...
I believe the second attack we had then ...the VC tried to shoot rockets at us...they walked in the mortars b4..and used the same range (I guess) for the rockets..I was on guard duty that night and saw the fire from the rockets go about 30 ft over my head and land in the village down the road...I reported seeing the flare type stuff going over..then all hell broke loose and the sirens went off etc..
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6. DON "Jake" BOLEY 2/66 to 2/67
I was in Phu Lam from Feb. '66 to Feb. '67. I worked on those 1004's and the crypto room. I remember a very young Sgt. Bell...and that's about all the folks I remember...My brother Dick Boley worked for Univac in the early days as well.
I ran those 1004's after you left. Hardwire wiring...I would have never remembered the name of group the US Army STRATCOM FAC(PHU LAM).
Sgt. Coomer got busted from staff to buck Sgt. while I was there. Short, nasty fellow...I arrived in February of '66, so we must have watched some movies together. I was 21, PFC, dark hair, now white, 5' 11", 165 lbs, now 215, no glasses, Caucasian, from Pennsylvania, bunked with a pitcher from the Los Angeles Dodgers, can't remember his name, black fellow, bunked with a short blond haired kid from Chicago whose father owned/managed a radio station in Chicago. My hut was closest to the troposphere antennae and two up from the main latrine/showers in the same row. I'm terrible for remembering names. As you can see, I remember people I don't like and forget the names of friends. I remember a Rush Bondurant from Virginia I think.
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7. DONALD G. CLUTE Oct 66 to Oct 67.
I served at Phu lam from oct 66 till oct 67. I think the place was really primitive when I was there. I had heard from a gut I worked with here in Lou. Ky. that there was a lot of addition to the camp. I was a tape ape in the commo. building.
I was 72B20 also. I got mail from Terry Swinge some years back. He found my home address in some of his old letters. He also was 72B20. We arrived in country on the same plane, but he went home later than I , as he took the extend tour for 6 months and was discharge from the Army earlier than I.
Replying to Bob Tiedemann request about an E6 who died of a heart attack. I was at Fort Leonardwood Mo. when I got a letter from Terry Schwinge who was still at Phu Lam and I
remembered he wrote that Sargent Hart had died of a heart attack. He was a swell guy. He had come on board at the teletype sending and receiving section before I left. Can't remember his 1st name, think it was Harry. Hope this is correct info. God luck from
that was some time between Jan 69 and May 69. I got out of the Army in May. I think Terry got the early out in April, so April would most likely be when I got his letter.
I was just going through the Phu Lam site and another true story hit me. I was sleeping in my bunk, which was located in the roll of huts in the second roll from the rice paddy, after pulling a 12 hour shift, and my buddy Terry Schwinge woke me, there were others with him whom I can't remember right now, and they said I been shot at. You can understand the confusion of just being woke up and someone saying that to you. What happened was a 7.62mm round had come through the roof and would of hit me or my bunk, except that a 2x6 stud deflexed it to my right. Then the round hit a locker where a new guy was righting a letter home. That thing hit the locker just inches from this poor guys head. He retreived the round and said he was going to hang it around his neck.
Then there was the time Robert Torcha and I took our new cameras we just bought on base and went to the Pogada outside of Phulam and these people threw rocks at us. After a little shouting back a guy in all balck came out and sent the people away. He invited us in to the Pogada. He took his shoes off and when we started to do the same, he told us not to.
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8. BILL GORDON Nov 66 to Nov 67
It is funny that I do not remember that much tension and when one of the other guys mentioned I was the only black 32g I actually had to think back and say wow yes I was.
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9. BOB SPAMER Dec 66 to Sep 68
Greetings from (RKS) from ADK Tech Control in Phu Lam in the time span from Dec. 1996
thru Sept. 1968.
I was working there when Sgt. Haragucchi from Hawaii was there. Was a trick chief for
awhile then went to Activations which really turned out to be deactivations by sending most of our lines over to the new IWCA facilities.
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10. QUINTON GERDS May/66 to June'70
I was assigned to the USASTRATCOM Facility, Phu Lam, sometime in May 1966 and worked
at the Talk Quick secure voice facility on Tan Son Nhut until May 1968. I was caught up in the Tet and May offensives in 1968 and was separated from the main body of troops for 6 days during Tet and 5 days during May spending those times on a roof of a building inCholon. I left Viet Nam late May 1968 to an assignment at Fort Monmouth. In October 1968 I returned to Phu Lam and was assigned to the 532d Sig Co (AUTOSEVOCOM SATCOM). During the first tour I had an additional duty acting as a supply Sgt in order to form the 532d. As a note, all the vehicles used at Phu Lam from mid 67 on were ordered by me as part of the TO&E of the 532d. From August 1969 to January 1970 I was attached to the signal company at Chu Lai (the
designation I have forgotten) to run the site there, Secord 27. This was part of the activites of the 532d: Operate the two secure voice facilities on the Saigon area at MACV Annex and on TanSon Nhut and to provide manning for the outlying Secords at Can Tho, Pleiku, Nha Trang, Cam Rahn Bay and so forth (I don't remember the other locations, but there were more than a dozen.)
I have many pictures and slides taken during those two tours. However, I have no means to transmit them via email since I am limiting myself to the computer equipment I have.
I do recall arriving there from Oakland with a brief stop over at Camp Alpha for initialprocessing. The initial processing at Camp Alpha was primarily so the divisions could grab men, regardless of their orders assignment, needed to fill their empty spots. Fortunate I feel I was because there was a 'do not divert' on my orders and in my records since I was to fill a 32F slot. The 32F MOS was listed as a critical at that time because there was a change in equipment to solid state and few people trained on the new equipment. Camp Alpha was an overnight stop after arriving at the civilian terminal on Tan Son Nhut. That night we had several instances of incoming, my first experience of many. I can recall the initial experience of the gate at Phu Lam since it was the place where the initial processing for the facility started. The ride from Camp Alpha to Phu Lam was interesting in that it took me through many different areas and many different scenes of the Orient first hand. Jasmine pervaded what it seems was all areas which were inhabited. There was a bridge less than a mile from Phu Lam which seemed to separate city from country. After the bridge there were a few dwellings, and other buildings, a dusty road leading towards Cambodia with rice paddies on either side with the first glimpse of Phu Lam being the antennas. The gate itself was a wooden structure with screened in rooms and surrounded by sand bags in various stages of rotting. The sand bags seemed to me several feet deep. There also was a guard post at the roadside of the gate area as well as one or two back some from the road. Security was at the gate, all security matters were taken care of there. The next stop was the orderly room located across for the then Phu Lam PX for some more processing in and assignment of a sleeping area.
The following day I was taken to Cholon to the Capitol Hotel where the remainder of the processing was done. This was almost an all day affair. Lunch was at the Navy Mess facility in the Capitol Hotel. All you could eat for a dollar. I do remember the heat of the day, especially since I was wearing the heavy weight fatigues. Actually, when I stepped off the plane at my arrival, I felt I had stepped into a sauna. After I processed in, the next step was to get to the site located on Tan Son Nhut. We left about 6 AM to get there swinging our way through Cholon and into downtown Saigon, up Rue du Pasteur, and so on. I was in the back of a 2 « ton truck along with 6, or more, soldiers taking in the early morning sights of the city. During July 66 it was safe enough for us to go lightly armed.
After a week or so, I found that I was to be the driver of the morning shift change. It got caught in a traffic jam on a crowded, narrow street and decided to use my horn to get the attention of the traffic ahead of me and have them move out of the way. The air horn stuck blasting away at the people on the road. Actually, it cleared the street of all traffic. Getting the horn button unstuck was only brought about by beating on the dash where it was located with a tire tool. The truck was one of many different vehicles we used for shift change, what we used depended on what was available. Mostly, we drove a discarded AF crew cab Dodge that fell apart almost daily. We had tried to turn it in for something better several times, however, not even the junk yard wanted it. We had a name for it, but usually we called it the Blue Jeep.
There was one day we were making the evening shift change getting caught in a demonstration. Policy was, at that time, to get out of the area as quickly as possible. This one time we could not because a Buddhist Monk decided to set himself on fire along side the Blue Jeep. All we could do was to leave the truck and head for a safer area until we could retrieve what was left of the truck. One of the NCOs called the facility to have other arrangements made for the remainder of the shift, and to have the cook hold some meals for latecomers. That night, when we got to the mess hall, the meal consisted of barbecued chicken. It was good, but there were some who could not handle this after the incident with the monk. Fortunately, the truck suffered no damage. There was an interesting fact all of us observed: the people near the burning monk tried to put out the flames while the other monks were gathering anything that would burn and stoking the fire.
There are several incidents I recall from those days at Phu Lam. There were morning
formations, some times, and the frequency I was there depended on what time the shift change vehicle arrived. At one of these formations the DCO related that there was an incident during the night, near midnight. The boiler for the mess hall blew up during midnight chow causing all in the mess hall to get out quickly. The DCO said he thought he was fast and then held up his T Shirt so all could see the footprints on its back from those who were faster than he. Phu Lam also had some shows sponsored by the club.
There was a Filipino group of dancers doing a dance with long poles. If I were one of the dancers, I would have had broken ankles all the time. The club was a great place just to sit after a long shift to relax.
This is where I met Gene Jolly. We had a lot in common and had a lot to talk about.. During my first months at Phu Lam, Gene was sent TDY to Da Nang to take care of a MODE V site, but would come to Phu Lam from time to time. There was a lot of concern about him after an incoming round (mortar of rocket) exploded inside the van where is was working. Then he was missing! All of us feared the worst! One day as I was walking on the Phu Lam compound I was startled when I saw him. I found out then that he had stepped out of the van to get a cup of coffee just before the round came through and he ended up in the hospital as a result of the subsequent explosion. Relief, this is all I could say I felt.
One of the most remembered experiences of my entire two tours with the Phu Lam facility was having to change a flat tire next to the fish market in Cholon on a super hot, sunny day after that area was drenched by monsoon rains.
3. There was a DCO there while I was there who had a sign on his desk stating: "I am only as strong as my weakest NCO." I believe this was MAJ Steele. At this time, there are a lot of things running together that I am trying straighten out. While I was in VN in 66-67, there was a CW3 Graves from Fort Bragg area. The CO was Capt Owen S. Mason, there were several other Warrants: Grimes, Graf, Washington, and Bright. There also was a 2LTCastle who was a MAJ when I last saw him in 73-76
I know of one person who had around five years assigned to Phu Lam, a John
Everett. Where he is today, that is a good question. He told me he stayed
because he had no other place to go. Saw him in Germany sometime in 1979.
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11. JOHN RITTER Jan'66 to Dec'66
I served in PhuLam from 1 Jan 1966 to about 14 dec 1966. My MOS was 74a10 and I worked in the datacenter. I see that you had a note from a Don Boley and he talked about Sgts. Coomer and Bell. I worked with both of them and know Don as well.. My address is GR244@aol.com.
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12. BOB TIEDEMANN 10/66 to 10/67
Don't remember to much. I do remember working 12 hours a day - 6 days a week. The dates of my tour was from 10/66 to 10/67. I only remember one name (mind seems to empty) -- Carl Fisher from Iowa (I think Davenport). He was a Spc 4 and had a MOS of 72B20. I think there was Johnson from Texas, who was there from '67 to '68. Another guy Dewitt (??), don;t know or remember anything about him. Lost total contact with all folks.
Three, there was another Phu-Lamer who didn't make it back. I think sometime in early 67 an E6 died of a heart attack. I know he was black and lived off base. It bugs the hell out me now that I can't even remember his name, he was a real great guy. Maybe someone else can remember more.
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13. YUKIO OTSUKA Aug-Dec 66 & July 71-Jun 72
I had two tours at Phu Lam:. July - Dec 1966 as Ops Officer and Jul 71 -Jun 72 as the CO of the BN.
When I assumed command in July 1971, the battalion was designated the 60th Signal Bn. For many years, many attempts were made by the Commanding Generals of 1st Signal Brigade to have Phu Lum designated a numbered signal battation to assure that the organization was recognized by the officials in the Pentagon and other staff agencies that the organization was equivalent to other tactical battalions in Vietnam.
I replaced LTC Raymond Tourtilott as commander. Ray Tourtilott died shortly after retiring as a Colonel. I exchange Xmas cards with one of my former Company Commander from Phu Lam.... Ltc (Res) Tom Spicker. He lives in Maryland.
Just thought of another NCO who worked in the Transmitter Station from
1966-67. Denton Lee, 971 Palo Verde Dr., Sierra Vista, Az 85635
To: Joe Rokus: I met John Brown, who replaced Ryerson, when I visited Phu Lam on TDY from STRATCOM PAC (Schofield Barracks, HI) in April or May 1967 to attempt to resolve HF and carrier problems between Phu Lam and Okinawa. With me was Capt (now retired Col)Charles Stanley, Ops Officer on Okinawa. Chu;ck Stanley was later assigned to Phu Lam as the Ops Officer. John Brown had just replaced Bob Ryerson at Phu Lam when Chuck and I went there on TDY.. You must have been there when Capt (now ret Col) Robert Snead was the Trafffic Officer. He reported to Phu Lam in late 1966 so you probably had an overlap.. Bob Snead was assigned to Ft Gordon, Ga. prior to his retirement and I believe he stayed in the Augusta area. I may be able to get his address , if you don't have it. Bob Snead may be able to shed some light on John Brown.
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14. ROBERT CUCE 12/66 to 4/68
I was stationed at Phu Lam from Dec 22 1966 until April 4 1968.
Initially I was OIC of the Non-Automatic Relay Center (NARC) from 22 Dec 68 until about end of Apr 1967. I was also the Site Resident Engineer (SRE)/Alternate Contracting Officer's Representative (ACOR) of the AUTODIN Automatic Switching Center (ASC) from Dec 66 until about Oct 67. I then became Commanding Officer of the AUTODIN Company when they activated it - so I was SRE/ACOR/CO of it. MSG Stinchfelder was my NCOIC. When I came, it was a rice paddy, when I left, it was a fully operational ASC' and the tape relay was being closed down.
AUTODIN - I had to accept the site by going through drawing by drawing, rd line for red line. Had Testers coming in from the states. I was assistant Test director. Had Mr Hal Dick coming trying to get the ASC prepared to go operational in late March. Had Barry Fox wanting to know about the Company - let him have it for the
most part. Had all these people wanting to go through the building on tours - used to give 0-6's and below to the NCOs to do. Now, throw in mortaring, getting people out of Siagon (I actually had a Philco Ford worker set up house keeping in the cable pit outside my building), USGov testers with boucoo questions, etc, etc, etc and I had a busy 24 hrs a day for 3 months.
Tet was not nice. Got shelled a lot. Many of my Philco Ford AUTODIN contractors lived in Saigon and I had to take a convey downtown to get them out. Had to take the same convey to Nabei to get oil for the generators and then over to Ton Son Nut to pick up some Air Force AUTODIN Tech Sgts coming in from the Phillipines. Fun times. The Philco Workers came on post and we made a barracks available to them. That lasted until the next shelling and then they moved in under the false floor in the AUTODIN building. Sure glad I don't have to go through that again.
We were shelled with 81 mm mortars about three times. First time was very quick and it was over before it began. Second time was quite bad. Walked it in from the rice paddys up the road by the CO's headquarters. Hit the 1st Sgt's office and got him quite p----d (he wasn't in it). Then continued up through the motor pool and went left and then right. and then out again over the other side into the rice paddy. I remember throwing on clothes when the siren went off and I made it up to the AUTODIN building where my 'area for defense' was (front gate to the area by the motor pool). Towards morning, I noticed my feet were hurting me - sun was just coming up. Said it in front of MSG David Stinchfield. He looked donwnat my feet and said "No wonder, got your boots on the wrong feet". Nope, no purple heart for that one. There were about 20 Purple hearts in the battalion.
A few days later, I happened to be walking between the tape relay down to the mess hall and for some reason, I stopped and looked to the right out by the AUTODIN building. There, on a perfect line, was the guard tower and the pagoda. I sort of did a quick 'geometry thing' and from the top of the pagoda through the guard tower to where I was standing was a perfect line up. Climbed to the top of the guard tower and saw
all of of Phu Lam which meant to me that if a VC was on the top of the guard tower with a radio, he could direct the incoming rounds - hence the left and right in Motor pool. The next time the ARVNs went out on patrol, myself, SP6 Vilch and PFC Ward (same one in the picture with Cpt Barry Fox, went out with them and I paced off the distance to the
pagoda - it was about 670 paces. right at the limit of the M-60s we had. So, ok, passed this on to the troops as they were getting irritated at getting mortared and gettng up in the middle of the night when the sirens went off. Now, face it, no-one could order the troops to fire at the pagoda because on the other side was downtown Saigin/Cholon.
Last time I remember getting mortared, I was in the ASC and we were testing the switch - acceptance testing. Earlier that evening, I had conducted a 'mortar drill', i.e., getting the testers out of the ASC into the sandbagged connex's in case of attack. I was outside when the first mortar came in and rushed in, yelled and screamed a few words and they existed as they should have. Worked perfectly. Building was not hit either. However, I mentioned the troops had been alerted as to the pagoda and what 'could be happening' and about 4 M-60's on that side opened up on it. Remember, every 5th round was a tracer in an M-60. You could see the tracers criss-crossing at the pagoda and some going off at oblique angles meaning they hit the stones walls of the pagoda. Quite a site. We never got mortared again after that. One of my bunkers by the guard tower got a direct hit. I was just going out to check everything out when I saw it. No casualties though and I got showered with sand and sandbags. We had 3 layers of sandbags on top of the bunker and the shell clean them out to the PCP we were using as a bottom layer. Next morning, didn't have to say a word. All bunkers, connexes etc had 5 layers of sandbags on them. Fact I was walking into work and many many people were out filling sand bags I heard later that a 122mm was fired at us. Hit the Station timing of
the AUTODIN building, the VLF antenna. No big damage.
Funny, I stayed in the service and had a tour in DCA - 74-77 Walked into office the first day and this old griseled GS-13 said "So you're Cuce huh, you stole my CAUs (Crypto Auxillary Units)" and I in all honesty said "What CAU's" He said "the CAUs that were meant for Nha Trang" and I said "Oh, those CAU's". He said "Yes, that 's what you said in 68 and I got the messages to prove it" Sure enough, I used to send a jeep down to Ton Son Nhut every day as stuff was coming in from all over and I had Sgt Holt pick up anything meant for AUTODIN - Nha Trang, Phu Lam, or Korat Thailand - and would redistribute it because it would just sit there and could get lost. Well, I was two weeks ahead of the Nha Trang ASC and their CAUs came in so I 'scoffed them up' installed them and when my CAUs came in, I had them shipped to Nha Trang. Needless to say, both ASCs came in on schedule but it drove people stateside berserk.
I took a couple of convoys downtown to 'rescue' Philco Ford and other workers that lived by Phu Tho and other places downtown. Let me set the stage (Please note - my primary job in RVN was OIC/Site Resident Engr(SRE)/ACOR/and then CO of the AUTODIN Site when it was officially on TDA from Nov 67 to April 68. Cpt Barry Fox officialy became the AUTODIN CO when it went operational in April 68:
First: The 'biggies' (MACV, 1st Sig Bdfe, etc) finally realized that if Phu Lam went, so would go the major tech control in RVN, the Tape Relay, BaQueo circuits, the JOSS and everything else in case I slighted anyone. When Tet occurred, they sent an Infantry Company backed up by tanks to help us. The Infantry Company would send out a couple of Platoons each day along with the tanks to raise 'hell' with Charlie downtown and then come back in the evening to Phu Lam. There was a big battle for Phu Tho at the start of Tet (the first few days) and there was an American Infantry Battalion/company that 'retook' Phu Tho in a couple of days and then moved on. We 'PhuLamers' couldn't leave post to do anything in these first few days.
Second: About four days after the start of Tet, I was able to take a big convoy downtown to get Page, Philco Ford (PF), etc contractors out of there - this was the first convoy to do this. The Convoy went like this: Phu Tho first and we picked up Jim Phers and about 3-8 other PH workers and some other contractors; to the oil refineries at NaBei - to get oil for Phu Lam's power generators; past the American Embassy which had just been retaken; to Ton Son Nhut to pick up some Air Force tech controllers coming in to help us get the switch in operational/test shape; and then back downtown to get some more PF/Page/contractors (I'm not sure of the names of those we picked up as at this time as some of the workers who were already in the convoy would say - so-and-so lives here, so-and-so lives here and we spent about 2 hours doing this - put all in the back of a couple of duece and halfs we had). We ended up driving by PhuTho on our way back because we 'just ended up in the neighborhood' (none of us were thrilled at this - believe me - but we picked up a couple more who weren't around when we first went there). That convoy lasted about 5-6 hours. But, no problems.
I did do/go on a couple of more convoys and picked up some more workers - one with Maj Steele, that weren't 'cool' - face it, nothing then was 'cool'. Plus other things that had to be accomplished as Tet went on - putting the AUTODIN Testers up downtown when it was safe, keeping them on post when it wasn't, etc.
O, by the way, all those that went on that convoy were volunteers and we all agreed to keep going if things went ok to get as many out as we could. Things went ok so we kept going.
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15. KEN KWIATKOWSKI 5/66 to 2/67
I was there from MAY,1966 till Feb.1967..I was a repairman for the communication equipment. I held the rank of SP.4 and I was a draftee. Would like to hear from anyone, especially repairmen who were at Phu the same time as myself.
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16. RAYMOND LIVERZANI 4/66 to 3/67
I WAS STATIONED AT PHU LAM FROM APRIL 1966 TO MARCH 1967. I WAS A DUTY OFFICER AND MAINLY WORKED AT NIGHT. I RECALL DOING MANY THINGS AT PHU LAM ; ADMINISTRATION, SECURITY AND SOME COMMUNICATIONS. DURING THAT PERIOD A GROUP OF US WAS CALLED UP TO HELP WITH "OPERATION ALTERBORO", WHICH WAS A REAL CHARACTER BUILDER.
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17. MARTIN NAPARSTECK 10/66-9/67
I was stationed at Phu Lam from Oct. 66 to Sept. 67, a Sp/4 working for Long Lines South, repairing and maintaining "carrier" equipment. Since returning I have made my living largely as a writer and college teacher. I've published two novels, one of which is set at Phu Lam. It's called "War Song". The novel is partly autobiographical; it's about an American who is assigned to Phu Lam as a guard.
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18. JOHN A THOMPSON 66-67
I was a member of PhuLam from 66 to 67 and worked at the Satellite Terminal located at BaQueo. We use to commute daily from PhuLam by 2 and 1/2 ton truck. After getting ttacked on the road a couple of times they moved us to the Satellite site in trailers for a few months and then to RCG just before I left in July 67.
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19. LORING "WINDY" WINDBLAD 3/66-9/67
I helped to "build" the original photo hobby shop in 1966, and took a movie of a ridiculous little "twister" that snatched part of the roof off the day we were dedicating it for the grand opening. Delayed opening for a week!
[In response to Jolly's picture of the twister]….WOW! That's the one. Actually, the one that did OUR damage was about 2' across when it snatched a piece off the darkroom section of roof, and then, reduced to about a foot across, dashed across the strip and bounced from one barracks on one row to the next one on the other row and back and forth hopping right down to me. It dissipated as it got tothe far end, where I was with my movie camera. As it got to me and dissapated, I looked up and saw this "huge finger" coming down out of the sky pointed right at me - Jolly's picture - and said to myself as it descended "boy I hope I survive this one!" and kept on cranking out the movie file -- and about that time the finger pulled back up into the clouds and disappeared. Meantime the little finger that dissipated at my end of the barracks reformed in the rice paddy and made its way across to the village to continue its trail of minor chaos. As I recall, Jolly and I were standing out there with one other guy taking pictures while everyone around us was scrambling for cover. He's a crazy dude!
We did a lot of scrounging back then, and I remember getting 1000' rolls of Ektachrome and Kodak 5654 negative film from the Air Force lab at Tan Son Nhut and breaking it down to 100 foot rolls for our "bulk loaders" there in the photo hobby shop. I particularly remember the Aussie soldiers we shared Ba Queo Receiver Site with, as well. We had a lot of good times together.
We occasionally, for very special occasions, had "cookouts" there. I believe it was Clarence Jolly who did the arrangements for these things. Procuring a "side of beef" - a half of a water buffalo too old and infirm to plow the rice paddy's anymore, or one that had been "shot up by GI's"! - and burying it and cooking it as a "pit bar-b-cue" there at Phu Lam. Something like a 4th of July celebration. Beer and Roast Buffalo. It cooked in the pit, with a carefully tended fire burning over it, for about 24 hours, definitely overnight. Believe we had two of these during the time I lived at PhuLam during 1966.
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20. TIM NIEHAUS 11/66-6/68
I was at Phu Lam from November, '66 to June, '68. I worked in the Security Office taking care of Security Clearances and other things. One really clear memory I have is spending several nights, during the '68 Tet Offensive, sleeping in the bunkers because of the mortar attacks.
I can't remember the guy's name, but, we had a fellow in the Unit who was trying desperately to get out of Viet Nam AND the Army. As I remember it, he tried several things, some of which landed him in fairly serious trouble (I believe he had several Article 15's and, at least, one Court Martial). His Masterpiece came one night when his screaming and hollering woke up several members of the place. As we came out of the barracks and followed the noise, we found him, wrapped in a sheet, standing calf deep in a rice paddy, pronouncing solemnly that he was Moses, come to set his people free! This is the one that worked for him. He was taken to a hospital in Saigon and I don't think we saw him again. Klinger would be proud.
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21. PAUL JOYNER 7/66-7/67 & 1/71-1/72
I arrived at PhuLam in July '66 to July '67, and worked the High Freq Receiver site at Tan San Nhut, then returned to PhuLam from Jan '71 to Jan '72, and worked the same site as SATCOM..
Very fond memories of my good friend, Loring Windblad (Windy) who is on this website.
At one time, things were real bad in Tay Ninh and some of us volunteered to haul ammo there cause they were so short of guys they needed signalmen to convoy stuff all the way to the 25th Infantry. 5 tons of 155 white phosphorus in a deuce and a half. Scary trip, that was.
I got a puppy on the trip from some kid for like 100 pi, and while he's tied-up at the gate back at the Tan San Nhut site, that goddamned Windblad ran him over with a three-quarter and killed him.
We had a monkey, a pet, tied on a very very long rope at the site, and it was his habit to sit in a truck at the steering wheel on occasion. He would pick fleas from my puppy, during the puppy's short life before Windblad snuffed it out under the three-quarter's tires. Unknown to any of us until one day to be remembered distinctly by those in the vicinity, this monkey would freak out around a pregnant woman? So, this mamasan who lived on our compound was walking by very seriously pregnant and the monkey chases her down and took out approximately 10% of the left cheek of her ass. Man, you never heard such wailing until billy-bob got caught with Monica. We had to let the monkey go. My puppy had to suffer the fleas. Until Windblad killed the puppy.
There was a friend of mine Spec 5 Ernie Fischer also from New Jersey, and he was a physics major in school. He had Estes model rockets at the site, and understood math so well he had the ones where there was a little tiny 8mmm camera inside, and he could calculate the rate of climb of the rocket, by measuring the detail in the frame of the film and estimate the rocket's distance to earth at the time the frame was photographed! One time, some guy is coming off the runway in an F4 ( this was real close to us), and this rocket flies-by. Lots of questions from the base operations officer later did we note any enemy rockets in the vicinity? Ernie and I just kept quiet, wondering what it was like for the pilot who could never know, it was a tiny rocket real close, from America, not a bigger VC rocket further away.
We had a guy by the nickname of "sugarbear" from Florida, but I don't recall his real name. One night he's stoned on guard in the tower?, and he has nothing better to do than pop off a few rounds from the trusty M-14, calls into the duty van on the field phone says were takin heavy VC fire.....put us on a REAL serious alert.
We had another guy got stoned out of his mind one night, goes into a bunker to shoot-off those little silver flares with the parachute? Shoots it off into a closed gunwale, runs into the dark screaming he's blind, falling, running, screaming. He was okay the next day. But no more eyebows. We had another guy named Joe Stoessel or something like that, on the '66-'67 tour, would hunt rats in broad daylaight with an M-14.
Also remember there was a slot machine in the Em club. Some guy is walking by the quarter machine on his way out after surrendering the machine to me, he having dumped about 5-10 K quaters in it, and I hit it for $ 37.50 on the first quarter. That guy had no sense of humor...
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22. RICHARD LIGHT 66-67
I remember SSG Dunn and SSG Downing very well, I worked with them and also lived at the Dong Khanh Hotel. We later moved to Phu Lam after we renovated one of the barracks. We were getting tired of getting up early in the morning for the trip to Phu Lam. The barracks was last in the row next to the diesel fuel storage tanks. I believe at the time we had the largest sand bag bunker in Viet Nam which was around and over the fuel tanks. I remember the evenings we would cook our meals outside the barracks in a little patio we had built.
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23. DAN PREECE 66-67
I arrived in RVN on New Year's Eve 1965. After a few days at Camp Alpha, I arrived at Phu Lam in early January 1966. I was a 74A10, but spent several months on guard duty and filling sandbags and building bunkers. I was eventually assigned to the data comm center in the building below the main comm center. Later, I was promoted to E-4 and assigned to the Methods and Results Section in the main comm center under SGT Strader. I was Soldier of the Month in July 1966.
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24. QUINTON GERDS 2nd Story 5/66-6/70
The 532d Sig Co (AUTOSEVOCOM SATCOM) a unit remoted from Phu Lam and was located (last place) at the MACV Annex on Tan Son Nhut after being co-located with RCG off of Plantation Road for more than a year. When I arrived in the summer of 1966 grades E5 and below assigned to Talk Quick, the forerunner of AUTOSEVOCOM, were housed on the Phu Lam facility with those E6 and above placed in hotels, BOQs and BEQs. The situation was similar for the SATCOM people. As the mission increased for Phu Lam and the 532d, space to house the troops became more limited. It came to be that all people who had principal duties with AUTOSEVOCOM were kicked off of Phu Lam and out of the BOQ, BEQ and hotels. We were given a house near RCG for a few months (dead dog in the house's well was an extra without charge). The 532d was building up from around 20 people in 1966 to well over 100 in 1967. One month we got 50 or more new people with no place to put them. We were given a two floor, 6 bay, building near RCG without bunks, wall lockers and foot lockers. What happened next is that I got a few guys together and several 2 1/2 ton trucks and we emptied the Phu Lam warehouse in Cholon of the things we needed to support 150 people while the NCOIC was taking a coffee break. (All this was totally illegal, we just went in a took it after being told that Phu Lam was not going to support the needs of the 532d.)
I can tell these stories about the hazards of living on Phu Lam and working at a remote place as Ba Queo or Tan Son Nhut. We had to make shift changes twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon. Generally, the night shift was 14 hours in length and the day 10 hours. The early morning shift changes we could do driving through Cholon and Saigon because there was little traffic when we made the changes. In the afternoon the traffic was so heavy that we used what was called 'the back road' around Saigon and Cholon. The gate for this was located near the heliport on the backside of Tan Son Nhut. We had to go through a small town just outside the gate to a turn off to the left and then head into no man's land. Once on the road, we would lock and load and put the pedal to the metal. Several times we took small arms fire, both the Ba Queo and Talk Quick shift change vehicles. This back road was a good length and we knew when we were getting close to Phu Lam because there was a small group of buildings, a short bridge that you had to take very slowly since it was narrow, after that there was a built up area and finally the main road going a few hundred more yards to the gate of Phu Lam. There was one day that there was a commotion when the Ba Queo 2 1/2 ton truck came through Phu Lam security, one of the kids that lined the roads near where the vehicles had to slow down tossed a grenade into the back of the truck. One of the SGTs riding on the back tossed the grenade back out and it exploded far enough away from the truck so there were no injuries or damage to the truck or passengers. I don't remember if anyone on the ground got hurt, but security had to make a report to the 716th MPs, and so forth. After on of these incidents, and there were many, we were told not to use that road for anything, but that lasted only a few days and we were back on the road.
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25. HERB GOODWIN 11/66-6/67
I came to Phu Lam from Reg Comm Nov or Dec 66, and stayed until June 67, when I rotated to CONUS. ..Our office was right next to tape relay, or the "comm center", and I worked closely with them (SFC Dave Failing especially), developing/automating numerous reports using punch cards, etc, that previously took us many, many hours of manual work, as opposed to the machines doing it, except for updating the data base: it worked out great for everyone.
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26. WILLIAM A NICHOLS 11/66-12/67
I was promoted to SSG and replaced SSG Kirby Wire Chief. I was in charge of the Switchboard, Telephone Exchange, Mainframe & cabling to other sites.
I miss Phu Lam, no water to drink (it all had an oily film), food to eat but we sure had beer after it was dredged from the river. We could eat the bread after we picked the bugs out but that left brown holes in it. The reconstituted meat sure exercised our jaws but would squirt water at us when we tried to cut it. I did enjoy the movies on the side of that building and TV when the bird was up. Best of all was the BBQ fresh chicken on cyclone fence basted with beer. I would lay on top of our conex bunkers at night and watch bombings to the west and the helicopter to ground fights to the north.
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