"Stories from 1968 Phu Lamers"

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Bill Perkins Steve Knab Patrick Kirkpatrick
John O'Neil Robert Hurst Bob Poznauskis
Jack Hughs David Pfaff Don Bauer
Charles Stanley Ludwell Sibley Barney Clancy
Donald Bauer Gary Burlette Karl "Ernie" Aichele
Jon R. Jech Raymond Patchen Floyd R. Negley
Harold Horner Michael Zitterich Mike Scherfen
Roger Wilgus Elmer C. Brandhorst Stephan Velez
Roger Byrd Cesar Garcia David Agard
John Hart Julius Jeggetts Roger Wyer
Charlie Jeffries

1. Bill PERKINS 5/68 to 5/69

I mentioned that ARVN troops were at Phu Lam in May 68. They left that summer. They carried M1s, .30 caliber carbines, and BARs. They lived in tents near the main gate. They fished with nets in the paddies where the new barracks later went up. Cooked over open fires. They patrolled in the village outside the fence. Later, the 199th Light Infantry kept Phu Lam safe. Yeah, one of the first guys I met at Phu Lam had a leg in a cast. He said he broke his ankle falling our of the bleachers at a James Brown concert at Ton Son Nhut! I heard a rumor that a Phu Lam NCO had been killed when a .50 caliber shell blew up in the breech of the gun. We had, I think, two or three .50 caliber machine guns for perimeter defense. And every GI had an M14.

Remember how the Vietnamese barbers used to massage your head? Remember the White Mice? Remember how astonished you were when one blew a police whistle?

Yes, I do remember where the circuits went. How about Nha Trang? Pleiku? 7th Air Force (TSN), U.S.Embassy, and Australia (army in-country). They'd send the words Waltzing Matilda for a channel check. I'll always remember some of the Red Cross messages to the guys in the field. And the casualty reports--who was going to a hospital ship, etc. Remember Arc Light, Barrel Roll, and Rolling Thunder? Remember the AMARS machine spitting out tape?

Remember how to hail a cab?

Remember the mess hall? ("Ti, Ti, mamasan" meant just a little of whatever they were serving, maybe Phu Lam steak/mystery meat.) How about the EM club juke box playing "Sunshine of Your Love"? Remember the "juicers" and the "heads"?

Remember the armadas of Huey choppers overhead?

Flares in the southern night sky? Guys calling home (the World) from the switchboards?

Remember all the stereos (tape decks and records) playing the Mamas and the Papas, the Beatles, the Four Seasons, the Cream, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix?

I called two of the main roads Eberle Lane and Herb Avenue after the CO and the XO. And the road into the compound was Blumenthal Boulevard after the bird colonel in charge of Regional Communications Group when I got in-country.

Sounds like you may have the definitive Phu Lam documentation collection. But do you have a Phu Lam blue security ID issued by the G2 section at the gate? I do. That was the tag I wore clipped to my fatigues when I worked in comcenter.

No, I don't have any contact with Phu Lam buddies. But I do remember their names and hope to find them someday, perhaps via the Internet. Ross Bannasch of Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin; Charles Montfort (he was in Oregon in 1970); Dave Larkin of Erie, Pa.; Donald Faga of NYC;
Dan Daley; Ron Breedlove; Andy Bloom of Chicago; Padilla.
Remember "Di di mao"
"VC fini you, GI"
"boo-coo" (beaucoup)
Phu Tho racetrack
"Steam and cream"
the smells

I once sat in a high-rent Tu Do Street bar and talked to a middle-aged Vietnamese woman who had been a bar girl when the French occupied the city... same-same.

I remember in the late summer or fall of 68 that GIs from Phu Lam installed the "red phone" in the Presidential Palace, Saigon. The Paris Peace talks were underway and the link must have connected Thieu to Kissinger-Kissinger to Thieu.

Maybe the phone was patched through Phu Lam switchboard operations! Did I tell you about the GI operator who was a black market connection?
Yeah, I remember the big PX (in Cholon or Saigon) and I remember the trafficking in cigarettes(I did smoke then).

The street urchin kids or even the cyclo drivers would say, "You buy Saaalem, OK?" Something I read later told me why Salems were so popular: Ho Chi Minh chain smoked them. I figure we were helping the VC and NVA soldiers be like Uncle Ho.

Anyway, the black marketer I knew at Phu Lam was a switchboard operator who was connecting an Air Force officer at Tan Son Nhut to his trading partners all over Asia. They were diverting cargo right from the AF transports to the black market.

On one occasion in the summer of 68 I saw the AF officer arrive at Phu Lam in a jeep loaded down with beer and frozen steaks. We had a big cookout and laced the barbecue sauce with Cambodian red. Delicious!
I'd like to find Charles Montfort, who was a good buddy at Phu Lam. He was an E5, but probably got busted. He was transferred to Phu Bai or some other godforsaken place. He was from Virginia, but after his Vietnam tour he settled in Oregon. We exchanged a letter in about 1970, after I'd done a tour in the 10th SFG and then at 7th Army HQ in Heidelberg.

A good history of the end of the war is The Fall of Saigon by David Butler. I still like Dawson's book the best.

Here are some more names from Phu Lam:

Zoltan Andahazy E5
Jerry Michaelson, went to Phu Bai
Larkin from Erie, Pa.
Haven from Indiana
I never fired a shot while I was at Phu Lam. There were several times when I took a loaded M14 to Saigon.The Tiger Lady (?) was shooting at GI's from a speeding moped. Killed some, according to the stories going around then.

I don't remember being frightened as I moved around among the Vietnamese. But guard duty at the Cholon hotels in the summer of 68 was scary--sitting duck, big target. The wire cage and sandbag wall didn't seem like enough cover.
Yes, Bill Seater, I didn't remember Reilly, but I remember his successor, Col Eberle, who raised morale considerably. There was also Major Herb. I dubbed the main streets of Phu Lam Blumenthal Blvd (after the 1st SIGBDE commander), Eberle Lane, and Herb Avenue. That was fun.

There was a crisis of sorts not long after I arrived (mid-May 68). In fact, Blumenthal came out to give the comcenter workers a pep talk. I think he may have threatened us too. Anyway, I recall that his visit had something to do with a slew of lost Red Cross messages. The EM in the comcenter were very unhappy and perhaps, just perhaps, someone decided to show the brass who was running things. At that time, it was 12 hrs/day, 7 days/wk. And all those chicken shit inspections and formations (Reilly's regime).

Well, I remember some boys I knew (Marlette and Wood) from N.C. sending letters to their senator (Jordan from N.C.) and to the IG. That's when Reilly got transferred to the Pentagon, where they could watch him and then promote him.

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2. STEVE KNAB 3/68 to 3/69

Hi Howard, Well being after me, you can thank me for helping to build the swimming pool..and building and re-building a lot of the bunkers. On arriving, I spent a couple of months in the old barracks, then we were moved down to a hotel in the Cho Lon area, while the new 2 story barracks were built. Then we moved back on base. I was in the barracks closest to the road out front, but don't remember what company.

I got to Phu Lam in Mar. 68 right after the Tet offensive and was there till Mar 69.
The guys who were with me at Phu Lam are:
Arlo G. Bodily
David Feller
Daniel F. Kehrer
Larry M. Thompson (can't find, but think he's in Ohio) RA16932575
Terry F. Gross (can't find, but think he's in Depew, NY Unlisted number) RA11638782
Nolan L. Koch
Terrence McGee

I have their home addresses and phone numbers if anybody needs them.
The other guys in the class were:
John K. Adams
George A. Barbo
David L. Bertrand
Michael J. Frankford
Robert L. MacMillan (can't find) RA16895658
David M. Misko
Thomas S. Olsen
William V. Raison
Linard M. Richardson
I have their home addresses and phone numbers also.
Home address and number:
14 Cresent Drive
Scotts Valley, CA 95066

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Got to Phu Lam three days before the '68 Tet. Worked at AUTODIN when I wasn't on KP guard duty or filling sand bags.
Phu Toe race track. Got hit with 25 ,500 lb bombs on or near the race track. When I got to go into the tunnels, you couldn't tell it was bombed at all. The rooms were 5 to 7 feet high and about 10 feet wide.

Was in your com center as a TRY repairman. Transferred AUTODIN about April.

You mentioned a WOOD in your post on Phu Lam. Could that be John Wood? A red head I think was a programer. I have been trying to get info on a Sgt.. John Wood fo 30 years.
Does anyone remember the night a guy.....thought he saw something out in one of the patties and decided to shoot a flare up with the flare gun and shot a grenade off instead That guy I have been looking for 30 years. He was Japanese American and lived in Hawaii. His last name Kawano or something like that. He made E6 in 1969 and worked at AUTODIN. If anyone would have the correct spelling, I'd sure like to find him.
I was never far from my camera. I even have 8mm movies some taking off and landing by chopper. I counted 27 reels of movie film so far. I have a trunk half full of 100 slot carousal plus slides still in boxes from Kodak. I know I have aerial shots, stills and movies.
All the pictures of the race track were taken after Tet '68. The square pictures were taken with a cheap Kodak. I bought the 35mm about 6 months later. I was riding on a 3/4 ton truck and the driver told me that was the spot where the two guys from Phu Lam bought it. I snapped the picture. I'm sorry, I don't know exactly what picture it was, but it was taken from the outside wall. All the info about the site is here say on my part.

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4. JOHN O'NEIL 1/68 to 1/69

I read a little of the stories on Phu Lam. The story from Bill Seater is about when the Autodin building was hit. I definitely remember that because I was in the building. I had KP that day because we had been cut off and had to pull our own duties. After KP went to see if I had any mail. When I pulled out the last letter I found myself on the ground. Luckily the hit was on a change of shift, and the building was basically empty in that everyone was outside either getting on the convoy into Cholon or getting off the trucks. Obviously Bill Seater was just off shift and leaving at the time. Also the shell hit the back of the building at I was in the front. I was billeted on the compound and didn't that the convoy. After I figured I was still in one piece I ran to the foxhole next to the incinerator where we burned the trash. Looked around and saw a ARVN get killed as he ran from his barracks and saw someone get shot from the building at the front gate. At that point I said to myself why am looking at this in that if they could be shot so could I, and I decided to sit down and read my letters. At that time someone jumped in with me(Specialist who ran the IBM 360) who had one or two beers in his hand said I should be returning fire, I was willing to give him my rifle, but we decided to have a drink and I read my letters. It was unofficially decided the recoilless shell that hit the building was friendly fire in that the VC didn't sneak around with mini artillery pieces, they used mortars.
John O'Neil has saved three calendar pictures with photos of Phu Lam. He writes, "I don't remember how I got the photos, but they look like a calendar that I assume was given out monthly, starting in Nov. 68. I left in Jan '69 so that was the last picture I have." Attached is a picture of the pool. The inscription is; "The Phu Lam swimming pool was constructed under the self help program. Personnel from all units stationed at Phu Lam contributed their time and effort under the auspices of the Phu Lam ADMSC Company. The project includes a brick wall and concrete patio surrounding the pool, and was officially open on 19 November 1968."

Attached is a copy of the Phu Lam Barracks.
The inscription says: "Construction of the new enlisted billets for the men of the USASTRATCOM Facility, Phu Lam began in February of 1968 and the buildings were occupied in early November. The four buildings cost an estimated 475,000 dollars and house approximately 700 men. The construction of these billets enabled all military personnel who work at the Phu Lam Facility to live here as well.

Attached is a picture of the Chapel.
The inscription on the picture is: "The Phu Lam Signal Battalion chapel has been constructed through MCA funds and donations made by members of the Battalion. The ground breaking ceremony was held in December 1967 and the chapel will be dedicated in November 1968."

Yes that's Spooner [in the picture]- he worked in Autodin in '68 on the IBM360 (?) over where I worked doing reports. Remember that when he and the person he worked with got promoted to Sp/4 they went and partied in Cholon and the Tet offensive began and they got caught in the middle of a fire fight. Capt. Cuce had to send an armed truck to get them out. Broke them back to PFC. for awhile but then gave them back the Sp/4 eventually.

I think it was Spooner who jumped into the bunker by the incinerator the day Autodin got hit. I was getting my mail during the shift change when the "friendly fire" hit and I ran to the bunker. Spooner had run from the club with beers and we sat there drinking them.

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5. ROBERT H. HURST 68-'69

I was in the Phu Lam Sig in 1968-89 was NCOIC of COMSEC with CWO Dahlgren as OIC I have a couple of picture but lost most of my things when my place burned in Korea.

Here is a couple of names I remember:
George Gross
Roy Tachias
John Toure
All of us were reassigned to USASTRATCOM Korea after Vietnam.
I live down town and even forget the hotel I lived in it was in Cho Lan. It was a block or so from the Prince.
I remember another Sgt names was Rice worked on building a swimming pool by the EM club for months and month don't know if it was ever finished.
Col Reilly he is the one that was in command when I was there his Ex was Maj Herd real winner. Busted a guy for losing a jeep and about two weeks later went to the Airport to the Officers Club and had one stolen but he had his locked so it was ok the guy that got busted said his was also, but Maj herd busted him anyway.

Someone was asking about a guy named Woods. One worked with me in COMSEC name was Wendel Woods also was a 1SG Woods that had his office in the motor pool didn't really know him except when I signed in and one night we met at one of the clubs and got drunk. The 1Sg that was there, I took his place when he went on 30 reenlistment leave was Jack Horner. Reallyhis name.
The Barracks was finished when I was the and they started moving people in. What a mess they put on. E 6 on each floor of couse they hated it living in rooms I was living down town and most of the NCO's were and had to move from the hotels to Phu Lam.
I was assigned to USASTRATCOM Fac Phu Lam from Jul 68 to Sep 69.
I was acting 1SG A co and NCOIC od Comsec
L. J Riley LTC SigC Commanding
Martin Kwiatkowsky CPT SigC Company Commander Company A
George Gross SFC Relay
Edward Rish SFC Relay
Roy Tachias SFC Relay
James Tarleton SFC Relay
John Toure SFC Relay
Harold Herrin SFC Relay
Richard Hanson 1LT SigC Adjutant Jack Horner ISG A co
Charles Smith Sp5 Relay
Thomas Tarlton SSG Relay
Richard Ford SP5 Relay
James Sokolnicki SP5 Relay
Joe Heard MSG
Alvin Finch MSG NCOIC Realy
Gerald Reber MSG
Charles Kissell 1SG B Co
Robert Daulgren CWO Commsec
Clyde Wood CSM Command Sargeant Major
Here are all of the names I have of men assigned when I was there unless some pops into mymind.

John Kessinger W01 Personnel
Gary Rickard SP4 Relay
James Clark SFC Relay
Alfred Moore Sp5 Relay
John Hudak SP5 Relay
Lester Caulder SP5 Autodin
Charles Smith SP5 Relay
Michael Keasler SGT. Autodin
David Cooksey SP5 Relay
James Willis 1SG Co B
Dock Autry SFC Autodin
Arthur Burck SSG Autodin

I remember the latrine in the relay building everyone wrote on the walls so someone came up with the idea to paint the walls black. When the paint dried someone wrote on the walls in white marker (BRING WHITE PENS)

One day six of us went to the club near Finance in Cholon and ordered a meal and drinks. The way it work was you payed first and they would bring the food and drinks and change. The waitress took our money and we sat and sat so went and seen the club manage he lined up all of the waitresses of course no one could pick her out don't even know if she was in the line up.

Every Sunday when I was acting 1Sg the CSM made us take a tour of the compound We would climb the towers and check the bunker and the sandbag wall. One day we looked into one bunker and the 50 Cal machine gun was missing searched everywhere all of the quarters the works never found..

Every morning a guy names Joyce went to the main gate a picked up around 50 women sand bag fillers.

We started to have alerts some times twice a day. One night watching the movie a couple of rounds were fired into the compound was funny at way the alerts just mixed the men up looked the key stone cops.
Hi, this is an answer to James Kish. I remember Rudy he was the night man while I was NCOIC of COMSEC. He was a 26 man but work all. You wanted to know what 72B was before it was 720=Dispatcher 721=messenger 722=crypto operator 724=Comm Center all were change to72B.

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6. BOB POZNAUSKIS Sep 68 to Aug 69

I was at Phu Lam from Sept 1968 thru Aug 1969......
When I came in country I was designated as a Facilities Controller I think the MOS was 32D.....anyways when I arrived in country I forgot my personnel folder (201 File) at home and with it my Top Secret Crypto Clearance....So I ended up working as the Company Clerk for about 4Months till my folder caught up to me.Then the CO did not want me to leave and I was not released to the Comm Center till after about 8 months in country.......I remember all was quiet till about my 9th month in Phu Lam and then the 101st inf brigade was pulled out around us (replaced by Crack ARVN Rangers)....The next week we started to get rocketed.....I also worked in the EM club as a bartender in the OFF Hours , trying to pass the time...... Two good friends I am trying to look up are Paul (Mike) Quinn, and a Jim Wilkerson. Paul worked in Vegas the last time I heard and Jim was out of California. Please keep in touch....Oh, I also ran into a Bob Gura from Cleveland (when I was stationed in Ft Monroe before Phu Lam) He was stationed there a year earlier......anyways please get back to me.
Bob Poznauskis
61 Cole Terrace
Randolph MA. 02368

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7. "JACK" HUGHES Jan 68 to Dec 68

I was there Jan 68 till Dec 68. I can only remember two others there who were OCS grads and I am not sure about one of them. One of my many extra duties was battalion historian, but I did not get home with a copy nor do I know where I can get one. I graduated with class 04-67. I was located by one my classmates James Caldwell a little over a year ago. I have not attended a reunion yet but plan to next year, maybe. The two OCS officers I Mentioned earlier were Lt. Mietz and Capt. Gaddis (not positive about Gaddis). I do not know their class numbers. About all I have of value for a battalion history would be some pictures and personal knowledge. I was certainly glad to see your article and will be glad to help you in any way possible. The Commanding Officer while I was there was LTC Woodson and latter LTC Eberle. The DCO were Maj Steele and Herd. My boss for six months was Operations Officer Maj. Stanley, a man I really enjoyed working with. Keep me informed. I will look forward to hearing from you.
Paschal (Jack) Hughes
PO Box 722
Murphy, North Carolina 28906

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8. DAVID PFAFF Mar '68 to Jan '70.

Thanks for all the info. Your remembrance story was great. The things you wrote about are just like I remember too, except for one thing... that short slim guy was not on LSD and he did not shoot at an imaginary enemy. It was about 2 or 3am and I was in the tower at the far back of the perimeter. I took a pop at a flock of ducks below in the water. I was bored, and I was getting them back for the scare they gave me back in May '68. In May there was a major offensive going on in Cholon which reached out to the village across from Phu Lam. We had our entire perimeter manned and I was in a bunker, again in the far back area facing in the Saigon direction. It was very late and I starting to fade asleep, suddenly the frogs stopped croaking and I snapped awake just as the grass in front of me came alive with something big moving. I fired a round almost point blank into a DUCK! I remember going back to the guard shack after I had taken that shot. There were a few new guys there talking about the shot they heard but I said nothing.

Some of the things I remember... watching Cholon take airstrikes... watching the Cholon battle from the top of the Mercury BEQ at night (it was empty and two of us were on guard duty)...laying on the ground at the front of Phu Lam with M60 links dropping on my head from a chopper shooting at the village across the street, I counted 21 choppers in the area that day...getting mortared twice and once with a rocket that landed between the EM club and my (new)barrack, it put holes in our mosquito nets... I was in the tower near the Autodin building when a mortar hit its roof... a phantom dropped or lost its fuel tank in the perimeter, some guys thought it was a bomb... firing the 50 caliber into the rice paddy... someone later fired the same gun into a convoy stopped on the road and it went through the drivers legs (I just heard about this, may be incorrect)...
I was also assigned to the Korean signal unit near the airport and we cycled people back and forth until one of our NCO's got his butt royally kickedlate one night Do you remember the guy that was shining the tower spotlight all over the compound? For some reason they brought him into the transmitter building and asked me to guard him at gun point. I said sure, but just sat him in a chair and talked to him. Did you know we had our very own APC 'till someone drove it over our antenna guide wires? Do you remember the antenna we put up on a tall mast and then it broke in half.

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9. DON BAUER 6/68 - 6/69

About May 1969, I was again called to perform CQ duties for Co A. Lt. Dale was the Company Commander at that time. Everything had been pretty quiet for many months and half of the men in the company barracks would be absent each night. A lot of guys like Danny Taylor from Alabama, who had steady girls in town never even slept in the barracks, or they were just staying out all night in Saigon or Cholon. At that time the battalion commander had issued strict bed check policies each and every night to keep the soldiers on post. Seeing the inevitable, I attempted to keep these guys on post by walking through the barracks telling each and everyone going out that night, "If they were not there for bed check I would enjoy writing them up, and on this night they must be back ". Needless to say that caused a warm reception for me. Hell, how many times can you be called a "Lifer" in one evening among many other more graphic expletives?

Well this "Lifer" really tried to play hard ball with these guys, reiterating my intent to write them up for Article 15's. I walked through the barracks and performed the midnight bed check. I think thirteen men were missing. I just went back to the CO A dayroom and read magazines. I got the inevitable phone call from the OD that night and he asked for a status. I replied "All present or accounted for sir". He said "You shure?", "Yes Sir!". The OD said, "I will be right over to check again with you!". Damn, you could have made me sit on a nail! The OD and me check the beds. He is screaming at me about where this or that person is. I tried a feeble attempt at lying by saying they were all here at midnight. A few more expletives were directed my way via the OD. So, I had to write all thirteen guys up.

The next morning all hell breaks loose with Article 15's flying everywhere. I was not a popular guy to say the least. I just told them all that I was not kidding about saying I would write them up. I am thankful though, to a great bunch of guys who could not hold a grudge. We all had a good laugh about that incident for many days to come, even the guys who were busted and had to sweep the streets.

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10. CHARLES M. STANLEY Summer 68 to summer 69

I was the S-3 of the Phu Lam Signal Bn from the summer of 68 to the summer of 69 under the command of LTC John Eberle (Col-Ret) and LTC Leonard Riley (BG- Ret-Deceased).

For an update on some of our Phu Lamers I have seen or heard from: LTC John Eberle (Retired Colonel) the commander from 1968 until 28 Feb 1969 lives in Georgia and is traveling now in Alaska. I will get word to him about your group and I am sure he will contact you.

LTC Leonard Riley (Retired BG) the commander from 28 Feb 1969 to about Aug 69 passed away in about 1985 of a brain tumor. He had a great careeras he was the STRATCOM commander in Alaska as a Colonel then commandedthe White House Communications Agency under Presidents Ford and Carter. President Ford promoted him to BG. He commanded the 7th Signal Command at Fort Ritchie, MD and later the Computer Systems Command at Fort Belvoir,VA. After he retired, he was the Communications/Computer boss for the New York Port Authority. He worked there until his untimely death.

Col John Hoover (MG Retired) is living in Georgia. Capt. Joe Gaddis (Colonel Retired) lives near Denver, Colorado. I will contact him also to let him know of your efforts.

I too had a great career. I had the opportunity to command the 40th Sig Bn at Fort Huachuca.>From there I joined General Riley at the White House Communications Agency and served with President Carter. From there I attended the Army War College then was the Operations Officer at the 7th Signal Command, Fort Ritchie, MD with General Riley. Then I commanded the 2d Signal Brigade in Germany, then back to Fort Huachuca where I was the Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations for the Information Systems Command, formerly (STRATCOM). I am fully retired now and play golf with Col (R) Yukio Otsuka about three days a week and always talk about Phu Lam.

I am an active ham radio operator (W5FWE) and can be found on 14.270 MHz every Sunday morning at 1400Z on an "Old Friends Net."

Charles M. Stanley
Col (Ret)

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11. LUDWELL SIBLEY July 1968 to July 1969

I was assigned to the AUTOSEVOCOM Signal Co. (later 532nd Signal Co.) from July 68 to July 69. In case things were different during your time, we were part of the Phu Lam Battalion but were quartered "off campus," first in the Regional Comm Group compound in Gia Dinh, then at Tan Son Nhut. We ran the AN/FTC-31 secure-voice switch and a detachment had the AN/TSC-54 satellite terminal at TSN.

I'm really shaky as to other vets, but Jim Lewis, 130 Wisteria Ct., Tyrone, GA 30290, is another 532nd member.

"Keep the Shooters Talking!"

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12. Barney Clancy 1/68-9/68

I was a civilian working for USASTRATCOM - Ft. Huachuca, AZ as part of a seven man test team for the AUTODIN/AUTOVON switches. Arrived in country, from the Thailand site, on the first day of Tet 1968. Was at PHU LAM and NHA TRANG until October 1969. I remember some of the people in your pictures - Fox, Ward, Kirkpatrick....

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13. DONALD BAUER 6/68 6/69

I was intimately involved in one incident that concerned the First Sergeant of Company A in early 1969, March or April. I had CQ duty that night and just at dusk I received a call from someone asking for the First Sergeant. No one was there but me, and I said that he wasn't here. The guy on the other line said; "I know he is here and I am going to blow the SOB up with a grenade!" I quickly said, "Hey asshole he is not here, I am the only one here now, so don't throw a damn grenade in here, it's only me in here". "He said I know he is there, and you better get your ass out or you will go with him.", and he hung up on me. Needless to say I was really concerned, as this guy was definitely not joking around. Knowing that I was not supposed to leave my post in the Co A orderly room, I carefully thought over the consequences. I think about twelve seconds elapsed before I locked the door behind me. I phoned the Officer of the Day and told him what happened. I don't remember what he said about it, but within a half hour an explosion was heard to the South. Someone thought we were under a mortar attack as the sirens went off. I learned later that the guy with the grenade had thrown the grenade in the swamp behind the new barracks. He had pulled the pin and lost it. Some of his buddies talked him out of throwing it at the First Sergeant, but there was no pin available. His hand was getting tired of holding the grenade and he had to get rid of it. Later I learned this guy was transferred to Phu Bai. I don't think he was ever disciplined for the incident except being sent to Phu Bai. I guess that was punishment.

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14. GARY BURLETTE 6/68-6/69

When I was leaving country in June 1969 I had a very similar photo which they would not let me take out of the country. In the processing center one of the items they said was not allowed was any aerial photographs of military bases. The outdoor seating stage must have been built after June 1969 because we watched the movies over by the barber shop. I believe the building you have marked #29 (warehouse of arms and c?rations) is the building where I worked in 68?69. At that time it was Tech Supply.

I remember a few good cook outs over by the swimming pool. In Tech Supply we always seemed to have a supply of steaks & sometimes lobster in our freezer.

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15. KARL "ERNIE" AICHELE 1/68-11/68

Duty assignment: Primary Tech Control w/SFC Jimmy Haraguchi/SSG Brian Tanaka, SP4 Larry Newland, Jan-Mar 68 and AUTODIN Patch and Test Facility Mar-Nov 68 w/SFC Jerome Tenabe, Maj Fox, SFC Barton. Bunked in the back half of the Firemen's barracks. AUTODIN: We used to slip a pair of socks over our boot to keep the floors clean. Later, they got us all our own pair of "sneakers" to change into before going in. We all had little pidgeon holes to secure our boots/sneakers in (chuckle).

Maybe some guys will remember the tragic incident after Tet. We had one of those stupid practice alerts and a big goofy guy from the NARC ("non-automatic relay center" which you refer to as the data message center) accidentally shot off his .50 cal and killed two infantry guys driving a duece and a half down the road out front. Our LTC wouldn't let them on base to get medical treatment when one was still living. Less than a week after that, the ASC took two hits in the generator room by American made rockets. They blew up one gen and knocked another off it's concrete foundation. The holes in the roof and point of impact calculated the origin to be the infantry base down the road. Oh ya, the same goofball got clap-off-the-mouth during Tet, supposedly from one of the old mamasans at the mess hall who was trapped on base with us (chuckle).

Yes, I also remember the mortar attacks and how it took the evac helo 45 minutes to arrive and rescue the PA@E civilian who's legs had almost been blown off as he stepped out of his trailer.

I also remember the mortar that hit the club right in from of the bar and got stuck in the ceiling on it's way out because it was a dud. We were all pissed off because it was during Tet, we couldn't go to Cholon and couldn't use the club until EOD removed the dud for a week. You know, they never once hit the above ground pool which all us low rankers had to instal near the club?

It sure was a pain having to wear all the combat crap with weapon, after Tet, to go down town. When you consider that we immediately grounded it in the nearest corner of the Cholon bar rooms, it was all just for show while commuting. Civies kept our rank pretty well concealed so the money hungry bar chicks had to belive that the private was really a captain (chuckle).

We worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, filling sand bags for 3 hours after shift and still found time to get wasted in Cholon and Saigon. Sometimes, the shift on duty had to literally drag us out of bed and into the showers so they can get relieved. Hell, we didn't sober up until the sandbagging the next morning. Looking back on it now, the heavy drinking and whoring wasn't as bad as the drug scene some of my "former friends" got into over at the Primary TCG.

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16. JON R. JECH 3/68-2/69

I was at Phu Lam from about March 4, 1968 to February 27, 1969. My first weeks were at ADK Tech Control. I was transferred to Autodin the day before it went live. I worked for SFC Tanabe, SSG Macabeo, SSG Arthur Burch (sp?), SSG John Johnson, SSG Joe Pounds. I worked with Karl Aichele, Rich Mayer. Art Bocutti was the steady CQ I remember when Macabeo & a few others got the flu & we laughed at them, until we all had it, and nobody got any time off. We just worked through it. 12hrs a day for 2 weeks until we all recovered. Later, the news magazines were filled with stories about the "Hong Kong Flu" when it hit stateside.

SSG Macabeo had just served a tour in the Pentagon Tech Control, where he caused an international incident, by contriving to do what was deliberately made impossible. He patched a "fox test" over the "Hot Line". Of course it ended with their call letters "DE WAR" State Department had to make a formal apology.

I got there during the tail end of "Tet", Richard Lacy ( who worked at IWCS) had already been killed on a run to Tan Sahn Nhut. His name is on the Wall. I knew him back at Ft. Monmouth, and was bunkmate to his buddy Findley. Who I met flying back to the states. I've never bumped into anyone I knew at Phu Lam. I did meet a Cambodian, who said he was ARVN, and was stationed at Phu Lam after the US pulled.

This poem was originally published in The Arts, December 1985/Volume 9/Number 2 I hope it strike a chord with phulamers.

Phu Lam By Night

The sky is a field of helicopter lights
moving into the Delta.

The night's movie is projected against the wall of a warehouse.
a lizard crawls across Robert Redford's cheek.

The soldier in Guard Tower number Five reads "The Incredible Hulk"
by the light of perimeter flares.

The darkness of the horizon is broken
by the lights of a seven story pagoda.

In the Photo Lab, a soldier develops a picture
of children making obscene gestures.

A television commercial speaks to an empty Day Room,
reminding everyone to keep their M-16's very dry
to prevent jamming.

Black soldiers sit near the jukebox in the Enlisted Men's Club.
As their conversation grows louder,
White soldiers lean forward and murmur their resentment.

The seventeen year old waitress with the exquisite face
has varicose veins and is pregnant again.

A mama-san with broom and dustpan
squats in front of a sink and listens
as two soldiers face the urinal and curse the Army.

The movie is over, pots and pans clatter in the Mess Hall.

By the helicopter pad, a soldier smokes
a heroin laced cigarette.
Tomorrow he will be told his year is up.
He thinks he has been here a month.

The last bus leaves with mama-sans and waitresses.
The lights are turned off in the Enlisted Men's Club.

Soldiers on the night shift saunter across the gravel
from the midnight meal to the Communications Center.

The pagoda lights still shine.
A member of the guard detail launches a flare from the mortar.
The resounding thump is a motherly heartbeat to the men in their bunks.

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17. RAYMOND PATCHEN 2/68-4/69

I lived most of the time in a hotel in Cholon as I was out stationed most of my time there but when I was there I started the Phu Lam Library with a friend of mine Harol Lentzner.

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18. FLOYD R. NEGLEY 2/68-4/69

My first six months I was maintenance officer at Regional Comm Group but spent a lot of time at Phu Lam Then right after TET I was assigned as the first Autodin System Maintenance officer. At that time Lt Col Helena replaced Lt Col Brown as commander of Phu Lam but he wasn't there too long if I remember correctly. Capt Barry Fox was the OIC of the Autodin section. I cant remember his name but at Tet Time a WO nicknamed the Phu Lam Fox was the motor officer. I was CW3.

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19. HAROLD HORNER 9/68-10/69

I was there from mid Sept 68 to mid Oct 69 I retired upon arriving at Oakland Army Base 31 Oct.

A couple of stories: SP Roy Roberts had just gotten to bed after the midnight shift and the sirens sounded. He came running out of the hooch and mamasan was shining shoes on the step. He tripped over her and broke his arm. har har.

Then there was the time when SGM DiCataldo bought this jug of wine and invited ISC Kissell and I over for a glass. The phone rang and he had to go to HQ. He came back about three hours later. Kissell and I were blitzed and the jug was empty, all the SGM got for his twenty bucks was a half glass of wine.

Does any one remember the time when one of 1Sg Kissells troops decided to shoot him? The way I remember it is. One of his young troops got a little high, got hold of a 45 and went to the Orderly Room waving the 45 around fired a shot in the direction of Kissell and missed him but hit the waste basket. The 1Sg stood up took the weapon away from him and said you dumb shit you can't do anything right. I do not remember the final out come of this. Maybe some one can fill that in.

We did drink a lot of 5 Cent a can Black Label Beer. Then there was the time when Maj Herb got his jeep stolen. One of the NCO's got hold of a toy jeep, and put a large pad lock on the steering wheel. It was evening and the Maj was still in his office. We took the toy and placed it in front of HQ. With the light shining on it. Some one went inside and told him his jeep had been recovered and it was parked outside. He came running out to see his jeep and a bunch of us were standing around the jeep, and cheered. Needless to say he didn't think it was funny.

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20. MICHAEL ZITTERICH 12/68-1/70

I started out on 32c20 and ended up as an SP on the nightly water run. I lost part of my hearing from the rockets that fell in 69. Remember that White Cows are sacred. Only those in the know will get that. The front bunkers weren't all that great with the clackers and all. I did fall asleep once on guard and got caught. Anyone remember that?? The officer of the day put my rifle in the rafters and then woke me up. I was too young to be there. What a place to grow up in. Remember all the good times and try to pass the bad.

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21. MIKE SCHERFEN 9/68-6/69

I was a duty officer in the Autodin station. I lived off site in Saigon at a hotel just south of the train station. In '68 I was ordered to rebuild the EM club's swimming pool. Could not have done it without the help of the ems' The Pacific Architects and Engineers, about 100 Vietnamese, a Major, whose name escapes me, our supply sergeant, and lots of helpful trading by the personnel at JOS.

Before this, the original pool burst open at the seams one day and 90K of water flood the transmission building, knocking out the site for a number of days.....occurred sometime before I arrive at Phu Lam, around Sept. of '68. Guess whoever tried to build it didn't have the right know-how or personnel to do the job. Simply put, the pool was not level and the weight of 90K of water shifted off center to one corner. Unfortunately that corner was opposite the transmission site. Must have scarred the hell out of those guys inside.

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22. ROGER WILGUS 6/65-6/66 & 2/68-6/68

I was at Phu Lam two times: first, from June 1965 to June 1966 as a staff sergeant in charge of the night shift of fixed site repair & maintenance, and the second time from February through June, 1968 as a civilian tech controller, working for Page.

For the most part, our biggest problem was getting to Phu Lam and back from Saigon (the first time) and Cholon (as a civilian). Of course we got mortar attacks from time to time, but compared to most people over there we had it made. I do remember one particularly scary situation on Easter morning, 1968. Four of us civilians in a small car were returning to Cholon from work during a period when part of that city was occupied by the VC. Bill, our driver, apparently took a wrong turn and before we knew it we were in the part of town where fighting was occurring, and there were absolutely NO Vietnamese on the street. We came upon a roadblock, and for a moment we thought it was an enemy roadblock. Fortunately, it wasn't. All we had to protect ourselves was a .22 pistol I was carrying. This wasn't long after four journalists, including Errol Flynn's son, had been ambushed and killed. A couple of us spoke fluent Vietnamese, and were able to understand directions which got us back into an area we knew.

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We were at Long Bihn together. Peck was the brains of our commo center. The LT. Bradley was a LT. Bradley J. Bendura. He was in the far bunker(me in the tower with Schultz) on the first night of TET in 68. We got hit hard and the little guy was kind of freaked out. I would have been too. Third Ord. to the real beating that night. Bad guys blew up several pads of 155 and 105 shells. We had live ammo all over our compound in the A.M.. What sticks in my mind the most is Schultz and I watch this pad of 155's go up and you can see the shock wave coming across the ground, just like in the movies.

It knocks us down and when we get up, right where my head was, there is this piece of shrapnel still smoking, stuck in the post. It was as big as my fist. The whole guard tower is riddled with this stuff. Scared the hell out of me and Schultz. Good times and bad times.

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24. STEPHEN VELEZ 12/68-6/70

I was in training with Philco-Ford for 6 months working on the AUTODIN Fixed plant Tech control as a Fixed Plant carrier repair.

I read another Phulamer's message that asked about a guy running around with a 45 looking to put one of the TOP's away and asking if anyone remembered this and what happened: Don was in the Autodin C Company and was put under house arrest. We had the last set of bunks in the new barracks second floor with Zinko and Lancaster. He had a MP watching him 24/7. As I remember, he got a Dear John Letter from his Wife and Top wouldn't let him call or go home and he went off the deep end. He was a Golden Glove Champ from New York and had a hot temper. The end of the story was he got up from his bed to go to the John, The MP just sat there, when Don came out he went at full run out the back door and did a swan dive from the second floor, missed the fence and landed on his back. the last report I had was he lived but was never expected to walk again.

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25. ROGER BYRD 10/68-10/69

Yes, you could find me in the EM club most anytime!, the most favorite hang out for a lot of us, although I gave up the drinking years ago, only because it became a problem-And Yes myself and the other 36D guys fixed that big antenna twice, once when a mortar fragment hit it, then again when two of the guys were on the top of it, it broke on one side and the black guy, John Henry??, was hanging on upside down, took myself, John Carter and John M. Haak and several others to help him down!!He was LUCKY, one minute after everyone was of and out of the way, the big side fell to the ground-It was John Haak and myself that went out in the swamp every day, checking out the perimeter, changing bulbs, and climbing the towers regularly- s

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26. CESAR GARCIA 4/68-5/69

Phu Lam, was in a way, a home away from home, the guys, all of us I thought were special. I believed we were the real heroes of the war, no doubt we saved many a life. In Tape Relay, where we worked our buts off, I generally took on the task of the Flash message clerk. I remember how I sprinted throughout the floor of the tape relay floor to get those messages out (soon was ready to run the NY marathon).

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27. DAVID AGARD 10/68-10/69

David Agard, Receiver Detachment 10/68 - 10/69 ( NB: There are actually some photos that go with the following Agard's stories.)

The Night of the Cobra
(And Other Creepy Critters)
by PhuLamer David Agard

No other animal strikes fear into men more than a snake. The fear was intensified in basic training. Rumor had it there were "step and a half snakes" in Viet Nam. (If you get bit, you are dead before you second step). We were also told 'Consider all snakes in Viet Nam as poisonous'. Of course, we were also told of other creepy critters and there were plenty of them.

During my tour at the receiver site detachment from Oct.'68 till Oct.'69, we encountered many snakes. In most cases, these creatures meant us no harm. Our fear of them however turned us into the most dangerous animal of all. First, we encountered a Russel's Viper. Rather than let it slither away we cornered it and killed him. He took a couple lunges at us before we subdued him with some boards. After putting a knife through his brain and certain that he was dead, we inspected his deadly fangs and poison sacks. Tom Blanch and I killed a beautifully banded black and white Krait (Photo at Left). Although extremely poisonous, they are not aggressive and have a small mouth and short fangs. Ironically, as this story goes, they feed on young cobras and other snakes. Fear of snakes almost caused the undoing of SP4 Bromley. While on guard duty at the front gate of the receiver site a very small Bamboo Viper crawled in to the concrete walled guardhouse. In panic and fear, Bromley fired several shots at it with his M-14.Lucky he didn't get hit with ricocheting bullets. He didn't hit the snake either.

One day while visiting Phu Lam my fellow antenna man and good friend Roger Byrd (Roger Byrd carrying ladder and Dave Agard on left) talked me into doing the perimeter light check with him. I had the scare of my life. While waist deep in yucky water, I heard a loud splash and saw part of a large tail disappear. I yelled to Roger. "What the hell was that?" He said. "Ah it's probably that big python we've seen swimming around in here" When we got the concrete poles holding the lights, I quickly volunteered to go up the pole!

We encountered other creepy critters . One day while picking up some cross braces for a tower we were building, I uncovered a scorpion. He got with in two inches of my hand before I realized it. Jimmy Hamilton squashed him. We didn't smash or hack all the creatures we encountered. One day a nine inch centipede (picture at right) was found crawling around outside our club. He got a bit grumpy and aggressive when cornered so somebody froze him with a blast from the CO2 fire extinguisher. We tied a string around him before he came back to life. We played with him for quite awhile till we found out they have a bite as bad as a scorpion. I don't remember what came of him.

I do, however, remember one night that five of us didn't sleep. Earlier that day, we were playing cards in the club when one of the Koreans came in shouting. When we went outside to see what was going on, we saw a large black snake slowly winding his way through the middle of our compound. Of course, we all gathered around - at a fairly safe distance. The snake, feeling threatened, stopped and folded up. Then he raised his head about sixteen inches off the ground and displayed it's hood. It was a cobra - a very big grumpy cobra! A guy named Shockey (he was the guy who coordinated the building of the club) pulled out a .45 caliber pistol and nearly emptied a clip at it only hitting it twice. After it was disabled, we were able to kill it with a blow to the head.

We all took turns holding our trophy. It was over six ft. long and about three inches in diameter at his mid section. While we were handling the snake the Papasan who worked in the kitchen came over. He said. "GI no touch!! You have smell of the snake. The mate will come for you in the night!"

Whoaaaa! We dropped it immediately. We got a shovel and threw the carcass in the back of a 3/4 ton and drove it to the end of the compound road and got rid of it. When we got back we washed our hands at least fifty times. Then we decided to wash with diesel fuel.

None of us sleep much that night. It was my first attempt at sleeping with one eye open. Luckily the snake never came. After that, I left the creatures alone - except for the deer but that's another story.

David Agard, Receiver Detachment

The Deer Hunters
There were two guard towers at the receiver site. Each tower was manned during darkness. For the most part guard duty was boring. We would periodically shoot off flares to keep from falling asleep. One night the silence and boredom was broken. Four trip flares were set off in succession. That woke me up! My heart pounding, I peered over the edge of the sand bag walls of the tower. I didn't see anything. I shot off a couple hand flares for more light. Much to my relief and surprise, I saw a couple small deer frozen by all the light.

The next day we had to go out and rig up new trip flares. The next three nights the deer set off the flares again. Each day we would have to go out and rig up new ones. The deer seemed to be land locked in a brushy area about 200yds away. We got tired of setting trip flares so we decided to go for a hunt.

I checked out a 12 Ga. shotgun a month before. We were clearing an area to build a Rhombic Antenna, which consisted of four towers, and we thought it was a good idea to have a shotgun in case we ran into a snake. Jimmy Hamilton, Roger Byrd, Tom Blanch, and I took off for the hunt. Tom drove a 3/4-ton truck around the backside of the brush. Sure enough out they came. The smaller of the deer ran broad side in front of me. From about 15 yards I knocked the deer down with a blast of double ought buck shot to the front quarter. Somebody finished him off with an M-16 round to the head. It was my first and only deer and who would have thought I would have bagged it in Viet Nam!

We threw the deer in the back of the truck and headed back with our trophy. The cook offered to cook it up for everyone if we cleaned it. He called over to Long Bien to see if it was alright to eat. They said if there were no worms in it - go ahead. Jimmy Hamilton was raised on a farm in Texas and knew how to dress an animal. We hung it up under the rear guard tower where he cleaned it. The next day we had venison. It was tough and gamy but we all pretended like it tasted great - at least I did.

A couple days later Roger Byrd shot the other deer. ( After thirty years, Roger still reminds me about how much bigger his deer was.) Now we could go back to some peace and quiet on guard duty.

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28. JOHN HART 4/68-3/69

I was a Trick Chief, Sergeant E-5, at the Long Lines Detachment (Microwave and Troposcater radio site) from about late April, 1968 through March, 1969. I lived in the Cholon section of Saigon for the first six months and then moved on to the Phu Lam compound and into one of the new concrete barracks along the North Western side of the compound, not too far from the Infirmary (in 1968). Most of my time was spent on the night shift from 6pm to 6am.

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29. JULIUS JEGGETTS 2/68-2/69

I came in during Tet. I was a cook E-5. Only one I can think of is Sgt Moore. We used to play cards in the PX. I remember one night, we were playing cards and the siren went off and we were running to the bunkers. Some of the guys ran into each other and buildings and got a purple heart for that. Also one night while we were on alert, one of the guards up in the tower started shooting. We weren't suppose to fire our weapons until we were ordered to. He was to be court martialed but the next morning a patrol found many dead V.C. and they were setting up to bomb us. I don't know what happened to the guy who fired, but he saved a lot of lives.

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30. ROGER WYER 68-69

I was a Sp. 5 when I left Phu Lam in 1969. I worked at the AUTODIN center and also the relay station but most importantly, I served as the president of the Hoi Duc Anh Orphanage Committee in the latter part of 1968 and into 1969 before I returned to the US. Of lesser importance, I helped build the pool where I was later a life guard, worked at the EM club and developed numerous photo's at the photo lab.

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31. CHARLIE JEFFRIES 8/68-12/69

Receiver Site: If I can remember correctly, I worked the night shift from 6pm until 6am. There were 2 GI's per shift along with the Australians and Koreans. The Koreans mostly slept, logging their systems out to prop even though their equipment was the same and they used our antennas. I really enjoyed working with the Aussies. All together there were about 20 GI's, 8 Aussies, 5 Koreans. We only had one officer, usually a 1st or 2nd lt. We had a lifer master sgt. who was getting short. Can't remember their names. I was a 32B20, but when a piece of equipment broke, we had a TV repairman from Saigon fix it. I used to get a ride with him to Saigon sometimes. I remember he drove a very small pickup where your knees would be next to your chin. Life at the receiver det was pretty laid back. we had mamasons to do our laundry, make our beds, cook our meal, do our kp, fill our sandbags. We did have to take our turn on guard duty and replace trip flares on the perimeter. We played alot of cards, drank alot of beer, and mostly waited for our tour to be up. I did get to go to Long Bein one night and see Tex Ritter. I even got to shake his hand after the show. I do remember the donut dollies. I was a very shy 21 year old and really enjoyed the small amount of time they spent with us. Everyone was so polite around them. The engineers from across the road were always showing up with x-rated movies to watch in our club because we had a projector. I only got to see a couple since I usually worked. Pretty bad!

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