The rockets came a screaming, While the 604th was dreaming, Of their folks, friends, and their very best girl, And of a place called home, around the world, That terrible noise of the first fired round, And then the second, with that whistling sound. Some people laying on the barracks floor, Others were scrambling for the nearest door. The bunker meant safety from the flying debris, Everyone afraid, especially me. I laid face down on the muddy ground, Listening to the scream of another round. All of a sudden, the rockets were gone. In the still, damp night, I felt all alone. I thanked the Lord that the nightmare had past. Now there is silence, how long will it last?
By Don R. Chrisman, one of the three survivors of the Huey crash that killed W01 Gerald Cahela, SP5 Jack Sizemore, Sr. and PFC Michael White on September 23, 1968.
In 1970, January, to be exact, I discovered a world that I wasn't familiar with. I wondered what all those chicken coops were for. I found out real quick ... my new home! The big bulls eye was a site to see coming in from the east on a slick from Nha Trang. It was as if those people, their land, their cultures was 12th century. Cardboard and tin can shacks, women wearing shorts and no tops, black pajamas.... it wasn't real to me 'til the bullets, mortars and 122`s started falling ... that was after two days in Holloway. The rest is history … does anyone remember who the civilian from AVDEL electronics that got his head cut off at the lake between Holloway and the Air Force Base? Someone out there remembers ....
James D Wood (Caretaker 13) - 52nd BN Avionics (firstname.lastname@example.org)
By Betsy Ramsay (August 8, 2000)
I've been thinking for too long a while how I have needed to express my thanks to those who served for me and my family. I may only be 39 and may not truly understand all that vets have done for me, but I know my Dad proudly served in the Navy in Korea, and have respected him for his courage to do so.
I know that my cousin died in Vietnam, and my Uncle was a Green Beret. Aspects of war have affected me in many ways. I remember my Mom waking my from bed to let me know that the Peace Treaty had just been signed. She said 'the war is finally over' - how little we knew about the war and the hell that came home with our vets. I remember going to the memorial in Washington DC and being totally overwhelmed by its enormity. I feel so sad when thinking about the Vietnam war and I'm not really very good at putting those feelings into words, but I felt it was important that you knew that there are people out here who will never forget what you have done for us.
Welcome To The Nam, Cherry
When I got my orders for the 604th, I asked the Battalion Sergeant Major in Nha Trang where Pleiku was. He smiled at me …"Rocket alley, young troop, rocket alley."
I thought he might be screwing with me, but I couldn't tell. The first time I came in-country, in January, '69, we had to circle Ton Son Nhut for quite a while because of incoming rounds (in fact, fuel got so low that they almost sent us to Cam Rhan). It was night and you could see the explosions even from 10,000 feet.
My first week at the 604th, in mid-January, 1969, my platoon sergeant put me on day-guard. I was pretty nervous. I didn't know what to expect or what to do or how to do anything if I needed to. The Sergeant of the Guard said don't sweat it, we never get hit during the day.
A couple of hours later, I was feeling pretty good. I was starting to think that maybe they were right. I was even getting a little cocky, swinging the M-60 back and forth across my field of fire. "C'mon … try me."
Out of the corner of my eye, at the end of the runway, pretty far away, I saw a big blast of dirt thrown up in the air. Then I heard the sound of a muffled explosion. "Man … what was that?"
Instantly, it registered. Then I heard a whistling sound over toward the big hanger and all of a sudden I knew exactly what it was. I jerked down behind the sandbag tower wall and a second later …
KA-WUMP! … and the tower shook … and I could hear stuff hitting the sandbags and the roof … and dirt and debris started falling on the roof and into the tower and all over me … HOLY SHIT! WE'RE GETTING HIT!
I didn't know what to do. Another whistling sound. Then a muffled explosion. Shit! … what do I do?
I knelt up against the sand bags and peeked over them, even though every cell in my body was screaming, "NO!" - because I just knew that some VC was out there in the grass with the tower in his sights.
But, of course, there was no sniper and I didn't see anything, except the wire … and grass … and scrub … the ARVN bunker … and the distant mountains. And then a BIG HOLE in the ground about 10 yards from the tower.
The field phone rang. The Sergeant of the Guard wanted to know if I could see any flashes from rocket launchers or mortar tubes. I told him, no, I didn't see anything. He said to keep scanning but that I probably wouldn't pick anything up in daylight. I told him I'd keep looking ... “but why the heck did you tell me we never got hit during the day? “
"Cuz we don't," he said.
That was my first time … mid-January, 1969. And it was pretty active for a while. We spent a lot of time in the bunkers on into February. It's funny, though, how things change to you over time.
Later on, sometimes we'd get hit and I was so damn bone-dead tired that I'd just lay there for a few seconds cussing Charlie before grabbing my gear and running for the bunkers. I'd be so pissed at those little bastards for stealing my sleep. Sometimes, they would throw in a few rounds and chase us into the bunkers for a couple of hours; then we would get the all-clear and start heading back to the hooches; and then BLAM, they'd do it again.
And we had important jobs, guys … very important jobs. Don't ever think different. I've talked to a lot of men over the past 30-plus years who spent boo-koo time in the field … and a couple of nurses who saved many of those medivaced in. The helicopters we kept in the air saved thousands of lives … thousands of men who made it home, who have lives full of love and kids and grand kids and happiness and satisfaction and even some greatness in business or politics or whatever … all because of our work, the work we did. Thousands. Be proud.
Anyway … that's the story of me losing my cherry. Harald Hendrichsen, SP/5, 69-70
52 CAB was a US Army unit Primary service involved, US Army Operation MACARTHUR Pleiku Province, II Corps, South Vietnam Location, Camp Holloway
Description: The 52d CAB After Action Report states that Camp Holloway was attacked by four mortar tubes and elements of the 408th NVA Sapper Bn at 0230. The attack lasted about 50 minutes, the sappers concentrated on the 88th S&S Bn area, the mortars concentrated along the aircraft revetments adjacent to the runway and the 604th TC CO area. At least a 20 man sapper team breached the perimeter in the 88th S&S area by tying off trip flares and cutting the barrier wire. They placed 30 to 50 satchel charges adjacent to numerous supply and storage facilities and departed. While departing a trip flare was ignited or a flare fired at 0247 and fire was placed on the fleeing enemy, killing one and wounding another. Between 0247 and 0305 the Camp received 110 to 120 rounds of 82mm mortar fire. The heaviest concentrations fell into the 604th TC CO area, the miniport refueling area, and the aircraft parking areas adjancent to and paralleling both sides of the runway. Immediately, countermortar radar confirmed the location and return mortars, artillery and gunships were brought to bear and the enemy fire ceased. At 0310 a tremendous explosion occurred in the 88th S&S area. Ammo Pad #8 exploded causing blast damage throughout the complex. At 0320, the alert ceased and the Camp returned to 50% status. Information source: 52 CAB After Action Report, 31 Jan 68
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