I left Ellsworth, Air Force Base, Strategic Air Command, in January of 1964. I then went home on leave to New Jersey, wearing winter blues. I had a wonderful leave with the family. Then, all to soon, I was enroute to Vietnam, toward the begining of Feb 1964.
We flew over on a Pan-Am flight. We had made stops in Holalulu, Hawaii then onto Guam. I got off the plane in Guam and you could cut the humidity with a knife. I was sopping wet in two minutes. The next stop was Clark, Air Base, Phillipines. I spent five days there processing and getting qualified with the new assault rifle called the AR-15. At the time we were still using the M-2 carbines in the states. While at Clark, I was at the transit barracks. It was like those World War II buildings with a shower house and a head in the middle of the compound. It was close to the base swimming pool and Airman's Club. It was there that I discovered the Green Death (Heinekin beer), along with San Miguel beer.
We had gone to the pool on Sunday, lots of dependant females, the last round-eyes that we would see for awhile. I then came back to the transit barracks and hung up my bathing suit and jock on my bed post to dry them out. Sometime later, one of the house boys stole my jock, he must have thought it was a sling shot or something.
On Monday, I left on a C-130, next stop would be Bien Hoa, Air Base. They dropped the aircraft tail ramp onto a metal taxiway. I was sure that John Wayne would be appearing any minute. This unusual looking fellow came up to us and said, "Welcome to Vietnam boys." I assumed he was a Captain, due to the fact he had Captain's bars on his cowboy hat. No Shirt! Two shoulder holsters, with pearl handled .45's and a Bowie knife. The men who were staying there got off the aircraft with their gear. The rest of us proceeded on to Tan Son Nhut, Air Base, Saigon, Republic of Vietnam.
When I arrived at Tan Son Nhut at Base Operations, the clerk there, saw that I was an Air Policeman by the CD Force name tag and called Air Police Headquarters and had the Strike Team pick me up. So, I was lucky I did not have to go to Tent City for in-processing. When we got to AP HQ, I saw A2C Gosset. Gosset, had been stationed at Ellsworth, in Base Police. Gosset found me an empty bunk, loaned me $1.00 to join the Airman's Club. Clark, AB, had tapped me clean and now I had $30.00 credit at the Airman's Club bar.
At this time, Feb 64, the other Air Policemen told me they were wearing AP arm bands, not too long ago. When they issued my Air Police badge, I can not remember if it said Security or Security Police, but it was brand new. I know that I wasn't happy, because it did not say Air Police.
It was a small squadron at the time, about 23 people in all. Maj Hines was the Commander for Base Security and Law Enforcement. We had a Master Sergeant as the First Sergeant. I can not remember his name. Thirty-six years has a way of dulling the memory. Then there was also a TSgt Berwind and a clerk named Morgan. That was the total Administration.
We had three flights and rotated shifts. Three days of dayshift duty, 24 hours off, three days of swingshift duty, 24 hours off, three days of midnight duty and 24 hours off. That is how it went for 11 months and 22 days. We had 7 men on each flight and an A1C (E-4) was Top Dog for the shift.
The Air Police posts we had at that time were:
1. 2nd Air Division HQ.
2. Lucky Dragon HQ (Puff the Magic Dragon's)
3. Base Operations
4. Recon Aircraft area
5. A couple of C-47's named Puff. Only we did not know what their purpose were, they just kept loading ammunition and flying nights.
In July of 64, we started to obtain more and more TDY troops. First from Japan, then from Okinowa. We then had additional Air Police posts to man. Like the radar trailer and radio station.
The US Army had a large ammo dump that they secured. I saw a few Coupe deTat's while I was assigned there. I was working a shift in Base Operations and this ARVN Airborne General, along with a couple of Vietnamese Officers walked in. At the time this was a shared post with a Qhan Kahn (QC, which is a Vietnamese, Military Policeman). The QC turned three shades of green. I knew something was wrong. I called my superiors, they told me to walk back to AP HQ's slowly. I walked out of the door and was greeted with approximately fifty Vietnamese soldiers on each end of the street and about fifty Vietnamese Airborne troops. I smiled and waived to them all and they inturn waived back, that is how I got out of Dodge City.
I then made A1C (E-4), they kept changing the rank, in June of 1964. I pulled Desk Sergeant duties for a period of time. When we got additional troops, I wanted to get out there where the action was. So I became a Strike Team leader.
After TET in 1965 we started a Customs Section and I got in on that. I guess I could go on for days but will give this short version. I have alot of experience there, both good and bad. The best time was DEROS, coming home!!! When I got home, the entire country was sort of Nuts. Draft Dodging, Protestors and etc.. It took me a long time to get over it all, actually it took a trip to the Vietnam Wall in 1992, to sort of get my head straight.
Author: Dave Forman