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Thread: An Khe , Vietnam ...

  1. #1
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    An Khe , Vietnam ...

    In a current thread elsewhere on the CB about RMK-BRJ , I mention my tour as Post Engineer , Camp Radcliff , An Khe , Vietnam . Well , just for fun I just went on Google and put in "An Khe" ... and AMAZING all the stuff about it there. An Khe was originally a 1st Cav. base and the dudes lived in tents, but by the time they turned the base over to the 4th Infantry Div., and I arrived , RMK-BRJ had constructed barracks, mess halls , latrines , hangars etc. and, compared to tents, the "living was easy" . Camp Radcliff covered 5 square miles - a damn BIG military base , and the official Pentagon idea was it was to be a permanent US Army base in Vietnam .

    Now , one might think a grateful Vietnamese Government/whatever would provide the necessary land for Camp Radcliff free of charge. But , no , all the land was privately owned and part of my job as Post Engineer was to see that Uncle Sam paid the rent ... yearly leases with checks sent to Vietnamese living in France. Also, all the numerous "Firebases" outside the camp were on leased land. I had a "Real Estate Specialist" troop who kept track of our real estate situations and obligations. This practice of us renting our battlefield from the host country has gone on for all the past wars I'm familiar with, and y'all can bet your boots Uncle Sam is sending regular rental checks to some Iraqi living on the Riveria for the ground under the "Green Zone" and all the other US Military facilities in Iraq.

    Anyhow, here's some interesting Google links to An Khe ...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9fGpPW8uLE

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UD81o3yYwV0

    http://www.armyflightschool.org/vietnam/ankhe.htm

    http://forums.ktla.com/eve/forums/a/...3/m/5061087255

    BTW, I was present-and-accounted -for during the 17 helicopter sapper attack.

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  2. #2
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    Pix of the An Khe R & R Center ... a Vietnamese fenced compound with food , booze, "tea-girls" , steam bath ("steam & cream" ) , barbershop , plus a US Army MP station with Medic right in the middle . This facility was quite popular during the 1st Cav. days , but, the General placed it "Off-Limits" when the 4th Infantry Div. took over.
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  3. #3
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    Pix of "downtown An Khe" traffic during my tour ..
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  4. #4
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    Pix of my favorite downtown dining facility ...
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  5. #5
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    No! We're lucky to have you.
    I had to destroy all my pics, evidence you know.
    Rather it was all about the spin---and for many it was manna--no thought process necessary, no objectivity, no verification with facts readily available--just suck up the spin. Over the last several years, it would seem that logic has not prevailed over passion regardless of topic.

  6. #6
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    Pix of young dude SBA at Dalat Airport

    Frankly, y'all , Vietnam was a great experience , and, like my Spec. 5 Sager always said ... "This war is hell , but it's better than none at all " .

    I think the BIG lesson from Vietnam is this: We all went there without out much questioning of why , did a great job while there, and figured somebody in the Top Command slot knew WTF they were doing. It turns out NOBODY knew what they were doing. Vietnam was LBJ's pet project ... an egotistical incompetent pushing a historically impossible war. And DING ... DING ... DING ... we LOST ! Fast Forward to today, and we get another egotistical incompetent, GW Bush , repeating the program.

    I never thought I'd be one , but, if I had enough hair left to be a hippie anti-war protester, I'd be burning my AARP Card !
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  7. #7
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    Thumbs up Thank you Dan......

    Your posts and this thread got me to thinking about my Dad's service in Vietnam. As I've mentioned before, he retired as a CMSgt which is the highest enlisted rank you can have (and which only 1% of NCO's in the Air Force are allowed to hold at one time).

    I knew he was in the "Red Horse" squadron as I used to have their sticker on my bicycle but, I never really understood what the squadron did except as he said...."build bases." Being 10 years old and having a sticker with a 'red horse' operating a bulldozer and an M-16 over its shoulder.................. was pretty cool to say the least.

    After searching the internet, I found a site that details the history of the Red Horse squadron and found out things that I never knew.

    As it turns out, he was one of the 84 'original' squadron members (albeit they have misspelled our name slightly) and that the squadron itself was established because of what you were saying about private contractors.

    "IN THE BEGINNING:

    ON OR ABOUT 8-10 AUGUST 1965, BRIEFINGS WERE HELD BY THE COMMANDERS OF THE ARMY, NAVY, AND AIR FORCE, AT HEADQUARTERS PACAF, TO ASCERTAIN AN ANSWER TO THE QUESTION, COULD EITHER THE ARMY OR NAVY CONSTRUCT AIR BASES AND SUPPORT THE AIR FORCE IN THE VIETNAM WAR AND FUTURE WARS. THE ANSWER WAS NO, EVEN THOUGH BOTH SERVICES HAD BATTALIONS ASSIGNED TO SUPPORT THE AIR FORCE.
    AT THIS BRIEFING WAS THEN COLONEL WILLIAM TOM MEREDITH, HE STATED THE AIR FORCE COULD AND WOULD DO THE JOB. THUS THE SECAF ISSUED ORDERS FOR THIS TO BE CARRIED FORWARD. ACTIVATED THAT DAY WAS THE USAF REDHORSE."



    Red Horse Country
    (poke here)

    Although he never liked to talk about Vietnam that much, I will mention to him about finding this site and maybe he'll decide to take a look.

    Keep your photo's and stories coming.
    Last edited by AK Gandy; 02-08-2009 at 07:35 PM.

  8. #8
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    And Thank You , AK ... I arrived in Vietnam in June 1966 at Cam Rahn Bay and recall hearing about the Redhorse Squadron at Phan Rang. Later on I remember signs on construction related trucks and equipment saying "GO BIG RED" in the Phan Rang area. The USAF bases were always the best constructionwise - they had paved streets, sidewalks, street lights and substantial barracks and other buildings. The Army was next with "Penta-Prime" oil sprayed gravel roads and semi-permanant buildings , and the Marine bases were last with just tents and mud roads with occasional board paths for sidewalks. And, given the massive base "build-up" requirement for Vietnam , no way could the existing military construction units handle the task, so RMK-BRJ was created to do it. But, US Military engineering and construction battalions did a great job on building up the Vietnam infrastructure - far more than we ever blew up.

    After my tour at An Khe, I signed on with MACV-CORDS ..."Civil Opportunity & Revolutionary Development Support" , LBJ's pet and priority project to "Win the minds and the heart of the people". I was attached to a "Highway Advisory Team" and tasked with physically driving and inspecting every road and bridge in Military Region II ... "II Corps" , which included Phan Rang. I was given one troop as a driver, a Jeep, and off we went. The project took several months and we over-nighted at any camp, LZ or firebase handy enroute, typically met with "
    WHERE TF did you come from ? "

    One of my more memorable trips was driving and inspecting the mostly coast highway from Phan Thiet to Phan Rang. I had loaded up with "Rum Crook" cigars at the PX the day before , and my driver and I were having a pleasant drive down the almost deserted road , only a trail in numerous spots, when as we were going through a patch 10-ft high elephant grass, eight Vietnamese dudes in black pajamas with machine guns stepped out in front , motioning "STOP" . Not knowing what else to do , I jumped out of my Jeep , put a Rum Crook cigar in each dude's mouth, took out my Zippo lighter and lit each one , with a big smile. The dudes were so stunned, they just backed off and motioned "GO" . We did. Just before I got to Phan Rang I ran into a military highway construction gang , and the Major sez "WHERE TF did you come from ? . I sez I just driven up from Phan Thiet. He sez "Nobody has driven that route without a convoy in the past year without getting dead". Anyhow, I went on to Phan Rang, checked in the Headshed , spent the night in
    dining and merriment , and they sent two APCs fulla troops to convoy me on the return trip to Phan Thiet. I never did know who the black pajama dudes were, but I was told if they were VC, they probably figured I was the "Point Man" for a supply convoy coming behind me and they didn't want to make a lot of shooting noise to scare the convoy off , so they could zap it.
    BTW, I still like Rum Crook cigars .
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  9. #9
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    Pix of the construction gang enroute to Phan Rang ... Boy, was I glad to see them
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  10. #10
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    I hadn't thought about Rum Crooks in years...Thanks for the memory, Dan......Ben

  11. #11
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    Pix ... "civilian traffic" at An Khe
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  12. #12
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    Pix ... Did I mention I was later "Railroad Advisor" ? I got to drive this machine
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  13. #13
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    Pix .." Aw chit , they broke it !"
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  14. #14
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    Thumbs up

    Good stuff, Dan.

    My wife and I went to Vietnam in 1996. We spent the majority of our time in and around Saigon and were some of the first outsiders taken through the Củ Chi Tunnels.

    Things that stuck out for me from that trip:
    1) Officially, the government still does not like us. In several places we saw billboards & signs with anti-American messages. One described us as "baby-killers."
    2) Un-officially, the government welcomes Americans and treats them well.
    3) The civilians seemed to love Americans and were extraordinarily hospitable and friendly.
    4) They've saved EVERYTHING we left there and use it. The ships on the docks were being unloaded with our Army trucks and there were many fenced lots containing American equipment.
    5) Several entrepreneurs have operations set up where you can (for a fee, of course) fire all the weapons used in the war and even ride in some of the vehicles (including tanks).
    6) There are shops that sell all the gear and personal belongings taken off American POWs. It was sad to see it.
    7) The infrastructure is crumbling. It's rare to come across anything built after the Americans left.
    8) There were an inordinate number of maimed/crippled older men and women on the streets. You can't go anywhere without running into adults missing eyes, limbs, or sporting huge scars.

    Bill
    All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.
    - Martin Luther King, Jr.

  15. #15
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    Guess Where (hint -- Gobbler's Knob is in the upper left hand area)
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