46 years later… Operation Tame the West

Jerry Adams, Sr. and I would be part of 7th Air Force headquarters (Saigon) consolidation. Sending available Security Policemen from airbases in South Vietnam.  We meet sometime after March 14th, 1970. Jerry had been assigned to the 3rd Security Police Squadron, Bien Hoa airbase. Little did he and I know our shared experiences “In-Country” would form a brother hood?

We share floor space in open bay barrack’s cordon off by metal lockers and plastic screen divider’s we would purchase from the Mama San’s.  Our commonality was our service, Motown music and with luck “DEROS” (out-of-country) back to the “World” (USA).

Little did we know of the North Vietnamese Army presence outside of the base perimeter or their capability with direct mortar, rocket, sniper fire and occasional small arms fire? They would direct friendly fire mission on the base in late June, 1970. Several weeks after the Cambodia Incursion had begun on May 1st, 1970.

Racial minorities compromised nearly 50% of our “Flight=platoon.”  This diversity helped cemented our mutual perspective about civil rights, minorities serving in the military and about the Vietnam War.

Without fanfare during the last days of April, 1970. Element’s of the U.S. Army arrived on base to bivouac (set up sleeping area’s). Prior to launching operations, Pleiku airbase became the staging area. Army troop’s numbered in the hundred’s with their support vehicles, gun truck’s, M-113 (personnel carrier) , etc.

Those of us who had the unpleasant exposure to small air fire or sniper fire. Realized the importance of what these Army personnel would be part; and of military history and would forever changed politics in modern times.

So we supported these grunts and others with girls, pot, and all the liquor/beer we could buy for them. This resulted in BBQ’s, partying like there was no tomorrow! They very much appreciated what we did for them and could only begin to fathom their journey into the unknown of Cambodia.

We would never see them or the likes of a military operation again in South Vietnam.  Pleiku airbase was a “forward operating base,” the 633rd Special Operation’s Wing had been reassigned to Thailand, Nankon Phanom airbase across from Lao’s. PACAF Headquarters and 7th Air Force activated the 6254th Air Base Squadron on March 15th, 1970. If you do a search on the internet, you can’t find very much information. It’s almost like Pleiku airbase didn’t exist ?

Though the mission of the base had changed, Air America would continue to fly in and out. They had their own helicopters (without identification) that would fly out at night. We still had Forward Air Controller operation’s supporting Army operation’s in the Central Highlands.

The U.S. Army left sometime on May 1st toward Cambodia; early in the morning, quietly as they had arrived!  That day… Jerry had the day off and I was on perimeter duty –that was my job.  The base received a couple of rocket’s into the very area the Army troop’s had bivouac. He told me where the rounds had landed not far from our barrack.

The day the Kent State student’s were shot and killed, while protesting President Nixon’s escalation of widening the war from South Vietnam into Cambodia and later during 1971 into Lao’s.  Tiger flight would forever change; those who supported the killing of students. And those of us who recognize their inalienable right to Freedom of Speech. This was the Beginning of entrenched skepticism, cynicism of American politics!

Some of us knew that politician’s in United States and the world; would sell their mother for personal gain.  They only serve themselves and leave the rest of society to fend for themselves (personal opinion).

Those of us who served as perimeter guards at Pleiku that year became more radicalize by the war. Early June, 1970; Jerry and I decided to go on R & R (rest and recuperation). We got our travel orders to depart from DaNang airbase to Sydney, Australia.  When we arrived we could not get a ride to the U.S. M.C., III Marines compound. An Air Force office gave us a ride and we checked into the transient barracks. Lot’s of the Marines were talking trash, and then a squad of RECON walked in.

You could hear a pin drop; all these men wore necklaces of ears they taken from the enemy in quiet ambushes somewhere along the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). Jerry and I looked at each other and the Marines slept quietly that night.

In the weeks and months that followed; Pleiku airbase enemy activity decreased, until North Vietnamese Army radio operator’s intercepted Artillery Hill FSB (fire support base) with coordinates for the base. The first incoming rounds started around 1:30am at first, this would be over quickly as we had scrambled into bunkers. After the first 15 minutes of artillery rounds landing around us. We realize how serious this was.   We could hear artillery rounds landing away from the compound to other parts of the base. This continued until almost 4:00am.

Some of the airmen in Tiger Flight, who had not experienced the small arms fire or sniper fire. Where shaken up and visibly scared! And could not understand while those of us who experienced the North Vietnamese trying to kill us. We said “Screw it!” If we’re going to die.  At least go out having a good time!

Here are pictures of the airmen of Tiger Flight we served with:

WhiteAshbyWahooAdams_May1970

More pictures of my fellow Air Force Security Policemen:

TaylorWilliams

All of us are witness to history and honor all those American soldiers who we knew and didn’t know.

Some special guy’s and the horror we experienced together on my 21st Birthday ! Love these guys and haven’t seen them since  September, 1970.

CitronHartfordPietroBeltonHolmes

Jerry Adams, Jr, May, 1970

Jerry_1970

Mark Arguello, May 1970

mark_1970

Jerry Adams, Jr. and Mark Arguello, February, 2016

 

JerryMark2016_2 - Copy

Who would have guessed … we are here to tell our stories. Of all the guy’s I served with in the Air Force over my seven years. That Jerry and I can only share our LOVE for Life. Grateful to GOD !

 

 

Posted in Vietnam Service | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sacrifice unknown – Marine, Cmbt. Engineer 1968

ROBERT C. WEISS, USMC, VIETNAM
Robert C .Weiss, graduated from Tennyson High School, June 1967. He entered the U.S. Marines and not much is known about him after he completed Basic Training. He received orders for Vietnam and not much is known about him prior to his death in combat.
Here is picture of Robert C Weiss at the Senior Ball, and basic training, USMC, 1967.

Vietnam unknown

Senior Ball, after Basic Tng, USMC, 1967

Not only is his death a tragedy, I’ve started doing research about why his name is not inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This must be correct and now asking all U.S. Marines who served in I Corp, from late 1967 to December, 1968 if they remember this Marines face. This will be the start of his sacrifice being properly noted with the other 58,258 men and women who died.

The next story and written account is from my cousin writes about the Ultimate Sacrifice.

588th Cmbt. Engineers, U.S. Army, Tay Ninh West, May 30, 1968
My cousin David Vigil, Brighton, CO was a SP4, and arrived in- country April, 1968. His second letter tells of Army SSgt who made the Ultimate Sacrifice to save his fellow soldiers. Here’s the letter written to me prior to my graduation from high school, June 1968.

May 30,1968,

May 30,1968,

Here’s page 1 and page 2

Ultimate Sacrifice

Army Staff Sergeant , saves others.

Conclusion of letter (Page 2)

Company Commander recommends Medal of Honor.

Company Commander recommends Medal of Honor.

These are some of the unknown sacrifices , most would never hear of . Let us all remember them and the Love and Joy they brought into our lives. Today and every day.
Thank You,

Posted in Vietnam Service | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MIKE WALKER C-130 Hercules, Crew Chief, Khe Sanh, January 1968

C-130 Hercules

Mike Walker, Crew Chief, C-130 Hercules.

Labor Day weekend , while on my way to my car. I noticed this man, wearing an Air Force, Vietnam Veteran hat. I introduced myself to an airman who I knew nothing about other than he wore a Security Police badge on his hat. Here is a picture of Mike Walker and myself.

We talked and I gave Mike Walker my business card with “A Weekend to Remember, 25th Anniversary; Vietnam Veterans Memorial.”
Then on Saturday, September 12th, we meet for coffee and he revealed something very unique… He is the crew chief on C-130 Hercules flying mission(s) into Khe Sanh,the U.S. Marine base under siege. Khe Sanh siege started in January, 1968 until April, 1968.

Their primary role is “beans and bullets’ for the Marines who hold their position while 40,000 North Vietnamese Army soldiers have surrounded their position with trenches, heavy artillery (dug into sides of the surround hills. The U.S. Marines, number 6,000. The 26th Marines are tasked with patrols outside their perimeter.

I have included a letter written by Karl McCrosky from Hayward, California. Here is his senior picture from Tennyson High School, June, 1967. Karl graduated from U.S. Marines, Camp Pendleton, Ca, Oct. 1967. A month later he was assigned to 26th Marines Regiment at Con Thein siege. The 26th reassigned him to Khe Sanh, January 1968.

26th Marines

Karl McCrosky, June 1967.


Here is the hand written letter from Karl, March 1968 at Khe Sanh, Vietnam.

Written account from Mortar man

March, 1968 from Con Thien to Khe Sanh.

December, 1968 while on leave to Lowry AFB, Karl and I talked about the war. He said “You don’t need to go to Vietnam !” Word has it he is alive and well in Texas. Karl, “Welcome Home Brother !”

Posted in Vietnam Service | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

September 14th , 1970 – 45 years later !

How can one not forget the day they arrived home from a war they were so naïve about . Until it scarred them for life ? The immediate thought after flying on a “Army” bird from Cam Ranh Bay airbase (it started here and ended here) to McChord AFB. I was one of five Air Force airmen and the only one coming home early !

I will always remember that night I boarded , Airman Schroeder escorted me to the “freedom bird” it was clear and peaceful as was the morning I stepped off the plane at McChord AFB, the day was filled with sunshine and peaceful. Quite the transaction from the 14 hours previous.

Then I boarded a plane to San Francisco International Airport,the day was also filled with the sunshine and peace…

Taking a taxi to my parents house in Hayward, California. I knocked on the door and no answered. I let myself in… walking down the hallway. I could hear my parents talking. My mother walked from their bedroom to the hallway. She said Ray (Dad) Marks here ! She nearly fainted ! He was putting on his shoes and said some profanity in a good way !

I was glad to be home… now the new chapters in my life and Pleiku airbase were yet to unfold. My sisters Linda and Anita were only eight and nine years old,. My brother Greg was at school as they were.

Little did I know of the struggles with finding peace would not come easy. After seven years in the Air Force it was time. To make my own way in life on my terms. It was the least I could for me. It would not be easy with a job waiting for me, because there was none. That was my choosing to live in Alaska and did so with employment with the Fluor Alaska and the TransAlaska Pipeline. Then moving on to work with BP Alaska, were I found a place; about harboring my PTSD in denial.

Life was good, but the ghosts of the war lingered on as they do to this day. Being one not to sit on their hands, returned to study in Seattle at North Seattle Community College,during 1984. Then it became more complicated with ownership and loss of a home and a condo due to bad real estate market like so many experienced in 2008.

Bankruptcy was my option in 1987 and filed Chapter 7. Starting over penniless and broke. Yet somehow the fast lane living was over. It was time to make my way again, working for a fraction of my oilfield wages. However while at community college, my priorities had changed to surviving with office jobs and finding what computers were about.

There in the fog of uncertainty was a glimmer of a new future. This was the chance to make a new effort to raise above the nightmares of what I saw, experienced that spring and summer of 1970.

It would take time to fathom what I could possibly do and so I went forward after a relationship of five years came to an end and the possibility of marriage. The ugliness of wrestling with my demons of the Central Highlands was coming out of Pandora’s Box.

Yet, I found my footing and dedicated the next five years from 1990 of returning to my studies part time at night, making new friends. Then was blessed by a friend, Joan Oldfield who secured a contract job at Microsoft for the Windows 95 rollout. This was the leap of faith into the internet and my life forever was changed for the better. Thank You Joan.

At the same time I meet a counselor at Seattle, King County Veterans office (1990) and started to address the nightmares and demons of my experience of the Vietnam war.

I continued work as a Jr. Web developer starting in early 1996 with Van Waters and Rogers, Pest Web team until September, 1998. Then continued with various freelance projects until the dot com bust.Due to high unemployment as a result moved back to California, and found work with a temporary agency until late 2004 utilizing my Adobe Acrobat skills.

Somehow the PTSD would linger and regardless of lifestyles changes for the better. This was the struggle that never goes away.

My parents were getting older, and this required my presence as their caregiver until 2011. I miss them dearly and though life is not always a bowl of cherries. I Love them as I do my sisters. In October,2007 I became aware of the 25th Anniversary, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and decided to make a documentary film. I would travel to various military reunions talking about the film is about all Vietnam veterans.
April, 2014, the Denver VA, National Creative Arts Festival – awarded First Place, Multimedia category for “A Weekend to Remember, 25th Anniversary Vietnam Veterans Memorial.” Through out this time I learn we can make choices… with that there is Hope and there is Love !

Posted in Vietnam Service | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Forty Years after the Fall of Saigon, April 30th, 1975

Duty, Honor

Duty, Honor is not forgotten.

Forty years have passed since that day when our Loves , our Lives were forever changed. Not in defeat, but in the sacrifice of our Love ones , who gave so much for a war that tore the United States apart. This Idea of mind is about our LOVE for all those… whose lives should always be remembered. Because they answered the call to duty to serve our country.
So much has happened … today and in recent years we realized the healing that has occurred and will continue.

For all us Vietnam Veterans, let us pause today wherever we may be and know that our country is better. Because of a war that forever allowed us to question and change how we can be better people. That is based on the principles of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness as our early forefathers wrote at the time for the war for Independence.

May we always remember that our LOVE for our Families, Relatives, Friends and Childhood sweethearts. Is what makes us truly unique, because have always done what may have been right or wrong. But the memorials that stand today … Honor their Service.

Because of that belief …. Our Country will always try and do what is good and decent for all people. Let us give our prayers to them.

That every year about April 30th, 1975 anniversary is our Remembrance to them.

Thank You, my fellow brothers and sisters who died there in Vietnam. I miss each and everyone of you as your Families, Relatives and Sweethearts do.

Active duty, April, 1975, Fairbanks; Eielson AFB, Alaska.

I remember that day, and left the airman’s mess hall when ‘Retreat’ was sounded. The afternoon was sunshine, and had finished my duties at Base Operation; Staff Sergeant Arguello. As the flag was being lowered so many thoughts went through my head and filled with mixed emotion.
The first emotion was sadness, and thought what was this all for ? My emotion was bitter, about all of the members of the Armed Forces who died there for what ? I thought what a waste of human life .. I always feel depression on this day.

Posted in Vietnam Service | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

50 years later after the historic march in Selma, Alabama

50 years later after the historic march in Selma, Alabama. On the very same day of hope and celebration of civil rights. Hate/discrimination continues to raise its ugliness as it did with SAE fraternity at OU. We as people can make choices to live in a society that respect’s others.

Our grandfather’s sons choose to keep the world free from the hatred of the National Socialists (Nazi’s) brutality and systemic effort to rid the Jewish people in Europe. This question and other questions continue to be either rehashed in the attempt to understand why 33 million people died in World War II.

Then ethnic cleansing in the Balkans’ of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990’s raised its head. However somehow the behavior and mindset of discrimination was ignored. While at the same time in the United States of America we changed, we learned to accept violence and hate as a way of life as long as it didn’t directly affect us.

So… a question for the parents of the son’s on the bus singing song’s about lynching. Is this something you taught them?

Or is it just what you learned as a child. Yet these same people … Just to put this into perspective and this is my personal opinion. We as Vietnam Veterans were relegated to become society’s 2nd class citizens. We were ignored, taunted, berated for what our government told us to do: Fight the Communists!

Isn’t that discrimination against all races of men and women who served in Vietnam? Because it was an unpopular war ….

As an Air Force veteran who served in the Central Highlands, May, 1970 at Pleiku airbase. The location and closeness to Cambodia and Laos was ideal for the march into Cambodia on May 1st of that year. Four days later students at Kent State University, Ohio were shot dead by National Guardsman. We servicemen and women wondered what happen to the pursuit of protecting freedom and liberty. Then and on the 50th anniversary of the Selma march!

We can make choices to stop the hate, to stop discrimination. What’s your choice? For your children’s children?

Posted in Current Events, Vietnam Service | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jason Hallett, Homes For Our Troops, Windsor; Colorado

January 31st, Saturday morning it was 37 degrees.  I drove from south Denver to Windsor, Colorado to attend the Key Ceremony for Jason and Rachel Hallett.  Only to arrive minutes before a convoy of Patriot Guard motorcycle escort, First Responders and Police from the town of Windsor.

As the convoy approached the house the street was filled with supporters, and veterans. The air was filled with excitement.

An honor guard of U.S. Navy Sea Cadets was part of the opening ceremony.  Local dignitaries and sponsors shared opening remarks about how an idea flourished into reality.  The builders, who donated materials, and labor are integral along with land donated. While other sponsors supplied the fixtures for the kitchen, bathroom and washer/dryer appliances.

Today, I will present pictures of Jason and Rachel, their house, and their Celebration cake. In the days to come, I will present a short video of the convoy arriving, the speeches and Jason raising the American flag near the front of his home.

My purpose is to support veterans like the Hallett’s, the challenges they must address while they move on with their lives.  Never have I been so impressed and inspired by a young man who has lost so much (both his legs and arm from an IED in Afghanistan – 2010).  Rachel is a wonderful woman that LOVES her husband.

I thought of them and mention how strong their LOVE is for each other. About the LOVE we have and support for them. They are blessed in ways that none of us can imagine. God Bless them…

Jason, Rachel,Mark

Veterans come together

Jason,  Rachel Hallett

Afghanistan veteran, Colorado State University student,

Posted in Afghanistan | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment