Mr. Bill and Miz Mona

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Moose Pass Journal 6/1/11

Bill Says: With this passing of Memorial Day Weekend, I realized how many things I am beginning to forget; either due to advancing or is that reclining age, or my medications? So, I decided I wanted to get a few things into print before I forgot. Who is that man looking at me in the window?

My children have been brought up on a lot of my old stories, both police and military tales and probably to the point they were thinking about hiring a hit man to put the old geezer out of his misery- thankfully cooler heads prevailed and I'm still here, ( truthfully, the kids couldn't afford a hit man with the allowance we gave them). Smart we were.

One of my stories is actually a TRUE account of events that transpired and on April 2nd, 1973 at Danang Air Force Base, South Viet Nam. I wanted this one written down because I have grown wearisome of hearing from so many people, who do not know any better, of how we had won the 10-year war in Viet Nam. Of course most of these people never served there, if in any service, and base their information on speeches by puffed up politicians who also never served a day in military life. I still believe our congressmen should have prior military time in their past, helps them realize why our men and women need more of everything.

The Viet Nam War for the USA ended on Jan 28, 1973. (38-years ago...weird).But for the South Vietnamese the war continued on for two mores years and then they finally surrendered to the communists of North Viet Nam in 1975.  On the morning of Jan 28th, 1973, our peace treaty was to go into effect at precisely 8 a.m. or 0800 hrs. But at 0730 hrs, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong launched a major rocket attack, the 12 mm and 140 mm rockets flying in the skies over Danang AFB. We first thought they were going to hit us, but an estimated 300 rockets smashed into the South Vietnamese refugee camp directly south of the base. It was also known as Dogpatch, (from the comic strip of Little Abner fame). One of those rockets, much like the one that wounded me on Dec 26th, struck my Vietnamese wife's hut or hooch, they were called both, and left little remains. I buried her that day and vanished for three days, for which I have no memory of. The Army MP's found me 80-miles north of Danang and initially picked me up for AWOL.

Early in our marriage, my beloved wife, Mona Sue, had helped me heal from those sad days, along with my belief in my Lord Jesus Christ. The only reason I bring this up is to explain the next part and why I felt my country had stabbed me and so many others in the backside with a rusty knife. The rusty part is to cover the poisoning that lasted for years and years.

As part of our agreement with the communists, who we had fought for 10-years, we were supposed to be out of Danang within 60-days- meaning March 28th. But we couldn't get it done and we sincerely tried, but there was too many troops to send out. At this point I was working US Customs and handling the out going flights. Planes around the clock. But by April 2nd, we were 5 days over the allowable time. I and my three best friends, who I have listed in earlier journals; Mike Kimbrel, Chuck Dudley and Frank D'Mario, were allowed to be part of the roll-up force for Danang. We would be leaving on the very last Air Force plane to fly out of Danang. This was an honor for us. being selected for this duty. There were 20 Air Force Security Policemen and I believe another dozen support people, a flight crew for our aircraft and two senior officers and a doctor. The exact numbers are a bit hazy- see what I mean about the memory.

Then a week before we were due to leave, an Air Force C-141 cargo jet landed at Danang. To our BIG SURPRISE It was carrying 200 North Vietnamese Army soldiers, some senior officers and a very senior North Vietnamese general. The Air Force crew had flown to Hanoi, picked them up and brought them to Danang. Now please remember, the South Vietnamese were still fighting these people, but the enemy went untouched in some kind of agreement made with the South Vietnamese. To say the least, we were not happy!!!!!

They housed the enemy in the officer's housing area, where we had been staying and moved out to make room for them. We really missed the air conditioners. When the 60-days were up at the end of March, we were then ordered to surrender all of our rifles, pistols and revolvers, grenades....etc. Even though these 200 enemy soldiers were on our base and out numbered us about 7-1. We had a single C-130 cargo plane sitting on the tarmac to fly us out and each night we were to guard it. Now without weapons, we were issued baseball bats to protect ourselves and a radio to call for help with. That last night, the air sweltering and full of evil bugs, I was chosen to guard the plane. Remember, I was in pretty bad shape. I'd been wounded by the enemy, lost some friends and then my wife. I can't recall what kept me from walking the mile or so over to where the enemy was staying and used that baseball bat alongside some heads, but I was responsible for that plane. Truthfully, I was a bit spooked being out there all alone, but nothing happened and my three friends came out to spend most of the night with me. They left when the bugs got so bad and we joked about them thinking the plane was their mother and we'd been left behind to feed the babies with our blood- bad joke, but we were not at our best humor wise.

The next morning, we were put on board a South Vietnamese bus and driven to the plane. There we were shocked, stunned, startled, sickened, to find our two hundred enemy soldiers standing in two formations, forming a corridor we were to march through to board our plane. We were issued orders to not say anything, no obscene gestures, not to attack the enemy in ant fashion and come to attention in front of the senior officer standing beside the North Vietnamese general, so he could check our name off to ensure we were in fact leaving. This was probably the most embarrassing moment in my life and my own country was forcing me to endure it. We boarded the plane and flew to off for Thailand. Apparently they were having trouble with some communists rebels in Thailand and were sending in several planeloads of Viet Nam Security Policemen to lend a hand. We were the only Security Policemen with combat experience, thought we were for sure not some Green Beret A Team.

The, the  minute we off loaded at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, the American officers meeting us ordered us to remove all our Viet Nam patches and our coveted Black Beret. The beret had been awarded to our unit, the only unit in the US Air Force to be awarded it and we were pretty proud of it. We were not happy. Mine sits on my dresser, though I can't believe my head was ever that small!

So, no, we did not win that war. You do not win a war when the enemy is out there to mark your name of to ensure you're leaving and they are still there to conquer the land. Just wanted to get it on some form of record before I forget all about it. Viet Nam, is that by Spain?????? Fading....fading.

Love to all. God Bless!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Dad.

    I have never heard/read this complete story before. Thank you for putting it down. And no, I've never considered the Vietnam War one we've won. Heck, there's still people who want to 'technically' call it a 'conflict' and not a war. By those terms we have not been to war since, oh, WWII.

    I can't even fathom what those last few days were like. But thank you for sharing. Your blog is read, Dad. Never fear. ;o)