FORT CAMPBELL, KY

I'm adding this bit of information as an after thought to my original writing of this section of my historical recollections. My thought on doing so is probably due to my aging. We tend (or should) see life from a different perspective. One must ask: Does any young man want to give his new life to go to war? The answer: "Hell no!" However, as we learn to appreciate more of what life in our society has to offer, our views seemly must change......To my thoughts, for the better! My reading of the book The Nightingale's Song by Robert Timberg and a quote, thereof, from President Reagan, has renewed my strength of belief of the benefits of my service.

After the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, President Reagan spoke at Camp Lejune, two days after the tragic incident. He quoted philosopher John Stuart Mill: " War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The ugliest is that man who thinks nothing is worth fighting and dying for and lets men better and braver than himself protect him."

As I recall, I took but two weeks leave after signal school. I think back and it seems as though I had done a bit of changing and the old neighborhood had lost some of its charm. I was ready to get on with my new life. Each of us knew that there was only one place to go and that place was Vietnam. For most of us there was no getting around that reality. I caught a plane for Kentucky.

My duty assignment was with the 265th Army Security Agency Company. This company was attached to the 101st Airborne Division and was to accompany the division's 2nd and 3rd brigades to the Republic of South Vietnam. The first brigade had been sent earlier. We were to to board C-141 Star Lifter and all of our equipment on December 3, 1967.

The few weeks that were spent stateside with the 265th were a whirl wind of physical training and preparation to leave. Some how, the division came up with three airborne slots just prior to our debarkation. I remember First-Sargeant Shorter having us fall in as a company and he asked if anyone would like to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. I immediately raised my hand to the surprise of some of my friends. I took a bit of ribbing for not being too smart. However, since my arrival at Ft. Campbell, I noticed a large difference between the esprit-de-corps of the paratroopers and those of the "legs" as the non airborne troops are called. There was a fellowship between all of the men-privates to generals-who came through the training and earned their jump wings. A few days later, I found myself at Ft. Benning, GA amongst a large group of men that would thin-out dramatically over the next three weeks

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Dan with new jump wings

FT. BENNING, GA

Well, what can I say about airborne training? I think I can say a whole bunch about it. Unlike today's daily business, they were very certain in letting us know who was in charge of the operation. Democracy? Bunk! You'd better have your stuff together or you were going to receive a great deal of abuse that was dealt out to insure that you did get it (stuff) in order. I can't tell you just how much I have appreciated the cadre's attention to detail in my daily life since that time. That time was the best few weeks spent in my life. It taught me how to love being part of a team and how to get a difficult job (no matter what kind) done. It was the demanding attention to detail that made our airborne units the best within the army. Pride and esprit de corps can do wonders in the accomplishment of life's duties.

There are several incidents that stand out in my memory. I have always had a great respect for the Navy Seals!! No, I'll always stand up for the Army and deny any use for the Navy. However, I am obliged to admit that I have never seen a tougher or more disciplined group of men than the Seals. I remember standing in formation waiting for inspection. The drill instructors would take on the Seals, who, by the way, were always at the front of the formation. Each of them would be gigged on something or another and be given 20 push-ups. If one was given discipline, they all were disciplined. The drill instructors would go down the line of about 20-30 seals and find some reason for dealing out 20 push-ups. By the time that the last Seal had been gigged, the whole bunch must have done at least 300 push-ups. I couldn't believe it all.

Again, while standing in formation in the morning prior to our hours of hanging in a parachute harness and performing countless pull-ups to learn how to steer the parachute, I had another interesting encounter. The wearing of blacked out uniform insignia was against the regulations for duty stateside. However, as our unit was due to leave in but days for Vietnam, we had been instructed to prepare our uniforms per combat units. Well, not only was I wearing a blacked out uniform but I was sporting the 101st Airborne Division's patch and did not yet sport my jump wings. I attracted way too much attention.

A lieutenant walked up to me and proceeded to question why I was dressed as I was. I will, at this point, explain that the officer that is addressed in my narrative was a black person. When I first began my narrative, this was exempted as I felt that it wasn't necessary to differentiate. However, it seems that there are many that would like to make issue to a person's race. An attitude such as this in our country is "BS" and so I expect that this should explain my position to such issues. I explained as best that I could that I was with the Army Security Agency company that was attached to the 101st. Finally, after attempting to dress me down, he asked: "What is your job?" My job at the time was classified and I answered: "That's none of your business......SIR!" A smile came on his face, he saluted me and went down the line.

We had had a very hard rain the day before we were due to complete our 5 mile run that was the final qualification prior to proceeding to our first jump. I guess that one gets used to his surroundings even in a short period of time. The whistles blew and we were "paged" to formation for our run. As I rounded a familiar corner, the rain had washed out a large ditch into which I proceeded to place my whole body and wrench my right hip. It hurt like Billy be DDDDDmd. I wasn't about to quit at this point as I'd not be able to return for a second try. I picked myself up from the ground and got into formation and began the run at a limp. After about a mile, things began to loosen up enough so that I was feeling better. To this day, I feel the pain of my hip to a certain degree.

After our ground training, which included a visit by President Lyndon B. Johnson, we made jump week. The plane from which we jumped was the C-130 and I was seated on the inside/right stick for out first jump. One of the prospective paratroopers just across from me on the outside stick was starting to get a bit antsy and nervous. His buddy pointed at me and told him: 'Look at Johnson. Just do what he does.' I'm glad that I had someone's confidence.



Form FB -c- 444 (front)



Form 17



Form FB -c- 444 (back)

Needless to say, I earned my jump wings.......Not without a bit of pain. Sadly, I only was able to do my basic five jumps. This is due to the change in tactics that came about during Vietnam. We were not placed in a jump position as had been done in the past. The new Airborne was called Airmobile and we were brought into combat via helicopter. During my tour of duty with the 101st, the name changed from 101st Airborne to 101st Airmobile and because of the controversy over the name it was called 101st Airborne-Airmobile. The writing was on the wall: parachuting was at its nadir. Only the 173rd ABN Brigade would ever jump as a unit in Vietnam. However, my wings are hanging in my closet! And as my best friend from the USMC says: "Nuf Said"!


Prior to our leaving for Vietnam, we were each given a zippo style lighter. Most of us smoked back then and I carried this one while in the army.

I insert this paragraph much later than when I originally wrote most of this page upon a remembrance of one particular day's journey to the post library with Teddy Castillo and a book that I later read regarding the Vietnam conflict. Teddy and I had gone to the sub-library as we had decided to read upon this new place, Vietnam, that we were to be stationed. Interestingly, we found only one book, a very small one, in fact, that spoke of Vietnam. Surprisingly, I just finished reading a book that was written by William O. Douglas entitled "North from Malaya." This book was published in 1952-3. It explained exactly the tactics of the enemy with which were to be engaged. He had traveled throughout Southeast Asia a short time after WWII while the French were still in power in Vietnam and "sat on the US Supreme Court for more than thirty-five years (1939-75), longer than any other Justice, and during those years he wrote some thirty books in addition to his legal opinions." My reading has continued and so has my understanding of the conflict to which I was assigned as a soldier. My latest reading is that of Bernard Fall. Who, by the way, was killed during a patrol with U.S. Marines in 1966. I have discovered that most of us veterans have a very limited view of the overall situation of the conflict. Without a comprehensive study of the sociological, psychological and ideological of any given conflict, how might anyone understand their nation's position.

The following is some pre deployment business for the 265th ASA (RRU) CO as received through our association email:

  • Unit organized GO 25, 21 April ’67 assigned to 301st ASA Bn (Corps) with mission to support 101st Airborne Division; Reorganized GO 71, 18 Aug ’67; Amended GO 75, 25 Aug ’67; Amended GO 82, 11 Sep ’67; Amended GO 96, 27 October ’67.  Amendments changed and revised TO&E equipment authorizations.
  • Personnel On Station Date (POSD) established as 05 October, 1967
  • Equipment Readiness Date (ERD) established as 18 January, 1968
  • Personnel Readiness Date (PRD) established as 31 January, 1968
  • ERD and PRD changed to 01 December, 1967 by DA Message 837360, dated 23 October, 1967.  A new General Order (GO) will be required upon arrival in country to absorb 406th RRD
  • 26 September, Company crypto facility receives approval of 301st ASA Bn (Corps).  Crypto custodian Robert B. Carey III requisitions crypto material.
  • 5th October, 80% of authorized personnel present for duty. 26 NCO slots filled by Specialists; 14 personnel (5 NCO’s) had prior Vietnam experience. Authorized 33 Linguists, 21 assigned, 4 NCO’s (05H) assigned to provide command/control of Voice Sections.  21 assigned personnel are excess by grade or MOS and are reported to 509th RRGP as normal replacements.
  • 6th October, “Helpful Hints for Deployment” document received from 303rd RR Bn, used as a guide for movement planning.
  • 265th RRC was tasked to support battalion, brigade and division level training. COMSEC support required for 2 CPX and 1 FTX in October; conduct 9-week intensified combat training program IAW USASA Training Circular  TC 20-11, beginning 09 October, ’67, and undergo and ATT and ORT conducted by 301st ASA Bn (Corps).
  • 6-8 November 265th RRC (ABN) conducted a modified ATT; Final readiness report submitted to CGUSASA 10 November ’67. ATT Umpires were Major Lewis D. Kirk, Executive officer, 301st ASA Bn (Corps), Captain John M. Savage, LNO 301st ASA Bn (Corps), GSGM James E. Boyette, Sergeant Major, 301st ASA Bn (Corps).  The ATT was modified for the following reasons: 52 personnel of 164 assigned and present for duty had already commenced Pre deployment leaves; four officers and six enlisted were TDY for Basic Airborne Course. Unit does not have all TOE equipment with significant shortages in Communications equipment. Only one Brigade Support Team was in position to conduct limited operations in support of a Brigade FTX.  No Officers were available for the ATT.  The ATT scenario described a Brigade deployed to conduct search and sweep operations in an area defined by maps provided by the umpires.  One Brigade Support Platoon  conducts COMSEC Operations, 2nd team conducts ‘canned’ COMINT support to the deployed Brigade. Team One includes 24 EM, 1 MRPV-3, 1MRPZ-3  2 RCF-75; Team Two includes 20 EM, 1 MRPV-3, 1MRPZ-3, 3 RCF-75

 

  • Preparation for Overseas Movement (POM) Inspection conducted by  Readiness Evaluation Committee, HQ USASA, Arlington Hall Station, VA. Inspection is conducted 14-16 November by LTC Peter Gritis, Assistant IG (USASA) with assistance of Major Horace C. Tabor, USASA DCSLOG rep, Captain Robert G. Mize, Jr., DCSSEC rep, Captain Lonnie S. Smith, DCSOPS rep, MSG Ralph L. Meyers, DCSPER.  The inspection team makes courtesy calls on 101st Airborne Division G2/G3 both highly complementary and appreciative of support: “Unit commander, Captain Tyrone Trbovich, has been highly successful in coordinating and establishing excellent rapport with division general staff and organic brigades.”
  • At the time of USASA POM Inspection, personnel status was:

 

Officers

Warrants

Enlisted

Totals

Authorized

9

3

156

168

Assigned

8

2

155

165

Short

1

1

1

3

  • One Officer was in school and would join the unit on 26 December.
  • Warrant officer (Linguist) billet would not be filled – none were available.
  • NCO (Mess Steward) scheduled to arrive 30 November
  • Orders cut to give Commanding Officer SECRET classification authority.
  • All personnel fired the M16 for qualification; they were reissued M16A1 and were required to re-zero.
  • NSA and USASATC&S forwarded Morse and Voice training tapes recorded at 7 ½ IPS and the unit AN/PNH-4 Audio Recorder/Reproducer operates at 3 ¾ IPS . Efforts to obtain local compatible recorders were to no avail.
  • Verbal request to USASA to send Analysts TDY to NSA could not be substantiated by DCSPER; NSA requires at least 3 weeks prior notice. With insufficient time remaining prior to deployment, no Analyst target area training could be accomplished.
  • Commo training hampered by shortage of equipment; 301st ASA Bn (Corps) loaned one AN/GRC-26 which was found to be inoperative except for CW mode.
  • Major shortages were 3KW AC Gen Set (18 authorized, 18 short) 3KW DC Gen Set (8 authorized, 8 short) AN/GRC 122 (3 auth, 3 short), AN/MSC-29 (1 authorized, 1 short), 100 Amp kits (18 authorized, 18 short) numerous cables, junction boxes, PLL items were short and were to be picked up in country.
  • Organization for the 6-8 November Modified ATT:

HQ Platoon:            SFC Nolan
Ops Platoon:           SSG Delao
Commo Platoon:      SGT Kuhn
COMSEC Platoon:   SP5 Leibinger
2nd Bde Spt Plt:       SFC Farmer
3rd Bde Spt Plt:        SFC Stubbs
Vehicle Drivers Serial #1: Curgacz, Dietz, Galola, Grasse, Griffith, Guienther, Hardesty. House, Huston, Jollie, Leibinger, Lucas, Moss, Marks, Phelps, Pressley, Rohrebaugh, Schultheiss, Tucker, Viser

Vehicle Drivers Serial #2: Carroll, Clark, Clark, Drais, Gieffers, Grimes, Hagstad, Hinsley, Hussman, Johnson, Keaton, Moore, Pogue, Salcido, Stacy, Tilton, Winnick, Weidenheft.

  • Overall evaluation of the ATT was Excellent with the following comments of especial note:  Command, Leadership and Supervision – Excellent with SR NCO’s Outstanding; Ingenuity, resourcefulness and initiative, morale, team work enthusiastic attitude and esprit all personnel - Excellent

The names in are my friend Russ Guinther and myself. He and I have kept in touch during our post Vietnam years. Some of the other fellow troopers listed above were friends at the time but we have not maintained our connection over the years. A follow up email from our friend, Doug, with the association states:

"........FYI, you were driving a 2nd Platoon 3/4-ton # 95 listed as an AN/MCT-83. Guinther (spelled incorrectly on the After Action Report) was driving HQ 15, a 21/2-ton shop van.

From the AAR I gathered you folks were busy to the point of being overwhelmed. Even though many of the vehicles were new, the Command Maintenance Management Inspection (CMMI) Team gave the unit a low score because of the number of missing, incorrect and loose parts.  Apparently the factory was also in a hurry to deliver and just didn't do a good quality assurance job......."

Next stop: VIETNAM: Bien Hoa!

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