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Subject: Water Point in Phu Tai Valley - 1966

Bill Bellinger
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Date Posted: 09:45:45 08/03/04 Tue

I was looking at some old slides of Phu Tai valley recently and came across one that I believe was of the water purification point in the valley. It was on a small lake and had what appeared to be two tall white cylindrical tanks. This installation was run by civilian contractors (PA&E probably) and manned by Korean workers. Anyway, in 1966, the units in the valley were detailed to provide guards for this installation in a rotating basis. The guard detail consisted of seven or eight soldiers armed only with their personal weapons (M-14s at that time.) The water point was not on a regular Army compound and did not have the usual amenities and protection. One fairly large guard shack that was surrounded by sand bags is all I remember. The guards were posted there without any communications, no radio, no field phone, no vehicle, no nothing. They were checked periodically during the night by the Sergeant at Arms and/or the Officer of the Day (O.D.). Well one night when the 56th Signal Company had the detail and I had O.D. duty, I went with the Sergeant at Arms to check the guards. It was about 11 pm or so. As we arrived at the site, two Korean workmen were still there and had the place lit up with spot lights. As we approached the guard shack we heard the distinct pop, pop, pop, of small arms fire. One of the guards reported seeing tracers flying through the guard shack. We immediately dove for cover. The two Koreans were running about saying VC, VC. The Sergeant ordered the Koreans to shut off the lights or else we would shoot them out. They did, and jumped in their truck and took off in flash in total darkness with their lights off until they got to the main road (Rte. 1a probably). As soon as it was completely dark there was no further firing. We could not tell where it was coming from so we held our fire. We had no communications which is really bad for a signal outfit. We lay low for about an hour or so. Finally we decided that the Sergeant and one guard should leave with the 3/4 truck and get help. I stayed with the remaining guards. After about another hour the MPs belatedly showed up. Of course, by this time, Charlie was long gone, and probably back in his hootch bedding down for the night, chuckling to himself.

The only good thing that came out of this, other than no one was hit, is that the 56th would always provide radios for their guards at the water point from that night on.

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