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Subject: Re: Extra Duties


Author:
Bill Dyer
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Date Posted: 10:50:58 12/12/08 Fri
In reply to: John Brown 's message, "Extra Duties" on 11:13:28 12/01/05 Thu

I read your message extra duties.I had to reread the part on the Bong Son plains .I was part of that group at Bong Son.When I was there we only had a warrent officer3.Mr. O'Reily.His son was killed earlier some where in country I think.Ever so often we would get some beer and he would start singing O'danny boy.The rest of us would start to sober up, and hit the rack.Also I seen the name sarg. Black.He was also at Bong Son when I was there,along with a s. White,and S. Green.
>
>In the army everyone gets assigned extra duties, even
>when you are the
>company exec. My extra duty was as Battalion Officer
>Paymaster. That
>meant that every month it was my job to drive into Qui
>Nhon with an armed
>guard and pick up about $80,000 in cash to pay all of
>the officers in the
>battalion. Simple enough. Hah!
>
>Two weeks after my arrival I was initiated into the
>world of pay officer.
>
>You are first advised to make sure every last penny is
>in the stack
>before you sign for it. MPC is is soft paper bills
>about two inches by
>three inches on paper that is a chore to separate.
>The largest bill was
>ten bucks if I remember correctly. I was put in a
>cubicle by myself and
>advised to count the entire stash twice to make sure
>it was all there.
>Any shortages were my responsibility. I was making
>about $292 per month
>base pay at the time so any shortage I had to make up
>would be a real
>hickey. So, I counted the bills once, and then twice.
>Thank heavens the
>two counts matched.
>
>Back the twenty or so miles to my hooch where I kept
>my loaded M14 ( we
>hadn't been issued M 16s yet) close at hand and
>counted out each officers
>pay twice and placed the bills into each officer's
>payroll statement. I
>have now counted out more than $80,000 in small bills
>four times.
>
>All I had to do now was deliver to each officer his
>cash and payroll
>voucher. Then I found out where some of these guys
>were. There were guys
>detailed all over I Corps. It was up to me to figure
>out how to get to
>them.
>
>After paying all the locals it was time for me to hit
>the road. I had a
>jeep, a driver, a .45 caliber grease gun (I figured
>that even if I
>couldn't hit anyone with it, I would sure scare the
>hell out of them) and
>a pocket full of cash. I put a razor and toothbrush
>and clean socks in my
>pockets and I was gone to explore the eastern coast of
>South Vietman. I
>had no idea how long it was going to take me to pay
>these guys. I had
>been in country two weeks, could hardly find my way to
>the latrine and
>back and here I was, off to parts unknown in a war
>zone, at the same time
>as the battle of Dak To, probably the biggest and
>fiercest battle of the
>Vietnam War, was winding down a hundred miles away.
>
>The first day I headed north up Highway 1, which, at
>the time was nothing
>more than a dusty track which headed straight into
>no-man's land. The
>road was closed to traffic at 5 pm every day. The VC
>owned it from then
>until daylight. I was on a real adventure. The
>country was beautiful.
>Rice paddies, palm trees, quiet villages. Didn't look
>like a war zone to
>me. But that road was a mess.
>
>We had a hundred kilometers to go to get to Bong Son
>and LZ English, home
>to the !st Cavalry Division and a forward support
>detachment that was
>part of my responsibilities and the home to a second
>lieutenant who had
>to be paid. We passed by the road that led to Phu Cat
>Air Force Base, a
>remote engineer company and several villages of
>various sizes. After
>about an hour on the road I had been bounced around
>once too often and I
>had to pee. Bad.
>
>Here I was, out in the middle of nowhere in the Bong
>Son plain, nobody in
>sight, new in country, totally ignorant of where I was
>or who else might
>be there, no thought whatsoever about mines planted on
>the side of the
>road, standing on the side of the road taking a leak.
>How was I to know
>that we had stopped right in the path of an aerial
>assault by the 1st
>Cav. So here I am, peeing on the side of the road,
>helicopters buzzing
>over my head, and bullets starting to fly all around.
>What the hell do
>you do in a situation like that. You can't just shut
>it off. So I did
>what any good soldier would under the circumstances.
>I finished what I
>was doing, climbed back into the jeep and got the hell
>out of there.
>
>I made that trip many times over the next 11 months.
>That was the most
>exciting trip of all. Later after the road was paved,
>the trip got
>easier. It also got a lot scarier. The 7th NVA
>Division moved into the
>area and you never knew what you were going to run
>into. I ended up
>carrying an M-60 machine gun across my lap on many
>trips. Bridges were
>frequently blown up at night and the road and
>shoulders had to be swept
>for mines every morning before the road could be
>opened to traffic.
>There were several places along the road where the
>elephant grass came
>right up to the edge of the road (not good ) and most
>of the villages
>were controlled by the VC.
>
>I spent my first night on the road in a tent for the
>first time in
>Vietnam. And what a night. The tent I got stuck in
>was about fifty yards
>directly in front of an ARVN 155 mm howitzer. I think
>they put me there
>on purpose. You know, new guy in town and all that
>crap. The damn thing
>shot H & I all night long directly over my bunk. You
>cannot describe this
>unless you yourself have experienced it.
>
>The gun direction was changed after each round by what
>I would guess was
>about five degrees. It would traverse about 45
>degrees and then come
>back about ninety degrees and then start back again.
>My bunk must have
>been about dead on the center of the traverse. For
>about the middle
>three rounds of every traverse, the muzzle blast would
>literally lift my
>bunk off the ground. I had to hug the bunk for those
>rounds in order to
>stay on it. The noise is indescribable. No one who
>has not been in the
>army, marines or on a Navy ship with big guns can
>appreciate what this
>experience was like. I did not get a whole lot of
>sleep.
>
>When I first arrived at LZ English the first thing
>anyone noticed was the
>grease gun. I was immediately informed that they were
>desired by everyone
>and went for about $250. The army paid less than 40
>bucks each for them.
> I slept with it in the bed with me that night and
>then every night I was
>gone to make sure someone didn't steal it from me. I
>never carried it
>anywhere again.
>
>The last officer to be paid was really in the boonies.
> He was assigned
>to a forward base camp near a village called Duc Pho.
>It was not far from
>a very famous village, Mi Lai, which wasn't yet known
>to anybody but the
>locals. Getting to this place took some real effort.
>Duc Pho was about
>another 100 klicks north of Bong Son on Highway 1 but
>it was not possible
>to drive there. Highway 1 was not open to traffic for
>unescorted vehicles
>going any further north than I already was. From here
>on I was going to
>have to find air transportation. I was still carrying
>a pocket full of
>cash.
>
>My driver dropped me off at the LZ English landing
>strip and I found a
>twin engined Caribou headed for Da Nang. The only
>flight north that day.
>Da Nang was way up north. I had no idea how far it was
>from Da Nang to
>Duc Pho but I figured I had a better chance of getting
>there from Da Nang
>than from LZ English. They had an airbase there.
>
>I and a few other brave souls boarded the plane, then
>unboarded. Seems
>like one of the engine magnetos wasn't working. Bad.
>The crew chief
>removed the mag and I got him over to one of our shops
>where we used
>argon or oxygen to dry it out. By the time it was
>back together it was
>almost noon. No lunch today.
>
>Once again we lined up at the end of the runway to
>take off. Away we go.
>Just as we lift off the mag gives up the ghost again.
>At least it waited
>until we were airborne. It must have been 150 to 200
>miles to Da Nang,
>all over VC controlled country. We did it on one
>engine.
>
>I hit the ground running when we landed in Da Nang.
>It was now late in
>the afternoon and flights to such places as Duc Pho
>stopped at dusk. The
>operations desk told me that there was a flight on the
>line leaving right
>then for Duc Pho and I launched into a sprint across
>the tarmac. This guy
>with a white silk scarf thrown around his neck was
>wandering around the
>aircraft, I guess inspecting it. The Pilot? Looked
>like something right
>out of a Jimmy Stewart movie. He gave me the ok to
>get in and I jumped
>onto the rear ramp where several grunts were already
>getting comfortable
>and we were gone. On another Caribou.
>
>This pilot was either a new comer who believed all the
>stories he had been
>told, crazy or a veteran who knew the score. To get
>to Duc Pho we had to
>cross arms of the South China Sea and over land.
>Whenever we were over
>water he climbed to altitude. But when we were over
>land……
>
>We passed over an infantry squad going out on night
>patrol. One of the
>grunts on the plane said it was his squad. Another guy
>said "How do you
>know" to which the first replied "I could read their
>nametags." That
>wasn't much of an exaggeration. The pilot put that
>thing right on the
>deck over land. He figured that at such a low
>altitude, he would be over
>and gone before Charlie could figure out where he was
>and take pot shots
>at him. I guess it worked. Nobody took pot shots at
>us.
>
>We all got our gear on the back ramp. The pilot
>advised us over the
>intercom that he was not stopping on the ground. It
>was getting dark. The
>plane hit the ground and barely slowed down. At the
>end of the runway he
>did a 180, we all spilled out the back and he was gone.
>
>Somebody gave me directions to the area I needed to
>head for, I walked
>across the runway and got there just in time for
>supper. All day to get
>100 miles.
>
>After I ate I needed to find a pee tube. I was told
>where it was and to
>be sure to use the flashlight. It seems the week
>before a visiting
>officer had wandered out to the pee tube in the middle
>of the night and
>didn't bother to bring a light. There was a viper
>coiled around the tube
>when he siddled up to it and it got him on the foot.
>At least that was
>the story I was told. With all the poisonous snakes
>that were around
>that country it didn't take much to make me a
>believer. I took the
>flashlight.
>
>I never was sure what was the more dangerous, taking a
>chance of a snake
>being coiled around the tube or sending a signal to
>Charlie where I was.
>This LZ was in the middle of Charlie country and the
>perimeter was probed
>on a regular basis. I caught a chopper to Qui Nhon the
>first thing the
>next morning and I was glad to get out of that place.
>Before the month
>was over, the lieutenant got transferred out and I
>never had to go back
>there again.
>
>I had been in Nam two weeks.

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