|My tour of Vietnam started on 5 Apr. 68, the day I set foot on the troop ship, USNS Barrett(1) (2), in San Francisco harbor. However, my RVN experience started when I arrived at the 366th Aviation Support Detachment, at Ft. Benning, GA, in early Dec. 1967. My name is Michael Greenberg & I was an Air Traffic Controller (93B20) in the US Army. After graduating from the USAF Air Traffic Control School at Keesler AFB, MS in July 67, I was assigned to Mother Rucker for a month of OJT. After OJT, I was stationed at Hunter AAF in Savannah, GA. At Hunter I worked (also built) stagefields & gunship firing ranges. Just before Thanksgiving 1967, I received orders reassigning me to the 366th ASD at Ft. Benning, GA, for further deployment to a "Restricted Area Overseas." The 366th was one of eight ASDs forming up at Benning: 359th, 360th, 361st, 362nd, 363rd, 364th, 365th, & 366th. We were assigned to the 58th Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Brigade, later to become the 58th Aviation Group & then finally the 165th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade.
After a short Thanksgiving leave, I arrived at Ft. Benning. Our stay at Benning was divided between getting our equipment, preparing it for shipment, RVN training & typical Army bs.
As I recall (if my CRS has kicked in, please let me know), we were supposed to be 21 men units: 1-CO (Lt. Col.), 1-NCOIC (SFC), 14-Air Traffic Controllers, 1-Generator Operator, 1-TTY Operator, 1-Radio Repairman, 2-Radar Repairmen. The 14 controllers were supposed to be split between a tower & a GCA (although not all the airfields had a GCA). When we left Benning, none of the units were complete, as I recall. Most did not have their CO yet & others were short of EM (the 366th was short of both). Our NCOIC was SFC "Fitz" Fitzsimmons (don't remember his real first name).
|Left: The conex containers that crashed into the rail during the first storm. Provided by Jim Ollis.|
|I wish I could say our cruise was uneventful, but I can't. We hit two storms & made an unscheduled stop in Okinawa for fresh water & to upright a Conex container (that was rumored to contain ammo & explosives) that had broken its restraints & crashed into the rail during the first storm. The eight ASDs were berthed together in one of the ship's holds, in bunks stacked four high. There was 18" between your mattress & the bunk above you. Some of the top bunks were under pipes or vent shafts & all the bunks were occupied. The bottom bunks were only inches off the deck, so during the storms, our duffle bags, which were stacked in the middle of the hold, would go flying through the bottom bunks knocking the occupants out the other side onto the deck. The officers & NCOs were in the staterooms (the Barrett was an old, converted cruise ship). There were approximately 1,500 GIs on the Barrett.|
|Left: The bunks aboard the Barrett. Provided by Jim Ollis. Click for another view by Tom Montgomery.|
|Right: The coast of Vietnam off Vung Tau, as seen from the deck of the USNS Barrett. Provided by Jim Ollis.|
|Twenty-one days after leaving the States we arrived in Vung Tau to unload most of the cargo & people. Then the rest of us (the 366th & the 360th) sailed up to Qui Nhon & disembarked the next day. We waited all day in Qui Nhon (eating french fries at a snack bar, as I recall) for transport to Pleiku & finally made it to Pleiku late that night just as a red alert started. We spent the rest of that night sleeping on the concrete floor of the passenger terminal. WELCOME TO VIETNAM!|
|Right: A view of the Barrett.
Provided by Jim Ollis.
|After being transported to Camp Enari, the 366th settled into tent city, while the 360th settled into their hootches. Camp Enari was home for the 360th, but the 366th was slated for Dak To & we couldn't move in until the 125th ATC Co. moved out. While at Camp Enari, we underwent our FNG in-country orientation. For those that never served in RVN or civilians, can you imagine listening to an officer telling you that the greatest sport in the world is to hunt game that can shoot back?
Finally, in early May 68, the 366th ASD convoyed to Dak To & took over the airfield, its operation & ATC control of the Old Dak To airstrip. There was also a contingent of Zoomies (Air Force) on the airfield that ran the passenger terminal & loaded/unloaded the aircraft.
|Some of our guys had gone up to Dak To before the rest of us, so they were already settled-in. Upon arriving, I was first shown the room I would be in with 3 other guys, then I was shown the wood pile & told I had to build myself a bed if I wanted some place to sleep. WELCOME TO DAK TO!
|Above: My bunk in Dak To.|