USMC, 1st Radio Battalion, Vietnam Veterans

Stories - Danang

  1. Chuck Truitt - My Own Private Air Taxi - September, 1969
  2. Chuck Truitt - Bob Hope USO show - December, 1969, reported May, 2004!

Rob Charnell - The Night Danang Went Kaboom! - September, 1969
Does anyone remember the night when 3rd MAF in Danang almost got leveled as a result of a rocket attack that hit an ammo dump across the street from the compound? That would have been in September '69. Some of the guys who were in Danang have got to remember that night.

I just got back from Operation Durham Peak in August and was doing a stint on the linguists bench at the 3rd MAF comms center in DaNang. The NVA got lucky one night and launched 2 rockets. Just by coincidence I believe I photographed the hospital ship HOPE leaving Danang that night or just prior to the incident (can't remember which). One rocket landed outside our barracks at 3rd MAF (the ones in my photos, and shown in others photos). The other rocket hit the ammo dump (which I didn't know existed til that night) a couple hundred yards away across the street.

I'm not sure how much ordinance went up but the only thing which saved us were the barracks were open and vented with screening. The explosion and concussion went right through the barracks. The hangers and other buildings in the compound were crumpled up like tin foil.

I was on the 2nd floor sound asleep when it occurred. I felt the 1st incoming rocket and then heard it explode. My feet were already hitting the floor running towards the perimeter fence and bunkers outside the barracks. I heard the second one fly over head. I started running out the door, then did an abrupt 180-degree as the rocket passed over head, and started running in the opposite direction down the squad bay. Everyone else was right behind me and I started plowing through guys yelling for them to head the other way. We got maybe 5 or 10 feet when I heard and felt the heat from the ammo dump explosion.

I tried falling to the floor, but the explosion lifted me up before my body hit. It felt like I was thrown 10 to 12 feet down the squad bay. You could feel the intense heat and concussion from the explosion. I came to with bunk beds and lockers on top of me. I couldn’t believe no one was hurt. It was really amazing. To say I had my clocked cleaned was an understatement. I found a piece of 2 or 3-inch shrapnel embedded in my locker at the point where my head would have been if I were sleeping. I kept that piece as a souvenir and have it to this day.

At 3rd MAF they had recently started barracks inspections (go figure), similar to ones you'd be accustom to stateside. After that rocket attack, those inspections somehow just never materialized again. At least not while I was there. Someone must have figured out that we actually were in a war zone.

It was an interesting night and the Marine Corps General in charge of I Corps was livid (I am not into names, sorry). From what I heard, the next day he had the commander of the 7th Marines (I believe) explaining how rockets had come to blow up the ammo dump just across from his compound.

Chuck Truitt - Bob Hope USO show - December, 1969, reported May, 2004!
An open letter to Ann Margaret

Ann Margaret
Andy Williams Moon River Theater
2500 76 Country Blvd.
Branson MO 65616

Dear Ann Margaret,

A recent reunion of 1st Radio Battalion Vietnam veterans was held in Branson from 13 - 16 May. This year, there were just a total of 14 men present, and we went to the Moon River Theater to see you. It was really a treat for us to see you - still our sweetheart - we’re the only ones who have aged. Its amazing how limber you still are (climbing all over that motorcycle).

Once again you lifted our spirits, just like so long ago at the other side of the world. As you mentioned, our unit discovered the NVA plans to shoot six 122mm rockets into the Bob Hope USO show, of which you were a part. We were also able to locate the enemy unit, and destroy it before its dastardly deed was accomplished. Possibly that action saved your life, and the lives of many others there.

With this letter I want to thank you, on behalf of myself, and the rest of the guys for the recognition that you personally gave us, and the acclaim as a result from all those other folks there in the theater that Saturday evening the 15th of May. It was truly the highlight of our reunion. Once again we want to thank you for the blessing you have been to us, and to all of the forgotten Vietnam Veterans.

Oh, please tell Andy that he was pretty good too; he’s just not so pretty!

Thank you so very much,
Chuck Truitt

former Gunnery Sergeant of Marines
(on behalf of the 1st RadBn guys)