The Marine Corps Years
Rick Swan

Dong Ha, RVN, 1st Radio Bn.
Aug 69 - Feb 70

 Marine Home Next Duty
 Updated Jun 13, 2003
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July 20, 1969 - I'm at Pendleton when we land on the Moon (also check the NASA site).  Two weeks later I land in Danang.
Concertina Wire A lot of concertina wire must have been used in this here war.  We just tried to do our share.
Greek, left, and __ Burke unloading one truck of never ending stream of sandbags -provided by Chuck Truitt
Con Thien Firebase Con Thien firebase.  About 3 miles from the "Z", these guys saw more war than I ever want to see.
Chuck Truitt; to left is northern perimeter machine gun at Dong Ha-provided by Truitt
Truitt on another resupply run from Fuller- LOTS of batteries and all the beer that they could load - Black Label ;-(   Behind his right shoulder is our underground work bunker; a few months later I and two others "waterproofed" it with hot black tar(not happy when a bucket of the stuff tipped into my boot);  in background part of our antenna field;  -provided by Truitt
FSB Fuller, clockwise from left: Howie Spaulding, Milford Cole, Bill Morris, ARVN-Dancer Quan,  half of Chuck Colvard, Tom Cunningham, ARVN-Dancer Noi. -provided by Truitt
View WSW from FSB Fuller; to right of point is The Rockpile; ragged ridge running to right of The Rockpile is Razorback.  Two peaks in distance are Hill 1015 and 950.  Chuck delights in hearing pilot who wiped out 950 calling it 940 after that.-provided by Truitt
 Pre-Christmas gathering, unknown names except Woody (with the cigarette).  Woody had his mouth blown up when lightning set off a Claymore detonator. -provided by Truitt.
This additional by Earle Wilson 9/14/2001 - "I believe the Marine all the way to the left is Cpl. Donald Altis (2575) The guy in the center with hand up in Peace Sign I believe is Cpl.(Sgt.?) Wilson (from Alabama) USA (407th RRD out of Quang Tri). He was working with us in the Comm center at Dong Ha."
Christmas in Dong Ha - 91k Christmas in Dong Ha.  Bob Rose (adopted Dad) sent me the Snoopy blanket.  Gave some semblance of cheer amongst the rockets red glare.
Blimp - and it was gone NSA supplied some experimental radio equipment which was hoisted up by this blimp.  The grunts were really, really upset with the strobe lights pointing at their base.  Since it was also pointing down to 1st Radio Bn, I guess that just made us stupid!  The night hoisting was stopped within a day or so.
RDF Rick If you can't chase ditties, at least you can point to them with a PIG (PRD-1).  If three of us can point to them, then we can piss them off.
Walls of sand bags like this surrounded everything that we could think of protecting from our hooches and work areas to the two-holers. (Remember when the Lt. had us a build a separate two-holwe for the officers? Pissed everyone off.)
Church along Highway 1, probably near Hue.  Can anyone make out the inscription below bell tower?
Irrigated fields, in what is likely a very beautiful country if we were not so tense all the time.
Vendors, or families getting supplies, or Charlie; always useful to be on alert.


Memories from here:
Landing in Danang, I learned that a Boeing 707 could turn on its side vertically to make a very small circle around the Danang airport and then scoot in for a landing.  On the ground, the Pan Am contract pilot explained that two fighters were granted priority to take off and provide combat assistance.  We 300 or so NGs (New Guys) were both excited and scared.  About one month later my final top secret finally arrived and I headed up north.

At long last, I got assigned a ditty desk.  Felt worthless there, more than two years after being the honorman in "R" branch school.  But I made a great RDF man and one-time pad radio chaser talking to the Air Force.  I did not use my Spanish either.  Dah!

Located 6-7  miles from the DMZ, rockets were the most frightening feature of Dong Ha.  The sound of a freight train or two or four running past your ear caused the first person to hear it to spread their arms and knock everyone within reach down to the floor.  When that set would pass overhead, then everyone would grab their flak jackets, boots and weapon and move quickly to their designated defense point on the perimeter of 1st Radio Bn.

I visited Sgt .Mike Stahl, Army Green Beret, a few times up in this area.  His team would head out to points unknown; sometimes returning hanging by carabiners from Cobra gun ships because the helicopters were so short of fuel they could not take time to find a safe LZ to get the team aboard properly.  Mike and his partners each had a body bag hanging at the back end of their bunks which Mike described as representing "our morbid sense of humor" - whatever gets us through this war works for me.

The day that a rope tether from a 6-by to the NSA blimp broke.  The blimp rose to about 5,000 feet and swelled substantially before an automatic charge exploded and it dropped to the ground.  Our guys headed out very quickly and recovered the secret equipment aboard.

Visited my adopted Dad, Bob Rose, down at Tan Son Nhut Air Base.  Now those guys knew  how to eat - 7 X 24 mess halls!

The war began to close down for the Marines and 1st Radio Bn moved south as a convoy through Hue and back to Danang.  A few of us kept going to Hill 37.  The Army took over amid certainty by the Marines that this area would be lost.

People I have found:  Lewis Beck, John Heikkila, Chuck Truitt, Earle Wilson, Mike Stahl, George Carnako

People I want to find: Anyone stationed at Dong Ha during my term there; especially anyone who knew Bob Hrisoulis who would die in his final operation out of Hill 37.

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