Posted by: philipfontana | June 19, 2014

My Vietnam, 1970

My Vietnam

January 24-December 11, 1970




                                            Note the location of Cam Ranh Bay peninsula where I was stationed.



            A typical late 1960’s scene (1967)of US Army barracks on Cam Ranh Bay just before I arrived in early 1970.



     Excuse us for living, but not all of us who were drafted and sent to the Vietnam War were in the “boonies,” the jungle, fighting as combat soldiers. – -“South Vietnam” and the “Vietnam Conflict,” to be precise. For every combat soldier, there were 11 of us serving as support troops. At the height of our troop strength, there were 550,000 of us. You can do the math as to the numbers involved in actual combat. “Occupying” territory turned out to be our main mission and biggest contribution. To make the point, upon our exit in 1973, the government and country of South Vietnam fell to Communist North Vietnam by 1975 with the fall of Saigon.


     This photo captures the core of my daily existence in Vietnam, an air conditioned desk job as a Military Policeman, US Army. That’s me on the left at my desk. Don’t recall the name of that familiar faced visitor sitting desk right. Tebout! That’s it! You can almost read his name on his right pocket! Can’t make out his rank in the photo.



     I was part of those support troops assigned to Battalion Headquarters Company of the 97th MP Battalion, Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam. We were under the command of the 18th Military Police Brigade. I was head clerk in the S-4 Section. We were in charge of &/or accountable for equipment for the supply rooms, motor pools, arms rooms, communications shacks, and the mess halls for our Headquarters Company and the four MP companies under our charge. I arrived at a rank of PFC and left a Specialist Fourth Class. (I passed up the chance to be promoted to Sergeant but that’s a story in itself.) In between I became a “one man show” compiling reports on the number and status of all Battalion radios, vehicles, weapons, and ammunition, among other responsibilities. In the S-4 Office there was a Captain in charge, a Staff Sergeant, a typist clerk, and “Fontana.” The typist clerk saved me, for I had lied my way into the job saying, “Yes, I DID type my college term papers.” No one asked how proficient nor tested my skills! But the best way to convey my status around the S-4 Office would be to quote the Group command office, between our office & Brigade Headquarters, when they called to ask a question. It was one of those rare occasions when I was off duty. The Officer shouted over the telephone, “Doesn’t anyone there know anything except Fontana?” I did OK, I guess, receiving a Bronze Star for “meritorious service.”



     Cam Ranh is a peninsula across the Bay from the mainland, characterized by low lying sand hills & sand galore as far as the eye can see, with sparse vegetation/plant life and trees. This is THE MAIN INTERSECTION of all Cam Ranh, aptly named “Times Square” with street sign to prove it & two traffic signals! One quarter mile up the hill to the right was the 97th MP Battalion.



     Cam Ranh Bay was our duty station, a supply depot for the most part. I called it America’s “Fifty-First State”! The US Army occupied most of Cam Ranh Bay. Both the US Navy and the US Air Force had their respective isolated installations on opposite ends of the peninsula. Cam Ranh is 17 miles long and 2 miles wide, connected to the mainland by a bridge. It had the feel of an island. I never did find that land bridge making it a peninsula!


         This was our Battalion Headquarters. I marked the photo with the designated names of buildings. Thus, with this photo in their hands, I could refer to places in letters to the folks back home. (In one letter I included a small handful of sand for authenticity!….not appreciated I suspected!)


             Place this photo to the left of the photo above & it completes the picture. You can see the “repeated buildings” photo center right. This was the “studio lot” for my Vietnam escapades & anecdotes that were more like a “M*A*S*H TV series experience for me!



      When I arrived in late January 1970, we worked 7 days a week at our office jobs, 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM. After 6 months, we were given 1 day off every 2 weeks! The one exception was time off to attend religious services on weekends! This gave new meaning to the phrase, “He got religion!” But the idea was that if you were working, there was less time to get in trouble. We cannot compare our modest contributions to those of the 58,300 troops who gave their lives and the 153,303 maimed and injured fighting in the jungles of Vietnam. We had it relatively good and we knew it! – -Set office hours, evenings off, a different outdoor movie every night, a TV and reading room, and an “Enlisted Men’s Club” or bar with live bands in the Headquarters area.


         There was the occasional BBQ with steaks & beer in the Headquarters area or on the beach at the South China Sea. Pictured here with raised beer in hand is the always warm & friendly Staff Sergeant Harrison West of Indiana & to his left, back the equally congenial Specialist Fourth Class Edward Parlier of California. They were assigned to get the steaks going on the grills at a celebration at the South China Sea. We had just passed with commendations a big “Inspection” of the entire Battalion operation by a real General & his staff.


       There was even a freshwater lake for time-off with sailboats, catamarans, canoes, rowboats, & even a motor boat for water skiing! Yep, that’s me at “Tiger Lake,” where I learned to sail! (We were always leery that a Viet Cong sniper might be lurking in the treed hillside & take a pot-shot at us. It never happened.)


        That’s me, second from the left. – -Can’t recall the others by name. On at least 5 or 6 missions, we were called upon to pull regular MP duty away from our Battalion Headquarters desks. Packing .45 calibre pistols, we pulled duty in Cam Ranh, on the mainland, & helicoptered to remote MP Company locations.




     To get a more balanced picture of my Vietnam service, it wasn’t all peaches and cream. We had Viet Cong “sappers” or guerrilla fighters or snipers who, in dark of night, swam or crawled across the waters from the mainland to Cam Ranh and blew up a docked ammo ship and a giant oil tank and the ammo depot. And then there were the occasional rocket attacks. You would hear a blast, near or far, and off went the sirens. – -Maybe 6 or 7 rocket attacks over my 12 months there.

     Be it guerrilla attacks or rocket attacks, we followed the usual SOP, Standard Operating Procedure, putting on steel helmet, flak jacket (bullet proof vest), reporting to the arms room to be issued an M-16 rifle and ammo. You then either reported to your duty station or to a bunker according to your preordained orders. This was considered a “Red Alert” and would last for a few hours to as long as through the night toward dawn until the “all clear” siren. Surprisingly, we felt relatively safe from day to day around these attacks which usually occurred in the evening. In fact, we Enlisted Men saw great humor in our Officers’ barracks being hit by a rocket one night, since no one was in the building at the time. The worst thought, probably unjustified, was lying on your bunk at night imagining a Viet Cong guerrilla fighter crawling on the floor into our barracks. – “Never happen!” We were on the second floor of the barracks! Ha!

     And so, this sets the scene for my Vietnam experience which more closely resembled an episode from “M*A*S*H” and the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, the 1970 movie & the TV series from 1972 to 1983! Take another look above at the two accompanying photos of the 97th MP Battalion Headquarters area. That’s where many a laugh and high jinx took place. It is not the popular thing to admit with the great loss of life there, but this too was a part of the Vietnam story in Cam Ranh and, I am certain, elsewhere. This was my Vietnam, 1970.

     “Excuse Us For Living” will from time to time tell you about “More Vietnam” and just maybe you will laugh along with me.

      Comments: Please!









  1. “Fontana” I bet you kept Order and a powerful foundation so life could be liveable. What an intense memory.

    • Bernadette, Is that what came through???????? YOU ARE RIGHT!!!! If I get to tell enough anecdotes, you will see how right you are! I made life liveable & never thought of it that way until you said it!!! –Very introspective you are!!! Thanks for such a good comment in so few words! Hope you are doing well. Phil

      • Hi, I was in the 155th Trans.Co. In Cam Ranh the whole year of 70. We did have good duty as you mentioned but I will always remember those rocket attacks & the POL jetty taking a direct hit. A rocket came through the roof of our hooch that night and didn’t blow up. I was right near the ship when a sapper set a charge off. there were 15,000 lb. bombs on that ship. Many racial incidents while i was there. The army was no exception to that problem. Thanks for your service. Rich Goguen

      • i was there 71-72 557 light maintenace company

  2. I really enjoyed reading this Phil and I agree with Bernadette. They had a real asset in you and they knew it!

    • Jean, Many thanks! A long time ago but vivid still today…..hard work & played hard!!! You are so kind. Thanks for reading & commenting!!! Phil

  3. Phil, your memoir is quite educational. I read it aloud to Scott and we both enjoyed it. Certainly does sound MASHish.
    How well I remember your years of service, the family’s concern for you and even some surprises that were sent to you lest you forgot the craziness of those on the home front. 🙂

    • Viv, Thanks for the nice comment about this being educational & Scott hearing all about it! It WAS like MASH!!!!!!!! Hope I get to relate some of the gems of anecdotes. Yes, I sure DO remember the home support, the center of which was that tape recording I still have done at a Memorial Day picnic at your parents house 1970!!! EVERYONE present recorded a message & SANG!!!!!!!!! –The high point was a poem read by your Dad about “on becoming an uncle” upon my return…because Donnie Doolittle was born Feb 7 while I was away! –a scream of a laugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can almost recite it!!! You bring back lots of good memories despite the war! Many thanks again! Phil

  4. Now how did I miss your telling us that you were in Cam Ranh Bay? Or is it just my addled brain? I was there from June 1969 to December 1969. I never went to Tiger Lake because there really was a guy on Tiger Mountain who was taking pot shots at the GI’s there. Instead we went to the beach on the South China Sea. I was there when the sappers attacked the hospital. OK, we’ll have to compare notes later.

    • Chip, Many thanks for the comment. We may have talked about our mutual service because I know you were in Vietnam & were an Officer. So there WERE snipers at Tiger Lake!!! Attack on the hospital! We never had to contend with that! Yes, we will have to explore our mutual stays on Cam Ranh!!!!!!!!!!! –a unique coincidence for two RU Glee Clubbers! Phil

  5. Wow! I still think you’re lucky to have survived. Anything could have happened out there and no matter what your station was, you’re still heroes. Many refer to it as the war you lost… a meaningless war. The war you should never have fought. You should share your thoughts on that sometime if you’re up for it. 🙂

    • Kev, Many thanks for the comments!!! Agreed! I always say that my first reaction when I looked at all the names of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, was that MY NAME WAS NOT ON IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And you are right, there are serious considerations to be addressed. I did a little of that when I said the most important thing we did was occupy South Vietnam & when we left it fell. Good reflections & again my thanks! Phil

      • I thoroughly enjoyed this post Phil. It’s one of those things I know so little about but wins my admiration all the same. I do love my American friends.

  6. A great read from you once again Phil!
    That must have been a very intense time for you.
    And still you managed to bring it like a education rather than a memory.
    Very awesome.
    Lots of love ❤

    • Patty, Thanks, Patty! Intense is a good word for the entire experience….great highs & strength to counter what would be the lows like rockets exploding in your area! And you are right, it WAS an education/an experience & nice that it came through! THANKS, Patty, always for your support & encouragement. Phil

  7. Welcome home my brother! Welcome home.

    • Sachem, Many thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 44 years ago & finally telling MY story!!!! Thanks! Phil

  8. This strikes me as extremely honest and highly educational for those who were never in SE Asia and have Hollywood and TV-created notions of what Vietnam was like for Americans. I’m British, spent a year in Sarawak in 1964-65 during the height of Konfrontasi; I was teaching at a school deep in the Ulu (two day boat ride to get to it), and saw plenty of military and police field force when traveling. Also met refugees from the Indon side of the border in one long house. But I never heard a shot fired in anger and my scariest experience was when the MPs in Kuching had a hard time accepting that I and my few friends were civilians and not squaddies breaking curfew. My memories are almost wholly positive, although there were former students of my UK school who were killed during Konfrontasi. If you were not among those trudging through the ulu, it was not a bad time.

    Incidentally, I’ve been in Cam Ranh and never knew it was a peninsular!

    • Jim, Great to hear another story not fighting in a war zone. Your year in Sarawak in 1964-65 during the height of Konfrontasi is all new to me! Fascinating! Glad your experience was good as mine but with similar losses of life nevertheless present going on!!! Plus you were in Cam Ranh & though it was an island too! Great comments!!! Phil

  9. Phil, enjoyed your blog as usual. What a surprise to find a picture of me I didn’t know existed in your BBQ section. We have similar memories of our “forced labor.” Looking back, it is difficult to complain about our assignments, considering how some of our comrades spent their Vietnam assignments. Mostly I remember surviving the time and meeting new friends with common interests in a far away place. Your remembrance sparked old memories and I enjoyed revisiting our compound through your pictures and words. Thanks again for being the caretaker of the joint memory. Don’t be surprised if Donna and I show up on your doorstep some time. Cheers, Ed

    • Ed & Donna too! How wonderful!!! I guess yours is the Comment I was waiting for in my busyness responding to others since this post. –You & Doug Schultz ….haven’t heard from him yet. I think you are in another BBQ photo I have as well! All you say is why I had to do this post if I want to share some of the humorous anecdotes in the future. I appreciate all you said!!! While I have some photos that will accompany anecdotes, I naturally don’t have a photo of some of the “prime players.” But I work around that! Thanks again! Yes, Geri & I have assumed that at some point in all our travels & busy schedules that the Parliers & Fontanas would find time to ge together. It will happen! Phil

  10. Great post, Phil. We need more stories like these. Thanks.

  11. pg, Thanks! Hope you like the humor idea! Phil

  12. Phil, I enjoyed your blog once again and thanks for the map detailing the separate Corps areas. I’ve always wondered but never knew how the country was divided.

    I missed ‘Nam since I was mustered out before it heated up. I dropped out of college and enlisted in Jan ’59. I wanted to be in the Special Forces. After I got through Basic and Second eight weeks learning FDC, I requested the Special Forces training. I was told I would have to go through jump school first so off I went to the 101st Airborne. After jump school they told me I had to have 18 months active duty to qualify. After 18 months, they told me I needed to have 36 months left which would have meant extending my commitment so I said, “Forget it.” For the final year of my 3 year enlistment I was rotated to Scwabish Gmund, Germany. (While I was in Germany Pres Kennedy had the Special Forces requirements dramatically shortened. They wanted as many men as possible trained, and as you well know, were among the first into ‘Nam.)

    Unfortunately, like most GIs, I wasted my year in Germany. Saw very little of the country and learned very little German although every GI knows within a week of getting there how to call for a taxi, order a beer or a schnapps, a wiener schnitzel, and ask a girl to sleep with him. The life essentials are covered.

    I was assigned to an 8 inch self-propelled howitzer (modified to fire small nuclear warheads) battalion as the lead surveyor for B Battery. Our job was to establish exact firing points and azimuths for the guns. Most of the time it was same old, same old, boring days and training. There were times when things got livened up and those are the memories you spoke of.

    We had an alert once a month. No one knew when it would happen but it always started with a siren that was so loud it woke up the entire city. They generally started around midnight and we would get into combat gear, pack all our military gear, load it into our 3/4 ton truck and wait for marching orders. Usually it would mean driving for a couple of hours in convoy, setting up camp, having a hot breakfast, sometimes an inspection, then go back to the kasern and another normal day.

    In August of’61, instead of sounding the siren, the CQs quietly woke each person, told them to get packed and ready to go. They also told us to lock and clearly label our foot and wall lockers. We even drew live ammo. Then we waited and waited. The work finally came down the next day that the East German’s were building a wall around Berlin. Everyone, on both sides were scared to death that if a single shot was fired the situation would instantly blow up into WWIII. It took more than a week for us to get back to normal activities. Everyone’s commitment was automatically extended. Spooky times.

    My Commanding Officer, Capt Bolgar (?), talked to me a couple of time about going to OCS. He also told me he could promote me to SP/6 and guarantee my assignment for three years if I would re-enlist. At the time, there was no way I wanted any more of the army. However, there are times when I wonder how different my life would have been if i had gone to OCS or even just re-enlisted and became a “lifer.” I have come to realize that the secret to getting by in the military without going stir crazy is to just accept it and do what is expected of you.

    But then the ugly reality changes and way too many troops are put into harm’s way time and time again. I am always amazed at how they can handle it and, of course, fully commit themselves.


  13. Jim, You have a wonderful story to tell of your own military experience! First the try for Special Forces & the duty in Germany. Your alerts were quite something…worse than the real, live rocket attacks we had in Vietnam that I described. Loved your explanation of mastering the basics in Germany right down to making it with the girls. But you were part of history being there during the Berlin Wall crisis…must have been quite something! Yes, OCS would have taken you down the road of the lifer, the best way to do it instead of being a lifer as a Non-Commissioned Officer. But then you would have had to put in your 20 years for that military pension. Flip of the coin of life, right???!!! Great comments. Jim! Thanks! Phil

  14. hey Phil-log.finally got to read this one… Interestingingly Jim’s dad did the same job as you did…but only during WW11-thank you for your service!

    • Marg, Glad you read this one! Ain’t that a kick in the head that Jim’s Dad had a similar duty post during WWII!!!! Thanks for the nice comment! Phil

  15. Dear Phil – Thank you so much for an very interesting insight in your personal history, well written and we just love the old pictures together with the marker. You have done it again, shown that quantity dosn´t matter, it is the quality in the post which should be the core. And you still is a good looking guy – keep it up… We hope everything is well in New Jersey – Right now we are hanging out in Bangkok.

    All our best – Jeppe / Katja.

    • Jeppe & Katja, There you are!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was waiting for another TP post from you two! Bangkok! Ah, gathering material for the next post! Thanks for all the kind comments about “My Vietnam” & the quality & not quantity….so kind. And thanks but I was 24 in Vietnam & I sure don’t look as viral!!! Great comments! Phil

  16. 🙂

  17. Jixi! Glad you liked this one!!!!!!!!! One of my favorites! Phil

  18. I almost went career army like many of my college frat brothers and as a sophomore in ROTC in ’68 I was one of 600 nation wide awarded full college scholarship and then on to OCS. After deep contemplation I turned it down and I became a teacher instead for 33 years in minority high schools. 7 fellows from the North Miami Senior High class of ’67 did not return. Thank you for your service.

    One of the best kept VA benefit secrets is that all WW 2 vets are entitled to up to $1,700 a month pension depending on income. Those who know about it have 20 forms to fill out and must have original discharge papers and takes at least 2 years if you are lucky but many aged vets die before that. We filed for father in 2012 and at the time he was 88 and took only 8 months. He get $1,500 a month as he has some income for social security and a pension. It is disgraceful – every WW 2 should have received a notification.

    • Carl, Quite a story & decision re ROTC & OCS!!! Sounds like you were 3 years behind me. I graduated from Rutgers in 1968. I too wanted to teach. But my father sent me off to law school from which I was drafted after one year!!! You did the right thing!!!
      And also quite a story re WWII benefits & your Dad!!!!!!!!!!! How could this be kept a secret with all the Veterans’ organizations like the VFW & American Legion, etc.? And I’ll bet their spouses would get something upon their demise! All I got for my widowed Mom was money to defray medical costs from VA.
      Thanks for the thoughtful comments! Phil

  19. Thanks Phil–those were very strange days–where reality wasn’t always real. I’m glad I decided to clean my email house today–I found your gem lurking amidst all the stuff that had to go. It’s fitting–I’ve been thinking about returning to my “long and winding road”–just not sure what part of the road will appear next. Thanks for the reminder…Ray

  20. Impressive! Thank you so much for informative post.Hope to read more about your story in Vietnam. Best wishes..

    • Indah, Many thanks, Indah, for reading my Vietnam post & for the “Like” & the “Follow.” Yes, I have written my next post already on “More Vietnam #2” & await time to post it & photos!!! It is a pleasure to know you & I must thank Mino for that!!! You do excellent work of you website posts! Phil

      • My pleasure Phil! I am looking forward to read your second post 😉 I am thanking Mihran too 😀 cheers!!

  21. I’m glad you returned home safe and sound but all I want to say is vietnam was a war or conflict as they referred to that usa should have never fought!! What did we get out of it? My life was never same for me after my husband served in vietnam!! Btw , he was at can rahn bay in 1970.As you can tell I’m still bitter after all thse years.

    • Gail, Many thanks for one of the few REALLY meaningful comments on my Vietnam post!!! WOW! Your husband was in Can Ranh Bay 1970 just like me!!! You are right! And if JFK lived, I promise you all this never would have happened!!! He was too, too smart to let 58,000 of us get killed!!! He knew what battle was like from his Navy experiences in WWII. LBJ did not!!!! Same for Nixon!!! Thanks! Phil

    • Gail I sure would like to talk to you I was at can rahn bay in 1070-1971 my email address is

      • I sure would like to find some guys that as in my outfit>

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  24. My husband was in Cam Ranh Bay 1970 , he was a truck driver , his name Fred Tolzman ! He was Army !

    • I was in the army at cam rahn bay 1970-1971 in the 155 transportation unit looking for guys in my unit if yo can help my email is

    • what unit was Fred in? I was in the 155 and looking for guys in my unit. is my email

      • Arnold, I just read your recent comment on My Vietnam, 1970. And I see you commented back in April! I don’t know how that got by me. I reply to everyone’s comment. I have been frantically looking through the comments from people on all four of my Vietnam posts on my website. I remember one guy had a similar story to your about the explosion. He was a trucker & got injured too!!! I think it was the 155th!!! But I haven’t found his comment yet. You can help me find it! Go to my website. Look at the right margin. Scroll down to topics. At the bottom you will see Vietnam. Click on Vietnam. What will pop up are any story I posted on Vietnam. But you want to look through all the comments on My Vietnam, 1970, plus three more….More Vietnam, No. 2,3,4. I am almost positive that you will find this guys comments…I think from the 155th!!!!! Good luck! Let me know if you find it & I’ll do the same!!!!!!!! Your email address DID NOT work!!! Phil Fontana

      • ok ty Philip

  25. More on Fred Tolzman, He was in 592nd Transport company

    • Mrs. Fred Tolzman, Many thanks for taking the time!!! 592nd Transport! I remember their Company location behind ours up the road!!! I knew a guy in his company named Marchese, my cousins husband!!! Thanks! Phil

      • Hello, I hope these posts are still being monitored. I am looking for my uncle’s unit. His name was Donald Pelkey he was a truck driver at Cam Ranh Bay in 70. any links to unit pages or veteran’s pages would help..thanks

  26. I was thier feb. 1970—feb1971
    Was assighned to 128th signal bat comp c . But worked for classified project called operation duffle bag.
    Before that it was. Igloo.

    We made and packed the first ever sensing devices. Place them out beyond your lines look at your device and when you saw lines of vibration called in airstrikes hit the whole area

    Trying to find any info or people that i worked with
    Thanks Bill

    • Dear Bill, I am a historian writing on the operations in which you participated. I am curious if you would be willing to speak with me. I can be reached at the following email: [first name] underscore [last name] @ mac [dot] com

      • Kenneth White, My name is Philip Fontana. Happy to talk! My email is Phil

      • Ken White wI would love to talk to someone that knows about project duffle bag . i have one Friend that i knew was an MP from Chicago . i keep in touch with him . my email

      • Phil are you round ? email me to let me know you are or call
        603 396 7011 .

  27. Bill Hines! Our months in Vietnam were close to coinciding…mine Jan -Dec 1970! Sounds like your duty was quite unique even among classified assigned duties with those sensing devices. To locate others from your unit, I see notices like that in my VFW magazine. Good luck with that. One guy in our unit has taken it upon himself to trace down people using their name & original hometown address. He had successfully brought together about 10 of us. Best wishes for success with that. Phil

    • hi phil , my husband was in cmryn bay for like 3-4 days to show the navcomstay nas how to operate the new ste’s teletype machines he believes oct 0f 1971 his name is dennis corley , he would have cam e from Guam for some reason navcomsta nas in cramryn bay could not get or recive messages i would like to know if any body over there remembered his name could you pass this around to see if any body remembers please

      • Melody Corley!!! Let’s see if anyone picks up on our comments here about about Dennis Corley & all you say about NAVCOMSTAY & new STEs teletype machines in Cam Ranh Bay in Oct 1971. Facts: Dennis came from Guam, NAVCOMSTAY could not get or receive messages in Cam Ranh Bay. Does anyone remember Dennis Corley????????? Melody, what rank was Dennis??????? And Melody, there is no way to “pass this around” except for someone reading our exchange here & commenting to you or me. But you never know!!! I get these messages, emails, & even telephone calls from guys that served in Cam Ranh Bay around 1970. Thanks, Melody!!! Phil

      • I was in Cam Ranh Bay 9 Nov 1970 to Sept 1971. I run into some type of gas and could not see and had a 3/4/ton truck over turn on me. I was in Hospital there when we had a sipper attach and had what I was told an ammo was blew up. We felt the concussion from it and part of hospital caved in. I am looking for guys who remember this and was in the 155 Transportation unit when I had my truck over turn on me.. My email is If anyone can get a hold of me it sure would be nice. My number is 1-304-532-8381 I live in west Virginia. I lost all my pictures and records in aflood we had.

      • Arnold, I just read your recent comment on My Vietnam, 1970. And I see you commented back in April! I don’t know how that got by me. I reply to everyone’s comment. I have been frantically looking through the comments from people on all four of my Vietnam posts on my website. I remember one guy had a similar story to your about the explosion. He was a trucker & got injured too!!! I think it was the 155th!!! But I haven’t found his comment yet. You can help me find it! Go to my website. Look at the right margin. Scroll down to topics. At the bottom you will see Vietnam. Click on Vietnam. What will pop up are any story I posted on Vietnam. But you want to look through all the comments on My Vietnam, 1970, plus three more….More Vietnam, No. 2,3,4. I am almost positive that you will find this guys comments…I think from the 155th!!!!! Good luck! Let me know if you find it & I’ll do the same!!!!!!!! Your email address DID NOT work. Mine is Phil Fontana

      • what outfit was he in I was in the 155 Transport 11/9/1970 to 9/12/1971
        you can call me at 1-304-532-8381 or email me at

  28. Phil, I knew about your experience when we first met but your writing allows me to “see” into your world away from home. Thanks for sharing.


    • Roland!!!!!! Thanks for exploring my website!!! Amazing that you recalled my Vietnam service! True, nothing like reading about it!!! Thanks again for your interest! And great phone call we had!!! Phil

  29. Do you recall the Murder of CID Agent Leroy Halbert in Su Chin, Newyears eve 1970. I was one of the CID Agents involved. I think I remember you from when I would interact with Major Charles Weeks at the 97th.

  30. Hi Phil,
    I was the pharmacist at 349th Medical Dispensary at Cam Ranh from Aug 1970 to Aug 1971. SP5 Tom Sullivan. 349th was located next door to the PX and we were the only medical facility on the army base for appx 10,000 GI’s. I was drafted right after finishing pharmacy school in Boston. I chose going the draft route of 2 yrs vs officer route of min 3 yrs. I received an Army Commendation medal for my service there. I am 69 yrs old now and over the past 15 yrs I have had several Agent Orange related medical issues, heart Attack, prostate cancer and Type II diabetes as well as many other issues. I still feel pretty good and function well enough and try to stay upbeat about the health issues but would do it all over again in a heart beat! I would love to hear from anyone who was treated there or worked there. Incidentally, all MP’s received front of the line help from us because you guys were great and we helped each other many times in different ways. You all made it possible for us medics to go off-base many times to treat the kids at the orphanage about 10 miles away. It was all unauthorized, and probably very stupid since we were unarmed and no one on the base knew where we were but we did it anyway. Best wishes to you all!

    • Tom!!!!!!! WOW! What a comment!!! I recently wondered what med facility we had….I guess I was healthy & never heard of guys going on sick call from our unit, Headquarters Company for the 97th MP Battalion, Cam Ranh Bay.So I never knew about you guys of the 349th MD! But right next to the PX!!! Yep, I was drafted too! Our overlap time there was Aug 1970 to Dec 1970 when I returned to the USA. I am 69 as well. Sounds like you are getting VA care due to Agent Orange for you health issues. I have hypoglycemia which is not the same as diabetes but in the related area of illnesses. I’ve never gone the VA route since I did not think they would cover me for this. You sound good despite your ailments. And your spirit to “do it again” is admirable. I came home with a Bronze Star for meritorious service. Great to hear of the good rapport between the MPs & your Med unit especially going off base to treat kids at the orphanage!!! I live in New Jersey. My email is Thank you for finding me here & hope you read my other two pieces on Vietnam….You can find them in the right margin near the bottom by clicking on Vietnam. Great hearing from you, Tom, & best wishes to you! Phil

    • I was wondering if you ever knew a medic that worked at the Cam Rahn Dispensary, across the street from the Enlisted Mens Club or NCO Club. His name was Mark Hatter, I believe. I was in the club the night it was fragged with WP grenades and I helped Hatter tend to the wounded. He was a friend of mine.

      • I was helping take people over to the dispensary that night also. I also took some of the wounded over to the AF hospital for treatment. I remember the water that was in the dispensary from flushing the wounded because of phos burning their bodies. I know one soldier was burned over 95% of his body. I can not put things in order as far as dates anymore. That night I never saw so many high ranking officers before in one place. I think they emptied the hill and they all came to that fragging. I remember a general saying there would be people going to LBJ that night. We processed the people responsible that night at CID and sent them to LBJ next day. I fingerprinted that night. I know that night a group of black soldiers blockaded doors and would not let any other blacks go inside club. I do not remember how many wp grenades went into the club but I know there was a lot of smoke.

        I think I remember there being talk about the black men thought the Vietnamese working in the club did not treat them as well as white men. I also know at the time there was also rumors of a black USO lady preaching the whole black power thing going on at that time. I know that there was a lot of fear that their would be some kind of revenge for the club victims.

      • I was one of the CID Agents who investigated that incident that night and next days at Air Force hospital taking statements from the wounded. Those victims suffered horrific wounds.

      • I know the burns were terrible and I just have a vision in my mind that I was standing in water over my ankles and people were hosing people down so the the burning would stop .In this memory, which I do not trust all the time. I remember holding a hand and telling someone they would be alright even though I was looking at a person so burned I did not believe he could live through the night. I actually prayed he would die because he was suffering so bad. I never knew what happened to the wounded but like you say it was horrific.

      • I was not a CID agent but was a statistic clerk when I was attached to Det B and was working in office with a warrant officer and I have such bad memory but his name was jim and I think the last name was vandiver. I know he was stationed in san fracisco, after viet nam, and he was doing photography and still was in CID. He is one who taught me how to fingerprint. I use to send out papers to a base , I think in Maryland. I forgot what it was called but they had records of everyone whoever had any record with any law agency. I saw reports that even had information when some one ran away from home. I am sure the agent who commented on the club incident would know what that was called. I remember Jack Wall W4 was in office with a Major with a last name I can pronounce but not spell.

    • I was at the dispensary almost daily. I was with the 630th MP Co. I had a friend that worked at the dispensary named Mark Hatter. Do you happen to know him?

      • Do you have any pictures

      • James Walker, Jim, I don’t know Mark Hatter either. Sorry, Phil

    • Did you know a medic named Hatter? Mike or Mark Hatter

      • James Walker, Jim, Can’t recall knowing any medics in Cam Ranh in 1970. Mike or Mark Hatter does not ring a bell with me. Sorry. I read again your other comment from Nov 17, 2018 about being at the dispensary almost daily from the 630th MP Co. I was interested in that because from my 97th MP Bn HHD, Headquarters Company, I never went to the dispensary, didn’t know where it was, & can’t recall any of the guys being sick & going there. But there must have been guys getting sick & going to a dispensary from HHD!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Phil

      • I was at the Cam Rahn Medical Clinic once to have a cut stitched up. The one thing I remember was one of the examination rooms had a sign on the door that read “Pecker Checker” As a Squad Leader and Assistant Platoon SGT the most frequent reason given for going on sick call was to get treatment for VD.

      • Bill Wonsik, Bill!!!!!!! Cam Ranh Medical Clinic!!!!!!!!! Took me all these years since 1970 to know there was one!!!!!!!!! HA! “Pecker Checker”! Thanks! Phil

      • Phil As I remember the Army Depot Medical Clinic was located on the main drag between the PX and the Church. There was a real hospital located on the Air Base for more serious medical problems. I remember the Pregnant Vietnamese woman who worked in our storage yard would show up for work on the day they would deliver and tell us they were about to give birth. I would end up taking them to the Air Force Base Hospital for an American medical delivery. I did baby drop off a couple of times during my tour.

      • Bill Wonsik, Bill!!! Yep, I remember the PX naturally & the Catholic Church I attended! But not the Army Depot Medical Clinic! Oh, & then the USO was around that area & a base club & a barber shop-massage parlor!!! I DID know the Air Force had a hospital 17 miles away near the airport! Some story of Vietnamese babies being born in your storage yard & making runs to the Air Force Hospital. Good comments!!! Merry Christmas & Happy 2019………Our names are not on the wall in DC!!!!!!!!!! Phil

      • Phil,

        To clarify things. We never had any Vietnamese babies actually born in our storage yard. Our pregnant LN workers would show up at our office and claim that they were about to give birth. Since time was of the essence and I was the contact for the LN workers at our yard I drove them to the Air Force Base Hospital to give birth. I don’t know if their really was any official policy for that but that’s what we did. These woman were pretty hardy and really valued their jobs at the Depot as most were back to work a day or two after giving birth. I also frequented the Catholic Church for Sunday mass and sometimes to escape the heat as it was one of the few buildings that was Air Conditioned. I remember the Vietnamese Barber. I would get a sinking feeling when he would get his straight razor out to trim around my neck. But he would always finish with cracking your neck and that would radiate down my spine.

        That Depot medical clinic was a very small facility nothing more than a Quonset Hut. I don’t even think it was staffed with a Doctor. Its function was to give out aspirin and treat cases of GI VD.

      • Bill Wonsik, Bill!!! Your story of Vietnamese woman & babies continues to unfold into the full explanation of all you experienced. Great to hear we were attending mass together perhaps at the Catholic Church!!! Oh, the Depot Medical Clinic was only a Quonset Hut! No wonder! I missed that totally or forgot about it! Come to think of it, I HAD to be getting haircuts there too…same barber shop. Foggy memory on that too, though I DO remember getting haircuts from a Vietnamese barber since my father was a barber & the only one to cut my hair but for my army years. You remember so much & are filling in the gaps in my memory!!! So great!!! Phil

    • Tom, I knew a few medics there. Maybe you could contact me at jdw1043 at Verizon dot NET

    • Do you remember a medic named Hatter? He was working the night the Club was fragged with WP grenades.

      • James Walker, Jim, thanks for the comment. No memory of Hatter & no memory of the Club being fragged. Thanks. Phil

  31. I was in the 128th Signal Co. from 68-69. I was put on the “Quick Reaction Team” and given a 3.5 Rocket Launcher. I was new and I guess they figured I would do o.k. with it. I was sent to the Korean White Horse Infantry Div. over at Ba Noi to “practice” with the 3.5. The thing I remember the most is that they had a Duece and 1/2 with three 50 cal. machine guns mounted in it. When I asked wasn’t this an anti-aircraft weapon, they just smiled at me.

    • Raymond Fleming, Ray!!! Many thanks for commenting! –The 128th Signal Co., ’68-’69. Doesn’t sound like the “cake walk” I had with your 3.5 Rocket Launcher! We practiced with rocket launchers in MP school but I doubt if ours were as big as 3.5. Then the Korean White Horse Division, Ba Noi, for you to practice. And a 2 1/2 ton with three 50 caliber !!!! Your were equipped for action all around! Glad you made it home OK I hope! I was fine. See my other two Vietnam articles for some laughs like M*A*S*H !!! Thanks for looking at this & commenting, Ray. Merry Christmas! Phil

    • Raymond Hi Bill Hines Here, and welcome back. I was with the 128th sig .co.D AUG. (Duffle Bag) . We made Boxed And sipped The first vibration devices . They where sent to the field air dropped or hand implanted the transmitter . Antennas looked like vegetation . When any vibration was detected by this device it sent a signal back to our lines .We would call in air strikes around that particular area so now the men could move their line forward . Saved a lot of point mens lives i think.
      Feb. 1970 Feb. 1971.

      • Raymond Flemingm, William j Hines, Ray! See Bill Hines words here to you above this about Duffle Bag! Thanks guys! for this! Phil

      • how can I get a hold of you William J. Hines

  32. Merry Christmas to you, too Phil. I’m glad you made it back, too.

    • Raymond Fleming, Ray, Thanks all around for holiday wishes & our mutual safe return home from Vietnam. My honest first reaction to the Vietnam Wall in DC was that I was glad my name was not on it…Then my thoughts went to honor all the guys that didn’t make it home. Please look at my two other Vietnam articles & how we worked hard at MP Headquarters but laughed hard too! Just go to the top of this page & scroll down & in the right margin at the bottom are topics…Click on “Vietnam” & up pops the three articles. Thanks for coming back to comment! Phil from New Jersey

  33. Hi Phil

    I was assigned to the 1 Logistical Command at the Cam Ranh Army Depot from May 1969 to April 1970. I was a Sgt E-5 and was Assistant Platoon Sgt and Squad Leader at Delta Yard Non Perishable Substance where I ran the shipping and receiving office. You many remember our rather unique GI self built office building at the entrance to our yard as we labeled it “The Delta Supermarket” “Open 25 Hours a Day”. It was painted bright Air Force Blue as that was the only paint we could scrounge on the base. We lived in barracks that were close to the PX, NCO club, and Church in the downtown depot area and drove to work at the yard.

    I addition to my assigned military duties I was also the coordinator for the 30 or so Local Nationals who worked at both our open and warehouse storage yards. We kept them segregated by sex with the woman working in indoor warehouse and the men working in outdoor yard. The woman were more trainable and some filled orders and learned to drive fork lifts. But they were smart. I had two of them that were pregnant show up for work on the day they were giving birth and ended up having take them to medical facility at the Air Force base.

    Like some of the others at the Depot my Platoon tended to stay away from Tiger Lake and went to the China Sea beaches. Do our association with the cold storage yard we could always come up with a case of steaks. One time our alert fork lift driver snagged a pallet of beer off a semi destined for the beer and soda yard. 48 cases of beer we drank for a month.

    In general the biggest fear those of us at the Army Depot had were rocket attacks at night as we never knew when they were coming. Our yard got hit one night by a 122. It hit right in the middle of rows of canned tomatoes it made quite mess to clean up. But more disturbing was the one time we found a satchel charge planted in one of our warehouses it was found to be a dud but that was an area where the Local National woman worked. We really never trusted the LN’s. About the only task that bothered me was having to assign the guys in my Platoon the various guard duties at the Depot we had to perform. I never liked having to send any of my guys to a night at the ammo dump or the petroleum yard.

    I know for many Vietnam was a unpopular war. But for most of us we just did our time marking of days on our short timer calendar. Thankful we were at Cam Ranh rather than beating the bush our goal was to make it home to the world alive. I was a recent college graduate in Business Administration who decided to just allow myself to be drafted and passed on becoming an officer. I did my first year at Fort Knox as a Supply Sgt at the Reception Station putting new recruits to bed, and my second year at the Cam Ranh Army Depot. President Richard Nixon was nice enough to send me home a month early. I have to admit that looking back on my life my Army experience was very positive thing in my life. The Army gave me a lot of leadership responsibility not often found in civilian life. I met and had to work, lead and more importantly got to know fellow Americans from all backgrounds and all areas of our country as well as Vietnamese people of a different culture.

    • SGT Bill Wonsik!!! TOTALLY ENJOYED YOUR EVERY WORD ABOUT YOUR DUTY at 1st Logistical Command at the Cam Ranh Army Depot from May 1969 to April 1970. I can identify with all you said re locations & experiences. I guess that was your outpost where I went “shopping” once a month for supplies as chief clerk for Headquarters Company 97th MP Battalion. Since we didn’t have enough allotted budget for our needs, we used to “deposit”/steal items & put them in our jeep before we checked out our purchases. We frequented both Tiger Lake & the South China Sea. As MPs we had no shortage of steaks or beer. Yes, those rocket attacks! –Hit our officers’ barracks during the day without injuries. We had limited Vietnamese hires…..mess hall & 2 carpenters, but they were a piece of work. So many stories, Home you read my 3 Vietnam posts here I feel the same way….my Vietnam experience was a good one as I say here in this post! And we came home in one piece despite the great loss of over 58,000 guys. Thanks, Bill, for this!!!!!!!!!!! Phil in New Jersey!

  34. Hi Phil

    Thanks for your response. Perhaps our paths did cross at some during our tours. In addition to supplying II Corps in the Central Highlands. We had frequent customers both official and unofficial at Delta Yard. The Navy, Air Force bases as well as the Koreans across the bay. As you know Coffee and C-rations, LIRPS, and Sundry packs which were in our yard and could buy you just about anything you needed in the Depot. The wood, tin roof, and paint needed to enlarge our office were traded for within the base. I had a buddy from Fort Knox that worked at the vehicle salvage yard I traded dog for their collection of dogs for a worn Duce and a half that we used for a beach vehicle.

    Many of the Local National Male who worked for us in the yard were also carpenters. Some of them were very skilled they could take a wooden pallet and turn it into a cabinet or other furniture with basic hand tools. I remember one time our Hooch Maid offered to make us a special lunch. We round up her shopping list expecting a home cooked Vietnamese meal
    What we got was a pretty good clone of Col. Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken.

    Here is something that has been haunting me for a long time. Perhaps as being an MP you might also know about the race riot that occurred during my tour of duty. May 1969 to April 1970. I cannot remember the month but I think it was in the first few months. One night I was walking back to my hooch after taking a shower and all off a sudden a M-60 or a number of M-60 machine guns with tracers started hitting all around me and our company area. I hit the nearest bunker on my hands and knees and stayed there until I felt safe. As word got out a number of blacks in the transportation company up the hill from us broke into their arms room sensed a number small arms. It was said that some base Coronal had talked the rioters down and offered to have a gripe session with them the next afternoon. In stead of that happening the rioters were arrested during the lunch break. NCO’s like myself were assigned to act as a stand by force to make sure the arrests were made smoothly and nothing escalated to our company. The rioters were arrested by a three or more man team and transported to a bus and left the base. We never heard anything more about the incident and you cannot find any documentation as to ever occurring. I would assume that some sort of a gag order was imposed but MP’s had to be involved with that action. We had contact with others in the Transportation company and none of them ever had any contact with the rioters of ever learned of their fate. That was the only small arms fire I received during my tour.

    I enjoyed your pictures of Cam Ranh, as I purchased a Minolta SLR from the PX and have many clones of your photos. Its sad for me that most of the photos I took were slides which did not hold up well through the years. When I tried to do a digital scan and transfer most of them darkened to much for them to turn well. I still use my Seko PX watch from time to time as a dress watch. The Sanyo PX refrigerator I had in my hooch now sits in my basement it still works fine and I use it to brew beer.

    • Bill, I was at Cam Ranh from July 1969 to December 1969. I was a platoon leader and then ops officer for the Security Guard Company responsible for all the ammo dumps and other sensitive areas. Most of the company officers were MP’s. I was a Military Intelligence Officer. Our company area was right next to the hooches where the race riot occurred. As I remember it, a couple of officers (Col? LTC?) were taken hostage by a group of black soldiers. My company suited up in full battle array and surrounded the hooches involved. We were almost shoulder to shoulder in a ring around them. But before that, the rounds from the shooting from that area also landed in our company area and we also had to take cover. The stand-off lasted for about a day, three shift changes I remember, and ended peacefully. We never heard what happened to the rioters. I also remember that my platoon didn’t like the duty we had, subduing American GI’s. You probably remember as well, that there was serious unrest among the US troops, blacks and whites, and usually stupid reactions from the brass. i never felt safe as a platoon leader and officer, not from my company but from the others that got attached to us. One night I was told by a senior NCO not to inspect the bunker line. He said I wouldn’t come back alive, and it would just be chalked up to an “accident.” The guys gunning for our officers were from a transportation company. Not a good time, from my point of view.

      • Bill Wonsik, Boy, can I identify with the “trading” that you speak of. We had an E-7 SGT Starling who was like a SGT Bilko on the old TV show!!! Maybe you traded with him! His SOP was if you had something he wanted, he would say, “What do you want for it?” And no matter what you wanted for it, he said, “You got it!” Then he would go & acquire what YOU wanted in the same manner & so on!!! What a wheeler & dealer he was!!! I had two good Vietnamese carpenters under our S-4 office. The mess hall was under S-4 too but no stories like your Col. Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken. Some story of the Black rioters from Transportation shooting up you & your Company area. I too would be amazed if the MPs were not called in & your Colonel(?) handled it singlehandedly & shipped them out. We had an MP unit of our own out in the boonies with too many Black Power MPs. They got out of hand & we sent in a force to to take over & straighten them out. Can’t believe you shipped the refrig home!!! I loved your description of the PX area, USO, the Catholic church, all so familiar!!! And what an amazing story by my friend from Rutgers, Chip Noon, above! Sounds like he was in on the rioting you describe! Here I was an MP but you two saw all the police action & not me!!!! Great discussion, Bill & Chip! Many thanks! Phil

      • Chip, Boy, Sounds like Bill Wonsik was in on the rioting you describe! Here I was an MP but you two saw all the police action & not me!!!! Great discussion, Bill & Chip! Many thanks! Phil

  35. Chipnoon and Phil. Thanks for your responses. While race tensions are not a pleasant topic and I suppose one that the Military Brass would like to bury they were a fact of life in Vietnam as well as the rest of the United States at that time. I lived in the Detroit area, and my own initial Selective Service physical exam was delayed due to the Detroit race riot in 1967, and my induction into the Army delayed again due to the ML King murder in the spring of 1968. In addition to the black white divide we had other sub group divides of Hispanics, as well as Yankees and Rebels who tended to stick together socially after hours. Of course their was that other great social divide the Drinkers Vs The Smokers. Thanks for filling me in on a few more of the details of the riot. I remember there was a stand off but never knew that some officers were taken hostage. The only gunfire I remember was that one night. Yes it was a strange situation as I remember the next day or it may have been the following day the NCO’s in our company where told to stand by and watch for possible trouble in our own company when the rioters were being rounded up. My E-7 and I were wondering what in the heck we were supposed to do if something went wrong except to run to the orderly room. I don’t know if our structure at the Depot was similar to yours but we were sort of serving two masters. We lived in a Company area and had organizational duties there with Company Officers telling us what to do. There I was a Squad Leader and Asst Platoon Sgt and we had a E-7 Platoon Sgt. When we went to our job in the depot my squad handled all of the shipping and receiving office functions. The E-7 was the NCO in charge of our yard and we had a 1st Lt. who was our Platoon Leader, but only at the Depot. We never saw him any other time. In fact we were never quite sure what he did all day as he had a Jeep and was seldom seen. While Cam Ranh tended to be one of the more safe areas of Vietnam few of us had any contacts with anyone outside of our Company or work area. I have two friends who are Vietnam vets. One was in the Navy Reserve and ended up as a twin 50 cal gunner on a Patrol Boat River, and the other was a door gunner on a Huey.

    Chip your feelings about being alone as an Officer ring true. I was solicited to become an officer in the reception station and everyone and their brother advised me to turn it down for the reasons you stated. I get the feeling that Navy Swift Boat Capt. Lt John Kerry was sent home early because brass feared for his life.

    Another problem at the Cam Ranh Base was the use of hard drugs by some. We lost a guy in another Platoon to a drug overdose. I was on CQ that night and he was found unresponsive in his bunk.

    Phil when it came to horse trading at the depot most of it was left to the senior NCO’s. It was one of the duties that lifers claimed bragging rights on. It was all done in secret to the rest of it, but items just changed hands and life got better. Wood and metal roof shows up to enlarge our office we find state side beds in our hooch. The only deal I made was to trade dog food for a soon to be retired Duce and a half truck. My E-7 said not bad for a rookie, but next time let me in on the deal. The guys we never dealt with where those Sea Land contractors. We never trusted them. You do know than Lady Bird Johnson was a major share holder in Sea Land Corporation. Those guys made big money driving around in air conditioned Jeeps.

    • Bill & Chip, My experiences at the 97th MP BN HHD S-4 were so limited compared to all you describe! You & Chip put me to shame! And to make matters worse, I came home with a Bronze Star for running the “S-4 shop” single-handedly while a Cpt, an E-7, & a Private clerk sat around & did nothing….except the clerk typing my reports to Group Headquarters on radios, vehicles, ammo, & weapons. Sea Land! YES!!! I remember them around! And at the pier I remember crates coming off ships stamped “Lady Bird Johnston” or something like that for her company making millions on the war! And Chip, those crooked contractors reminds me of two guys I met with a similar position to mine. But while I had “the keys to the kingdom,” knowing how to do the paperwork to requisition supplies the guys & Headquarters Company needed, these two guys SOLD the supplies to the tune of $3000-4000 per month!!! War is crazy!!! Thank you, Bill & Chip!!! Phil

  36. Yeah, we never trusted the contractors either. They all looked pretty sketchy to me and one of them bragged about sending a jeep home part by part. A bunch of thieves all around.

    • Bill & Chip, My experiences at the 97th MP BN HHD S-4 were so limited compared to all you describe! You & Chip put me to shame! And to make matters worse, I came home with a Bronze Star for running the “S-4 shop” single-handedly while a Cpt, an E-7, & a Private clerk sat around & did nothing….except the clerk typing my reports to Group Headquarters on radios, vehicles, ammo, & weapons. Sea Land! YES!!! I remember them around! And at the pier I remember crates coming off ships stamped “Lady Bird Johnston” or something like that for her company making millions on the war! And Chip, those crooked contractors reminds me of two guys I met with a similar position to mine. But while I had “the keys to the kingdom,” knowing how to do the paperwork to requisition supplies the guys & Headquarters Company needed, these two guys SOLD the supplies to the tune of $3000-4000 per month!!! War is crazy!!! Thank you, Bill & Chip!!! Phil

  37. You all might enjoy this video. It’s the 630th MPC Company.

  38. Hey Phil: did you ever have to do village guard or bridge guard when you were there?

    • Ray Flemming!!! Many thanks! Just by your question I know you were in Cam Ranh!!! Village & bridge duty/guard….no, but I know those were stations guys had. We did get pulled from our desk day jobs to pull duty at the ferry checking laborers for “contraband” ….they would sell souvenirs to GIs plus drugs. Also raided a village on the mainland for GIs with prostitutes. AND, raided a trucking company that had prostitutes living in their barracks….We filled a dump truck with prostitutes….What a waste!!! –But great memories!!! Thanks again! Where were you & with what MOS & year???? Phil

  39. Phil: posted on your website Dec. 16 of last year. I was with the 128th from April 68 to May 69. My MOS was 76Y40. I was assigned to shop supply. I pulled village guard quite a few times but never bridge guard. If I remember correctly, the village was “closed” to military personnel about half of the time I was there. It was either for too many STD concerns or “enemy activity” in the area. I was either in a tower at the village or down by the ships when I pulled guard duty. I felt pretty secure in a tower with my weapon but down near the ships was too exposed. There were too many unknowns!!
    Ray Fleming

    • Ray, That’s right! Shop supply with the 128th! I can’t find you on Dec 16 but I recall our conversation about picking up supplies/”shopping” for my Headquarters Co of the 97th MP Bn at your shop! What I recall was the village being off limits but guys sneaking in! I remember those towers!!! My funny village story is about one of the US Army “C Days,” when with no notice, naturally, we had to exchange all MPC we had for new MPC with new markings/pictures on the new currency. –All to stop fraud, gambling, GIs with over the permissible amount of MPC. Well, the story goes that some GI went to the village with Monopoly money & made out like a bandit ……but he could never go back again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Funny! Thanks! Phil

  40. Phil: yes, I remember when we had to exchange MPCs, too. During the time I was there, we had one specific guy who use to sneak into the village all the time. He paid for it with a case of the ‘clap’ that he could never get rid of. I hope he got it cleared up when he returned home.

    • Ray! Ha! Must be the same guy or there always was someone pushing the scam! Ha! Phil

  41. Ray Fleming, I was a platoon leader and then operations officer for a security guard company that did both bridge and village duty, with all the ammo dumps thrown in for excitement. I had gotten transferred from an MI unit with 1st Log when they needed infantry or MP officers for these companies. All MI guys went to Infantry Officer’s Basic Course at Fr. Benning, GA, so they figured I was almost infantry. I went from a place that used to get rocketed several times a week, to Cam Ranh which only had a couple of sapper attacks. Yes, those sapper attacks, especially the one on the hospital were no fun, but at least we knew which direction to face. I was in CRB from July to December of 1969.

    • Chip, Your Vietnam experiences were so broad! There is so much you know about all our experiences from all you did serving there! Phil

  42. Phil: my mistake. I posted on this cite Dec. 22 2016.
    Ray Fleming

    • Ray, You’re a good, thorough man re the date of your comment! Now I see it & remember it! Unless you commented on another of my Vietnam posts, I think I am confusing your talk about “shop supply” with someone else & their duties on Cam Ranh. Sometimes I go back & review all you Vietnam Vets who comment here to keep you straight in my mind. I also get emails & telephone calls from near & far….trying to keep everyone “straight” in my mind! It’s a great experience!!! And Vietnam BY FAR is the most popular topic I have written on by the number of viewers!!!! Upwards of 18,000 views since I started my website in 2012 & approximately 2000 of those are Vietnam Vets viewing my three Vietnam posts….mostly this first one, “My Vietnam, 1970.” Thanks, Ray! Phil

  43. 1970……The second wave from Paramus High. If you didn’t attend at least Rockland County Community College after PHS graduation, you made it to Vietnam by 1965-66.
    Andy Dunn and I wound up in Korea from the “second wave” while you were off to your adventure at the off shore sailing club.
    I wonder just how many of our classmates took tours of various Asian lands?

    • Ira, I saw Andy at Fort Dix in Aug-Sept 1969 while I was in Basic Training. He had opted for 3 years to get a dental assistant MOS. So you both were in Korea!!! Thanks for looking at this! Phil

      • Too bad bone spurs was not a contagious disease…lotta peopel coulda just stayed home…

  44. Ira Goldberg, Only us weaklings got drafted. Real athletes had injuries, right? Phil

  45. Kevin Keating, WOW! This whole episode is all new to me! Maybe before 1970 in Cam Ranh. Phil

    • Like I said I have a real hard time with dates but I was in country from Jan 1971 to jun 1972. Most of the time in Cam Rahn. I was close to the Ammo
      Dump when it was hit by sappers. I fell down on the road and had to go to
      the aide station the next day my hand had swollen up like a softball from infection and they lanced it. It is really hard to believe how much fluid is in
      something like that. That was a real fireworks show.

      I went home for free leave Dec 15 1971 to Jan 15 for extending tour. When I got back my whole unit had stood down except a Major and c4 warrant officer. I was told I was the new supply guy! I knew nothing about supply but I got a truck and started loading chairs, copy machines, desks, etc. and hauled all to the supply depot. Had to ask around to find that place and when I got there the supply told me I had to have paperwork for everything. Of course I had no idea where that would be and the officers at HQ had no idea. I asked what to do with the stuff with no paper work. The supply guy said with no paperwork he could not take it and I should find a place to dump it. The only thing he would accept without paper work was ordinance and weapons of any kind. With out paperwork I always wondered if the stuff ended up in his garage stateside or on the black market.

      I think it may have been april of that year when sappers got in and attacked a transportation company. Most of theie arms were in the arms room but I guess some people did have weapons and returned fire. The area I was
      sleeping in was just across the road from the drop to the transportation unit. That night I heard a lot of small arms fire and some grenades or satchels exploding. I was there early morning and I think there were 3 dead but there could have been more. I only know for sure about the 3. They had to go a long way to get to that transportation unit.

      • I was in cahm Rahn Bay 1970 to 1971 in the 155 transportation unit. I was in hospital at air force when ammo dump hit I never knew what happen to guys in my outfit. I had a truck flip over on me is why I was in hospital and was sent to Walter reed Hospital. If you can tell me anything about my outfit I sure would be in your deth

    • I was wrong , it was not a transportation company, it was a signal company.

      • Kevin Keating, Wow! What an experience you had after I left! With the US war effort going down the drain, it sounds like the real war came to Cam Ranh!!! What you describe is really bad!!! As far as getting rid of stuff in Cam Ranh, we used a big garbage dump that went down a hill or pit…..We would back up the truck & throw everything down the hill…..unless the Vietnamese standing there took the stuff!!! What an experience you had! Phil

      • Kevin, can you get in touch with me? ? Use Cam Rahn Bay as the title, please.

      • I believe the Signal Company you are referring to where the EM’s attempted fraggings of the officers was near Dalat on Preline Mountain, a signal base. The 630th MP Co. Strike Force was sent there by Chinook helicopter for one week. It was led by Sgt, Hern. I was on that detail.

  46. Phil Presnell, I had no idea how bad things got in Cam Ranh until Kevin Keatings’ comment & yours! My year there in 1970 was as if we were safe except for rocket attacks & sappers blowing up the ammo depot, oil tankers, & an ammo ship. And I remember your CID Office & providing MP support from our 97th MP Bn Headquarters Company for raids on the village re prostitution & the ferry searching Vietnamese for contraband. We also raided a trucking company for having prostitutes living in with them & filled a 2 1/2 ton truck with the girls & brought them over to CID. Phil

  47. Kevin Keating, Your memory beats a whole lot of us for this terrible tragedy at the Club. You weren’t part of CID but sounds like you could just as well have been from all you say! Phil

    • I was just in some places at the right or wrong time depending how you look at it. On the night of the fragging I was down at the village gate talking to guards when a bus of crying women were brought to the gate. I then learned of the fragging and left there to get to the club. I have foggy memories after that but what I have stated is the way I remember it. I do not believe my memory problems are from age because I have had a hard time for many years remembering all the details. I was so glad the CID agent spoke up because I have never met anyone that had information about this tragedy. I always wondered if it was covered up because of the whole racial problem the government said was not a problem. I do not even remember this agent and it should be easy because the unit was not that big. I am not questioning his testimony. It is just one more time that I am questioning my own memory and would like to hear more about this from those people who witnessed the event.

      Doing my job I kept records of all drug activity in the CRB area. I was always amazed at the # of drug cases. The drug problem was very serious and the problem was the government did not catch on to that for a long time.When they finally got around to start testing for drug use the situation was way out of control. They offered amnesty to anyone who wanted to be treated and promised no dishonorable discharge. I stood guard duty at the detox center and it was not pretty. Heroin is just such a terrible addiction.

      The drug was so easy to obtain almost anywhere. It was also 95-98% pure. The drug is cut many times before it reaches the street in the US and is not nearly as potent as what the US troops were smoking. In the US it is usually a needle drug but it Vietnam it was usually smoked. It was quite common to see
      heroin users smoking menthol cigarettes ( Kools or Salems I believe) because they emptied the tobacco and added heroin and the menthol was suppose to make the drug less harsh. I really think because of how easy it was to obtain the drug many men had no idea that they were addicted. They just never went without and I also believe they thought as long as they did not use a needle there would be no problem. Well over 90%of users in Vietnam smoked the drug where as in the States it was just the opposite. They could buy a vial of heroin for two or three dollars and some of the guys were using more than a vial every day. The cut heroin at home was way less pure so if they made it back to the states there was no way to support their habit.

      The government failed not to educate the troops. I am not saying that is an excuse for the drug users I am saying the military should have been aware of the problems way before they finally attempted to do something about it. Many people failed the drug tests and that was the first time the government realized the severity of the problem. Can you imagine the addicted soldier, who really did not know how bad it was because he believed smoking the drug would not be addicting, and that realization came when he was on the jet going home and had no fix.

      The government failed to face this problem and the racial problems because they looked away. I am not defending the drug users. But I truly believe many of them had no idea the problems they were going to face because they believed the myth that smoking the drug was not addictive. When random drug tests were administered and the results came back many commanding officers were shocked including the Military Police and Security Guard units,

      • Kevin Keating, I knew well of the racial problems. The MPs sent too many Blacks concentrated in a unit out in the boonies & we had to bolster the MP numbers & get helicoptered out there to restore order. –Black power thing. I never really knew the drug problem was so bad as you indicate & never heard of the Army testing guys for drugs as you describe they eventually did. –Other than my clerk typist breaking a vile of heroin into his cola can of soda while driving me around in our S-4 jeep! I told him to pull over & I drove before he killed the two of us! I could also smell marijuana in the air on a weekend night in our Headquarters area. Other than finding two joints in our barracks, I never saw the stuff. But I was sure I could get marijuana within minutes if I wanted some just by asking around. Kevin, YOUR Vietnam was so intensely bad compared to my experiences… my Vietnam stories 1-4 here indicate. Phil

      • Phil

        I do not talk about my time there very much but really not so much for what happened but I have always felt like the combat vets deserved so much more credit for what they endured compared to my big base experience. I think the
        only reason I have mentioned my experiences here is because I was so surprised to see the fragging at the club mentioned here. I really researched that several years ago and could not find anything at all. That night has effected me more than anything else in my life.

        I often think that Commanding Officers had such a difficult job to begin with but to have to write a letter home to a family about the loss of their loved one
        must have been so difficult. But imagine if you had to write home and say their loved ones life was taken by another US soldier. I think the criminal investigators faced that most every day and I did admire the way they handled that. CID was there to investigate our troops for the most part but I know they also investigated the interaction of Americans with people from other countries also. They had to deal with situations I never was involved in being in an office.

      • I managed to find this, about the NCO Club in Cam Rahn Bay that was fragged with 2 white phosphorus grenades.

        Click to access 1984-05-00-blacks-in-the-military-ml-rutgers-law.pdf

        Blacks in the Military From Colonial Days to Integration

        Page 16

        Michael Letwin
        Institutions of Racism and Sexism
        Professors Kincy and Taub
        Rutgers/Newark Law School
        May 1984

  48. Kevin Keating, From the little I know of the Club & when I was in Cam Ranh in 1970…though from all you say things went down hill fast in 1971-1972…my 97th MP Bn Headquarters Company was just down the road & down a small sand slope from the Club. I was there only once since we had our own club in our company area. The word was that we as MPs would be beat up if we went to the main Club. I went there once & found things exactly the opposite. Guys had never seen MPs there & treated us like celebrities buying us drinks. That being said & from what you relate, I would guess that the terrible fragging incident & loss of life & injury was the result of explosions caused by disgruntled Blacks. And as far as reporting the loss of life to loved ones, my guess again, I seriously doubt the truth was officially reported. The “fog of war” may have been used to blame ” enemy action” or, at best, “friendly fire,” meaning a mistake on the part of our own military. It would have taken guys in the company of the deceased writing the truth back to the family. Phil

  49. Bill Hines, Many thanks for looking at this post of mine, “My Vietnam, 1970.” While I was am MP, I have no knowledge of a secret Project or Operation Duffel Bag. I see above our earlier exchanges & that of Kenneth White. Phil

  50. Happy Holidays Phil. Hope you and your family are well.
    Ray Fleming (former 128th Signal Co. SP/5) 68-69 Vietnam

    • Raymond Fleming!!! RAY! …of the 128th Signal!!! How nice of you! We are doing fine. May all be well with & yours as well! And thank you for the holiday wishes too!!! Merry Christmas to you & Cheers for the New Year!!! IMAGINE….in 1970 I arrived at the 97th MP Bn Jan 23 & left Dec 11…..never missed Christmas with the family at home!!! My email is Phil

    • Ray Fleming!!! Hey there ray I was with the 128th,D AUG. Dufflebag.
      feb 1970 –feb 1971. Give me a shout . An MP Named Donald Sidleki from the south side of Chicago was my Best Friend there. We still keep in touch . Have a Merry Christmas with your family and a Healthy New Year!!

      • How can I get a hld of william J. Hines

      • I sure would like to find some one in Cam Rahn Bay in July 1971

  51. William J. Hines, Bill, Merry Christmas! I just sent you my email address in an email to you! Many thanks! Phil

  52. I was in cahm Rahn Bay 1970 to 1971 in the 155 transportation unit. I was in hospital at air force when ammo dump hit I never knew what happen to guys in my outfit. I had a truck flip over on me is why I was in hospital and was sent to Walter reed Hospital. If you can tell me anything about my outfit I sure would be in your deth. My email is

    • Arnold Cooper, Here is William Hines email address!!!

      I found it for you!!!

      The email address you gave me for yourself did not work!


      • ty philip

  53. Arnold Cooper, Hope you get to email each other! Phil

    • he never got back to me and the phone number was out of service. Can I call you? what is your number my email address is

      • Arnold Cooper, I’ll try your email address again. I will send you my telephone number. I don’t want to give it out here for everyone to see. Phil

  54. I was there in cam ranh bay, from 66 through 67. 611 ammo. You had it much better then we did. Did not get showers until mid spring 67. We did the same work schedule as you. And sure did in injury those company party’s. We only had one red alert as I recall. But still glad to get out. In I enjoyed your remembrance of your time there brings back a lot of memories. Thanks.

    • Jerry lines, WOW! 1966 through 1967 in Cam Ranh Bay with the 611th Ammo! Yep, we had hot showers! And those company parties WERE great!!! We had plenty of red alerts & rockets coming in!!! Glad you enjoyed this! Take a look at my three other Vietnam stories here. Just go to this story & look in the right margin. Scroll down to Vietnam & click on it. There will be all my Vietnam stories for you to click on & laugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks, Jerry! Phil Fontana, Spec 4

    • good to hear from you hope all is going well.

      • Arnold Cooper! OK here. Hope you are doing well too. We are hard at work trying to sign up with a realtor to sell our 1885 Dutch Colonial after 43 years living here! See if you can reply to Jerry lines comment above!!! Phil

    • Hi Jerry lines Glad to hear from you I think you was there before me. I was there 1970 to 1971

  55. James Walker, Jim, I don’t have any contact info on Kevin Keating & Phil Prsnell & the NCO Club incident. Sorry. Phil

  56. Contact Phil Presnell at

  57. James Walker, Jim!!! Contact Phil Presnell at Phil

  58. I was also an MP in Cam Rahn in 1970. 2nd Security Guard Co. Thank You for sharing your story. So many memories from that time. First hour in country sitting in the plane on the runway. And Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! mortar attack on the airfield. running across the tarmac scared shitless, diving into the bunker. Very exciting. But unlike you I was not air-conditioned That was very rare and reserved for the CO & the First Sargent. You don’t mention the weed,or the beach, or the music of the time. The music still lives!

    • rollie courtney, Rollie!!! Very nice comments! 2nd Security Guard Co…Was that the guard dog company or one of the companies next to the Headquarters Company HHD of the 97th MP Battalion like the 981st MP Co. & the 630th MP Co.??? –It’s all in the photo above. Yes arriving even in Cam Ranh Bay at the airport could be scary!!! I remember looking out of the window of the airplane & seeing the barbed wiring at the top of the fence & saying OMG!!! But my year there, January to December, 1970, was no more scary than the rocket attacks in & around HHD, plus the blowing up of an ammo ship, the ammo depot, & the oil depot. Our officers barracks got hit once. And one rocket buzzed right over my head while I was standing at the top of the steps to our second level barracks. Weed I could smell on a Friday-Saturday night but I kept my distance from any drugs. I mention Tiger Lake & trips to the beach at the South China Sea in the story & photos above. YES, the music of our time there!!! Those Philippino bands in the club in our HHD area & the sounds of “Proud Mary” still ring in my ears…”Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ cross the river”!!!!!!!!! Great talking! Phil

      • 218th was Gate Security. 981st Was Sentry Dogs. 630th was Road Patrols Strike Force and Convoy Escorts.

      • James Walker! WOW! Thanks for the rundown on the units!!!!!!!!! Phil

  59. Happy Holidays to you and your family Phil. I hope you are all well.
    Ray Fleming SP/5 128th Signal Co. 68-69

    • Raymond Fleming, Ray!!!!!!!! How very nice of you! Thank you for the holiday wishes! The best to you too & your family while it’s still Christmas Day & The Best for 2019 as well!!!!!! Love your military “signature” here with rank & Company! Spec 4 Fontana, 97th MP Bn, HHD! Phil

      • Do you remember Lt Col. Jonathan Van Horn

  60. Hi Phil. I was assigned to HHC at the Depot in March 1969 and worked at the Directorate for Administration there. Our company area was at the bottom of the hill upon which sat Support Command Headquarters. I remember the race riot, only from rumors that circulated at the time. I heard it was at Company C of Depot operations and that it was tense. There were a lot of changes in our barracks (walls were removed to make it into a more open area, like traditional barracks).

    To break the tedium, I volunteered for a couple of convoys, one a short hop to Nha Trang and one an overnighter in Ban Me Thout. No problems other than bad weather. I remember the 6th Convalescent Center was attacked by sappers, and also a POL farm was attacked when I was there.

    I did a little traveling in-country, mostly to Saigon, Bien Hoa and Ton Son Nhut, just to do some errands for the Depot. There was an MP station just across the road from our company area. I think it was CID, but I don’t remember for sure. Do you remember the area enough to identify it?

    I enjoyed reading the above and I book marked it so I can come back now and again.

    I left Viet Nam in December 1970. I spent all 21 months at the Depot. It was a formative experience for me. I was lucky to be assigned at a large base. That in itself is an interesting story.

    Thanks for this forum to share memories. All the best to you.

    • Carl Horn, Carl! Many thanks for a great comment & rundown of your long 21 month service time in Vietnam compared to mine, Jan to Dec 1970. I am trying to place the Depot. Maybe that was where we shopped for supplies. I’ve heard of the race riot from others. No memory of any while I was there. Nha Trang!!! –One of the few places I DID get to beside Phan Rang. You really got around doing those errands for the Depot! I DO remember CID at Cam Ranh!!! So I know exactly where your Company area was!!! But I don’t know how to identify it to you. So we both left in Dec 1970!!! I left on Dec 11. You sound like you came through it all in fine shape to pickup your life as did I. Again, thanks for commenting & the best to you as well!!! Phil

  61. Enjoyed the post and your photos. Please drop me a line at. the email that’s attached. gaceto(at)history

  62. Guy Aceto, Guy!!! So glad you saw this & enjoyed my comments & photos! You should be notified so you can see this reply. And, I will email you as well. Best wishes, Phil

  63. I was in Cam Ranh Bay 9 Nov 1970 to Sept 1971. I run into some type of gas and could not see and had a 3/4/ton truck over turn on me. I was in Hospital there when we had a sipper attach and had what I was told an ammo was blew up. We felt the concussion from it and part of hospital caved in. I am looking for guys who remember this and was in the 155 Transportation unit when I had my truck over turn on me.. My email is If anyone can get a hold of me it sure would be nice. My number is 1-304-532-8381 I live in west Virginia. I lost all my pictures and records in aflood we had.

    • 128th signal comp feb 1 1970 —feb 30 1971

  64. Hi, I just saw this page. My dad, Robert Nordyke, served in the 22d Replacement Company at Cam Ranh Bay from October 1970 to June 1971. I believe he processed flights. I have a LOT of letters he wrote and he had taken a lot of photos. He passed away almost a year ago and NEVER talked about Vietnam. I was wondering if maybe you could help out with my project – I have put all his letters online and plan to add photos. My email is

    • Jennifer Nordyke Hart, Jennifer, Wow, your Dad & I overlapped in time served in Cam Rahn Bay from October to December 1970!!! –22nd Replacement Company!!! Sorry he is gone…I’m 72 years old. Great project that you have all his letters online! Adding his photos is an excellent idea. How can I help you out? I will email you! Phil

      • Hey Phil, Bill Hines Here . I am The guy from Mass. that was assigned to the 128th sig comp .d (really worked with Operation Duffle Bag formerly Igloo ) wondering if you have heard anything more on Duffle Bag ? would like to get and where a patch for both 128th sig also Duffle bag. feb1 70-feb 28- 71. their was a saper attack during that time am i right?
        hoping all is well with you and your family .

  65. william Hines, Bill!!! Haven’t heard anything on 128th Signal Company D, Duffle Bag, Igloo.To get a patch try a notice in the VFW Magazine…Join VFW if you have not. With the several sapper attacks during my time, Jan-Dec 1970, I don’t know when they occurred!!! And may you & yours be well also. Things have been bad for us. We moved from our old house after 44 years to a nearby townhouse April 13. By mid-May wife Geri came down with diverticulosis of the intestine. She suffered greatly in pain & they finally just operated last week on August 12. All went well & she is now home recuperating. Phil

    • thanks for getting back to me . My mom had that also what your wife has she recovered wonderfully . so will your wife


      • william hines, Bill, Many thanks for the encouragement for my wife Geri’s recovery. Glad your Mom did well with the same surgery. Phil

    • Hi Phil, sorry for not getting back to you concerning your wife . Hope her recovery went well. Hope your Holidays are filled with happiness and good health for the New Year!
      A man named Dennis. Wrote back to me. He also was involved in Duffle Bag. The project that I was also involved with. He wrote a great letter to me. Found me on your site This one .
      I transitioned in Feb 1970. He transitioned out 1 month later. Never bumped into him .

      • Bill Hines, Bill, many thanks for getting back to me here. First, thanks for the good holiday wishes! Merry Christmas & a Healthy 2020 to you & yours. Wife Geri’s recovery went well & took 8 weeks after surgery. She is doing very fine after all that pain she had for three months prior to surgery. Now she will have surgery to reconnect her intestine this February since she has a colostomy “bag.” How GREAT that you & Dennis connected through this post on my website! And for him to find you here & both of you having participated in project Duffle Bag & Dennis sending you a letter, you can’t ask for more!!! I never thought this would happen as an outgrowth of “My Vietnam, 1970”!!! How great!!! All the best to you! Phil

      • Bill Hines, Bill! Thanks! Wife Geri ‘s recovery went well for 8 weeks! Now she will be going for two tests for the surgeon to review. Then if all is well she will have surgery to reconnect her intestines from her colostomy “bag” in early March. Thanks for the holiday wishes into the New Year! And may your New Year be a healthy one filled with all good things! GREAT you connected with Dennis who has knowledge of project Duffle Bag! And he wrote to you as well!! This website is serving to connect you guys! So pleased about that!!!!!!!!!! Stay well! Phil

  66. Happy Holidays Phil to you and your family. Hope you are well and in good health. Ray Fleming (128th Signal Co. 68-69 (SP/5).

    • Raymond Fleming, RAY! Many thanks! And Merry Christmas & Happy 2020 to you & yours as well! We went through the trauma of selling our 1885 Dutch Colonial of 44 years, buying a nearby townhouse, & moving. As if that were not enough, a month after we moved in April, my wife Geri suffered great pain for three months with intestinal diverticulosis. The surgeon finally operated to remove 8 inches of intestine August 12 followed by 2 months of recovery. Now in February she will have surgery to reconnect her colostomy “bag.” So it’s been a rough 2019!!!! –Sorry you asked???!!!! HA! Phil Fontana, SP/4, 97th MP Bn HHD, Cam Rahn Bay, 1970

      • Phil and Bill

        Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you.

        Phil, glad your house move went well and I am sorry to hear about your wife’s diverticulosis my grandfather suffered from that many years ago but he never had surgery or a permanent cure. I remember how painful those attacks were for him.

        Bill, I never heard of Project Duffle bag but I assume it had to do with sapper attacks. I remember that sometime during my tour at the Army Depot May 1969 to April 1970 we found a dud satchel charge in one of our enclosed warehouses. I would have been in the Delta Yard Non Perishable Food Storage. Which we re-named “The Delta Supermarket”. It was found by one of our fork lift drivers when we were relocating some pallets that contained some out of date food. Once it was found we evacuated the warehouse and called for help. I can’t remember who exactly came to investigate but it turned out that there were real explosives in the satchel but that it failed to go off. It was felt that do to the location and condition of the bag that it had been in our warehouse for quite sometime. As a side note. That warehouse was where we stored spices and other smaller quantity food items that were usually shipped by the box rather than the pallet. A few GI’s worked there but the main workforce was Vietnamise Woman Local Nationals. We had a segregated work force the Men worked in open storage and the Woman worked in the warehouse, which were separated from each other. It concerned those who worked in that warehouse but in a way it didn’t make much sense as the location it was found at was pretty isolated and out side of blowing up some spices or part of a steel wall not much damage would have been caused. We figured it may have been placed there as a hiding place to be used later for something more serious or maybe shipped somewhere.

        Sgt E-5 Bill Wonsik

  67. Bill Wonsik, Bill!!! Thanks & a Merry Christmas & a Healthy 2020 to you & yours!!! From your comments, you are up on our house move & my wife Geri’s surgery….. you reading from the above exchanges with Bill & Ray. Geri is doing very well now! It was rough going for months. You know all about it from what you say about your grandfather. That was quite a story you told from your tour at the Army Depot, May 1969 to April 1970, finding that dud satchel charge in one of the enclosed warehouses!!! Sounds like you were right that it was hidden then for use later. Thanks for your comments & talking to Bill Hines. Phil, Spec 4

  68. Hi Philip. Please accept my tardy Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Regards, Carl

    • Carl D’Agostino, Carl! Many thanks! I hope your Christmas was good & wishing you & your family health & all good things in the New Year! Wife Geri will be going for two tests in the weeks to come to give the surgeon the ” all clear” for her “reconnective” surgery for the colostomy “bag.” –Maybe surgery in early March we pray. Phil

  69. Arnold Cooper, William Hines is your man I think. Here is what he wrote (found above on August 22, 2019):
    “Hey Phil, Bill Hines Here . I am The guy from Mass. that was assigned to the 128th sig comp .d (really worked with Operation Duffle Bag formerly Igloo ) wondering if you have heard anything more on Duffle Bag ? would like to get and where a patch for both 128th sig also Duffle bag. feb1 70-feb 28- 71. their was a saper attack during that time am i right?
    hoping all is well with you and your family .”
    Hope this helps, Arnie! Phil

    • I tried getting a hold of him but had no luck.

  70. James Walker, Jim!!!
         Thanks for your comments!
         I don’t recall a Jonathoan Van Horn off hand.
         Amazing find by you about the NCO Club in Cam Rahn & the fragging!!!
        And this is quite an excellent history of “Blacks in the Military From Colonial Days to Integration.” by two Rutgers professors!!!
        Many thanks!

  71. Dear SP4 Fontana,

    Great article! Very accurate and many detailed descriptions of the MP facilities and the base area.

    I was there (as a draftee) Jun 71 – late March 72. By that time, the RIFs were in full force and my services were no longer required. Discharged upon return to Oakland, CA.

    My unit at CRB was 8th MP Group (CI), Det. B. We lived next door to 97th Battalion, ate in your mess hall and I had many friends in your MP companies (from MP training, Ft. Gordon, GA), especially guys who drove the “ducks.” Interesting experience. I had 2 outstanding COs during my tour.

    If you have time, search “25Aug71 cam Ranh bay” to read an Air Force CPT account of our famous sapper attack on the ammo storage area. Scary.

    Thank you very much for posting the best photos and descriptions of our military assignment that I have seen.

    Ralph Lusher
    8th MP Group (CI), Det. B

    • Do you remember the white phosphorus grenade attack on the NCO Club by the black Brothers Union? This was at the NCO Club near the dispensary on the main base, near the USO

      • James Walker, You may be commenting to Ralph Lusher. I don’t know about the grenade attack myself. Thanks. Phil Fontana

      • I do recall an attack during my tour. My guys were pissed as the enlisted club could not be used for 2-3 (?) days afterwards. Hope you and your guys survived OK.

        Ralph .

    • Ralph Lusher, SGT Lusher!!! Super comment, Ralph!!! Thanks for the compliments on my accuracy, details, & photos about the MP facilities & base area. This article alone gets over 1/4 of the views I get on my website. I started my website in January 2012 & stopped putting out new articles ever since we started packing, January 2019, & moved to a new townhouse after 44 years in our old house. But I still maintain the website & get viewers on this story, “My Vietnam, 1970,” most of all. When people Google Cam Ranh Bay it comes up!!! If you scroll up to the story above to the archives in the right margin, at the bottom, last, you will see “Vietnam.” Click on that & a page will pop up with three more stories on Vietnam to click on. They are all humorous M*A*S*H like stories of my experiences at the 97th MP Bn. Hdqrts. I worked hard enough at my S-4 job to earn a Bronze Star. But I also had some good times while there. Glad you came home to be discharged, serving Jun ’71 to March ’72. I had to put in 8 more months at Fort Dix, NJ, upon my return. I read with great interest about your being with 8th Grp (CI), Det B, right there with my old 97th MP BN Hdqrts, the same mess hall, & friends from MP school, Fort Gordon, GA. –The “ducks”!!! Remember them well! Your 25Aug71 sapper attack on the ammo depot was such a typical attack which happened periodically. We also had the oil depot tanks blown up down that way & an ammo ship blown up near the Times Sq intersection, near the 97th. Thanks again for the great comment. My email is Phil Fontana

  72. I was in hospital at Cam Rhan Bay when they blew up Ammo depo. Was then sent to Walter reed Hos. I was in a truck that turned over on me. I was in the 155 Transportation.

    • Arnold Cooper, Let’s see if Ralph Lusher replies to you here. Also, here is his email address Phil

      • ty phil i am still looking for someone in my outfit during my tour 9
        Nov 1970 to 12 Sept 1971

  73. Arnold Cooper, I know how you have searched. Did you email Ralph Lusher? Phil

    • yes never got answer

      • Arnold Cooper, Hope he answers you! Some people take a while. If you try again, mention my name. Phil

  74. David E. Clark,
    David, yes, I am notified & read every comment. Now there was a transport unit with trucks right behind my 97th MP Battalion Headquarters Company on Cam Rahn Bay, 1970. Someone might read your comment above on your Uncle Donald Pelkey….but that’s a longshot! I have no links to units or veteran’s page. Try googling Transportation Unit, Cam Rahn Bay, South Vietnam, 1970. Good luck with this! Phil Fontana

    Your Comments: Hello, I hope these posts are still being monitored. I am looking for my uncle’s unit. His name was Donald Pelkey he was a truck driver at Cam Ranh Bay in 70. any links to unit pages or veteran’s pages would help..thanks

    • doing a good job ty

      • Arnold Cooper, Glad you saw this!!! Phil

    • I was in 155 transportation in 1970 – 1971

      • Arnold Cooper, Arnie, I will send David E. Clark your email address. Phil

      • ty i emailed him

  75. Arnold Cooper, Arnie! Great! Phil

  76. Their may have been more than one transportation company at the Army Depot but did any of you serve in the one that had a brief race riot were a number of black troops broke into the company arms rooms took weapons and ammo and started shooting up the depot. I was a recipient of some of that friendly fire, I can’t remember the exact date but think it was midway in my tour May 1969- April 1970. This is a very guarded secret as few know anything about it or know whatever happened to those involved except they were arrested and put on a Army Bus.

    • Bill Wonsik, Bill, how are you!!! Ask Arnold Cooper of the 155th Transportation. I just emailed you his email address. And thanks for the comment! Phil Fontana

    • I was assigned to the depot in the Directorate for Administration. Our company barracks (HHC) was near an MP/CID office, at the bottom of the hill below Army Headquarters. I did not witness the race riot; I only heard second hand. I heard that the riot was in one of the companies that worked in depot operations, either B or C company. I think there was an NCO club nearby. Those barracks were much nearer the depot than mine. I was told two soldiers died as a result of the riot, but I don’t know if they were rioters or others. I can only guess when it occurred, but my best guess is November 1969. These are second-hand accounts and my memory after more than 50 years.

      What I can tell you first hand is that there was racial tension. I think it was more about working long days, every day, and suffering from the boredom of not just the long hours, but drug use and tedium in or near the barracks on off hours. I am not surprised that it ignited into confrontations at times. Soon after the riot, a new depot commander was named and that commander had workers tear down walls and other separations between rooms in barracks, I assume to try to bring some unity to those in the crowded living quarters. I think it was a good effective idea, in our company area, anyway. The riot is mentioned only in general terms on the Internet.

      • Carl Horn, Carl, You speak very knowledgably of the arms room riot mentioned by Bill Wonsik in his above comment. Maybe he will see your comment here & respond. Many thanks!
        Phil Fontana

      • Hi Carl. Your recollection of November 1969 could be in the time line I remember. I was assistant platoon Sgt and squad leader. The Company I was in changed names a number of times sometimes it was Company A and other times Company C. but I can’t remember its exact name. That was were we lived. It was on the other side of the main street close to the intersection of the PX and NCO club. I worked in the Depot as the NCO in charge of the Shipping and Receiving Office of Delta Yard Non Perishable Subsistence which we renamed The Delta Supermarket and gave it a country looking store front. On the night of the riot I was walking back to my hooch from taking my nightly shower as the water in the tower tended to be a little warmer. All of a sudden I heard a M-60 go off from up the hill and saw tracer rounds landing around me and could hear rounds zipping by me landing in the sand. I thought we were being attacked. I hit the ground and crawled to a bunker where I hid out for awhile. No one knew what was going on until the morning when us NCO’s were told that a number of blacks form a transportation company broke into their arms rooms and took a number of weapons and opened fire at random. We were told that no one was injured which differs from your account of two dead, We were to keep our eyes open on the men in our company during our lunch time to ensure the situation would not flare up in other companies. We were told that a meeting was going to occur the next day to hear the gripes of the rioters, Instead they were all arrested and put on busses and removed from the Depot. We never heard whatever happened to any of them and records of the incident cannot be found.

        I do remember their was a lot of racial and cultural tension at the Depot. In addition to southern and northern boys, there were the blacks and Hispanics that didn’t always get along. Their were also the drinkers vs the smokers and other drug users. I know that drug use was quite prevalent. One night when I had CQ duty one individual in another platoon OD in his bunk. We had a few episodes of those high on Vietnamese speed loosing it and going on a tirade. I remember some of the truck drivers who came to our yard complaining about their work hours and assignments. Also guys who worked in Cold Storage complained a lot about having to unload refrigerated trucks with hand carts and go out side into the heat and then inside the huge refrigerators to sub zero temps, My platoon was lucky as we had Vietnamese nationals working in our yards who did most of the outside work. I remember for a short time at the beginning of my tour we were short handed which was tough as we also had to cover a variety of depot guard duties that was the worst . Then all of a sudden we started to get all kinds of replacements more than we could use. So I horse traded some food for a used Duce in a half from a friend in the salvage yard. We used that as our beach transportation and everyone got a lot of time off from work. Coffee, C-rations, and LIRPS could get you just about anything you needed. My guys knew they had it good compared to others and didn’t complain much.

  77. Arnold Cooper, Checkout Carl Horn’s comments above. Phil

  78. Cam Rahn Bay from March 1967 until October 1968. Finally went on R&R in February of 1968 to Hawaii. Wished I had went to Bangkok instead. When I got back from R&R got my orders for Germany. Well no, I am not going to Germany. Extended for 6 more months in Nam and then back to the states with less than a year and no Germany duty. Remember my last day leaving Nam for good. A flying Tiger, with Oriental stewards. Who cared. I had already went home on special leave after my first year and went through Ft. Lewis. Didn’t eat the steak, cause in a hurry. Bad decision. The second time, yes, ate the steak. Got to Chicago and said that is it. No more plane rides. Caught a bus home to Tennessee.

    • Hi Jim , Today is the date I left Cam Rahn Bay and never to return 2-28-1971 . Landed in Tonsunut air base 2-15-1970,
      got to Benhwa and then of to Cam Rahn. I was with 128th sig co (AUG) 99 ce7a. (operation duffle bag). Do you know Where our barracks may have been ? I have never found anyone one this sight ,but I thank Phil started this site for us and himself.

  79. James F. Mincey, Jim, What a story getting orders for Germany after returning to Cam Ranh Bay from R&R in Hawaii in February 1968!!! Good move Extending 6 months & “out.” So Flying Tiger, Oriental stewards, & STEAK brought you to Chicago & bus home to Tennessee!!! Wondering what unit you were assigned to at Cam Ranh. I was an MP with the 97th MP Bn Headquarters Company in Cam Ranh. Thanks for the comment!
    Phil Fontana

  80. 116th Transportation Company,1st logistical command. I don’t know much more. We started out on South Beach in tents, and then moved up on the Hill into barracks later. I was a carpenter helper early, and then in documentation at the end of the pier. Later became a checker on the pier. And finally a transhipment yard. I remember bits and pieces. Me and a friend hitchhiked up to the air base occasionally to eat in their cafeterias. And then on to 22nd replacement to see new troops coming in. I remember being awakened at 2 a.m. I think it was on the Red alert, Tet offensive. We were all running around finding a place to get our weapons loaded and then take a position on the beach. Wonder someone didn’t shoot someone. I was in Cam Rahn for 18 months and it went by fast it seemed. Up on the hill you could go to out door movies. When we went back down to one story barracks heading toward South Beach, not so much. Didn’t smoke pot, but might as well have. Guy across the idle from me had two great big speakers on both sides of his bunk, and he would take winston cigarettes apart and put marijuana mixed in and put the cigarettes back together and lie between the speakers and go wherever he wanted. We had 3 meals per day and also midnight chow. We had a pretty good set up for a war zone. Never went to Tiger Lake, but did go to the beach a couple of times. Went one time when the waves had washed the beach away and it was about a ten foot drop to the water. Stayed away from the village as long as I could. Made Sergeant weeks before leaving Nam. Went to 22nd replacement a day or so early trying to get out sooner. Being a sergeant they put me in charge of some guys to clean up the area. One at a time they asked to go somewhere and never returned. When I got down to my last man, I also disappeared. I knew nothing about being a Sergeant and being in charge of someone.

    • James F. Mincey, Jim!!! Thanks so much for the great comment!!!!!!! You related so much about your time in Cam Ranh Bay, your many assignments, duties, & experiences, I don’t know where to begin responding. So instead I read your comment TWICE!!! That Sergeant experience & comment was a riot!!!!!!! Many thanks! Phil

      • Oh yes the first Log command. As we called it “The Leaning Shit House”

  81. I was a Navy Corpsman at Cam Ranh (advisor) in 71. On several occasions visited both the AF and Army bases there.

    • Did you ever visit the 155 Transportation unit

  82. Looks like we overlapped a couple of months. I arrived September 70 and was S-1 in 97th MP Bn. Familiar photos! Thanks for sharing.

    • zebrajeb, “Zeb,” How great! Wondering if we knew each other. Checkout my three other posts on the 97th. Look at right margin & scroll down to Vietnam to click on. Thanks for the comment. Phil

  83. Happy New Year Phil.
    Ray Fleming
    SP/5 128th Signal Co. 68-69

    • I was in Cam Ranh Bay 9 Nov 1970 to Sept 1971. I run into some type of gas and could not see and had a 3/4/ton truck over turn on me. I was in Hospital there when we had a sipper attach and had what I was told an ammo was blew up. We felt the concussion from it and part of hospital caved in. I am looking for guys who remember this and was in the 155 Transportation unit when I had my truck over turn on me.. My email is If anyone can get a hold of me it sure would be nice. My number is 1-304-532-8381 I live in west Virginia. I lost all my pictures and records in aflood we had.

      • Arnold Cooper, Arnie, hope someone responds to what happened to you: ” I am looking for guys who remember this and was in the 155 Transportation unit when I had my truck over turn on me.” Phil

    • Raymond Fleming, Ray, how nice! And Happy & Healthy New Year to you as well !!! Phil

      • Phil have a Healthy New Year you and your wife
        Bill hines 603 361 7011
        Ray Fleming was in my group in cam ran bay same years 70-71
        128 th signal company . Need contact if you gave it

  84. Gail I sure would like to talk to you I was at can rahn bay in 1070-1971 my email address is

    I was in Cam Ranh Bay 9 Nov 1970 to Sept 1971. I run into some type of gas and could not see and had a 3/4/ton truck over turn on me. I was in Hospital there when we had a sipper attach and had what I was told an ammo was blew up. We felt the concussion from it and part of hospital caved in. I am looking for guys who remember this and was in the 155 Transportation unit when I had my truck over turn on me.. My email is If anyone can get a hold of me it sure would be nice. My number is 1-304-532-8381 I live in west Virginia. I lost all my pictures and records in aflood we had.

  85. Bill Hines, I am just seeing your Dec 30, 2021 comment now!!! You just called me on January 14, 2022. Excuse Us did not notify me as it usually does. Thanks & a Happy & Healthy New Year to you as well! Phil

  86. Phil, any chance you would have email address for Rollie Courtney? He posted on 2/8/2018. I was MP in CRB from 12/1969-2/1971 in 2nd. Security Guard Company also. Thanks, Rich Great job!

    • Rich Dobey, Rich, sorry I do not have email addresses except when a person on my website contacts me. Wow, your dates as an MP in CRB are close to mine, Jan 1970-Dec1970. Security Guard Co. sounds like you were part of us, the 97th MP Battalion!!! Thanks for the comment! Wish I could help you. Phil

  87. Merry Christmas to you and yours

    • Carl! Many thanks! And may you & your family enjoy the holiday season as well! May all be well withy you. Phil

  88. Mick, So you were there 71-72 with the 557 light maintenance company just after me! I left Dec 11, 1970. Thanks for the comment! Phil

  89. Was there that year. Worked at Ammo Area Charlie. I now remember everything about the base. Welcome Home.

    • Feliberto Martinez, So you were there in 1970 & worked in the Ammo Area Charlie! I was on the other end of Cam Rahn Bay! Thanks! Phil

    • I was in Cam Ranh Bay 9 Nov 1970 to Sept 1971. I run into some type of gas and could not see and had a 3/4/ton truck over turn on me. I was in Hospital there when we had a sipper attach and had what I was told an ammo was blew up. We felt the concussion from it and part of hospital caved in. I am looking for guys who remember this and was in the 155 Transportation unit when I had my truck over turn on me.. My email is If anyone can get a hold of me it sure would be nice. My number is 1-304-532-8381 I live in west Virginia. I lost all my pictures and records in aflood we had.

  90. Very interesting indeed!
    Was at CRB from Oct 69 to Oct 70 with the 504th Field Battalion. Dale Powers

  91. Dale Powers, Our time in CRB was close! I don’t recall where the 504th was located on CRB. Thanks for commenting! Phil

    • i do not know where it was either. i was in 155 transportation.

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