July 1968 (ORLL Beginning First Period 1/5 th Inf Div (M) Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam 1 Nov 68) Phase III
Movement to Vietnam: On 1 July 1968, an advance party consisting of 300 personnel and 85.5 short tons of cargo departed Peterson Field, Colorado Springs, Colorado. This lift required seven C141 aircraft (3 for passengers and 4 for cargo). Upon arrival at Da Nang Air Base, the advance party moved to Quang Tri Combat Base to establish a temporary base camp and prepare to receive the main body of the Brigade. The main body started moving on 22 July 1968 and completed movement on 31 July 1968. The movement of the main body required a total of 64 C141 aircraft consisting of 48 passenger sorties and 16 cargo sorties. A Total of 4,578 personnel and 1,109.3 short tons of cargo were moved by air. Personnel landed initially at Da Nang and were transloaded into C130 aircraft for movement to Quang Tri. Priorities for movement were 1-11 th Inf Bn, Brigade Hq, 1-61 st Inf (M), 1-77 th Armor, and the 75 th Support Bn in that order. After arrival the brigade began to deprocess the equipment shipped by surface transportation. The majority of this equipment was off-loaded at Da Nang and transshipped to Wunder Beach on the coast ESE of Quang Tri City. From 1 August to 15 August 1968 the battalions unpacked, conducted orientation and acclimatization training, and prepared for combat. The units were initially positioned as follows: 1 – 11 Inf LZ Sharon 1 – 61 Inf (M) Wunder Beach 1 – 77 Armor Wunder Beach 5 – 4 Arty LZ Sharon A/7 th Engr Wunder Beach A/4-12 th Cav Wunder Beach 75 th Spt Bn (-) Quang Tri CB D 75 th Bn Dong Ha 517 th MI Quang Tri CB 407 th RRD Quang Tri CB 86 th Chem Det Quang Tri CB Bde HQ Quang Tri CB (5) .50 Caliber MG Mounts:
(a) Observation: The M@ caliber .50 cupola mounted MG on the M1 cupola in the M48 series tanks is unsatisfactory for …….the type of combat experienced in Vietnam. A pedestal mounted MG with armor protection enhances the tank commander’s ability to return fire immediately. The .50 caliber MG used in reconnaissance by fire is easier to control if mounted by this method.
From Lt. William G. McShane 3rd Platoon 1968-69
As I read comments of others about their memories of their early days in country I decided to try reconstructing some of what happened to me from memory and comments I made in letters to my wife to be. She has saved all of the letters I wrote, so there should be some interesting facts a few of which I have already come across. If anyone wants to edit this or can fill in some of the blanks I would love to start a dialog.
The troop left Carson and flew to Traverse AFB in CA, then to Wake, Manila and finally Da Nang I got off the plane on Wake, walked out to an old WWII bunker and checked out the Pacific. Never saw the pacific. I commented in letters that each stop got hotter and hotter. When we disembarked in Da Nang the heat was so oppressive I just stood there and sweated. Sweated some more. Then watched the tracer fire shooting off in the distance.
I can’t remember how we got from Da Nang to Quang Tri. Boggles my mind, but I remember our first days were at Quang Tri combat base in a tent city next to the marines. Here we were in our nice clean fatigues in a base camp. No equipment. Don’t remember when we got weapons, but do remember we had some rule about loaded rifles. My first trip out of the compound was when John Howell (lt) and I grabbed Lou Coates’ XO jeep and went for a ride down 1 to Quang Tri City. Here we go out of the compound it nice new fatigues, steel pots, belts, flackjackets up to our eyeballs, weapons at the ready, driving down the road sightseeing. Uneventful except for the smell of burning charcoal, palm fronds, and nouc mam(sp). Marines lazily walking up and down the side of the road, dirty, no pots, no flackjackets, some no weapons. We looked like a couple of fresh flowers totally out of place. FNG’s
Hot hot hot. No ice. Went to the Marines on a mission to get a refrigerator. Marine Major from home town looked at young 2lt (our mothers knew each other) and blew me off. He was even a supply officer. I guess I should have known better. Should have sent Sgt. Platt in the first place.
Prior to July 8 – NCO’s and Officers buy a refrigerator. Supplied by none other than Sgt. Platt. Cold beer!
Just talked with Lou Coates, the Troop XO on departure. To correct the record, he states that the Troop left in mass before he left. While we were on leave prior to departure, he and 10 or so others, Harrison included, worked, tying up loose ends. When we, the whole Troop embarked, he went on leave and then directly to Nam and directly to Wonder Beach, missing the Quang Tri tent city stage. Does anyone remember how we got from Da Nang to Quang Tri. I am drawing a blank.
I was in the advance party and it is my recollection that we flew from Da Nang to Dong Ha or Quang Tri. I remember that the Air Force tried to frighten us when we were about to land at Da Nang by telling us that the base there was under heavy fire. The A Troopers were smart enough to realize that they would not land those huge planes if they really were under fire.
Remley Campbell (Static)
Let me add to the confusion with my faded memory of almost 34 yrs ago.
I remember an advance party being sent from the Brigade and A Troop sent personal with it. In regards to the Troop going on leave, there was a period of time when almost all of A Troop was on leave. There was a small party left behind to wrap up odds and ends. I was part of that small party, I had to attend a meeting (as the ranking NCO of the Troop) in regards to status of Troop preparation and you want to talk about being the low man on the totem pole. There even were a couple of days when you could not find an officer in site. During this time we basically hung out at the motor pool or some other spot out of site – out of mind. One of the reasons I remember this time period, we had one buck Sgt. who was thrown from a jeep injuring his elbow so bad that he could not go to Nam with the Troop. Another reason why I remember this period of time is because we became so laid back that some people felt like we forget that we were still in the Army and one morning at formation we had a surprise inspection. At this inspection several Article 15’s were handed out, including one to me for not shaving. At age 19 I could go for months and not shave and pass inspection but high up wanted to put people on notice that we were still in the Army. The company clerk at that time told everyone not to worry he would handle it and make it go ahead. It was not until Pineapple was back in the rear, did I find out that I had an Article 15 on my record. When the Troop came back from leave, the party that had been holding the fort down while they were gone, took their leave.
Bill (Blue Max)
Guess I’ll add a little more fire to the confusion. Coop corrected me on one part and that was leaves. From what I remember the Troop was split for their leaves. The advanced party where the first to leave and by the time we returned the rest of the troop was on leave. I don’t recall how many troopers a C-141 holds but the A Troop was one one. If I recall correctly there where three birds that took the advanced party over. Carson to Travis AFB to Wake Island to the Phillipines and then to Da Nang. From Da Nang we flew in C-130’s to Quang Tri and landed in a 30 mph cross wind needles to say the pucker factor was high. All I remember about Quang Tri was the Marines gave us some in country traning, filling sand bags and pulling guard on our motor pool. I do remember that a higher up came up with the idea that we should make a landing pad shaped like a diamond out of sand bags. During constrution of the pad some Marines came by and told us that the pad would be under water after the first rain (it was). One thing that I can’t place is did the Troop come togeather at Wunder Beach or at Quang Tri?
Jim M. A 4/12 (advanced party) 68-69
D Co. 1/11 ACR 69
4th of July show put on by the Marines, the whole perimeter opens up and flares light up the sky.
By the way, I have a really stupid question. I really seem to remember being in Viet Nam on the 4th of July. I have this memory of being in a marine area with the other platoon leaders and Bobcat. The Marines let loose with everything sometime during the evening, a mad minute I think, to celebrate the 4th. Scared the shit out of me because I thought the perimeter was under attack. I think it was Quang Tri, but it could have been Wunder Beach. Now, am I dreaming or do you remember that too or do I have the date wrong?
You are not dreaming it was at Quang Tri on the 4th of July like you thought. It gave me one hell of a pucker factor. Shit I was in country for just 2 days and I thought they were already going to waste my ass. All I remember was it was one hell of a show.
Good, I’m glad to know I haven’t totally lost it after all these years. I can’t believe I turned 60 last week. I still think I’m about 25 and bullet proof. Two other things I remember about that 4th of July. I bought a K Bar knife from a marine for a case of beer. I’m sure he thought that he pulled a good one on an army LT, but the beer is long gone and I still have the K Bar and it is as sharp as ever. The other thing I remember is that when the jar heads set off their “fireworks” I grabbed my .45 and and tried to chamber a round and it jammed. I found out later that it was defective and I turned it in for another one, but after that I always had a 45 and an M-16 and I won’t even mention the .32 snub nose I carried in my pocket.
Swinny arrives with main body.
Equipment – Tanks & APC’s arrive
Coop says they were sent over from Carson with M48A1 tanks which were gasoline engine powered. Think this should be noted in the record. Saw a show on the history channel awhile back about WWII Sherman tanks which were also gas powered. Both the US and Germans nicknamed them “Ronsons” because like the cigarette lighter, they lit first time and every time when they were hit. I do recall seeing a bunch of burnt out Marine tanks around everywhere. A few were even flamethrower models.
We trained on M60 at Carson and then picked up M48A1 or A2 but they were gas burners for sure. We did not bring them with us; that I can remember.
There was a report of enemy activity near Tombstone. A Troop sweeps area around 0300hrs. No contact was made but tanks run over a few hootches.
Except for the dead cat and A/C (Coop is referring to a humorous story Bob posted on the commo net) it sounds like A Troop when they first hit Wunder Beach; we had so many 3rd degree sunburns the CO threaten to give out Article 15 for destroying Army property.
Tanks for memory I just about put the Wunder Beach Sunburns to rest. I didn’t think we had that many layers of skin to peel off. Even the Brothers got sunburned. Photo
From Lt. William G. McShane 3rd Platoon 1968-69
Remember the first month as pretty slow therefore wrote a lot of letters.
10 July report that the Marines up north are into it although our area is fairly secure. Marines kill 233 and take 4POW’s. 3 Killed.
14 July Arrival at Wonder Beach which turned out to be the first real base of our own albeit short lived. Sandbagging and more sandbagging! Yesterday rained harder than I have ever seen it. Everything drenched.
17 July Playing a lot of poker!
18 July Ship in. Six days to offload.
21 July Sea snake came swimming at me while body surfing. Got the hell out of the water.
24 July No Mail No Mail No Mail. Went out on the ship to check on the off loading. In the lights hanging overboard sea shakes and squid galore. Every once and a while a big something crashes through and takes a mouthful.
25 July FIRST LETTERS FROM HOME. Dated July 2. Wrote Peg about Fat Harry, Pewee and Skinny Luke. You guys remember who they were? Big waves at the beach. Body Surfing. Seems we are all swimming in the nude and one of the guys got his ass burned so bad he couldn’t stand the feel of a cover or whatever on it
July 27 drawing rations for 250 men and only feeding 190. Eating like a demon
July 3I We received 23 of our vehicles last night. Today will put on armor and start mechanical checks.