US Army & Vietnam

 
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tom@tomwinfield.com

 In the summer of 1969, the draft board sent me "Greetings".  On July 1st I reported and was sworn into the US Army.  Basic training was at Ft. Campbell, KY during July and August.  I have no idea what my draft lottery number was - I never paid attention since I was already in the Army when the first lottery was drawn.  During Basic Training I requested training as a Chaplain Assistant.

From Basic Training it was on to Ft. Dix, NJ for clerk school.  Following clerk school I went to the US Army Chaplain School at Ft. Hamilton, NY. I'll put together more information on this part of my short Army career when I find the slides I took.  

The photos on these pages were scanned mostly from slides and a couple color prints.  They are over 30 years old and I did not take the time to do a lot of touch-up. Remember those "magnetic" souvenir photo albums at the PX?  Its not easy removing pictures that have been in them for over 30 years!.  More pages follow this page.

 

 

Vietnam

 

On December 11th, 1969 I left Oakland Army Base, flying out of Travis AFB and headed for Vietnam. En route we stopped in Hawaii and Japan for refueling.  Arrival at Bein Hoa AFB, Vietnam was on the morning of December 13th.  Crossing the international date line, we lost December 12th that year.

Following processing into the country, I was assigned to the 199th Light Infantry Brigade (Redcatcher).  After a week of "in country" training, it was off to Fire Base Nancy to assist Chaplain Williams.

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Waiting to ship out from Oakland

Time to kill at Honolulu Airport

Sunrise Dec 13, 1969 en route to Vietnam

Local road headed to fire base.

Fire Support Base Nancy

Most of my 10 month tour with the 199th LIB, I lived at battalion fire bases and worked for Chaplain Gould.  Though assigned to work with the battalions, I was actually brigade HHC cadre.  Chapel services were held on Sunday at our home base and sometimes other bases of our units. When possible, we carried a foot pumped field organ with us to outlining bases for use during chapel services

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FSB Nancy Chapel Service - Christmas Day 1969

Altar for chapel service

Brigade forward HQ Chapel

Service in Brigade forward chapel

Chapel service on a small fire base

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Services at another small fire base

Altar was set up on whatever was handy

Battalion chapel - Fire Base Mace

chapel services in a rubber plantation

IIFFV Chapel

I did a little bit of everything in support of the Chaplain: jeep driver, clerk-typist, body guard, organist, chapel construction, acolyte, and all around handyman.

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At desk - IIFFV Arty

Chaplain using a chair I built for him.

Arranging "ditty bags" for the troops

Showing movies at FSB Nancy

Playing organ for chapel service

Two nights a week the Chaplain and I would travel back to Brigade Main Base (BMB) so that he could serve as Duty Chaplain for the day.  That was my day to visit the evacuation hospitals at Long Binh Post. This was one of the toughest things to do - visiting the sick and wounded from my unit. Only one thing was tougher - and that was the memorial services.  

While on the fire bases, I lived with the Rat Patrol (gun jeeps) and snipers. These are the guys that gave me the nick name "Preach". They became some very close friends.  We lived, partied, and commiserated together.

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There are 2 seasons in Viet Nam - the dry season and the rainy season.  Its always hot.  So, there's either dust everywhere or you are wallowing in mud. Following is a collection of some of the remaining pictures I have from my tour in Vietnam.

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50 caliber guard duty

Huey

Chopper resupply

Chinook

Flares

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Change of Command

Change of Command

Grunts

Rat Patrol

Yellow Smoke

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Outgoing fire

Tank

Fire Base Mace

Incoming damage

Outgoing mortar

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Hooches in the rainy season

Lots of mud and water

Dusty road

Firebase viewed from the air

Mortar flash at night

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Fire Base Mace

New housing at fire base

Fire base kitchen

Rat Patrol at temporary housing

Shooting up old ammo at the range

I had the opportunity to meet up with some friends while in country.  Amazing how you can be half way around the word and meet up with long time friends.

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Me (L) with high school friends Dave Hewitt and Dick Foot

With college fraternity brother Bob Wolpert

Chaplain Assistant School friend Tim Murphy

In October 1970, The 199th LIB colors were retired.  At this point I was re-assigned to HHB Second Field Force Vietnam (IIFFV), working with the artillery units.  I still keep in touch with Chaplain Herbert Spencer - my chaplain at this post. In addition to the time at HHB Chaplain's Office, Chaplain Spencer made a weekly trip to Saigon to visit and work with missionaries there.  He also met with Australian Chaplains and conducted services at some of the forward battery locations.

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Second Field Force Vietnam Artillery

IIFFV Office

Chaplain Spencer with Aussie Chaplains

Handing out "ditty bags"

 A Few Saigon photos...

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My second Christmas in country, I pulled rank and time on the other chaplain's assistant in our office.  I told Chaplain Spencer that I was going to the Bob Hope show at Long Binh Post.  So, I joined a few of my closest army buddies at the Bob Hope Show - Christmas Day 1970.

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In January 1971, the colors of the Second Field Force Viet Nam were retired.  For the last week I was in country, I was assigned to HHB, 23rd Artillery Group.

 

Australia and Hong Kong

 

In December 1970, I took my R&R in Sydney, Australia.  Then in January 1971 I took a 7-day leave to Hong Kong.  There's a separate page for photos from Australia and Hong Kong.

 

Back to The World

 

 Late night on January 31, 1971 I climbed on my "freedom bird" back to the States. Refueling stops were in Japan and Seattle, WA, landing at McGuire AFB, NJ.  I processed out of the Army at Ft. Dix on February 2nd.

These pages are dedicated to those that paid the ultimate price and those still missing in SouthEast Asia.

199th Light Infantry Brigade

Second Field Force Viet Nam

23rd Artillery Group


 


Copyright(c) 2004 Tom Winfield. All rights reserved.