HOW I ENDED UP AT J.J. CARROLL
I was assigned to the 6TH Bn 65th Hawk Artillery, ADA in Key West FL. It was great duty for an Army job. Three days on, three nights on, and three days off and we had mess with Navy guys that ate pretty darn well. I was a 17F20 which is a Fire Control Operator. All along I am figuring I will put my time in and go home. Even if I have to go overseas it will be Germany or the ROK. That is were most of the Hawk units are. Even if I have to go to Vietnam it can not be too bad. All these expensive consoles and such surely need air conditioning or at least easy treatment.
I was there about two months when someone told me I had better check out the bulletin board outside the 1st sergeant's office. There it was, 15 guys going overseas. Seven going to Germany, Seven going to ROK, and one going to USARVN. 14 guys had thirty days leave. One guy had emergency requisition orders with only 15 days leave. Guess who?
I am still thinking no problem. David Peterson was just going over when I got there and had written back that he was at Cam Ranh Bay surfing, fishing, night clubbing, etc. The same type duty three on, three on, three off.
So I pack up, go home for 15 days, and on to the 90th replacement in Long Bien. All along I am figuring it is a dirty job but someone has to do it. Ha! Ha!
At the 90th they have formations about three times a day. There are trucks and jeeps to pick you up as they call out your name. These jeeps or trucks take you to your unit or at least take you to where you pick up your final transportation to your unit.
I am there about two weeks and no one has called my name. Meanwhile I am pulling guard with a darn nightstick around the motor pool.
After about 16 days they call an extra formation. They proceeded to announce that either the First or the Fourth, I forget now, Infantry Division had been hit pretty hard and they needed some replacements. They were operating in the Parrots Beak area. They announced that as the names were called you would get orders superseding the present orders and you would now be an 11B20. Marines call them Grunts. We called them 11 bullet stoppers. Of course everyone is moaning I am truck driver or cook or communications guy or something.
I suddenly realize that some genus in the pentagon knew that this Division was going to be hit hard and they wanted me there in plenty of time to become an 11B20. Thats why I was only allowed 15 days leave. Low and behold they still did not call my name.
Now mind you I am trying to do the right thing and not irritate anyone. Just do my job and keep my nose clean
By now I am getting a real attitude. Another three days have come and gone and no one has called my name. I finally catch the Staff Sergeant that seems to be in charge of the formations. I showed him a copy of my orders and explained that I have emergency requisition orders and that obviously the emergency must be over so could he arrange transportation back to the states for me. After about 15 minutes I gathered what was left of my ass and went and collected all my stuff. He had made arrangements for me to go see personnel at the 90th.
So I go over to the 90th personnel and report to the sergeant in charge. I show him my emergency requisition orders stating that I am a 17F20. He says, "What in the world is that?" So I tell him I am in fire control for Hawk missiles. His answer was," We do not have any Hawk missiles in Vietnam." Well, I am Irish and have had to learn to keep my temper under control. I lost it!
So around the desk I go to get to his face to be able to politely convey what exactly my orders stated. He took it for an act of aggression, I think. Any way he is steadily backing up while I am explaining that the !@#$%^&*() US Army does not send a highly trained person like myself with emergency orders where they do not even have that job available. I explained to him the 6th of the 56th was there and the 6th of the 71st was also there. By the way the 6th of the 56th was a decorated unit during TET for perimeter defense.
It did not matter, he was an E6 and I was an E3. His words were, "I have a place for you sport."
So they cut orders for me to go to the 94th.
When I left they said go to Da Nang and turn your records in at the 192nd Finance and they will tell you were to go from there.
I catch a flight to Cam Ranh Bay and then on up to Da Nang. What I should have done was gotten of the plane in Cam Ranh Bay and called the 71st for someone to come pick me up. Then they could have issued orders superseding my 94th orders. Again I am trying to follow orders.
I get to Da Nang and have no idea where to go. Nothing at the airport to tell me. So I start walking and an Army dude in jeep picked me up and he knew where the Finance center was located.
I turn my records in and asked where do I go now? The guy says I think you go to Dong Ha. I ask what is the 94th? He thinks it is a 105 unit on the DMZ. So I start thinking, 105 short range. How did this happen to me?
I get to the airport at Da Nang and Im waiting on a flight to Dong Ha. I run across a 100 year old Sergeant Major, I ask him if he knows what the 94th is. He said 105 unit on the DMZ. So by now I got to figure it is a 105 unit. I am not real excited about this.
I get to Dong Ha. At least they had a sign for me to call the 94th. So I called and told them I was ready to be picked up and the guy on the other end said, " Yea OK but you need to get away from the airport because it is shelled all the time. Oh boy! Oh boy!
I start walking and the guy picks me up and we go over to the 1st Sergeants area. I report to him and he says, "Who the hell are you, why are you here, and what do you do?" Now I am feeling real wanted by now. Like I made this journey just so I could piss this E-8 off. After about 30 minutes of listening to him complain and moan he called me outside and said, "See that flat top mountain way off in the distance. That is where you are going tomorrow by convoy."
The next day I go to the service battery and draw my M14 and ammo and ride in the back of a duce and half up to my new home.
That is how I made it to Camp J.J. Carroll.
I learned things at my new home called listening post, every three to four days , perimeter defense every three to four days, dusty dirty rough ride duty once or twice a week until the NVA shut down Highway 9, incoming and outgoing, water point duty, sounds of 122 mm rockets, Pack 75s, 130s 152s, AKs, 6th of the 33rd trying to kill us all by firing in the wrong direction, and much more that I have probably forgotten. All the good stuff I was trained to do as a fire control operator for HAWK MISSILES.
Generally compared to most folks I did not have it too bad. IT JUST WASNT WHAT I HAD IN MIND WHEN I STARTED THE TRIP OVER TO VIETNAM.