Tuesday, December 25, 2018

#SHUTDOWN WITH #DIMRATS---Shades of the Camp Pendleton Correctional Center---OCTOBER '67


(The Scullery)-- US Navy has taken a meaningful step to make the brig more hospitable. Not that the pool table and TV added after the Red Line scandal in the mid-sixties at the CPCC made life in D-Block any better. There were still plenty of AWOL returnees crying for their girlfriends, but a late report over the TT just came in on the chow:

No More Bread and Water: U.S. Navy Scraps an Age-Old Penalty

The United States Navy has come a long way, from its first wooden frigates to today's nuclear carriers. But in all that time, one thing remained almost as fixed as the North Star: A skipper's power to throw troublesome sailors in the brig with nothing to eat but bread and water.

Also known as "Dim Rats," short for Diminished Rations, they were a delicacy in isolation at the CPCC following my "deployment" to the Haight-Ashbury operation known as "Summer of Love '67." When asked, back at the radio platoon HQ for 3rd Bn, 28th Marines at Camp San Mateo in Camp Pendleton, if I might return to SF again, I could not give a definite answer so the Captain had me confined in isolation at the brig. The DimRat dinner was the consolation, although I didn't spend more than a day or two standing at attention for 12 hours at a time before sent to a medium block waiting Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 86, Absent Without Leave charges...aka AWOL...
I was given a "PR", Permanent release on my 21st birthday and in February, 1968, "Tet, "our radio platoon formed up with the 27th Regimental Landing Team, and we did just that, landed in Danang a few days later.

Supporting Documents,
No More Bread and Water: U.S. Navy Scraps an Age-Old Penalty,  By DAVE PHILIPPS
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/no-more-bread-and-water-us, -navy-scraps-an-age-old-penalty/ar-BBRqJhB?ocid=spartanntp

 A NOTORIOUS BRIG NOW MODEL PRISON , By EVERETT R. ROUESOCT. 24, 1971 https://www.nytimes.com/1971/10/24/archives/a-notorious-brig-now-model-prison-marines-transform-coast-facility.html

Brig Rats of Camp Pendleton, by Jack Fincher, Life Magazine, Oct 10, 1969


Saturday, July 28, 2018



(LZ410 Danang)-- The road to the permanent CP for the regimental command unit was saturated in mud from rain and craters from mortars and rockets. Our unit, the transplanted 28th Marines radio platoon from Camp San Mateo in Camp Pendleton was chopped to the 27th Regimental Landing Team staging battalion where we mounted out our gear and flew to Danang via Hawaii and Guam on a moments notice in February 1968. In the distance as we proceeded across the bridge over the Song Cau Do river, smoldering garbage dumps in the distance were visible by the streams of black smoke curling skyward. The road itself was on a railroad track bed where the ties and steel were removed. The abandoned road adjacent to it was far too muddy for the heavy six-ply convoys that traversed it daily.

     The camp at Duong Son (2) itself had been built about two years prior as the 9th Marines moved south and expanded their TAOR into the rocket belt beyond the Song Cau Do, setting up the regimental CP in between the (2) and (3) hamlets. The radio section secured several hardback hootches on the lower eastern side of the perimeter and the platoon set about upgrading the area with reinforced sandbag bunkers, a shower and other amenities that were left undone by the 5th Marines (see notes & updates below) , the current tenants, as they moved north to Hue. I inherited Pvt SP Lane's corner bunk at the entry facing the compound along with a large ammo box to store gear. Lane and I were in the same unit at Pendleton before he shipped out and he was from Riverside, where he knew some very willing ladies. I went with him and met one of them one weekend liberty, I never saw her again. When Lane went north with the 5th Marines (see notes and updates below) , I never saw him again either.
    There was plenty to do at the new regimental CP beginning with rigging mosquito nets for the racks in the hootch and ending with locating the mamasan with the girls and the smoke. We would borrow a radio jeep, drive it into the ville and fake engine trouble while we scored smoke, pre-rolled in plastic packets of ten. It was as good as any stateside and we could add menthol from small jars to cool it off as we sat in bunkers and smoked.
     Our duty rosters were not kind at all including radio watch for patrols, ambushes and air-artillery cover, as well as guard duty on the perimeter at night. Some of the problems encountered early on at the CP were filed in the Command Chronology, Part III, "Significant Topics" dated 09 April 1968:

     The water points were at the north end of the CP and it became a daily chore hauling it for the shower back to the area. The mosquito invasion as the weather warmed was checked by netting, the human waste would eventually become another endless chore. But the one that stood out, particularly for me, was the grease trap at the mess hall. As the patrols came and went around the clock daily, the mess hall, not the Command Operations Center (COC),  itself became ground zero for keeping the 27th Marines in the war. All the heroes coming in from the rice paddies, having engaged in ambushes and hastily contrived operations to push the VC and NVA out of the rocket belt, would have to wait in the long chow lines because the grease trap was broken. But that wasn't the real problem at the mess hall, it was the pot shack, the scullery, where all the field cooking tins and bins had to be scrubbed constantly to keep the cooks in the galley prepping the meals.
     The process was simple enough. Most of the chow was placed in large rectangular cooking tins and round pots, heated and cooked and sent out to the line where it was served as the troops moved through, patient and exhausted. The mess hall at the regimental CP was spacious, fairly new and could accommodate platoons and even companies at a time if the system worked according to Plan 303. That was based on the assumption that the hardware involved, the cooking containers could be cleaned properly and in time for the prep.  The cooks dropped the containers off at the pot shack, they were usually caked and coated with dried, burned food or slippery half-baked scalloped potatoes, fish and meat. Outside the pot shack, there were GI cans full of water and heated by portable kerosene powered heaters to provide hot water for the cleaning process inside the pot shack; it had to be hauled in and dumped into the sinks where the cooking trays sat.  The process was simple enough, except for one minor detail, nobody wanted to do it. The pot shack was where all the deadbeats landed, all the noncomfits and birds that were sent to mess duty because they were useless in their unit. Everybody wanted the cush serving job out on the line or mess hall detail cleaning up after the troops.
     By no means a deadbeat or noncomfit, I was assigned to mess duty at the 27th Marines H&S CP a month after we arrived in-country:

They couldn't have picked a better man for the job either, having served under PO Chuck U Farley at Corry Field in Pensacola and Staff Sgt Dabney at the 28th Marines at Camp San Mateo just prior to deployment. Naturally, the last place I wanted to be in the war zone was in the mess hall but soon I found myself back to the up one-hour before zero-dark-thirty to down long after sundown shift at Duong Son (2). Initially, I was in the serving area and the galley but it didn't take long to notice a major breakdown in the system due to the deadbeats and birds in the pot shack malingering their way through three meals a day, the cooks wanted to lock and load on them. I was presented with an opportunity of a tour of duty and notified the mess sargent I would fight the war in southeast Asia from the pot shack, I volunteered and went in.
     The first order of the day was to toss out the deadbeats. They were gone in a muzzle flash, back to their  sections to the total dismay of their superiors. The second was to set up a system to get the place in order with a procedure that was workable. What did the cooks need first, how long did it take to get the right cooking tins into the right places? What about keeping a supply of hot water in the GI cans out back? I remembered the brutal routine under CU Farley and the ship operation at Pendleton where we choppered a field mess unit onto the beach and set it up to feed a battalion in a moment's notice. Even with a pumped stomach from swallowing a jar of downers to kill a toothache, I was able to pull that one off as Sgt Dabney, another mentor, shouted orders even before the Chinooks touched down with the gear at Onofre. It paid off but not immediately. A sense of order gradually settled in and results were getting to be visible. But I handled it alone for the first week to ten days before another volunteer signed on; a big, very big guy who could throw pots around like tinker toys. Then we got a little Vietnamese commando from the ville who rounded out the team, adding lightning speed to the operation. We had all the tins cleaned before they were needed and pushed further into other assignments around the mess hall. Eventually, I could get long enough breaks through the steam and heat to fire up a menthol smoke from mamasan's personal stash.
     Today, years later, I am asked to report my proudest effort in-country. Was it some patrol in the bush, charging into VC automatic weapons fire? Maybe camped out on the Ho Chi Minh trail with a recon squad calling in supporting arms, hardly. Leave all of that stuff to the heroes, they all looked the same when they got to the chow line at the CP. The pot shack detail was the high point of my tour of duty in Vietnam.


NOTE: The regimental CP may have been vacated by the 5th Marines, but it might well have been the 1st Marines, there is some checking up to do there....

UPDATE 001: (07/29/18/1010PDT) Initial look at the Command Chronologies of 1st, 3rd, 7th and 9th Marine Regiments shows only the 7th near the CP when  RLT 27 arrived. There needs to be an overall inventory of locations of all the regiments and their battalions at the outbreak of Tet 1968.

UPDATE 002: (07/29/18/1049PDT)  Following doc located at 1/27 CC for 02/69:
Pvt SP Lane was with 2/3--

Friday, July 20, 2018

#CHINABEACH--Mamasan and Her Girls--- "DIS S...T" & BARRY COULTER


(LZ 410)-- Record of Service entries for the entire tour with the 27th RLT in Vietnam shows just five entries. On 14 March 1968, the entry shows "messman", there is no entry for R&R, neither the Taipei one , nor the one for China Beach. Administrative Remarks lists the Taipei R&R on 1Aug68:

"TAD in connection with R&R (Taipei) from 26July68 to 31Aug68. Rpt on UD #168-68/15201"

Obviously the 31Aug68 entry is incorrect as I did not spend a month on R&R in Taipei. I spent three days on R&R at China Beach in Danang after the Taepei leave, sometime in August. 
     Barry Coulter went with me to China Beach. Barry was a big African-American from radio platoon and possibly a wireman. Sometime that summer of '68, a new boot lieutenant thought he was going to pull a surprise inspection on the platoon and had us all in formation in front of the regimental COC. He waved a small bag in the air that contained some rolled marijuana cigarettes and announced he was looking for ,

"Dis shit.."

What the boot lieutenant didn't know was that we were the commo platoon and we always knew everything before everybody else. Everybody stashed the goods down in the bunker. Backing up a bit, there weren't that many of us who smoked; the white rednecks from the south in the hootch didn't, there were others who didn't. Turk Dowdell, the wiry black from Cincinnati smoked with me down in the bunker but not too many other people. It was a surprise that all of us were clean when the inspection went down, all of us except Barry Coulter. He didn't smoke, we drew the conclusion it was a setup, they stuffed a little bag of rolled joints in the bottom of his duffel bag and Barry was framed, for whatever reason other than to make the boot lieutenant look good. They couldn't bust a white boy so they busted Barry.

     We went to China Beach, I smoked there but Barry didn't. What we did do was go to the beach, drink a lot of Carling Black Label and one night we visited the mamasan and her girls. To get there we had to walk through the small ville adjacent to China Beach along a path that was laced with concertina wire on both sides. We passed an ARVN bunker fixed with a mounted machine gun and they waved us through in the dark. They knew we were going to see the mamasan. Nobody else in radio platoon would go visit mamasan, they were all worried about their girlfriends back home finding out. As if their girlfriends back in the world weren't out visiting papasan. True blue got you nothing, Barry knew it, I knew it.
    True to the scuttlebutt at China Beach, mamasan delivered the ladies for Barry and me and they delivered for us. The only photo I have from China Beach is included in this post. In the background is the water tower, the photo was taken by Barry; when we were transferred out after RLT 27 went back to the world, I never saw Barry again.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

#MESSDUTY--3rd Battalion, 28th Marines--"PUSHIN' TOO HARD" 1967


(LZ 410)--Reduction in rank, and forfeiture of pay, like mess duty, followed me around from duty station to duty station. My tenure at K Company in Pensacola came to an abrupt end one night when, drunk,  I got into a fight with a sailor who promised he would deliver by,

     "How do you want it, New York or Philly style?"
I replied,
"Here's Reno style," 

and I punched him in the face and broke his nose. But that wasn't what pissed off the CO RL O'Brien. I went back to the barracks and proceeded to punch holes into the bulkheads in a fit of rage over  all that had been coming down ever since I'd been assigned to the training unit. In the blowback, it was, on 14 February, 1967, execution of yet another incident prior to that one, that the sentence of reduction-forfeiture was imposed.  On 10 March, 1967, under "Administrative Remarks" in my Service Record Book (SRB), RL O'Brien made an entry that I had been disenrolled from the CommTech "R" course. In the "Record of Service" section, the page shows 3 April '67 as the first entry for H&S Co., 3rd Bn, 28th Marines. I had been transferred, finally, to an infantry unit, at Camp Pendleton no less.
     Maybe O'Brien thought he was ridding himself of a pain in the neck, quite possibly true. The real truth was that the 5th MarDiv had been recently reactivated and was in need of every able bodied Marine it could muster, in spite of the negative entries in the SRB.  Whether anybody over in that faraway Shangrila of Company K realized it, there was a shooting war in its second full year in Southeast Asia. In the Company K barracks, we used to sit around and mull over the possible duty stations we might get; Marine Barracks, Washington, DC, stand in front of Chopper One and salute CINC when he boarded. What about Cyprus, or Italy or some other far off exotic place where promotions happened every other month and you could be a Gunny, like Gunny Wood in a couple of years? The only place you were going from the 28th Marines, a line infantry regiment, was to Vietnam.
     My first major assignments at H&S, Camp San Mateo weren't radio training, teaching others the rapid speed I had on Morse code I learned in Florida, but chopping back all the ice plant off the sidewalks in front of the quonset huts, firewatch and guard duty all night.  Following that, although there is no entry in the Record, sometime between my arrival in April and my going AWOL to the Summer of Love in Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco in late July, I was again assigned to mess duty. It was after a field training exercise where, in the Sick Call Treatment Record, the entry shows my being treated for falling on a cactus on 29 April '67. The attack of the wild cactus happened when we, acting as aggressors,  ambushed a convoy of tanks somewhere on a Camp Pendleton ridgetop road, and somebody tossed a smoke grenade into the lead tank. It was not well received and the rest of the tanks chased us down the side of the mountain and tried to run us over, I survived by diving into the cactus patch.

The Camp San Mateo (62 Area) former 3rd Bn, 28th Marines messhall from Google earth today. It is now a fitness center. Look close and you might see the ghost of Pvt Mertz handling the GI cans on the back landing.

     At San Mateo 3rd battalion messhall, the chief was Sgt. Dabney, a real slave driver but he laid off me and I was assigned the officers' mess along with CD Rossi, also from radio platoon. The star of the show, hands down, was the "bird" Pvt. Mertz who worked the GI cans out on the back landing. No matter what they threw at Mertz, it would roll off. After I'd gotten out of the brig in October for the AWOL junket to SF, we had just returned from another field exercise and were dead in formation one morning with MSgt "Top" Casella giving us the lowdown,

"What's the matter with you people, am I pushing you too hard?"
In the ranks, Mertz begin to sing the Seeds hit released in October, 1966,
"You're pushin' too hard, you're pushin too hard...."

Mess duty at Pendleton was no picnic, but it was by no means the brutal experience that I had endured at Corry Station under CU Farley. Ironic that the very day that the suspension order at Corry, February 14, was executed, there awaited an even bigger day the following February. It would be on Valentine's Day, 1968 we would depart from El Toro in C-141s with the 27th Regimental Landing Team to Danang.
   Here's where we hear all the talk about that training I had been getting for two years as a Marine paying off,  converted from a "ditty-taker" (code) at Pensacola, to a bona-fide field radio operator at the 28th. None of that will matter as the business of going out on patrols and ambushes would be left to the grunts. There's a hundred books out today on all of them bragging about getting sprayed with automatic weapons fire and barely getting into the trench before the artillery round hit next to them. I'll leave all that glory stuff to the heroes, I had more important things to do in-country.

FOOTNOTE: The sailor at Corry Station outside the Navarine Club reported to his CO that he started the fight so I was not held accountable. Memory is a funny thing. I wrote the report three hours ago and just now remembered that detail. (07/19/18/2040PDT)

TO BE CONTINUED-- Next stop, Duong Son (2)--

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

#THEPOTSHACK---Mess Duty, The First Shift --PART ONE: CORRY FIELD, 1966


(LZ410 DANANG)--Mess duty was no stranger to me.  It followed me from duty station to duty station, from the minute I set foot on Corry Field in Pensacola to the first step through the gate at Camp Pendleton. Being enlisted didn't help the matter at all, everyone with more time in grade would skate from the messhall. So the chores, the back-channel effort to feed the battalion, fell on my shoulders.
     My first experience with mess duty came in 1966, fresh out of boot camp,  at Corry Field in Florida, a class-A Navy communications training base. We were there to learn radio and Morse code, our detachment was Company K, Sub-Unit 1. The CO was RL O'Brien, a Captain when I first arrived but promoted to Major later. His immediate subordinate was Lt. Sepulveda, an up-through-the-ranks former enlisted  who really had an attitude, directed at his former comrades, the enlisted. Then there was "Gunny" Wood, although I never saw him having related to being a Gunnery Sargent, strutting around with that MacArthur corn-cob pipe all the time. His utilities were so starched he could barely walk in them and the recruits at the field had no nice words and some suggestions about the pipe and the reason he walked the way he did.

                                                    (Company K, Sub Unit 1, 1966,  unknown attribution)

     Command was merciless when it came to outclassing the sailors on the base, O'Brien was constantly showing off his company by making us do absurd things, like run in formation around the airstrip in 100 degree heat. The heat rolled off the runway in waves so we would run half-way out, fake it like we were still running, then turn around and come back in. Gunny Wood, looking through field-glasses, thought we were running all the way out to the fence line.

                                                                       (Photo by   Bob Comer c. 1966-67)

     Mess duty came up as I was in "casual" company, some limbo a new recruit to the radio school would land in waiting for a security clearance to proceed to the next phase of training, the classified section known as "R-branch." All of this was very impressive and it was not difficult to be overwhelmed by it and follow orders to the letter. That is, until mess duty rolled along and I was assigned to it for 30 days. It wasn't until many years later when I discovered entries in my Service Record Book that my security clearance had actually been processed and command was just using me for the dirty work around the company, on mess duty, firewatch and barracks field days, to make them look good.

                             (NCTC Corry Field chow hall, 1966 photo by CC Cook, USN/CTR2)

     Reflecting sunglasses was the trademark of the black petty officer in charge of the messmen. A mixed batch of sailors and Marines, we had a name for Charles Underwood Farley, it was "Chuck U Farley."  Whether this was his real name or not, it didn't matter much, mess duty was a grueling ten to twelve hour daily shift that had us reporting in an hour before zero-dark-thirty and getting off long after the sun went down. Aside from the usual daily assignments of chopping carrots and celery all day long, we would wash down the dining area three times a day in a drawn out process of moving all the tables and chairs, flooding the tile floor, then mopping it all up. There was no AC, it was Devil's Island for real, with Farley watching every move from behind his reflecting shades.
     Reflecting back on all of this, I had no idea just how valuable this tortuous lesson would be in the future, more valuable than anything I learned in radio school. I never finished the school, eventually literally fighting my way out with the usual reduction of rank and forfeiture of pay. But I was headed to the West coast when new orders were cut, the 28th Marines infantry regiment at Camp Pendleton.

          (Above: 2 photos of the Corry Co.K barracks taken circa 1967, taken by Rick Swan)


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

ERAC, CHASE & 3.0 GPA, PART 2-- by JC Langelle--SUMMER OF LOVE 2018


(The Pot Shack)-- A blog without a theme is just a place where the editor copies and pastes whatever might interest he or she on the world wide web, and there is plenty to choose from. The President dominates the headlines but can easily be upstaged by Thai kids trapped in a cave, foul-mouthed Elon Musk living down to his reputation, a Big Sur girl who drives off a cliff and lives, a Hawaiian volcano lava-bombing tour boats, or the usual wildfires out West. Spend time on any of that and summer is gone in a breath of smoky air.
     Today, on National Tattoo Day, the 'hood is loaded with muscle beach dudes showing off their body art work, The Java Hut crowd below the apartment has the usual young girls infatuated with unemployed skateboard jocks, the out-of-towners are converging on the parasail kiosk and paddleboard rental shops. I had planned to go out and spend time in the sun but by 10:00 AM it was already too late; besides the air is full of smoke from the Yosemite #Fergusonfire; don't you mean Dr. Ferguson, my Anthropology professor?

     ERAC, aka Enterprise Car Rental, accepted my resignation and will cash me out for a possible $175 check, sent via Fedex to my address on record. It appears living on $10 a day may only last a couple more days. Haven't heard from Chase on when the plan to repo the Toyota, but I will need it for at least one more day. I was walking back from Safeway with a fresh supply of crackers, sardines and a Starbucks iced tea and waited as the SR267-Tahoe Blvd light changed. I had planned on proceeding on the north side of the blvd but the signal allowed me to cross and the phone rang just when I did while right in front of Sweetbriar condos. The reason for wanting to go straight up the north side was to secure a new route with fresh checkpoints enroute back to the bungalow, but the detour must have been fate calling, it was. I had applied at Indeed for a facilities maintenance job at the Reno Hyatt across from the airport and they called me for an interview. I missed the phone call and returned the call immediately, the receptionist said "Reno Hyatt," and I thought she said "Reno High." I will be going in for that interview tomorrow at 1300 hours.

     The strategy here is to place UNR on hold if a position like this is worthwhile and it might just be.
At least it will afford an opportunity to continue to seek reasonable employment while attending UNR, full time, in the Fall it will be 15, not 12, units. The classes are the following:

.. Classes listed are French 211, Economics 101, English 281, Core Humanities 203 and Dance 365.
French class is non-negotiable, bonehead Econ might be useful considering the ever-so-unstable global uncertainty that exists, the 281 is a redux of Dr. Ferguson's linguistics without the teaching assistant (paper grader), the 203 is a Constitution requirement and could be very valuable with the upcoming trials for treason on the horizon. The Dance 365 is also non-negotiable, it's Eve Allen and she knows her job very well, like Christelle Redden in la Francais. And, Eve has a dance troupe with some very talented ladies performing at the proscenium. Most of the classes above are full with some wait list stragglers hoping for a break to get in.

     Meantime, getting back to the Summer of Love 2018 here at The Lake, there's plenty of that going around and the objective here is to keep writing. Today, I put all the papers, quizzes, and ruminations from Amelia Thibault's CH212-3001 Summer class , before I dropped out, over at La Paleontologie for everyone's reading assignments.

There is a new screenplay in progress with a working title of "Tet '68" but it just doesn't seem to fit into the current context of things, that should change. As for these essays' relevance to the 27th Marines command post at Duong Son (2) in 1968, there isn't any. But the 27th Marines page is the official blog, and this is the journal, past and present, and future.


ERAC, CHASE & 3.0 GPA-- by JC Langelle--(C) 2018 EYELESS ON CAMPUS REDUX


(KB HQ)-- If the new page Duong Son (2) isn't impressive enough, it was formerly scotlandyard.blogspot.com but all of that changed today, or rather sometime last week.
     The first event was the employment offer from Hertz as a driver at the Reno airport. I jumped through all the hoops and finally got on board the previous Tuesday. By the time Wednesday rolled around I texted and backed out of the position, citing

"Regrettably, I will be unable to take the job at the Reno airport as planned, due to an excess of other responsibilities..." 

There was plenty of reason to back out although the "excess of other responsibilities" still aren't exactly clear. About the same time I applied for the Hertz driver job, I asked for a transfer from my Enterprise service agent job from the Truckee airport into Reno. The objective here was to make the upcoming Fall schedule at the University of Nevada a bit more in line with employment. As it turned out, all of the chess moves made turned out to be right.
     FoIlowing some back and forth between HR at Roseville, for the Truckee branch, and Las Vegas, for the Reno branch, the transfer was rejected. HR in Roseville; Coreen McGregor and  HR in Las Vegas, Francine Mazza; the latter I had prior dealings with, most of them with negative results. I nixed the Hertz position and instead went back to work on five-hour shifts at the Truckee for two weekends. With finances getting tight, I expected at least a reasonable enough paycheck to make the car payment to Chase. I checked the payroll page on Wednesday and found having worked twenty hours on four separate weekend days, one was bumped to the next pay period, $200 was taken and applied to some medical benefit deduction and the payroll showed $37. I texted Enterprise submitting an immediate resignation. It was Air Show weekend at the Truckee airport, one of the biggest rental weekends of the year. Payroll must have had a blinking light on the dashboard of its rental to hand me a check for $37, quick, take Shannon over there to Auto Doctor. It suddenly dawned on me just how treacherous working for a corporation can be and realized how different it might have been if I was in a union.
     So the Hertz thing was out, the ERAC job vaporized in one fast direct deposit of a check that wasn't there, and I get a call from Chase today telling me my car payment was two weeks behind, something I was already painfully aware of. I had bought the car under some troublesome circumstances and only recently I thought about how nice it would be to lose the car, the insurance and Chase. AAA went up $30 a month to $117 citing some local statistics for the necessity, not my perfect driving record for 20 years, it should have dropped. I struggled to make the last two payments and have been living on $10 a day as the result. I called Chase and explained in no uncertain terms that I could not make a payment and it just didn't sink in. I called back and they suggested some alternative payment plan which after a long repeated explanation of all of the above plus the expectation of having enough to pay the car by the third week in August, they rejected the alternative plan. I told them to come and get the car.
    As for the 3.0 GPA, UNR texted and said financial aid requirements for the Fall 2018 session is 15, not 12, credits, which is just short of impossible. That takes another $700 out of the FAFSA refund needed to cover various expenses from the start of the semester to Christmas.  But the future is now wide open, I stood my ground against the corrupt, greedy, soulless corporations that I had promoted with such confidence and find myself as a result, broke and no car. It would have been simpler to take the $37 loss, go back to the Air Show, call Chase and set a payment and live on $5 a day instead of $10. What have I discovered because of all of this? Time.
     Time to write, to record, to get blogs inventoried, look over discs full of recordings, web pages needing edited, stories to upload, others to delete. Time to open a new site like Duong Son (2), to add more songs to Spreaker, to park the car and walk, go next door and order pizza. Time to drop the CH212 class where the prof gave me a 40 on a very organized paper I submitted, time to drop the CH201 Core Humanities class for the summer, pulling back on the Pell Grant before that led to problems on the Fall financial aid.
     There is a basic law of nature,
" for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction."
I have noticed lately that this doesn't just apply to gravity or acceleration.

You're pushin' too hard...."



Monday, July 16, 2018



SFO TO SGN (Tan Son Nhat) on Asiana Air = $750 round trip; (stop off in Seoul). // Reunification Railway Train from Ho Chi Minh City to Danang = $50


Sunday, July 15, 2018

THE GRAVEYARD--The Regimental CP --(C) 2018 DUONG SON (2)


The following note from a newspaper archive relates the location of the regimental CP of the 27th Marines, at the AMS Map Files 6640-IV, AT992678 to be the location of a graveyard south of the hamlet Duong Son (2).

There are references to this in various files which will be included when they are located. In fact, aproximity search on Google Earth indicates a place that appears to be a well-policed clearing with numerous streets that may be some type of graveyard.


"HELL NO WE WON'T GO"--Essay by JC Langelle--(C) 2018 DUONG SON (2)

ENG 102-1105  Prof M Judd
University of Nevada, Reno  Spring 2018
James C Langelle

“Hell No, We Won’t Go.”

History, if it does occur in cycles, can only be fully appreciated if it is possible to examine it through personal experience. A dry, antiseptic, scientific analysis does not give the culture a total understanding of, as the events unfolded, what happened to those involved. In “A Tale of Two Cities,” for instance, a social upheaval that parallels some of the greatest in mankind, although a fiction, still personifies the experience of the individuals swept away in the tide, pulled down in the whirlpool, of revolution. If revolution along with its counterpart, war,  is the quantum explosion that propels man into a new era, it indeed has shown cyclic behavior. Following those of the 18th century, similar events occurred in the 19th century.
    In the 20th century two major revolutions, the Bolshevik and the Maoist, brought Russia and China into the world theater as major international powers. One upheaval, one revolution and one war, led to another. Big wars led to smaller wars, in the middle of all of them the central player was the United States. In particular, a colonial war in Southeast Asia brought about the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. Twelve years later, the 5th Marine regiment went ashore at Chu Lai in South Vietnam marking the entry of the United States in a new phase of that colonial war. The 5th Marines eventually moved north and set up camp south of DaNang near the small village of Duong Son (2).
    Three years later, in January, 1968, a combined offensive of North Vietnamese regulars and Viet Cong soldiers surrounded the Marine base at Khe Sanh, while others attacked major metropolitan centers throughout South Vietnam. It was known simply as “Tet.”
    “Back-in-the-World,” as Marines liked to refer to the United States, I had recently been released from the Camp Pendleton Correctional Center following disciplinary action related to an unauthorized absence. I was a Private in the United States Marine Corps, stationed with the 28th Marine Regiment at Camp San Mateo, near San Clemente in southern California. The unauthorized absence related to a trip to Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco to join in the “Summer of Love ‘67,” where I slept in basements with hippies and girls from Boston. I ate at the “Diggers’” spaghetti feed-ins in Golden Gate park, eventually hitchhiking back to Camp Pendleton to face charges of UCMJ Article 86,  Absent Without Leave, popularly known as “AWOL.” Part of the punishment was confinement to the correctional center, also known as the “brig.”
    I was released on my 21st birthday in October, 1967. Back at camp, with liberty card in hand, I grabbed my guitar, found a pair of cutoffs, borrowed five dollars from CD Rossi, and hitchhiked to Laguna Beach. The Hatch Cover bar was my destination, on the ocean side of Coast Highway on the southern part of Laguna. A basic beach beer dive, it offered pitchers of draft for one-dollar. I could afford three and have enough left over for a pack of cigarettes, it had been a long dry spell in the brig.
    Sitting playing guitar and drinking beer, I went unnoticed or at least I thought by a group of beach ladies in the corner booth where a hatch cover served as the table. One of the ladies soon hopped, with coin in hand, walked over to the jukebox, dropped the coin in and selected a song, drowning out my guitar playing. I went over to the table, confronted her about interrupting my guitar playing and she apologized. She introduced herself, Patti Dell, from Newport Beach. Patti Dell became my girlfriend for the next few months, before our unit deployed to South Vietnam, very suddenly, in February, 1968, “Tet.” I never saw her again.
    At the White House in Washington, DC,  LBJ was surrounded by his advisors and high-ranking military men from all branches. The president had received a request from US Army General Westmoreland, commander of US forces in Vietnam, for two-hundred thousand additional troops to break the combined NVA-VC offensive. The advisors were at the moment more concerned with the rising tide of unpopularity of the war Back-in-the-World. At least one general wanted to crush the rebellion on the homefront, using any means necessary. Obviously this was not an option, neither was granting Westy’s request. Instead, LBJ opted for two units to go over, the US Army 82nd Airborne and another unit, a newly formed landing team  out of Camp Pendleton, the 27th Marines.
    One morning at the 28th Marine camp, at H&S company, 3rd battalion, word came down that the radio section was to be transferred to the 27th Marines for immediate deployment, mounting-out, to Vietnam. The first reaction was shock, we all had it made at the 28th; plenty of liberty, light duty, a field operation or two, we even had a beach landing off ships by landing craft and helicopters. It was all just one big training exercise. There wasn’t any time at all to recuperate from the shock. A few days later Patti Dell, driving her VW,  dropped me off in the parking lot, the grinder, where the section was in formation. As I fell into the ranks, the Captain at the head of the formation said,
“Private Langelle, I didn’t think you were going to go along.”
Pausing briefly as Patti Dell drove off into history, I looked at all the apprehensive faces in the ranks and replied,
    “I wouldn’t miss it for the world, sir.”
In the ranks were married men who didn’t want to leave their wives and kids, there were green recruits who didn’t know a radio from a flare gun; white kids from the farm, blacks from the inner city, surfers from the coast. In one sentence I had done what the Colonel, the major, the captains, the lieutenants and the sargents couldn’t do. None of them thought I would go over to the war. I would skip out, hitchhike back to Haight-Ashbury and sleep in basements with hippies and girls from Boston. They were wrong. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I gave them all a reason, the reason, for going. It was our duty, our time had come.
    Soon we were at the newly activated area for the 27th Regimental Landing Team (RLT). The entire radio section would be deployed together, making it less stressful since we knew everyone in the unit. That’s when Corporal Danny Ledesma showed up. We didn’t have any Hispanics in our radio platoon; we had blacks, they were called African-Americans by some. We had one Indian, called Native American by others.. But this was our first encounter with an Hispanic, a corporal no less. In those days nobody called anybody Hispanic or Latino, the word Chicano was about as close as we could get to describing them, otherwise they all fell into one big category of “Mexican.”  And Ledesma was a Mexican out of San Diego, who had already done one tour in Vietnam and was going back for a second time. Nobody could understand why anybody wanted to go back for another tour. All of the veterans we left behind at the 28th Marines wanted no part of another tour, but they were all white boys from Arizona who just wanted to go home. We didn’t know any blacks who did one tour and this was our first encounter with a Mexican, a newly promoted corporal already bucking to make sargent. It was quite a while before we settled Ledesma down and accepted him into our tight group of whites, blacks and one Indian. In the end, it was just easier to refer to Ledesma as “corporal.”
    Only Napoleon’s beaten army retreating out of Russia moved more quickly than the 27th Marines to its debarkation point at MCAS El Toro east of Santa Ana. We would fly in C-141s, the workhorse of the military transport division, as an entire landing team, becoming the first unit to be airlifted to the war zone, and subsequently the last. By today’s standards the speed at which the landing team was assembled and deployed is still to this day impressive, only the US Marines were capable of such a massive unrehearsed maneuver at a moment’s notice. By Valentine’s Day, 1968, the entire regiment was ready to board the aircraft, minus 1st battalion which would sail in ships to Danang. There was only one hangup, LBJ.
    The president decided he wanted to send the troops off with a personal farewell, he would travel to El Toro to inspect the unit and observe the deployment. We waited on the tarmac and in the hangers, squaring away our gear under the supervision of Danny Ledesma. The president did arrive, in a Cadillac convertible, wearing a big cowboy hat. He greeted the troops in formation, shook many hands, and issued numerous good lucks and well wishes. We were all very impressed by the president’s appearance, we weren’t the two-hundred thousand Westy wanted, but we would have to do, and the president knew it. In fact, LBJ couldn’t send two-hundred thousand because we simply didn’t have them. Boarding the aircraft for the flight, I could hear a haunting chant in the back of my mind, as if the hippies from Golden Gate park were hiding somewhere in the cargo webbing of the fuselage,
    “Hell no, we won’t go; Hell no, we won’t go.”
    Our first stop was Hawaii for refueling and by that time the reality of the day was slowly sinking in. The recruits were acting more like Marines, checking out their gear, inspecting and servicing their weapons. Nobody cared about Back-in-the-World anymore, many would never see it again. Their wives would write, their girlfriends wouldn’t; they’d be down at the Hatch Cover in Laguna Beach drinking cheap beer before we even touched down in-country. The next stop was Guam for refueling.
    We landed in Danang in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day unloading gear from the planes, zombie like, ten thousand miles from the World. I lit a cigarette on the tarmac and a Captain came running over hollering and pointing at a sign that read “Aircraft Fuel, No Smoking.”
    “Put that damned cigarette out, you want to blow up the airstrip!!”
    I snuffed the cigarette but didn’t care one way or another if the airstrip blew up as Country Joe’s song ran through my head,
    “Well it’s one two, three what are we fightin’  for, ain’t no time to wonder why, we’re all gonna’ die..”
    That night, exhausted, sleepwalking and shell-shocked even though we hadn’t yet been exposed to a single incoming round, we were billeted in some barracks overnight for transport to our Command Post, CP, south of Danang in the morning . All except Private Dowdell, Turk Dowdell, a wiry black from Cincinnati, and me. Ledesma placed us on guard duty of the radio gear in the trucks next to the billets and given real ammunition to load into our M14’s. There weren’t enough M16 rifles, a signature item of the Vietnam War, to go around, so we deployed with the weapons we had at the 28th Marines. Unknown to Danny, I had smuggled a couple of marijuana cigarettes and a pint of Bacardi 151 rum  from the States. Turk and I celebrated our first night in-country high and drinking on guard duty, which would also become signature items of the Vietnam War.
    We weren’t immediately deployed to our camps south of Danang but were allowed to pay a visit to the PX located in the sprawling Danang air base. This exchange was the size of a modern day Walmart and had everything from radios to musical instruments to clothing. Any currency we had needed to be exchanged for script to use in the PX. The first thing I noticed in the store were the Vietnamese women; gorgeous, in full makeup and wearing designer Southeast Asian style dresses and clothing. We had first noticed some women upon arrival but they were the poor ones, scrounging around the base and its outskirts for whatever they could find in the various dumps or doing some menial task related to upkeep or maintenance of the various facilities in the Danang complex. I had seen and known Asian women in the United States but nothing compared to these beauties, many having a mixed heritage of Asian and French. The PX ladies were fluent in English, very friendly and a sight for sore eyes after having been cooped up in the cargo hold of the C141, staring at anxious and angst ridden Marines, breathing jet exhaust that crept into the aircraft.
    By then, everyone was anxious to get to the command perimeter. We ate chow at a rather modern mess hall serviced in part by Vietnamese and the food met with approval by the platoon. Following some last minute checks on the condition of the gear that had been transported halfway around the world, we loaded onto the six-ply trucks that were the workhouse of logistics in Vietnam for the Marines. By mid-afternoon, we had moved out down a dusty, dirty road south past cardboard huts that served as quarters for the less fortunate refugees and transients surrounding the base at the gates. The convoy crossed the Son Cau Do at the Cam Le bridge, observing quietly the rising black smoke off to the west in the distance. Naturally, being rookies in-country, we all thought it was some camp that had just undergone a rocket attack, but more than likely it was just another smoking garbage dump.

      (photo courtesy  Charlie Bushnell, 5th Marines,  perimeter at Duong Son (2), looking SE)

    We arrived at our new destination which would become the headquarters for the regiment, the 5th Marines camp at Duong Son (2).  War was full of paradoxes and ironies, this was yet another one. The 5th Marines, at Duong Son (2), was the first combat unit to arrive in Vietnam three years earlier. It was being replaced by the 27th Marines, the last combat unit to arrive in Vietnam.

ESSAY NOTES--This was the first draft for the essay submitted for the English 102 assignment. There are some redundant sections that were included in the final submission. Note the part about the 5th Marines being the first unit in country at Chu Lai. It may have been the 9th Marines at Red Beach in Danang, I am reviewing the records although the information is probably readily available on the internet.

..THE ROAD TO DUONG SON (2)-- An Essay by JC Langelle---(C) 2018 DUONG SON (2)

ENG 102-1105  Prof M Judd
University of Nevada, Reno  Spring 2018  2/19/18
James Langelle

Savoir Faire

“You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant.”
The opening line of Arlo Guthrie’s hit single released in October, 1967 personified Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco during the Summer of Love of that year.  There were hippies from all over the United States, spaghetti feed-ins at Golden Gate Park adjacent to the district, flower children, many of whom were underaged runaways. There were drug peddlers, hangers-on, groupies, girls from Boston, rich kids from Sausalito who wanted to be in the be-in. Psychedelics flowed in the streets along with heaps of trash, a guitar player huddled in every alcove and alleyway, tour busses passing by to give outsiders a glimpse of the the turned-on and dropped-out generation.. There were basements, freezing basements, to sleep in if one didn’t have the means for more comfortable accommodations.
As I waited for the jeep to pick me up following my PR, permanent release, from the Camp Pendleton Correctional Center on my birthday in October, 1967, I thought about the freezing basements and I remembered the words from First Sgt. “Top” Cassella,
    “They all come back when it gets cold.”
I was going to miss the girls from Boston but not the freezing basements. Upon my return from an Absent Without Leave, AWOL, visit to Haight-Ashbury, I was reduced to the rank of Private, given a forfeiture of pay and sentenced to four months in the “brig.” I did not have to serve all four months, however, and returned to the 28th Marines at Camp San Mateo where I was on duty as a radio operator. Needless to say, the release was related to the upcoming holidays and since I usually volunteered to take the married Marines’ duty so they could be with their families, my brig time was cut short.
    As holidays went, across the Pacific Ocean in Southeast Asia, the United States was currently in full-scale combat in Vietnam. At the end of January, 1968, a combined North Vietnamese Army-Viet Cong “Tet” (new year) offensive laid siege to the Marine combat base at Khe Sanh, while other units invaded the major metropolitan centers such as Saigon, Danang  and Hue city. The commander of the Allied military forces, Army General William Westmoreland urgently requested two-hundred thousand additional troops to counter the offensive. LBJ didn’t have that many in reserve, instead he sent the Army 82nd Airborne Brigade and the 27th Marines out of Camp Pendleton. Our radio unit at 3rd battalion, 28th Marines was detached, “chopped”, to join the mounting-out of the 27th.
    Having enjoyed plenty of liberty following my stay in confinement, and having met Patti Dell, a young blonde girl from Newport Beach, I was shocked to hear the news we were being deployed. My first instinct, like any good soldier who valued his life, was to drop my rifle and run for cover.  But then I thought of all the married men who had a lot more at stake than me; I thought of the battalion commander who signed the papers ordering my early release from the brig. Then I remembered all that stuff about duty, the flag and the Marines. It would have been too easy to say, along with the countless draft dodgers and protesters at Golden Gate Park,
    “Hell no, We won’t go..!!”
Instead, when I joined the formation out on the parking lot that early morning, as Patti Dell dropped me off and drove off into history, the Captain noticed me in the ranks and remarked,
    “Private Langelle, I didn’t expect to see you here this morning.”
Neither did the married Marines, they were certain I was out on Coast Highway, hitchhiking north, back to San Francisco.
    “I wouldn’t miss it for the world, sir,” I replied.
Call it discretion, the better part of valor, courage, or just plain common sense; it all fell into the category of “savoir faire”, meaning to do what was right.
    It didn’t take us long to pack up all our gear, join up with the 27th and be transported by truck and bus to MCAS El Toro, where we waited for C-141 aircraft to fly us to the war zone. Somewhere along the way, we picked up Corporal Danny Ledesma. We had Italians from Philly, whites from Alabama, blacks from Cincinnati and an Indian from New Mexico in our unit, but this was the first Hispanic, or Latino, or :
“Chicano” as they were lately being called. Nobody quite knew how to address Danny, most of the blacks like Keeton, Coulter and Dowdell were African-American; Henderson was a Native-American, whites like Rossi and Shepard weren’t really referred to as Caucasian. It just didn’t seem right, lacking any formal politically correct protocol back then, to call him a Mexican, so Danny became simply a “corporal.” Everyone had issues with Ledesma, but nobody really understood the context of the term “issue” as it is used today, he was simply a pain.
    We waited for several days following our drop off on Valentine’s Day as LBJ was scheduled to pay the regiment a visit and give us a send off. True to his word, the Commander-in-Chief arrived in a white Cadillac convertible, big cowboy hat; got out, made a speech, shook hands, inspected the ranks and watched us fly away. Two days later we were in-country, exhausted from being cooped up in the cargo hold of that big jet. That night as everyone finally settled in at some sideline barracks at Danang airfield, Ledesma assigned Private Dowdell, a wiry black from Cincinnati, and me to guard the radio gear in trucks next to the barracks.  Unknown to Danny, I had smuggled two marijuana joints and a bottle of Bacardi 151 rum from the states, or “Back-in-the-World.” Dowdell and I spent our first night on guard in the war zone high and drinking rum.
    A brief stop at the big WalMart type PX on base the next morning allowed my first glimpse of South Vietnamese women. Dressed in bright flower patterned dresses, loaded with makeup, nails painted and all smiles, these women were the epitome of cross-culture upbringing with Asian and French heritage. They were a variable  I hadn’t expected and one that would surely make life in the combat zone bearable. Fresh off the airplanes, we were already reconnoitering for possible R&R, rest and relaxation, opportunities, which included, but was not limited to, China Beach up on the other side of the sprawling Danang airstrip.
    Later in the day, we boarded trucks with our radio equipment, in full combat gear and ready for action even though the TAOR, tactical area of responsibility, had been secured for some time. Off in the distance smoke curled skyward, we were all certain it was the result from an attack in this notorious area known as the Rocket Belt, immediately north of Dodge City. We proceeded south across the Song Cau Do river at Cam Le bridge and eventually reached our destination, the 5th Marines regimental command at Duong Son (2). The 5th had moved on and were busy mopping up Hue city, ”chopped” to Task Force X-Ray, to take out the VC holed up in the Citadel. Modern Vietnam War historians mark the Citadel as the turning point in the war. It was ironic that the 5th had been given the task, it was the first Marine unit to set foot on Vietnam soil in 1966. They were replaced by the 27th, effectively the last Marine unit to be deployed in-country.

           (photo courtesy Charlie Bushnell, 5th Marines, a guard post at Duong Son (2))

    Shades, not the kind found hanging on the window in the living room. Shades, like the kind Odysseus encountered when he visited Hades in Homeric legend. That’s all any of those people are to me years later, looking back on all of it and to this day, still completely baffled as to how I survived. They’re all gone, out there guarding the gates of Heaven like it says in the Marine Corps hymn.  Rossi is still around, he showed up on my Facebook page one day asking if I still remembered him. We played guitar together in the war, I still have the reel-to-reel recordings, with Earl Keeton, the African-American, doing a Stevie Wonder version of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
Keeton is gone, Coulter, Henderson, the Southern whites, gone. And Danny Ledesma, never saw him again. All that stuff about reunions after the war, just movie stuff.
 If I could get anything I wanted at Alice’s Restaurant, it would be to have them all back again.

ESSAY NOTES: The 5th Marines may not have been the first USMC in-country at Chu Lai, the 9th Marines may have deployed on Red Beach in Danang before that. I am still checking the command chronologies.

I received an "A" for this essay from Professor Judd.