Third Tank Battalion, Third Marine Division
I rode in the back of a 6x6 truck to the 3rd Tank Battalion compound located on Hill 34, southwest of Da Nang. We were near the village of Phonc Bac. I was assigned to the supply platoon of the H&S company. In the "rear with the gear" was fine for me. The commanding officer of the battalion was Lieutenant Colonel William R. Corson, who later wrote the book "Betrayal", a critical look at the war in Vietnam. The supply officer was Captain L. N. Brod. Captain Brod was very similiar to the "Trapper John" character of the MASH television series.
During the day I worked in the supply office and at night I was assigned to perimeter watch. But because I was only a PFC at the time I went on many other "volunteer" assignments that had nothing to do with my supply duties. One week I was part of a squad of marines that provided security for a civilian surveying crew. A few other times we were driven to the top of Hill 327, the high point in the Da Nang area over looking the 3rd Division Rear and 1st Division CP's and the PX, and then we walked down to Hill 271 where we spent the night on perimeter duty.
In February 1967 I was able to enjoy myself at a USO show where Nancy Sinatra was doing her "These Boots are made for Walking" thing. We all hooted and hollered, especially when one Marine offered her a chair so she could display her charms in the red, white, and blue mini-skirt she was wearing. Later that month the entire supply platoon spent an afternoon of recreation at China Beach. That was a real morale builder.
After being promoted to Lance Corporal, in March I was sent back to Okinawa for a week of schooling. It was a nice excursion back into a barracks with running water, sheets, and shelter. I came back to my unit to learn that we were moving up north to Phu Bai. All the support units of the 3rd Marine Division were now going to be closer to their subordinate companies. Yet Phu Bai was still a safer area to be in then where the forward units were located.
We basically built our base camp at Gia Le, west of Phu Bai, from scratch. I was part of the advance party that helped deliver our gear north. So, I made the trip twice between Da Nang and Phu Bai by "Rough Rider" convoy. It was actually very scenic. I still remember the ESSO marine gas sign along the way. For the first six months we lived in tents that were surrounded with sand bags. We were either damp and cold or hot and sticky.
Again like in Da Nang since I was low in rank I was pulled from my normal
duties frequently to be part of the security forces that went along on
the rough riders going north or west. We would either drive north
through Hue on route 1 to Camp Evans or follow a rugged road named "Cumberland"
to the units in the
A Shau Valley needing resupply. Each convoy would take the whole day going and coming. Lunch was c-rations but at least we didn't have to stay overnight at either of these places. "Charlie" controlled the areas in between and the trips were slow going as they had to be swept for mines each morning.
In October I was promoted to Corporal. Rank came fast in those days. Morale builders included seeing Martha Raye in Phu Bai and another beach party, this time at Coco Beach, east of Hue. Here though we took our weapons with us, just in case. I was also fortunate to be able to take two R&R's. Both times I went to the Philippines. Most of my evenings were either spent on perimeter watch, reactionary squad duty, or listening post duty.
I went home in January 1968. There is more to tell but for now enjoy the pictures.
Hill 34, Da Nang
War Dogs Memorial