There were a couple of busses at the Bien Hoa Air Base patiently awaiting our arrival to take us to our next destination. That was 90th Replacement Battalion, situated on the road to Saigon between the village of Bien Hoa and the huge base at Long Binh. There we would be assigned a unit we would serve with in Vietnam.
The bus ride to 90th Replacement was relatively short and everyone seemed exhausted from the long flight.
When we arrived, we filed off the busses and were assigned to barracks where we were to await processing and assignment. We were marched into the long building, which had a concrete floor, wooden walls that were built with each slat at an angle so the wind could blow through and ventilate the building, wire screen on the inside of the walls and a tin roof.
90th Replacement Post Exchange
The next morning after chowing down at the mess hall, we all lined up on the parade field where they called names of those who have been assigned a unit. These were called shipping formations and were held every two or three hours. My name was not called the first day, so I had to wait at least another day to find out where I was going.
That night two of us were assigned perimeter guard duty. Around the perimeter of each firebase, there were bunkers constructed with sand bags where you stand watch for any enemy infiltration. The other guy with me said just a week ago a sapper came through the perimeter wire and slit the throats of the guys on our bunker. I figured he just made that story up, so I would stay up all night and pull his watch while he slept. Well, it worked, as I didn’t get one wink of sleep.
There was rumors floating around, that our units up north were experiencing heavy casualties. I just had a feeling, I would be one of their replacements, especially with my MOS of 11 Delta (recon).
The next day as a large group of us was lined up in formation, the guy next to me offered me a chew. I did smoke at that time, but had never tried a chew before. I accepted his offer and put a small wad of Red Man in my mouth. Just as my name was called with orders for my new unit, everything started spinning around me. I heaved my last two meals all over the parade field. Needless to say, that was a moment of great embarrassment!
Call it a case of the nerves or the affects of chewing tobacco on my system, or maybe a combination of both, I just received orders to report to C Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division…
Photos courtesy of SP4 David Ross Diser (Payroll Specialist
90th Replacement Battalion, 12/10/66-12/01/67)