Blue India

New Guy got the radio

I was a FNG (f**king new guy) so they put a radio on my back. My call sign was Blue India.

As a RTO (radio telephone operator) I was the only communication between us Blues on the ground and our choppers in the air. It only made sense that the RTO was a prime target in a firefight, so that’s probably why the radio was given to a FNG. I found out a little later that the Blues radio guy (Blue-India) was killed in an ambush in September of 1969.

The most common radio used was the PRC-25. The PRC-25 ran on battery power, and the battery only lasted for one day of continuous use, so I always carried a spare. The PRC-25 had two large knobs, which changed the frequency. The frequency had to be changed often to insure that enemies could not pick up transmissions.

I also carried smoke grenades. The smoke grenade released clouds of colored smoke to help mark location for gun ships and Huey Pilots.

The first time I rappelled from a chopper with a radio on my back, I flipped upside down from being a bit top heavy. After a few more rappelling missions, I finally figured it out…

Tom Criser served in Vietnam from February 1969 through March 1970. He also carried the radio (Blue India) while with the Blues.

Pat Bieneman (Blue India, 1968-69)


Filed under Vietnam War

8 responses to “Blue India

  1. Rob, Thanks for adding me in your Blog. You were the inspiration for me starting my own blog.

  2. usastruck

    You’re Welcome!
    I want to thank you for what you do in honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
    My daughter Jill suggested that I start a Vietnam blog. She thought it would help reunite men who served together in that unpopular war, and it has…

  3. Rob, I was going to do a post on RTO’s but I decided to see if you had done one and you did. It was so good I won’t do one myself.

  4. Gainey M. Johnson

    Did you know a teletype operator named Rickie Dean Johnson? He was at Phouch Vinh from February 69 to April of 70. His brother Melvin was a mechanic and replacement door gunner from A Shau and ending in late 69. They are respectively my father and my uncle.

  5. Randy Hembree

    I believe my brother James V. Hembree was the radio guy in 1967. He was killed in Sept. Anything you can tell me about him would be greatly appreciated.

  6. Pingback: April 15, 2016, found in a pile – Musing a life beyond the path not taken

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