Perimeter Guard Duty

Outer Limits of a Military Position


Sgt. Tony Mizzi and I standing in front of a bunker on the Phuoc Vinh perimeter. Tony was from New York City, and as I recall wanted to be a NYC cop when he got back to the ‘World’. Tony, if you get a chance to read this, you still owe me twenty bucks.


Eddie Smith from San Diego with Tony and I on a greenline bunker. The greenline (perimeter) is the outer limits of a military position. The area beyond the perimeter belongs to the enemy.

During the night, you sat on top of the bunker with a M-60 machine gun and watched for enemy movement outside the perimeter. On occasion, you shot a flare into the air to light up the area. We also were equipped with a starlight scope for night vision.

We took turns doing two-hour watches, and when you were off, there was a cot in the dug-out lower part of the bunker where you could get some sleep. I recall one night a screaming noise and something running across my legs woke me up. It was rats fighting over food scraps laying on the ground next to my cot. That event intensified my hatred for rats…


Filed under Vietnam War

27 responses to “Perimeter Guard Duty

  1. jesuspdlr

    Every post is a good history. Short but sentimental

    Congratulations for your job, I like it very much.

    • usastruck

      Thank you, I’m glad you like it…

    • Mike Ballard

      Count my vote for well done. I was always worried when we came out of the bush and we turned in our M-16’s to supply! Those bunkers looked great so I didn’t have to worry after all. Served Mar.68 Oct.68

      • Mike, I had no clue you guys had to turn your 16’s into supply when you came in from the bush. Mine was always by my side 24-7. See you at our next group meeting…Rob

  2. Walker Jones

    As a WO Scout pilot at Phouc Vinh in 1970, I only once was assigned perimeter guard OIC. It was something I’ll never forget. Went with another WO Cobra pilot who used to go out there and mix with our C Troopers who maintained a section. They were smoking ‘cigars’ and I was too naive to know what was in them. I looked out through the Starlight scope and imaged I saw 1000s of gooks coming in the wire. Was really creepy; I wanted to shoot.

    • usastruck

      Hey Walker, maybe that explains the rats running across my legs…

    • Larry Cook

      I was at Phouc Vinh in 1970, and pulled gaurd duty for short-timers quite often, plus my regular rotation. I only had one visit from OIC/OD, and he wanted to know if the M-60 had a round chambered. Being as the M-60 fired from an open bolt, that would be hard to do.

  3. Albert Corbin (called the gook) from Guam

    I do remember when my chopper came in for maintenance. That was automatic bunker guard duty. I was on the B-227 AHB side, between the fence and the dump.

    • t.gaskins

      I was up at 227 hhc just east of b co and c co. 69-70 took on permanent perimeter guard was a short timers duty…

  4. At Midnight every night there would be a weapons check. It was called a “Mad Minute” and for 60 seconds we’d fire everything we had. Watching the red tracer bullets going every which way was quite a light show. From time to time during the night our Artillery Battery would fire out aerial flares over our Phouc Vinh Base perimeter. They would drift down slowly and cause the shadows to come alive. On moonless nights the starlight scopes didn’t help much and it brought new meaning to “being afraid of the dark” !

    Pulling Sergeant or Officer of the Guard could be a scary proposition too. You didn’t know if you would spook someone and get a magazine of M-16 ammo fired at you or the normal challenge, “Halt – Who Goes There? ” A different password was given each night as a response to the challenge when approaching the perimeter bunkers. Falling asleep while on guard duty was a Court Marshall offense. They made the rounds all night and did a fine job of keeping us alert.

    • usastruck

      I had myself trained to wake up when the Sergeant of the Guard’s jeep pull up behind the bunker. It just seemed automatic.
      Welcome Home Harold…

  5. dennis junger

    I remember being SSGT of the guard one time. I said I don’t know anything about being SSGt of the guard. I only pulled guard duty once. I feel I’m not qualified. I was told don’t worry about it. Just pick up the blues at 1800hrs they know what they’re doing. So off I went. Turns out the bunker next to ours has movement. We were suppose to respond with a mad minute. The officer of the day happened to notice C-troop was miming there way thru it. When the OD came into our bunkers he found them almost unarmed. A couple of M 16s I had Chunkers with no chunks I had 60s with no belts. I had to return to the company area, with a blue to get ammo while the OD manned my bunkers. Needless to say I was in front of Major Rosher in the morning explaining why my shit wasn’t together. Apparently the blues didn’t know what they were doing and neither did I ! I was never the SSGT of the guard again!

  6. WADE



  7. Niki

    Thank you for your service. My father was in Vietnam and he has just passed due to cancer. I miss him dearly and it’s comforting to read from his fellow veterans. I wish I could talk to him now but reading your blog is comforting. Thank you.

  8. i pulled guard duty in pleiku on tropo hill 1971, the tower had a roof made out of tin + a large spot light on the roof, you had a rod with a handle to turn the light to check the perimeter you sat in a large sand box there was a bunker at the bottom of the tower , guard duty was at nite, i toke with me my m16, m79 , m60 + ammo, i was ready for anything it was scary, we’d get mortar attacked or perimeter attacked, we had flares all nite long, i still remember the flare’s wobbling in the nite air, without the flare’s the sky would be totally black, guard duty was from dusk till dawn and you were only by yourself, with helicopters flying all over the place, sometimes shooting, and artillery hill down the road, shooting over your head sometimes all nite long, what i was afraid of was getting killed by a sniper…

  9. Paul mika

    Welcome home all. I served with service battery 5/4 July 68-69 lz Sharon and camp red devil quang tri many nights bunker duty I remember how dark and long a night was. Paul.

  10. John Sharp

    c/1/9 Phouc Vinh July ’69-Sept. ’70

  11. Walt Cross

    My name is Walt Cross, in 1969 I was with the First Infantry Division in an artillery battery located about 35 or 40 klicks south of Phuc Vinh. I saw something there that i think the following account by one of your guys relates to. If you know anything about this encounter I’d appreciate a heads up. Here it is:

    I was pulling Green-line duty with 3 other 1st Cavalry soldiers who were sleeping. I had a starlight scope, a radio and all the stuff you would expect in [or] on a bunker. This bunker was a big well-fortified bunker. We were all on top of this bunker from my best recollection. I was pulling my stint, letting the others sleep. This bunker was on the western facing perimeter. This night was a beautiful night with no overcast. Many small brilliant stars were in the night sky. No moon, as far as I remember especially facing out west. The starlight scope was working very well. I’m going into a little detail to set the stage leading up to my sighting. I know it’s not to the point please bear with me.
    As I was scanning the western night sky, all of a sudden something to the Northwest caught my eye. It was a very brilliant whitish, silver and with a hint of blue, more of a rounded shape. It was fairly far away. The main thing about this object was it would move to my left, or south in jerky movements, hover, do it again and again. It never lost the same brilliance or colors the entire time. Additionally it left an amber or reddish trail (like a tracer) as it moved only to suddenly stop on a dime. I watched this thing for several minutes.
    By this time it was in the southern horizon. Then, all of a sudden it shot up skyward on a 45 degree angle towards the north. It was totally out of sight in seconds. I was thinking should I report this? I decided not to. I would wait to see if anyone else would, then I would too. I didn’t have the presence of mind to wake the other guys. Mainly, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

    • Great story! Probably another UFO sighting in VN – Welcome Home…

      • Walt Cross

        Thanks Joe;
        Yeah I saw this self same UFO, by the time it got to our position at FSB Florida it was night. I watched it circle our position through my starlight scope, it was the classic saucer shape on edge so it looked like a disc. Now the thing I and my captain saw it do was different. It approached a hill I estimate a couple of k’s from us. On that hill was a dome shaped object that was pulsing. The saucer entered it and a few moments later it came back out or maybe a different saucer came out and headed east away from our position. The captain said it was no threat to us and to ignore it and not to put any entry in the exec post log. I went back to scanning the tree line looking for VC flashlights. By the time i came back to the hill, the dome was gone. So it was likely a mother ship. Very strange. I remember it like yesterday.

    • Alan Block

      Hi Walt, I’m the guy that seen that UFO @ Phuc Vinh in 1969 which I’ll never forget. If there’s anything else I can add like supposedly a radar in Thailand about that time the summer of 69 tracked a object moving at several thousand MPH in that AO which I found out later. BTW I wasn’t smokin anything

      • Walt Cross

        Hello Alan;
        Good to hear from you. I’m interested in this event because as i wrote earlier it came on to our position south of Phuoc Vinh. This happened in late December 1969 just before I rotated home. I arrived in the states on Jan 1, 1970. So you saw it while it was still in daylight is that right? Anything you can tell me is appreciated. I’m a writer now and told the story of my sighting in my book ‘The Fastest Gun in the Big Red One” about my unit, the 7th Artillery. Currently I’m writing a book on UAP/UFOs and have a section on Vietnam. Would you mind if I gave your name to that account?


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