Tag Archives: Phuoc Vinh

Phuoc Vinh UFO


1969 sighting on the Green-line

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about while in Vietnam; here’s a GI that claims he spotted a UFO while pulling guard duty on Phuoc Vinh’s perimeter.

Full Description of Event/Sighting: I was pulling Green-line duty with 3 other 1st Cav. soldiers who were sleeping. I had a star light scope, a radio and all the stuff you would expect in/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, let 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. and 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 a 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. I would wait to see if anyone else would, then I would to. I didn’t have the presence of mine to wake the other guys. Mainly, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

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Phuoc Vinh Ground Zero


In Our Water

When you consider that we LIVED there, (ate, drank & sleep) with an open tank for the drinking and cooking water, slogging through the mud during the rainy season; could we really avoid exposure?

The veterans who were physically present at Phuoc Vinh Groundwater Zero are, undoubtedly, the most likely to show high level body-burdens of the compounds, even today. Why haven’t we tested the veterans who were subjected to the heaviest and most continuous contamination? Thousands of these soldiers can indeed be found today, through service organizations and the various grassroots networks addressing this issue.

Establishing a group of veterans subjected to high levels of exposure, by evidence of Dioxin (2378 TCDD) testing, and THEN studying these epidemiologically will get at the truth of the matter. The results of blood or tissue analysis of these veterans of Ground Zero will definitively show very high levels of exposure. An additional survey of the medical histories of deceased veterans of Phuoc Vinh will provide STARTLING data.

A year ago I was diagnosed with actinic keratosis, a precancerous skin condition and a cancerous spot (squamous-cell carcinoma) was surgically removed. Whether my skin condition is linked to the thirteen months, I spent in Phuoc Vinh and surrounding areas remains to be seen…

Agent Orange, named after the color of the stripe on the barrels in which the defoliant sprayed by American forces during the Vietnam War was stored, contained tetrachlorodibenzop dioxin (known as TCDD), one of the most poisonous chemicals ever made by man.

The following is an Agent Orange study done by Gregg Knowlton:

The following photos are from “fold3” a collection of original military records

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Dancing the Foxtrot


by Walker A. Jones 1970-71

There I was, an experienced Scout pilot by the summer of ‘70. I’d arrived in late April, drafted, naïve and immature. Other boys with peach fuzz, teenagers-on-typewriters, had sent me to the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment in Phouc Vinh. Charlie Troop. I wrote the folks of the luck I had, not having to fly the Hueys we’d watched shot down on TV, but rather a small observation chopper that “only needed one door gunner”. I was to just observe the war. I have the letter. What luck thereafter, to have survived all that war-watching. I was still an FNG back in early May, riding left seat with Frazier as we raced from Cambodia to discover Whiddon’s burning little one door gunner helicopter, adding to the continuing fiasco. After days like those, the hot Vietnam evenings were spent in the O-Club, or in a dim hootch-corner, relieving the stress with your own click of guys, witnessing the stories of the day and those before my time, mostly boasts. We were survivors, hiding the fear with bravado. Strung together, those nights could become a diary of the daily trudge of our uncommon young experiences then.

Out of the blue on a mid-summer day, the Navy sailed into Papa Vic on an S2 Seasprite. Affixed starboard was the anti-submarine Magnetic Anomaly Detector. They would fly lowish over a designated map grid, deploying their torpedo-like thingy on a cable to get a “reading”: an arms cache so highly desired by all. But us take-it-to-the-enemy alpha-warriors didn’t like this high-tech crap. Convoy cover was the worst, but this just seemed like another fruitless concoction, like people-sniffers and silent ghost planes aleady had this mission hanged by the cojones. It was a new “Golf Foxtrot”, the C Troop phonetic for wasted missions, the war-wide “Romeo Foxtrot”. We had elevated the rat to a goat, retaining the war-soldiers’ beloved Foxtrot.

Unwashed in aircraft technology, we were secretly intimidated by the Navy’s deep blue, shiny high-class ship, what with it’s electric trim tabs and refined fuel needs. And us unrefined Cav Guys of course derided the Navy’s presumed cush mission; air conditioning and steaks and what have you. No nightly rockets and mortars like us. I was the last Scout to have a turn on this unlikely interservice ride. My day began cruising in lazy circles with the high bird Cobra, bored from the get-go, listening to rock and roll on the ADF, not looking forward to a wasted day of no results. And no revenge. We were way east of our usual AO, low hills with heavy cover. The Air Force had clearly ignored this place. Sure enough, their MAD gear soon had a “reading” and they threw out a smoke. Notified, I tossed out my cigarette and started my drop-like-a-brick twirl to the deck below. Scudding over unexpectantly to the smoke plume, I was just starting to look down when I heard the shot. Didn’t feel anything though, which was good. I’d been hit by one shot before of course; going low and slow tempts them. But you get to know when a bullet hits your bird; usually there are more than one. My gunner-crew chief was new, though it was really his bird. But I was supposed to be the teacher that day, so that he didn’t hear the shot, or didn’t feel the hit, didn’t bother me.

But I must’ve had an odd feeling, as for some reason I decided to pull pitch and get some altitude, though I don’t remember why. I didn’t realize it then, but an experienced pilot can sense something wrong, without needing flashing lights and earbuzzing warnings. Or a dashboard blasted to hell. Very soon, the aircraft started to vibrate, and it got worse in a hurry. A white, acrid smoke quickly had me IFR in the cockpit, though a little left pedal swooshed it away in the doorless Loach. I radioed my High Bird desperately asking to confirm that I was on fire. I didn’t know if I should gain or lose altitude. My hootch mate, Wyatt, sitting front seat Cobra above us, answered in his Kentucky drawl that he ‘don’t see no smoke’. In my own Mississippi drawl I cussed out loud, as if anyone could hear in what was now a schrieking, metallical grinding racket of terror, vibrating the bonemarrow. I asked for a vector and steered west toward an unseen opening. Scouts weren’t given maps, as they tended to provide them to the enemy when they crashed.

Suddenly, with a loud “pop” and a violent jerk, the helicopter went from maelstrom to dead silent calm. What the Foxtrot, over? Then the console started flashing and sirens buzzed in my helmet. Something still was not well with my war-watching helicopter. I had never experienced this before, as usually we just were simply shot down, or quickly plopped into a nearby clearing, with no time for conscious decisions. But I was now a Cav Scout with altitude. Then I noticed the dreaded “splitting needles”. Holy crap. I vividly remember looking down at my left hand holding the collective, and the voice that told me: “push it down”. It was the voice of my flight instructor (thank you). I remember subconsciously trying to pick out a “soft looking spot” in the mosaic of green now rushing up too fast. I didn’t think to call “going down”, as I guess it was obvious; surely they saw my trailing smoke by now. Anyhow, I’d switched off my battery.

I was lucky. The little bird flared itself over the jungletop, pulled pitch at the tips of the trees like taught, and then we fell, straight down, flopping through greenery, tensing up for the impact that never seemed to come, like falling through a hole in the earth.

I never remembered hitting, but when I came to, I was staring at bamboo in my lap and liquid dripping off my face. JP4! And worst of all, the sounds of grenades that had been strung by the Gunner on a wire behind me, jerked loose by the violent impact, their crackly spuming telling me of the impending immolation in the spilled fuel and homemade bombs. “Get the Foxtrot out!” I remember screaming in panic. I lept out the door but was foolishly restrained by my harness. Unhooking, I dived again only to splat myself headfirst into a foot-deep streambed under the jungle canopy that enclosed us. Creekwater, again on my face, and hissing smoke grenades behind me, forming rainbows of colors in the slanting slits of sunlight piercing the crashdust.

We’d plummeted 150 feet, bobbling down a bamboo funnel through a deep jungle ravine, the OH-6A incredibly landing “on its feet” smack in the middle of a hidden streambed. The jungle “just swallered ya’ll up” Wyatt later said. We’d somehow missed the big trees that cause the usual Loach conflagration. As the Hughes Tool Company had promised, the rotors folded up, the tail boom broke away, the skids splayed out on final impact, and my seat had collapsed as advertised. Still don’t know how the hell we’d fallen all that way without flipping over. Maybe we had. And thank you Mr. Hughes and Co. for the overrunning clutch that allowed us to become a free-spinning metal parachute after the transmission seized. At least as far as the treetops.

Out of the bird now and glancing around, scared, I saw that we were in some sort of dark tunnel coursing through the dense jungle, formed by the creek, the steep sides thickly lined with huge bamboo stalks and covered over at the top by the arms of giant trees. I had my Gunner take his M-60 and slosh up to the nearest bend, and the Observer to go the other way. I figured the gooks would have to use the creek as a highway if they were to get to us — a fear that I’d previously decided would never happen. I tried my 2-way emergency hand-held to no avail as the sweet noise of unseen helicopters were swarming somewhere above us, shooting rockets and stuff that killed any attempt to send or receive. The old joke that Scouts marked their position by their burning Loach didn’t hold water here, and I was glad. I weakly shot some pen flares that my shaking fingers had extracted from my survival vest, but they couldn’t penetrate the foliage above. But I had my .38 cal., which I swung menacingly at the shadows. Yee ha. I then proceeded to shoot up the place with a half clip of 35mm.

Finally realizing we’d crashed a good ways from One-Shot-Charlie and his comrades, and that the Blues could never get to us this deep, I called my guys back and told them to start trying to make it up the steep ravine through the dense dark bamboo so we could show that we were alive and be rescued. Just as we started to pick our way up, a surreal voice from heaven came down to us: “Stop! Stay where you are! We will get you out!” Totally freaked, I looked up to see a helicopter’s bottom, rotor wash parting the vegetation high above us. It was the Foxtrot Seasprite! It must have a damned electronic megaphone. Sumbitch! Holy Moly! It took me some time to grasp what was happening.

Well, they let down their rescue hoist cable, and one by one we were reeled up like wet puppies to the high-tech mothership, each of us soaked with creekwater, sweat and piss.

In the Charlie Troop club that night I was subjected to the expected barbs of fellow competitors — I mean Scout pilots. “Was it a ‘prang’ or a ‘ditch’?” demanded Chuck Frazier, self-appointed judge and jury. I was feeling terribly guilty, and they meant to preserve it. I still didn’t know why we’d gone down. But that was the way we learned to forget. That we escaped unscathed meant torment. A death or serious wound would have provided deference for the rest of the tour. So I was lucky to be taking the crap. The tail rotor chain bracelet was my most cherished award, wherever it is now.

I couldn’t friggin move my sore body for a couple of days. But someone kept coming by my hootch to plead with me to write the Navy pilots up for hero medals. I blew a fuse. Told them to Foxtrot off. We went out every day knowing that our thankless mission might get us killed. At night, we sat in the club, never breaching the juju talk of people we’d lost. Why should the Golf Foxtrot Navy guys get medals? We don’t need no medals! We did this every damned day. Screw them and the hoddy-toddy helicopter they sailed in on.

Well, those fun times are long ago; we all went on to different lives, burying those days that now seem like a dream. But the club nights could never erase the memories of Whiddon, McKiddy and Skaggs in my first May, much less all the ones that followed. VHPA records told me the names of my crewmembers that summer day. But Wilkes is dead and I can’t find Mitchell. I have tried my best to locate some history about that Army-Navy game that put us in a water-plunge in the center of red-dusty III Corps. I guess Operation Barnacle had some success. I hope that someone else can find those Navy folks; they should get their medals. I’ll pin them on myself. Besides, I find that being back again in the presence of the guys and family from those days brings an unexpected, unspoken comfort. That may be the real legacy we all took home from that dance.

Walker A. Jones
Montferrier-sur-Lez, France

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Religion In Vietnam


A Mixture of Many Faiths

Pagoda near Phuoc Vinh

Vietnamese cemetery somewhere along the road from Phuoc Vinh to Long Binh (photo by Chris Bussells, HHC 31st Eng Bn)

The Viet Cong were well aware of the importance of religion in Vietnamese life. They used people’s beliefs in any way they could, although they did not always respect the beliefs.

All the world’s great religions can be found in Vietnam. At least four major beliefs have had a profound impact on the people. These are Animism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. Christianity entered Vietnam later and is now a religious force. Other beliefs such as Bahaism also have gained followings.

The first Army chaplain in Vietnam arrived on 26 Feb. 1962, with some 3,000 U.S. troops in country. The numbers of serving chaplains roughly kept pace with the troop levels; peaking at over 300 chaplains in the field in 1967.

While in flight to our next mission we had to deal with many different emotions. It was just a matter of minutes before our feet hit the ground and our fate was uncertain.
That’s when I turned to prayer…

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Got a Break


Broke my thumb in a Bizarre Accident

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon and all was quiet except for outgoing artillery going off behind us. Staff Sgt. David Roger, and I was sitting on top of a perimeter bunker on the greenline of Phuoc Vinh firebase. We had a transistor radio and were taking in tunes from a radio station in Saigon (VAFN), which made our guard duty more enjoyable.

I recall what song was playing when my backwards descend began as sandbags I was sitting on gave way. It was “Spill The Wine” by Eric Burdon and War. As I picked myself up off the ground I knew I injured my right hand when I tried to break my fall of about ten feet.

Sgt. Roger couldn’t believe what had just happened and that made two of us. He got on the radio and called for a jeep to take me to the first aid station to get checked out. After X-rays, it was determined that my thumb was indeed broken. They put a cast on my hand, gave me some pain meds and I was on my way.

At that point, I was wondering what Charlie Troop was going to do with me while I was on the mend. I wouldn’t be on any Blues missions for a while in this condition…

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Woodstock


As Fighting Raged in Vietnam

Woodstock

On August 15-17, 1969, two weeks before my departure for boot camp, a group of hippies and 400,000 of their soul mates converged on a dairy farm in New York state for three days of frolicking in the spirit of peace, love and music. Organizers called it “Woodstock,” after the Catskill Mountains town where they’d hoped to have the concert. (The show eventually went on in Bethel, New York, about 50 miles away.) It was 1969, the last year of the tumultuous ’60s.

Santana was one of the groups that performed at Woodstock, and every time I hear a Santana song from that era I have flashbacks of a bad Vietnam experience. A Filipino band was playing one evening at an EM Club at Phuoc Vinh firebase. In the middle of a Santana song, rockets began slamming down extremely close to the club. ‘Charlie’ apparently had the entertainment schedule for the EM Club, and knew it would be packed with GIs. My first instinct was to jump under a nearby pool table then I scrambled to a nearby bunker. While in the bunker I could hear someone gasping for what would be his last breath…
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1st Squadron 9th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division (Airmobile)


Camp Gorvad

The 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) was officially activated on July 1, 1965. It was made up of resources of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test) and elements of the 2nd Infantry Division as a part of this reorganization, the 3/17th Cavalry Regiment was redesignated 1/9th.

The Squadron left with the Division for Vietnam in August, 65, wearing the Black Cavalry Stetsons to war for the first time since the Horse Soldier days. On 28 June 71, the 1/9th Cavalry (less B Troop) returned from Vietnam, the most decorated Unit of that war, and assumed the role of the Divisional Reconnaissance Squadron.

It is estimated that the 1/9th was responsible for fifty percent of all enemy soldiers killed by the 1st Cavalry Division during the war. It was for this reason the battalion earned its current nickname “The Headhunters.”

The 1/9th in Vietnam was made up of the following troops:
Headquarters Troop
Alpha Troop
Bravo Troop
Charlie Troop
Delta Troop
Echo Troop
Foxtrot Troop
LRRPs and Rangers
Dog Handlers

The 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry troopers earned three Medals of Honor in Vietnam.

1/9th headquarters, Phuoc Vinh (Camp Gorvad)

Richard Lamb (crew chief) C Troop early August until late October 1968.
Transferred then to HQ Troop as crew chief on the Squadron check-out LOH.
That aircraft was destroyed Christmas Day in a landing mishap and he was
transferred to B Troop Scouts. Shot down Feb 9, 1969 in LOH 16069

Photo courtesy of Richard Lamb

Captured by ‘FIRST TEAM’ in A Shau Valley
Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

Bob Hinote (radio dispatcher) HQ Troop 1/9th, 1969
Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

Presenting Awards

Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

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1/9th Commanding Officers, 1970
Major Galen Rosher (Charlie Troop CO) front row far right

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1/9th Cavalry Regiment Parade Formation at Phuoc Vinh

Jim Delp (HQ Troop 1/9th, 1969) pointing at fresh shrapnel holes in a sign he had just painted.

Jim Delp (left) must have seen a ghost…

Phuoc Vinh Santa

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First Taste of Combat


Anxious moments

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Every morning in April 1970, our Lift birds would crank up at the helipad in Phuoc Vinh. Fifteen or so of us Blues would board (five or six per bird) and fly to Firebase Buttons, which was about a half hour flight to the northwest of Phuoc Vinh. At Buttons, we sat and waited for word of our next mission, whether it be a recon or quick reaction mission for a downed helicopter. My radio was always tuned into the same frequency as our two Scout birds buzzing around the jungle at tree top level looking for enemy activity.

LRRPs173rdAbn1967One morning a call came over the radio that a group of Lurps (U.S. Army LRRP / Rangers) in the area made contact with the enemy and needed reinforcements. Lurps were heavily armed long-range reconnaissance teams that patrol deep in enemy-held territory. Our choppers cranked up, and we were on our way.

I had never before had to deal with those emotions. This was the real thing and not a drill. This is what all that training was for and why a certain amount of brainwashing was necessary for this type of duty. Turning back was not an option.

The guy next to me on the chopper was a seasoned combat veteran, and he knew I was a FNG, so he gave me a quick briefing as what to do. His instructions were to take my M-16 off the safe position and flip it to ‘rock-n-roll’ (the automatic position) and start firing into the jungle as soon as my feet hit the ground, if not sooner.

Each Huey (chopper) had a crew chief and door gunner on board, one on each side of the bird. Both these guys were equipped with M-60 machine guns, and they both opened up as we approached the LZ (Landing Zone). That was known as ‘coming in hot’.

I jumped off the bird and along with the other Blues, started firing frantically into the jungle. I’m not sure if we were receiving enemy fire because all of us had opened up at the same time and all hell broke loose.

That’s when I felt a hot stinging sensation in my upper back. I swung my right hand around and pulled a hot piece of shrapnel out of my left shoulder. A fellow Blue not far from me took some shrapnel in his stomach about the same time he fired his M-79 grenade launcher and hit a nearby tree. There’s a good chance; that’s where the shrapnel came from.

It wasn’t long after that all was silent, and we hooked up with the Lurps. They had the upper hand in that firefight as they came out without a scratch. Two or three unfriendlies made the ultimate sacrifice for their cause.

That was the first time I saw ‘Charlie’. Their lifeless bodies were laying there in front of me, stripped of their clothing and any possessions they had with them. The Lurps took everything from them to have as souveniers​.

I then took my Kodak 126 Instamatic Camera out of my pocket and took a picture of one of the bullet-riddled bodies on the ground and later mailed it to a friend back in the ‘World’. To this day, it still bothers me why I did that…

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Charlie Troop 1/9th


1st Air Cavalry Division

Charlie Troop, First Squadron, 9th Cavalry was 100% mobile and made up of three platoons, aero scout platoon (White), aero weapons platoon (Red) and aero rifle platoon (Blue).

Charlie Troop jeep next to orderly room

1/9th headquarters, Phuoc Vinh (Camp Gorvad)

Sign painted by Jim Delp (HQ Troop 1/9th, 1969)

1/9th Commanding Officers, 1970
Major Galen Rosher (Charlie Troop CO) front row far right

Charlie Troop CO, Col. Rosher, XO Tietenburg and crew

MAJ Galen Rosher ‘Cavalier 6′ was C Troop 1/9th Commanding Officer 12/10/69- 06/24/70.

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We Land in Phuoc Vinh


My Home for the Next Thirteen Months

There is a good chance anyone riding in a Chinook helicopter these days wear earplugs. I didn’t see one single set of earplugs the whole time I was in Nam. Hearing protection was not a priority in a war zone.

Charlie Troop apparently knew I was coming, because a guy in a 1/4-ton Jeep was waiting at the end of the runway to pick me up. I was assigned to the Charlie Troop Blues, so he took me to their company area. The ride was short, because it was right next to the landing strip.

When I arrived in the Company area a guy named Quintana showed me around and introduced me to some of the guys in the Blue platoon. He was a squad leader and little did he know then, had a short time left in Country. He broke his leg as he jumped from a chopper, while being inserted on a recon mission. That injury was his ticket back to the ‘World’. I was with him on that mission and thought that would be a great way to get out of this place…

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