Repro Platoon ~ 1965-1966 The Beginning.......

Talk about what and who you remember from the 569th Engr Topo Corps
John H Watson
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Repro Platoon ~ 1965-1966 The Beginning.......

Post by John H Watson » Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:49 pm

The truck trip from Cam Ranh Bay to the camp area was interesting in that the people along side the road were waving at us as we passed by. They especially waved when we stood up on top of all our gear and waved back and were promptly whacked in the face by the palm trees we were passing. They thought that was pretty funny stuff.

When we first put up our tents they were directly on the sand and when we dug bunkers and trenches and filled sandbags we were surprised that we were at or below sea level as they filled quickly with water. Our tents were blown down occasionally during the monsoons. We used cannon shell crates as a floor and while it gave us a good place to hide our booze it was quickly taken over by the rats that were our room mates. Fred Kee was our designated rat killer and you would hear the whomp of shovels killing rats all through the night. In the morning there would be a raft of rats hanging on the clothesline at the back of our tent with the nights bounty. I think we paid Fred a few beers for each rat. I think he would have done it for free. :D

Gotta go again. I will be back to continue the rest of the story.......

JHW

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Re: Repro Platoon ~ 1965-1966 The Beginning.......

Post by admin » Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:20 pm

Hi John,

Looking forward to more of your story... I'm glad I got there after the rats were under control... :-)

Was there ever any talk or knowledge about whether agent orange was used to defoliate the Camp Mcdermott area? I know some of the guys feel agent orange may be responsible for health issues they have.

John Copeland

John H Watson
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Re: Repro Platoon ~ 1965-1966 The Beginning.......

Post by John H Watson » Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:32 am

John.....
There was a Hawk missile battery on top of the hill (mountain?) south of the camp on the end of the peninsula. The entire top pf the mountain was denuded by both bulldozers and the steep sides of the hills, probably by defoilant in the early days. We always questioned the need for surface to air missiles but apparently there were there to protect from the potential attack from the NVA's Russian planes.
From a Hawk missile site:
The heightened air threat from North Vietnam and the lack of allied low altitude radar coverage in the region meant that if the enemy wanted to exploit this weakness it was estimated that the bases in South Vietnam and north-east Thailand would be open to decimating attacks in minutes. As a result, the 6th Missile Battalion men were deployed in various locations across Vietnam to defend their assigned air bases, fuel and ammo dumps, cities, major troop concentrations areas

A side story occurred early after the missile site was up and running. An inebriated soldier decided to attack the missile site late one night and proceeded up the hill. He eventually came under fire from the top of the mountain which caused return fire from the bottom of the hill. There was much firing going on most of the night from both directions and illumination flares lit up the night, when morning came the now sober soldier came down the mountain unscathed. I don't know what happened to him but it was one expensive night ammo wise and nobody got much sleep. :)

John

John H Watson
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Re: Repro Platoon ~ 1965-1966 The Beginning.......

Post by John H Watson » Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:17 pm

Here's a picture of the mountain with all the vegetation that was removed......
Some serious shit burning going on there too..... :D
Looking at the picture now it appears most of the vegetation was bulldozed.
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This was almost a year later.......The reason i know that is these guys coming in were the first replacement troops.
If you look at the mountain it has changed considerably and is pretty barren......
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JHW
Last edited by John H Watson on Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

John H Watson
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Re: Repro Platoon ~ 1965-1966 The Beginning.......

Post by John H Watson » Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:49 pm

Tent blow down during the monsoon......Notice how vacant the area behind us is....

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December 1965 we finally got wood for a floor. We had sand, the ammo crates and at some point we had a partial PSP steel floor that we stole from the Air Force.
Looking at the picture from the left Sanford Vice (I think, though it could be Sgt Hoghead Johnson), John Daly, our cook in white pants, Me, John Silva kneeling down, Cpl Heinz Lunz (Came to us from Panama) and kneeling and helping us build it, Sgt Beanie Hill.
Notice the collapsed trenches/bunker.
Image

JHW
Last edited by John H Watson on Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.

John H Watson
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Re: Repro Platoon ~ 1965-1966 The Beginning.......

Post by John H Watson » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:01 pm

Somewhere reading around this site someone mentioned CWO Brogan and I was his driver for a while. Except as you can see he really was my driver. Whenever we had business in Cam Ranh Bay he'd tell me to check out a vehicle and then insist on driving while I rode shotgun.
Here we are at the end of the airfield where the F4 Phantoms were taking off.
As I said he was a neat guy to work for and had good leadership skills.
Nice artsy photo by the way....... :D
Image


JHW

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Re: Repro Platoon ~ 1965-1966 The Beginning.......

Post by John H Watson » Sat Apr 21, 2012 2:10 am

Back to the arrival story.......
When we got to the camp, there wasn't much there and earth movers were engaged in cut and fill and trying to build up and level the ground as shown here.....They even worked at night with lights.....

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As you can see the walk to the latrine required that you pack a lunch as it was quite far......
Notice that there is no cutting visible on the mountains at this time.`Or, not much else visible either, 8)
The person in the background is at the end of the company street.


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Here's Thomas N Thomas and Fred Kee (designated rat killer) with one of his victims.....

This picture was taken much later as evidenced by the tents behind us.

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When your tent blows down it's time to move to another tent as is being done here by Tom Ryan a cook who soon made Sgt. But, he still was a good guy and baked a cake for my birthday in October......

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Speaking of cooks, we all had to pull KP and it was difficult to drain the immersion heater tanks when the ground was already saturated. Here you see Bo Walker and how happy he is to be on KP..... :)

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And finally, a picture of Sgt Johnson who went along with me on a run to the water point as I apparently needed constant supervision.... 8)

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Speaking of Johnsons, we had at least three, There was Harold "Swede" Johnson and there was Harold "Fat Harold" Johnson and there was Winifred "Hoghead" Johnson so you always had to clarify which Johnson you were talking about. :mrgreen:

That's enough for tonight. Like MacArthur, I shall return.
Enjoy


JHW

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Re: Repro Platoon ~ 1965-1966 The Beginning.......

Post by John H Watson » Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:41 am

And the beat goes on.......The story continues.......

Here's our Repro HQ Operations tent down by the motor pool as it slowly morphed from a GP tent into the Repro HQ operations building......
(Yes, that guy that looks like movie star is your humble reporter 8)
First the tent with a small porch added.......
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(Notice the Playboy coffee cup, artwork courtesy of Ray Palacio)
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Then we added some small amount of siding.......and floor decking.......
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Then, lo and behold a complete Repro HQ Operations building with screens, shades and signs......
And concrete asbestos roofing. (Drill holes before nailing!) :oops:

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JH Watson

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Re: Repro Platoon ~ 1965-1966 The Beginning.......

Post by John H Watson » Sun Apr 22, 2012 12:14 pm

We did so much construction (mostly that's what we did) That we finally changed our name to
"Repro Construction Platoon" and closed our tent to inspections "Due to remodeling" :D
I'm not sure that the signs did their intended job. 8)
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Especially when we added our Dayroom/Beerhall.......(Now that's some code compliant construction. :shock:

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You can tell this is much later as evidenced by the surrounding tents that are crowding the neighborhood.......

JHW

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Re: Repro Platoon ~ 1965-1966 The Beginning.......

Post by John H Watson » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:44 pm

Time for a couple more pictures from the early days to tell some more of the story.
(Pictures are after all, worth a Thousand words.) 8)
(You gotta love those Kodachrome™ colors)

Russell in front of the Repro tent. Notice the start of a floor deck for a tent on the right. Also notice that there is
PSP (Pierced Steel Planking) for the floor in our tent.
Russel showing his bandages after his wounds healed.

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The company street, although we were the only company 8)
Note to Charlie: The HQ tent is the one with sandbags in front of it.
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Our mess Sergeant Townsend, (He looks a lot like Broderick Crawford and I think he sounded like him when you were on KP) and his fine chefs Ryan and Dailey........The cooked Spam as many ways possible.....Boiled, fried,mixed with powdered eggs (Green Eggs?), chopped peeled and grated. No matter what they did it still tasted like Spam© but that's all they had to work with. We also ate tinned crackers from WWII and Korea.
SOS and C-Rations were a treat!
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And much later on, the POL dump that was over by the ROK (Korean) troops.......
Troop housing and fuel storage, yeah, that's a good plan. :roll:
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Enjoy
John H Watson
Self Appointed Historian :lol:

John H Watson
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Re: Repro Platoon ~ 1965-1966 The Beginning.......

Post by John H Watson » Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:15 am

Time for a little more history.......
We had two entrances on the road in front of the camp and neither was very secure.
This is the entrance to our operations center and as you can see that fierce sign and that pitiful string of
barbed wire kept out anybody who was not wanted...... :) (The sandbags were trip traps :shock: )
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This was the other entrance, at the motor pool and we didn't bother with
barbed wire too much......

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And just down the road was the fish market and other valuable facilities..... 8)

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It seemed like we had guard duty every third day and you had to walk the operations area and the motor pool.
It was spooky at night with the generators backfiring at random intervals.
The whole thing was shaped like a seven with the bottom pointing to the beach road. There was
some other company in the middle of our two spaces.This is their crack security
guard keeping an eye on the cleanup crew...... :)

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Notice the lister bag just coolin' off in the shade....... Oh, that water was sooo cold :wink: WTF?
The shade structure was made out of old printing plates. I hope they were declassified!

John H Watson

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Re: Repro Platoon ~ 1965-1966 The Beginning.......

Post by John H Watson » Mon May 07, 2012 8:47 pm

I have been wanting to get back to the story however as soon as I started scanning slides my wife wanted to
see some of the family slides and therein lies the delay.

Continuing onward these are two photos from the Repro Operations HQ. One when it was still a tent with Sgt Hensley
(who we thought was a really old guy) (Anyone over 21 was an old guy 8) )
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and later after we had constructed the fine operations building here is a high level meeting with
Mr Brogan and some of the NCO's.......

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Notice the fine construction details on the interior.......
Nothing holding it up but hope :o However, it did keep us dry.......

JHW


John H Watson
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Re: Repro Platoon ~ 1965-1966 The Beginning.......

Post by John H Watson » Sat Jun 09, 2012 1:55 pm

I came across some more photos and these are in black and white which is interesting because they were early in the building of our camp. (I always dreamed about RVN in black & white)

We spent a lot of time digging dry wells for the mess tent area. It was difficult digging dry wells because the water table was just below the surface. :)

Here you see Tom Lewis and Bo Walker digging (L) and Tom Ryan one of our cooks. (R) The sign above the mess tent says "Tom & John's Greasy Spoon" Yeah......it was.

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This one is more digging by Dave, Lew and Pete Ribaudo (sp). Then there is the enviable task of being on KP (Jerry Stewart) duty and yes, they are peeling potatoes..... :lol:

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Lew with more water coming out of the ground and our intrepid perimeter guard staff for today Jeff Candler and Fred Kee.....
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This one if the 1FF Headquarters in the former hotel (Photograpy is Prohibited!) and a flight of A1E Skyraiders.....

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That's all I have for this time as things have gotten busier around here. Enjoy!

JHW

John H Watson
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Re: Repro Platoon ~ 1965-1966 The Beginning.......

Post by John H Watson » Tue Feb 04, 2014 10:25 pm

Glad to see that the Forum is back in operation. I have been unable to get on since 6/12/13.

A guy from the 54th Signal Battalion contacted me thru E-mail on this site and advised me that the site was up.

He also reminded me that the 54th had KP duty throughout the tropical voyage of the USS JC Breckenridge. Talk about a sucky job, that was it.

Here's a couple more pictures that I scanned just for your entertainment.


Joey Heatherton with the Bob Hope show at Christmas....... (Yes it was dark out)

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Mail call as we're heading out to guard duty.......Rywack, Watson,Palacio, Candler and I think Rizzardi in the back left.

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The water point where our rather muddy water was processed to a chlorine based, foul smelling and foul tasting liquid.....

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Fred Kee going on guard duty.......

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That's all folks for now. Keep those cards and letters coming, your responses make our day.

John H. Watson

John H Watson
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Re: Repro Platoon ~ 1965-1966 The Beginning.......

Post by John H Watson » Sun Jun 01, 2014 3:00 am

I got an e-mail thru the site today and the person advised me that then Cpl. Heinz Lunz was their uncle
and said, "That was my uncle Heinz in the photo,oh did that bring back memories that
cig dangling from his mouth, he died from cancer at Fort Bragg NC"


Sorry to hear that, Heinz was a cool guy and made Sgt. again shortly after joining us and I must
say he lived life to the fullest, all the time. :mrgreen:

Here's a picture of Heinz with the group on leave at a local saloon. He's wearing the camo hat........

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JHW

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