A Submarine Sailor in Viet Nam
I was sent to Viet Nam in '68 and stayed 'til '70.
I was attached to the Armed Forces Police, 3rd MP Battalion, 3rd
Marines. A very strange place for a Diesel Boat Sailor. I went to Nam with the
great ideal of helping a Nation in need. I was "ate up" with patriotism. I was
doing the right thing.
remember, we worked for the Navy (could be an
Admiral or a Marine General). The unit was made with a representative of every
unit in the "I-Corp" area. We had jurisdiction over everyone within the area.
(Military and Civilian) We lived at a Hotel in "downtown" DaNang. The Hotel was
more fortified than the "I-Corp" Headquarters (the White Elephant, named because
it was a very large white building). I remember.
remember, One evening about 1030, we got a call
from the "White Elephant" requesting us for a detail. The AFP's were to provide
security for a "Conference" of American Officials and high-ranking Vietnamese
Civilians. I was the senior "NCO" of the detail. The detail consisted of 8
highly trained military professionals. The perimeter was set, troops in place,
and guest were present. After dinner around 2200 hrs., a duce and a half truck
arrived and had the proper credentials. The truck pulled to the back door and
stopped. Shortly, several "ladies of the evening" climbed out of the back of the
truck and entered the building. At 0230, the Ladies left, with fat purses and
smiles on their faces. A Marine Major appeared and dismissed us just in time to
start our daytime patrols. I remember.
I went to the "White Elephant" to request 3 days of "in-country" R&R. I noticed
that there were two South Vietnamese APC's (Armored Personnel Carriers) in front
of the building and close to the river. Just as I arrived, two very young
children (between 9-11) stepped up from the river with a B-40 rocket launcher.
(Similar to our "bazooka") one held it at the back and one at the front. They
fire at one of the APC's at very close range. The APC exploded. The second APC
quickly turned and fired a 50-caliber machine into the two children.
remember, While on three days of "in-country" R&R,
I met a Marine Platoon who had just rotated from the "bush." We sat on the beach
talking about everything except Viet Nam. After what seem like barrels of beer,
the talk did turn to the "Nam" The Marines were strongly complaining of how
difficult it was to be supplied. I told my new friends that I knew of a place
that is the supermarket of weaponry. We "saddled-up" with 4 "Rat-Patrol" jeeps
(all with M-60 machine guns) and two 6x6 trucks. I lead the gaggle to the "Black
Market" alley of DaNang. This place was like a swap meet. You could buy
anything. Uniforms, weapons of all types, ammunition, explosives, etc. We
blocked off the area, the trucks and the marines entered the alley and procured
all the needed supplies to outfit an entire battalion. The shit hit the fan the
next day. (Even then, we weren't political correct.)
I went to China Beach to forget the "Nam". I met some of my unit and got drunk.
I got drunk a lot. We tried to "surf" using the Army's surfboards setup for
their R&R's. The MACV personnel called the AFP's to retrieve their surfboards.
They were very surprised when their call came to our radios. They left, we got
drunker. I remember.
Raymond from Columbus, Ohio. Ray and I arrived "in-country" about the same time.
Ray was a Marine, I was a Submarine Sailor. He would always say that I was not
quite a Marine. Ray and I chase the "bad guys" and sometimes the "good guys'"
together. One night we chase the wind and Ray died. I mailed his personal
effects home. I remember.
I remember, I left Viet Nam in the middle of the night, the same as I
arrived. The aircraft was an American Airlines jet. Kinda fitting. There wasn't
a sound during the takeoff. I was asleep for most of the flight to Kadena. From
Kadena, we flew to HICKAM. We stayed on base. We were not permitted to leave the
barracks. I slept the night away. First thing the next morning, we left for Los
Angles. We landed and again the plane was dead silent. We boarded buses for
different places. Many others and I boarded a bus for Long Beach. As the bus was
leaving the LA airport, our bus was pelted with rocks, tomatoes, and eggs. There
were many "protestors" at the gate. I
My name is Gary Lee Walker and I earned the right to remember.