"Rat Pack " 1-3/70 "Bandit 26" 3-12/70
I returned to Vietnam on July 31, 2000. I was
motivated by an email I received from Jason Woodforth (Woody) who was an operations NCO for the Recondo School. The email contained an after action
report on his trip back and mentioned a large number of sites I faintly recall, including his observations on
traveling the road up to Dalat and
remembering how he always flew over and wondered what it would be like. Passages like that and also the fact that the memories were fading prompted me to make the trip.
I traveled with a group of people who actually had business there and coincidentally was a client of mine here in Oklahoma. (If you are affiliated with the IRS, I was available to give my client financial advice there , if needed, and as such all expenses were fully deductible.) They had made the trip several times and arranged for visa's and other detail. I also invited an old army buddy that commanded another FA battery in the same Battalion with me in Germany in 74. Steve Butcher spent two consecutive tours in 67&68 with the Cav as a forward observer, battery commander and liaison officer. He spent all his time there in the bush and had no social skills with the Vietnamese at all. I had a good time with him. (I finally told him what Chung We Mop meant (Fat Lieutenant) after we left. I was Die We Dep Tai (Handsome Captain) when introducing ourselves) Anyway, that was the traveling party.
We arrived in Saigon (Now Ho Chi Minh City) on August 2, saw the sights for a couple of days, drove up to Dalat (my idea), spent the night, drove back down to the coast and up to Nha Trang. I stayed in Nha Trang for four nights and then flew up to Danang to rejoin my party. Stayed there (Furama Resort on China Beach) for three more days ( with daytrips to Hoi An, Marble Mountain, and Hue), then back to Saigon for a night before returning to the US on August 12.
This picture below is on Highway 1 between Phan Rang and Dong Ba Thin after coming down from Dalat. We had gotten down on the coastal plain in late afternoon and headed North on Highway 1 to Nha Trang. While driving, we watched a storm develop over the mountains. Both Steve and I were amazed at the sudden forming of the clouds from a clear sky to white, puffy clouds to a black, stratocumulus rain storm. All in about 3 minutes. (Okay, I wasn't looking at my watch but it was real quick! OK?) It's a wonder any of us flying there came home.
"Bandit 26" Out
Picture of the temple leading up to the Buddha.
Looking toward the airfield from the base of the Buddha
Yours truly posing in front of the Buddha. (Except for the white hair, and volume of hair, and extra 30 pounds, and wrinkles, and facial scars, I look the same as I did in 1970.)
My buddy Steve and I at the base of the Buddha, looking North. (I'm the good looking one on the left.)
From the base of the Buddha, looking North.