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Pacific Stars and Stripes
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02Jun68-Pilot's War of Words Aimed at VC Hearts
DA NANG, Vietnam (UPI) - Maj. Darryl Freed banked his light Cessna O2 Skymaster over the once-green rice paddies and pressed a switch.
A baby began crying for its father gone to war. The mother joined the chorus.
"It's the sad, sad cry of families whose sons have died so senselessly for communism, a mournful voice boomed. "Oh, why don't you return to your family? Your children are waiting for you. Listen as their little voices ask for you."
The amplified tape whirred onward, dispatching the mother's moans superimposed over the wails of children. Three minutes later, the skies were silent again and the Viet Cong hidden 3,000 feet below had a few moments to think about what they had left behind.
The pilot from Sacramento, Calif., saturated the area with sound for another three orbits, before flicking open the tape recorder on the seat beside him and inserting another tape. The plane nosed out towards the coast in search of his next target.
This was the major's last flight before returning to the United States after nearly a year attached to the "psyops" squadron based at Da Nang. Also known as the "BS bombers," the psychological warfare operations pilots drop leaflets and words instead of bombs and bullets.
Freed was on one of the six daily missions flown over South Vietnam's norther provinces by Cessnas armed with 1,800 watt loudspeakers. They are complemented by two big C47 cargo planes which drop millions of leaflets daily.
Both leaflets and broadcasts are aimed at harassing the enemy, chiefly by drawing defectors over to the government side.
This strangely peaceful warfare can sometimes be dangerous. Last week one of the leaflet droppers was brought crashing down from the skies. Freed has been shot at often.
"After all we are the only airplane that literally announces our presence and then stays orbiting in the same area," said the blue-eyed blonde pilot.
He was now circling a fishing fleet that dotted the green South China Sea with sampans. The loudspeakers squeaked with a weird Oriental tune interspersed with commentary.
"This is the theme that seems to annoy the Viet Cong the most. The message between that funny bagpipe type of music tells the fisherman not to pay Charlie's taxes," Freed explained.
The leaflets, too, have caused the Viet Cong some headaches. The Communists now threaten those daring to pick up one with the loss of a had. A second offender loses his head. In spite of the drastic consequences, the safe conduct passes have often been found on Viet Cong bodies.
"The enemy also try this sort of psychological warfare on American soldiers," said Freed. "At the moment, they are trying to split the Negro and white troops."
The enemy's campaign has not had much effect on the American soldiers. This is especially true when the Viet Cong bait their leaflets with hand grenades. That is not going to encourage a U.S. soldier to be very curious about what they have to say, Freed said.
04Jun68-Casualties Are Rare
Defoliation Run Is 'Fun' for Pilots
Photo Caption - C123 PROVIDERS OF THE 12TH AIR COMMANDO SQ., DA NANG AB, DEPOSIT THEIR LOAD OF DEFOLIANT ON AN ENEMY-INFESTED JUNGLE AREA.
By ANDREW HEADLAND JR.
S&S Staff Correspondent
DA NANG, Vietnam - An Air Force colonel who makes lowlevel spraying flights over enemy-infested Vietnamese jungles describes the job as a "fun mission in the sense of professional flying."
But exposing Viet Cong by killing off vegetation has its hazards for crew members of the 12th Air Commando Sq. which flies out of Da Nang AB under command of Lt. Col. Phillip Larsen, Denver, Colo.
During 1967 four of the squadron's C123 Provider aircraft received about 1,000 punctures from enemy rifle and other small arms fire.
But despite the frequency with which the squadron is peppered, serious damage and casualties are extremely rare. Protective cover flown by F4 Phantom jets discourage too much overt enemy activity.
The C123 cockpit is armor plated as is a box occupied by the flight engineer who controls the spray mechanism. Each member of the three-man crew wears a flak jacket and helmet.
The belly of the C123 is equipped with a 1,000-gallon tank filled with a 1,000-gallon tank filled with commercial-type herbicide that kills foliage within three or four days. Thereafter only skeletons of trees remain and enemy storage areas, base camp sites, trails and ambush points are clearly discernible.
Known as "The Ranch Hands," the squadron flies under the slogan, "Only We Can Prevent Forests."
Squadron aircraft, flying in groups of three, make two flights daily out of Da Nang AB, each plan cover's a strip about 400 feet wide and about 10 miles long, or about 330 acres on each flight.
The spray is effective for up to nine months after which the jungle slowly reasserts itself. Officials say the spray cannot harm human and animal life.
Defoliation targets are selected, charted and approved in advance by Vietnamese and U.S. civilian and military authorities.
"See that brown stretch down there? asked instructor pilot Maj. Charles J. Meadow, Cordele, Ga. "That's one of ours."
At the controls was Capt. Art Erickson, Aurora, Ill. The object of the early morning flight was to destroy a strip of dense jungle along highway No. 9 leading from Khe Sanh toward the coast.
As the C123 approached Khe Sanh a smoke signal released by a forward air controller set the start of the course. Erickson leveled out at 140 knots, doing contour flying in the strictest sense of the word.
"Back in the armor-plated box Sgt. Robert Rand, Brooklyn, N. Y., the flight engineer, released the spray mechanism.
From then on until the end of the run it was a wild, roller-coaster type of ride as the aircraft skimmed tree tops into shadow-deep canyons, rising abruptly to the crest of precipices and then soaring earthward again.
A few breathless minutes later, the "fun mission" ended with 50 gallons of herbicide remaining in the tank. Larsen radioed thanks to the two Phantom fighter escort pilots. The mission had lasted an hour and 40 minutes.
Then the three aircraft, flying in formation, headed toward the South China Sea and back to Da Nang AB.
07Jun68-2 Hueys Downed By Ground Fire
SAIGON (s&s) - Two Army UH1 helicopters were downed in separate actions Tuesday by enemy ground fire.
Military spokesmen said crews of both craft got out unhurt.
One helicopter, which went down about 11 miles southwest of Tam Ky, was destroyed. The other, hit about 11 miles southwest of Saigon, received minor damage.
U.S. copter crews reported killing 74 enemy soldiers in scattered support actions in South Vietnam.
07Jun68-Turns Night Crawler
GI Shudders Through NVA Position
CHU LAI, Vietnam (IO) - An Americal Div. soldier crawled all night through a North Vietnamese position recently during heavy action five miles north of Dong Ha.
Sgt. Charles Desmond, of Boston, became separated from his unit within the NVA perimeter as darkness fell, and was forced to crawl nearly a mile before rejoining the 196 Inf. Brigade the next morning.
After slipping past the NVA, Desmond hid near a river until daybreak.
"I was so scared that I was shaking all over, and that caused the water to ripple," said the squad leader with the 3rd Bn., 21st Inf. "I though that would give my position away, so I kept telling myself "If you want to live, stop shaking."
Besides the NVA, Desmond had to worry about a U.S. aircraft which had spotted him in a rice paddy and thinking he was an enemy soldier, began dropping flares.
"It circled me for quite a while, but when I go to the river I lost him," Desmond said.
Desmond became separated from his unit during an assault on a fortified village.
"We were going after a bunker which had opened up on us," the sergeant explained.
"One of my men was hit and I crawled over to him, but he was dead when I got there. I noticed that the fire to my rear was subsiding, but I was still drawing fire from the bunker.
"I threw a grenade at the bunker and then made my way to a bomb crater for more cover," he said. "A short time later I realized that my company had pulled back, and I was there alone.
"When it was dark enough I took off all my equipment, except my weapon and two magazines, and started to crawl," he said. "I could see the NVA and hear some of them talking.
"I was really scared but I just tried not to lose my head and got out of each situation as it arose."
Desmond's escape came during ten days of heavy contact five miles from the DMZ in which the 196th killed 579 NVA regulars and captured 139 weapons.
10Jun68-Scopes No Aid To NVA
DA NANG, Vietnam (ISO) - Cement bunkers and periscopes failed North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops who tangled with three wounded Leathernecks in a nine-hour battle during Operation Allen Brook south of Da Nang.
The Marines were sweeping through thick brush when enemy machine gun and sniper fire pinned them down.
Pfc. Bruce Richardson, 18, of San Jose, Calif., quickly positioned his machine gun team to provide covering fire.
"They (the NVA) were real close," said Richardson. "They were throwing hand grenades from trench lines concealed by the thick grass. Then my gunner was killed."
The assistant gunner, Pfc Larry G. Fones, 20 of St. Joseph, Mo., took over the gun despite a shrapnel wound in his right wrist.
"Bullets were coming from all directions," said Fones, "and one creased my nose, but I kept firing."
Fones began to run low on ammunition and Richardson raced back to get some more.
"That's when I got shot in the hand," he said. "When I reached the supply point a corpsman put a battle dressing on my wound and told me I was going to be evacuated. I just grabbed some belts of ammo and started back.
"Just before I reached the gun I caught a glimpse of something that reminded me of an old submarine movie I once saw."
Richardson spotted periscopes mounted on top of three NVA cement bunkers. The instruments extended about 20 feet above the bunkers, enabling the enemy to see over the thick grass and adjust their fire on the pinned-dow Marines whenever they moved.
"I gave Fones the ammo, then moved to tell our squad leader about the periscopes and bunkers," said Richardson. "He had been wounded too, but still managed to call in artillery and air strikes on the bunkers."
By nightfall the enemy broke contact. A sweep of the area the next day turned up 45 dead NVA, five machine guns, seven rifles and a collection of radio and telephone equipment in addition to the bunkers and periscopes.
10Jun68-Soldiers Protect Rice Crop
CHU LAI, Vietnam (IO) - A battalion of the 196th Inf. Brigade (Americal Div.) recently teamed up with Regional and Popular Forces elements to protect the rice harvesters in the Antennae Valley, five miles southwest of Hoi An.
The results of the four-day operation, were to deny the Viet Cong approximately 65 tons of rice and provide a food supply for the people of Duc Duc District.
"My people and I consider this rice harvest a great success," said Captain Triem, district chief of Duc Duc. "I personally feel that joint operation like this one are the most effective way of defeating the enemy and achieving peace in my country. I enjoyed working with the 196th during the rice harvest and hope we can work together again soon."
10Jun68-Short-Timer's Luck Holds Up at End
CHU LAI, Vietnam (IO)- No matter how short a man gets in Vietnam, the unexpected can still happen - right up to the last minute.
Captain Vernon A. Campbell of Patton, Me., found this out on his last day in the field as commanding officer of "A" Co., 4th Bn., 3d Inf., of the Americal Div.'s 11th Inf. Brigade.
His "Old Guard" unit made a combat assault north of the Tra Khuc River five miles west of Quang Ngai City. As he and his men moved along a jungle trail, Campbell stepped on the cardboard top of a C-ration box.
Suddenly, there was a flash and bang, and Campbell was knocked off his feet.
"It sounded like three blasting caps going off at once," he said. "We all froze, and when I looked around a saw a small cloud of white smoke, and then more white smoke and a puttering sound off to one side of the trail.
The smoke and sputtering were coming from the mouth of a 4.2 inch mortar shell. Campbell had stepped on the igniter of a booby trap. "After a while , the sputtering stopped, and the shell never exploded."
But, the captain's day wasn't over yet.
"We started to move out of the area, carefully checking for more booby traps," he said. "Then I stepped into a punji pit." Luckily the punji pits, with their hidden eight-inch spikes were old. "Another man and I were cut a little by them, but not seriously," he said.
Campbell is now assigned to Americal Div. headquarters as a briefing officer for the division's G-2 (intelligence) section. He had been with his company for over a year, both when it was training at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and after the brigade arrived in Vietnam last December.
"I hate to leave the company," he said. "Some people may think I used up all my luck that day, but as far as I'm concerned, I've still got plenty left. It probably wouldn't happen again if I stayed over here two more years."
12Jun68-When 'CO' Says Shave, You Shave
CHU LAI, Vietnam (IO) - Capt. Max Bradley was proud of the luxurious growth
on his upper lip.
Four months of hard work, waxing, curling, training and tender care had gone into its development.
It was a happy day for Bradley, executive officer of the 198th Inf. Brigade's 1st Bn., 6th Inf., when his R&R orders came in.
He went to Hawaiii where his wife Annette was coming from Athens, Ga., to meet him.
Then came the moment.
The confrontation with his wife was near and Bradley twisted the long pointed tips of his mustache tighter as he strolled into the R&R Center.
There just as he had dreamed of her, stood Annette.
For a moment they stood looking at each other.
"Hello, I'm Mrs. Bradley, Who are you?" She asked, putting out her hand.
Dumbfounded, Bradley automatically shook hands with her - then jumped back as she jabbed a finger at the brush swirling from under his nose.
"That thing," The tone of her voice striking fear into the man who had faced countless fire fights in Vietnam-"has got to go!"
"I tried to tell her it was okay with the Army but you know women," Bradley laughed. "-I shaved it off."
13Jun68-Operation Ends; 1,129 Reds Slain
SAIGON (S&S) - U.S. infantrymen killed 1,129 enemy in a six-month operation that ended Monday in Quang Ngai Province, the U.S. Command said.
Operation Muscatine, which centered in an area 11 miles north of Quang Ngai City, began Dec. 19 1967. Elements of the 11th Light Inf. Brigade, Americal Div., conducted the sweep aimed at driving the enemy from the coastal plain between the provincial capital and Chu Lai.
U.S. losses were 86 killed and 501 wounded.
16Jun68-Aircraft Collide; 8 Americans Die (This may be the crash that killed Colonel Barker before he could be interrogated about the My Lai massacre).
SAIGON (S&S) - Eight Americans were killed Friday morning when an Air Force reconnaissance plane and an Army helicopter collided and crashed about 12 miles north of Quang Ngai City, about 340 miles north of Saigon.
There were no reports of survivors from either the UH1 helicopter of O2 Super Skymaster, U.S. military officials said.
16Jun68-Marines Kill 59 Foe In Da Nang Sweep
S&S Vietnam Bureau
SAIGON - Marines sweeping through foothills southwest of Da Nang tangled with two Communist forces Thursday and Friday, killing 59 enemy soldiers in what was otherwise a comparative lull in fighting in South Vietnam.
The 26th Marine Regimental Combat Team, sweeping Quang Nam Province in Operation Mameluke Thrust, harried a Red force of unknown size for nine hours Thursday 12 miles west of Hoi An, counting 44 enemy dead. Three Marines died, 24 were hurt.
Early next morning a platoon of the 26th ambushed a 40-man Red force 15 miles below Da Nang, claiming 15 enemy kills while taking only one seriously wounded casualty.
Otherwise Friday seemed quiet, compared to sporadic action of Thursday. Saigon again seemed to be the focal point of military action late ............
17Jun68-Project 100,000 Passes a Test (Comment- I selected this article because this is referenced in the Americal Division operational reports. An officer had requested that a percentage limit be placed on the number of project 100,000 people placed in a unit. This report complained of these people having difficulty in job performance and crime.)
Photo Caption - DEFENSE PROGRAM IS MAKING RECRUITS EASIER TO COME BY
By MARC HUET
S&S Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - The Defense Department, the world's largest training establishment, is making a dent in the nagging problem of poverty in the midst of a land of plenty and doing in some cases what should have been done for thousands of young men at school many years earlier.
At the same time, it is also spreading the burden of military service across a much wider segment of the American population that up until recently was untouched because of a poor education and to a lesser degree, minor physical defects.
Former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara underscored the huge waste in potential talent from both the civilian and the military point of view in 1966 when he pointed out that roughly 1.8 million young men were reaching military age each year in the U.S., but some 6000,000-a full third-were failing to qualify under the existing draft standards.
In times of an all-out emergency they would have been drafted, but of course that would have meant a reduction in performance levels for the military services.
McNamara was particularly concerned about the thousands who failed because of educational deficiencies where in some areas of the country the failure rate can [sic be] as high as 60 per cent and for Negroes in some states it exceeded 80 per cent.
"What this clearly meant was that the burden of military service was not being shouldered equally," he said at the time. "Inequities were serious . . . by region . . . race . . . and educational level.
"What was even worse was the obvious implication. If so massive a number of our young men were educationally unqualified for even the least complicated tasks of military service, how could they reasonably be expected to lead productive and rewarding lives in an increasingly technological and highly skilled society?
"If nothing were done to give them a strong sense of their own worth and potential, they, their wives and their children would almost inevitably be the unproductive recipients of some form of dole (relief) 10 years from now," McNamara added.
With this as a dismal background, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps went to work on a program called Project 100,000 which officially began Oct. 1, 1966. Now, with more than 20 months of experience behind them, details of the program's success are being reported by the services.
As a social experiment to turn rejectees into servicemen and then into solid citizens with the skills to compete in civilian labor market will take many more years of study.
The project is basically simple: turn 100,000 young men a year who would normally be rejected for the draft or enlistment into qualified soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines without in any way lowering the high military performance standards. The solution was equally simple: use a little extra effort, and patience in training without in any way singling out the slow learners.
The Pentagon calls the 100,000 New Standards Men, but I.M. Greenberg, the program director, says this is only for record purposes. No one, not even the men themselves, know who the 100,000 are.
Mental and physical standards were lowered for the first test group of 40,000 so the rejectees could enlist or be drafted. In the case of the physicals, men were admitted with minor medical or weight problems that could be cleared in up to six weeks.
In the first year 30,400 went into the Army, 3,600 to the Air Force, 3,400 to the Navy and 2,600 to the Marine Corps. Now in Phase II, the 100,000 are divided this way: Army 70,400; Navy, 11,000; Air Force, 9,300 and Marine Corps, 9,300. Only one-third had enlisted for the first group, but in today's 100,000 58 per cent are volunteers.
The Defense Department reports that basic training centers through improved methods and courses, patience, better leadership, simpler instructional material and more audio-visual techniques like classroom television have shown they can now train all but a small percentage of those accepted.
Greenberg also points out that young soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines also learn by being with other more educated men, and equally as important, they are also more motivated than they were in grade and high school.
As a result of all this 96 per cent of the New Standards Men graduate, only 2 per cent below the rate for all the others who go through military training. About 12 per cent need extra help in basic compared to 4 per cent for all others. Those with difficulty are either recycled or in some cases go to a special training company for slow learners, men with motivational or adjustment problems or needed physical conditioning.
At the end of basic the New Standards Men graduate, only 2 per cent below the rate for all the others who go through military training. About 12 per cent need extra help in others. Those with difficulty are either recycled or in some cases go to a special training company for slow learners, men with motivational or adjustment problems or needed physical conditioning.
At the end of basic the New Standards Men, just like all the other, are given skill training in up to 200 different specialties either at formal courses or on-the-job." Here again their graduation rate is high: 87 per cent compared to 95 per cent for those of higher mental levels attending the same courses.
Some 38 per cent are assigned to combat arms training, but the majority are, taught to become mechanics, construction equipment operators, cooks, drivers, supply clerks and medical corpsmen and other skills.
Sixty per cent are taught jobs which will be useful in civilian life and Defense adds "of equal importance to their future as citizens is the personal growth which occurs as these men acquire confidence, pride, improved work habits and leadership abilities."
On the whole, Defense found New Standards Men do much better in simple technical courses which stress "hands-on" instruction, the attrition rate rises in more complex courses where learning by theory, reading complicated technical manuals and mathematical skills are needed.
Those who fail are given other instruction more suited to their ability or sent to units for on-the-job training.
About 3 per cent of the men in the Air Force and Navy are sent to reading courses to help pass basic training and the Pentagon estimates that about 10 per cent of the Army's New Standards Men will take remedial eduction courses which began April 1. Selection, is not limited, however, to New Standards soldiers.
During the first 12 to 15 months of service the Army also found: more than 90 per cent of the New Standards Men were rated excellent in conduct and efficiency; only 2 per cent received court-martial convictions; 9 per cent received nonjudicial punishment; the average soldier was prompted twice and is a Private First Class (E3) and about one-third were promoted three times during this period to corporals or Specialists Fourth Class (E4).
Many commanders have also reported that their men are more highly motivated than some young men from a more privileged background.
McNamara, a few months before he left the Pentagon to become president of the World Bank, predicted their earning capacity, as well as their over-all achievement in society, will be two or thee times what it would have been had they remained rejected by the military and by society.
So far the military part of his prediction is working out, and Defense reports, only time will tell what the ultimate outcome of Project 100,000 will be.
17Jun68-Mountain Reduced By Marine Pilot
CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special)
-A Marine Skyhawk pilot literally made a mole hill out of a mountain during a bombing mission near Khe Sanh.
First Lt. William E. Holland, of Rockey River, Ohio, of Marine Fighter Attack Sq-311 based at Chu Lai systematically dropped his 250- and 500-pound bombs leveling a ridge near the Marine fortress.
It was a hot pad scramble that put Holland under the direction of a Marine airborne controller coordinating air strikes for the 26th Marines engaged in combat with North Vietnamese (NVA) forces.
After the controller had marked the target with a white smoke rocket, Holland quickly shot in low to deliver his ordnance.
"Instead of flying on line with the ridge; I flew directly across it and parallel with the Marine position. My ordnance had to be right on target or roll down the side of the ridge," recalls the lieutenant. "I had one other problem: i was low on fuel and only had time for two runs."
Two 500-pound bombs hit on either side of the enemy positions, bracketing the NVA units Holland rolled in with his 250-pound bombs and dropped the ordnance in a neat line.
The air controller reported, "You're getting some secondary explosions down there. Five .....10 ...... .30......50......! The whole damn hill just blew up!
A sweep of the area revealed that Holland had hit an 82mm mortar mortar ammo storage area.
18Jun68-Hospital Opens at Chu Lai
By BOB CUTTS
SAIGON - The second of three multi-purpose emergency hospitals built through Army, Navy and civilian efforts has been opened in Chu Lai.
The 300-bed surgical hospital has six operating rooms, an X-ray lab, seven wards two helipads, its own power and water plants and support facilities for all patients and staff. It will not only handle U.S. and Vietnamese wounded military men on a regular basis, but civilian war casualties as well.
The medical compound to be taken over by the Army's 27th Surgical Hospital and opened for business as soon as remaining equipment shipments arrive and are installed, was dedicated June 11.
Brig. Gen. G.I. Collins, U.S. Army Vietnam surgeon general, said the new hospital compares with a modern station hospital in the U.S.
"The hospital will take its place in the development of a medical treatment system designed to provide the best possible care for combat soldiers and civilian war casualties in the Republic of Vietnam," Collins said.
The facility was built from scratch in 137 days by the RMK-BRJ construction company, Frank S. McGarvey, the firm's general manager, was on hand for the opening. Rear Adm. S.R. Smith, the Navy's officer in charge of construction in Vietnam, lauded RMK-BRJ.
25Jun68-Flowers Betray Charlie
CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special)
- A little knowledge of gardening helps-even in Vietnam. A 198th Inf. Brigade unit used it to kill two North Vietnamese during the Americal Div.'s Operation Wheeler/Wallowa.
The A Co., 1st Bn., 52nd Inf., soldiers were checking out a sniper position when they discovered flowers planted in the middle of a field.
"It just didn't look right for those flowers to be growing in the middle of nowhere," said Lt. Steven K. Brooks, of Dado City, Fla. Probing the area uncovered a lid underneath the flowers. When the lid was removed a tunnel was found.
"I sent my tunnel rat down to investigate." Brooks said. "He was just about to turn a corner when he could hear breathing."
After the tunnel rat jumped out, five fragmentary grenades were thrown in with the result of two enemy killed. Several documents, including a drawing of Lenin were found on the NVA, also wearing web gear. Their radio was destroyed in the blasts.
"This area is an R&R center for the enemy," Capt. John A. Bierden, A Co. commander said, "It was until now," Books corrected him.
26Jun68-U.S. Copter 'Saves' NVA
CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special)
- A Huey helicopter pilot supporting Americal Div.'s 196th Inf. Brigade went after what was reported to be a downed American jet pilot, but came back with a North Vietnamese Army soldier instead.
WO Kenneth W. Johnson of Webster City, Iowa, was flying a resupply and medevac mission for a battalion of the 196th which was under fire five miles north of Dong Ha.
An ARVN outpost in the area of where an F4 jet went down reported spotting the pilot wandering in a rice paddy.
"I picked up the message and went down to take a look," said the 174th Aviation Co. pilot, "I spotted him and also thought he was the pilot."
"We were about 100 yards from him when he suddenly threw up both hands and I realized he was an NVA." The Huey picked up the NVA and took him in to the 3rd Bn., 21st Inf., command post.
The pilot was later picked up by another aircraft.
26Jun68-Letters to GIs Travel a Hard, Long Route
By MGY. SGT. J.T. FRYE
SAIGON - The mail must get through, and it does more often than not but the problems faced by the U.S. military postal system in Vietnam are awesome.
The system serves a transient population with short stays in any one place. Conditions are not the most pleasant and the mail must travel at least 7,500 miles.
Here's how the system works:
Back in good old Homestead, U.S.A., mom or sweetheart posts a letter card or tape to our hero. It is processed locally and moved to a larger city's postal activity. If air mail, it may go by one of the smaller feeder airlines.
From say St. Louis or Buffalo, then, all Far East APO or FPO mail is sent by air, rail or truck to the Postal Concentration Center (PCC) at Seattle or San Francisco.
Seattle gets the flow from the so called northern tier of states and San Francisco from the southern tier. The line runs east across the map from the California-Nevada-Utah northern boundaries, up the west, north, and east sides of Wyoming across the north edges of Nebraska and Iowa, down the Mississippi to the north boundary of Tennessee, on across North Carolina to the East Coast.
At the two PCCs mail is sorted and bagged according to the ultimate APO or FPO destination and is on its way according to priority number 1, registered, airmail, and air parcel post; 2, military ordinary mail (MOM); 3 1st Class; 4 space available (SAM) and parcel airlift (PAL); and 5 parcel post.
The first three priorities are routed overseas by air, and when airlift space is available, the fourth. However, SAM and PAL parcels can be downgraded. In January a 150-ton backlog necessitated moving SAM and PAL by ship. Parcel post is routed via surface transportation.
In three to six hours the mail is sorted, bagged and loaded in "igloos," plastic containers shaped to the aircraft. Each igloo carries 3,000-4,000 pounds and a Pan American 707 can carry 13 igloos - or 78,000 pounds.
At least one Pan Am flight per day leaves from San Francisco direct to Saigon, Cam Ranh and Da Nang.
Seattle's outflow goes to Tokyo by Northwest, and here there can be a delay in transhipping via Pan Am to the Air Force facilities at Saigon, Cam Ranh and Da Nang.
SAM and PAL parcels come out of San Francisco via Pan American direct to Da Nang, Cam Ranh Bay and Saigon. However, when the volume of such parcels exceed Pan American airlift capability, the parcels come into Vietnam on military airlift command contract flights.
All surface or sealift mail leaves from San Francisco and enters Vietnam through ARmy's 38th Base Post Office, Saigon, or 38th Base Post Office, Saigon, or 39th in Cam Ranh or III Marine Amphibious Force Postal Concentration Center at Da Nang. During the period January thru April 1968, 6,473 tons of mail were transported via surface means to Vietnam as compared to 12,936 tons via airlift.
From airlift and sealift processing centers, mail bags are put onto pallets and moved to some 100 military post offices located throughout the country from Da Nang to I Corps; from Cam Ranh to II Corps; and Saigon distributes for III and IV Corps. Mail travels in-country by the fastest possible conveyance-land, air or water. Only combat essentials have higher priority.
An average of 6,000 tons of mail come into the post offices every month. The high was 13 1/2 tons during last December Christmas rush. About 2,000 tons go out each month.
Overall staff coordination on postal matters is handled by Air Force Lt. Col. John R. Mancus , chief, Staff Postal Div., Office of the Adjutant General, Headquarters, MACV, Tan Son Nhut.
Not including unit mail clerks, 1,840 postal personnel work the mail, sell about $700,000 worth of stamps a month, and transact as much as $34 million a month in money order business.
Now, if you still think your mail is slow, you might advise your correspondents that 6-cent, plain envelope mail may not move across the U.S. by air. You could also check your locator at your local unit mail room, serving military post office, and serving postal directory for inaccuracies.
29Jun68-New CO for 198th
CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special)
-Col. Charles B. Thomas has taken command of the 198th Inf. Brigade, replacing Col. James R. Waldie, who has been assigned to USARV in Long Binh.