Phan Rang, Panther Squad!Vietnam

Phan Rang Air Base

The Dinubilo Brothers
serve with the
35th APS
Photos by Don Dinubilo (1966)

Top row, standing, far right: A2C Dinubilo Vic
(my brother). Bottom row, center, A2C Don Dinubilo.

It was an unusual situation for my brother Vic and I to be at the same base in Vietnam at the same time. Here is my account of what happened:

Vic had Permanent Change of Station (PCS) to Vietnam in November 1965 from Davis-Monthan AFB (Tucson, AZ) and was going to be stationed at Nha Trang AB, Vietnam. I was stationed at Edwards AFB (CA) and we were writing letters back and forth about the Nam. In April 1966, I received my orders to report to Travis AFB for three days of training on the M-16. My orders were to report to Tan Son Nhut, Vietnam, arriving on April 5th or 6th. I had been able to write Vic and let him know I was arriving in-country, but just where I didn't know. Since I knew where he was we agreed that I would get to Nha Trang as soon as I could. Upon landing at Tan Son Nhut we were put in the repo-depo (Airmen awaiting base assignment) and were told we would be shipping out to another base in a few days.
      After the local in-country intro and such we were put on a prop-job and flown to Đà Nẵng. The Master Sgt read off a few names and those guys got off. The plane took off. Another landing at Na Trang, and Phu Cat. More guys were told to get off. Then we landed in Phan Rang. What a rural base that was. A bus drove us around the perimeter to Grey Eagle. A poop load of 12-men tents had been added to the existing hootches and we were quickly assigned to those tents. We were told to report to the supply tent and draw our bedding and gear. We were to check out all of our gear and take it back to our tents and square everything away. We got behind a bunch of guys standing in line outside of the supply tent. These guys looked like hell. They wore assorted cammies and jungles boots and were scary-looking. They all wore black berets. I was standing in line behind one of these guys and he even smelled bad.
      I turned around to my buddy, David Terry, to talk to him. His eyes suddenly looked over my shoulder and he just stared like he recognized someone. He whispered to me, "Don, that's Vic in front of you!" I laughed, and said, "Vic is in Nah Trang." David said to take a look. I turned around and was one foot away from my brother! I let out a yell and then Vic recognized me and we grabbed each other and rolled around laughing and crying at the same time. Seems like Vic had volunteered to come to Phan Rang as part of the building up of the base security. We just couldn't believe our eyes. After we drew our gear, I walked back with Vic to my tent area and he talked to a Sgt Korn about me moving in with the Panthers. The Panthers were in those hooches next to the Armory. Sgt Korn said he would check into it and in a few minutes Vic and I were putting my gear in his hooch.
      Around two or three weeks later, Vic and I were called in to Air Police Phan Rang, OP on Nui Dat Hill
Headquarters to talk with one of the officers there. He told us that one of us would have to leave Nam because of the Sullivan Act. So I asked him where would the reassignment be to. He explained that it would be any one of the bases in SEA. Thailand, Japan, Philippines, etcetra. But I asked why not back to the USA? He said once you are PCS to SEA, you must do the twelve months tour before shipping back to the land of the big BX. Vic had been in Nam about six months already and he didn't want to be moved. He had time and grade on me. I asked the officer if I had to leave Phan Rang what happened to me when Vic DEROSed? He said, we will bring you back here to serve out the rest of your tour. I'm thinking, screw that. Now I will have to worry about my bro and then about myself coming back six months later. My mind was racing. I just blurted out that I would rather stay here and patrol with my brother knowing of his safety first hand. Also our mom would be able to keep track of both of us a hell of a lot easier. The Panthers could train me and after Vic left, I would be capable of handling myself instead of coming back to the Nam and not knowing crap about nothing with six months to do. Vic agreed that it would keep our mom calmer if we could stay together. The officer just said okay, and that was it.

(Photo above: June 1966, Me (Don) after humping up the hill at our OP on top of Nuey Dot. View is looking west toward the Bomb Dump)

Vic left sometime in November 1966 and I finished my tour as a Black Beret.

Phan Rang, OP on Nuey Dot

If you think that it was unusual for brothers serving together in Vietnam--the Panthers also had the Tucker twins! I think they were from the mid-west. When the four of us would go somewhere off base, the people would point to our identical name-tags and say "same-same--same-same?" We would point to each other and say "Yes, same-same, mamasan--same papasan" and they would be amazed. We would crack up and order another Bom-de-Bom. I wonder how the Tucker twins are now?

Photo Right: Just found this old photo.  I'm looking at the camera and that is my brother Vic just over my left shoulder. We Take Care of Our Own
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