Report To Qui Nhon AB
Day One

by: Charles Lazzara
© 2009

During landing, I remember well, when the Captain informed us, we would be "Landing At Tan Son Nhut Air Base" and to Fasten Our Seatbelts. The big bird desended rapidly in a nose-down pitch." I could'nt see anything from my wing window seat, and shortly we taxid to the tarmac and everybody was lining up, to exit the big bird from USA. It all was so unbelievably fast, as we were swept away by waiting 377th Security Police airmen, who escorted us to the 1300 Area for orientation.

I was told it would be awhile before we were to be flown via C-130 to Qui Nhon, where my orders designated. I was assigned a work detail, a different job every day, until Command worked out the details, for deployment. All the new troops, wore their OD Green fatigues, but we were still in transit and on standby.

I had been in-country, for  forty-eight hours, and today I was posted to help unloading what appeared to be some kind of mess hall stove. I was told by my NCOIC in charge of keeping the new troops busy, to help some Vietnamese workers unload this stove off of a truck flat bed. The vietnamese workers were prying the lid off the wooden crate when I walked up to them to offer assistance,  they motioned me, that no help was needed, so I leaned on the side of the flat bed, and took a smoke break.

The Vietnamese workers rolled the crating lid, which was full of nails, over the side of the truck bed, right on top of me! I was impaled by a group of these nails, and from under the flatbed, someone stabbed my right leg with a knife. I was in a remote section of base and there were no AF or Army in the area at the time-- just me and some vietnamese workers, who had DD-MOWD and had left me in this position.

I yelled for help but no one came, I mustered up all my strength, and lifted the God Awful Thing, that had impailed me, up and out, and finally off of me. A very schocking and painful experience. I fell to ground, finally a jeep stopped with two Army Soldiers in it and they took me to the nearest medical aid statin, where they stiched me up, and took me back to report in to my peers.

I was put on sick call and stayed at my barracks licking my wounds, I had learned very quickly, the treachory of our enemies, No one knows for sure whose a VC, and whose the common-man just trying to get by. Most of  the local people seemed to be friendly, but learned from the first day to watch your back! It's hard to fight a war especially when your laundry lady turns out to be a hardcore VC attacking your perimeter at night. I finally got the word, that I and others in my group were being sent furthur north to Qui Nhon.

Upon arriving in Qui Nhon, we met up with our Air Force group, who kept us in a waiting station, to be sent to  an AB called Phu Cat. It was somewhere around mid-morning, when a blue bus pulled up, and we were told to board the bus. As we boarded the bus with our duffle bags, everybody was commenting, and asking questions, about the steel mesh coverings all the windows. The Airman armed with a M-16 escorting our group to Phu Cat, we asked about all the amenities, he replied, "It keeps Charlie from throwing explosive materials through the windows." I remember well as we started on our journey, I felt quite unsafe, with just one M-16 aboard to protect a bus load off Security Police. In a short while, and much to my surprise, all these duffel bags started opening, and "lo and behold, all of these wounderful handguns from good old USA started materializing: .357s, .38s .45 autos, .22 magnums, .44 magnums, and assorted bellyguns. People don' t realize  that a soldier or AP or MP, SP could take something of that nature with them, especially if you were going off to war. It may not have been legal, but it sure made my ride to Phu Cat a lot safer.