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War Stories 22

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When I received my orders for South East Asia, I was assigned to the 821st Security Police Squadron at Ellsworth A.F.B. and was being sent to the 366th at Danang, also fondly known as "Rocket City". I had only been there a couple months and several guys asked If I wanted to trade places so they could get out of there. When given my copy of the orders I was told that there was a typo and it had to be corrected, but I was to take this one copy and head to Lackland AZR school, and a corrected copy will be sent later.

When I arrived at San Antonio Airport, I, and several others found ourselves standing around a group of people headed to basic. It was kind of a strange experience, standing there again with al these rainbows and you do wonder if that's how we looked last time. Very soon the Air Force showed up to collect them and oru school instructor loaded us into a different bus for the ride to base.

Once there we were taken to the same place as the new comers, Hell's Kitchen. It was a sort of semi run down dining hall but well maintained and operated with the help of K.P. details taken from basic training classes. We had eaten here when we first arrived and I remember seeing a lot of people eating there in uniform. This time it was our turn and the service was better that back then.

After dinner, we were taken to our barracks, the old wooden two story WWII style that we used in police school and were assigned rooms for the duration of our stay. We were free until 0600 where we would be loaded on busses and taken to Hell's kitchen for breakfast before class where we would be split into squads with the entire class our flight.

For the next couple days we went over what would happen and studied small unit tactics as well as the current war situation. Lunch was taken at one of the new 1,000 man basic dorms to save time and we were allowed to cut in front of the trainees if necessary.

By the third day we were taken to the Medina annex for weapons training. They even had a latrine facility set up across the road from the ranges with a partial wall of corrugated metal about two feet off the ground. We would spend all day and into the night here, learning about the basic weapons we would have available ti us over there. The standard .38 and M-16, which we had to qualify with, as well as a 12 ga. shotgun, XM-174 automatic 40mm grenade launcher, M-79, M-148 launcher clamped onto some rifles, M-60 machinegun, m-26 hand grenade, slap flare, claymore mine and m-72 L.A.W. We had classes on the 81mm mortor, and .50 caliber machinegun. they also went over a small portable radar some bases had on their fence that could pick up people moving as well as a pressure alarm system that could be buried near the fence that could signal if someone walked over it.

Lunch was provided by a roach coach and dinner by "C" rations.

The training was not without its hazards. The class ahead of us had a severe injury when a student doing machinegun drills forgot to put on his abspestos glove. His hand immediately was seared to the hot barrel and he had to be taken to the base hospital to have the thing cut away. They said it had wrecked his hand and he would be sent home eventually.

The grenade range was an interesting place. people waiting for the range would be in a protective point under the tower where they could watch and wait. The thick plexiglass was pitted from fragments.




When my group went down to throw, I didn't think much of it until the range officer told me to kneel down. He stood there for a time and then got down beside me. A few seconds later a explosion could be heard not far away. This was repeated a few more times when all of a sudden, the instructor yelled "Oh S**t" and dove into the concrete next to me. The entire world shook and I felt a burning on the back of my neck. He checked me over and I had taken a few nicks. When my turn came I was handed the grenade and told to prepare to throw. As I was looking at it he told me to pull the pin. Now it had all my attention, I had never held a pound of high explosive, armed no less and was more than ready to get rid of it. After it went off we walked back up the hill where I was check again by my flight instructor who cleaned it up while we waited for the last line to throw.

That day they dropped us off at Hell's Kitchen. As we were piling off the bus, all dirty and some a bit muddy, we were stopped by a LT. who jumped on us for our appearance. Fortunately one of the officers from school interrupted him and explained the situation to him and he looked mad but left. The Captain had us form up to explain what had happened earlier in the week.

It seems someone, most likely a AZR student had gotten into a discussion with a couple crypto students and told them that if the base should have to be evacuated and they couldn't get everyone out, the crypto guys would have to be shot and their building destroyed so the enemy couldn't get them. Remember the Pueblo?

This quickly spread through the school and had brought everything to a halt as students couldn't concentrate on their classes. It was a brilliant piece of work, but it wasn't our flight.

Off for the weekend and then a fun filled 3 days of maneuvering around the hills and fields of Medina trying to avoid the instructors, and with the entire class, walk out in the middle of nowhere to establish a bare base that had to be defended from the local instructor army. One of the high points was they captured our Lt and would give him back for "C" rats and some equipment. No Deal. Then they captured a student who escaped but managed to pull the plugs on their radio and also jumbled the frequencies. That afternoon my team was lying in a dry stream bed when we heard something above us, I sent one guy to check it out and he reported the instructors had set up aM-60 not 30 feet from us and pointed in another direction. I had our M-60 placed behind them. The second they ambushed our guys, we fired. Got their immediate attention.

The next morning a few of us were chosen to join a patrol that was going to locate some supplies that dropped short. We didn't get 100 feet from our perimeter when they fired. We hit the ground and fired back. A few minutes later it was stopped as a instructor and someone else walked into the open from our right.

I stood up and immediately started taking off my web belt and shirt. The instructor asked what I was doing.

I explained that I had been laying on a fire ant mound. The guest, a British officer apologized for everything because the ambush was his idea.

The following Monday, the last phase as we headed off to Camp Bullis, a old Army artillery range partly used by our school. We ere assigned palatial aromatic tents with the bathroom/shower just down the sidewalk, somewhere. Classes were a bit more intense as the range s opened up to 500 yards for the M-16 and 1,200 for the M-60. We were introduced to one of my favorites, the 90mm recoiless rifle. Some of us would be selected to gi in to heavy weapons school next for this as well as the 81mm and the .50 cal. This would mean moving on to Fort Hood next. I asked for the 90mm but was turned down because I was L.E, not Security, and if I wanted to get qualified, I had to wait until I got in country.

About this time my new copy of orders arrived. When I looked at them I found I was now assigned to the 635th S.P.S. I asked where this was and the instructor read it and said I'd love it, B-52s all over the place. It was one of those bases that nobody heard of, was very large and important but for most people, didn't exist.

We got a chance to do a obstacle course. Out of the trench, over a telephone pole, under the wire, over another pole and crawl low with M-60s firing over you. Every so often a piece of C-4 would go off somewhere, especially if you were slow or unlucky. Then over a pole, under the wire, and over another pole where you dropped into a ditch. done.

After that, we returned our M-1 carbines, picked up our M-16s and walked over to the long range for rifles for the rest of the day. We stood in a round hole and they gave us a box of ammo. On command we would shoot at pop up targets from point blank to 500 yards full auto at our discretion. As we fired, the instructors would get behind us and yell or make noises to try to distract us. When we started to get low on ammo another box would show up. This went for a long time eventually I was holding my rifle by the only cool spot left, the pistol grip and butt stock. Finally the instructors stopped us and we carefully put our rifles into the racks in a truck to cool. We walked back to the course and traded rations. Roach coaches were not allowed on Bullis. With it getting dark fast we ate and were introduced to the starlight scope and N.O.D. sight. We got a chance to do a bit of night firing with the course M-60s and once again given carbines and sent to the far ditch. One extra piece of instruction, when a flare goes off, freeze. Also don't touch the flare if it's near you. I looked at my carbine and it was held together with telephone wire, not good.

One more time, up and over. When I dropped into the ditch, I found I was holding two pieces of wood held together by a sling. I had to go back onto the field, against the tide, find my metal parts, assemble them and crawl back, all the while the object of the mad bomber's charges. When it was over, an instructor confronted me about what I did. I explained it and he just walked away.

On the first day we arrived at Bullis our instructor stopped his class on the 90mm and explained something we all should know.

This course was being given and the majority of instructors were cops because of an incident during the Korean war. He wouldn't tell what base or unit was involved but a base was in grave danger of being over run. People and aircraft were being evacuated as fast as possible. The fighters were told to provide cover.

The fighters left. Most got away, but the base was over run. When they took the base back they found most of the cops hung in a hanger, many on meat hooks. This was not going to happen again.

The wing was banished and to this day will not be allowed re-assignment in the United States. I'm pretty positive I know what wing, but a little sketchy on the squadron or squadrons.

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