We moved 12 times during my 12 month tour. The only location we were assigned to twice was near Go Dau Ha, along the Song Vam Co Dong River. Most locations were FSB’s (Fire Support Bases) near key infiltration points from the Ho Chi Minh Trail along the Cambodian border. We never looked forward to a move, particularly after we were issued the 84 foot radar tower. If nothing else, it was a huge amount of work.
We usually moved our equipment with our 2 trucks, but occasionally the new location was not accessible via roads due to flooding and extremely muddy roads, if there were any roads at all. So, we were flown in on helicopters, equipment and all. Although I’ve always been interested in aviation and liked flying, I never was comfortable flying on Army helicopters. They flew relatively slow and were easy targets. They flew even slower with our sling-load radar van dangling precariously under the helicopter. I always felt like a sitting duck.
Move orders always came from Headquarters during the night via our communications radio. Whoever was on duty at the time would write down the message with a grease pencil on the right side of the plexiglas that covered our area map. The message included where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.
The much-dreaded message came in one night while my friend Mark was on duty. Overwhelmed with the sarcasm gene, he couldn’t help but add his own remarks which included unique duties to each team member. One night, he wrote the following assignments:
Dale: Radar van and cables.
Jerry: 3/4 ton truck and tent.
Mark: Deuce-and-a-half truck and trailer.
Don: Radar antenna and cables.
Staff (me): Generators and fuel barrels.
Patrick: Stick left thumb in mouth, right thumb up a**. Change hands every 30 seconds.
All: Radar tower, guy wires and jacks.
I guess Mark didn’t think too highly of Patrick. On the other hand, Mark kidded just about everyone. If nothing else, we badly needed the laughs.
Our locations included: FSB Buell II; FSB Washington; FSB Crook; ATSB Tra Cu; Go Dau Ha (twice); ATSB Ben Keo; Ben Cui; Ben Soi; Tay Ninh Base Camp (twice, inside the base); ARVN camp near Loc Giang (about 1/2 mile from FSB Jackson).