Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dadlands: The incursion

Back to Tuy Hoa for a story from my Dad's Vietnam war letters:

A day off today. We need it after what happened last night. We had just returned to our quarters after having flown until 1 am when the mortars started coming in. They hit in the aircraft revetment area, about a mile away. The fracas brought us all out of bed and we were standing around outside (the mortars had stopped) watching the fires when an Air Policeman came up saying that about 10 Viet Cong had gotten on to the base and were headed in our direction. 

I envied him. He was wearing a helmet and flak vest and carrying an M-16. I was wearing underwear and shower clogs and didn’t even have a cigarette.
Tuy Hoa Airport (former air base)
He suggested we get into a bunker and we did. I didn’t like it, though, because there were about 30 of us in there and if the VC really wanted to get personnel (normally they don’t – they want airplanes) they could get us all with one hand grenade or satchel charge. So I left and went back to my quarters thinking that if they really wanted me, they would have to go through all the hootches and find me. 

I stayed in the hootch for a while, then got dressed and went outside again because if an evacuation were started
, I didn’t want to be left behind. There were 2 helicopter gun ships orbiting overhead dropping flares and occasionally cutting loose with machine gun fire. Suddenly, one of the helicopters wheeled around and cut loose five rockets into an area about a half mile away. Maybe a mile. All the calmness I had regained in the preceding hours left me in a flash but by then things were pretty well under control. An all clear was declared shortly and we went back to bed.

This morning I hear that there were 2 search and rescue C-130s totally destroyed, either by mortars or satchel charges. They killed 9 Viet Cong. Five Americans were injured, only 2 seriously. 

Tower, Tuy Hoa Airport

I hesitate writing you about all this but it makes such interesting writing and besides it’s very unlikely to happen again before I leave which isn’t too far away.

Apparently the security people got caught napping. Security will undoubtedly get much better now. The whole thing rattled the base a bit. Somebody remarked that it was almost as bad as Cleveland.
-- Tuy Hoa, July 29, 1969

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