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1st MI Battalion Stateside before Vietnam
Ist MI Battalion Det D Stateside before Vietnam
By Philip Catania
I entered the Army on Oct. 31, 1963 and took basic at Fort Polk, La. After basic training I was sent to the Photo Section at the 92nd Military Intelligence Group in Washington D.C. working out of the Pentagon. I was not sent to the Army Photo School for training because as a civilian I was doing photographic work. I lived in Arlington, Virginia in a 4-bedroom apartment with three other guys. Everything was civilian status, no Army mess and no uniforms, as we wore suits to work. We had security agents that helped guard the President. I worked in the Photo Lab and with others, took pictures of the President, in and out of the White House, and of any special event that was going on like in Arlington Cemetery, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and John F. Kennedy’s gravesite. We also did work for the Provost Marshall. We were called out all hours of the day and night when anything happened to a military person. We took pictures of killings, accidents and anything that went wrong with Military Personnel. I thought I had it good so I asked to go over seas and serve in an Embassy. Orders came down telling me that I was going to 1st Military Intelligence Battalion ARS ( MIBARS ) at Ft. Bragg and back in uniform.
Enough of Washington D.C. Following is what I can remember happened, to the best of my knowledge, when I was in MIBARS Detachment D state side, before MIBARS was sent to Vietnam.
In March of 1964 I arrived at Ft. Bragg, back in military uniform, Army mess and all the goodies that go with the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion ARS ( MIBARS ). After arriving at Battalion Headquarters and reporting for duty, I was given my Specialist Rank ( SPC ) SP4, which made me feel good. I was assigned to Detachment D.
It was about two weeks or so later when we got a call from the Post Photographer that they needed all available photographers to report to Normandy and Sicily drop zone at Ft. Bragg, to take pictures of an accident that had happened. When we got there, there were bodies all over the place. I do not remember if the 82nd Airborne Division was jumping out of C124 or C130 Globe Masters. They said that the plane hit an air pocket, I do not think that there is such a thing as an air pocket, but what happened was they lost altitude and the jumpers got caught in the plane’s propeller. It was a mess, I mean a grand mess. As I was taking the pictures I was vomiting and I was not the only one. When I was in Washington, I thought I had seen everything, but this was something else. Also, what made it worse was that the plane crashed and caught fire with more lives lost. I do not think anyone in the plane made it out alive. It took a while to get over what we were doing, but I never forgot what happened. Later in 1977 when I came to work for the United States Department of Agriculture / National Finance Center, I got to know a co-worker by the name of Perry Tillman. One day I started to talk about what happened that awful day at Ft. Bragg with the jump of the 82nd Airborne Division. Perry remembered that when he was in Jump School at Ft. Benning, Georgia, he heard about what had happened at Ft. Bragg.
I was in charge of a 2½-ton water truck, which had a 1,000 gallon tank. In the motor pool we had to keep the inside of the stainless steel tank clean. One side held 400 gallons and the other side 600 gallons. I would get inside without boots on so I would not scratch the inside. At that time I weighed 118 lbs. One time I was cleaning up and my co-driver and others closed the hatch to the water truck. Do you remember the old time trains how they filled them at the water tower? Well, we had a water tower like that and they started to fill the tank with water, they filled it half way full. Remember I was inside and it was dark and I couldn’t see anything. (I remember the first time I went driving with the truck, with the tanks half filled and it felt like you were going from one side of the road to the other side, so most of the time we kept it either empty or full.) They took me down Bragg Blvd doing the speed limit and faster when they could. Now, all this time I’m inside the half filled tank, could not see and was being knocked from side to side, bouncing off the walls of the tank and did not know how long they were going to drive me around. I was scared, it was dark in there and I could not see what was happening, but I felt it. Finally, they took me back to the Motor Pool. I wanted to ---- them! The next day was the worst, I was still mad, hurting and sore. I made sure the next time I had to clean the inside of the tanks no one was around. It was an experience that I did not want to go through again.
I also remember another time that I was driving on Bragg Blvd. just to run the water truck for awhile. When I came to an intersection, a ¾ ton truck ran the stop sign and hit me right in the side of the truck. The 1,000 gallon tank went flying off the truck. My co-driver and I got out and looked around and saw the damage that was done. We were OK, but I sat on the running board worried, thinking it was my fault, and also thinking that I was not ever going to get out of the Army. The Military Police ( MP ) came and after they looked over what happened and determined that it was the driver of the ¾ ton truck that was in the wrong, this made me feel real good. The water truck was fixed in town and later, I found out that the guy that hit me had to pay something like around $4,000, I was sure glad it was he and not I.
Battalion was looking for a Guide Arm Bearer, so I went to try out and luckily I was picked. During a parade I had to march in back of the Battalion Commander and when he gave a special command, which I forget now, I would raise the guide arm up to let the other Officers and Troops know a Command was coming. After the command was given, I would lower the guide arm. You do this by placing your thumb on the seam on the side of your uniform and follow the seam down, lowering the guide arm. Well, I did just that and the bottom of the staff went in my pocket and would not go down anymore. I felt like a fool in a big way and the look that I got from the Battalion Commander at the time, and the talking to later, would not be what I would call fun. I was told to take one set of Khakis, because it was summer at that time, and have them tailored. I was instructed to have the pocket sewn closed so it would not happen again. After I had the uniform tailored I had no more problems with the bottom of the staff going in my pocket again. It made the Commander very happy. I wore a chrome like helmet with a 3rd Army seal on one side and on the other side was the MIBARS crest. I also wore an infantry blue neck scarf and a blue pistol belt with a lot of shiny brass on it. It was hell to clean, trying to keep the cleaner off the blue web of the belt. Also, spit-shined boots, which I had to hide in my wall locker because if I left them out they looked like holy hell when the guys got through with them. One thing I can say, when it came time for a parade or ceremony they would help me dress. I would stand on my footlocker and put on my tailored pants and they would help me put on my boots and blouse the bottom of my pants in the boots. Let me say this, after I was dressed I looked good, damn good. At that time I weighed only 120 pounds.
You could not leave your uniform out over night, because when you woke up to get dressed, and your fatigues are sewn on both ends, it’s kind of hard to put your hand or foot through. During the night someone took the time to hand sew them closed. Also, if you tried to get up for Reveille in the morning and you couldn’t move, they had you pistol belted in your bunk and you could not make formation. Other times it was fun trying to find your footlocker!
We had one guy that hated the song Under The Boardwalk because it reminded him of his high school sweetheart that he broke up with. So, when we went to the cafeteria, PX, barracks or where ever we had the chance, we would play that song for him. It would make him upset and mad, but you know the best part was after he left the Army, he married her and they are still together today. Nice.
Another thing that happened was if you came in late any night you may not have a bed ( bunk ) because sometimes it was on the roof or elsewhere. Our section chief came in late almost every night, so one night we took his bunk and placed it outside in back of all the bushes and laid down newspaper and a bowl of water. For that little prank we had to dye the floor red. If any of you can remember, the dye was in powder form and you had to mix it with water and with a rag rubbed it into the concrete. The only thing we wore was our BVDs and a T-shirt, which turned red from the dye and we had to throw them away. We wore rubber gloves to keep our hands from turning red. That would have taken a long time to clear up.
Our barracks were old Army, where you had 7 to 8 bunks on one side and the same amount on the other side, there was no central air or heat, but we had windows. We had one guy who pulled Kitchen Police ( KP ) and when finished, came to the barracks, put his civilian clothes on and went into town. He never took a shower. We would place a bar of soap and a face rag on his bunk, but this did not move him to shower. After a while we could not take his smell anymore so we went to the supply room and got GI soap, which contained lye, a hard bristle brush, rubber gloves, our gas masks and a rubber suit. He came in one afternoon and we got him. We took all of his clothes off, there were about 5 or 6 of us who threw him in the shower and started to give him the best cleaning he ever had. With the hard bristle brush and the lye soap he was bleeding and burning. Later he reported to Sick Call and they sent him to the Hospital. When asked what happened, he told them that he fell down the stairs. They told him that from the way he looked, with scratches and cuts all over his body, it did not look like he fell down the stairs. But that’s what he told them at the Hospital and they did not keep him, so he returned to the barracks. After that we had no problems with him taking showers every day and sometimes twice a day.
Our mechanic always slept soundly, so one night when again our section chief came in late, we picked up the mechanic’s bunk and placed it right by the section chief’s bunk. In the morning both of them were hugging each other. We caught hell for that too. Once again with the mechanic sleeping soundly we took our pistol belts and tied him into his bunk and before daybreak carried him to the 82nd Airborne Division Parade Field Reviewing Stand and left him there. He didn’t get in any trouble, but Battalion caught hell from XVII Airborne Corps Artillery. We were under them and we were one of the very few leg units Ft. Bragg had which were not Airborne and at times they harassed us because we were not Airborne.
On the weekend, sometimes two of us would rent a car and we would drive to Raleigh Durham, North Carolina and go to the college campus. We would walk around and see if we could pick-up some dates and go to a movie, or for drinks or whatever. Sometimes we would get a date and other times no dates, even if we did not score it was a nice ride and a chance to get away, just something to do. We did not do this too often, but it was a lot of fun and we had a good time.
During the summer when we could, about four of us would take off early on a Friday from our duty station and someone would cover for us. We would take our sleeping bag and tent half and head down to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. We would sleep on the beach and go swimming and try to pick-up some girls and have a good time. When it came time to eat, to save some money we would go to Myrtle Beach Air Force Base to eat and also they had a place where visitors of the military could clean up. Also, we bought what we needed there at the PX. Sunday, midday, we would leave and head back to Ft. Bragg.
Do you remember that they would tell you not to volunteer for anything? Well I did. I volunteered for fireman duty. This would free you from KP and any other work duty in the Detachment and Battalion. Also, you worked 24 hours on and 48 hours off which was good. They also had more than one fireman to do this job. This was in the wintertime, we had five coal burning stoves. One coal stove was in Battalion and you had to keep it warm like the others. Well, the first time doing this I fell asleep and the OD ( Officer of the Day ) was freezing that night. I was given a very strong talking to and told if it happened again I could get a Summary Court Marshal, which thankfully did not happen. I do not remember the Officer’s name but for some reason or other a couple weeks later I was on again with the same OD. He told me that he wanted to stay warm this time or I would be in more trouble than before. I told him that he was going to be warm and warm he was. He had to open the window and slept without any covers. What you had to do was push the old coal to the back and put the new coal in front of the old. I stayed there all night after I did the other stoves and kept adding new coal. The next day post engineers had to come out and replace the old grill with new ones because I melted them with all of the new coal I kept putting on. After that I had no problems with him.
Every so often we had to pull KP, which was Kitchen Police we would tie a towel at the foot of your bunk, and someone who wake you up in the morning ( real early ). Well this one time I got there early for KP and you can pick the job you wanted, so I picked DRO, which was Dinning Room Orderly. You and some one else would clean the tables off, check the milk machine dispensers, clean the floors and most of all service the Officers their food, drinks and what ever else they wanted from the food line. The worst job of all as for as I was concern was the Pot and Pan man and the Cooks Loved to dirty the Pots and Pans it was not a fun job cleaning and keeping up with them. As you were cleaning them out you would get wet from the water going all over, once again it was not fun it was a mess. Well, on this day when I wait for KP they had a 20 or 30 gallon pot filled with water and white beans soaking in it over night and they also had a little extra in the Pot, Roaches and I do not mean a few, I mean the whole family plus some. So, I wait to the Mess Sergeant and told him about the Roaches in the pot with the beans so, I asked him if he wanted me to get someone to help pick-up the pot and throw everything away ( you see, I was only 118 lbs. and looked like bones covered with skin ) and with a few chosen words he told no and plus more. He told me to get a Large Mesh Strainer and remove all the Roaches, I asked him if he was kidding me and he told me no once again with his famous word. So, I got the strainer and started to remove them, you see the Army uses white beans to make Bake Beans, with some ingredients like ketchup, pork, onions, molasses and etc. and bake it in the oven. Well, when it became time for Lunch I was in the servicing line and others on KP knew what happen. So, as we were servicing everyone we were trying to tell them what happen, knowing I took all the Roaches out of the pot, I would not eat it and as we were telling them what happen they did not care they wanted more, so, we gave it to them Bon Appetit. It was some time later I pulled KP again and the Cooks were cooking Steak on the grill for the evening meal and we were cleaning the floor with lemon juice and GI Soap to get the grease off the floor ( the soap has Lye in it ) and two or three of the steaks hit the floor right where we were cleaning. The cook picked-up the steaks and we thought he was going to throw them away he did right back up on the grill. Well, this time I did not eat Steak and others pulling KP did not also, but trying to tell others who came in to eat was waste of time. A lot of times, I stop and think, when I go into a Restaurant to eat ( even a good one ) I wonder if the same thing happens in the Kitchen. I bet it does, and I do not what to know are keeping thinking about it because My Wife and I eat out a lot. S C A R Y
One of things we had to do was Guard Duty. We had 5 or 6 buildings we had to check through the night and we drove around checking them. There were two of us and we had .45 cal. handguns with 5 rounds of ammunition on our pistol belt, not in the gun, always on the pistol belt, unless we needed them, which we never did. One of the buildings we checked more often than any other was where we had important photos of all over the world. This building had a big sign over the front door reading 1st. Military Intelligence Battalion ARS and under it read We Map the World. The Military Police did not care for us too much because we carried a handgun and ammunition with us when we were on Guard Duty.
We also did Guard Duty during the day for the Imagery Interpreters ( II ) when they had training classes. We had two people from the Photo Section walking Guard Duty, one in front of the building and one in the back to make sure no one entered the building. We also had to challenge anyone who wanted to enter even if they had the need to know and the clearance. If their name was not on our list we were not going to let them in. Also, we were told if anyone tried to break in or force their way past us we had orders to shoot, which never happened. When we found out that MIBARS was going to Vietnam they had more training classes for the Imagery Interpreters. When we were guarding the classes we did not know what was going on. We figured that they were being shown aerial photos of Vietnam, which we did not make the prints of.
The Air Force would fly sorties, taking photos and then land at Pope Air Force Base. There they were met by two MP’s. Two Air Police ( AP ) would deliver the film to us. Our Photo Lab was an 18-wheeler tractor trailer. We had deep processing tanks for processing the film. We processed the film first, then changed the chemicals for paper processing and printed copies of the photos from the sorties, which we then gave to our Image Interpreters. We did our training when the Air Force would fly a sortie needed by Image Interpreters for their training. When we went on war games we would place our civilian clothes in the deep processing tanks. The 18-wheeler tractor trailer also had room for four bunks to sleep if needed.
After emailing Larry Letzer recently, he reminded me that our photo lab van was called the ES-22. Larry also said the photo lab van was always breaking down and we spent more time on maintenance than actually processing images, but it was fun. I remember one time we had training and it was to see how long we could be under combat conditions. I think we stayed awake something like 72 hours without sleep. I think at some point we were doing some things wrong. When we did go to sleep, I remember it was for two days. When I did wake up it felt like a big Mack truck had run into me.
During the night at Ft. Bragg we were in the photo lab van running test copies of aeriel photos that Image Interpreters were to use for training and which also gave us training, too. The 82nd Airborne Division Artillery Field was not too far from us but it seemed like they were just outside when they fired those 8-Inch Howitzers off. Those old windows used to rattle and shake which seemed like they were going to blow out of their frames.
It was in January 1965 that we went on a war game called Polar Strike. We left on a C130 Globe Master from Ft. Bragg out of Pope Air Force Base and we flew to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, with a short lay over for fuel or whatever. Then we were off to McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, WA. outside of Seattle, to get our arctic gear for Alaska. Then we were on our way to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska where we stayed and gave intelligence coverage to friendly and enemy forces for the war game. When we went into Anchorage we found the cost of everything was high. The first night in Anchorage we went to a club that was something like the Playboy Club. I cannot remember what a beer cost, but I do remember not staying there long. It was on 5th Ave. and you could see where buildings shook from the big earthquake. We went to a club called the High Hat and after a while the manager threw us out because we were drinking beer he did not sell. It was beer that we had gotten at the PX, which was cheaper than in town. We had the beer cans in the snow bank on the sidewalk. We were wearing long jackets and we would go outside to get our beer and bring it back inside. If I remember correctly, it would get day light at 10 hundred hours and get dark around 13 hundred hours. The Air Force set us up in an airplane hanger that was not being used at that time and we processed the aerial photos in our ES-22 van.
This is what happens when you and others want to have fun and it could have really turned out real bad, which Thank God it did not! At Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, if you would look up towards the mountain you could see a Flashing Light or something. We knew it was a Missile Base from talking to some of the Airman and now I can remember that you really had to have the need to know what was there to get in or anywhere near. We had a lot of Hades in us, so we got a jeep and we drove to the base of the mountain and started to drive up. I remember we did not get far before MP’s and AP’s stopped us and they asked what we were doing and where we were going. We told them that we were trying to see what was really on top of the mountain because we heard they had a Missile Base there and we wanted to see for ourselves. I remember them telling us this was not a game we were playing, but what was up there was not a toy or anything to play with and we could have gotten ourselves in a lot of trouble. What was up on the mountain was a Military Missile Site which was there to guard against an attack and used to protect our Nation and our National Security. They also asked if we have a need to know and we told them no. They did not hold us, which they could have and also could have reported us to our Battalion Commander, which they did not. They did talked to us and what they said was enough to put fear into anyone. The conversation also had the Do’s and Do Not’s, and we were one of the DO Not’s. Then they told us something like have a good day and they had us turn the jeep around and we headed back to base. We really meant no harm; we wanted to see what was really up there before we got stopped. What happen at that time and thinking about it now it could have been a Security Problem and no telling what could have happen to us. Well Thank God, they were rough with the words with us but they were fair and knew we meant no harm. At that time we had no business doing what we did in the first place and that was no way of trying to have fun and a good time.
When going to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska I forgot to bring my 35mm camera with me when I left Ft. Bragg. I really did not pack it so I went to the Base PX to buy a new camera. If I remember it cost under $100.00. One day my co-driver and I got a jeep and we went joke riding around in Anchorage because we were still in a set-up mode. We went outside of Anchorage into a wooded area and we had to be careful where we went because they had an Earth Quake and they had areas where a lot of holes, deep holes. In Anchorage the main street was 5th. Ave. and you could see where the Earth Quake really took it’s total even with the snow you still could see how deep the holes in spots. So, we were riding like I said outside Anchorage in a wooded area which looked like the country when we saw a Bull Moose and what could have been his mate. We got out of the jeep and we were walking toward him in snow about from 2 1/2 to 3 feet deep. If I remembered we were about 10 feet or so away from him which now I look at that to being to close today and knowing better. The two of us were taking pictures and then he look like he was coming toward us. I do not know when a Bull Moose would start to run but we started to run back to the jeep. We were scared, because for one thing we heard that a Bull Moose could derail trains and he was in a running or charging mode or what ever and coming on fast. By now we were in the jeep and I was driving. I gave the jeep to much gas and the back wheels started to spin in the snow and we were not going anywhere and he was getting closer. That was the first time I learned about driving in snow and the roadway had snow just covering the road. I learned real quick that you needed to ease-up on the gas and take off slowly, so I did and we got away. My co-driver asked if I was going back for my camera and told him no-way. I was chalking it up to an experience and a costly one at that. I thought of it then and now, what that Bull Moose could have done to us. I did buy a new camera but I stayed away from Bull Moose, Reindeer or anything that looked like him.
Later we left Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage to go to the Army Arctic Training Center at Ft. Greely, Alaska to test a new Photo Lab that would go on the back of a 2½-ton truck to be used in Vietnam. When we left Elmendorf Air Force Base we left in a C-119 which is called the Flying Boxcar. As we were getting on the aircraft one of the airmen handed us a parachute and we asked what was this for? The airman told us that the plane was a capable aircraft, but complicated to operate and hard to fly on one engine. So, the airman told us, if we lost one engine we more than likely had to jump. We asked if we were going to get jump pay. We were just being funny, but the airman ignored us and said to put the parachute on and fit it to the size of our body. After that we could take it off and if needed all we had to do was put it on and jump, that made me feel good. When we got to where the Photo Lab was we could not open the door. It was frozen shut, so we had to get a couple of crowbars to open it. When we did get it open there must have been about 6 inches of ice on the floor and icicles hanging from the ceiling. The equipment looked pretty bad covered in ice. After seeing the condition the Photo Lab was in, we reported to Battalion Headquarters that the Photo Lab would be good in Vietnam because we did not think it was going to get anywhere near as cold as it was when we saw it. After I got to know Don Skinner by writing and talking to him by phone I told him about the Photo Lab we went to test out. I found out that in Vietnam they called it the Mobile Photographic Darkroom, the ES-38.
Coming back from Anchorage, Alaska in a C130 one of the engines blew-up and we had to land in Billings, Montana. With the three other engines we could have made it back to Pope Air Force Base, the Army and Air Force were not worried about us; they were more worried about our Photo Lab on board. We were in Billings for about two weeks until the Air Force could get a new or rebuilt engine to replace the one that went out. The people in Billings were real friendly, some took us into their homes and fed us. The National Guard put us up in their Armory while we there. One night another guy and I were pulling Guard Duty on the plane and it was cold, very cold and snowing. It snowed almost the whole time we were there. The Air Force was setting up a base there and they had a Staff Sergeant and his wife living in a trailer there. They invited us in to get warm and he told us that no one was going to steal the place or our equipment. Well, that was one of the best meals we had in a long time, a home cooked meal and that was the fist time that I ate deer meat. We were there for about two weeks or so, before the aircraft was fixed and we were ready to go to Ft. Bragg.
It was some time in April of 1965 when the Dominican Republic was having a Civil War. That was the 82nd Airborne Division’s area of responsibility, so they were sent along with other countries, to do what was needed to help solve the problem. Detachment D went over in May of 1965, I believe, to help with Aerial Reconnaissance and we were stationed in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I cannot remember the name of the Air Force base we were at. After getting an email from Larry Letzer, I remember now it was Ramey Air Force Base. I only stayed two or three days at a time as I was carrying papers from Puerto Rico to Ft. Bragg. I was also carrying Puerto Rican rum, VO and other alcoholic liquor back to Ft. Bragg. The cost was cheaper than state side and I was doing this for other people, getting what they wanted and not for resale. I did go to the Dominican Republic maybe two times, but where I was going they were not fighting, thank God. I was getting too short till discharge. The whole situation did not last too long and the rest of Detachment D was soon back at Bragg. I did not get to do any sight seeing in San Juan, because I was not there very long and even though we were not in the Dominican Republic where they were fighting we had to stay in our area.
In June or July 1965 we went on a war game called Air Assault I or II in Sumter, South Carolina. We were stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, we worked with the 363rd.Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. They would fly the Sorties and we would go pick-up the Unprocessed Film with one or two MP's. The Air Police ( AP's ) would give us the film and the MP's would take us back to our Photo Lab and we would process the film and what else was needed. When we went on a war game and we were staying on an Air Force Base they always gave us billets. We were in the billets for about a week or so when we had to leave because they had C124 or C130 Globe Masters coming in and they needed billets for the crew and crew chiefs. They gave us Per Diem, which if I remember was something like $35 a day. They found us a motel with two single beds for something like $20 to $25 a day, so two of us shared the bill. We took over the entire motel. When we ate on the base we were supposed to sign in since we had per diem to pay for our food. We would eat in the 363rd. Tactical Reconnaissance Mess-Hall, it was Great, Super Great it was way better then eating in the Mess when we were at Bragg.
Since we were getting Per Diem we were suppose to pay for our meals, but, we did not, so we wore our Uniforms and we ate for free. They did not know if we were getting paid Per Diem or not, but, we had to sign in to eat and it seemed that they would not check the list because we never heard anything about what we were doing. The 363rd. Mess-Hall made you feel like you were at Home, not really, but it was better then our Mess at Bragg which was Plain and Dreary, the food to.
We went out to one of the local bars in Sumter, the only thing they served was beer. For hard liquor you had to go to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board ( ABC Store ). We had a military jeep and parked it in the back of the bar so no one could see the jeep. Then the four of us went into the bar. In the bar were some Path Finders from the Air Force and some of the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery Group. After a while the barmaid started trouble between the two groups and then holy hell broke out. The 82ndAirborne and the Path Finders were fighting each other. So, before the AP’s and MP’s came and we would get ourselves in trouble for having a military jeep, we made a run for the back door, jumped in the jeep and went back to the base.
I would always tell this one Warrant Officer ( WO ) that the plane he flew was made out of papier-mâché and in return he told me that if he got me up in it I would not call it a papier-mâché plane again. Sometimes we had to deliver aeriel prints by flying them to their destination. They always had a log sheet with the name of the pilot who was going to fly the mission. I noticed it was not the WO I would joke with, so I signed-up. I was sitting in the plane and who comes along but him, so I started to get out and he ordered me back in the plane. He told me that he was going to give me a lesson that I would not forget and he did. To make the delivery, we would fly over and throw the bundled aeriel prints on the roof of the building where we had to make the drop. Now he told me, this is where the fun starts. He told me that the barf bag was there if I needed it. We were flying up or down the Black River from what I remember. I felt that I could touch the trees. Before that he made figure 8’s, went into a roll, straight up and down, but the one that took the cake, and everything else, was that he went into a dive and shut the engine off. It looked like this could be the end of me. Then he turned the engine back on. I did not use the barf bag but I felt like something else happened. I asked him what if the engine would not have come back on and he told me that they would be picking up pieces of us. When I got out of the plane I felt a little weak at the knees. He then asked me are you going to call this plane a papier-mâché plane again? I then said yes, but I will not fly in one again, maybe a bigger one, but not as small as this one.
I remember two accidents that happened while on the Air Assault war game. The first one was the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery fired and hit a Command Post killing some troops, how many I do not remember. The second one involved a couple of helicopters, the pilots could see each other and still ran head on into each other. This was at the time that the 11th Air Assault Division and the 1st Cavalry Division became the 1st Air Cavalry Airmobile and is commonly referred to as the 1st Air Cavalry Division.
After coming back from the Air Assault war game there was not much going on, except that we found out later that 1st Military Intelligence Battalion ARS was going to Vietnam. So they had more training classes for the Imagery Interpreters and Repro had more guard to pull.
I was getting discharged along with about three or four others on October 30, 1965. We wanted to extend for 6 months just to go to Vietnam to see what it was like, but Battalion said it had to be for one year or more. I was a SPC4 and I was long over do for my promotion to a SPC5. Since I was 90 day lost to the Battalion, they would not give it to me. One day my Detachment Commander who was Captain Mickey Moore called me in to his office and there were two MP’s behind him. He told me that if I would re-enlist for three years I would get $3,000 and my SPC5 patch and then when I got to Vietnam he would waver me to SPC6. I told him that that sounded great for the rank, but for $1,000 for each year, that to me was not worth it and I told him there was no way that I was going to re-enlist.
On October 30, 1965 I took my Honorable Discharge Papers and said good-bye to everyone and the Untied States Army.
Let me say, that we all played around, we had a good time pulling jokes on each other and in doing so we were Friends and Brothers in Arms. But, when it came down to do what we were there for, we all had pride in what we were doing. It didn’t matter, if some of us volunteered and if some were drafted but we were there to serve our Country when needed.
When we went to the Army Arctic Training Center at Ft. Greely to test a new Photo Lab that later would be called the ES-38 used in Vietnam, we took pictures of the Photo Lab and I had negatives of the ES-38 pictures I took. I had names of everyone in Detachment D, had aerial pictures of Ft. Bragg and etc.
All of this was lost when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in August 29, 2005 with personal items lost also.
(Philip and his wife lost their home and everything in it – Don Skinner)
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