Ron Lape, II, 1965-1966
I was stationed at Ft Devens in 1960 having just returned from a three year tour in Germany when I was
selected to join the 172nd MI Platoon at Devens. At the time, we didn't know that they were "building
up" the 172nd to go to Germany to support a unit in anticipation af the Berlin Wall construction.
(Went from three personnel to nine).
Departed Brooklyn Naval Yard via a wonderful Grey thing that had seen it's better days Twenty years
ago. Arrived at Nurenburg, Germany to support the 2nd Armored Cav and their border operations.
I was sent to Oberammergau in '61 to attend the Advanced Photo Interpreter School and managed to
struggle to a successful graduation even tho I was NOT an II at the time. (Went back for the Basic
course in '62 and tore it up). Many thanks to Major De Giovanni and Sgt Vindovich for their time spent
in bringing me up to speed for the Advanced Course.
In 1963, the 172nd was deactivated and I was assigned to the 2nd MIBARS with duty assignment at
Mannheim and the DASC. Returned to Ft Bragg and the 1st MIBARS in '64 and was re-assigned to
Defense Intelligence Agency. In turn, when the 1st was being considered for assignment to RVN, I
returned to the 1st and assigned to Det C.
We got a lot of briefings on the customs and people of Thailand and it began to look like a good
assignment. However, while we were supposed to be assigned to an Air Force base in Thailand my
understanding was that Bombers and Fighters were OK but Intell types were a No No, and Det C was
to go to Can Tho.
When we got the word to move out, most of the unit went to California while some of us were left behind
to load the equipment and vehicles aboard a ship in Charleston, SC.
Helped with the unloading of vehicles and equipment in Saigon. Wonder why none of Det C's vehicles
came out of that hold with major damage other than the small hole in the TIIF? What ever happened to
"Jungle Jim"? Anyone remember the Rifle inspection we had while the rest of the Units were at the Bob
Hope Show? (Just a little remembrance of things past).
Was assigned to HHC and worked at Tan Son Nhut mainly with the Red Haze stuff. For those that need
a little jog of memory, I was the one that didn't have a bed at the Compound. If memory serves me right,
I was on the compound a maximum of three times. Not many memories of it at all.
I left the 1st in November of '65 and was assigned to the Army Intell School at Ft. Holabird as an
instructor. Went back to 'Nam in 66 and worked for USARV at the DASC in G2 Air. After TET I went to
Phu Bai to work the G2 Air there. Left Phu Bai and returned to Holabird as an Instructor (Along with the
move to Ft Huachuca in'70) Took a break and served at Ft Shafter, Hi for Deputy Chief of Staff,
USARPAC 'till they got downsized and I returned to Huachuca. Retired in '76 and got a job with
USAICS Department of Training as a GS-11. Gave up the ghost in '86 and returned to Pennsylvania.
Over the years I met a great many people and made quite a few long lasting friendships. To all whom I
served with and the thousands I taught Soviet equipment and the TIIF to, many thanks for the memories.


MY YEAR IN MIBARS
RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS
by Bob Freeman


In-country II School
Colin Canham, HHC School Section, 9/68 - 9/69
The School Section was in one end of the villa where the HHC officers and senior NCOs were billeted, a couple of miles from Muscara Compound. I don't know much about the history, but while I was there in '68-'69 we were running in-country orientation classes for II's from different units throughout Vietnam, in classes that lasted about a week. Between student groups, we prepared classes, worked on hand-held camera imagery files and also did any other special projects that were assigned. There were 4 or 5 E4/E5's (all 96D's) under an E6-/E7. While I was there, SFC John Oliver and WO Motomu Akashi were in charge. We went to Muscara Compound for meals and guard duty, otherwise we were pretty much left alone. None of us ever knew why we got assigned there, but it was excellent duty. I was there with Paul Toth, Guy Bradbury and Wilson Tschiffely.


This Was Not Supposed to Happen
Mike Sheehan
II, TIIF Instructor, ARLO, Det C 66 - 67, HHC 67 - 68


MIBARS Memories
Lary Scollick, HHC Operations, September '68 August '69
I arrived in HHC about mid-September, 1968 and was assigned to the Bn AG who was, at the Ron Sallas. His real first name was James but he went by his middle name, Ron. The one thing I remember at least at first was the twelve hour days. The Bn CO was LTC Wetherill and I will never forget that I did not appreciate his expectation that I would fix his coffee percolator each morning.
Among other things, I ran the mail room in Bn HQ, typed everyone's orders, get up the AR's, prepared the duty roster for offset printing, served as duty driver for officers moving between Long Bin and HQ and probably other things long since forgotten. I remember filling sandbags and building a bunker between the Gia Dinh street wall and the end of the barracks. That was fun. I remember being a Sp5 and not being allowed to drink in the NCO club. That was reserved for the, what was it, three hard stripers?
And here is a confession that until now only one other person in the unit ever knew, for sure. When I first arrived in the unit, I noticed I was processing Article 15 papers on HHC personnel caught by the MP's for curfew violations. One day the adjutant arrived for work and ordered me to not open any communications from the MP's but rather pass it on to him. The next day, a delinquency report arrived with a curfew violation against Cpt Sasser and CW......what was his name, he ran the personnel section. Well I made a copy of it in what was then a thermofax machine, hid the copy in my locker, and passed the open envelope to the Cpt. I apologized saying it looked like routine correspondence. He never asked me whether I read it and I never told him that I had. But that was the last article 15 in HHC for curfew violation.


My Time With MIBARS
Peter Schlesinger, HHC, II and S3, 11/66 - 11/67
I went to Ft Holabird for II training after finishing basic at Ft Jackson, SC, arrived in RVN on Nov. 4, 1966 and was assigned to the II Section at Tan Son Nhut, initially doing some photomosaic work.
Here are some random recollections from the year I spent there - Rotated back to the "World" on Nov. 4, '67
A couple of weeks after reaching HHC I was transferred to the S3 Section in the HQ building (the one with the EM Club on the top floor) to work under the asst. S3 officer. I did stuff like the weekly reports that went to our parent HQ Group (525th - ???) and then to MACV or USARV HQ and writing medal recommendations, and so on. Maybe a month or so later the asst. S3 got sick and was medevaced to Japan, and never did get back. When a replacement arrived I told him I knew exactly how to do the required reports and thereafter had a whole lot of freedom for a Spec4 (later Spec5) cutting my own travel orders to travel to "and observe" ops at the Bn detachments - flew to Can Tho once, Nha Trang a couple of times & often to Bien Hoa, by jeep. Never did get to Da Nang.
The main recreation activity at HHC was volleyball - played almost every day in the compound next to the repro shop. We were so enthused we had a HHC Team - and played against A Det, a couple of other units and a team from 525th (??) MI Group that really kicked our asses. One time the whole team piled into a vehicle (a van I seem to recall) and drove up to A Det - I believe we were on some alternate route, and half way there we realized we didn't have a single firearm among us - everyone assumed the other guys had weapons - needless to say we made it, without incident, or I wouldn't be writing this.
Speaking of 525th MI Group, a couple of nights I had guard duty and had to make jeep runs there after curfew - as I recall you left our gate & turned right on Chi Lang St. & went a couple of miles, including some "jungly" areas. I was scared "shitless" but never had a problem.
Other recollections - To do Street, with all the bars & bargirls - came close a couple of times, but abstained. Warm Viet Beer (ba mui bah-?) on ice. Cholon for good Chinese food. Devilled crab at a hotel downtown with a procession of lady singers for entertainment. Meals at a floating restaurant in the Saigon River. Fresh baked "French" bread from street vendors right outside our compound. Made a number of trips to the race track (horses) in Saigon - bookies wrote odds on horses on board & wrote you a receipt for your bet (the odds kept shifting as bets came in). Met a nice Vietnamese guy named Tran at the track - we became friends and hung out sometimes (on his motor scooter a couple of times - a "no-no" but didn't get caught). He was an English instructor for the ARVN forces - lost touch when I rotated. Went on two R & R's, first to Hawaii where I hooked up with my Mom & Dad & girlfriend, whom I later married, but it didn't last. Was a magical six days - like out of a movie. 2nd R & R was to Penang, Malaysia - also a great time. Went to the Penang Sports Club on arrival where I met 2 great older couples - One USA & the other Aussie who took me under their wing - wonderful time but that's a whole "nother story."
Roomies at HHC were Tommie Daugherty from Cal. & later, Jimmie Grey, from NC. Understand that Jimmie was wounded (I heard) during the Tet attacks. Met (at our local VFW Post) & have become friends with Jim Verdi (HHC Delivery Plat crew chief) who arrived incountry after I rotated.
Two scariest moments for me were during a flight to Vung Tau to an Aussie unit, in our two-seat plane (I used to fly shotgun sometimes), where as we were leaving, taxiing for takeoff, a chopper landed next to the strip and the rotor airblast almost rolled us - the pilot, a Capt (name - ???) did a great job getting us under control. Other one was when on guard duty on roof of barracks building at twilight - I'll swear to my dying day that a VC took a shot at me & missed. Heard a "whssh" followed by a gunshot sound, hit the deck & crawled to the staircase entrance, reported it and wouldn't go back up until full dark. I heard "what I heard"!
I'll never forget seeing body bags at Tan Son Nhut, nor seeing a huey, taking off, grazing another, next to it, and crashing (killing several) at a helipad next to the "repple-depple" my first morning in RVN. Welcome to Vietnam!! BTW - Do you remember - "You are a guest in Vietnam??"


Finding An Old Vietnamese Army Friend After 40 Years
Charles Chauncey Wells, HHC Repro and USARLE School Commandant, 10/67 - 2/68
In the back of my mind, I always wanted to go back to Viet Nam and revisit the places I had been nearly 40 years ago. We booked a 17-day tour through
Smartours that included all of Viet Nam, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and Bangkok, Thailand, all for $2,499. Viet Nam, however, was the major draw.
We arrived in Hanoi for three days and visited Halong Bay, spent a day in Hue, the old imperial capital and scene of intense fighting during Tet, Danang and the inside of the infamous Marble Mountain, Hoi An for R&R, and finally two days in Ho Chi Minh City, most still call Saigon. When you are in a war, it is difficult to appreciate the cultural and artistic history of the country you are fighting in. This time we could see the whole of Viet Nam including the former enemy areas of the north.
Saigon, where I spent all of my time, was completely changed. In 1968, it had about 1.5 million. Now it has over 7 million. All the land between downtown and Tan Son Nhut is completely filled in with multi-story buildings. No dirt roads or shacks, new street names, and everything is concrete.
Upon landing, I could recognize some French-built water towers and a few revetments, but nothing else from the '60s. Nowhere could I locate our 1st MIBARS Battalion Headquarters in Gia Dinh. Either it is so greatly changed or it has been torn down and replaced by a larger building.
What is surprising is how well Americans are received. I made no secret of my Viet Nam service and many wanted to know where I spent time and what I did. There are very few men left who had been Viet Cong or NVA regulars. Everyone in Viet Nam is young, and all want to start businesses and know Americans. I found it quite surprising that the largest investors in Viet Nam are American banks and businesses, especially in beach-front hotels around Danang and other coastal towns.
Back when I was attending the Signal Repair and Maintenance School in 1967 at Fort Monmouth, N.J., I met and became friends with ARVN Captain Nguyen Tam Phuc. We learned about how to do record-keeping using punch cards, now done by the simplest of computers; the beginning of the transistor and how it might miniaturize our equipment; and how to maintain the radios and communications systems that are primitive and clumsy in today's world.
When I first went to Viet Nam, surprise of surprises, my 1st MIBARS headquarters was only a block away from my friend's home. I visited there and met his extended family, his wife, and little baby daughter and we had dinner together. Chickens walked in and out freely. We enjoyed those visits a few times, but then, with the Tet Offensive, I could not come anymore because he would be targeted by the VC. We met a few more times away from his home and then I returned to the States. We had a letter or two, but then Viet Nam fell to the Communists and there was no more communication.
So I definitely wanted to see him again after nearly 40 years, wondering if he was still alive. I hired a car and driver and a Vietnamese guide to enhance success. We went to the Gia Dinh neighborhood and began knocking on doors. Luckily I had saved his card with his old home address and we began in the right area even though it was greatly changed. One thing that helped is that there are very few 70-year-old men around anymore, so Phuc would stand out. After about four tries, things were getting bleak, but our guide did not want to give up.
He went down an alley and was gone about 20 minutes. When he returned, he said he had found the place--the home of Phuc's mother-in-law, then in her 90s. The guide came up to the door and asked, "Does anyone here know Charles Wells." Phuc very surprised said: "I know Charles Wells."
When I came to the door, he said, " Welcome, Charles Wells. Your first son is Charles Andrew and your second is
Christopher" (born in 1970), and whose birth I had written him about. His little baby girl is now about 42 and a primary school teacher and she was there also. We stayed for a short visit and Phuc came that evening to our hotel for dinner. The hotel staff was very baffled and asked him a number of questions because very few Americans know Vietnamese that well to have them come to their hotel and eat in the dining room.
What had happened to him? He is now a Buddhist monk, tending the affairs of a nearby chapel in Gia Dihn. His wife has been dead for 26 years and they had two more sons since I had been there.
Life has indeed been hard. He was imprisoned for two and a half years in a lumber camp out in the jungle. Had he been there three years, he could have come to America later when we accepted Vietnamese as immigrants. He could not find decent work because he had been on the wrong side and the Communist regime would not give anything more than menial jobs to anyone backing the previous government or the Americans. He worked as a cyclo-bike driver, did odd jobs, and his family had a hard time. The children were denied entrance to college. One son is a mechanic and another is in retail clothing.
After all these years, his English was good enough that we had an enjoyable time visiting about the directions our lives had taken. As old friends, we picked up where we left off. He is now in his 70s, not in good health, and I probably will never see him alive again. I am really pleased we could visit together and renew our friendship again. This, my second tour in Viet Nam, was well worth the effort and I would highly recommend it to other Viet Nam veterans.


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