1st MIBARS 1964 - 1966

by Paul Reed

I joined the Bn in August 1964, when I returned from Korea. I was designated to be the Commander of B Detachment, replacing Capt Mike Morton, who was going to the Artillery Officers Advanced Course. The Det was at Eglin AFB, Florida at the time and I cooled my heels for about two weeks, waiting for them to come back to Ft Bragg. I did fly down there and inventory the property and met the 1st Sgt, SFC Bob Brookshire.

I spent the next thirteen months as the B Det CO: some of the best months of my military career. B Det was a busy place, going on TDY about four times to support exercises all over the US.

The Bn was commanded by Major John Betts when I arrived and he was replaced by Lt Col Mike Tymchak late in August 64 or early in Sept. Betts became the ExO until his retirement, later that year. He was replaced in early 65 by a Major named Esterline(don't know his first name).First name Gerald I don't recall who the A Det CO was, nor his First Shirt. C Det was commanded by Capt Hardy Freitas and his First Sgt was named Stearns. Capt Bill Cumbie commanded A Det, I think. I may have Freitas and Cumbie reversed. A SFC by the name of Lester was Cumbie's First Sgt, I think. I don't remember who was commanding D Det. Eventually, Cumbie became the S2/3 and I think was replaced by a Capt Mickie Moore. At the time that I joined the Bn, Capt Anson Reynolds(nickname Tip) was the S2/3. I had gone to the Aerial Surveillance Course at Holabird with him, so knew him well. He left to go to the Artillery Officer Advanced Course and I lost contact with him. A Capt by the name of Blevins was the Aerial Delivery Platoon CO and we had two pilots: CWO Jim Gooding and CWO Jerry Driscoll.

In August or Sept of 65, the adjutant left and I was selected by Tymchak to replace him. A day or two after assuming that job, the Bn was alerted to go to SEA: what a welcome. My Sgt Major was John Thompson, who later was to become the Sgt Maj of the 525 in VN and who wound up being medevaced due to a jeep accident.

From Sept to Dec, I was busier than a one-armed paperhanger, trying to fill all the slots in the Bn that were vacant and those caused by the Army's policy that nobody with less than 90 days remaining in the Army would be deployed to VN. Since they changed our readiness dates several times, I went through this process several times. I had an outstanding CWO for a Personnel Officer: wish that I could remember his name. He got me through some rough times.

To go back to B Det: my first Sgt was absolutely great and he and I had some really great times. I know, hard to imagine with an officer and an NCO, but that is the absolute truth. My II Sgts were Lee Yober and Nick Vindovich, my supply Sgt was named Rosak and I can't remember my Repro Sgt. I had a Repro Officer, Lt Jerry Champion, who was not my favorite person. I had a great Detachment and I hated to give it up to go up to BN.

While I am about this attempt at recording my recollections of the Bn and its history during my tenure, let me try to record some of the folks that I remember from those days. As I outlined above, the Bn CO for most of my time was lt Col Mike Tymchak(later to retire as a Colonel), Major Esterline was the ExO(and he had a gap in his time because he was badly burned in a Beaver crash at Tan Son Nhut AB: was evaced to Japan and then came back to VN). Capt Ron Bodine was the S-4 for all of the VN year. Capt(later Major) Juan Horta-Merly commanded HHC: Major Warren Leigh commanded A Det, a good friend of mine, Capt Pat Crane commanded D Det at Nha Trang and a Capt McConnell commanded B Det in Danang. C Det originally was scheduled to go to Thailand, but they all came to VN with the rest of us and sat around for months until it was decided to send them to Can Tho, with a Major Choquette as the CO. Capt Don Boyce was the Delivery Platoon CO and he had CWO Jim Gooding, CWO jerry Driscoll and CWO Bud Graves among his seven pilots. I can't remember any of the other pilots. Gooding came home from Nam to fly for the Golden Knights: don't know about the rest, except I heard that Bud Graves had been killed in a crash in Alaska. Some of the NCOs that I remember were, of course, my First Sgt Brookshire, who I believe still lives in Fayetteville, SFC Torrez who was in the S-2/3 Section, SFC Lynch who replaced Brookshire in B Det when Brookshire went to VN with the 45th.

As someone else has described, we all went to VN by ship: the USNS General Leroy Eltinge, a garbage scow by any other name. 23 days from Long Beach to Saigon in the middle of the winter is not a pleasure cruise. One stop in Guam of about 20 hours, during which most people tried to see how much beer that they could drink in a short time. The result was not pretty the next day when we put back to sea.

I won't repeat the billeting arrangements or working arrangements in Saigon: they served the purpose and that is about all that one can say about them.

In about March or April, I moved to the 525 compound out on the Saigon River and began my work in the S-3 Section of the Group. That lasted until July, when I got put on TDY to MACV J-2 as a reconnaissance duty officer in the AF Control Center. That was the best job that I had in VN and I almost hated to leave(hah).

I have a lot of unrecorded memories of VN that I may commit to paper some day. Until then, I'll wait to read about you guys.

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