Commander Arthur R. Lee Recalls a Sapper Attack at Cam Ranh Bay During the Vietnam War | HistoryNet MENU

Commander Arthur R. Lee Recalls a Sapper Attack at Cam Ranh Bay During the Vietnam War

6/12/2006 • Vietnam

I had been in Vietnam for only a few days when I experienced my first rocket attack. I had just returned from a short trip to the U.S. Army’s base at Dong Ba Thin, where a contingent of Vertol CH-47 helicopters was located. While there, I was amazed to see that so many helos had been shot up. Some were blackened by fire, their crumpled fuselages pushed into a central pile. Those not damaged were widely dispersed. The bleached and faded jungle-green of the paint schemes was dusty with red dirt from their many trips to the Central Highlands near Dalat and Pleiku. A 20-foot-high chain-link fence surrounded the perimeter, in an effort to screen the base against shoulder-fired rockets.

The sun was low on the horizon when I safely crossed the bridge leading to Cam Ranh Bay. I sighed with relief as I passed the air base’s heavily sandbagged guard posts, with their protruding .50-caliber machine guns. Being new to Vietnam, I found the thought of being off base after dark highly unnerving.

As I stepped out of my jeep in front of the officers’ barracks, I heard a strange whistling sound. Immediately, there were thunderous explosions nearby. Two Army warrant officers of the ‘Crazy Cat’ squadron who had been pitching horseshoes stopped their game and dropped to the ground. They yelled ‘Incoming!’ as I knelt by my vehicle. Off to my right, I saw white flashes and heard ‘Crack! Crack! Crack!’ like the sound of lightning strikes, in rapid succession. Clouds of sand, rocks and smoke flew up from the impact area, only 100 meters from us, and close to the base control tower.

The attack was over as quickly as it had begun. There wasn’t time to be afraid or nervous. The two officers resumed their horseshoe game as if nothing had happened. Somewhat shaken, I went into the barracks to clean up for dinner. The rockets had come from the hills overlooking the base. We assumed they had probably been electrically fired from a timing device; there were no enemy gunners to shoot at — even if we had the capability, which we did not. We were an air base without artillery support.

When new arrivals got off the airplane at the 14th Aerial Port, the briefing officer began by saying: ‘You are now in a combat zone and subject to enemy action at any moment. If you hear the alarm, seek shelter immediately.’

Those words positively caught our attention. Not yet having been issued helmets, flak jackets or weapons, we felt a bit helpless — but being at a large installation such as Cam Ranh Bay gave us a false sense of security. I was told that a nearby Army field hospital had been attacked a year earlier, and that the U.S. casualties had been high. The method of attack was simplicity itself: Sappers had slipped through the barbed-wire perimeter at night, dashed down the rows of barracks and thrown explosive charges at their targets.

We saw our movies in an outside amphitheater. Some of the older hands refused to gather in groups, fearing grenade attacks. Since I enjoyed movies and looked forward to the escape they offered, I considered the risk worth taking. One clear, starlit night, there was a showing of The Battle of Britain, with its vivid scenes of German bombers attacking London and fighting off British fighter planes. While bombs were exploding on-screen, Army artillery was laying down harassment and interdiction (H&I) fire on the jungles of the adjacent hills. When the on-screen explosions ceased, the H&I fire continued.

As I was sleeping that night in transient quarters, the door suddenly was flung open. Wide awake, bolting upright in my bunk and fearing the worst, I brought my pistol up to the firing position and faced what I thought was a sapper. The figure silhouetted in the doorway stopped as I tried to get the words ‘Who’s there?’ out of my throat. I could only get the words up as far as my throat, and managed a coughing stutter, more like ‘Uh, uh, uh.’ It was only after he said ‘Friend!’ in English that my heartbeat returned to normal. He was a visiting pilot who had been to our officers’ club for a nightcap.

After two weeks in-country, I began to relax in my job as the Naval Air Facility assistant aircraft intermediate maintenance officer. We supported Navy Lockheed P-3 aircraft of patrol squadrons flying in Operation Market Time, which involved joint operations between the U.S. Navy and the South Vietnamese navy — chiefly coastal surveillance and anti-infiltration patrols. These planes patrolled the coasts of North and South Vietnam, tracking enemy shipping. Our facility had recently received six Vertol CH-46 helicopters, which had flown in from a carrier one evening and were supposed to move to the South to support the Swift boats and other naval units in the delta region south of Saigon.

On the night of June 12, 1970, I was standing an indoctrination watch as command duty officer. A day earlier, as I was unfamiliar with the security layout of the base, I had asked the operations officer, Lt. Cmdr. Bob Kehoe, about his thoughts on possible future enemy attacks. ‘Our weak point,’ he had said, as he pointed out features on a map of the base, ‘is sappers getting through our wire and running down the taxi strip to our flight line and hangars.’ With his finger, he had traced the probable infiltration route, parallel to our main gate.

Fascinated, I had asked him what plans we had to repel the enemy. ‘Basically, none,’ he replied. ‘The probability of an attack is slight on a base of this size. That’s my best guess.’

His ‘best guess’ had left me with an uneasy feeling. Bob, a quiet officer not given to heroics, had been at the Naval Air Facility for a year. I respected his opinion.

While I was in my room, I kept my security radio on. At about midnight that night I went to bed and cut the volume down on the receiver. I had just closed my eyes when a loud explosion shook the bachelor officers’ quarters. This was followed by several more close at hand. In a rush, I pulled on my shirt and trousers, slid into my heavy flak jacket and helmet, and began to lace up my boots. The next sound I heard was unnerving — the ‘pop, pop, pop’ of an AK-47 being fired on our base! What I feared and dreaded most was happening. ‘Pop, pop, pop!’ again. Rapid fire! There followed more explosions in our hangar area, and then more rapid small-arms fire. My heart was pounding as I grabbed my M-16 and strapped on my pistol. Someone was screaming over the radio from the command post as I jumped into my jeep and headed toward the firing.

By that time, there was so much small-arms fire that I could not determine who was firing at whom. Reaching the command post, I was aghast to see that it had been overrun. The gate guard post had been blown up, along with a security jeep. Sappers had blasted through our main gate and run past the command post, throwing satchel charges into the sandbagged doorway as they passed. Smoke and the strong smell of cordite hung in the air, as more firing came from my left and right. But where was the enemy?

A satchel charge had knocked out our generators, and we were in darkness. I ran to the gate and found only one man defending the base — and he was unarmed. He crouched behind a low wall. Next to him was a box of hand-held’slap flares.’ He had fired several, illuminating the gate area. He slapped the base of another, which shot up into the air.

‘We need more light, sir!’ he yelled.

I grabbed a flare and slapped at its base. The hot gasses of the flare shot up into my face, and the ball of fire bounced off the low wall. Burning powder fragments stung my face and eye.

Over my radio, I heard the cries of a wounded man in the guard tower above. It had been hit by the very first round from a B-40 rocket launcher. The round had exploded, instantly killing one of the two men on watch. Our defenses had been knocked out before the firefight had even begun.

‘We need help!’ the caller screamed. ‘We’re bleeding to death.’ I grabbed my radio and yelled back, ‘Hang on, we’re doing everything we can!’

I looked up the 30-foot ladder leading to the damaged tower. The last thing I wanted to do was to climb that exposed ladder to be picked off by the enemy. My face burned, and I could not see out of my left eye. ‘There goes that eye,’ I thought, but staying alive was more important. Peering over the wall into the road beyond, in the flickering orange light of the flares, I could not see any enemy soldiers. Firing continued from both sides of me.

‘Cease fire!’ I ordered, ‘cease fire!’ My main concern at that point was that I didn’t want any of us to shoot each other. The firing stopped.

I ran into the command post to see if there were any casualties. Protected by a wall of sandbags, the inside had been spared from the direct blast of a satchel charge. The command duty officer, Lieutenant Wilkerson, lay on the wooden floor in fetal position, calling over his radio for a medic. A large, stainless steel coffee jug had been blown off a bench, and hot black coffee gurgled from its open top. Several M-16s and spare radios lay in a jumble, where they had been blown from their racks. Wilkerson was unharmed, but it had been close. The man in the guard post had also been unharmed by the exploding charges when he ducked behind the sandbags. It was he who had punched the button for the alarm siren, alerting the base.

The picture of what had happened slowly emerged. At 0130 hours, a team of a dozen NVA sappers had come over the low-lying sand hill separating us from the village of My Ca. After the rocket knocked out our only defense, one of the team opened fire down the main street of our small base. ‘I saw green tracers flying past my face,’ one sailor later recalled.

This covering fire prevented anyone from interfering with the sappers. The rest of the team rushed through the open gate, tossing satchel charges as they ran for the hangar, flight line and aircraft. In fact, they ran down the exact route that Commander Kehoe had traced out and described to me as our weak point.

One sapper threw his charge into our diesel generator, knocking out the base power. Another sapper ran into our hangar, trying to blow up our newly arrived CH-46s. He threw his charge wildly, however, blowing up the head and the maintenance officer’s office. Water sprayed out of broken waterlines from shattered toilets and wash basins. Other sappers scurried past the parked aircraft, throwing their charges into the revetments. One charge landed on top of a revetment, damaging the vertical fin of an aircraft. Other charges landed in the open or in empty revetments.

Two chief petty officers were crouched behind a flight-line tractor when a satchel charge bounced off the fender. The blast deafened one of them, and a flying piece of the tractor hit the other. A petty officer first class ran into his shop and came out with an M-16. As a sapper ran by, he opened fire. The entire magazine of 20 rounds went at one squeeze of the trigger, killing the sapper.

‘I slammed in another clip,’ the petty officer later recalled, ‘and another sapper came at me. I pulled the trigger again, and the whole second clip fired, but I missed the sapper. I had no more ammunition, as sappers ran all around me.’

As an afterthought, he added, ‘But you have to remember, I was pretty nervous at the time.’ He explained that he had had no time to play around to change the fire selector switch on the rifle.

A corpsman on duty in the administration building heard the firing. He grabbed a rifle out of the rack next to him and stood on the steps, firing at the NVA intruders. A sailor from the supply department was bringing an armload of computer sheets to the building. Dropping those, he, too, grabbed a rifle from the rack and started shooting. The screeching siren wailed and wailed as the shooting went on. The sapper who had blown up the generator was cut down just outside the hangar.

‘I saw him run past me and smack into the fence surrounding the power plant,’ said one sailor. ‘He bounced off and tried to run, when someone shot him.’

The sapper lay face-down in a pool of blood in the sand. Another sapper, probably wounded by the petty officer, did not hesitate as he hurried past his fallen comrade. Blood poured from his body, too, and filled every footprint he made in the sand. He ran out the gate and into the darkness beyond. The corpsman and the supply clerk, firing from standing positions, kept aiming at the fleeing sappers, killing one as he passed just outside the wall at the gate. Dozens of their bullets punched big holes in the hollow-brick wall.

Medics climbed the ladder to the tower to attend the wounded there. The blast from the rocket had done its job when it hit the corrugated tin roof above the men’s heads. They were not wearing their helmets or flak jackets. One man had a bloody, deep gash across his chest. Wilkerson called the Seabees, who arrived with a crane. Two corpsmen carefully lifted the casualties out.

Altogether, we suffered one dead and several wounded. We had killed two sappers, and had probably fatally wounded a third man.

At that juncture we got a radio call from our small picket boat in the bay, just offshore from My Ca. The boat, which patrolled each night, was crewed by a coxswain and a gunner for the M-60 machine gun.

‘We have a swimmer coming toward us,’ the coxswain informed us.

‘Capture him if you can,’ was our order.

The boat pulled alongside the swimmer, and they dragged him aboard. It was one of our raiding sappers. He was docile enough, until they got him into the boat.

‘Then he came alive, and tried to take over the boat,’ the coxswain later recalled. ‘We struggled with him, and he tried to jam the throttle forward to dump us. We managed to subdue him by clubbing him over the head. He was a powerful man who wore nothing but a black bathing suit. I’ll tell you, we had our hands full.’

Around his ankle, the sapper wore a rubber strap with a single round of AK-47 ammunition. We deduced that this was the man who had provided covering fire from the sand hill at the start of the attack. He had that one round left — for what? Suicide? Perhaps. Maybe he had been swimming with his rifle, and had lost it before boarding the boat.

An explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team came to retrieve the bodies of the sappers. The one near our generator had not thrown all his charges before he was killed. I approached the body cautiously. Was he still alive, and would he roll over and pull the pin on a grenade? Did he have a weapon? Although he appeared quite dead and had lain in the same position throughout the firefight, I didn’t want to take unnecessary chances. I examined the body with my flashlight. He was larger than the South Vietnamese men I had seen. He was taller, perhaps my size, and with well-developed muscles in his arms, legs and shoulders. He wore only a black bathing suit, but around his waist was a black belt of heavy material. Affixed to the belt were about a dozen charges of explosives in solid 6-inch packs. At the top end of each charge was a thin copper-colored wire attached to the belt. All the sapper had to do was to pull the charge downward from the belt. The wire, as it pulled loose, armed the charge. Several bare wires, extending downward from the belt, gave a count of the number of charges he had already thrown. I had the strangest urge to reach down to touch the dead man — but I knew better than to tempt fate. What if the least movement would set off an armed charge?

The EOD personnel approached the body with caution. They tied a line around the wrist of the dead sapper and, from a safe distance, rolled him over gently. I stood back even farther as they proceeded to remove his charges.

Fearing that some of the sappers might be hiding in our hangar, we conducted a room-by-room search. Power had been restored by that time, so we now had lights. Sailors searched the flight line, and others poked around the damaged office spaces. The helos in the hangars were carefully checked as well. Miraculously, they had not been damaged.

Three or four of us entered the maintenance shops. A loft over the hydraulics bench, we realized, would have been a likely hiding place for a sapper. While one of my men stood by with an M-16, I climbed the ladder. With pistol drawn and cocked, I stuck my head up over the rim of the loft. What would I find? A wounded sapper ready to blow himself and anyone who discovered him to kingdom come? Would he have a weapon and shoot me? Would I be able to shoot him first? My heart pounded as I scanned the empty space. There was nobody there.

Our search continued until dawn. Commander Schaub, the aircraft maintenance officer, and I searched the blown-up portion of the hangar. Moving cautiously, with drawn pistols, we both pulled away the splintered boards. First he, then I, would stand back, ready to shoot if necessary. Fortunately, there was nobody there, either.

An Air Force security team searched the area around and in My Ca. A weapons carrier was parked on the road overlooking the village. I was standing nearby when the gunner atop the vehicle, a sergeant, yelled out, ‘There’s one now!’

In the weak light of dawn, we saw the figure of a man in a black bathing suit running toward the bay. Over his shoulder was slung a rocket launcher. The sergeant drew the bolt back on the .50-caliber machine gun, putting a round in the chamber. ‘I can get him, Lieutenant,’ he said to one of his officers.

‘Hold your fire,’ was his order. ‘We’ve got men of our own down there and I don’t want to hit them by mistake.’

The lieutenant got on his radio to his search team, but they were still in the village. ‘Let me get him,’ the sergeant begged, with his finger on the trigger of the machine gun.

‘Dammit, I said no!’ the lieutenant answered. I was all for the sergeant opening up, and was hoping that he would, but the lieutenant was in charge of this part of the operation. They were all his men. We watched as the sapper hid behind some sand dunes. When the search team got there, he and his rocket launcher had disappeared.

In the excitement of the battle, I had nearly forgotten my own injuries. With the sun up, I was very distressed to find that I still couldn’t see from my left eye. Black spots blocked my vision. Everything looked foggy and blurred. Chunks of powder were deeply imbedded in my cheek and forehead.

I returned to my room, unloaded and stowed my weapons, then went to the mess hall for breakfast. I was famished. Commander Schaub looked at me closely and ordered me to sick bay. For about an hour I lay on the examining table while a corpsman plucked powder fragments out of my face.

‘I think I got most of it, sir, but you will have some beautiful tattoos for a while,’ said the corpsman when he had finished. My face was pockmarked with black dots. ‘Can’t do much about your eye, though. You’re going to have to go over to the base hospital.’

At the hospital, an Air Force ophthalmologist removed most of the fragments from my eye. ‘You can be thankful you were close to us when this happened,’ he said. ‘If we didn’t get this stuff out today, the chances of your seeing again would be bad.’

He bandaged my face and told me he would look at it again in a week. ‘Keep your fingers crossed,’ he told me. ‘Maybe we saved your eye.’

I once read that wounded soldiers go into a state of depression. It is true. I had no drive or energy for a week after that. I sat at my desk and could not concentrate. I dozed a lot and lost interest in what was going on around me. I was morose. One of our Vietnamese cleaning women came to the hangar the day after the attack. A likable young woman, she lived in My Ca and was a day worker on the base. She let out a gasp when she saw my face in bandages.

As an odd sidelight to this story, it happened that a 17-year-old sailor from the supply department had a girlfriend in the village. He had slipped over to My Ca that evening to stay with her. Although we were restricted to the base, this young sailor found a way to get ‘ashore.’

That night the sappers entered the village. The villagers saw them arrive and stayed in their houses. The Vietnamese girl, knowing that her sailor friend would be killed if he was found by the sappers, hid him inside her hut. The sailor peered out through the cracks in the wall of her bedroom as the NVA passed quietly through the village, in preparation for their raid on the base.

‘I was close enough to touch them,’ he said later, ‘but I was told to be quiet by my girlfriend, so I did. She was scared, and so was I.’ As the sappers moved out to launch their attack, he watched, unable to get back to the base to warn us.

After they had mounted their assault, the surviving NVA ran back into the village. Again, the girlfriend hid her lover from the enemy troops. He spent the rest of the night lying under her bed. Before dawn, the sappers slipped out of the village. When the Air Force security teams searched the village, the girl hid him again, this time from the Air Police, to keep him out of trouble. He was discovered missing during muster at morning quarters, and was listed as missing in action until he came back, slipping back under the fence he had crawled through the night before.

After the attack, we strengthened the defensive perimeter of our air base. A dozen more sandbagged bunkers were built and manned at night to discourage intruders. The rocket attacks continued sporadically, but we were not attacked by sappers again during the rest of my tour.


This article was written by Commander Arthur R. Lee, U.S. Navy (ret.) and originally published in the December 2001 issue of Vietnam Magazine.

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154 Responses to Commander Arthur R. Lee Recalls a Sapper Attack at Cam Ranh Bay During the Vietnam War

  1. Matt Iacovelli says:

    I was stationed in Dong Ba Thin with the 18th Engineers Headquaters company. I was in the commo section. After reading the story. It reminded me of what happend one night in DongBaThin. The generators took a hit in the Helicopter Battalion which their call sign was Stallion Control. They were based across QL1 from our post direcly across the highway. Also down the road was Charlie Battery the Artillary and also on our base was the ROK Army . Well they got hit over at the choopers site and lost all power. Myself Sp4 Iacovelli and SP4 Bogel hooked up two trailers to our jeep and filled one with gas cans and the other with a generator and while still under fire we drove across to Stallion Control and got the lights up with our generator. We were both put in for Bronze star for this effort but I was a short timer and would not be there long enough for them to get that medal. I was given an Arcom with an oak leaf cluster. I guess it was a nutty thing to do but hell we wanted the choppers up and running to protect us . It was a scary night. We had several scary nights in Dong Ba Thin. But that one sticks out in my mind the most. Spent 11 months in DongBaThin in 1979 and was pulled out in president Nixons first troop withdrawl . I was an o5c20 which was a radio teletype operator. When I arrived in Dong Ba Thin and they found out I was a radio teletype operator they were happy as they were command net for the entire Cam Rahn Sector and their RATT never was operating. I set it up with the doublet antennas cut to freq and got it up and running . I taught several people how to use the Ratt I didnt want to be on the edge of the perimeter in that little green box. I ended up in the T.O.C. on the radios there doing nights 10:30 till 6:30AM each evening . I loved it because in the evenings was generally the only time we got hit. I had the panic button as I called it to alert the base when we got hit. Our guard towers did not have the panic button but they did have direct communication with OIC . We also had a general on our base who used to love to come in and do a radio check once in a while . His name was Brigadeer General Hank Shrader. Good man like my father he was an older guy but one hell of a soldier not afraid to talk to the ranks . He started his career as an RTO also . So this is my story . I thought it seemed quite close to what I read above here.

    • Violet Szekely says:

      I lost the love of my life, Sgt. Joseph Szekely, on April 9, 1972 during the sapper attack at Cam Ranh Bay. I have a pix of the 501st Signal Company as well as documentation supporting & detailing the attack that took the lives of those 4 brave young men. I will share with anyone who has a connection to that fateful night. I would love to know if anyone can id any of the other men in the platoon pix. If you wish too correspond please contact me at my newemail address. I value everyone’s privacy & when my old email was compromised I created this new one to stay in touch with those of you with whom I have spoken with previously, and all others who wish to speak with me. Please respond @ szekelysangel1@gmail Thank you very much. And again, blessings to you & yours & for all who served: a heartfelt Thank you! & Welcome home!! Violet

      • rhody t sparhawk says:

        ref to sgt joseph c. szekely i was his sgt he worked under me and he was a real good troop as the other boys i lost that night i was on cq in charge that night. i will never forget him. the last thing they to me was //we love you sgt// that is what kept me going. please let me know if you rec this . i am sorry for your lost and we all miss him

  2. Ken Maxwell says:

    I was stationed in Dong Ba Thin from 1966 to 1967, in headquarters of the 18th Engineer Bde.
    I had origionally worked as a Nike Hercules Missile crewman in Germany for three years but wound up in the Mess Hall and in Viet Nam. I made Mess sergeant in two years but got out of the Army after my Viet Nam tour.I’m really glad I served, but I would’nt want to do it again.

  3. Julie Gammons says:

    My father, Boyd E. Brim, was stationed in Dong Ba Thin in 1970-1971. He never talked about any of it, but after he died in 2003, I inherited his photo album and am trying to find out more about his time over there. He saved two letters that state that he was a Staff Sergeant at HHC, 18th Engineer Brigade and then Staff Sergeant at HHC, 10th Combat Aviation Battalion. If anyone can tell me anything about him, good or bad, please send me an email at Thanks.

  4. C4Steve says:

    Being under fire for the 1st time can change your life forever.Been there done that!!

  5. Bob Donald says:

    Cdr. Wilkerson’s report is a little lacking in detail. I was there. I climbed up Tango 2 to save a buddy Chuck Kilpatrick. I was the first up the tower, and discovered Chuck had swapped duty. The two guys that were there were hurt bad. I called in the CB’s and a cherry picker. The guys were loaded in the cherry picker and taken to sick bay. One will die. The other will live.

    For heriosm, what did I get? Not a stinking thing. Suppose when you do stuff for a buddy, you reward is you know in your heart that you saved a life.

    Nuff said. I want from being a QM3 to being a lawyer. Tom O’Boyle (base JAG Officer) was a tremendous influence on me. I miss him. Tom died of cancer in 1975.

    • Dennis Kautz says:

      Bob, if this is the June 12, 1970 event at Cam Ranh Bay, then you were the first to arrive at the tower? You would have seen my buddy Roger Porter who eventually died of his injuries. Do you remember the name of the other guy? Thanks for your efforts that night!

    • Joe Pitner says:

      I’m sorry to hear that Tom O’Boyle died in 1975. I served with him in the Corpus Christi Legal Office in 1968-69. At that time, he did a little freelance scouting for the Kansas City Chiefs, where his dad held some kind of an administrative or coaching position. He was a great guy.

      • Bob Donald says:

        Just saw your note, Joe. Tom was an influence on me in Vietnam. I came home and applied and was admitted to law school. I called him afterwards when he was the JAG recruiter for the Navy. I met him in Washington in 1974 and he enticed me to return to active duty but I just couldn’t see it. He played football for Tulane. He died of cancer which likely was agent orange related.

  6. roger anderson says:

    I was in cam ranh bay from Oct 05, 1970-1971

    • jesse says:

      Hi, may be you can help me look for my long lost friend, his name is sp/4 Danny Escalona US army of “crazy cat squadron” during vietnam war in 1970-73

    • Wanda Barry-Garcia says:

      My brother James Michael (Michael) Barry was there 5/2/71 and KIA on 4/9/72. Any chance you knew him? Arm 510 I believe

      Thanks so much


      • Joe Coronado says:

        Wanda, my e-mail address is

      • Pete Gustin says:


        I knew your brother in Cam Rahn Bay where we were stationed with the 510th Signal Company. I was there when he was killed and helped move him after he was shot. He was, in fact, one of four men from our company who were killed that morning. From my recollection -the attack came a little after midnight and was made by a small group of Viet Cong sappers using small arms, satchel charges and grenades. The satchel charges and grenades may have been smuggled on base prior to that night and hidden in the sand dunes that made up much of the cantonment area. If you want, I can use this forum to tell you what I know of what happened to James, or I can email it to you. .

      • Stephen J. Spencer says:

        Hello Wanda,

        I was there that night and the attack was roughly after 1:00am that night, which turned out to be April 9th, 1972 from my best recollection. I am assuming you are talking about James (Jim) M. Barry of the 510th Signal Company of the 73rd Signal Battalion. I had mostly known Jerry Laws and Joe (Joseph) Szekely, whose family affectionately called him “Jody”. I knew of Jim, and most likely spoke with him, and probably helped him mail letters and packages because I worked in the Army Post Office (39th BPO) adjacent to the 510th Signal Company.

        At that time I was only 19, and over time lost contact with remembering it. Over time, the memory returned. I can say this about the 510th. They were the most heroic bunch of guys I had ever seen. James was one of them.

        God Bless you and your family.

        Stephen J. Spencer

      • Violet Szekely says:

        @ Stephen Spencer who responded to your post. I’d appreciate if you refrain from posting information pertaining to Joseph, which you have NO 1st hand knowledge of, on the internet or anywhere else! You have me confused as I have your emails where you stated you did NOT know Joseph personally. . . ? ? Please do NOT pretend to have personal knowledge of things you know nothing about. You never knew his nickname or anything else by your own admission. I am puzzled why you would do this?? To what end?? People who pretend to have knowledge only adds to the hurt & confusion of the family (such as myself) & friends, of these 4 wonderful young men who lost their lives that horrible night. We are looking for answers & praying for healing. Not good stories & tall tales. I apologize if this sounds abit aggitated, but I for one have been jerked around by people giving me false hopes that only lead to another dead end & disappointment. We’ve had enough of that for almost 40 years! I feel I speak for myself & other survivors of these 4 wonderful young men when I say, we have been looking for answers long enough. If you have nothing to offer, please do not feed on our hunger & need to know! Thank you. Someone who turely knew and loved him. Violet Szekely

      • Tim says:

        I served with your brother in Cam Ranh Bay. We worked in the Army Communications Center together. I returned home while he was on emergency leave due to his fathers death. I never got to say good bye to him.

      • i knew your brother i was his sgt i know he is heaven please let me know if you rec this

  7. jimhovious says:

    iwas at cam rahn bay sept677-sept68. i worked at the ammo revon. line ran by 174 ar

  8. miller lindsay jr says:

    Got to cam rahn bay mar 7 1970 work at depot and was a gunner on convoy’s

    • Violetta Szekely says:

      Were you there April 9th 1972? Would you please email me at Thank you so much.

      • Stephen Spencer says:


        Seems I have to respond to this post because your 11/27/2011 post above does not allow a reply. Violet, you are NOT Violet Szekely and were never married to Joseph Szekely. You are using his name. I have confirmed this with his family. I have tried to be as kind as possible to you on this matter. His family wishes you leave Joseph’s memory to rest. It is true I knew little of Joseph, but I knew some from serving in the company along side his. That may be somewhat more than what you knew about him. I am sure you had some kind of attachment to him in the past long ago, but now it is time to move on and set him free. This is the wish of his actual family. I wish you the best.

  9. john pineapple logan says:

    looking for my good buddies in 36 transportation bn.1966-1967 aloha.

  10. Frank Taxiera ABH3 says:

    I was there that night! I was at the Operations Building when we got hit. M16’s and flak jackets were slid on the floor towads us as the explosions and small arm’s fire were going off around us. I took cover under our “Follow Me” truck. I earned my Combat Action Award that night.

    • Dennis Kautz says:

      Frank, I assume you are talking about the NAF incident? I was there also. My buddy, and a member of our ground support division, Roger Porter, was the sailor who died of his injuries sustained while in the tower. I can remember doing the building to building search that night. I have pictures of the bloody footprints of one of the zappers.
      Dennis Kautz, ASE 2

      • Diane Fowler Crist says:

        My brother also has a pic of the foot print. I saw it for the first time about 3 yrs ago. Like so many he never talked much about his time there. I found the story about the snapper attack by typing in the date that was on a plaque given to him by the men he served with. I printed the story and after he read it he showed me some pictures. He too said it was a long night searching.
        Thank you, God Bless and Welcome Home.

    • MARK says:

      Please tell me which branch of service you were with & unit. I’m a Nam Vet.

  11. Matthew Iacovelli says:

    First I would like to correct something in my story it says 1979 it should say 1970 As I was in Dong Ba Thin from January 1970 to November 1970. The other thing I would like to say there are several of my buds who served in DongBaThin I am in touch with now. Mike Coffey who is now a district court judge in Omaha . Blaine Foss who is retired federal employee in North Dakota,Alan Toy who is in Florida,Danny Bess, Fangman,Swannie Swanson we were all in Headquarters Company 18th Engineer Bde. If you know us or want to contact us my email is I am Matt Iacovelli. I would be happy to put you on to anyone of us that you know. To all Welcome home and to all may your veterans day be peaceful this year 2009. Today is October 30th 2009 . Peace brothers and may you feel good today..

  12. john hoellerich says:

    i was there that was sheer terror…few weapons…some great luck by a few walking to security with a automatic weapon.. a long night of searching the base for the enemy,I.. have some photos from the next morning. i will never forget it. I usualy am on guard duty at the main gate..but i was off that night,,but I saw it all and lived to tell about it.

    • Wanda Barry-Garcia says:

      Please help me understand. Was the attack on April 9th, 1972 the second of such attacks on Cam Ranh Bay? The stories sound so similar as what has been relayed to me on that long night in 1972. My brother Michael Barry (James Michael) was KIA that night and I am trying to research the events.

      Thanks for any information you can supply


      • Joe Coronado says:

        Hi Wanda,
        I did not know your brother but I was stationed (My 4th tour) in Cam Ranh Bay from March of 1971 to Mar of 1972 with one platoon that was left from D company 1Bn 51st Inf that was left to pull security over certain places in Cam Ranh Bay. I was told in May of 1972 that the VC with NVA (North Vietnamese army) overran Cam Ranh Bay. I don’t know how many American soldiers were killed but some were killed while they were asleep. I would like to tell you more but not on this site Wanda. Email me for more information. Your brother was a hero even if I did not know him.
        Take care God Bless,

      • Larry Bahr says:

        Whats your email address Joe Coranado mine is

      • Tom Garcia says:

        Yes. Second attack. First was as I recall in 1969. Google “Sapper attack Cham Rahn Bay”

      • Dominic ( Don ) says:

        I was also station at Cam Ranh Bay 09/17/1971 till 09/17/1971
        I was at the 6th Convalescent Center

        Looking for some else that was there.

    • Larry Bahr says:

      John my Email catfishlars@gmail I have a uestion

    • Wayne McCollum says:

      john ,I would like to see the photos you have ,I have several myself .I was the guy on radio watch that morning and the guy behind the wall with the flares returning fire from the sappers across the road.Commander Lee writes a good story but the dude wasn’t even dressed ,t shirt and slacks ,his damn shoes weren’t even tied .I had to run in to the hut and get the guy a flak jacket and helmet.I was told they put me in for a medel and promotion which I got neither of..yea,that was a real long night ,I spent the rest of the morning rideing perimeter and stuck in the last bunker beside the runway with a dude from the Bronx who was scared shitless (like I wasn’t also,yea)..e mail me please..w

    • Violet Szekely says:

      To John Hoellerich:I lost someone very dear to me that night. Would you please contact me at Thanks. Violet Szekely

  13. john hoellerich says:

    had some trouble tracking this was originally under “google” cam rahn bay naf 1970. somehow i found it… john hoellerich

  14. Larry Evans, HTCS (ESWS) USN RET> says:

    I was there from May 68-May 69 There was mention of the sapper attach on the Army Hospital a year earlier, and the casualties being high, I distinctly remember the attack you army guys correct me if i am wrong i believe it was the 52nd conv. Hospital close to the 14 th aerial port , i visited a friend there once when i learned he was there, anyway i have searched everywhere i could think of to find information on it and have come up empty there seems to be no record that i could find about this attack and this is the first bit of information i have come across, since my memory is not as good as it use to be lol i think the casualties were somewhere around 30-50 not sure , the reason i am for this is the attack took place like two weeks before i left in country and the news in the states was like two to three weeks behind a few days after returning state side i picked up a Charlotte NC observer and our government was reporting something like 12 killed and say 10 wounded i told a friend thats not right i just left there and it was way higher than that, because the war was so unpopular they reported less casualties than there actually were any assist would be much appreciated God Bless & Welcome home !!

  15. Guy Orr YN3 USN says:

    I was stationed at the Naval Air Facility from 11/69 to 10/70 with a some TDY at the Naval Support Facility further south. My boss was LT Wilkerson and he sure had a tale to tell us after the attack. I spent the entire night crouched in a security bunker and didn’t see a damn thing until the next morning.

  16. Dave Hamilton says:

    Cmdr. Lee states in the article of a sapper attack on a military hospital the year before, apprx 1969. in Cam Rahn Bay.
    I remember it happening on the north end of the peninsula at the 6th CC (Convalescence Hospital).
    I was stationed at the 109th QM (Air Delivery) CRB when the sappers sneaked in thru the wire from the ocean an ran freely thru the compound with their satchel charges and blew up some hootches with recuperating GI’s within and the chapel. They escaped thru the wires and off into the oceans darkness in their sampans. This made Walter Cronkite’s evening news I was told in a letter from the “world.”

  17. […] did not recognize non combat units or red crosses, and they were instructed on how to use weapons in case their hospitals or clinics were over run or attacked.Similarly, there were nurses at Bataan who were evacuated before the surrender to the Japanese in […]

  18. Henry Debord says:

    I was in Dong Ba Thin with HHC, 10th Cbt Avn Bn the night the hospital in Cam Ranh was attacked. We also were attacked at the same time and had 5 wounded including the Company Commander. Only one came back to the unit. He told us that the hospital he went to was in chaos. They were operating on people in the hallways. The sappers had thrown their charges into the hospital and machine gunners had set up outside and fired on anyone trying to escape. I never heard the total figures on dead and wounded but that was one of most well coordinated attacks that I remember in my 18 months there.

    • Wanda Barry-Garcia says:

      Good evening,

      Although you did not list dates, I am wondering if your reference is to an attach that began on April 9th, 1972? My brother James Michael Barry (Michael) was KIA on that day and was one of the first killed. I am trying to get any information I can and anyone that knew him.



  19. joe harden says:

    I was stationed at cam rahn in 71-72 in the air force. My job was base security with the 483rd security police squadron. my main post was oscar 3 along the beach line. To all who served in VietNam welcome home and may GOD bless

    • Wanda Barry-Garcia says:

      Hi Joe,

      Any chance you knew James Michael (Michael) Barry SP/4 Army 510 I believe, KIA on 4/9/72? He was one of the first KIA that night.

      Thanks for any info you can offer


      • Larry Bahr says:

        Had James been on R and R prior to attack? I knew of a guy prior to his death, not by name as we were both in a holding barracks but I had talked to him before he was killed and he was just returning from R and R

      • Violet Szekely says:

        I lost the love of my life, Sgt. Joseph Szekely, on April 9, 1972 during the sapper attack at Cam Ranh Bay. I have a pix of the 501st Signal Company as well as documentation supporting & detailing the attack that took the lives of those 4 brave young men. I will share with anyone who has a connection to that fateful night. God bless you & your famililies for your loss if one of them was ‘yours’. I would love to know if anyone can id any of the other men in the platoon pix. If you wish too correspond please contact me at my newemail address. I value everyone’s privacy & when my old email was compromised I created this new one to stay in touch with those of you with whom I have spoken with previously, and all others who wish to speak with me. Please respond to any & all my posts, communications @ szekelysangel1@gmail Thank you very much. And again, blessings to you & yours & for all who served: a heartfelt Thank you! & Welcome home!! SIncerely Violet

      • ref james m barry sp4 i was his sgt also incharge that night and was 4 men i lost that night. it is just now i know people remember that night. he was a wonder person and we had alot of conversations.i know he is in heaven. please let me know if you rec this. he was loved by all of us. the words they said to me was //we love you sgt sparhawk// my phone is 19105642252 call me anytime

    • Violetta Szekely says:

      I lost a very special person that night at CRB. Would you please contact me at Thanks so much!

      • Dennis Kautz says:

        Are you talking about the attack on June 12, 1970?

      • Violet Szekely says:

        At Dennis Kautz.. No sir. I am speaking of the attack which took place April 9, 1972. That is when Joseph Charles Szekely, James Michael Barry, Daniel Kent Kushner & Lerry D Laws were killed during the sapper attack on Cam Ranh Bay. To ALL of you who served, wheather then or another time, THANK YOU for your service & a belated, heartfelt WELCOME HOME to each of you!

    • A1C Kelvin L. Booker says:


      How are you? I was also there that night my normal post was O-18, the tallest out post we (we had to climb that 18′ tower )had, I also was part of the 483 Security Police Squadron. Were you there when the army turned over thier Ammo dump and about 1:00 a.m. the ammo dump was blown up by the VC do you remeber that night?. That night i was assigned to the POL. I was on to of the black dykes when that the army’s Ammo dump was blown up. My Sgt Teddie hurried up to pick me up because if the JP4 had of blown up I would have only 30 seconds to grt about 2 miles from that area or the fuel would have taken all the air I I sure would have been died. I cant remember Sgt Teddie Last Name but if he reads the cont act me. I have a picture of hime and I the jeep. You really couldn’t see me however ( because I am a Blackman. Sgt Teddie was a short chubby white guy with glasses, he was part of the SAT team.. Carried a M-60 machine on that post

      • Violet Szekely says:

        Sgt. Joseph Szekely was killed on April 9, 1972 during the sapper attack at Cam Ranh Bay. I have a pix of the 501st Signal Company as well as documentation supporting & detailing the attack that took the lives of those 4 brave young men. I will share with anyone who has a connection to that fateful night. Also would love if anyone else has photos they would share with me. God bless you & your families for your loss if one of them was ‘yours’. I would love to know if anyone can id any of the other men in the platoon pix. If you wish too correspond please contact me at my new email address. I value everyone’s privacy & when my old email was compromised I created this new one to stay in touch with those of you with whom I have spoken previously, and any others who wish to speak with me. Please respond to any & all my posts, communications @ szekelysangel1@gmail Thank you very much. And again, blessings to you & yours & for all who served: a heartfelt Thank you! & Welcome home!! Sincerely Violet

  20. Michael Murphy says:

    Desperatly seeking anyone who served at CamRahn Bay during Dember 1970 to June 1971, looking for buddy letters to help establish that there was shelling to establish my PTSD claim. Please respond to Thank you in advance.

    • Willie Smith says:

      Hi Michael
      For some reason I decided to look up some things in my past and found your search info. About Cam Ranh Bay, I was in Cam Ranh from July 70 to July 71 with the 670th transportation co. 32nd Platoon while there if my memory is right the Ammonition dump was blown up some time in 71, prior to that our first Sargent’s Hooch was blown up, don’t know if this helps, I recently searched on the web Cam Ranh Bay 1970 and found a YouTube video of my Company, maybe you can do the same, sorry I just found your info.

    • Willie Smith says:

      Hi again Michael
      One other thing I remember is that in the evening we would get shelling from somewhere , after returning home I saw an episode of the show M.A.S.H. Called 5 O’clock Charley that reminded me of the shelling.

  21. phil presnell says:

    I was US Army, 18th Military Police Brigade, 8th MP Group (CID) from 1970-71. I do remember the attack in the article by Cmdr. Lee. Numerous times us Army guys were invited and ate at the Officers club at the Naval Air Facility. That particular night we did not attend,fate I guess. It was really special to go there and eat on real plates instead of the fare we had on the Army side. I still remember the white china plates and coffee mugs with Navy anchor symbol. Funny how you recall things like that.

    Many of us Special Agents from the CID attended dinner there and the attack is also mentioned in a book by my previous boss Warrant Officer Herb Marlow.

    Mike Murphy, I tried to respond to your comments by email to you and it was rejected in email. Is the address correct for you?

  22. hank robinson says:

    Stationed in Dong Ba Thin 11/68-2/70.

    Last duty was picking up and delivering village labor to their doorstep 6 days a week no matter what happen the day before. Only bothered me when I was getting short. I tended to remember every enemy offensive effort.

    Part of the 18th Engineer Brigade (excess-no slot since I re-upped for a support unit), Barracked on the aviation side.

    Became a pilot on the GI bill.

    ex sp4 Robinson

  23. Doug24 says:

    I was at Cam Rhan Bat Feb 66 to Feb67. I was assigned to 12th Supply Sq. at the open storage site near the Ammo storage. We got all the supplies that went up country and down to Saigon. Our out fit worked with the Army Transportation group who made the runs to drop of material. I can’t remember much about my tour, other we than our quarters was tents and the mess hall was tent and bar club, BX. Jame Lee Taylor’s was there to make suites for anyone who wanted them.

  24. Violetta for Joseph Szekely says:

    The love of my life, Joseph Charles Szekely,was killed at Cam Ranh Bay April 9,1972. Joe was a Communications Center Specialist there from Feb 1972 until his death April 9, 1972. He was with the 510th Signal Company, 73rd Signal Battallion, 29th Signal Group, 1st Signal Brigade, US ARMY. Joe had just turned 19 in February that year and was a Spec-4 but was promoted to SGT posthumously. He was awarded the Bronze Star among other medals for whatever happened that night. We were only told “he was mortaly wounded transported to the nearest medical facility but was pronounced dead on arrival.” That is not enough of an answer for me. My Joe was from Mississippi and was so special to me. I have a son who never got to know his Dad. If anyone was there when he was killed, or if you knew my Joe PLEASE contact us at If you were there or know anyone who was Please contact us. If you have any ideas on people or places we could contact please contact us. We have waited 38 years and 5 months for our answers. Please help us. Thank you so much. Still…His girl…Violetta Szekely

    • Roger Duke says:

      Dear Violetta:

      I was a 19 year old Medical Corps 91G20, Social Work/Psychology Specialist assigned to Cam Ranh Bay Support Command’s “Project Guts” from Sep 1971 till April 1972. I was on the southern tip of the Peninsula of Cam Ranh counseling heroin dependent drug abusers who had tested positive in urinalysis and were given amnesty provided they completed our 14 day program. The Support Command was in a drawdown due to the planned withdrawal of US soldiers and turnover to the South Vietnamese. By the time March 1972 had come around, we had closed down the medical portion of our compound and we mostly pulled guard duty, along with runs to other units and an Catholic orphanage to donate medical supplies and equipment we no longer needed.

      I remember the incident involving the 510th Signal Company. I am not so sure the date was April 9th. I know it was closer to or prior to March 30, the start of the North Vietnam Army’s Easter Offensive. I was in my rack when the first explosions went off with subsequent gunfire. Putting on my boots, helmet and flak jacket, I grabbed my weapon, extra magazines of ammo and headed to my bunker on the north perimeter of the compound. It was a pretty vulnerable feeling being at the base of a brush-covered hill, listening to the gunfire and people yelling, and the “Red Alert Siren” going off. I was just hoping no one decided to have a shot at me. It was quite a night where I was, but the Alert was called off after about an hour and a half. I was so pumped full of adrenaline, that I didn’t sleep. I stayed up and talked with my buddies and speculated on what the heck had just transpired. The next day we learned that “sappers” had infiltrated and threw explosives into the 510th Signal Company’s Barracks and a number of soldiers were either killed or wounded by the blast or subsequent gunfire. I went up to mainside a day or two later and witnessed the damage to the building. The explosion caused the corners of the barracks to separate outwards on two ends. Since this was the weakest part of the building there was surprisingly little other damage structurally. A couple of the soldiers were by the 510th Company office. One with a bandaged hand didn’t say anything. In retrospect, I wish I had asked questions. Though we were told it was enemy action, and I spoke with an officer pilot about 5 years later who was there and collaborated this event, I can not find any evidence of exactly what happened. But I believe this was not an isolated incident. Reports of heavy SAPPER activity are in after-action reports all through January, February, and April, 1972. There seems to be a lack of specific detail for CRB Support Command during the early 1972 time frame. A possible reason for this is because the US Army was preparing to leave Cam Ranh and after March 30th, everything became very chaotic administratively. The North Vietnam Army launched their Easter Offensive, March 30th, pouring over 200,000 enemy troops either over the DMZ or the Western border of South Vietnam. In my own unit, I was ordered to burn medical documents and paperwork with identifying information. I believed we did this because there was a possibility (at the time) that our base could be over-runned. It wasn’t to be, thank God, but I think a lot of documents literally “went up in smoke” including all recommendations for awards, etc. Our retrograde from Cam Ranh became very hurried at this point. I was transferred to Bien Hoa and worked out of the Medical Detachment at the Drug Treatment Center, Long Binh Jail. I was rotated back to America in June 1972.

      It doesn’t surprise me that details of this incident are incomplete. Perhaps you can write the National Military Personnel Records at St. Louis and get a copies of Joe’s service records. There should be a narrative. I am sorry for your loss. Your Joe was a hero to be serving honorably and with merit during a very difficult time in our country’s history. Your story touches my heart. I hope you find some comfort from my account.


      Roger Duke

    • Pete Gustin says:


      I knew Joe when we were stationed with the 510th Signal Company in Cam Rahn Bay. For some reason, I seem to remember him as one of the “newbies,” a replacement who hadn’t been in country for very long, but one who was well-liked and had many friends. Of course the moniker “newbie” seemed to stick with somone until another replacement came in, so he could have been there for quite a while. I believe I have some pictures of him in the area of the barracks and possibly on a detail we were on to rebuild portions of defenses around some outlying sites. The attack in which he was killed came a little after midnight on April 9th and was orchestrated by a small group of Viet Cong guerillas. I would estimate that there were between 8 and 12 of them (I saw at least four but the total number is a guess). They attacked with B40s (a version of the Soviet-made rocket- propelled grenade launcher (RPG)), small arms, hand grenades, and satchel charges. Joe was one of four friends who were killed that day. I don’t remember if we sent a letter of condolence to you and your family, but please know that we were all affected by his loss. My email address is if you wish to contact me.

      Best Wishes,

      Pete Gustin

  25. larry stinson says:

    I noticed in one of the comments that warrant officer Herb Marlow had written a book about Cam Rahn Bay in 1970. i was in his unit and would like the have the book. please e-mail info.
    Thanks, Larry Stinson

    • phil presnell says:

      Larry, I think I remember you. Do you remember being in the xmas photo of the unit, 1970? I gave Herb Marlow your information request. Phil Presnell

  26. Michael Bentley says:

    I was in the Air Force 14th Aerial Port on Cam Ranh from Jan-Oct “69.
    I remember the sapper and rocket attack that I think was in Aug. Still
    have pictures of the morning after of the convelesant army hospital
    compound that was just down the beach from us. Sappers did not hit
    us but the rockets did.

  27. Joe Frey says:

    I was with the 608th Trans. Co. stationed at Dong Ba Thin from Nov 1970 – Nov 1971 working in the Armament Shop. I remember the night the ammo dump was blown at Cam Ranh Bay.

    • Al Hart says:

      I was with the 33rd Ordnance Co in country Nov 1966 – Nov 1967 we ran Area Yankee north of the Navy Base by the Special Services Beach.

  28. James Howard says:

    I have been trying to get ptsd app through and they said I couldn’t verify my stressors. Well I was there at herky Hill sep 69 – to Sep 70. I remember one evening watching a movie when the apc fired up, headed to cross highway 1 with guns blazzing, soon it was nuts. I hid behind the sandbags at the barracks and watched tracers and such for a while. I remember a gunship with the miniguns called in and firing. The problem is I don’t remember when this happened. I wonder if this is the same event I remember. I need verification I guess for the VA. Also, anyone remember a C-123 crashing on inbound just off the runway and Cam Rahn AB that year too. Iwatched it go down but don’t remember when it was. they want within a month or so….like I remember that year that well.

    Oh, welcome home everyone.

    • Richard Walsh says:

      I remember that plane crash, myself and some buddies were playing football on the beach, but I do not remember the exact day. We were one of the first to arrive. I was at Cam Ranh from April 70 to April 71. I was there when rocket attact May 8th, Sapper attack June 12, small arms fire from the village June 13th, POL attack August 30, and a few other attackes. I even remember friendly fire from the ROK’s from the mainland.
      I also have put in for PTSD and am getting the run around, even after being shot at, rocket landing about 25- 30 yards away, captured 2 men coming through the wire from the village, wounded during attack by my own K-9 dog.

  29. James Howard says:

    I just realized I didn’t include my email. If anyone remembers anything I would love to hear from you. My email is

    • keith c smith says:

      Hi! I was stationed at Cahm Rahn Bay from November 1969 to November 1970. In the k-9 of the 483SPS. My dog was Commander M217. After Viet Nam i was released from active duty. It’s funny after all these years, I still remember the k-9 dog I had in Okinawa, Kedena AIR Base. His name was Biff! And Commander in Viet Nam. My first tour was in Okinawa for 18 months. Then home to Illinois where I am from and still reside to Chanute Air Force Base near Rantoul, Illinois. It has been closed for years. I had about twelve month’s to go, then orders for Viet Nam came.
      It seems like we were rocket attacked many many times! I was 21 at the time. Scared to death! One evening on my post looking across to a monistary church, with the naval air station behind me, several VC came through the other k9 post next to mine. The other handler froze and didn’t alert HQ! They blew up towers behind me, and I believe several Navy were killed? I’m not sure about us(Air Force)? I was in the sand with Commander and firing away at them in the dark. I wa told I would be put in for a citation, but it never happened! I believe they shipped the other handler home and he was later court martciled??!! Keith

      • Richard Walsh says:

        I was there from April 1970 to April 1971 K-9 handler and yes we did receive several rocket attacks. I was also told I was to receive the Air Force Commendation for stopping two men fron coming through the wire from the village, but I never saw it. I remember that June 12th when there was a sapper attack. The next day they plowed down all the trees from the fence line next to the village and the K-9 handler was an open target. I know because I received fire from the village on June 13th. Trying to hold down a dog and take cover took some doing and because the dog was agressive, my arm now has teeth puncture scars .

  30. Carol Welch says:

    Was NCOIC of the Intensive Care Unit at the 12th USAF Hospital
    August 1968-August 1969.

    • Louis Feis says:

      did hospital get hit in 1968 Cahm Rahn Bay

      • Bob Toomey says:

        was stationed in CRB sept 67 to sept 68,with 10th Trans Bn, HQ.Co had charge of Piers, was not near Hosp., during TET VC went through hospital supposed to have shot Dr’s, Nurses, patients in bed, this I was told day after it happened, as I said was not near, but took it to be true , remember people talking about it as if they were there for rest of my tour, few things went on in south beach area when I was with 116th trans co., 10th trans Bn combined motor poole but would be stunned if any was put on any report

  31. Joe says:

    My 4th tour was stationed in Cam Ranh Bay. I was told that in 1972 that Cam Ranh Bay was overunned by the enemy? Is this true and if ot is, where can I find the information? Thanks

    • Wanda Barry-Garcia says:

      Hi Joe,

      April 9th,1972 it was in fact overrun. I am trying to pull as much information as I can and would be happy to share this. My brother Michael (James Michael) Barry was KIA along with 3 other fellow soliders. He was awarded the Bronze Medal as I believe at least one other was as well. I am trying to research this as this is a memorial being considered for him in our home town. I would love to see this honor and would like to put the puzzle pieces together after all these years.

      Warm regards,


    • Roger Duke says:

      I had heard same from buddy in Europe. Must have been a premature press release. All I know is that when they hit us on April 9th, those who had their “illegal weapons” close by (the army leadership locked up most weapons in the armory) reacted as American heros, went to their posts and stood ready to “get some.” Thank God there were enough warriors out there who took care of business.

  32. wayne McCollum says:

    Commander did a great job of writing this story,lot of it fiction though,i was the guy behind the wall with the slap flares,and was the one who handed him the flare that he didn’t know how to use,thats why he got powder in his eyes,lucky he didn’t blow his on head off with it and yes I was armed with an M-16 and a 45 which he evidently didn’t see .More fiction,he was not fully dressed ,T-shirt and trousers and shoes,like in officer type shoes that were not laced either,remember that cause I’m very tall and that wall was very short so my head was down a lot.I would shoot a flare ,look over the wall and return fire form sappers across the road.The sappers had moved down the road ,not directly across from us any more so I started to run to the other wall when the Commander pulled me back down ,told me to get him a helmet and flak jacket and stay put.Thats what I did till Bob Donald got there,he went up the tower immediately ,then I got to the other wall and away from this unarmed occifer in a t shirt,All of this started at almost exactly 0110,not 0130,i know,i was the dude on radio watch and had just got thru with a radio check of the perimeter towers and stations .He did get the satchel charges right on though,I crawled to the front and only door to get out of that little room ,after i hit the red button and collected a full clip for the 16 which was hard to find,they were scattered all over the floor of the radio room where all weapons were kept.Whatever hit us was loud and powerfull cause it knocked me out of my chair and all the weapons and ammo down off the wall .The first person there was my Master Chief,black man and very large dude,if it had been anyone else they would have more’n likely been shot ,i couldn’t get out for the satchel charges blowing the door back in my face so i backed against the wall ,on the floor with the 16 aimed that way,a short white man would have been shot coming thru that door.I was scared .no damn lie about that.In fact ,the MC told me later he thought I was dead cause he actually had to step over me to get thru.Thats when I went to the wall and the Commander came up later .

    • Wanda Barry-Garcia says:


      Thank you so much for you account. I must be honest that I am still lost as what you are describing to me are some details that were shared of the night on April 9th, 1972. You seems very knowledgeable and good memory of detail. Can you please tell me if the attack I am searching for is a second similar attack on Cam Rahn Bay? My brother Michael (James Michael) Barry was KIA on that night and I am trying to gather information on the details.

      Thanks so much and much appreciate some corrections here.


      • Roger Duke says:


        I have tried to find after action reports regarding incident on April 9, 1972, at Cam Ranh Bay regarding 510th signal company. If you can find official information let me know. I can tell you this, a serious event happened, soldiers were killed and wounded. That is the truth.

      • wayne McCollum says:

        Wanda,this attack took place in the early morning of June 12,1970,2 days before my 21st birthday,i was not there in 72 ..

      • Pete Gustin says:


        I knew James when we were stationed with the 510th Signal Company in Cam Rahn Bay and was there during the attack that took his life. The attack was made by a small group of Viet Cong guerillas using small arms, B40s (a version of the Soviet-made rocket-propelled grenade launchers (RPGs), satchel charges, and hand grenades. They seemed to be well organized as they were able to inflict quite a lot of damage in a very short time. James was one of four of my friends who died that day. I don’t remember if we sent a letter of condolence to your family after the attack, but please know that all of his friends were very affected by his loss. One of the few things I actually remember from James’ and my undoubtedly very immature conversations was his wanting to become a lawyer. I was impressed but for the next few days he became known by most of the guys in the platoon as “Boston Lawyer.” My email address is Best wishes. Pete

      • Wayne McCollum says:

        Wanda ,this event took place on the morning of june 12,1970 ,not in 72 …w

      • Dennis Kautz says:

        Wanda, this is confusing. Cam Ranh Bay was a sprawling base. The attack I am familiar with occurred June 12, 1970 at the Naval Air Facility. The only KIA that night that I am aware of was Roger Porter, a aviation electrician with the Navy hometown South Dakota, a good friend of mine. There must have been another attack two years later at a different base of which you are referring.

      • Pete Gustin says:

        The second attack took place on April 9, 1972. I remember it as being conducted by a team of Viet Cong sappers but was recently told by an individual working at the Signal Regiment Historian’s office at Fort Gordon, GA, that it was actually a group of North Vietnamese (a difference that’s important only if one is a historian). They went on to attack an ammo dump that same night.

  33. Louis Feis says:

    did CAM RAHN GIT HIT IN1967?

  34. Joe Coronado says:

    Does anyone know anything about Co D 1st Bn 51st Infantry which was stationed in Cam Rahn Bay during 1971-72?

  35. Don Groom says:

    I was the executive officer of the 611th Ordnance Company (AMMO) in Cam Ranh Bay through mid-April of 1972. Our unit ran the ammunition supply point (ASP) or ammo dump at Cam Ranh. Security for the perimeter of the ammo dump was the responsibility of D Company/17th Infantry. Their barracks were right next to ours. The attack being discussed hit the barracks/units about three buildings down from ours. I was the company duty officer that night and remember the flashes and thuds of the explosions. My first reaction was that it was artillery being fired across the bay but I instantly realized that it was coming from the wrong direction. Everyone scattered for the bunkers after that and I looked after securing the area. I don’t remember the exact date of the attack but April 9 sounds about right. It was a week before I was to leave for Long Binh and the trip home. Cam Ranh was NOT overrun. That is an exaggeration. It was a sapper attack that caused damage (I have pictures of the buildings), injuries and deaths. In addition to the attack on our units the VC also hit the ammunition pier and the ammo dump. Fortunately a ship that was tied up at the dock pulled away before the charge went off. We watched our ammo dump burn in the distance. Only one week earlier we had turned control of it over to the South Vietnamese Army and we were done with it. Therefore no US personnel were on site. Wanda, I am so sorry to hear that your brother was one of those who was killed. I don’t know how much more I can tell you about what happened in your brother’s unit area or what might have happened to him. I only know of what occurred in our unit area and with our men. Like others who have made comments in this string of messages, I have not been able to find any mention of those events in discussions of action in that time period. Perhaps there are more detailed official accounts that I have not yet found. Anything that I have read is of a general nature about action across the country at that time.

    • Don Groom says:

      For clarification, this string of emails discusses two attacks at Cam Ranh. My comments refer ONLY to the one in April 1972.

      • Larry Bahr says:

        If it is possible and he is still with us I would like to get some verification from you about the sapper attack which happened on April 9 1972 at Camh Ranh Bay Vietnam During the Easter Offensive for a CRSC Claim I am filling with the VA, I was living in the Transient Barracks in the Army cantonment area waiting to get transferred to Pleiku,my unit the 524QM had stood down and went back to the states and I was heading for LSAP at Camp Halloway to be a Fuel Tanker driver for the rest of my tour, I ended up retiring from the NDak Air Nat Guard as a Tech SGT and sustained injuries during the attack.

      • Larry Bahr says:

        MY email is

    • Roger Duke says:


      I read your account and it collaborates my limited but 1st hand knowledge. I was a medic assigned to the Support Command’s Drug Rehab Program at Cam Ranh. Your narrative is what I experienced. I was one of those gungy medics who had an M16 under the mattress. So I was at the ready when the attack occured April 9, 1972.

      Later, after college I received a commission in the US Marine Corps. I retired in 1997.

      Your memory sounds a heck of a lot better than mine. Would like to hear from you.

      Semper Fi!

      Roger Duke

  36. Roger Duke says:


    I read your account and it collaborates my limited but 1st hand knowledge. I was a medic assigned to the Support Command’s Drug Rehab Program at Cam Ranh. Your narrative is what I experienced. I was one of those gungy medics who had an M16 under the mattress. So I was at the ready when the attack occured April 9, 1972.

    Later, after college I received a commission in the US Marine Corps. I retired in 1997.

    Your memory sounds a heck of a lot better than mine. Would like to hear from you.

    Semper Fi!

    Roger Duke

  37. Glenn L. Baker says:

    I was at 6th Convalescent Center from June to July 15, 1969, transferred to 24th Evac. for surgery and returned to 6th CC in late July 1969. I survived the August 11th attack because of a overseas phone call on the MARS system. However I wasn’t so lucky on August 24th when the basketball court took a direct hit from a mortar fired from the South China sea allegedly and I received shrapnel in the right thigh along with several other patient G.I.’s, we were all transferred to 12th Evac in Na Trang and from there evacuated to Camp Zama in Japan. I served with the 1st Air Cav. 5th Bn 7th Cav out of Quan Loi. I had a couple of nicknames “Young Blood” and “Omar”

    • MARK MITCHELL says:

      Glen do you recall that beautiful nurse Captain Linda Gail Boddie??
      I was in Ward L. I never missed a chance to be in the rack when she would come through rolling her pill cart~!! All these years I’ve thought of her and always will. Most gorgeous woman I ever saw in combat boots~!! I simply wan t to tell her THANK YOU for all you did for us. I Love those nurses, medics & docs~! Captain Boddie was married to a doctor there at the 6th. I was there for the assault, left for battalion the next day. It was a rough night. Blue pajamas, sand crabs & some army bozos trying to get us to do PT in that sand~!! That did not work out very well~!! Took a lot of years to get past the dreams of those gooks running through us.

      Welcome Home

  38. Glenn L. Baker says:

    I was at patient at 6th CC from July to August 25, 1969. I survived the August 11th sapper attack because of a overseas phone call on the MARS system. However on August 24, 1969 when the Hospital was mortared, I received a sharpnel wound and along with other wounded G.I.’s were were evacuated to 12th Field Hospital in Na Trang, and then to Japan and ultimately to CONUS. I served with the 1st Cav, A-5/7. I had two nicknames “Young Blood” and Omar. I now live in New Jersey.

  39. randy elliott says:

    I was at naf cam rahn bay from april 1971 to jan 1972 in weapons/
    security division and member of quick reaction team. iwas bm 3rd
    class when i got out of navy jan 1972.

  40. Gary Schneck says:

    I was at Cam Rahn 67-68 the last 3 or 4 months i was at Dong Ba Thin.I left in Sept 68.My company.D 87 engineers,left for Phu bi I think.I don’t know what happened to them

    • thuy-Nancy says:

      I was born in Cam Rahn Bay over a month early on June 10 1070. My heart goes out to all of you! Thank you for letting me see these photos (Lawrence). Rhonda, I am truely sorry for your loss and know your loss far to well. I had “three fathers” who served the “ARMY” Father #1 “in-law” for 20 years, Father #2 “My Adopted
      Dad” who saved me in 23 Dec 1974″ Father #3 “natural father”. After 38 years laters Im the one helping him recover. (War is bad not the people) Father #1 and Father #2 Died two years ago from Cancer in my arms.
      I call all the ones who served “My Army” The Men/Women who served for our country are forever more “MY Hero’s”. My mom is Viet/Cambodian worked in the “Officers Club” with her 2 sisters and two best friends. They all made it to the US, eventually with my birthday mother last. I’ve been writing “5 books- and stuggling with my emotions and facts, while still researching my connections. I’m in the process to release them one by one after 2012. For me it’s not money it’s their legacy of how I was built. If you want to share in your and add to your husband’s legacy or anyone else. I would love to here story’s. I’m alive with a “past” but brilliantly survived and had 5 beautiful children. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for your husbands and wives who served. Peace be with you. Thuy

  41. Ricahr Goguen says:

    I was in the 155th trans. co at Cam Ranh Bay the whole year of 1970. We received a lot of rocket attacks. One in particular hit a POL jetty and the explosion was incredible. We went into the bunker except for one guy who was passed out drunk on the floor. A rocket came through the roof of our barracks and did not explode, right near the guy who was passed out. God really watched over that guy. The huge attack at the hospital was definitely in 1969 because we heard all about it when we got there.
    Would love to hear from anyone I served with. I e mail regularly to Walter Prothro who was our commander at the time.We lost a person by the name of Terry Billings that year.

  42. Ricard Goguen says:

    Typo, my name is Richard not Ricahr

  43. Ricard Goguen says:

    My e mail is

  44. Art ''budwei'' says:

    Was ATN in the ”vans” at NAF CRB RVN apr’70 to ’71

  45. Dennis Kautz says:

    It would be good to hear from any aviation support Navy personnel who served at the NAF Dec 1969 – Dec 1970.

  46. robert J Makarski says:

    I was with 124th trans unit alot of friends called me ski or Mac I was there on april 9th 1972, I was patrolling west side along primeter when the attack happened I remember the explosion of pol I was thown a at least a foot streight up in the air, don’t remember to much but when I got my senses back I ran as fast as I could to get back to my unit, I spent the rest of the morning in a bunker watching never seen any sappers but a lot of jeeps with mounted 60’s and armored vehicels and driving at high rate of speed looking for enemy, it was one of the nights I will never forget as this was when my tinitus started. would anyone in my unit remember the night we were on an ambush patrol and 2 sandpans crept just about on top of us we opened fire, one sandpan got away and we called in for a gun ship as the 2 sappers jumped in the water the chopper picked them up and turned them over to me and Jerry Baize cannot find him either or if pilot or door gunner could remember that day. and one more I cannot figure out date but I believe we were attacked by sappers some time in jan. 1972 do not know day. but the next morning they had a squad go into my kay looking for any thing suspisious. would be glad to hear from some one even if only a little info, God bless you all My Brothers and Sisters it is a time that is etched in my mind I know alot of you had it much worse but i still relive these times over and over

  47. miller lindsay says:

    When i was in Cam Rahn Bay Mar 7 1970 till feb 23 1971 There was a number of rocket’s and sapper attacks. One I can think of we were getting on trucks in a red alert rockets came raining down and we had to run to bunkers.Another time our mess hall was blown up not far from our hoochs. We was on the hill from the club and PX down the hill.And at the Depot sappers were running all over the place one night I was on the truck going back for midnight chow and they ran past the truck I was on. Yes some say Cam Rahn was easy duty you cant tell me that.

  48. Joe Lee says:

    Weird. On June 12, 1970 I had four days to go in country and don’t remember a thing about this attack. Maybe I was drunk or something since I didn’t work for the last week I was at Cam Ranh.

  49. s oliver says:

    My grandfather was the Battalion S-3 of the 10th combat aviation battalion at Dong Ba Thin in 67-68.

    I’ve read extensively on the Tet Offensive, and he has always just told me a very basic outline of what happened at Dong Ba Thin the night it all kicked off. Along the lines of “some sappers slipped through, blew up some hueys, and were killed in the process”.

    I know there has to be more to the story, if anyone has a first hand account, Id love to hear it.

    PS, though it may be 40 years later, still, welcome home! You answered the call, and hopefully the new generations can erase the wounds from your return. You are all heroes!

  50. peter a lindke ase3 says:

    dennis kautz i really do remember you. i even have a picture of you. i was stationed at NAF Can Ranh Bay from may 1970 to april 1971. when i first arrived at the base, i was assigned to a watch witch assigned me to the main gate tower each duty night from midnight to four am. shortly before 6/12/70, i was reassigned to mess duty taking rogers place. he in turn got my usual spot at the main gate tower, at the same hours.not easy to forget.i remember the night before you left we had another rocket attack, and you were sure it was aimed at you. glad to see you survived. after cam ranh i was stationed aboard uss ranger cva-61 during overhaul, after witch we returned to the south china sea for the last round against north vietnam.

  51. Dennis Pointer says:

    Don, I was with the 290th QM Det and our hooch was just behind and katy cornered from the 510th and near you guys. You are correct – it was a brief but deadly sapper attack . the next day the ROK troops tried to loot the blown hooches – one of our guys (who is in the Wisconsin softball fast pitch hall of fame) chucked a grapefruit at one of the ROK’s and nailed him in the head. We were lucky we had just moved into that hooch as our old one was right on the road and was also hit –

  52. Bob Donald says:

    Wayne. You OK???

  53. keith c smith says:

    Just found these articles on the Cam Rahn Bay Attack in 1970
    I was sationed there from Nov1969, to Nov1970! I was a K9 hander with the Security Police .My dog Commander and I were out on the pereminter that evening and early morning. The VC came between my post and the post to my right. The K9 handler down on my right saw them sneek through his line! He froze and did nothing about alerting our forces on his CB! I believe he was later court martialed?
    When things around me were going crazy? Gunfire at my feet etc. I called in and asked if the tower behind me was firing at me? It was negative!! In a prone position I fired at the incoming vc, until my AR jammed! Lt there later said I would be put in for a medal which never happened! Glad to have survived! I was in k9 at Kadena AFB in Okinowa in 1967-1968.

  54. richard Doc Lamothe HM3 says:

    Here it is 44 yrs later and I still wonder. Who they were? I was a NAF corpsman from March 1969 to sept. 1970. I worked out of the dispensary in the admin/post office/ ships store building. We had a small lab, a pharmacy and held sick call every morning mon-fri. Someone was always on duty for emergencies. We corpsman all ten of us gave everybody there shots for in country and to get home. We had a warrent officer and a second class PO looking out over us. During my tours we had two docs dr fisher and I can’t remember the other docs name. Both great and were great when the shit hit the fan. It was voluntary to go out to danbatin, myca village and a couple others for med caps, trying to treat various illnesses and wounds. Mike Antle and knisley and myself were always out there. There were thirty rocket attacks during my tours and one sapper attack through the front gate. One time I took the ambulance down to the army hosp. down the road to see a wounded high school friend john Arbuckle. I brought him one of my uniforms and helped into the ambulance to come to our base NAF to see a movie and have a beer. He saved some guys by kicking a grenade away but not before it removede part of his lower leg. He was shipped out a week before the major sapper attack on the hosp. During the rocket attacks my job was to get one of the ambulances down to the chow hall were we set up a triage area. Then we take injured to the dispensay to patch up for transport to the AF base. While taking Rockets Me and two stretcher bearers went out to treat a casualty. I found our man on the ground with multiple life threatening wounds from schrapnel. After this was over I cleaned up our fallen brother and escorted him to the AF base via our ambulance. The new christy minstrels were on base that night before the action. The base chaplain rode with us to the AF hosp. I will never forget his words. In the darkness of the ambulance he said\ I hope saw the show\. Please if anyone can tell the name of the fallen soldier plpease let me know. Unfortunately I cannot remember his name. I believe he had just arrived and was covering someone elses duty. I have another request. I was awarded the navy marine corps medal for an action that oocurred off base. It involved a 6 by rolling over onto two guys. One I got out alive but with multiple injuries. Put him on a AF jeep to the hosp. Went back and finally retried the other sailor who had been pinned under the burning truck. He was mortally wounded but again as soon as I could I transported him to the AF hosp. Never got info on who they were. As for the sapper attack I have an unsung hero in HM3 Parker. He was on duty that night and opened fire on the enemy then went to rescue and treat the wounded in the tower. He should have recieved recognition for that. I could keep writting tons more but maybe another time. All I can say is, I served with terrific guys from all areas of NAF. I will live with these memories till I die no matter how painful they may be. God Bless and heres to us a deserving memrial day to all who served

    • richard Doc Lamothe HM3 says:

      I must correct the number of rocket attacks to thirty eight. I kept track on my webbing on my helmet. thanks

  55. paul leary says:

    Hello Jim
    I was in Nam sep 67-68 was with 606 ordnance company. I think 174 was part of us.

  56. Don says:

    Sorry for the delayed response. I just saw your post. The ROK’s had a reputation as ruthless fighters but I guess the attempted looting shouldn’t suprise me. All I ever heard from guys stationed in Korea was how the Koreans were such thieves.

  57. Bob Donald says:

    Guy. We were there during the same time. Write me. Bob

  58. Bob Donald says:

    Richard. I was there during the attack. The fallen sailer’s name was Roger Porter. You will see his name on the wall in Washington. The Vietnam article Is wrong in a number of places. Roger was alive when I got to him. He would die later. He took Chuck Kilpatrick’s place that night. Chuck now lives in Des Moines, Iowa. Corpsman Butch Evans is alive and well in Santa Cruz per our lifeguard friend Jim Koskinas in Santa Fe. I remain a country lawyer in Louisville, KY.

  59. Dennis Kautz says:

    Roger was in our aviation support shop. He was an electrician. From South Dakota. Been in country about 3 months. Great kid. Funny how I think of him as a kid as he was a little older than me. I am 65 now. Bob Donald, maybe you can email me and tell me more about what you saw that night. If you YouTube NAF Cam Ranh Bay you can see what is left of the base today. I would like to go back one day.

  60. rich lamothe doc says:

    Bob it looks like my last mail did not go through. I was asking about someone else whom I went out for during a rocket attack. He was dying and died in my arms from multiple schrapnel wounds. The rocket hit between the korean dry cleaners and the hangers. One hit in front of my dispensary and peppered my ambulance. I knew Butch well. We surfed down at market time together. There was another guy from hawaii. They sent for their boards. I made mine from the lifegaurd surfboard at the pool. Had all the stuff I needed for the build from equipment and supplies for swift boats. There was another time I had responded to a wreck off base with two injured from our base. I didn’t get their names either. One I got out of the burning 6 buy and passed off to a air force jeep to take him to the hosp. The other was pinned and his leg was on fire. I got in with him and got the fire out but the truck had rolled onto him and he was crushed. They lifted the truck and I pulled him out. I have always wondered about these guys, who they were. There were others from other rocket attacks with minor wounds. I was there for a year and a half . March 69 to sept. 70. Did a lot during that time and saw a lot. Being young and stupid didn’t help. Wish I could have gotten to keep some contact with the guys I was with but I think at the time I just wanted out of there. If any of your contacts remember anything please let me know so I can put some of this to rest. Thanks Rich Lamothe Doc HM3

  61. Steve Seldomridge says:

    Frank, I too was stationed at NAF CRB. On the night of 6-12-70, I and Ed Jones, we’re in one of the towers. While watching our perimeter, we saw the whole scenario play out. We also worked on the flight line and out of the Ops building. Our CO was Lt. Mikesell and CPO Bacon was our chief. I was also there when John Fritter was killed on 11-14-69, and was there when he was pronounced dead. I have applied for Combat Action Ribbon, and have been denied. How did u go about getting yours? Did we work together? I mostly worked flight line, and drove fuel truck. If u receive this please reply & send me your e-mail. Steve Seldomridge, 10-4-69 to 9-1-70.

  62. Bob Donald says:

    Steve. Not sure the protocol of Combat Action Ribbon. I got one when I was there. Never got a Bronze Star or anything else despite climbing up the tower to try to save two guys. And calling in the CB’s cherry picker to load the bodies into the bucket. This has plagued me for year. The memory. I could have cared less about medals when I was 21; however, at the ripe age of 67, I fairly believe what I did was worthy of a Bronze Star. But … officers put you in for that stuff, not enlisted men or individuals. ‘Nuff said.

  63. William E Zimmerman says:

    I was with IUWG-1 Unit 2 Cam Ranh Bay 12/15/69 to 11/15/1970. On the afternoon of June 11, 1970 my Skimmer patrol was call to go north of the Bridge to check out a anchored boat off of the area beside the NAS. This boat is a 2 man patrol craft. This was well north of our normal patrol area. We got to the area and located the fishing boat anchored about 75 ft from the bank. As we slowly circled the boat a explosion happened lifting out boat out of the water. My skipper was able to hold on to the wheel and gunned the engine. I landed and dislocated my thumbs and cut my head a little. We reported by radio and HECP sent another boat to assist US. The explosion was command detonated from the NAS side. We saw nothing and departed the area. Later that evening we got a call for 2 boats to go back to a possible swimmer sighted in the water. Shortly following that radio call NAS gate was attacked. We arrived about 15 or 20 minutes into the attack. We were in line of each skimmer with about 30 yard spacing. The lead boat had flares above them and saw a swimmer in the water and radioed to the second boat. The skipper of the 2nd boat slowed and popped a flare a saw the swimmer. The skipper grabbed the swimmer by the belt anew pulled him into the boat. The skipper fought with him and arebeat him with a hand flare till he quit fighting. He had a Ak in plastic, Explosive packs. He has got fought in a current and missed landing with the first group. We stripped him and tied him up and met the MP’s at what was called that pier. It was along night and to top it off the army choppers made a gun run the next morning on due to messed up ID. We were Lucky. I have pictures of that AK 47.

  64. Dennis Kautz says:

    Peter. If you can scan that picture and send it I would like to see it. Just got in touch with a couple other guys from the AS shop, jack Wagner and Dennis Garvey. So many years ago. Email is

  65. Will Crawford Jr says:

    My father was stationed there during the attack. His post was Oscar 29. I think he was an MP. He talks about the attack on the Ammo dump from time to time. He would love to see any pictures that any of you may have. He would also like to be in contact with any of you fellow air force vets. Are there any other forums that any of you log into to chat? His name Willard Crawford Sr. and his email is:

    • willard crawford says:

      my son posted this for me on yesterday. I was security policeman with the 483rd sps in cam ranh bay from may 1971 to april 1972. I was at cam ranh on august 25 1971 when the ammo dump was blown. sure would like to hear from some of you guys and we might be able to get together.

  66. James Howard says:

    I was stationed at CRB air force sept 69 to sept 70. My memory is worthless but I have tried many times to find anyone remembering when an attack happened there, that resulted in a minigun ship arriving and all. I remember a huge fire south of us (I was on herky hill). just remembering and wondering is all.

  67. Richard Taylor says:

    I just found this article. I was there at that time. I knew the first class that grabbed the m16 and the sailor that had been with the girl at the time of attack. it was one our planes from vp 48 that was damaged. There was minor damages on 1 or 2 more from shrapnel

  68. James D. Schlanger says:

    I just discovered this site and am glad I did. I have had no contact whatsoever with fellow sailors since my didcharge. I was stationed at the Naval Air Facility at Cam Rahn Bay from 6/3/69 until 5/28/70. I was an AX3 and worked on aircraft IFF gear in the trailers near thr hanger. I missed the assault on the base by two weeks. Some of the names that I remember were Larry Roberts from Slippery Rock, Pa. , Steve Lehman from Philadelphia, Bernie Dyson, Roger (last name unk.) From California. I am from Pittsburgh, Pa.. I am a 100 per cent disabled vet from exposure to agent orange. Would love to hear from anyone there at any period of time but especially my period of duty. Thanks. Jim

  69. CJ LeBlanc says:

    Hi Will,
    I M CJ LeBlanc

    I was with Transportation Squdrn and slated to leave the NEXT day on a C144!
    1/2 mile from bomb dump across open at the hosp.
    STILL hear boom ba ba booms as sure in sp’s YOU know all about it.
    i hv Not talked to Anyone who was there except on plane ride back to th World. Eager to hear from You!!
    CJ (314) 603-7894

  70. CJ LeBlanc says:

    Hi Will
    I was There and supposed
    to leave next day on bird back to th world
    made it out ok
    still hear boom bbaba booms nites
    not vry employable
    bus. Owner
    how r U
    sp’s had birds eye view right?!
    Hv not aspokn to anyone since c144 out
    hope u can reply!
    Cj leBlanc (314) 603-7894

  71. Douglas Schettler says:

    I was stationed at DTC and was a Medical Records Clerk and drove the patients to and from the airport. I just found out 42 years later that our compound was over run. I left on April 7th and was discharged April 8th. I would like to hear from others stationed there at that time.

  72. michael s neighbors says:

    im finally filling out a claim form for the VA, i was in camrahn bay, sept 71 to may 72, this form believe it or not wants to know who died on the 9th of april, during the easter offensive, they are trying to say we werent in a combat area, this is very sad for them to ask, any one else there?

    • Pete Gustin says:

      It’s strange that anyone in the VA would determine that Cam Rahn Bay was not in the combat zone. Four members of the 510th Sig Co, Daniel Kushner, Joseph Szekely, Jerry Laws, and James Barry, were killed during the attack on April 9th, 1972.

  73. Tim Busch says:

    I served in 510th Signal Company with your brother Jim. I left Viet Nam while he was home on emergency leave due to his father passing away. Your brother was a great guy and I think of him every day. I do not know the circumstances of his death. Would you be willing to share them with me?

  74. Roger Duke says:

    What unit were you with? Who’s saying Cam Rahn Bay wasn’t a combat area? Check out how many USA Service members died or were injured during the period you reported being in country. Very significant when you look at the context. Peace talks, Pacification and Vietnamization of the combat mission. This is why awards were not given and the false narrative of not in combat was told to American public. On April 9th, 1972, several members of 510th Signal Company were injured. Four were KIA. I was there. And it was utter chaos for about an hour and a half. We stayed at our posts all night. The ammo dump also got hit. Good luck on your claim. Hope you’re taking care of yourself and get to your nearest Vet Center. You’ll find other combat vets who will have your back.

  75. Bob Donald says:

    Doc. Was HM3 Parker an African American? I say this because I was first up in the tower. I thought Chuck Kilpatrick was on duty and went to save him after hearing the voices on the radio calling for help. I went to the top … called in the CB’s and a cherry picker … loaded the bodies into the bucket … and remained the rest of the night. There was only one other person in the blown up tower. Besides me. What did I get? Totally nothing. Except Kilpatrick switched duty that night so I didn’t \save\ him! I curse him for risking my life to help an absentee buddy.

  76. MARK says:

    Phil I am attempting to assist former Sp4 Len Kampf of the 630th MP Company at Cam Ranh. Len is a great guy and AO has had a devastating affect upon his life and his 31 year old son~!! Please contact me or Len & if the latter, please CC me in that commo??!!~~~~~
    THIS IS REALLY A COINCIDENCE~! I have seen your name in an investigation I’ve been working for almost 2 years. I found Len by posting on the 630thMP website for info. I am also in contact w/3 other men of the 630th~!!~~Perhaps you recall the triple murder of troops at the House of Jacks EM/NCO club at DBT, night of 3 Nov 71?? One of those men, Sp4 Errol Kent, served in my unit, 183rd Recon Airplane Co. \Seahorse\. The other two Alden Cook & Marvin Breisacher were w/192nd AHC. The killer Willie Bush was discharged from Army just 4 months later~!! I sure hope I hear from you!!

    Mark M.

  77. MARK MITCHELL says:

    Joe I am a vet of the 183rd RAC Seahorse @ DBT. Sounds like you arrived in time for our sapper attack night of 30 Nov 70~!! I pulled a dirty deed on one of your 608 Brothers about a month later~!! Do you recall a 608 troop returning to his quarters to find someone had ‘kiped’ his nice thick Air Force mattress plus all his linens?? Yeap, I’m that guy~! We need to talk~!! BTW, the night of 3 Nov 71, 3 troops were murdered at the House of Jacks EM/NCO Club. Do you recall that event?? I of those men was w/my unit. The other two were w/192nd AHC. I’m guessing you recall Sp4 Vern Elder, THE VOICE OF DBT TOWER?? I get commo from him time to time, been a while since the last~!!

  78. Jim Randall says:

    Hello Bob,
    Don’t know if you remember me but we emailed one another a few years back regarding the ficticious account of Cmdr. Lee.
    I was with the 483rd Security Police Sq. USAF. I was also the M 60 gunner on the patrol that ran into the sappers coming out of NAF on June, 12, 1970
    I killed the one with the AK 47 with my M 60 and scuffled (butt stroked him when my 60 jammed) with another before he ran off thru the wire. I saw the NAF tower take that B 40 right in front of us. The sapper I shot lay in the road in front of NAF until EOD came in the morning and tied a rope around his ankle and jerked him around to see if he would explode, he didn’t.
    I first read that article CMDR. Lee published in the Vietnam magazine and I contacted him and told him I knew he was embellishing his involvement.
    He wrote back and apologized. My team and I were awarded the Bronze Star w/v device for our actions that night. I have the citation and nightmares to prove it.
    Jim Randall
    483 SPS
    CRB 1970

    • Bob Donald says:

      Jim: Thanks for the note. Yup. I remember our earlier communications. Cdr. Lee did have a selective memory, He likely got several awards for his “heroism”. Plus a purple heart. PTST. The works. Compensation. For your heroism, I can say you likely saved my sorry ass since I went up in the tower to try to save those guys. Roger Porter would later die. Glad you got the bronze star. I got zippo except the satisfaction of knowing “I tried …”. Like you, I relive that night often. I still have my boots from ‘Nam and like McBeth’s wife, swear I can see blood on them. “OUT DAMNED SPOT”.

  79. Tim says:

    Can you e-mail me @ I trying to obtain information concerning the time period surrounding the attack on
    the 510th Signal Company, I had left the 510th in November 71
    and never heard about the attack.

  80. Paul leary says:

    What company were you with
    I was with 606 ord co sep 67-68

  81. Steve janke says:

    Richard Walsh
    Look us up on Facebook, k9 Friends. 483 k9 reunion this Aug in TN.
    E mail me

  82. John G. Deaton, MD says:

    I haven’t read all of the notes and the entree, but I did spend a year as a doctor at Cam Ranh Bay, and was there during the 1968 Tet Offensive. The Army base at Dong Ba Thin was overrun. Later, in Austin, I met a helicopter pilot who had sustained severe wounds there. Although I was a REMF, I did get up and go to work every day for a year, and it was no picnic. In fact, I term the Vietnam memoir I have written as the “Catch-22” of Vietnam books. It lacks the dark humor but is rollicking in parts and tells of tragedy in others. I am shamelessly hoping to get the word out to Vietnam Vets that my book honors those who served, all of them. The book is published by Kindle Publishing ( and its title is “Rockin’ in the Round-Eye Lounge.” Thanks and best wishes!
    John G. Deaton, MD (formerly Captain, MC)f

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