Fifty-Three Years Ago Today

Blog 2630 – 01.10.2023

Fifty-Three Years Ago Today…

I arrived in what was then called The Republic of South Vietnam four years later as the last of U.S. military forces exited the country North Vietnamese forces occupying the south and the country became one again.

I turned twenty years old during the eleven months that I spent in South Vietnam. I spent my last ten months as a teenager half a world away from my friends and family. I made some new friends in Vietnam and found a band of brothers that I had much in common with. I was fortunate to have a MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) and an assignment that required that my entire unit was posted on the most secure and heavily guarded base in country, Tan Son Nhat Air Base, just outside Saigon, now called Ho Chin Minh City. Davis Station on Tan San Nhat was named after the first U.S. casualty of the war – in 1961 Specialist Forth Class Davis from Tennessee an ASA radio operator. The headquarters company of the 509th Radio Research Group which was what the Army Security Agency was called in South Vietnam, was billeted at Davis Station. It was my home away from home for those eleven months and I was a teletype repairman with a Top Secret Security Clearance that allowed me to service teletype equipment at the relay station on Tan Son Nhat Airbase and at the Terminal facility on JGS Compound in Saigon. The later was like South Vietnam’s Pentagon.

I did not see a lot of the country. My plane landed in Long Bien and a smaller group of men also ASA and I rode in a deuce and a half (a two and a half ton truck) to the Saint George Hotel in Saigon where we stayed a few days till we were assigned to various Army Security Agency posts around the country. My best buddy that I flew to Vietnam with and was stationed with for MOS training at the Southeast Army Signal School at Fort Gordon, Georgia was assigned to a tactical unit in Phu Bai up near the DMZ (the demilitarized zone that separated South Vietnam from Communist North Vietnam.) After we got our permanent duty assignments I did not see Vito again till he passed through my company at Davis Station on his way home to Detroit for leave between assignments. I met him again forty-two years later when I had a work assignment to the Detroit area. What a reunion that was.

War is a terrible thing and there are no real winners just loss and tragedy enough to go around. My dad’s war was WW2. He missed the Korean War but did not really miss it if you know what I mean. To quote myself, “O that wars would end and lovers did not part.”

Your friend and fellow traveler,

David White


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