Non-combatant with the combat sound track.


TSN map
The Camp Alpha Heliport is the H, highlighted in yellow, just to the left of Camp Alpha was the 1500 area, my home during my first one-year tour.

To be clear, during my first tour, I was not issued an M-16, I did not fire a shot, I was not slogging through the jungle.  But the background sound track was a reminder that the war was near, especially at night.  C-47s or C119s, would fly a racetrack pattern around the fortified Tan Son Nhut perimeter – the drone of their engines, monotonous, all night.  Parachute flares were dropped from these aircraft.  These flares burned with a very bright orange-yellow light as they would slowly descend over the base perimeter, easier to spot Viet Cong sappers.

TSN flare
C47s or C119s flew a constant racetrack pattern over Tan Son Nhut at night, dropping  parachute flares over the heavily guarded perimeter.

Rumble of outgoing artillery, miles away.  Another distinctive sound, more felt than heard, was a rapid thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump…, sounds muffled by a great distance, always in sets of three, each set separated by 15-20 seconds.  Arc-Light strikes by cells of three B-52s, dropping their bomb load over the same area, not simultaneously but in separate carpeting barrages.

TSN arclight
The telltale bomb crater pattern from B-52 ArcLight strikes.  The 3 aircraft cells, flying in close formation, would drop their loads, separately, over 15-20 second intervals.

The Camp Alpha Army Aviation heliport was adjacent to the 1500 area.  Hueys, Chinooks, Cobras, Loaches, Bell Jet Rangers.  Constant aerial activity.  The takeoff pattern usually brought the helicopters to the north and then a sharp turn to the east, right over the north edge of the 1500 area, right over my hootch, #1510.

TSN 1510
Hootch 1510 – 12 men to a hootch.  Blast walls, open rafters, lots of cockroaches, various insects, mice and rats.  We did have showers and toilets in a separate latrine structure.

The lower level enlisted personnel assigned to 7AF and the 12 RITS were housed in the 1500 area, just east and north of the Army’s Camp Alpha Heliport.  Tin roof, open rafters, 12 men to a hootch.  The sleeping areas were divided by metal lockers set up in three separate areas.  There was electricity, everyone had a large Japanese fan to blow on them, there was a refrigerator for each hootch.  Separate from the hootches were separate latrine buildings that had showers, sinks, and real flush toilets.  When I was issued my in-country gear –  flak jacket, helmet, webbed belt – I asked, “a mosquito net?”  Sorry, we’re out of those.  While I eventually purchased the T-frame for the mosquito net, and the netting on the “black market,” I endured several months of sleeping uncovered in hootch 1510.  Nightmares that continued well into my early 50’s included cockroaches, mice, and other critters crawling on me and in my bed.

The destruction of classified material generated by the intell shops at 7th AF HQ invariably fell to the low-echelon enlisted pukes.  The paper material was pushed into an industrial shredder that could accommodate document thickness up to one inch.  The shredded material was bagged up, driven out to the perimeter and thoroughly burned.

TSN Burn pit
Tan Son Nhut perimeter adjacent to the burn pit.
TSN perimeter def pos
Defensive position on the Tan Son Nhut perimeter near burn area.
TSN Mine 15-18
Claymore mine position on the Tan Son Nut perimeter.
LZ Owl, psp surface, somewhere on the Tan Son Nhut perimeter.

Coming up…7AF Headquarters, 4th floor, Target Materials Shop.

Author: codemanbc

HI! This is MAGIC's, Dad. Thank you for visiting Magic's blog and my blog, Vietnam70to73. I am a two-tour Vietnam vet, private detective, and a soccer referee. And the proud Dad to an amazing Border collie. Thank you! P.S. My CODEMANBC banner photo was taken by Betty Gillis and features her working Border collies. Check out Texas Sheep Dogs on Facebook and the web...AMAZING photos!

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