My tour of duty in Vietnam was not my best Christmas. I was assigned to the 526CC&S on Christmas Day. I was told it was going to be my new home for the next year. They assigned me to the middle barrack that was length wise to the mountain, and the closest to it. My bunk was on the 2nd floor, and in the middle of the barrack. I was told I was going to work with the disassembly platoon. The disassembly platoon was at the back of the junk yard. We destroyed everything. We took the engines and the trans out of the trucks and jeeps. We would flip them over, cut off the axles, drag them over to the crane.. They were put on a five ton flatbed . After all of that it was taken to the PDO.
Now on April 8th like any other day, I worked in the yard got off early for guard duty, showered, went to eat. I then report for guard duty. The Sgt of the Guard that night was SSG Mitchell, and the Officer of the day was CWO Ellis. SGT Mitchell put me and two others in guard tower 2. At that time we did 2 hrs on 4hrs off.
It all happened at about 2:30am there was automatic rifle fire, explosions from grenades, satchel charges. They hit the mess hall, the orderly room, the latrine, supply room, and two barracks. My barrack burned to the ground.
We did not know what to do. You go on guard duty, and you watch for everything in front of you not behind you. I can tell you being in the tower we looked down at the compound seeing our men running trying to get to their bunkers. The VC were firing at them. I was told later they were raking the barracks. The choppers came in and evaced the wounded. After that the gunships came and strafed the mountain with mini guns and rockets. We knew this was really, really bad. We stayed in the tower till day break .They came around to check on us, and to stay in the tower. Later they said we should have fired more flares. I cannot believe they said that. They are in the compound shooting at our men, blowing up everything, and saying we should have lit the sky. That`s BS.
When I came down from the tower, and walked around the compound, I saw men were walking around in small groups. They were talking about what happened and who was missing. I did not know what was going to happen to me next. Remember my barrack burned down. I have nothing but what I have on my back. Where was I going to sleep tonight? I saw the dead VC, and looked at the damage they did. A lot of the guys were taking pictures of every thing. They did a roll call then told us what we had to do. The next two or so days we started cleaning up, and getting the 526 back together.
The next chapter came about 2 weeks later. I got TDY orders to go to Da Nang. I do not know the exact number, but 30 to 35 men were also going to Da Nang with me. What were they thinking? We are already down about 30 men, and they are sending us TDY to Da Nang.
We reported to the 156th HEM Co. not far from Marble Mountain. That was where we stayed in tents. I later found out we were building a new CC&S company next to the 156th HEM Co., The 633 CC&S Co.
On the night of May 5th a 120 mm rocket hit one of the tents. It was a direct hit killing three men from the 526 and one man from the 156th and wounding many others. They were PFC Nelson R. Ramirez, PFC Jesus E. Bautisa, and PVT Wayne Joseph Bedwell from the 526. The one from the 156th was SGT Fredrick Burge from Washington DC.
I never got back to the 526 and I extended. My time in Vietnam was from Dec. 67 to Aug. 69. I made a career in the Army doing 25 years. I became a Warrant Officer 4. I did do another tour in Vietnam and tours in Germany and Holland. Do I remember? I will never forget those two nights and the men who were killed and wound. It will live with me forever.
I am now living in Brandenburg, Ky. with my wife.