I mentioned some of the major dates and places in the pages related to the U.S. Army magazines so I thought I’d illustrate that a little better with some photographs and some specific dates. I carried a camera with me every where I went after basic Training and always had a tiny pocket Black & White camera on me when I was in Vietnam. I also used a Instamatic and eventually graduated to 35mm. I scanned all of the negatives I have and it came to over 1600 pictures, most from Vietnam. I have been forever grateful that I chose to spend my pay on film. There are other folks in some of these pictures and only some of them I recall by name. If by some stroke of luck, these ring a bell with anyone, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep in mind that these events took place over 40 years ago and one’s memory is at best only somewhat reliable over this amount of time. However, the pictures and other records allow me to have a fairly high degree of confidence in my times & dates with a minimum of exaggeration (or so I hope). The scrapbooks I created less than 10 years after returning provided much of the details here. That was also supported by copies I made of a number of letters I wrote home which contained the memories of events that were quite recent.
I graduated from Basic Training at Fort Benning, Georgia on 6/16/1967 then from General Clerk School at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri on 7/25/1967 then from Army Finance School at Ft Benjamin Harrison (Ft Ben) on 10/9/1967 at which point I was assigned as permanent party at Ft Ben. My orders to Nam came on 3/7/1968.
I got my teaching assignment at Fort Ben as a consequence of my prior experience with computer equipment while attending Case Institute of Technology. I recognized some of the specific hardware when I was interviewed for the job and I’m certain that that is the reason I was chosen….plus I had some serious working experience as a Computer Programmer, which was very rare at that time. here are a few pictures of the hardware.
In case you have never seen one – this is a Card Punch machine
Below is our “Computer”, a combination of a small “main-frame”, punched card reader and printer. This state of the art machine had a grand total of 4,000 Bytes. That is not a typo….4 K was the total memory in the thing. It is pretty amazing what a real programmer can accomplish in 4K. As a class demonstration, I programmed a Vegas style roulette wheel along with the logic of betting the wheel by a systematic approach…which actually would win if they would let you use it.
This is a general view of the “computer room”. The computer, a Univac 1005, on the right, a card punch machine on the left and the key punch in the forefront. I still retain the manuals for the 1005 as well as the Univac 1107 that I trained on at Case.
The way this all worked together was as follows: You coded (wrote) your program on paper forms and then punched the instructions onto cards, one line per card. This was known as the “Source Deck”. You read the cards into the computer and a compiler translated that into binary machine code. The results were punched out onto new cards generating what we called an “object deck”. You then read the object deck back into the computer’s memory and then hit some buttons which executed your program. Every time you made a change in the program code, you had to generate a new object deck. These were the days of serious “desk checking” of your code…a lost art.
In January, 1968 I competed in and won the monthly “Soldier of the Month” competition. I even got a plaque for my desk and a Commendation Letter:
In early March I received my orders to report to Vietnam and left Ft Ben for a 30 day leave at home in Miami.
The family home
My Brother Pat
My first love…Carol Herron
We were no longer strictly girl-friend, boy-friend…it had been a long time since we first met and college kinda ruined that but she & I stayed in touch and we almost married and she owns a part of my heart forever.
After leave, I went to Fort Riley, Kansas for weapons familiarization and M-16 training on April 22-24. They also had us experiment with the “John Wayne” style of firing an automatic weapon from the hip which was a total joke…noone can do that well outside of the movies.
Than a day in transit through Denver. I spent an entire day there. Rode a bus around the city for hours just to get a flavor of the place and talked some construction workers into letting me ride the elevator up to the top floor of a 60+ floor building under construction. Very neat view:
Then onto Fort Lewis Washington…some views of what I saw from the air:
Then a long flight through Anchorage, Alaska to Can Rahn Bay, Vietnam
where I was outfitted with this shiny new jungle outfit & boots. The date was 5/8/1968.
There I received my orders to Long Bien and the Headquarters Company, Saigon Support Command, 1st Logistical Command. A general view of the barracks area:
And the local outdoor facility:
Some additional time on the range, which I took advantage of as often as possible. I did some permanent damage to my left ear by not using ear plugs (made from Marlboro filters!)
The first trip into Saigon and yes, I was just a tad nervous…
This bridge had been blown by sappers during the Tet offensive
Long Bien was a massive supply depot, including what was at the time, the largest ammunition depot on the planet. There was a perimeter established about it that was manned by the clerks etc from the post. We were regularly posted out there for a 36-48 hour period, 3 inexperienced non-combat troops in a bunker. My first time out there when I tried to get some sleep, I was woken up by a rather large rat that was walking over me. During all the times I later spent on guard duty, I never again slept at night and usually spelled the guys who had the night-time duty. I would try to get some sleep during the day. I got into the habit of putting some of my rations outside of the bunker to keep the rats away. These are from that first time late June: