VIETNAM CHRONICLES

CAPTAIN RICHARD L. KLOPPENBURG

SHORT STORIES FROM 1966-1967 IN VIETNAM

BELOW ARE SOME TRUE BUT UNTOLD STORIES
VIETNAM WAS THE GREAT ADVENTURE OF MY GENERATION

Captain Richard L. Kloppenburg was awarded 12 Air Metals for flying in Vietnam. One Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and one Air Metal with a V device.

Picture was taken in 2001 on my Return to VietNam

BAO LOC MACV COMPOUND-1966--1967

LAKE IS TO THE SOUTH OF THE COMPOUND THE AIRFIELD IS 1 ½ MILES SOUTH OF THE PICTURE COMPOUND CONSISTS OF 4 STONE HOUSES FORMERLY AN AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE

The picture on the above left is the old Frenchman’s air field from the air. The picture on the right is house #4, at the MACV compound. This is the house that I lived in, along with 11 other men.

The road to the airfield, from the Bao Loc MACV was approximately 1 ½ miles. We would get shot at at night, while traveling back to the MACV. Even during the day, we never established a time to go to or back to the MACV. The Viet Cong would be looking for a pattern---and then set up an ambush. I do note that I had a bullet hole in my jeep’s front window.

This picture was on the side of a conex container at the Bao Loc airfield. We used the container for a AIRFIELD OFFICE. See the Seahorse insignia and the Air Force insignia. Also, see the bent prop at the top. I note that the prop was from an Air Force 01.

In 1966 and 1967 the runway was owned by a Frenchman, and leased to the Americans. In 1967 a new runway was constucted and opened just West of Bao Loc. Today the new runway is main street of a new village. The Frenchman’s airfield was less than 1000 feet long, with many deep ruts. We had no machinery so as to level the field. This is a picture of my crewchief washing my 0-1 with the stream water. See also a picture of my jeep. Look to the right of the runway, you will see the tea bushes. They were about the height of the top of the airplane wing. We always worried that the Vietcong would be hiding in the bushes, and then ambush us.

ALL ARMY AIRSTRIKE—WITH MY 0-1 BIRDDOG

There was a village East of Di Lynh near Highway 20. I was stationed in Bao Loc, Lam Dong, Province, South Vienam. The year was 1966. The U.S. Airforce delivered a C-123 load of 2.75 inch rockets to the old Frenchmans airfield. The rockets were intended for an operation of the 101 Airborne. The rockets were in wooden boxes at the very end of the dirt runway. The end result was that the Army canceled the operation but left the rockets in plain view at the end of the runway. We decided that the exposed rockets posed a threat to us, our airplanes and the runway? I decided to use the rockets up, because of overall safety. Therefore, I had my crewchief install 8 rocket tubes, insteal of the usual 4 rocket tubes. I declared open season on all potental targets, just to “get rid” of the rockets.

The picture shown below was the abandoned village. The occupants were resettled. Even though the village was said to be vacant, several times I was fired upon when flying by. I decided to use up my rocket casch, and conduct an ALL ARMY AIRSTRIKE. I shot the 8 onboard rockets 2 at a time. I made several trips from Bao Loc to the target. I took several missions and took most of the afternoon. This story has NOT been told until now---50 + years later! The picture below was taken by me, after the last mission.

NOTE THE BLACK SMOKE. SOMETHING WAS LOCATED THERE? Note the white circle on a metal rod in the picture. That was the rocket sight used to shoot rockets. The idea was to position the white circle over the target.

This picture is that of the C-124th that was delivering the 2.75” rockets to Bao Loc. The mission was unannounced. The Airfield was less than 1000 feet. The pilot reversed the props before he landed so as to land in the short runway. We told the pilot that we did not want the rockets on the airfield. He told us that he was not leaving with the rockets, “where do you want them”. We finally found that the rockets were for a future operation with the 101st Airborne. They subsequanctly canceled the mission.

About one month after arriving in Bao Loc, in 1966, I noticed 3 Montayards adults near the edge of the runway looking at me and my airplane. The runway was bordered by tea bushes on each side of the runway. They were standing next to the tea bushes. It made me nervous so I asked the seasoned Air Force pilot, who they were? He told me that it had happened before and that they were people that had “never seen an American before”? He also told me that if they had NO weapons, they were OK. That answer, indeed, made me feel NO better. At that point we had one U. S. Army airplane and one Air Force Birddog stationed at Bao Loc. I was the only pilot and the Air Force had two pilots. The Air Force pilots were both older and had been in the Air Force for several years. When the Air Force Birddog was up for the 100 hour inspection the Air Force wanted to fly my airplane. I told them NO unless I was ordered to do that by MY commanding officer. That order never came so we agreed that I would fly the Air Force mission with the Air Force pilot in the back seat of my airplane. One of the pilots that I flew with was given the Medal of Honor. He was the only Air Force FAC that received the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam war,