How We Got To Vietnam
The 183rd Aviation Company was formed in Fort Hood, Texas. The pilots were pulled from all areas of the United States and sent to Fort Hood, just after the first of the year in 1966. I came to Texas from Fort Lewis, Washington. The entire 183rd was transported by troop train to the docks in Alameda, California. The USNS Gordon was waiting for us at the dock. I arrived in my own rental car because I was the liaison officer in Stockton. My job is Stockton, as liaison officer, was to receive the incoming aircraft flown in from Texas, by the 183rd pilots. I then worked with the aircraft people at Stockton Army Depot to box up the aircraft in wooden crates. The 0-1s were then shipped to Vietnam via an old World War 11 Victory ship.
It took 21 days to go to Vietnam, with one stop in Okinawa for fuel and water. I remember the stop was in Buckner Bay. It was named after a General that was killed there during WW11. The Gordon headed South and ran into a typhoon while passing Taiwan. Everyone got sick again. Batton the hatches was the word. Every window was covered. I could hear the shop rise up in the water and then slam down thru the void and hit the water again. The ship had steel floors which were slick with through up. The first stop in Vietnam was in Vung Tau. We pulled in to Vung Tau just before darkness. As we were standing at the rails of the ship we could see a firefight in the distance. We could see red tracers lighting the sky. The must be the Vietnam that we have heard about? After 21 days on the Gordon, we were glad to get off the Gordon.
We unloaded at the next stop in Cam Ranh Bay. Upon arrival in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, by troop ship, the UNAS Gordon, we rappelled down ropes to landing crafts (LCU’s), which took us to the Dong Ba Thin area. This area was East of Cam Ranh Bay. The area we settled upon in Dong Ba Thin was close to being a swamp. There were no built up buildings in the area. The Air Force at Cam Ranh Bay was in a secure area next to the South China Sea. The Air Force runway was West of Cam Ranh Bay and had many great buildings. But not the Army pilots. We went to the East side of Cam Ranh Bay and set up tents next to a swamp. It was a terrible place compared to the Air Force at Cam Ranh Bay. After 21 days on the USNS Gordon troop ship, we were glad to be on the ground in Vietnam. I never thought I would say that?