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

My First Day in BAO LOC Vietnam

About 10 days after arriving in Vietnam I was sent to Bao Loc. Headquarters told me that I would be the replacement pilot in Bao Loc, Lam Dong Provence. A province was like a state in the U.S. They gave me a map and gave me Birddog # 667 and said to fly to Bao Loc. I might add that I was given NO training of Birddog tactics. The pilot that I replaced had already DEROSed to the U.S. I had to learn the tactics on my own. Upon arrival, which was late in the afternoon, I found that there had been an attack on a convey. The Vietcong were heading toward the MACV compound. When I landed they told me to fly in the local area and look for VC. They also told me to be in the MACV compound before dark. The road to the MACV was about one mile and was NOT secure after dark. The next time I know, I find the VC crossing a stream. I do not remember my altitude, but I do remember circling over the VC, so as to get a better look. I got a bullet hole in my left-wing. Pilots learned very quickly not to circle a target and fly at 1500 feet over the target. At 1500 feet the airplane was hard to hit and it was low enough to be able to see everything on the ground. Just before dark, I landed at the airfield. They told me to go to the MACV as soon as possible because the Vietcong was “moving this way”. The Bao Loc airfield was “not secure” after dark.

Upon arrival at the MACV I entered the compound and saw a group of men in front of the 1st house of the compound. This was the house that the commander lived in. I found a man lying on the front steps. He was an American lieutenant who had a sucking chest wound. He was waiting for a Medevac helicopter to take him to a hospital. I remember people talking to him. He was a graduate of West Point. We had a loudspeaker in the compound. It was announced that he had died later that night. A month later his twin brother, also a West Point Graduate, came to the MACV. He asked Mucelli how his brother had died.