I had two Duster positions at Sherry (on the East and West perimeters) that we occupied on and off. I was also responsible for looking after the two Quad-50s at Sherry, even though they were not under my direct command. The Quad-50s belonged to Echo battery of the 41st and were attached to my Duster battalion, the 4/60th. The Quads did not have a lieutenant in that area, and because I was the senior officer from the 4/60th battalion, as such I was a kind of liaison to them. It was nothing formal, but I looked after them, mostly to make sure they were supplied with parts.
Quad-50 parts would come in by chopper to us at the command post at Betty and I would take them out to Sherry, usually parts for the 50 cal machine guns, which were very hard for them to get, especially the parts for the turrets. After I left they replaced me with a captain and gave him full command authority over the eight Dusters, the Quads and the searchlights up on Titty Mountain. He was kind of a glorified super-platoon leader. It gave all of them more horsepower when it came to getting support.
There was one unique event at Sherry that I remember. There was one troop out there from one of the Quad crews. The night he was scheduled to DEROS, or leave Sherry, they were having a going away party for him in the Quad-50 hooch. They started taking mortar fire at roughly two o’clock in the morning. Everybody at the party who was from the Quads left and ran out to be on the gun to return fire. Even though he was scheduled to leave the next morning, he went with his crew and was running across an open area, and a 82 mm mortar round landed right at his feet. After things settled down and the firing stopped they called me for a dust-off (evacuation by Medevac helicopter). I met the dust-off at the chopper pad when they rushed him in, and then they had to turn around and evac him to Cam Ranh. I do not remember either his name or the exact date, I want to say April or May of 1969. They ended up having to amputate both his legs.
LZ Betty was on a bluff overlooking the South China Sea. The chaplain decided to have the Easter Sunrise ceremony on the bluff and asked each of us to bring down a significant piece of equipment from our organizations. So I took a Duster and caught a picture with the sun rising behind it.
After I left the 1st platoon and went back up north to the 2nd (early summer June or July of 1969) platoon at Tuy Hoa. I had a section of two tracks at Ninh Hoa just north of Nha Trang. We commonly called it Tuy Hoa, but in reality Tuy Hoa was an Air Force base. We were about half a mile outside the perimeter of the Air Force base at an Army airfield called Phu Hiep.
We were sitting again with an 8 inch / 175 mm battery belonging to the 6/36th and that was their battalion headquarter. My battery headquarters was co-located with them. We ate in their mess hall, we partied with them on Friday nights, we escorted their convoys wherever they need to go. In reality we were almost part of that 8 inch / 175 mm battalion.
We were on one hilltop, and there was an NVA company or battalion across the valley on the next hilltop. They would lob mortar rounds at us and we’d fire back long streams of those 40 mm tracers at them. You’d sit there and watch them go Boom, Boom, Boom – a solid stream.
No Thank You
I left Vietnam in January of 1970, a year after I arrived. But not before I had the occasion to remember my old platoon leader, 1st Lieutenant Frank Hewitt. He had suffered the head injury that put him in the hospital while on a six month extension. My battalion commander tried to do that to me too, “You come back, you’ll make captain, I’ll give you command of Alpha battery.”
I said, “That all sounds good sir, but if I come back I’ll come as a divorced man.” I went home and went on to Ft. Bliss.
Mike went on to a twenty-year career in the Army, including teaching in the ROTC program at Seattle University. He passed up an assignment to the Pentagon, and a sure promotion to lieutenant colonel, choosing instead to retire. He then worked for a succession of large defense contractors and became a civil service employee. Along the way he returned to college for his bachelors degree, and then proceeded to earn three masters degrees. He said, “My basic philosophy was if someone else will pay for it, I’ll go to school,” a good piece of advice for anyone.
Mike is still married to Mary Beth Jordan after 49 years and still lives in Albuquerque, NM.