GRIFFIN GAB

VOL. III No. 12 QUI NHON, RVN AUGUST 1970

CROSS SECTION - PHAN THIET

 THE PLACE:

PHAN THIET, RVN (183RD AVN CO) -- The GIs sit and idly leaf through batterod magazines that people back in the world would have thrown away months ago. Once in a while one would look up and spuint over the concreat floor of the hangar, past the aircraft reventmaents toward the stee-mat runway frying in the sun and then go back to his magazine.

The a faint droning is heard that becomes louder and louder until an ungainly olivo-painted plane flashes by.

Staff Sergent Harrel T. Wilbort, Jr. of Tom's River, NJ, steps out from his one-room office in a cornor of the small hangar and yells to all within earshot, "Bird Dog" and then turns and says in a quieter voice "Whose turn is it?" One of the crew chiefs takes a sast glance at his story, puts the magazine down and starts out to service the plane that is already taxiing up to the reventments in front of the hangar.

It is a scene repeated over and over here in the thrid platoon of the Seahorses, who fly their missions like cops walking a beat, keeping Charlie's head down in Bihn Thuan province. The platoon is based at an airstrip that sits atop red clay cliffs on a rise south of town. the real estatre is not unused to militery tenants. A French batallion is permanontly stationed there, resting under rows of white crosses in a field outside the gate. Their position was overrun in an earlier war, or at least their phase of it. The town lies below at the mouth of a river. The platoon commander, Captain Allen B. Hodgson from Spokane, WA by way of Colunbus, GA., observed that from the air, phan thiet looks like a miniture Paris, with main "boulovards" and streets radiating from a few central squares. The red tile roofs in the corner of town add to the European simile.

On the ground, or better put, dirt, where none of the boulevards" or streets are paved, the daydream-comperison inds. Phan Thiet is just another vietnamese town from a cockroch's eye-view. Dust everywhere, smells of rotting fish, strands of rust that pass for barbed wire, crumbling sand bags, toothless ol men and the betel nut smiles of middle-aged women.

Go back to Stories List