July - December 1970
I think it was sometime in mid-September 1970, we got the word that the 281st was standing down and going home, along with the 5th SF Group. We were all pretty frustrated since we knew we enjoyed supporting the SF mission and had a pretty good life in Nha Trang. The fate of any of us with time remaining would lay with the 10th Group detailers back in Dong Ba Thin. I’m sure there was a logical reason for the Company doing what it did as far as reassigning pilots and crews as I think most of us got assigned to one of four other companies in the 10th Group. I was going to the 48th Blue Stars up in Ninh Hoa with Amanzio, Clark, Peterman, Stiles, and I think about two or three other guys from the 281st, but before I was able to get excited about the move...since I was still one of the FNGs even though a CW2...I was told I had to stay with the Company until all of the Company equipment was turned in. More damn downtime without flying.
A Company Stand Down is really a horrible experience, especially for the RLOs (real live officers). Don’t know how they stood it. Basically, everything in the company had to be accounted for, inventoried, cleaned up, boxed up, and driven to the Cam Rhan Bay depot for turn in. Inventory is a word I never wanted to hear again. Imagine doing an inventory of all the stuff in your house and multiplying it by 1,000,000. Every fork, spoon, knife, dish, glass, tray, salt and pepper shaker, sheet, blanket, tent, sleeping back, pistol, rifle, helicopter, jeep, etc. had to be accounted for. I quickly learned how to drive a two & a half ton truck [a deuce 'n a half]. It seemed we’d count stuff all day, type it all up, go to the Club and eat & drink until full and when we woke up, we’d drive through small towns and villages until we got to Cam Rhan Bay. All the locals in Vietnam seemed to have a moped or bicycle and they are always riding them whenever we tried maneuvering on those small streets. There are no stop signs, no lights, no lines, no traffic rules. When you throw a couple of deuce 'n a halfs into the mix, you have chaos, especially since some of us weren’t that good a driving these vehicles. We unfortunately and unintentionally caused a few mopeds, bikes, and mini taxis to drive off the roads. But in the end, I think we did it. I left on 13 Dec along with Lt. Jim Clark, also part of the clean up crew. Here’s a couple of snaps of some of the crew.
CW2 Ron Turner, with a Polaroid pic in the left hand.
1LT Jay Rush
Jay & Our version of Radar O'Reilly
Jay & LT Jim Smith
As yet, name not remembered.