Introduction: This portion of 624th Quartermaster Company (Direct Support)), the 624th Supply and Service Company (Direct Support) 20 July 1966 covers the year January 1966- January 1967 as seen and witnessed by varied Officers and Enlisted stationed in Long Binh, Ben Hoa Province in the main. Additional coverage and writing will mention other locations and/or missions where 624th personnel were either TDY on a short term basis, or TDY and/or attached to other units either in Long Binh and/or other locations.
A) One Tour of Duty - B) Pending - C) Pending - D) Pending - E) Pending - F) Pending - G) Pending - H) Pending
A) One Tour of Duty;
After completeing the QM "Heavy Equipment Repair" class at Ft. Lee, VA I along with Howard Sundine and Don Harding were sent to Vietnam. Sundine and I left from Travis Airforce Base, CA via a C141. We flew to Wake Island where we stopped to refuel for our final leg into Saigon. Howard and I arrived in Vietnam in April, 1966 at Tan Son Nhut Airbase and spent our first days at Tent City A (Don Harding followed us by a few days). As it turned out all three of us were assigned to the 624th Quartermaster Company Direct Support in Long Binh. (later changed to "Supply and Service Company DS)". We were initally assigned to the motor pool primarily for lift truck maintenance and other QM equipment. (There was a separate motor pool for jeeps/trucks/etc.) We reported to a SSgt Jack Everden. Our CO was a Capt. Aikman. Initially we lived in field tents but wooden hootches were later built and in place prior to July 1966. (Please refer to my Facebook slide link and my DVD of my 8 mm movies on the "Messages" page of the 228th. main site).
I can recall that initially there were no stadard mattresses so we were issued blow up air mattresses instead. And at end of the cot was the familiar metal "T" frame which held the mosquito netting. Each morning we would awakened by SSgt Everden screwing in the few light bulbs hanging from above. (There were no electrical switches....lights were turned on and off via screwing the bulbs). It was very early around 0500 and still dark (for me 5 AM is STILL the middle of the night !!). We would stand half awake in formation for morning roll call/information then be released to go to chow. Oh...who can forget the recombined milk and powered eggs not to mention the God awful coffee awaiting us. After breakfast it was off to your appointed work duty unless you had guard duty the night before and you had the day off.
The three of us meandered slowly each morning towards the forklift repair area where our workday began and ended seven days a week. Remember....in Vietnam you had no days off (unless again you pulled guard duty the night prior). It seems we never performed 'routine/scheduled" maintenance on any equipment as our time was totally spent repairing disabled (fork) lifts. They were awaiting us everyday or we went where they were if they could not be driven to us. Replacement parts were a serious issue. I did a lot of the ordering and the most urgent parts were requested "Red Ball Express" from the States. But EVERY part was urgent ! Often we had to resort to cannibalizing equipment to obtain parts. (This means to take a part from one piece of equipment and place on another). I recall once a brand new Hyster lift truck which needed a new starter. Well we didn't have the part and there were several other similiar Hysters that also needed various parts....so the new Hyster with the bad starter was cannibalized for its various parts. By the next day the new lift truck was unrecognizable. Wheels were gone....lift cylinders missing/radiator missing/etc.
In the evenings we would spend many hours at the EM "Club". It was a crude wooden structure to the left and rear as you faced the company area. We drank beer....smoked lots of cigarettees and listened to music. Sometimes there was "live" entertainment from local bands or some poorly directed shows from the USO touring around. The steel beer cans then did not have pop tops for easy opening. The bar keep would place the can of beer under a large lever with a can opener on one end and slam it down into the can to open.
Martha Raye gave a show on the compound one day. She performed both by singing and her character comedy lines. Also Nancy Sinatra gave a performance once near the compound. Not sure, however, just were it took place but recall the event. Sometimes there were movies shown on our small base. And one I will never forget....It wasn't entertainment but a mandatory Army training for VD prevention. Then 2ndLT Jerry Parker* conducted the session. All personnel had to attend: 624th/506th/228th and 266th Hdqtr's Co. The film was old and buzzed through the 35mm projector. Often it would flutter and the visual and audio were interrupted. While the flim streamed past us on the screen GI's would shout out comments followed by roars of laughter from the crowd. At the end Lt. Parker even threw out some light hearted comments before summarizing what to do and not to do to prevent getting VD while stationed in Vietnam. I recently was in contact with Lt Parker via email and he indeed recalls the evening in question. I did also convey my apologies to him for our unruly behavior that evening so long ago. I still sense he too found it all amusing
*Note: Then 2nd Lt Jerry Parker on arrival at Long Binh, had been with Company B, 266th QM Co (DS), but reassigned to 506th QM Co (DS)...later 506th S&S Co (DS)
On Sundays I attended Mass at the 93rd. Evac. The chapel was a simple Quonset Hut like all similiar structures which made up the hospital buildings Going to church was also our chance to also see REAL American women as the nurses also attended services. There was also a PX at the 93rd. Once someone from the 624th. was injured on the job and was sent to the 93rd Evac for a few days. I would visit him there and after his release I found myself again going over to the wards after church just to chat with some of the wounded. Some I recall were very very seriously injured in combat. Will never forget these sights.
In May 1966 SSgt J. Eveden was asked to send men from his maintenance group TDY to the Tay Ninh area. Howard Sundine and I, along with another Sgt (whose name neither Howard nor I can recall) were chosen to go. We flew up there and our job was to keep the lift trucks operational as there was a large resupply movement occurring in the area. Both Howard and I vividly recall our aircraft receiving small arms fire upon our approach while landing. Originally I assumed we were sent to the same place that later became the 228th's new home. However, after detailed discussion with Howard and also Art Neighbor (228th Company Clerk) it was agreed that we were NOT sent to the future 228th's base camp. Nui Ba Den (Black Virgin) Mountain from our location was visable. We are still in the process of trying to determine just where we were in the Tay Ninh Province and what unit(s) we were supporting (probably elements of the 25th ID operating at or near French Fort, with the main force of the 25th ID based in Cu Chi). In any event, it was very remote and frankly unnerving there to say the least. While working one night by the light of a single bulb powered by a small gas generator we came under small arms fire. We quickly shut down the light source and took cover after jumping off the vehicle. The mountain constantly was under air strikes and at night would be lit up with activity. We slept in field tents on cots along side the makeshift runway. Both Howard and I recall our "showers" consisted of a 55 gal. drum overhead allowing one person at a time to shower. And the water was warmed by the sun. So late in the evening or early in the AM....forget it ! There was no defined perimeter. It was a relief to return to the relative safety and security of Long Binh once our TDY assignment ended. Having experienced living there for that short period of time (no more than about 10 days total) made me appreciate the situation the 228th had to endure later in October 1966.
SSgt Everden rotated back to the CONUS early in the summer (I believe in June 66). From then on we worked alone without any daily direct supervision in the lift truck maintenance but came under the control of the main 624th Motor Pool non-com who I believe was SFC Ahern. He had authority over SSgt Everden before and after SSgt Everden rotated and came in to check on us from time to time when we were working alone without any non-com in charge. I mostly performed the clerical work I had learned from assisting SSgtEverden while Sundine and Harding took care of the physical maintenance.
Other names I recall from my time with the 624th were: A. Nix; C. Reed; R. Hertz; R. Mozitis I also recall 1Lt. Donald Brock. I hope more names come to me as time goes by and my recall improves! It is nearing 50 years since I arrived in Vietnam and I am afraid many memories have faded with the passing of time.
I recall as if it were just yesterday the day the 266th Btn arrived that summmer (1 July 1966). I still can visualize Company B, 266th men that would later become the 228th S&S Co (DS) arriving on the 2 1/2 ton trucks into the Long Binh Compound. We were soon reassigned to work under 1LT Jon Putz* of the 266th Btn Motor Pool Maintenance Section. I worked with Ron Walker and SP4 Witherspoon in the maintenance office. Both were from Hdqtr's Company of the 266th. H. Sundine and D. Harding also came under Lt. Putz's Btn Maintenance group.
*Note: Then 1Lt Jon M. Putz had been XO of Company B, 266th QM Co (DS) and reassigned to HQ 266th on arrival in Long Binh.
In September 1966 I was reassigned from the 624th S&S Co (DS) into the 506th S&S (DS). However, I still remained working with Btn Maintenance under Lt. Putz. All I did was physically move from my 624th Company Area to the 506th just to the rear of us in the relatively small undeveloped Long Binh compound. Christmas was very special that year. The 506th hosted a Christmas party for a local Catholic orphanage. We went to the orphanage and picked up the kids and some nuns in 2 1/2 ton trucks and brought them to the company mess hall where the cooks prepared a feast for all. The mess hall was decorated in various Holiday scenes. One was a cut out of a snowman. I recall someone saying "How do you explain to a Vietnamese kid what a snowman is !" After the party we took the gang back to the orphanage and then gave the sisters gifts for the school and convent. I will never forget Christmas 1966.
In January 1967 the 506th made its final move to its new assignment at the 11th ACR (Armored Cavalry Regiment) Base Camp near Xuan Loc. For me, it was back to field tents and sparce living conditions. I must admit the Long Binh compound was like a 5 Star Hotel compared to Blackhorse Base Camp near Xuan Loc ! My time there was short (about three months) as I rotated back to the States in April 1967. At the Xuan Loc FSA (Forward Supply Area) I worked in the 506th motor pool....but mostly pulled guard duty, or so it seemed !! The company strength was lowered by more rotations home and less replacements to fill them. Thus, we were getting guard duty sometimes every other night. This then effected the work schedules as you had the day off after guard duty and could not perform your assigned work.
I recall even less names of fellow 506th members. One was a guy from PA and his name was Sp4 Tom Uhrine. Two other last names come to mind: Morgan and Strickland. I also clearly recall Lts. Paul Walker and Jerry Parker. Hopefully, over time and possible contact from other 624th and/or 506th folks of the time period my memory will improve.
In April, '67 Sundine and I left Vietnam together as we had arrived together. Both ways we were seated next to one another on the aircraft. We processed out at the newly built Long Binh, 90th Replacement Center and departed on World Airways from Ben Hoa Airbase. I will never forget that final convoy drive through Tam Hiep at a very early morning hour. It was still dark and we rode on buses with wire meshing over the windows. The convoy was heavily guarded with accompanying armed men and vehicles. When the World Airways* jet touched down at Ben Hoa it was a bitter sweet sight to see the poor souls just arriving off the aircraft...the same aircraft which was our vehicle out of the war. When I left Vietnam for home....I like everyone, could not wait to leave. Now, believe it or not, I plan to return for a visit !!!! Never thought I would be doing this. However, from what I have been reading, nothing there is as it was back in 1966/1967. Long Binh has completely changed and is now an Industrial Park of sorts. I am sure this must be true of the Xuan Loc area as well. However, we never were allowed outside of the 11th ARC base camp, so I never really saw the immediate area anyway.
I took some 8mm home movies soon after my arrival in country (April 1966). I had the film transferred to DVD and have posted the video on YouTube. The video contains footage of the early days on the 624th/506th Compound in Long Binh plus scenes from nearby Tam Hiep; The 93 Evac Hospital and Saigon. To view click on the following link:
In addition, I have a Facebook link with some slides and other still pictures of both the 624th and the 506th days. To view this link (you don't have to a member of Facebook) just click on:
I look forward to touching base with others from my past and if I can assist anyone with regards to the 624th and its History, Photos, or other....please feel free to make contact
Submitted by: Rich Mallory - 624th and 506th S&S Company (DS) Maintenance Platoon - 1966-1967 ........ 14 February 2013