|My name is Glenn Davis. I was a member of HHD 71st Transportation Battalion from February 1969 - February 1970, and I was the documentation clerk at the vehicle inprocessing and retrograde yard at Newport.
|Christmas Morning 1969 - Only ones I can identify are from the middle to the right: John Fay, Ira (lightning)
Theriac, SFC Turner
|Christmas Morning 1969. Sitting from left to right, Glenn Davis, John Fay, SFC Turner, with Lightning
Theriac in white shirt at Turner's elbow.
|NCO Club- Glenn Davis with beer in hand. Other identities suffer from my bad memory.
|Please feel free to contact me any with any questions or comments. Can you identify any of these guys?
|E-Mail - Glenn Davis
|Full Speed Ahead
|Only The Strong Survive - Jerry Butler - 1969
| Not Your Typical War Story
By Glenn Davis
Even REMFs get a shot of adrenaline every once in a while. It happened to me during one of the iconic events of the 1960’s. Most everyone has a vivid memory of where we were and what we were doing when news was
being made that would have people talking for years to come. Every time I see the video of Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon I am transported back to Vietnam in July, 1969.
At one hundred twenty-five pounds and just a shade over five feet five inches tall, you would not put me on the recruitment poster for the quintessential portrait of an American fighting man. Faced with the choice of
being drafted, and claustrophobic at the idea of being a tunnel rat, I enlisted in the Army to be a clerk.
Being a rear echelon clerk in Vietnam kept one out of most of the dangerous stuff but fate could step in to add excitement upon occasion. My job was to work the night shift at Newport, a shipping port just north of
Saigon on the Saigon River. We worked a twelve hour shift from 7 PM until 7 AM and my job was working in the New Vehicle/Retrograde Yard processing the paperwork on all the vehicles coming into and going out of
Being a clerk in an office was certainly far safer than being out in the field where the “bad stuff” was happening. Having said that, there were no totally safe areas to be found in Vietnam. Sir Charles had a nasty habit of
lobbing Russian made 122mm rockets into any area just to let us know he was still out there. Most of these occurred in the wee hours of the morning to disturb the rest of those working daytime hours and keeping those
working nighttime hours on our toes.
So how does this apply to Neil Armstrong’s stroll on the Moon? That requires a bit of lead up to get to the heart of the matter. There were not too many benefits from working the night shift regardless of your job.
Luckily, there were a few choice morsels to be considered. For a lonely serviceman far from home any chance to make contact back “in the world” was a chance to be taken. MARS was just such a chance. The Military
Affiliated Radio System was a truly unique such opportunity.
The idea for MARS was really quite simple. A ham radio operator in Vietnam would contact a ham radio operator in the US, atmospheric and weather conditions permitting. The continental US operator would then
place a person-to-person call to a party in the US thus permitting a conversation between servicemen or women in Vietnam to a loved one back home. There were limitations to this seemingly ideal situation. First, the
person you called would have to be home in the afternoon as Vietnam was some 12 hours or so ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Second, you had to be at least a Lieutenant Colonel or above to get a call through during
daytime hours. It was far easier to get a call through at night. It was a perfect system for a Specialist 5 working a night shift.
The night started off in a pretty boring way. I made the call in to the MARS operator to get my name and information on the list and checked to see how much of a work load I would have for my shift. Having no ships off-
loading vehicles seemed to make for another evening in paradise. Luckily, we were also receiving the benefits of having the Armed Forces Vietnam radio and TV network. Those lucky enough to have a portable TV or radio
could get up-to-date news and network programming from back home. I sure would have hated to miss a whole year of Laugh In. I don’t know if we were getting a live feed of the moon landing or if it was a replay but since
it was going on at 3 AM it leads me to believe that it was live. I’m sitting there quietly minding my own business, watching Neil, and generally kicked back with a not so often quiet time when the phone rings.
“This is the MARS operator and your party is on the line.” My brother lived in a suburb of Akron, Ohio and he had an afternoon job. He was the only one home during the afternoon so he was the logical choice to get a
call. I forgot to mention that the MARS system also had a problem, in that, you had to say “Over” at the end of your sentence so the ham operator could flip the switch from transmit to receive. The only words out of my
mouth were, “Hello, Gary. How are……….” I don’t know if that rocket landed 50 feet or 5 miles away but it was LOUD and shook the little shack with yours truly inside. I shouted in the phone, “Under attack. Gotta Go,”
and was all ass and elbows trying to grab my flak jacket, weapon, and steel pot while diving under the metal desk and hanging up the phone. That picture would have received about 20 zillion hits on YouTube if we had the
I was too busy trying to get things together to recall if there were more hits but at the time I could have cared less as I was on the move. As a licensed military driver, in the event of an attack, my job was to crank up
the nearest APC or Armored Personnel Carrier and get it ready to transport the Quick Response Force to the scene of the attack.
I bet Charlie would have laughed his keester off if he had watched me going through my motions knowing that he had no intention of following it up. He was just giving us a little love note. After I made it back to the
world, I asked my brother how much he had heard. He said he could hear the CRUMPFF of the rocket landing and the connection was broken. The ham operator told him that his connection to Saigon was off the air and not
to be concerned as it happened all the time.
The military took a dim view of incidents such as these being discussed back home so we were required to not mention it in our future communications.
TRUE STORY. IT REALLY HAPPENED.