Served in Vietnam 1965-1967 for two tours with MCB-3 (SEABEES), first to Da Nang at base of hill 327 west of Da Nang Airbase after deploying from Guam on USS Belle Grove, LSD 2. My second tour was to Chu Lai area near Marine airfield and field hospital. After my active duty ended, I returned to Omaha and affiliated with the Navy Reserves from which I retired in 1996.
Memory: I reported to my active duty in Guam with the SEABEES in February of 1965. We were ready to be deployed back to Pt Hueneme, CA in May. However, plans changed immediately when it was decided that we were the closest construction battalion with equipment that could be sent to Vietnam. We had a nine-day voyage from Guam through the Philippines and then to the harbor of Da Nang. We shared space with a Marine artillery company for the next six months at the base of Hill 327 west of Da Nang. The battalion was tasked with building roads, water supply lines, storage facilities etc. In addition, we built infrastructure for the local Vietnamese community. Viet Cong hostility in the area occurred sporadically with attacks on the Da Nang Airbase and on the nearby Vietnamese community.
On my second tour, we were sent to Rosemary Point; a peninsula at the northern tip of the Chu Lai enclave. The battalion worked on the construction of the Naval Support Facility complex and built the 1st Marine Division Command Post. We camped between the nearby Marine airbase and helo facilities where we built a Marine hospital cantonment. My closest buddy Walt Jennings and I volunteered as extra crew a couple of times on nearby Navy Swift Boats during our duty time off days until our Commanding Officer found out and put an immediate halt to it. Occasional mortar attacks near the runway and the monsoon season always kept day-to-day life interesting. The battalion's efforts in 1966 earned us the 'Best of Type' among all battalions in the Pacific that year. Both tours also involved civil affairs missions and medical assistance to the local community. This was a very gratifying part of our duty while in-country.
The return to our base in California after the first tour was a rude awaking. Upon landing at Pt Mugu Naval Air Station near Oxnard, CA we were greeted on the airstrip with a warning not to go to the Los Angeles area that night because of civil unrest, with fires being set and in general, not a safe place to go. As it turns out we arrived back as the Watts riots were occurring. Not a wonderful homecoming but certainly memorable.