Photos and comments courtesy of:
A1C John Alexander
A/C Environmental Systems
Mechanical Accessories (MA) Shop
315th Consolidated Aircraft
Maintenance Squadron (CAMS)
315th Tactical Airlift Wing
Phan Rang AFB, RVN
Guard gate – I believe at PRAB's southern end. (1970)
When the US pulled out of Cambodia, a number of
tanks and equipment passed through PRAB. Their
crews camped with their vehicles. Several years
later, after I was discharged, I discovered that a
good friend and coworker was among those crews.
Like the song says, it's a small world after all.
This was the Army medevac section that was off the far south end
of our flightline. The Army also staged one or two Huey gunships
there. The warning sign was a hoot, since the tiny bridge was
about seven inches above the trickle of water beneath. (1970)
Looking forward from a Huey compartment. (1970)
Flying at treetop level. Viet Nam has some beautiful country. (1970)
Rendezvousing with another chopper at a fire support base, to
pick up a wounded soldier. He had severe burns to the upper
body and was air lifted to Cam Ranh Bay for treatment. (1970)
The Aussies had a bomber squadron on the primary side of the base.
I remember those boys could be pretty eccentric at times. (1970)
Inside the Aussie's shop. (1970)
C119 Stinger gunship: The meanest dog on the block. (1970)
Our bread and butter in motion. (1970)
Men at work near A-Dock. (1970)
Another view of A-Dock. (1970)
B-Dock with a threatening cloud burst coming in. (1970)
A-Dock from a 'tower' platform. Looking west. (1970)
The shops of 315 CAMS. (1970)
Frequently, the siren would sound and everyone would stop working
and head for the nearest bunker. The guys would spend the time
inside telling jokes and taking a smoke break. (1970)
Dean (on the right) and me taking Randy to his short-timer bath (1970)
Somehow, Randy gained control of the hose.
That was not supposed to happen! (1970)
Unfortunately, I don't recall the names of these fellas, although
I do remember our time together. I think they worked in the fuel
cell shop, but I'm not certain. I remember sharing a bunk area
with the guy in the center but he left Nam shortly after I had
arrived. The guy on the right was nicknamed "Moose" and was from
Brooklyn. He was a great guy and man, could he throw a football!
He got an early out because NY needed cops and Moose volunteered for
a special program. I'm sure he became one of Brooklyn's finest. (1970)
I remember that this airman went by the nickname 'Speedy'.
Another great guy. But I don't recall whether he ever got
that model airplane off the ground.
Me in 1970. You can see I write left handed. (1970)
JULY 2013: Me and my wonderful wife, Heather.
We've been married for 28 years. (2013)
"I guess it was a good thing that I was a dumb 19 year old kid
when I received orders for Viet Nam, otherwise I might have been
discouraged. But there was something inside of me that wanted to
see what this war was all about, especially since everyone and their
brother had been talking about it for the better part of a decade.
My first stop was Phu Cat AB. I only worked there for my
first three months in-country, then it was off to PRAB for
the remainder of my tour. Phu Cat had F4s, but working on
C123s was so much easier. At least I wasn't banging my knuckles
on some component that was packed tight inside the fuselage.
I have some fond memories of PRAB. The guys were good people
and we had some fun, whenever possible. But it didn't take too
long at PRAB before I started to get bored. I've always hated
boredom and I had seen enough of A-dock and B-dock to last a
lifetime. So, on my day off each week, I took up photography
as a hobby. And since I was a dumb 19 year old kid (as previously
stated), I decided to conduct a little business with the Army
medevac fellas at the south end of our flightline. I could
provide them with access to purchase through our BX, and in turn,
they could provide aerial transportation so that I could practice
with my new Petri 35mm camera. To my amazement, they agreed.
Well, it was all quite an adventure and I managed to document quite a
lot of events in the field. You'll never meet a crazier bunch than those
helicopter pilots; but craziness is likely a prerequisite for that career
path. In reality, the pilots and medics were great people and they did an
awesome job. I'd often return back to the barracks and tell the guys, 'You
wouldn't believe what I saw today!' and then the stories would begin.
Most everyone did their best to stay occupied while living the
day-to-day life on base. There were pranks, touch football,
steak and beer, an occasional escort to the local beach, and
of course, those 'short-timer baths' that were really a shower
with a high-pressure hose. If I recall, you'd get drenched with
water when you had 30 days left before returning to the 'real world'.
Short-timer calendars grew in popularity as you came closer to
completing your tour and the final days seemed to drag on forever.
I remember when I had just a few weeks left in-country. Charlie
launched one of his morning rockets and it hit near the BX, killing
an airman who was out-processing. It was a sobering experience for
the entire base and it put me in a depressed state of mind for awhile.
Finally, my day came to return to 'the world'. I received orders
for Malstrom AFB, MT. Would you believe that I didn't even know
what MT stood for? A couple of guys that I asked didn't know either.
I thought it might have been a typo. They must have meant Maryland
or something. But someone ended up telling me that it was Montana.
I was almost dumbfounded. I had never been to Montana in my life
and my imagination began to run like a Montana buck. This was a
similar experience to when I first received orders for Viet Nam.
I was about to commence on a whole new experience."
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