Veterans and Active Duty, Where and When?

Discussion in 'V.C.'s Parlor' started by Flyer91, Mar 8, 2017.

  1. Another Vet here on ST @Rollmeaway thought it might be cool to have a thread for us Vets and active duty members, to post about our service.
    I thought it was a great idea so here's the thread .... :)

    I did a 6 year hitch and served under the Joint US Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) serving in a Special Activities Squadron with the 1131st SAS, US Military Advisors Command (MACTHAI) Det. 1 TLD (a Training Logistics Detachment) out of Udorn RTAFB, were I filled the capacity as an advisor, training Laotian and Cambodian military forces.

    We served under the direction of the CIA, and worked with Air America and the Ravens.
    We carried embassy ID and wore civilian clothing.

    At the time, our activities were officially/publicly described by the US as not having any combat troops in Laos or Cambodia (but you could bet your ass there were a lot of blond haired, blued eyed Cambodians and Laotians conducting in-country missions). ;)
    Consequently, to remain covert we reported directly back through Headquarters Command at Hickam in Hawaii, to basically do an "end around" past PACAF.

    A lot of what we did is now unclassified, and bits and pieces of the documented accounts of our missions are actually showing up on the internet in various sites dedicated to telling the story of the "Secret Wars in Laos and Cambodia", so I won't go into details of them.

    Actually by the time I got to the Det in 1974, the writing was on the wall.
    The Laotians had established a coalition government with the Pathet Lao, pretty much putting a stop to all Air America activities, and within a few months Saigon fell to the VC, and then a month later Phnom Penh the capitol of Cambodia fell to the Khmer Rouge.

    Although, if you look at the picture of the evacuation of the embassy in Saigon (below) that famous picture of a Huey landing on the roof is 'not' Marines (as the news reported) it is one our blue and silver Hueys of Air America, and the guy reaching to help the people streaming up the ladder to board it, is one of our guys ... in our typical black pants and white shirt civilian clothing.

    About the hairiest situation I got into was the evac of the embassy in Phnom Penh, where we were constantly under shelling from Khmer gunboats on the Mekong over the few days the we flew in and out of a soccer field LZ to move out high value assets ... and their families.
    Although official accounts of the evac (called Operation Eagle Pull) make it look like it was well planned and executed, the actualities is that it really wasn't.
    We had choppers running out of fuel after they crossed into the safe haven of Thailand, and the Thais (at least publicly) never authorized us to bring these people into their country.
    So like most of the last days of Vietnam, it was especially "cluster effy".

    Then a few weeks later, we were roused in the middle of the night, and got in the air in the most uncoordinated effort I was ever involved in.
    It was just total chaos!
    Nobody seemed to know what we were doing, were we were going, or what mission packs we needed.
    Khmer gunsghips had taken the "merchant" (ya ... right ;)) ship, the Mayaguez ... off the coast of Cambodia.
    We got in the air and on our way, receiving confusing instruction updates on a minute by minute basis, but the mission for us was aborted, and they wisely sent in the marines to fight Vietnam's last official battle to take back the Mayaguez ... and history has documented that as "The Mayaguez incident".

    In any case, by the end of May to mid June of '75 the mission of the Det was over, I transferred over the the 432nd Tactical, finished out my last tour, then DEROS'd back to the world, were I finished my hitch at Norton, in San Bernardino.

    Air America Huey evac'ing the US embassy at Saigon in April of 1975 ....

    Story here:
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
  2. Sled

    Sled Squier Talker

    Jun 24, 2016
    Deep Cover
    Very cool Flyer 91. Unfortunately, that Non-Disclosure Agreement prevents me from TOTALLY chiming in. It was an outstanding career - one that mortals would never believe. I keep telling my Daughter, that my career is an Oscar waiting on the right Actor.
  3. Yeah, I'll only speak to what is now public info.
    If it isn't, I don't make the mistake of assuming it is. :cool:

    They informally called my Det "Disney Land" and although I considered it good ... even 'great' duty, the stuff that was done, 'especially by the Ravens' is definitely Hollywood worthy.

    The Air America movie that Mel Gibson starred in was 'very' restrained, and basically just the story of the "cover story" but still 'one' of the real missions for Air America.
    But, it's actually the Ravens that they should make a feature movie about.
    They were a bunch of pilots that got frustrated by the BS of SEATO established rules of engagement in Vietnam, and wanted to 'DO' something.
    Well ... they certainly got their chance in Laos!

    One thing about it all though, is that to quality for VA medical bennies at the max level, you need to have been injured while on active duty, or have documented 'boots on the ground' in a combat zone.
    There may be other ways, but I had issues getting my bennies because we worked out of the Det at Udorn in non-combat zone Thailand.
    Since all of what we did was/is classified, it was not easy for me to show I qualified, and I was denied my VA medical bennies at first.
    But once my 'unclassified duty station history' was reviewed ... at the proper level, I was magically authorized to receive my full VA medical bennies.

    Man, am I 'ever' thankful for that!! :)
  4. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Squier-holic

    Sep 2, 2015
    Present, but unwilling to share.
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  5. I can respect that ...
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  6. jskeen

    jskeen Squier-holic

    Feb 9, 2016
    USAF active duty '87 to '91. After A-school at Sheppard AFB, got sent to Osan AB, ROK (South Korea) for a one year short tour that ended up lasting 18 months, but still didn't get me a preferred west coast station back stateside. Ended up at Dover hole De, the armpit of the AF. Tried for another year to get orders anywhere else then was told "If you repop for 4 more with an open overseas preference, we can try to get you orders somewhere. Considering that was right in the middle of the buildup to desert storm and I was carrying a field medic certification in addition to my primary AFSC as biomedical equipment tech, I was pretty sure that the "somewhere" they had in mind was not a place where my suave and debonair persona was going to win me much appreciation from the indigs. Besides, it was beach season in northern Maryland, and I had a buddy with a condo in Ocean City. So I opted to just ride it on out the door where I was, as the AF equivilant to a "Terminal Lance".
  7. Brettdvd

    Brettdvd Squier-Nut

    Sep 24, 2015
    Currently serving! USAF! loving every minute of it, even the shoddy bits haha. coming up on 8 years.
  8. OzinKY

    OzinKY Squier-Meister

    Feb 10, 2017
    Incredible story Gary. As you stated our friends in the media and Hollyweed typically get it wrong. I did 26+ in the Army, biomedical equipment tech, retired 4+ years ago. Unlike Sled and Flyer, 90% of what I worked with was either in the civvie medicine world or would be later. I did a few things most of my peers didn't: Airborne and Air Assault. No big deal, just part of my units' missions. Around the world 8-10 times, lost count, to the nasty sandbox three times. Certainly did not intend to make a career but pieces fell together. It was an honor to serve. That's all I have to say about that (in my best F. Gump voice). Thanks to all who have raised their right hands, both mil and law enforcement. Pics from 6 years ago and a few weeks ago. Oz

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    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
  9. hudsonnh

    hudsonnh Squier-holic

    Aug 28, 2011
    Marshall, VA
    1976 to 1982 - Navy.
    I was in the "eastern Pacific" when my time was up - that was all we could say at the time and I've never bothered to check if it is any different now.

    Never really experienced anything that turned out to be life threatening except the night I electrocuted myself with 3000 volts - off the coast of Cuba while working on a radar....
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  10. jefffam

    jefffam Dr. Squier

    Jan 26, 2015
    Portland, TN
    I am a non-combat vet. Outside of the dust-up in Granada, there was not any major combats while I was in. Desert Shield wound up after I got out. I'm sure some of the soldiers I trained were involved. I was in 83-90 13B/Field Artillery. While serving on the guns & eventually a gun chief, I was also training NCO from 84 to 89. Then I moved off the guns to Operations NCO my last couple of years. I missed Chief of Firing Battery by 2 weeks time in grade, LOL. While the Battery Commander decided to run with no Gunnery Sergeant, I still had to fill in as such often.

    My time in was good, but weight issues and PT did me in (I never could run correctly).

    Thank you to all that served and took the oath with no ending date.

    PLDC graduation Baumholder. FRG.

    zzzSTBarbaras Day89cc.jpg
    Me, the better half & a very young son St. Barbara's Day Ball '89
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
  11. wickedtools

    wickedtools Squier-holic

    May 16, 2010
    west texas
  12. OzinKY

    OzinKY Squier-Meister

    Feb 10, 2017
    Quite a bit in common. First of all, I always heard some place in N. Dakota was the AF's armpit, lol. Also biomed, trained at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center. Was Sr. Instructor once the skool went DoD at Sheppard. Also been to the ROK, twice, both at Camp Carrol (Waegwan, north of Taegu). Spent some time at Osan. Great ville outside there, can't remember the name. Second time there my DEROS was 9/11. Long story.
  13. Yea, me too ... it was Minot AFB.

    I think the common statement was "Why not Minot"! ;)
    Typically followed up with a quick quote from Mr. Zappa that went something like ... "Hush you Muskies, watch out where those huskies go, and don't you eat the yellow snow". :)
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
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  14. Treynor

    Treynor Squier-holic

    Jun 22, 2016
    Dallas, Texas
    My thanks to all who have and do serve!

    US Army, 1978 - 2001. Many friends, many memories, proud to serve.
  15. jskeen

    jskeen Squier-holic

    Feb 9, 2016
    Yah, yah, why not Minot...."Land of the Frozen Chozen" and all that jazz.

    Let me lay some truth upon you. The reality is that Minot is a TAC (Tactical Air Command) base. IE, it's a missile command center. That means that it's literally crawling with blue flame specials. The ossifer to grunt ratio is way out of kilter because there are literally hundreds of lefteniants, captains and wannabe majors and short cnl' s who are off their "30 Days in The Hole" (gratuitous classic rock reference), wandering around with nothing better to do than ***** to their old man, congresscritter, otherwise important person, or whatever, about how shitty the weather is, how lousy the barracks, are, and how crappy the chow is in the mess. JUNIOR ossifers tend to be related to, associated with, or otherwise able to influence Senior Ossifers, who are in charge of where the money goes and how it gets spent.

    Dover Hole, Delaware, on the other hand is a MAC (Military Airlift Command) base. IE, cargo planes are the only thing moving in and outta there. And what is the worst fate assigned to screw up pilots? To quote Stinger from top gun, "I'll have you flying a cargo plane......". How many ossifers does it take to fly a C5 from a 2 mile land g strip in Delaware to another 2 mile landing strip in Germany? One, and he only has to be awake for about 20 minutes on either end. In contrast, how many grunts does it take to load and unload that plane? "Who gives a ****, Grunts don't know anybody important, or they wouldn't be grunts"
    Enlisted barracks at Dover were built sometime during the Korean conflict, (I remember this, because I had just been there). The hot water water worked about half the time in the gang showers at the end if the hallway (If you got up before 0600, otherwise it was zero percent). The NCO club was so pathetic that even the e2's and e3's had better things to do. Don't even get me started on the hospital. Even the geriatrics cases hated being there. God knows most of them deserved better.

    Bitter much? Not me. Hell no. I knew better. The only notable thing about Dover AFB at all is that it is the main mortuary site for the military on the east coast. So we did a lot of Honor escort duty and working at the hospital, we didn't just salute sharply and hand the box off, we were with them from start to finish.
    So yeah, there may be some confusion about where they will put the needle to give the AF it's long overdue enema, but I know where I would rather not be.
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  16. I see Mississippi- in your avatar info ... is that were you are stationed?

    I was stationed at Keesler for some training, but not when it was referred to as the "Riviera of the Gulf Coast.
    I was there just after Camille laid waste to the entire area in '69.

    At that time we were actually teaching 'our friends' ... the Iranians, to fly T28 Trojans!
    Funny how things change ... ;)
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
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  17. OzinKY

    OzinKY Squier-Meister

    Feb 10, 2017
    “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” G.K. Chesterton

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  18. Bob the builder

    Bob the builder Squier-Meister

    Feb 25, 2017
    Rhode Island USA
    Ty to everyone of you for your service. You are loved and appreaciated
  19. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Squier-Axpert

    Dec 12, 2009
    Swanton Ohio
    4 years USMC..Grunted where and when I was ordered to grunt..
  20. pkevinb

    pkevinb Squier-Nut

    Sep 30, 2012
    Western Pennsylvania
    U.S. Navy, '81-'85 in an A-6 Intruder squadron and deployed on the U.S.S. Nimitz for two Med cruises during the Beriut Lebanon mess.
    For the most part, I enjoyed it, and my service has helped me get a couple of jobs since.