Tower 4 Phu Loi Vietnam

Discussion in 'Vietnam' started by David Layne, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    [​IMG]


    This is Tower 4 Phu Loi Vietnam. Our camp was ringed with these towers, I don't recall how many, perhaps 10. Between the towers were fortified bunkers. I spent many hours in Tower 4 or in a bunker keeping watch on my comrades in arms. We pulled 12 hour shifts, two men to a bunker or tower. During daylight hours the bunkers were not manned.

    We were equipped with an M60 Machine gun, an M79 grenade launcher. Some of the various rounds we had available for the M79 were, HE=High Explosive, WP=White Phosphous (Willy Pete), Beehive=Little metal darts about an inch and a half in length, Shotgun=buckshot pellets. We didn't have tear gas but it was available for this weapon.

    In addition we also had our own personal M16.

    We had night vision binoculars in the tower. They were called "Starlight Scopes" and they were crap. We had a little ditty we used to sing " "Star Light Star Bright, Kill the First Gook I See Tonight."


    In front of the tower, in the minefield, we had Claymore mines and Foo Gas that was detonated by a
    a small hand-held firing device we called a clacker. The claymore was an antipersonnel mine which, when detonated, propelled small steel cubes in a 60-degree fan-shaped pattern to a maximum distance of 100 meters. Foo Gas was a mixture of explosives and napalm, set in a fifty-gallon drum.

    During our instruction for Guard Duty we were told of Sappers coming through the wire and getting so close to the bunkers they turned the Claymores around and faced them toward the bunker not away.


    Take note; the wire, then the mine field, then the open killing fields. Agent Orange was used to keep the grass mowed and the weeds down. Phu Loi was a distribution center for Agent Orange spraying operations. Much was sprayed around the base which was circular. So whatever way the wind blew the mist covered us on the base.


    From the picture you can see how close the village was that we were guarding ourselves against.

    When I arrived in Vietnam I was assigned to a Replacement Company and from there to my duty station at Phu Loi. On arrival at my duty company I was assigned to the security platoon until they could figure out what to do with me. As it implies the security platoon was responsible for the security of a section of the perimeter. I would have been in the security company about two weeks which is the time frame of these stories.

    My first day with the security platoon we had to go into the minefield and repair barbed wire or spray Agent Orange; anyway one fellow stepped on an anti personnel mine and blew his foot off, had been in country like me for 1 day!

    Many hours of boredom were endured in these towers. There is nothing like a bored creative G.I. to get something started. To us well fed G.I.'s our side of the fence must have smelled like heaven because the villagers dogs were always attracted to us, and therefore came to us, right through our mine fields! We would whistle to them, shout , hoot and holler and laugh like hell if they trod on an anti personnel mine. Hey we were bored, just wanted to blow something up and see if the mine field really worked.

    Up there in Tower 4 we also had parachute flares! Oh boy what fun they were! A parachute flare comes in a perhaps 18" metal tube that the operator fires by striking with his hand, a flare is fired that rises to perhaps 300' and illuminates the terrain below dangling under a parachute.

    Well us well trained G.I.'s used to take the parachute out of the flare tube, reassemble it without parachute and fire it at the village outside the perimeter. That always used to get them running, and to us it was fair as they were shooting rockets at us too. C'est la guerre!

    We did not experience full scale NVA attacks through the wire. Victor Charlie would infiltrate through the wire and place satchel charges where ever he could but that was rare. More common was for Victor Charlie to shoot rockets at us. In response we would call "Puff The Magic Dragon" and a C47 (DC3) would show up and with his mini guns a roaring to lay down a field of fire just outside the wire. We G.I.'s would be up on top of the bunkers screaming and yelling just like we were at a football game!

    Tower Duty was always sort after, especially by the dopers in the company. It was one of the few places where one could be truly isolated. To his front the soldier would have a mine field that had perhaps 4 rows of concertina barbed running parallel to him. To his rear the perimeter road. Perched "high" in his tower the on duty trooper could see everything that was taking place around him and it was basically an impossibility for the Duty Officer to catch him unawares.

    Not that the Duty Officer would try too hard. In those days there was a very poor officer enlisted relationship. While fragging never took place in our company I do recall the officers showers receiving a CS gas grenade for a present. Wow does that sting a naked wet body.

    It was another boring hot day in the tower. There were no village dogs outside the wire to entice into the mine field. What to do? Just outside the wire was a little pagoda structure with some type of religious icon contained in it, about 5 feet high, the villagers would visit it on occasion.

    Says one G.I. to the other "Reckon I can hit that thing with my M79 before the Officer of the Day gets here?" So we were on! We took turns at taking pot shots at it with our grenade launchers until we saw the officer’s jeep come tearing out of the company area and race down the perimeter road in our direction.

    Pulling up the second lieutenant shouted up to us an enquiry as to what we were firing at. Not us we replied, but we thought we heard something down at Tower 6. So the officer jumps back in his jeep and speeds off to Tower 6 in a cloud of dust. Just too funny! Butterbars were so much fun to mess with.

    In case you’re wondering, when I was there no enemy was shot from Tower 4. Just VC dogs.

    So one more Tower 4 story. I wasn't in the tower for this one; I was manning the bunker next to it. I told earlier how we could take the parachute off a parachute flare and then fire it as a projectile that would burn on the ground for awhile. Well this G.I. in the tower removed the parachute from a flare with the intention of firing the flare into the village to piss off the locals.

    He fired the flare but it did not clear the roof of the tower. It hit the inside roof did a 180 and hit the guy who had fired it before exiting out the door. Cries of great pain came from the tower and it transpired that our friend had a huge gash in his leg that was bleeding profusely and would need immediate attention.

    We made the required calls and the officer of day turned up and then the medics. We made up this story that the flare had been fired from the village. An alert was called, the whole base was awoken and sent to their posts, helicopters took off and menaced the village and Puff the Magic Dragon turned up.

    By dawn things had quietened down and the sleepy G.I.'s made their way to work while this G.I. who was just coming off guard duty laughed himself to sleep. Boy we had some fun. My buddy in the tower by the way got a purple heart for the incident!

    [​IMG]


    I don't know why this picture is not as large as the others.
     
    Paul Reed, dbf, Owen and 1 other person like this.
  2. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    More please, David. Honest personal stuff like this from any war is of interest to me.

    Must confess I've been sort of intrigued for a long while as to how an Englishman from Grantham ended up in that particular conflict.
     
  3. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    David,

    I echo Adam's words. More, please and thanks.
     
  4. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    David
    Thanks for the post, please update your thread with further memories of your tour
     
  5. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    [​IMG]

    Here is a view from the tower looking along the perimeter. This is the road that the lieutenant came dashing down when he thought we were under attack.
     
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    It may sound a daft question but did you still have a British accent back then?
    Just seems odd a GI in Nam with a East Anglian accent, don't get them in the films.
    ;)
     
  7. Assam

    Assam Senior Member

    Very much enjoyed reading about your time in SEA



    Roll Tide Roll

    Simon
     
  8. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    More please, David. Honest personal stuff like this from any war is of interest to me.

    Must confess I've been sort of intrigued for a long while as to how an Englishman from Grantham ended up in that particular conflict.

    I will do a couple of stories here for you.

    Long story Von Poop but in 1966 I moved to America as things in the UK were fairly depressed at that time. Eighteen months later I was drafted. I could have returned to the UK but I wanted to "see the elephant."

    I returned to the UK in 1974 and remained for 5 years before deciding that my future would be more rewarding in the U.S.A a decision I have not regretted.
     
  9. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    Owen I still have an unmistakable English accent and one that I take pride in. In fact I make at least an annual visit to the UK just to get it readjusted!

    Actually I met several Englishmen in the US Army. I flew with an O1 Bird Dog pilot who was English. We became pals and I flew with him operationally at night when we were spotting for activity.
     
  10. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Ah , just found this old pic of you that some of the newer members may not have seen.
    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/barracks/attachment.php?attachmentid=5137&d=1176410316

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/barracks/10577-post-picture-yourself-uniform.html

    Now trying to find that thread where you asked us about the captured weapons in the back of a truck you asked us to ID a few years back.
    aha! found it.
    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/64527-post36.html

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=7119&d=1193660225
     
  11. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    [​IMG]

    This is one of the bunkers that came between the towers. These bunkers were made from sandbags and then layered with concrete and had a firing slit facing the "enemy."

    Bunker duty was not popular. The bunkers were dark and dank and didn't half stink.
    During the monsoon season they were full of water, insects and various creepy crawlies.

    When on bunker duty G.I.'s would usually sit on top of the bunker, unless of course the monsoon rains were coming down.
     
  12. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    [​IMG]


    Here is another view on tower 4. Directly behing the tower was the "boneyard" where aircraft that had been damaged either by enemy action or accidents were dumped.
     
  13. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    [​IMG]

    Here is a view from the air. Tower 4 is located to the right hand corner of the base between the two bodies of monsoon water.

    Our airfield had a runway long enough to accomodate c 130's, c 123's etc.
     
  14. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Long story Von Poop but in 1966 I moved to America as thing is in the UK were fairly depressed at that time. Eighteen months later I was drafted. I could have returned to the UK but I wanted to "see the elephant."
    I'd assumed something similar.
    Kind of admirable, mate; sign up for the country, and everything else that goes with it.

    Googling about, I see that the Japanese built the airstrip in WW2.
    https://sites.google.com/site/vietnamreturn/phuloi
    The airfield was carved out of the jungle by the Japanese with forced labor. Planes took off here on 10 December, 1941 and participated in the sinking of the British Capital Ships, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse.
    Assuming the chap knows his stuff, that's quite a little nugget of history.

    Looks like the area has built up a tad since back then:
    View attachment Phu Loi.kmz
     
  15. 26delta

    26delta Senior Member

    Judging by the amount of build-up, I would guess you, David, are from a later "class" than I am. I was split-stationed between 64th QM, Long Binh and 223rd S&T, Tan Son Nhut, class of 1967-68.
     
  16. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    I'd assumed something similar.
    Kind of admirable, mate; sign up for the country, and everything else that goes with it.

    Googling about, I see that the Japanese built the airstrip in WW2.
    https://sites.google.com/site/vietnamreturn/phuloi
    Assuming the chap knows his stuff, that's quite a little nugget of history.

    Looks like the area has built up a tad since back then:
    View attachment 74124

    Thanks for the information, I knew that the Japanese were at Phu Loi but didn't know about the HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse connection.

    Google would not work for me so could not see how it has changed. I am hopeful that one day I can return.
     
  17. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  18. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    Judging by the amount of build-up, I would guess you, David, are from a later "class" than I am. I was split-stationed between 64th QM, Long Binh and 223rd S&T, Tan Son Nhut, class of 1967-68.

    I was in country 1969/70. I knew Long Binh and Tan Son Nhut well, I was at one or the other weekly for a reason I am saving for another story!

    I do recall that there was an excellent Chinese Restaurant on Long Binh which was like manna from heaven for us G.I's coming in from the boonies.
     
  19. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    Try pasting these into GE:
    10°59'32.31"N, 106°42'6.31"E
    (Assuming I got the area right, grabbed 'em from another veteran's site.)

    Maps link (I hope):
    10°59'32.31"N, 106°42'6.31"E - Google Maps

    Thanks, that worked I think!

    Presuming it is the same place and not one with the same name I did not recognize a thing! I could not even find the Army Airfield and that area is a lot more built up than when I was there.
     
  20. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    [​IMG]


    I mentioned earlier about "Puff the Magic Dragon" that would give us support on our perimeter.

    Puff was a C47 (DC3 Dakota) with mini-guns installed in the doors. Puff would circle an area and lay down a field of fire that was awesome to observe.

    My photo will give you an idea, I wish I could replicate the sound of those beauties.
     

Share This Page