Leaving Danang in the late summer of 1967 to some point up north did not mean much to most of us. We had been living in tents for the past week in the sand and we were ready to get to some place that we could call home. The battalion "march ordered" and we were on our way. I remember the convoy was quite long and the countryside was very pretty as we traveled through Hue, Quang Tri and on to the Dong Ha Combat Base (DACB). They called it a "show of force" but I kinda enjoyed the trip, my thoughts were if this is what the war is like then it might not be so bad after all.
We arrived there in the late afternoon and were welcomed by the Marines who put us outside the perimeter and reality then set in. It was hot and dry; really not much vegetation, but we had a panoramic view of the DMZ. Immediate contact was made with the Seabees and soon we had a trencher and trenches 18 in wide, 6 foot deep and several yards long were dug. These were the trenches that we could jump into when Sir Charles decided that we needed shelling. And then THE RAINS CAME.
The monsoon season was nothing like I had ever seen before. The rain blew side ways, and the temporary shelters of GP Med. tents did little to keep us dry. The rain would come so hard that the water would flow through our tent and I know it must have been an inch deep. We had canvas cots that we had taken from Fort Sill and you could hear the water rushing underneath all night long.
As I look back I wonder what those poor souls that we were fighting were doing. They had no base camp; no trenches, no cover, little food and the big guns of the DMZ were constant raining steel on their head. And I thought we had it rough.
Being in a tent with CW2 Bob Boyle was always entertaining as he never stepped outside to relieve himself. According to him a little more water would not hurt, so he relieved himself there in the tent. My kind of guy.
Being in the semi-dry tents was of little consequences as we ran for the trenches to escape the incoming rockets and artillery that the enemy sent our way. Some smart GI had decided that to stay out of the mud, we could use old ammo pallets in the bottom of the trenches. We ran for cover, jumped in the trenches, but the pallets were then floating and the entire battery almost drown.
Thirty years will not permit me to remember when the rains let up, but they did, and that was when we worked in earnest to be prepared for the next raining season. We built our "hooch’s" and protected ourselves the best we could while trying to stay out of the elements. But the miscalculations of our architect (CW2 Boyle), on-site engineer (CW2 Boyle) and our construction foreman (CW2 Boyle) had forgotten the fury of the rain, and the RAIN DID COME AGAIN.
Being the junior warrant I was delegated the duties of "holder, gofer and procurer" of the necessary material. I did not get to make any of the decisions about the general construction; but felt it was my place to question the measurements of some of the boards that were cut. When I asked him if he was sure of the measurements, he would go into his tirade of New Orleans street talk and would pull out his measuring tape again. When I did gain enough courage to make a suggestion about the design my intelligence was questioned, but often times he did accept these suggestions but not before I would take a another tongue lashing.
He had designed a back porch on our hooch that was on the same level as our interior floor and it acted as a funnel to send all the water right into our house. In his words we were now living in a swamp. With ingenuity and a McCullock chain saw he knew he could solve the problem. He crawled under the back porch and without measuring tools commenced to cut the foundation legs from the porch. Soon our porch was six inches below our hooch’s floor and we were in the dry once again. Good job Bob.
I was permitted to name our hooch "Da Place" and it was there, we spent many hours solving the world’s problems. There were three Warrants that occupied Da Place. Gordon Hafeman’s cot was the first one on the right as you entered. He was the personnel warrant worked very long hours in a personnel tent in the HQ Battery area. Under the most difficult conditions he kept the body count, the DEROS dates the R and R rosters, awards and our personal files in shape. We could never give enough credit to him and his people. In the back left corner was Boyle, who always had his Flack jacket so arranged that he could roll from his bunk into the jacket and be out the door before any of us.
Across from him was yours truly. Here three completely different personalities that some would call the "old couple" or should I say "the odd three". Boyle had to have every thing in its proper place. Gordon was the most organized and meticulously clean, and then I suppose I was somewhere in the middle. What’s even more odd is that I cannot remember our replacements or ever sharing our quarters with any other person.
Joe L. Talley
Service Btry 67-68