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Submitted by: Norm Hahn, NMCB 62 Secretary
From: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
CommentsThis is an on-going conversation between Bill Hilderbrand, NMCB 62 Life Member, and Secretary Norm about the definition of "Who is a Plank Owner of NMCB 62?. (It is edited)
I think this is a topic to discuss with the reunion group leadership and reach a consensus as to the criteria you want to go by. Certainly everyone present at the commissioning ceremony qualifies. Another group to consider would be anyone who had reported prior to the commissioning date for transfer to the battalion, but were unable for some reason to be present (away at school, on sick leave, emergency leave, TAD elsewhere, etc.). You may also want to consider anyone who reported to the battalion after the commissioning date, but in time to make the first deployment - many of them would have received their orders prior to the commissioning date, but were unable to detach their last duty station and report in time. There were a lot of guys at the CTU finishing their basic Seabee training who then headed to the battalion. Also, with the battalion in homeport for six months before deploying, you may also find some guys who didnt deploy because they didnt have enough active duty time left to go on deployment (they were leaving the active Navy) - but that is no reason for them to be denied plank ownership status.
You can make it as simple as you like, or agree on some flexibility.
Just some thoughts. Bill (Hilderbrand, CAPT, CEC, Retied).
See below for the response Captain Hilderbrand received from NHHC
(Naval History and Heritage Command) relative to plank owner . Also take a look at the website link he included.
"Plank owner" is a traditional term and is not covered by Navy regulation. The term has been defined in different ways by different Navy units. Originally, this term applied only to crew members present at the ship's first commissioning. Please see information on this tradition on our website at Naval History and Heritage Command - Heritage Customs and Traditions Plank Owners.
This is Secretary Norm: NMCB 62 was recommissioned at NCBC, Gulfport on 2 July 1966. Our first deployment left for Vietnam in December 1966 and returned to Gulfport in August 1967. I am in agreement with Captain Hilderbrand regarding who meets the criteria for "NMCB 62 Plank Owner". We will have more member discussion and reach a consensus after the 2020 April reunion.
Submitted by: Norm Hahn, NMCB 62 Secretary
From: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
CommentsI wanted to ask Bill Hilderbrand, CAPT, CEC, USN, Retired, two questions, the answers we can put on this website. Captain Hilderbrand is a Life Member of the NMCB 62 Alumni Group. (the conversations are edited).
Can you do me a big favor, two actually?
I'm looking for two explanations, which I want to put in our website.
The first is "Why Was NMCB 62 Decommissioned". You have spoken about this at lease twice at our reunion meeting and now I would like you to write it down so it will be preserved.
The second is what is the definition of a Plankowner? NMCB 62 was recommissioned on 2 July 1966 at Gulfport, but with not a full compliment. The first deployment was from Dec 66 to Aug 67. (with a full compliment) My question is: Are the folks who were physically at the recommissioning called "Plankowners" and not the others who were on the 1st deployment? Or, are both considered "Plankowners". Good question. I can't answer it.
Can you put it in the form of two documents. We can work on it for now and come to a conclusion. Then you can sign both using your titles. Do you have fancy paper forms such as used for shellback certificates? Then you can read both of them at our April 2020 Sunday morning meeting, or someone can, your choice. After that they will be historical documents.
Let me know please. Keep safe and warm, thanks, Norm
From: William Hilderbrand
To: Norm Hahn Jan 12, 2020
The SIXTY-TWO reunion group is so very fortunate to have as dedicated a leader as you are - my hat is off to you!! I am going to miss this years Gulfport (and NMCB 62) Reunion because Gloria and I will be away on a trip/tour of Greece. I will miss seeing all of you.
On your question about plank-ownership, I have asked RADM(ret) Cox, the head of the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, DC to clarify for me whether the Navy has a specific definition of plank-owner, and based on his response I will provide my understanding of who is and who isnt a plank-owner.
In regard to de-commissioning of a Navy unit, I offer the following:
De-commissioning of a unit is driven by a decision to cancel or consolidate/transfer a mission and/or Navy end strength (manning levels) reductions directed by DoD. When end strength reductions are the cause, the lower number must be met by 30 September of the year specified.
The Navy leadership reviews its manning throughout the Navy to determine how much of the reduction can be accomplished by trimming the manning for individual units and at what point it is more effective to decommission individual units. This is a very complex process as reduction in manning results in reduction in capability and the ability to respond to future events.
If the decision is made to decommission units (ships, Seabee battalions, Seal teams, etc.), the deployment schedules for the various units are reviewed. Units are deployed, getting ready to deploy, or returning from deployment. The focus is on where a unit will be on 30 September.
A deployed unit is generally exempt because it would have to be replaced on-site. Decommissioning a unit about to deploy would result in the loss/waste of thousands of hours and the associated costs of training and effort in preparation for deployment. Choosing a unit recently returned from deployment minimizes the lost effort and cost, and impact on other Navy units. Past performance and accomplishments of a unit is almost never a factor.
I hope this helps. I dont have any particular letterhead to put this on, but feel free to use it in whatever format best serves your purpose and cite me as your reference.
Bill (Sent from my iPhone)
Submitted by: Norm Hahn
From: Eau Claire, Wis.
CommentsQuite often I get emails from those whose Dads were Seabees and they are looking for information. Here is the latest example:
On Friday, January 10, 2020, Debbie Higdon wrote:
My dad is a Seabee from years ago. He is 88 years old now and would like to speak with someone about attending a meeting, etc. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida. Below is my information.
Please either call me or email me directly and I will get info to my Dad. Thanks so much for your time.
Debbie Higdon. (email address & phone # deleted)
From: Norm Hahn To: Debbie Higdon Cc: Normand Dupuis. Jan 10, 2020.
Thank you for your email and your call. It is better if we use email, because we can refer back to them.
There are many current Seabee groups in Florida that meet for lunches and have meetings. I am copying my good friend Normand Dupuis who will help you and your Dad to get in contact with folks in Florida. He also has an outstanding facebook page:
OPERATION SEABEES KNOWLEDGE As I read your email again, I would suggest that you post that on Normand's Operation Seabees Knowledge facebook page.
It is important that your Dad knows the number of his old Seabee Battalion. We have many battalion contact points on our NMCB 62 website. Go here to view the Seabee contacts: (website address deleted) After you have looked at the contact list, feel free to explore the website.
Does your Dad have a copy of his service record? I will attach some information about that for you. You may want to go to the Navy Seabee Veterans of America: (website address deleted) they have a lot of info.
Take some time to look at the websites and also the attachments I'm including. I am the Secretary of the NMCB 62 Alumni Group, and work with the folks in that Battalion. If your Dad was in that Battalion, I can help. If he was not, you will need Normand Dupuis to help him.
If, after you have looked at the attachments, visited the websites and talked to Normand and you still have questions, please give me a call. I'll do my best to assist you. Best regards, Norm.
On Jan 11, 2020, at 9:46 AM, Normand Dupuis wrote:
Norm and Debbie,
Thanks Norm for the compliment and the referral. Debbie, do you have a Facebook account? If you do, I can have replies sent directly to your FB account from anyone that responds to the appeal I post in the SEABEE groups. Otherwise I might miss some because I can't possibly keep tabs on all of them after I've posted for you. If there's no other way I'll send you whatever I can find out by e-mail. I may just start a Facebook group for a Tallahassee SEABEE SWARM myself to begin the process of locating BEES in that area for you. Stand by for more info, Norm Dupuis.
On Saturday, January 11, 2020 Debbie Higdon wrote:
Yes, I do have a Facebook Account.
My name on Facebook is: Deborah Lambert Higdon. If you request me to be your friend I will accept the invitation. Thanks so much! Debbie Higdon.
From: Normand Dupuis To: Debbie Higdon
Cc: Norm Hahn Jan 11, 2020.
Driving now, using cell. Send me a friend request. My profile picture (is) me and another SEABEE posing with an old SEABEE truck with orange trees in the background.
This is Secretary Norm again. Working together we can make things work. CAN DO.
Submitted by: Tom Kidney
From: Maryville, TN
CommentsHeading to the Annual Seabee Reunion in Gulfport this year. First time attending and hopefully run into some buddies and tell lies!! That's what old Seabees do!! If anyone knows where, John Weise, "Buck" Bell, Ralph Himes are at??
Submitted by: Norm Hahn, NMCB 62 Secretary
From: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
CommentsMaster Chief Jarvis Wood will be unable to attend the 2020 Gulfport reunion and speak at our Sunday meeting.
On Wednesday, December 11, 2019, 11:08:19 AM CST, Jarvis Wood wrote:
This is a very difficult email for me to write to you today, but I find it necessary to let you know that I must cancel my plans to attend the 2020 Seabee Reunion. Some health issues have slipped up on me, so I discussed my proposed travel plans with my Doctor for his guidance. He strongly recommended that I not consider such long distance travels due to my current blood clot history and other issues. I sincerely regret having to make this cancellation decision. Diane and I were both looking forward to the proposed trip and attending the Reunion. At 89 years of age, I guess I must accept the fact that some of my normal life styles and routines are going to change. Norm, I'm so sorry to let you down on my speaking at the NMCB 62 meeting, and I hope you will understand. Please accept my apologies. Sincerely,
Secretary Norm emails Master Chief Wood back:
Dear Master Chief Jarvis Wood:
I am sure sorry to hear that you will be unable to attend the 2020 Gulfport All Seabee Reunion and also speak at our NMCB 62 Sunday morning meeting. However, your health and longevity come first and you are most wise to heed the advice of your Doctor.
I will notify the appropriate folks that you will be unable to attend and will include these emails in that notification.
We all do understand. I'll mail you a copy of the DVD we make of all the photos we will take at that reunion.
Keep close to home and continue to keep healthy. Best regards, Norm. NMCB 62 Alumni Group secretary
Submitted by: Norm Hahn, NMCB 62 Secretary
From: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
CommentsI just emailed this to Cathy Titler at the Gulfport Historical Foundation so she could put it in the Can Do magazine and also on their website. I want to make sure all of you see it and have time to plan for this reunion. See our website link #1 for more info. You can make your hotel reservation NOW (and you should't wait). The reunion is casual dress and spouses are always welcome. Remember to bring your camera. Plan to depart Monday. (Here is the email I sent her).
I can't seem to find that I emailed you our reunion notice for April 2020. So, I guess I didn't. Here it is:
NMCB 62 (in conjunction with the 2020 Gulfport All Seabee Reunion).
23 - 26 April 2020 at Gulfport, MS. Our 0930 Sunday morning annual meeting speaker will be the 5th Master Chief of the Seabees Jarvis Wood who was the Senior Chief of Dets Buford and Barracuda in Nam. He will be introduced by Regimental Master Chief Price Richardson who was also a Minuteman CM3 during that same time period. Norm Hahn, 715-379-8482. More information is on our website (address removed)
I know this is a little long, but it's necessary to get the word out. I would be thankful if you could publish it all in the Can Do and on your website.
Let me know please. Happy Holidays and Many thanks, Norm
Submitted by: Gerry Shimek
From: Twin Cities, Minnesota
CommentsMinuteman from '73 - 75; Builder, Delta Co.
Boot camp Jan 73 @ San Diego
A School March 73 @ Port Hueneme
Joined MCB 62 July 73 @ Gulfport
Deployed to Guam & worked Camp Security, Fleet HQ, Polaris Point EM Club. Nickname "Red" (along with several other "Reds")
Detachment Atsugi & worked barracks rehab.
Detachment Edzell & worked on hanger rehab, Comm center expansion (downward), ball diamonds, EM Club rehab.
Was federal employee in 2004 and volunteered for Katrina relief to Gulfport. Hardly recognized the place. Spent 30 days providing basic shelter to survivors. Was able to briefly get on to CBC Gulfport for a quick self-tour.
Bumped into a few Battalion-mates over the years in odd places. Always good.
Best wishes, Bros.
Submitted by: Jim Jones
From: Waverly TN
CommentsSince I retried in 1980 from Diego Garcia, just saying Hi to all who were there between 1978 and 1980. If you remember the building with the orange door and the ham call-signs on it, that's where I hung out, talking to the world. My day job was running the line crew for the base and then taking over the telephone exchange when the other E6 left, I was his replacement. I was in NMCB-8 in Nam and also NMCB-5.
I originally started as a Radioman on an Aircraft carrier, USS Shanghai-la (CVA38), the volunteered for Submarines and qualified on an FBM USS John Marshall SSBN611. Went to shore duty and at that time there was a call up for volunteers for the Bee's. Since Radioman cross rated to Construction Electrician, I submitted the paper work and my next stop was Port Hueneme CA then MCB-8. From there to MCB-5, then a stint in Edzell Scotland and finally Diego Garcia. Now I have a horse ranch in TN. If you think the Bee's is hard work, just work with 1200 lbs horses every day. Rain or shine they have to be fed, groomed and the barn cleaned.
Submitted by: Norm Hahn, Alumni Group Secretary
From: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
CommentsThis is a email conversation with Norm Hahn and Gina Nichols of the Seabee Historical Foundation at Pt. Hueneme and an email conversation between Norm Hahn and Roman Hnatowski, EAC, Retired, NMCB 62 Plankowner.
+++++++These two emails have been edited.+++++++++
From: Norm Hahn
To: Gina Nichols
Cc: Roman Hnatowski, Raymond Ruiz, Richard Ruiz
Sep 16, 2019 at 10:29 PM
Some of our Seabee brothers have developed health problems which have been fatal to them or will be fatal to then. Others have health problems which will shorten or already have shortened their lives. Agent Orange and Camp Lejeune water to name only a few. We all know this is so and is not a new revelation. The problem seems to be that certain training or certain places that the person has been during the coarse of their duties is not documented or possibly not correctly documented in their service records or NMCB 62 records.
Here are a few emails which speak to the problem. I've condensed the space to make reading easier.
From: Roman Hnatowski
To: Richard Ruiz & Raymond Ruiz Sep 11, 2019.
Chico & Rocky,
Hope this email finds both you and your families in Good Health & Happiness!
Ive spoken to a number of Seabee Veterans who had been to Camp Lejeune with various Seabee Battalions and are facing medical problems that could possibly be covered under the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Program. Unfortunately, each one is hampered with his inability to prove to the VA that he was in Camp Lejeune for 30 days.
As 2 of our dynamic & outstanding PNs, I was hoping that either of you might be able to shed some light on what our Battalions procedure was for documenting our stay at Camp Lejeune and possibly how to otherwise correct the lack of documentation to enable fellow Bees in filing their claims. I have been told by a friend who was a Disability Claims Advisor working for the DAV that without the documentation proof, claims would not even be entertained.
Though not personally affected, I feel I have to investigate any and all options for our brothers. Again, this isnt just an NMCB 62 problem, but a number of Battalions who trained in Camp Lejeune did not document their Bees training which is hindering individual claims submitted. Any insight or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. V/r, Roman (Hnatowski, EAC, Retired).
On Sep 11, 2019, at 9:14 PM. From: drock2know
wrote: to Roman Hnatowski:
All training was recorded
In their service record if they can retrieve it. There should be beginning and ending dates.
Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device
From: Roman Hnatowski
To: drock2know Cc: Richard Ruiz. Sep 11, 2019 at 9:30 PM
Beg to differ with you, it probably should have been, but even in my case only 2 weeks of M60 machine gun training was annotated, nothing else from Camp Lejeune was documented. Per my record I only spent 2 weeks there, and thats totally incorrect. If I had a qualifying medical condition I would not be able to prove my training, falling short of the 30 days needed.
Now 1), whose fault is the lack of documentation and 2), how to correct the error. As I stated before it didnt just happen in our battalion, maybe the Admin Chief or Officer didnt issue proper instructions or follow up to insure the work was done. Does this mean that the guys suffering from Bladder Cancer e.g. are screwed, I pray not. Whats your take on the problem/solution?
Roman (Hnatowski, EAC, Retired) Sent from my iPad.
This is Secretary Norm again. You can get an idea of the problem by these emails. This is not a "blame game" thing. What we / they are wanting is to get the right answers and dates so their issues can be resolved. None of us at this time, 2019, can create new documents to solve these problems. The documents must have been produced (typed, written or mimeographed) at that time period. The question seems to be where are the confirming documents now. A few years ago I contacted a fellow in Washington DC to get some info for the NMCB 62 alumni group. He did find some info from the National Records Center in Maryland and more info in the Washington Naval Yard. See the attachments below. Both are records storage facilities. We didn't sign any contracts as our Alumni Group Bank Account is darn small and is used to fund the website. I've also contacted a lady in the St. Louis, MO area whose business it is, for a fee, to get service members personnel records for them. However, I can't tell you if those seabees in need actually have gotten their service records.
You and I have been talking for years about similar problems and projects that you and the Historical Foundation have undertaken or will be undertaking soon if the funding and personnel are available to do them. All of us understand that there is no magic and that getting this additional documentation from wherever it has been stored is sometimes like a needle in a haystack and dreadfully time consuming and expensive. It is also possible, like I said before, that some / many of our guys have not gotten a copy of their personal service record and are hesitant to admit that.
Can you please give us some insight into some of the projects you've been working on to get this type of info procured and published. As I said earlier this is not a blame game deal. Have you helped other battalions with similar problems in the past? Is there something more we could be doing? Finding this type of info for NMCB 62, recommissioned in 2 July 1966, and procuring it from wherever it is now stored is a huge undertaking. We appreciate your help. And, we also understand that on our end, we must do our darndest to make sure our shipmates do their part and get a copy of their service record.
I'm rambling on a bit, I suppose. I would like to use some of this email and your response and put it together as a story of past, present and future efforts about how seabees can go about getting their info and how you and the Historical Foundation can help them and post that to our website and also to our NMCB 62 facebook page.
As always, thanks for your help and best regards, Norm.
NMCB 62 Alumni Group secretary
+++++++++++++This is her reply+++++++++++++++++++
From: Nichols, Gina L CIV USN USNSM (USA)
To: Norm Hahn
Cc: Roman Hnatowski, Raymond Ruiz, Richard Ruiz
Sep 17, 2019 at 11:35 AM
We received an email from Mr. Hnatowski in August and sent him the information he requested concerning the 1966 FEX at Camp Lejeune. For the last several years we have assisted numerous Seabee vets from various units concerning their time at Lejeune but the pace is increasing lately. Im assuming the word has gotten out as we were inundated this summer with individual requests. As you point out, the government requires 30 days on the ground and most FEX that I have seen at Lejeune run about 3 weeks. They need their DD-214s and entire files if they plan to win their claim. One of the issues is that NARA isnt great on sending the entire file but only a few pages, if that. Make sure they request their entire file and, if possible, go to St. Louis to do the research themselves. The NARA runners are lazy and wont always scan everything or put in much effort into finding the files.
I want you to understand why some projects take a long time and seem to be ignored while they arent. I have 7 linear feet of Monthly ops reports for NMCB62 just for 1966 to 1976. Each is at least 10 to 20 pages plus photographs. Now times that by 21 units in Vietnam " thats 147 linear feet or 264,600 pages that need to be scanned just to scan the monthly reports. I have one archivist who answers the more complex historical requests, processes collections, etc. and one volunteer who is here for 4 hours a week who scans for me. He was working on a project but I moved him to the monthly reports last week. As you can see from the volume, it will take a while but will benefit all the Vietnam vets. I had him start with NMCB62 and will send them to you when hes finished.
The issue is that there wont be any information on FEX at Camp Lejeune in any of the reports as they only write monthly reports for deployments, not homeport. For that, we have to dig deeper into alternate documents and periodicals, etc. We do this as we get requests. Each one is unique and needs to be researched on a case-by-case basis. We keep digital copies of each request to speed up any similar request from the same unit/year but when we get a new one we start from scratch again. We dont have the manpower to focus just on this issue but have to spread the wealth to others who need assistance as well.
Please let me know if you have any questions. Have a great day and Ill send you the link to the reports once my volunteers is done.
v/r, Gina Nichols, MA, CA, MLIS
Head, Collections Department/Supervisory Archivist
U.S. Navy Seabee Museum
Naval History and Heritage Command
Office: (805) 982-6497
The information herein is For Official Use Only (FOUO) which must be protected under the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended. Unauthorized disclosure or misuse of this PERSONAL INFORMATION may result in criminal and/or civil penalties.
Submitted by: Norm Hahn, NMCB 62 Alumni Group Secretary
From: Eau Claire, Wis.
CommentsThe following was provided by Roman Hnatowski, EAC, Retired, Life Member of the NMCB 62 Alumni Group.
Long read, but well worth it. Still learning new information about happenings from 51 years ago!
23 August 1968At 0300, a rocket/mortar attack occurred in the Red Beach area of Da Nang. Camp Haskins South received 5 rounds of 122mm rockets. Two rockets made direct hits on 2 living huts. One hut was completely destroyed by fire ignited by the rocket; the second hut was damaged beyond repair. Both huts were immediately rebuilt. The following NMCB-62 casualties were sustained:
BU3 Arthur Lloyd Adams, Jr. KIA
CN Daniel Joseph Bermingham KIA
CN David Allen Fleskes KIA
BU3 Richard Dale Hodges WIA
BU3 Troy William Frazier, Jr. WIA
BU3 Eilba Lamar Bagus WIA
HN Stephen Albert Hatras WIA
CN Ferrell Damon Johns WIA
Within Camp Haskins, NMCB-62 was assigned responsibility for for the defense of the southern sector of the camp defensive perimeter including its 15 bunkers. The average number of personnel manning the bunkers during the night was 45 (2 per bunker from the Security Force and 1 per bunker from the Companies). Each bunker was equipped with an M-60 machine gun, M-79 grenade launcher, 12 gauge shotgun plus individual M-16 rifles. In addition to the security personnel which manned the bunkers and company personnel which manned intermittent fighting holes on the perimeter during Conditions I and II, a 36 man Reaction Platoon from Headquarters Company was used as a stand by blocking force, ready to be deployed to any portion of the perimeter, if required.
From January until June 1968, The Security Element consisted of 50 men. Personnel served on Security for 6 to 12 weeks. Three of these personnel served as Sergeant of the Guard and 1 Petty Officer in Charge of Security. One officer was assigned the full time duties of Security Officer. In June, the Security Force was reduced to 36 men and augmented each night with 13 men from the duty section. The duty section men were assigned to bunkers, thereby maintaining a total of 3 men per bunker. The duty section personnel stood the first watch, allowing them to sleep the remainder of the night prior to going to work the next day with their companies. This arrangement was considered very successful and provided nine additional direct labor personnel for the Battalion. Each night 2 SOGs were on duty and reported to the OOD via the JOOD.
It was necessary to exercise extremely tight fire control, especially on the western portion of the perimeter, due to the Force Logistics Command complex which paralleled Camp Haskins perimeter 600 meters to the southwest. Friendly villages adjacent to the southern and southwestern perimeter would have been impact areas if rifle and/or machine gun fire had been employed. The same weapons would have been dangerous if employed on the beach section of the perimeter due to the many friendly craft in Da Nang Harbor. The 12 gauge shotgun was therefore found to be very effective against potential pilferers or other indigenous personnel as its range was limited to 50-100 yards. There were very few breaches of this fire control, and fire discipline throughout the deployment was considered outstanding.
The responsibility for manning the Camp Haskins main gate was assigned to the Battalion which occupied Camp Haskins South. Two day gate guards each stood 6 hour watches and checked all vehicles entering or leaving the camp, halting and searching all Foreign National vehicles. At the beginning of the deployment, the Battalion set up the process and commenced securing clearances and ID cards for all Foreign Nationals working on board Camp Haskins. This involved obtaining clearances through the Industrial Relations Office, Da Nang, for approximately 300 Vietnamese Nationals. Temporary passes were not permitted unless they had been properly cleared. These procedures entailed a significant amount of work during the first portion of the deployment, but proved well worth the effort after the security clearance system had been established.
Along with the day time operations of the main gate, 4 men were assigned to the gate at night; 2 stood watches in the bunker adjacent to the main gate, and 2 stood gate watch logging all vehicles entering or leaving camp.
Early in the deployment, there were several instances of men caught sleeping on watch. The only solution to the problem seemed to be for the SOGs, JOODs and OODs to frequently tour the defensive perimeter and check the bunkers and personnel, ensuring they were alert, had sufficient coffee, and knew their responsibilities. The men were constantly reminded of the seriousness of the offense of sleeping on watch. Coffee pots were obtained for each bunker and midnight rations delivered to the line each night.
Security control of Red Beach, Da Nang was the responsibility of the Commanding General, Force Logistics Command (FLC) at Camp Books. The Red Beach area was designated as Sub Sector Alpha of the Northern Sector Defense Command (NSDC). If increased security conditions were necessary, NSDC sent this information by radio to all their subordinate units. Early deployment problems in passing the word to all subordinate units were remedied when a hot line radio alert system was established between all subordinate units under NSDC.
A 45 foot water tower converted to a mortar spotting tower was manned every night from 1745 until 0630 by E-5s from the duty section. The mortar siren had a switch located in the mortar tower, which was tripped if any incoming rounds were spotted anywhere in the Red Beach area. A second switch was located in the Main CP and was used to sound the siren if advance word concerning an attack was received over the radio net. Upon sounding of the siren all personnel proceeded to their nearest mortar hole and remained there until an all clear was passed. A warbling wail of the siren indicated Condition I (infantry attack), during which the perimeter was augmented by Battalion personnel at intermittent fighting holes between bunkers. The mortar tower watch proved invaluable in providing early warning of incoming rounds. As with other Battalions, the biggest problem was impressing upon the men the necessity to remain inside their mortar holes until an all clear was passed. These holes were small, covered, but adequate. After a period of time the inside of these holes became hot, cramped, or stuffy and all too frequently soon after the sound of incoming rounds ceased, personnel began raising their heads out of their mortar holes before an all clear was passed. For a long time, Camp Haskins South never received any incoming rounds within its perimeter.This had a strong influence upon the men, giving them a false sense of security and causing them to become somewhat complacent. Frequent drills, constant reminding, and SOG patrols during mortar/rocket attack alerts were required to keep men in their holes. In the early morning of 23 August, when the Camp came under a rocket attack, the mortar alert had been sounded 5-10 minutes previously, directing the men to their holes during an attack on nearby First Air Cavalry. The incoming lulled, and men had started emerging from their holes when Camp Haskins South suddenly and without warning received 5 122mm rockets, killing 3 and wounding 5. No one would have been injured had they remained in their mortar holes. The importance of remaining in mortar holes could not be overemphasized to the men.
Headquarters Company provided the Battalions mortar crews. Four crews, consisting principally of Engineering Aids, rotated duty on the 2 mortar positions. One crew was the alert crew, the second a standby crew. These crews were very well trained, practiced frequently, and were called upon quite often to provide illumination for Marine patrols.
Soon after arrival in-country, 5 of the existing bunkers were rebuilt and a new bunker was added at the main gate. The bunkers were left in excellent condition with little protective fortification required.
The defensive perimeter was also strengthened by the addition of new fighting holes. Fighting holes were very difficult to construct and maintain in the loose, sandy soil of Red Beach. This problem was overcome by using scrap pieces of M8A1 matting (leftover from the construction of Project Beaver, the First Air Cavalrys Red Beach helicopter maintenance facility) to construct 3 by 6 foot boxes 4 feet high which were sunk into the berms, sand bagged around the top, and fitted with fighting steps consisting of sand bags inside.
A collateral duty of the Security Officer was the collection and dissemination of intelligence to the Battalion, Third NCB/30th NCR, and Camp Haskins North. The Security Officer was assisted in this task by a petty officer who spent each day collecting information from various Da Nang units. This information was then compiled and plotted on the intelligence maps in the Battalion Command Post. A Security briefing was given at 1745 daily in the Battalion Command Post.
The Security Officer was also the Camp Fire Marshall. He was assisted in this task by a Third Class Petty Officer who served as Fire Chief and conducted fire safety inspections and monthly inspections of all camp fire fighting equipment/extinguishers; and the Master at Arms Force who manned the fire truck. The fire truck was a modified 5 ton 6 by 6 foot tank truck with a gasoline booster pump using 1 inch hose. It was unsatisfactory for any major fires due to its limited tankage and pump capacity but could control the spread of fire to adjacent structures. After holding a number of drills, the fire crew learned their jobs well, responded rapidly and personnel in the various spaces knew their respective responsibilities. With the exception of a burned out motor and the berthing hut which burned during the 23 August rocket attack, Camp Haskins South had no fires during the 1968 deployment. One lesson learned during the fire caused by the rocket attack was that the normal amount of individual ammunition stored in the berthing spaces made fighting fires impossible once it started cooking off and the best that could be hoped for was the spread of fire by wetting down adjacent structures.
High summer temperatures and winds caused rapid evaporation of water in water barrels and water pump extinguishers. These were checked weekly on zone inspections and kept filled by building occupants.
V/ r, Roman (Hnatowski, EAC, Retired.