A Brief History Of My Military Service
More detail - click above picture
Flags over Camp Thunderbolt - Vietnam 1965 ~ 1966
Airman Robin Michael
I was assigned to the newly created 4th Direct Air Support Flight (DASF), 314th Air Division, Osan Air Force Base, South Korea, under PACAF at the beginning of the summer in 1965, having been transferred from Dauphin Island AFS (ADC / SAC) which was south of Mobile, AL, where I had been assigned to Ground Radio Maintenance. Once I arrived in Korea, I joined a flight - not squadron - of other airman & officers - a total of 29 of us. We were trained on the use of the M151A1 / MRC-108 Communications Jeep and Trailer / Generator system for Close Air Support under Combat Conditions on the front lines know as a TAC P or FAC team and we was called a ROMAD. This naming is still used today and full information is available at the web site of http://www.romad.com.
I also had to attend the PACAF Jungle Survival School in July / August of 1965. This school was located at Clark AFB in the Philippines and lasted for just over 2 weeks of real jungle training. Training was provided by the Negretos, the original native people of the Philippines.
Both the 2nd and 4th DASF's mission was to support both the Korean Armed Forces as well as the American units assigned through out South Korea.
Two 2 man teams from our flight were transferred (by PACAF via TDY) to Vietnam in late September of 1965 when the South Korean Tiger Division join in the fight for the Vietnamese freedom. The Tiger Division was sent to Vietnam primarily to assist in the control of the SE / TAOR Corp II sector that controlled QL-19 - Qui Nhon to Pleiku's main highway for re-supply of the troops in Pleiku and An Khe.
The first two teams that went to Vietnam consisted of 2 officers and their airman. My FAC team being Capt. J. R. Nicholson and myself. The other FAC team was Airman Malaney and his officer whom I do not remember at this time. My FAC teams was assigned a call sign - which was Ragged Scooper 2 - my call sign ended in 2-Alpha and Malaney's was 1-Alpha since he was assigned to the RoK HQ and I was detached to the field with the RoK troops at Camp Thunderbolt at the foot of An Khe Pass on QL-19 which at that time was total mud and gravel road.
Once at Qui Nhon, I was re-attached to a RoK Cav Regiment near Binh Khe, part of the South Korean Tiger Division once again. The Tiger unit that I was attached to was settling in NE of Qui Nhon, about 17+ km West - South West of Phu Cat - called Camp Thunderbolt and Airman Malaney was assigned to the RoK HQ Compound - both sites were under construction at this time.
I have just recently learned that the Chopper Group that moved most of the Koreans and me around was the 161st Assault Helicopter Group. This group of guys did a great job moving us from point to point, sometimes on very short notice and under fire. They also picked up both wounded and the dead for us. Another group that supported the RoK Tigers was the129th Assault Helicopter Company. I had many a ride on their choppers as well.
Agent Orange was used through out this areas during the better part of my time I spent with the South Korean Tiger Division in Vietnam. Spraying was done via Chopper, C-130, C-124, C-123, C-47 and by hand. During this period time, some of the heaviest spaying in South Vietnam occurred along QL-19 almost on a daily basics. The heaviest spraying for this area was done from early 1965 through late 1967. This was some of the heaviest sprayed areas in Vietnam per military records. Some of my personal pictures show the results of this spraying - however they are not on the web at this time.
Backing up a bit - while in Korea I was assigned to a M151A1 Communications Jeep with a MRC-108 Radio Palate and Trailer with a Generator (24 V at 400 CPS) that carried the number USAF 64K65. I took this Jeep and Trailer to Vietnam from Korea. Upon returning to Korea from Vietnam, I left this Jeep and Trailer for my replacement CFAC team to use whom I met and breifed in on what I did and what was expected of him. I also left all of my weapons - a .38 S&W Pistol / holster belt and a AR-15 or M-16 and all supplies that I had acuminated with him.
I have now learned that my jeep in the summer of 1968 was at the Phu Cat Air Base with Airman Dwan Hall. This picture was sent to me by Airman Hall for which I am ever grateful. The picture and text is just the way I received it via email. My email address as shown in this picture is no longer valid.
One note here. We were to have been given the older MRC-107 Radio Pallet but these were all sent to Europe instead. The newer MRC-108 was sent to Korea and Vietnam.
Now on to the MRC-108 system. The MRC-108 Radio Pallet was mounted to a M-151A1 Modified Jeep with a 24v DC system in addition to the normal 12v DC system for the vehicle. All of the backpack radio gear as well what as mounted on the pallet ran with 12 / 24v DC, with the backpack which included the UHF and VHF radios using portable 12v DC batteries. There were internal battery chargers for the portable batteries that would be recharged whenever the engine or generator was run
The MRC-108 radio system had 2 backpacks built into the Jeep for the radios that were to be carried into to the field. These radios were mounted in pull out mounts. The FM was upper left on top of the pallet (AN/PRC-25) and the VHF (AN/PRC-41) was on the lower right below the HF Radio
This enabled the FAC Officer or the Radio Operator (ROMAD) that was assigned to this unit to go on any type of sweep / raid / ambush that may have turned sour, to be able to talk with the FAC Officer in the O1E Bird Dog over head to help mark the target for the A1E's and later on the jets to do their bomb runs on
All bomb runs that I was involved with were called into the South Korean Tiger Division ALO headquarters located at the Tiger Town Command HQ. These bombing runs consisted of Willip and / or Napalm followed with 500 to 1000 lb. block busters. Most of the time I had a Korean FAC with me and most of the planes were the A1e Skyraiders.
The patch and the Metal Medallion above are the current
All of our FAC teams preferred the A1E aircraft over the jets. The A1e's just hit the targets better and hung around a whole lot longer than the jets could. Plus the jets were just to fast and usually missed the target and we would have to call another sortie in to finish the job.
For each sweep - one or two radio pack weighing in about 50 lbs. each with the 12v battery attached was carried in a backpack. Sometimes I had to carry both radios, FM and VHF at the same time mounted on one back pack which totaled about 120 plus lbs. Plus add to that the M16, wear a 38 pistol, take spare ammo clips (usually 4 extra 30 rounds plus the clip in the M-16, and at least 2 canteens of water and you had a lot of weight to carry.
I have a series of pictures taken during a few different sweeps or raids (search and destroy missions) - what ever you like to call them - where the Korean Tigers were receiving hostel fire. Usually the VC locations were almost always leveled to the ground by air strikes.
Some of the pictures of these raids are on the web now and in the top series show napalm being used. Look closely and you will be able to find the A1e that had dropped the ordnance in the left side of some of the pictures. The little silver speck is the plane in the picture. The original picture was show on 1/2 frame 35 mm slide film.
I am in some of these picture with either the Aussi Hat or the Marine Hat that I traded for somewhere and wearing a S&W 38 cal. pistol. What I wore for a uniform on these sweeps was controlled by what the Vietnamese Interpreters wore, since I had to look like them for my safety and protection. Thus - Kaki or OD's was my uniform of the day. Several of my pictures show my radios and M-16 were behind me over a rise in case of in coming fire. One of my Korean buddies took most of these pictures of me in the field.
While in Vietnam, I was "remotely attached" to these following units in order of attachment over a 5+ month period:
If you should have any information on any of these units, I need this information ASAP. I need to know where they were located and if possible any additional information as to who and what they were assigned to. Also what these units were merged into as time went on.
Later on after the start of the FIRST Tet offences in Jan 3, 1966, my TDY tour was terminated in Vietnam (March 31, 1966), and I returned to the 4th DASF, Osan AFB, Korea, and continued to be in a training mode for both the American Army and the Koreans along the Korean DMZ.
Later on in late summer of 1966, after my tour in Korea was up, I was then transferred back to the USA. I took a 30 leave with my folks and then reported to my new assigned at the:
Bergstrom AFB TX at this time was President LBJ and Lady Bird Johnson's home port of call. With their coming and going from Bergstrom all the time meant that it was parade time and base lock down every time they arrived or departed.
After being sent back to school at Kessler AFB for additional training on new equipment, I returned to Bergstrom AFB and the 602 DASS to serve out my remaining time in the military. I was Honorably Discharge from the Air Force in March of 1967 as a A1/c (E-4).
Please note that almost all of the pictures are clickable meaning that this will call up a full size picture with additional descriptions and or comments.
All of the color pictures are either 1/2 Frame 35mm or Full Frame 35mm Extachrome and some Kodachrome slide films.. The black and white photos are all from 1/2 Frame 35mm Tri-X Pan film printed to 2 X 3.25 inch pictures.
At this time - 1965 / 1966 - film in the Qui Nhon area was almost impossible to get. I usually got one of the pilots who flew to either Naha or Clark AFB, to bring some film back for me. A lot of the time I just ran out of film
The camera for the 1/2 frame film was the little point and shoot totally automatic Canon Dial 35 half frame camera. This was pocket size and could be carried in my front pocket. Also it was very small and light weight. Later on I was able to get more film and switched back over to my Cannon Pellix SLR Camera.
Should you be able to contribute a little more to this page, or to the page under construction for the 4th DASF that was located in Korea, please contact me. Pictures and text for the pictures and any history are welcomed and credit will be give for additional input. Thank you for stopping by. I hope this little bit of history was interesting.