L/CPL Robert J. Slattery, Marine Corps League Det #206, NEWSLETTER, Apr 2018 - 7
Sea Story: (Part 2 Continued from last month) Boat ride over

We stayed on the beach for three days in 100+ degree heat before moving west to what would be out new battalion command post (CP). This was located at Phu Tai (4) (named after a string of villages all given the name Phu Tai. It was about 12 miles west of Qui Nhon in the rolling hills. The area we were in, occupied by the French a dozen years prior, was used as an artillery post. There was a huge pit where the gun emplacements were and low hills all around. A few rice paddies and a stream of not so fresh water. 

Living back at the CP at PhuTai (4) wasn’t all that bad. After George McDonald and I went into QuiNhon on a “resupply” run with the radio jeep, we ended up with a brand new general purpose (GP) tent. It measured about 18' x 52' with 5' 8" side walls. At the time we delivered it we were short tent stakes and poles but soon rfixed that. We were the envy of the battalion as their tents were full of holes. 

The next day, Tom Kiergaard and I had to pull duty at the airbase to be the connection between 2/7 and HMM 161. While there Tom and I did however manage to “borrow” a bunch of needed items for the team tent. 

Well, with every brand new tent as every good Marine knows you must have poles and stakes to erect it. Being at the airbase with other services (Air force, Army and Seabees) We had the opportunity to make a late night visit across the runway to the Air force compound. God, those “flyboys” were a laxed bunch. Some tall poles came from the Air Force who shared the other side of the base; some from the Army helicopter group who shared our side and some from the SeaBees a little further away.  

The Airforce had a nice assortment of tents they lived in. Tom and I selected several of their tents to get the poles we needed from. One had gear in it and some unused poles and the other I believe they used for supply. We moved or I should say removed a dozen plus poles from the first tent and got them back across the runway to the “HMM-161” area. The major items were the tent pegs and side wall posts that we got at the Air Force compound. Why we never got shot is beyond me. 

We didn't have enough so the next night we snuck back into their compound and slowly removed some of the posts and stakes we needed. We couldn’t find any more unused poles so we had to go and remove poles and stakes from erected tents. In one tent there was a group of airmen playing cards on the further side of the GP tent maybe about 30 feet away from us. The “Fly me to the moon” guys played on the opposite end of the large tent “by the light of the silvery full moon,” as they only had one light up on their end of the tent so we were more or less dark. We slowly pulled out some of the stakes and posts and were almost finished when a HU1E flew over. I grabbed the last post and all of a sudden the whole tent fell towards the card game as “double-timed” it out of there with with our loot quietly laughing and almost peeing in our pants as the airmen screamed. It was good humor (to us). 

I don’t know where we got the main beam from but I do know the Seabees “helped” us out with some large poles and stakes as we probably would have been shot if we would have tried to go a third night. All in all, the new tent looked great at the end of the airstrip at the battalion CP in PhuTai (4). 

Staff/Sgt. Sheldon (the Communications Chief) wanted it as the main communications tent had a bunch of leaks in it. He and Gunny Sgt said that they were going to recosition it from us but I hinted it would probably be full of holes. He wouldn’t get it until our move to ChuLai however. Enough of the tent, but it did hold together great during the monsoons.

We had a new jeep delivered by the Air Force as they wanted to practice “air delivery” (they needed the practice and then some). The big C-140 flew over and we marked the spot we wanted it. They made a big turn and leveled off and flew over again this time pushing the jeep out the hatch. It floated down on three parachutes and hit about 60 yards up the hill and they weren’t flying all that high, not great shots. The C-140 gained altitude and the jump-master popped out the hatch as the plane passed over for the third time. By the time he landed we had already retrieved the jeep and parachutes and “stashed” two of them. He and Sgt. Sheldon looked for 2 hours for those parachutes and never did find them. I believe Kisor took them into Phu Tai (4) to trade for something. I never got anything for my efforts. Time around the old “homestead” was always full of good humor like rolling hand gernades down the hill into our junior officers tent.
Semper Fi, Tom Miller