Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It Was Fascinating!

The photo above is a copy of the picture I won for my Dad at the fundraiser on Saturday.  This is the 589th Engineer Headquaters in Vietnam, circa 1968.  I put a whole lotta tickets in that barrel and it paid off!  Later that evening, I had the honor of meeting the gentleman who took it.  He quietly walked up, introduced himself as Chuck and asked why I purchased that particular picture.  If I were him, I'd have been thinkin', "Who is that punk that just bought my picture!?"

If I recall his rank, he was Company Commander, or let's put it this way...someone pretty high up because my Dad told me not to get him Court Marshalled :o)  When I answered that I bought it "For my Dad", he sat down with me and together with a few other fellas, showed me what was what.  Some remember things differently as Headquarters changed a bit over the years, but it was so cool to listen to their explainations of where they and my Dad were!  Chuck took this picture... from a helicopter...during a recon mission...with a Polaroid!  Amazing!

The 589th, in a nutshell, was responsible for clearing jungle and land for infantry, building roads and bridges.  My Dad operated a Bulldozer.  The two main roads they built are still in use as main highways in Vietnam to date.  One of the larger bridges they built as a "temporary" bridge, is also still in use today.

Dad said when they would clear past a cave, they would throw a grenade and turn the dozer nose to the opening to absorb the blast.  This was one way to avoid ambush.  His grenade of choice was the Pineapple pictured below:
Pineapple Grenade on Right
Grenades apparently have many uses.  One guy told us about the time he was off base 'visiting' when he wasn't supposed to be.  An officer caught him walking back, unstealthily, as he was in the middle of the road and maybe a wee bit drunk or high, or both.  Well they tried to make him get in the vehicle.  He wasn't having any part of that, see.  Pulled the pin, he did!  I will have to remember that trick next time I don't want to get in a cop car or something and my grenade is in my pocket.  Pretty smart.
The sound this replica plane made was considered music to soldiers ears.
Grenades were not the weapon of choice when the guys came across the plethora of snakes however!  The Bamboo Viper, just to name one, was most feared.  They shot those. 
M16 like what Dad carried
Snakes were deadly threats to our soilders.  (sorry snake lovers!)  Another buddy, Clyde, remembers seeing a Bengel Tiger too!

Another deadly threat:
Luckily, the infection most guys caught weren't always from those...just sayin'.  There's more than one reason the Medic was missing a certain something or other more often than not.  Ya'll know who you are too!

His buddy, Freddie, who operated a Scrapper, hit a landmine once and it blew.  He's ok, but let me tell ya...lucky.  I saw the picture!  The guys said the enemy would go out nightly and bury these things every where they thought our guys would make clearings.  In my book, that's dangerous stuff!

Another buddy, Silva, shared this story:  He and his partner were driving their rig and had just switched driver position.  Three to five minutes later, they were ambushed.  His buddy was shot and killed.  Silva was shot five times.  He took my hand and had me feel the divet in his collarbone, I touched the scar of the bullet that hit his hand.  By this time, I was in such awe and admit that I do not recall where the third one hit.  Because the story quickly changed when my Dad put his foot down at allowing me to see (or feel) where the other two hit.  Yes, the buttocks!  And would you know...laughter!  The guys can laugh now, in a good way I suppose!  I tell you this story because the men said that until the last few years, Silva never talked about it.  As to the end of the story, he belly crawled into hiding until rescue came. 
VC Uniforms
Yet another buddy, Hugh, rolled his dozer once...hence his nickname - Rollover! 

Another story, that to this day, no one has fessed up to...who buried an enitre dozer at the beach???  Yes, an entire dozer, hole dug, pushed in, buried!  Not to mention how the 'replacement' one showed up with the exact same serial numbers.  Hmmm.  My Dad often gets the finger point for this.  Because I am told that "when mischief was afoot, Kallas was usually involved".  So it's a mystery, because Dad really didn't do it!  And believe me, if he did...he'd tell!  I know this because he always claims his farts. 

Boys!!  That's what they were!
For everything these guys went thru, for them to have such comradery, recall good times in bad and share a bond like no's fascinating!

There are many other stories, but I -ah- can't share those.  R/R or I/I related.  And if you don't know what that means, well that's ok!  Dad said the guys where gunnin' for me and they sure didn't hold back!  But I wouldn't have it any other way! 

I could sit and listen to them for hours!  Next time, I hope to see more pictures.  Seems like everytime we sat down with one of them to look at their album, we got cut short.  The hotel also wasn't equipped for the slideshow, so that was cancelled.  I'm of the wierd sort that loves looking at pictures and hearing the details!  Don't ya just hate when someone flips thru your photos like confetti?

To show you what goofs these guys are, check out this photo:
Ralph, Freddie, Sgt. Sam, Hugh, Dad
Prior to the reunion, Sgt. Sam sent an email to them with the poem about "Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody", then assigned each hooligan their position, just like old times.  Well, not wanting Sgt. Sam to have the last word, they went out and got TShirts to wear the first night.  That is 'the gang'.  My Dad's closest Nam buddies.

As the week wore on, and since it was an election year, the gang started wearing paper plates campaigning for a member of Company C to be elected to the board.  Tricia and I wore one too, but ours said "Vote for Nobody!"
Freddie and his "Vote for Nick" plate.  aka my Dad
In conclusion, it really was a fascinating weekend! 
I'd like to thank the guys of the 589th for having us, my step-sister and her husband for letting us stay in their condo, my mom for holding down the fort back at home, my mother-in-law for donating three gorgeous purses to raffle for the cause, my girlfriend for making the trip with me, and all of you...for reading and sharing this with me.  My Dad, the big cryer that he is, sees your comments...and he cries a little.
Sign says, "THIS WAY HOME".  Dad's final day and his favorite picture!
Thanks...we love to make him cry! ;o}

Oh, Oh!!!  And before I forget...
Congratulations, Nobody!  I mean Dad...The 589th's newest Vice-President!!!


  1. I've just recently started following your blog, and I really enjoy the variety of things you are into. I am getting to watch everything you have done and learn from your trial and error.

    I left an award for you over at my blog. I noticed you already got the award from someone else, but hey, why can't you have two of the same award? Keep up the great work, and say thank you to your dad for everything he gave for our country.


  3. Thank you so much for sharing that. What an awesome experience to share with your dad! I mentioned before that my dad was also in Vietnam but the war was never mentioned in our home- mom's brother came home in a box and dad passed away from Leukemia 10 years later (ask me how much I hate Monsanto.) I really appreciate getting a look at some of the history!

  4. Haphazard, that's funny! No really! It's been hard trying to do garden type post this year as it was such a flop, I was beginning to think the 'variety' as you say was probably not a good thing! I am glad you disagree. And thank you ma'am! That is very kind!

    Judy, I like to throw things in on the sly. Keeps people on their toes! I will email you and together we will get you thru that registration process. It isn't the most user friendly apparently. Ok, don't let me forget to do that then...lots going on in the next few days! So remind me if you have to! xoxo

    Hoosier, the fall out from Monsanto with regards to the wars is pretty amazing. And not in a good way. I talked to alot of the wives about it this weekend and I don't think most realize it! The secondary (us kids) is becoming more and more obvious as we get older too. All in the name of WHAT? So sorry to hear about your Mom's brother. It makes goosebumps. Glad you liked the history too. xoxo

  5. With you as his campaign manager, there was NO WAY your dad wouldn't be elected! It sounds like a very interested, well-attended and well-presented event. It's nice that they stay in touch and retain a sense of humor. They must have really needed it back then. It was a tough war. You are just the bee's knees, you are.

  6. Congrats to you dad! Looks like such a fun time was had listening to all these stories!

  7. Wow how interesting. You learned more in a weekend than most kids do in history class. And congratulations to your Dad, Mr VP. :)

  8. In these latest posts, the thing that comes to the forefront of my mind is how very proud your dad must be of you for your genuine interest in all he and so many service men and women went through both during and after the war. For you to care so much about your father and all of his comrades says a lot about what kind of heart you have in that little body. As Susan said, you are just the bee's knees . . . and more so!

  9. Susan, his manager! That's a good one but I can't take credit for it.

    Erin, yup and I am ready for more!

    Jane, I have always loved history. The problem is retention...and it keeps getting worse the older I get! Like I know I am supposed to be doing something right now too, but can't remember what!

    MamaPea, maybe I take it for granted in a sense because I just don't understand how someone couldn't be interested. It's just so enlightening. I should have been a talk show host or something. I like to ask questions and then LISTEN to the answers. Love stories of all sorts and we had lots to listen to there! (now you know what you are in for too:)

  10. I'm glad your Dad will share that part of his history with you. I wish mine would, I think it would do us both some good. Maybe in time.

    Thanks for sharing everything with us. I love the buried dozer story!