"SEABEES GO FIRST IN VIETNAM"
IP: 24.228.227.98


SEABEE MAGAZINE - JUNE 1967.


"SEABEES GO FIRST IN VIETNAM" - CAMP HASKINS, DA NANG, RVN.



THE SEABEE SURVEYOR FREQUENTLY IS FIRST ON THE SCENE IN VIET-CONG HELD AREAS UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR INCREASED MILITARY OPERATIONS IN VIETNAM, AND REPRESENTS ONE OF OUR SIGNIFICANT ADVANTAGES OVER THE ENEMY. BUT FULL REALIZATION OF THE MOBILITY POTENTIAL DEMANDS LANDING STRIPS IN REMOTE LOCATIONS, IMPROVED ROADS WHERE SECURITY CONSIDERATIONS PERMIT VEHICLE TRAVEL, AND BRIDGES SPANNING THE NUMEROUS STREAMS THAT TRAVERSE THE COUNTRY. SELECTION OF THE BEST SITE OR THE BEST ROUTE REQUIRES ENGINEERING RECONNAISANCE AND SURVEYS.

NAVAL MOBILE CONSTRUCTION BATTALION (NMCB) NINE HAS A SPECIAL SURVEY CREW HEADED BY ENGINEERING AID SURVEYOR 2ND CLASS (EAS 2) ALVA G. PERSONS OF MACON, GEORGIA WHICH PERFORMS MANY OF THESE SURVEYS. THE CREW IS USUALLY AIRLIFTED INTO A REMOTE SITE WITH ONE OR TWO MARINE SECURITY PLATOONS. WHEN "CHARLIE" SEES SURVEYING INSTRUMENTS BROUGHT OUT OF THE BOXES AND A RECONNAISANCE BEGINNING, HE IS AWARE OF THE END PRODUCT AND PLANS A COOL RECEPTION. AS A RESULT THE SURVEYORS OFTEN HAVE A BUSY DAY WITH RIFLES AS WELL AS TRANSITS. AT QUANG TRI ON AN AIRSTRIP RECON THE MARINE SUCURITY GROUP FOUGHT V.C. ONLY 200 TO 300 FEET FROM THE SURVEY CREW. AT GIA VUC, VIETNAMESE SPECIAL FORCES PROVIDED SECURITY FOR THE CREW. BY LATE AFTERNOON WHEN THE SURVEYORS HAD REACHED THE FAR END OF THE STRIP THE SECURITY WAS INVOLVED IN A FIRE FIGHT RESULTING IN HEAVY CASUALTIES AT THE OTHER END WHICH HAD BEEN SURVEYED IN THE MORNING. WHILE THE FIGHT CONTINUED THE CREW WAS LIFTED OUT WITH THEIR JOB COMPLETE.

AT ANOTHER LOCATION IN THE SOUTHERN I CORPS AREA TWO SURVEYORS, A MARINE COLONEL AND THE SECURITY PLATOON WERE PINNED DOWN FOR TWO DAYS UNTIL REINFORCEMENTS COULD COME TO THEIR AID, IN THE MEANTIME THE REST OF THE CREW, WORKING ONLY 1000 YARDS AWAY, FINISHED THE SURVEY AND RETURNED TO (NMCB 9'S) CAMP. AT SITE AFTER SITE THE STORY IS THE SAME WITH ONLY SMALL VARIATIONS. IRONICALLY THE ONLY CASUALTY TO A CREW MEMBER CAME ABOUT ON A JOB CLOSE TO (NMCB 9'S) HOME IN DA NANG. EAS 3 EARL E. JENKINS OF CENTRALIA, KANSAS WAS HIT BY SNIPER FIRE WHILE LAYING OUT A PORTION OF "LIBERTY ROAD" NEAR HILL 55, 10 MILES SOUTH OF DA NANG. THE WOUND WAS NOT A SERIOUS ONE AND JENKINS WAS BACK ON THE JOB TWO DAYS LATER, ONCE AGAIN STANDING OVER AN INSTRUMENT AS A LONE AND IMMOBILE TARGET FOR A SNIPER.

KHE SANH, AN HOA, THUONG DUC, GIA VUC, QUANG TRI, BATO AND MINH LONG ARE A FEW OF THE PLACES WHERE THESE SEABEES OF NINE HAVE LAID OUT NEW AIR-STRIPS. MANY ARE BEING BUILT NOW, AS ARE BRIDGES AT HILL 55 AND DAI LOC, AND THE "LIBERTY ROAD" FROM DA NANG TO AN HOA. THE GROUND BREAKING WORK BY THIS CREW IS A BIG FIRST STEP IN PRESSING AMERICAN MOBILITY FARTHER AND FARTHER INTO "CHARLIES" BACK YARD DEEP IN THE MOUNTAINS AND JUNGLES OF SOUTH VIETNAM.

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