"ANNAPOLIS TO VIETNAM IN 60 DAYS"
IP: 24.228.227.98


SEABEE MAGAZINE, JUNE 1967

"ANNAPOLIS TO VIETNAM IN 60 DAYS"
BY LTJG T.J. PETERS



CAMP HASKINS, DA NANG, RVN.

SIXTY DAYS AFTER JUBILANTLY THROWING HIS MIDSHIPMAN'S CAP INTO THE ANNAPOLIS AIR AND BECOMING AN OFFICER IN THE CIVIL ENGINEER CORPS, ENSIGN MICHAEL L. HOFF OF SYRACUSE KANSAS WAS DEEP IN THE JUNGLES OF VIETNAM, BUILDING A CAMP FOR THE FAMED "GREEN BERETS". IT WAS A QUICK TRANSITION FROM THE HIGHLY POLISHED DECKS OF BANCROFT HALL TO, AS MIC DESCRIBES IT, THE RATHER PRIMITIVE LIVING CONDITIONS OF MINH LONG. NUT SEABEE ENSIGN HOFF ADAPTED QUICKLY, AND HIS STRONG-BACKED CREW OF 35 FROM NAVAL MOBILE CONSTRUCTION BATTALION (NMCB 9) OVERCAME INUMERABLE OBSTACLES TO BUILD 20 CONCRETE STRUCTURES FOR THE SPECIAL FORCES""A" TEAM THERE.

JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING WAS AGAINST THE CREW. THE NEW CAMP IS LOCATED ON A 200 FOOT HILL. TO GET AGGREGATE FOR CONCRETE TO THE TOP, SEABEES HAD TO CARRY IT IN BURLAP BAGS AND OCCASIONALLY EVEN IN THEIR POCKETS. AFTER DOING THIS FOR ALL THE DAYLIGHT HOURS, THE BEES RETURNED TO THEIR TENTS TO BE GREETED BY THOUSANDS OF WAITING LEECHES AND MOSQUITOS. IF THIS WERE NOT ENOUGH, THE MEN OFTEN MANNED THE PERIMETER DEFENSES AT NIGHT IN FIGHTING HOLES THAT WERE ONE OR TWO FEET DEEP IN MUD. THE MONSOON RAINS BEGAN SHORTLY AFTER THEIR ARRIVAL AND MADE USUAL CONDITIONS EVEN WORSE. BUT THE CREW PERSEVERED, AND MANAGED TO COMPLETE THE POURING AND PLACING BY HAND OF 750 CUBIC YARDS OF CONCRETE.

ENS. HOFF KEPT HIS CREW GOING DESPITE THE ADVERSITIES AND USUALLY COULD BE SEEN RUNNING UP AND DOWN THE HILL KEEPING HIS FORMING CREW GOING IN ONE PLACE OR GIVING A CONCRETE CREW A HAND IN ANOTHER. BECAUSE OF THE INTEREST IN THE JOB MANY HIGH RANKING OFFICERS FROM MANY COMMANDS VISITED THE CAMP. MIC'S SEABEES DIDN'T SLOW DOWN IN THE PRESENCE OF GENERALS, THOUGH, AND HE WAS ONCE QUITE EMBARRASSED WHEN LIEUTENANT GENERAL WALT, COMMANDING GENERAL, III MARINE AMPHIBIOUS FORCE, PEERED OVER THE EDGE OF A NINE FOOT EXCAVATION AND WAS HIT BY A SHOVEL FULL OF DIRT.

IT WAS QUITE AN EXPERIENCE FOR A BRAND NEW ENSIGN AND HE CAME THROUGH IT IN FASHION. HIS COMMANDING OFFICER AND AND THE DA NANG AREA SPECIAL FORCES COMMANDER BOTH WERE LAVISH IN THEIR PRAISE OF THE 23 YEAR OLD KANSAN. BUT THE HIGHEST TRIBUTE OF ALL CAME FROM HIS COMPANY CHIEF, A 15 YEAR NAVY VETERAN, WHO GRUDGINGLY ADMITTED "HE KEPT US MOVING ALRIGHT".

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