Camp Friendship Reactionary Force - 1967
[This was sent in by Ron Bookwalter (HHD 519th TC]
I am working on updating the individual history of other units,
documenting their time in Thailand. Thanks for everyone's support, hope
change will be an enhancement to the site.
Korat's 10,000 Barrel Fuel Storage Tank Farm Under Construction
Tom Petty (697th)
can see the area that has been cleared and the two tanks are in crates
on site. One tank is in the foreground (in crates and floor plates put
together) and the second is in the background (in crates).
Tom Petty (697th)
next picture shows that the floor is done and the first ring is being
assembled. In the background you can see the floor is being poured with
concrete by a batch mixer. Also in the lower picture the heavy equipment
is still being used to level and prepare the ground for the next tanks.
A crane is in use in the background and has just unloaded crates of
another 10,000 barrel fuel storage tank from a lowboy tractor trailer.
This is a classic picture of cooperation the unit had with each other
(697th and 809th). It was this cooperation that got the job done.
Tom Petty (697th)
last picture was taken in 1968 and shows the completed tank farm
(during repair work from 1st Plt, 697th) - Tom Petty (697th)
I was in the 809th HHC. I worked in S-4 Logistics. Our S-4 yard was
next to the Fuel Depot. Nothing grew inside the S-4 Yard or the Fuel
Depot. I operated an RT-6000 Forklift.
One day, I was lifting a pallet with 4 Barrels. The pallet broke
apart and fork pierced one of the barrels. The Barrel was black with an
orange stripe around the top.
I knew from the smell it was a chemical. Having help spraying
chemicals on farms and ranches. I knew, that there was a need to clean
myself and equipment. The huge problem is I didn't document what
happened with pictures, ID numbers on the barrel, or the date.
Hindsight is 20/20.
Here is the Questions: What do the camps and bases look like
today??? How many of us are Diabetic??? What does the jungle look like
the roadways today???
The Answers are very important.
Hi Mark! Camp
Kanchanaburi does still exist, as the 9th Inf Div of the Thai Army
occupies it to this day. We turned over the camp to the Thai Army
officially on 1 July 1969. Our company was disbanded and we were sent
everywhere! I hate to say it, but you were dealing with a very potent
chemical, as this was the only one that would control the Jungle growth
over there. Diabetics?? A lot of them. We have had several of our guys
stationed there have since passed away from Agent Orange and others are
gravely sick. Terrible stuff.
Thought I would share a few memories.
I was a Chaplain (Protestant) at Vayama in 1968 and moved over to the
538th Engrs in 1968 (at Samae San). In those days, Samae San was just
mud. We provided "Christmas" for a school run by Baptist missionaries
somewhere near rayong. Amaster mechanic from the deepwater port
created out of scrap metal a complete set of playground equipment for
the school; troops raised funds to pay the teacher for a year and one
GI in a red and white Santa hat played Mr Claus (at least we
understood. And the children enjoyed the food we brought. On the
other side, back up at Pattaya, the Roman Catholics who provided our
chaplain support began to operate an orphanage. The Rev Fr Ray
Brennan (the priest you referred to) spearheaded the project and in
1998 when I visited Pattaya (quite a different "village" from the 1968
days, Fr. Ray was head of a large organization devoted to caring for
those who were uncared for, orphans, those with disabilities, and
elderly who lacked family connections, as well as the blind. When I
was there they were caring for over 500 persons. They always need help
and look for volunteers. Fr. Ray was not so well when I saw him in
1998 and now has passed on. Others carry on the work which was his
dream. I remember the day when he told me the story of driving some
GIs to a massage parlor. They needed a ride and he had the truck.
Yes, I suspect that not too many clergy have the stories he could
tell. He was from Detroit and spoke Thai well, but with a clipped
mid-western city accent! Most of the people he helped were not Roman
Catholic and he did not try to convert them. He used to say that his
boss upstairs told him to help them first and worry about other things
later. He died still working - on a new project - a shelter for young
children who escaped from the sex trade that the village is now famous
for. He worked closely with the local people to fund the
operation. If you are ever down that way check it out and you will be
impressed at what American ingenuity can do. Y'all have a Happy New
Year. Oh yes, hopefully you were all spared the wrath of the Tsunami.
Reports we get here (in Baltimore) are horrific. I come originally
from Bermuda, a country with a population of 60,000. Latest reports
say many more than that were killed when the waves hit. Thailand seemed
least harmed but even there thousands died.
(the Rev) Chaplain (retired) Tony Hollis
(Pineapple) Akina - I was with Co B 809th Feb 9 67-Jan 69. Started out at Camp
Vayama as dozer operator with "King Kamehameha" painted on the blade.
Was also the bouncer at the EM club with Pfc Harris Dudoit. At Camp Lightning, "Kolohe"
painted on the blade of the dozer.
In March of 67, myself, Dudoit, and a SSG Perreira went to a bar in Sattahip
and witnessed an execution of a Thai man by the Thai police. I was nearly shot
myself while trying to prevent the shooting. There were 5 other servicemen in
the bar that witnessed this execution. They were either from Vayama or Utapao
AFB. There was blood on our clothes when we returned to camp. It was the talk
of the camp.
Can anyone recall this incident while stationed at Camp Vayama, Lightning, or
Utapao AFB in March of 67?
Were YOU there at the bar when this happened?
Names I remember from camps Vayama and Lightning: Dudoit, Perreira,
Hadden-nickname "TEX" (from Texas), Jewells, Mickels, Lt Tanaka from
Hawaii, Ellis, Sp5 Bailey-either Ellis or Bailey drove for Lt Tanaka because he
could translate in Thai, Capt Crane (dentist), Sgt Maj Bianchi, Pfc Hall, E5
Smith and E5 Jones were grader operators at camp Lightning.
By the way, I connected with Bob Jadinak of co B, 809th.
(Godfrey Akina lives in Wailuku, Maui in Hawaii and can be contacted at through Pete's email: philarioTAT@hawaii.rr.com (remove the TAT).
41st Ordinance Company
First, I would like to thank you for putting my pictures on your
website. I wonder if you could forward my letter to the group. I
would like to invite the group to visit the photo gallery and view some
of my pictures. I am going to give my story as I remember it.
Korat must have been some type of Supply Depot with all types of
vehicles that had fallen on disrepair. Our mission, when we got there,
was to bring up to operating condition a lot of the vehicles. We had
Bays where we worked. They brought through the Bays, everything from 2
1/2 Trucks to Tanks. We replaced batteries, did brake jobs, replaced
fuel pumps, whatever the vehicle required. In one of the pictures,
you'll see the guys having a tool box inspection. There is another
picture, where it says "41st Ord Brake Van". Even though the 3 guys
are eating and drinking coffee out of the Van, it's not a "Break" Van.
We operated a direct exchange from the back of the Van. Some of the
Engineer types might remember it. We gave out brake shoes,
carburetors, starters, wheel cylinder kits, etc. Some of the other
Thailand sites show us to be some of Ammo Supply Co. But as far as I
know we were mechanics and machinists.
I would like to know if there is any other 41st Ord guys out there.
Or anyone who did business with us. I hope we gave good service.
I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!
David A. Valesco (d.a.valescoTAT@juno.com)