REDCATCHERS

           

JAMAICAN, VIETNAM VETERAN.

Member of the 199th LIGHT INFANTRY BRIGADE (Sep) - Tour 1969 -1970

 Alpha Company 1 St Platoon, Echo-Recon, 7th SPT Bn. (MedCap Team) & HHC 4/12

 

Signs Of The Times 

Picture above is Baldwin Samuels "Redcatcher", December 1969.

 

Photo Gallery Of 199th Light Infantry Brigade

These were some of the men that I shared camaraderie with, during my tour of Vietnam. We fought in Corp III & IV, from south of Saigon in the swamps and the Plain of Reeds by the Bobo Canal or in the Binh Long jungle north of Xuan Loc area, there you were in no mans land, it was open season.

 

L to R: Richard "Doc Salter" Salter, Benjamin "Doc Benny" Hawkins, Baldwin "Doc Sam" Samuels.

Doc Benny and Doc Salter were two top Medical Corpsmen (medics), and I was very elated with the camaraderie that we shared. 
 
I can recall how happy Doc Salter was after reading he was a dad for the first time. 

No matter how rough the situation was, we hard cores always could come up with a smile.

Those times are unforgettable; it seems just like yesterday.  May the Most High bless our friendship.

Doc Salter never carried any weapons in Vietnam, only smoke grenades to mark Med Evac (Helicopters) spots, where the injured and KIA could be retrieved.
 
 
That takes guts and I respect that. Doc Benny and I slung M-16's and grenades!!


Photo  taken at BMB Long Binh, around December, 1969

 

Even though I was of the higher rank, Benny and Richard came to 4/12 two weeks before I did, that makes them seniors in the field. At this point, we were the same rank, E-5  (Specialist-5), same rank as a three stripe (Sergeant). Before my Deros, I discontinue going to the Enlisted Men's club, and we would make the evening rounds at the Non Commission Officers Club (NCO).Entertainment was provide by Brigade or Filipino bands. There was a Redcatcher (Robert?) who would join the band(s) and livening up the somber scene, singing is version of Major Lance "Mama did'nt know" and the flip side "The Monkeys Time", one of those rare two side hits , also Midnight hour, Foxy lady and Spinning Wheel.

We would
occasionally drop in on the Engineers club, which was setup with couches, the brew was half price whenever a band was not schedule.  Notice the re-enforced concrete bunker in the background, which serves as air raid shelter.

Photo taken around December, 1969.

  

Three great guys, if I may say so myself serving with Alpha Co 4/12. From Left, Atlanta, GA - Lucea, Jamaica/Brooklyn, NY-Bridgeport, CN.  Doc Salter told me he had  a bout with Malaria, other than Velez from The Bronx who also had bout with Malaria, we did a pretty good job of minimizing such incidents, of having Troops out of action. 

 

Oh I wish I was this small again, my fatigues size was Regular medium.

If only I could repeat Boot Camp again, damn wishful thinking, I could not even make it out of a Recruiting office.

BMB A Co. 4/12 Medic Aid Station and Hooch area.

 

 
This picture was taken during one of my MedCap assignments, when the rest of the Platoon was standing down at an ARVN base north of Dinh Quan.  This base camp was near the mountains, that  was the most northern point where Redcatchers did time.  The old French electrical girders pass near by, ascending over the mountains.

The Major in the background (I can't recall his name, he spoke French) had this community service gig in which I was the Doc (Bacsi). The name of the village where I was stationed, I can't recall. The 1st squad of the 4th Platoon shared a ARVN base, on about July/August 69. The patient had scabies, and the bulge in my lower shirt pocket, is morphine, that was kept in a bottle.

I was recalled to the squad that was stationed at the ARVN base shortly after this photo was taken. We had to check out a B-52 bombing run, the Company was beefed up with some green ones (GI's), to approximately 140 troopers. The NVA (North Vietnamese Army) were Regiment strength around 1000 or so freshly out fitted.  I understand the NVA, thought we were Special Forces or crazy, that mission lasted more than a month.  

Before we got pulled out of the ARVAN base camp, we had a Chu Hoi (defector from the NVA) a Lieutenant and a woman soldier.


Photo taken around July/August, 1969

     

Greg "Sam" Toven, A Co 4/12 199th Light Infantry Brigade( Redcatchers), tour 1968-1969. Photos taken in 1969, picture on the left is somewhere in the jungles in the Xuan Loc area,

Photo in the center seems to be in a bunker, photo on the right seems to be in a FSB in the jungles.

      Photo taken late December, 1969.

This photo was taken at camp Frenzell/Jones, Long Binh. This was the Brigade Main Base (BMB) during my 1969 tour.  I cannot recall the name of the other medics. The Redcatcher with the shades, was transferred to the 199th and the other GI was from Texas.


I often wandered what happened to GI's that had
"a less than Honorable discharge"? Are they most likely to loose their benefits, shut out of the job market, their GI bill for continuing education gone, they are homeless etc. Comparing to the state of the guys that evaded doing time in Vietnam and got cushy pardons? why not pardons for the suffers too?

Photo taken about October/November, 1969. 

   

 

This GI had taken shrapnel from a Bobby Trap to his throat. Doc Benny was awarded the Bronze Star.   Doc Sam and Benjamin "Doc Benny" Hawkins at Brigade Maine Base (BMB), 199th LIB, we were assign to 7th Support, HHC 4/12.

Doc Benny performed a Tracheotomy, using the bottom of a pen to create a air way to save a GI in his platoon. Doc Benny performed a Tracheotomy, using the bottom of a pen to create a air way to save a GI in his platoon.  

 


199th Light Infantry Brigade 4/12 Echo Recon Rat Patrol, base camp unknown.

Photo Donated by? Please let me know you are

Village of Dinh Quan sit below FSB NANCY, located northwest of Xuan Loc. We were never allowed to venture into the village to socialize, from my knowledge, however once returning from a mission I notice that there were quite a few Mongtnards living there.  I performed MedCap duties in Dinh Quan and in the villages along this Highway going north of Nancy in Long Khanah Provience. 

The MedCap team consist a Major, who spoke French, his driver and myself. We never had an escort, at various times we had an Army Republic Vietnam (ARVN) Army Officer as interpreter, who would meet us at the various locations, these MedCaps would be staged whenever I returned from a mission.

The yellow truck is used for logging by the Vietnamese.
.

 

   

For a time my Hooch (Bunker)  was over on the northwest side of FSB Nancy, a few feet from the 155MM Howitzers,  which was to the rear of the bunker in the front.

I was assign to 4/12 Echo Co. during that period, the Recon team at max consist of 23 men, which was more on a Main-line full strength Platoon level. Prior to that I was with Alpha Co., my  hooch was near to the Track mounted artillery, during one fire mission, I have seen them to cause a Latrine to disintegrate.

This FSB was not properly designed to me, there was a taller hill to the right were dry land rice was grown, Charlie could easily see into the base, as the Bern was low and not greatly station with artillery as oppose to the other side of the base where the entrance was. This was where the Medical Aid Station was located. The perimeter should have been extended and grade to deny easy view or  movements.


Photo taken about Oct/Dec., 1969.

 

 

I took this photo on my way to BMB Camp Frenzell/Jones, Long Binh, from FSB Nancy.  This was my last helicopter ride, no more jumping out of choppers from ten feet up, that ended my time in the boonies.

Incidentally, Vo Xu and Vo Dat is in the direction of the upper right corner, where I did my last Medcap stint, and to the northeast of this position lies FSB Joy, at the bottom of this photo, the highway goes by the Michelin rubber plantation.

The formation of these boulders are unique, notice that there are boulders upon boulders, I have only seen it at this village.

 

This photo was taken at the entrance of Medical Aid Station at FSB Nancy, I setup my Yashica camera on some crates with auto setting, and the chair broke and interfered with my nice pose.

The Medical Aid Station Surgeon was Captain Raines. The E-6 name I can't recall, then there was Doc Mike Yancy, Doc Balent, Doc Love and Doc Jim Mullens. 

Captain Raines would correspond home by taping his messages on one of those long cassettes, as a grunt we would even send letters written on C-Ration cardboards.

Some nights I would drop in  for a game of cards playing fish or wisp, and have some freshly roasted popcorn.  I recall my first time having apples from Washington St, given to me by a Doc station at the Aid Station, it is still the juiciest apple I have ever had.

All photos are property of Doc Sam.
     
        

Have you ever seen Saigon from this point of view, photo is from the donor himself Greg "Sam" Toven, hanging out with his entourage, I wonder where are these guys today.

Doc Salter and myself took a ride in a motorized Cyclo in Saigon, the operator had me poised to jump out, as he was going through the traffic at what seems to be 90 miles an hour, sort of like riding one of those rides at Coney Island in New York City, except having other vehicles coming at you with the same reckless speed, glad he did not try the reverse bit with us.

Photo taken 1969

     

My assigned M-16 weapon, a protector, we slept together for my Tour of Duty. I choose the M-16 over the 45 cal. Pistol for obvious reasons, and got qualify at the Redcatcher’s in-country training facility. The first weapon that I have ever fired is the M-14 in Basic Training at Fort Jackson, where I fell two hits short of being an expert shot, I had no prior training on the M-16, soldiers going to Vietnam were suppose to be M16 qualified, I was not, they were in such a hurry to get me there.I recall one night when my 16 got jam during an ambush that the 1st Platoon A Co. pop, down in Rach Kein, south of Saigon.  I had too many rounds in the magazine, not knowing that you should have one less than the max for the magazine, so I had to break it down in the dark and clear the chamber, reassemble and renew action as Charlie was trying to out flank us.

 

Doc Salter doing his laundry at the Army Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) FSB at Vo Dat, I took this photo expecting that he would look over his left shoulder and instead, I got this award winning pose.

Doc was a member of the Brigade’s Pacification Team, which consisted of six other GI’s from the12th infantry 4/12 and I was with the Med Cap Team, a carry over assignment when I was with A Co. which was my last field duties before returning to BMB, Long Binh, where I stand down to return to the world.

We stayed in the FSB and go out on our day time assignments from Vo Xu to as far as Vo Dat and along highway 13.  These two villages, Vo Su & Vo Dat seems to be in the middle of no where, I came in by chopper that does the milk run, Doc and his team drove in, I can’t recall what route they may have taken to get there.

 

Wilford Green, partially shown in the photo, he was big Harris M60 ammo bearer, and hails from Greenville, South Carolina, he is now living in Columbia, SC.  Wilford contact me last year, he found me on FB, I hope to see him at the 50th Redcatchers Reunion at Ft. Benning, he was station there after his tour in Vietnam, which he as not return to since his discharge. I am sure he was not at FSB Stephanie, so most likely he was at Rach Kein, when we where assisting the 9th Infantry Division.I had to help pull him out of the mud after a fire fight, around the Nippa Palm tree line canal, the mud was up to his waist and he was sinking fast, and we were taking sniper rounds to the rear. 

I went through a similar situation on my first mission, until I learned how to walk in the swamp, where you do not sink above your boots height.

He was one of the first that I saw who would tape two M-16 magazines together, which makes for a faster reload. 

 

Big Harris M60 man in the Middle, always have a great attitude, a Rifleman/M60 ammo bearer to the right, this scenery seems to be the Grassland/Savanna type of jungles.

 

Redcatchers, if my recollection of time and places are off, it is because I used to live day to day or should I say night to morning. Then again, we were moving around so often, from Fire Support Base(FSB) Stephanie, Rach Kein (9th Infantry Div) Elvira the old French fort, Nancy, Joy, Carroll etc. How about the Special Zone, Plain of Reeds, Bobo Canal, Parrots Beak, Pineapples, Three Finger Rivers, Patrolling with the muddy water Navy, and around Xuan Loc where fire restrictions were placed on us not to damage the rubber plantations, Thunder Alley etc.
If you have a photo of me, please send me a copy I will return original, or you can E-Mail me a JPG/GIF/BMP. I will be appreciative, as you can see, I did not posses many combat snaps, but I do know that other Redcatchers have of me. They are out there. I will include other Redcatcher photo from you for this and the Caribbean page.

 

Created - 12/29/99
Last Updated 05/31/2016
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