Iron Soldiers In Vietnam

A personal memoir and collection of stories from the men who served in the 577th Engineer Battalion in Vietnam.

From the book - "It was a long flight from Fort Lewis, WA, To Hawaii, and then Taiwan, where the crew was swapped out for the remaining hop to Vietnam. The plane, a chartered stretch Boeing 707, was at about 15,000 feet when I looked out the window over Saigon. I knew that our destination, Bien Hoa airfield, was only about 25 miles northeast. I wondered why we were still so high when I noticed that the stewardess was so nervous that she had 3 cigarettes and 2 cups of coffee going as she sat in the galley. Something was not quite right.

Then the pilot nosed the plane down hard in a tight circle over the airfield, finally coming in hot and fast. The plane quickly taxied to the 'terminal' and we began offloading through the front door. Down we came in our wrinkled khaki uniforms, while at the aft door the planeload of GI’s going home were turning in their rifles as they boarded in dirty fatigues. They boarded fast and it seemed just minutes until the 707 took off.

Then I heard the sound of mortars just outside the perimeter at the west of the runway. The base was under attack. I felt naked, with no weapon, standing there not knowing what to do. A Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) T-28 fighter bomber was next in line on the runway. These were former USAF and USN flight trainers converted for that use.

So much ordnance was hanging under the wings that they seemed to sag. The pilot, wearing a white silk scarf like the Red Baron, was revving up the engine, which sounded not so sure of itself. Soon, he let go the brakes and sputtered down the runway, belching smoke and oil. He then stopped, turned around, went back and repeated the drill, but this time he made it into the air. And, right over the perimeter, he dumped his entire load of bombs. The plane leapt skyward from losing so much weight, and immediately came around the runway and landed for another load."

Iron Soldiers In Vietnam is available from the iTunes Store, the Smashwords Store or Amazon