1st MIBARS In Vietnam!

At Ease

Life Away From the I Corps Compound

China Beach -- And Elsewhere

Photo Credit: MIV

Above:  A sanitized version of one of the many types of so-called "Short Timer's Calendar" popular among the troops in Vietnam.  Short-timer's calendars provided a reference that helped the individual soldier maintain morale by focusing on the remaining days of his tour.  The sketched figure was divided into 100 consecutively-numbered segments, each representing one of the last 100 days of the soldier's one-year tour of duty.  During the count-down, each segment was shaded, in order, with pencil or pen.  By the time the trooper reached Segment Number One on the calendar -- the area generally considered to be "home base" on a graphic such as this by any male high school graduate of that era -- he had also reached the last day of his tour and was headed for CONUS (the Continental United States, in Vietnam War-era Army terminology) -- and home. 

China Beach -- Before the Television Show

Photo Credit: MIV

Left:  "B" Detachment troopers having a game of touch football on Non Nuoc Beach, site of the DaNang Rest and Recuperation (R & R) Center, in mid-1967.  The mountain in the background, known as Mong Ky Mountain to the Vietnamese -- and Monkey Mountain to U.S. military -- an area landmark to the north, is visible behind the cloud.  Military personnel not assigned to posts on Monkey Mountain were cautioned against sightseeing trips to the area, partly because the mountain remained heavily land-mined from the French Indochina War years earlier.  These anti-personnel mines were still functional and had created casualties among early casual visitors.  Below:  "B" Detachment personnel in the China Beach picnic area which, at least on this day, provided games equipment, a 14-foot fiberglass runabout with small outboard motor, shade trees, tables, trash cans and, of course, barbeque grills made from 55-gallon drums cut in half and mounted on stands horizontally.  

A Well-Known Escape Area

"In a war with no front lines, American soldiers, sailors and airmen had no place to hide.  Even rear echelon troops might come under sniper fire or rocket attack at any moment.  . . . Since we couldn't hide, the next best thing was to forget -- and one way to forget involved a change of scenery.  Thanks to the foresight of some anonymous morale and recreation officer, Vietnam offered the American soldier in-country R and R, and one of the favorite R and R spots turned out to be DaNang's own China Beach."  

Tom Yarborough, DaNang Diary, St. Martin's Paperbacks, 2002

Photo Credit: MIV

A Major Wartime Landmark Spotted on the World Wide Web -- The Bridge to China Beach!

Photo: View from the bed of a truck of the bridge over the Han River connecting the City of DaNang with Marble Mountain and areas to the east

Photo Credit: Ronnie D. Foster

Left:  China Beach was located across the Han River from the City of DaNang and towards Monkey Mountain Air Base and other allied military installations.  "B" Detachment personnel often crossed the bridge to do business on the other side.    This is a photograph of the Han River Bridge, apparently taken from the bed of a 3/4-ton truck perhaps heading out of the City of DaNang, with the I Corps Compound behind the steel superstructure at its vanishing point on the left, toward Marble Mountain Air Base, China Beach, and other allied military installations.  It presents a very familiar view for "B" Detachment troopers, many of whom crossed this bridge scores of times during their one-year tour of duty.

Ronnie Foster is a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran who served in DaNang in 1968.  Visit his web site at www (dot) ronniefoster (dot) com.  

A Place To Play, Shoot the Bull, Or Just Read In a Quiet Place

Photo Credit: MIV

Photo Credit: MIV

Above, Left and Right:  When on stand-down, "B" Detachment troopers came up with all sorts of civilian off-duty wear, from whimsical headgear to sporty shirts and slacks -- anything to escape the military regimen, at least temporarily.

Photo Credit: MIV

Photo Credit: MIV

Above, Left:  "B" Detachment personnel, with Monkey Mountain in the background.  Over the mountain, through the Hai Van Pass, was the way north out of DaNang to Hue.  The roadway -- Route 1, was also known as the famous Street Without Joy of journalist Bernard B. Fall's well-known book on the French defeat in their Indochina War.  Above, Right:  A trooper opens up with his fast ball on the sand at China Beach.

". . . eat, drink and be merry.  . . . This very night your life will be demanded from you."

Photo Credit: Rex Sands, "D" Detachment, Imagery Interpretation Section, 1968-1969

Above:  Troopers of "D" Detachment in Nha Trang seemingly adhering to the oft-quoted admonition from the Book of Luke, Chapter 12, Verses 13-21.  Even rear echelon soldiers, attuned to warrior image or mindful of the possibility that unexpected enemy action or a mishap in the war zone could cause them grievous injury or death, were prone to the consumption of drink, often 3.2 percent alcohol beer, but sometimes stronger, commonly at off-duty gatherings.  Within this whimsical pyramid of cans above, Budweiser and Schlitz are visible along with numerous cans of Pepsi Cola.  The military paid Vietnamese civilian contractors to dispose of trash, and discarded beverage cans were often sold to locals who cut them open top and bottom, then split and seamed them together to make sheet metal for small carrying cases.  Alcoholism or excessive drinking were not recalled to have been major issues within the ranks of the 1st MIBARS in 1967.

In the Cantonment Area

Up At The Villa

We Lived In a Palace

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