1st MIBARS In Vietnam!

We Lived In a Palace

In and Around the

 Bachelor Enlisted Quarters

It Wasn't Your 

Grandfather's Barracks Either!

Photo Credit: MIV

Above:  The Palace Hotel, DaNang, RVN.  The Palace Hotel, and others, were leased by the U.S. Naval Support Command to provide billets for servicemen in the city of DaNang. These facilities were minimally fortified, but the Support Activity also provided a front gate barricade and a Vietnamese guard.

Bunks, Refrigerators and Maid Service

Above:  trooper ponders the war in Vietnam from a veranda at the hotel.  Right, Top:  Photo of a typical room occupied by two non-commissioned officers.  Right, Center: two "B" Detachment troopers in a room at the Palace Hotel in 1967, in civilian clothes but with web gear and M-14 Rifle within easy reach.  Right, Bottom: trooper perusing the bookshelf in the day room.

Photo Credits, Left and Above: MIV

Home Away From Home

"In June ’67 when I arrived, enlisted staff was housed at the Palace Hotel.  Accommodations must have been tight just then as I remember being put up in a room and having to sleep on a cot for several days. I believe we were sharing the hotel with Air Force personnel as when I finally ended up with a bed; it was in a room with an Air Force guy and a Det. B guy whose name eludes me as he wasn’t a roommate for very long. One night he was moaning and groaning in the room because his stomach hurt and it turned out he had appendicitis. He went to the hospital and never returned.

At the Palace, hot water was not always in ready supply.  You had to be fast into the shower when returning from work to get a hot one.  Those who weren’t fast ended up with a cold shower as long as the water continued to run; went out back and "showered" with well water, or went without.

The hotel was just a block or two walk to the Danang Hotel for meals, movies and the EM Club. I have no idea why the unit left the hotel to go to its next location which was a barracks just across the street from the Danang Hotel and behind the marine barracks. This happened in the fall of ’67.

This was a major step down in housing arrangements in that we went from a couple of people per room, with showers in the room, to a regular barracks environment.  Communal bathroom and showers, iron bunk beds, and a personal locker.  Despite the step down, it was still incredibly convenient to the Danang Hotel – you never had to worry about making it back "home" after a hard night of downing adult beverages at the club.   (Continued Below)

At the Enlisted Men's Club -- DaNang Hotel

Photo Credit: Daryl Tucker, "B" Detachment, Reproduction Section, 1967-1968

Above:  A Korean entertainer performs at the EM Club at the DaNang Hotel in 1968.

In the spring of ‘68 the unit moved into the Modern Hotel which was as significant a step up in accommodations as the move from the Palace Hotel had been a step down. If I recall correctly, there were two or three people per room, hot showers, an overhead fan which moved the hot air around more than it provided cooling – but it was better than nothing, and rooftop access for sightseeing on the river, or sunbathing. Convenient access to the Danang Hotel was a little tougher. If you couldn’t use a unit vehicle, or missed a ride, you had to thumb a ride up the main drag, or hoped you caught the navy bus (cab?). Returning was easier as long as unit members came back as a group.

I recall periodically pulling evening guard duty in the foyer. Ostensibly, this was to guard the Vietnamese guard who was providing security for us. Being somewhat naive the first couple of times, I’d sit there with the lights on – never contemplating that after dark this made me a nice target. The lights also seemed to attract some of those 6-in long cockroaches.

I don’t recall if we had someone on guard duty during the day when the mama-sans were coming into work. These ladies had a good thing going – I think we paid them $10 a month – not sure if that was in MPC or piasters – either way it was cheap. They’d wash and iron your clothes, starch your fatigues, shine your boots, clean your room, and make your bed. To make a little extra each month, they’d all run out of laundry soap, or shoe polish, and ask for money to buy more."

Gene Pianka, "B" Detachment, Imagery Interpretation, 1967-1968

Photo Credit: Fred Guest, "B" Detachment, Imagery Interpretation, 1967-1968

Photo Credit: David Kueter, "B" Detachment, Imagery Interpretation, 1967-1968

Photo Credit: David Kueter, "B" Detachment, Imagery Interpretation, 1967-1968

Left: the courtyard of the Palace Hotel, with GI laundry drying on clotheslines used by Vietnamese maids.  Center: A view of the entrance to the Modern Hotel, showing the wooden guard shack and metal fencing.  While the uprights in the center resemble bollards-- reinforced pillars designed to prevent ramming of the fence by a vehicle -- they were probably there simply as mounts for the fence and would have provided little protection in the event of an assault on the building.   Right:  Exterior view of the Palace Hotel.

A Break For A Bar-B-Que

Photo Credit: MIV

Left:  In "B" Detachment's operations area at the I Corps Compound, troopers gather around for chow during a cook-out, one of two or three held during 1967.  Visible, among others, are the detachment's supply sergeant and administrative clerk.

On Army Food . . . 

"Meals were available in the cafeteria of the Danang Hotel – 1st floor if I remember correctly.  In 1967-68, I think we were getting $75 a month for a meal allowance.  If you ate every meal during the month, you still had money left over at the end of the month.  I don’t recall the individual meal prices, other than the Saturday night meal, which cost $2.00.  On the menu Saturday night was either lobster or steak.  . . . [The] Danang Hotel cafeteria offerings opened a new world for this guy. Grits for breakfast – never had them before I got to Danang – didn’t even know what they were.  Rice (loaded with butter), instead of potatoes – I don’t recall ever eating rice at home.  Real milk and ice cream.  In the 14 months in Danang I gained 25 pounds – a combination of good eating as well as an occasional adult beverage.  Within six months of getting home I had lost the 25 pounds. The only change in lifestyle was working for a landscaper (exercise was not a priority in Danang) and cutting way back on adult beverages.  If you didn’t like the meal choice being served in the cafeteria, you could always get a meal at the EM club.  It was a little more expensive than the cafeteria - I don’t recall there being a great variety to choose from but, you wouldn’t be in the club ordering it if the meal downstairs was better.  Salisbury steak was a meal I remember – sort of like a hamburger fashioned into a steak.  After TET started and we had to start working nights, some C Rations were available if you got hungry enough to eat them.  For me, any of the fruit ones were OK, some of the desserts (cookies, cake) were OK, but almost all of the actual meals I did without. The Vietnamese loved them, though.  I recall that at this time there was a dog hanging around the vans that had a number of puppies – probably 5 or six of them. Over a period of several nights it seemed a puppy disappeared every night.  My guess is they became part of some Vietnamese’ stir-fry dinner.  My packages from home usually included a fruitcake.  Tasted great then and I still love them now, even though I take a lot of ribbing from my colleagues at work."

Gene Pianka

Photo Credit: MIV

Photo Credit: Ron Berryman, "B" Detachment and HQ, Imagery Interpretation, 1969-1970

Above, Left:  Another view of the Palace Hotel which was used to billet "B" Detachment troopers in 1967.  Above, Right: Another hotel, the Modern Hotel, was also used to house the Detachment's enlisted personnel.

In the Cantonment Area


Up At The Villa

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