Dong Tam, My Tho, Moore, Vinh Kim

Jerry White toured various sites in Vietnam of historic importance to the 6/31st.
Feel free to post additional new posts about Vietnam then and now or comment on anything posted. Check out the same photos in the album with comments by Jerry under each image. http://www.6thofthe31st.com/gallery/mai ... emId=19416
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Dong Tam, My Tho, Moore, Vinh Kim

Postby Niner Alpha » Sun Jan 16, 2011 10:48 am

Jerry sent me this message and these photos of Dong Tam today:

Robert,

I will first attach a few pictures of Dong Tam as it is today. Any sign that it was formerly a US Base Camp is no longer evident. Part of the Base Camp is now a small zoo and a snake farm/hospital where venom is extracted and snake bites treated. Another small portion is used as a small Army post, and it is against the law to take pictures of any military "facility". I am attaching photos that were taken from a bridge that crosses the Dong Tam canal south of the old Base Camp.....along side the Mekong River, and several more photos taken from the West Bank of the Dong Tam canal. The road that runs south of the Base Camp...from My Tho...is lined with businesses. The side next to the Mekong is now lined with several large Taiwanese business complexes and many large Vietnamese Seafood businesses that ship internationally. Large ships now enter the Mekong to be loaded and unloaded around My Tho and the former Dong Tam.

Note: The picture(s) that I attach showing a hard surfaced path were taken from the west bank of the Dong Tam canal. We once walked this path when it was heavily booby trapped, as we walked to and from Ving Kim. Today there are quite a few more houses; however, there are still many areas having just banana trees, as in 1969.

Tomorrow I will send a few pictures of My Tho and how it has changed into a much larger city with many international businesses.

Once you post the pictures, if requested, I can provide a few more details for each picture.

Jerry


Click on the photos to see in the original size. Just as Jerry sent them.
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Re: Jerry White revisits old battalion locations 2011

Postby Niner Alpha » Mon Jan 17, 2011 12:45 am

Robert,

Today I am attaching pictures of My Tho, the provincial capital of Tieng Giang in which much of our activity out of Dong Tam occurred. We passed by My Tho when we left Dong Tam by truck on our way to either Fire Base Moore or Vinh Kim. I believe that I was actually in My Tho only one time...when I went to visit my present `wife when she was in the hospital...wounded by the same command det (2 Chicom Claymores stacked on top of each other), that killed my RTO (Jim McPike) along with one of our Tiger Scouts...another of my men (Eli Ford) was seriously wounded. I am sure that many of our REMP Brothers visited the beautiful ladies of My Tho while we were either sleeping in or walking thru the rice paddies or jungle areas.

During the war, My Tho was a town of decent size but no real apparent industry. The only way to get to the other (Ben Tre) side of the Mekong river was by ferry.....or in our case, riverine boats. Today there is a beautiful Ben Tre bridge, finished sometime in the last two years, that crosses both branches of the Mekong, and My Tho is now flourishing with both industry and tourism. In the eastern part of town, on the river front, there is a large tourist business and a very nice hotel (along with a convention center). The day that I took the pictures, there were several buses of Australian tourists who were taking the popular Mekong River tour.....just think, during the war, we took the trip for free. A few years ago, I encountered a lot of German tourists.

Most of the pictures were taken from the new Ben Tre bridge. Lots of industry along the Mekong. The boats that you see in the middle and sides of the Mekong are boats in which the Vietnamese raise Basa fish (alot like catfish) for the international shipments.

Pictures of Fire Base Moore tomorrow.

Jerry


Click to make larger. I'll put all the photos in the "Album" at reduced sizes from original.
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Re: Jerry White revisits old battalion locations 2011

Postby Niner Alpha » Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:17 pm

Robert,

Attached are pictures relating to Fire Base Moore which was located just east of Cai Lay. Big Al Vargas thinks that he could find it easily; however, he has no idea how much this area has changed. The dusty two lane road from My Tho to Cai Lay is now a four laned, paved highway with a concrete barrier in between. During the war there were only a few small villages along the road between My Tho and Cai Lay. Today there are businesses all along the road with few if any open areas. The only way that I found the original location was by a "sense". We went to Cai Lay and then started driving back toward My Tho. After a while I got a feeling that we were close and told my son to stop and ask an older person. She pointed across the highway and said that it had been over there. There was a hamlet/village entrance across the highway and we went north of the highway several hundred meters and stopped to ask another older lady. She told us that we were presently in the former firebase.

The former firebase now has a small paved road runnning thru it. The road is lined with businesses and the area contains many fruit trees and a few rice paddies. There is a small village where we used to enter the rice paddies just north of (behind) the firebase. There is absolutely no evidence that the firebase was ever there.

Tomorrow I will start sending pictures of Vinh Kim.

Jerry

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Re: Jerry White revisits old battalion locations 2011

Postby Niner Alpha » Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:36 pm

All the photos in this string will end up in a gallery in the photo section. Jerry has access to controls for posting comments and editing. He also has all controls to the Delta Albums as well. He no doubt will add comments eventually as he and I spoke of this today.

The album is started here:

http://www.6thofthe31st.com/gallery/mai ... emId=19416

Try hitting the slide show button toward the top on the left in the menu side of the screen..not the "wide" one .. the one above that. Then hit the make larger ikon in the bottom right.
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Re: Jerry White revisits old battalion locations 2011

Postby Niner Alpha » Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:51 pm

4th set of Photos.

Robert,

Since, during, the war, I, along with many of my men, was in Vinh Kim for 3 months, I have quite few pictures. I will, therefore, send them under different categories and in different emails.

The first set of pictures will contain pictures of the village in general. During the war, Vinh Kim was a small village with a small market. Today it is much, much larger with a very large market. Kids are everywhere and they all appear to go to schools. They have several elementary schools, a junior high and a high school. In Vietnam there is no "free" school.....they have to pay for their children to go to school....even elementary school. I am sure that by our accounts it isn't much money, but we must remember that this is a poor country. Vinh Kim does have a small hospital, a bank and even an ATM machine. Businesses are everywhere and the market is a major shipping location for the hundreds of different fruits and vegetables grown in the area. Even the small trails away from the town have businesses. You might be walking down a trail and come upon a small business selling anything from cell phones to refreshments.

There are no signs of the war. There is a statue (I will attach a picture) depicting the sorrows of war, and "Art" panels showing the history of war in Vietnam. Strangely they left out what they call the American War.....they, I believe, are afraid that it might damage their relationships with us, and,since 1990 they have tried very hard to establish good relationships with the USA. I believe that they understand that their future depends on it. Strangely enough, the statue actually commemorates the bombing of the village on Dec 7, 1943 by the Japanese. Approximately 400 people were killed.

You will note from the pictures that there was now quite few "tall" buildings in Vinh Kim; that is, compared to the war years. Since the end of the war many people have returned to the village. They prefer the relative easy pace of life to the rigors and congestion of Saigon.

The next email and set of pictures will relate to our previous fire base locations and the roads that we traveled and the bridges that we crossed.

Note: I continue to encounter people who as kids sold us cokes, and occasionaly I run into older people who worked for the US who want to practice their English.

Jerry
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Re: Jerry White revisits old battalion locations 2011

Postby pointman » Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:04 pm

Just want to say MORE! These are really great. Thanks for posting them.
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Re: Jerry White revisits old battalion locations 2011

Postby Niner Alpha » Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:18 pm

Robert,

Here is the second set of pictures from Vinh Kim.

Picture as follows:
1: When Delta Company first took over from Bravo Company, we had to stay in a small compound where the road to the Mekong crossed a good size canal. We stayed here about a week or so until Bravo moved and we moved into the larger firebase. This spot now contains numerous fruit shipping businesses. The bridge has been replaced with a new modern bridge and the canal banks have been reinforced with concrete to prevent errosion and to permit the loading of boats.
2: This empty field is where the larger Firebase Vinh Kim used to stand. This field is now used for soccer games, volley ball and karate classes.
3: This is where a combined Vietnamese and US intelligence platoon had a compound. David Kennedy (Delta 4th platoon) once operated from this site.
4 - 8: This is the road to the right front of the Vinh Kim firebase. It ran to the Dong Tam canal. The army engineers enlarged this from a path to a road while we were there in 1969. Back then it seemed as though the road was only ~ a mile long; however, today, I see that it is clearly closer to 2 miles. We used to walk it rather quickly, without a stop, when we were young..no way we could do it today with those packs on our backs. During the war there were very few houses...there was one of those triangle PF mud forts on the right..going toward the canal. There was nothing at the end of the road except the canal. Today, as you can see, there are lots of businesses, homes, etc. and even a ferry at the end of the orad.
9 -11: The river at Vinh Kim.
12:The bridge at the Vinh Kim market where we used to cross over to the other side.
13: The "other side". During the war it was VC territory and had been hit hard with agent orange. Today, as you can see, homes, businesses and trees are everywhere. My wife does tell me that the life expectancy is less on that side and that the birth defects are greater.

Jerry



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The bridge at the Vinh Kim market where we used to cross over to the other side.
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1: When Delta Company first took over from Bravo Company, we had to stay in a small compound where the road to the Mekong crossed a good size canal. We stayed here about a week or so until Bravo moved and we moved into the larger firebase. This spot now contains numerous fruit shipping businesses.
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2: This empty field is where the larger Firebase Vinh Kim used to stand. This field is now used for soccer games, volley ball and karate classes
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This is the road to the right front of the Vinh Kim firebase. It ran to the Dong Tam canal.
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3: This is where a combined Vietnamese and US intelligence platoon had a compound. David Kennedy (Delta 4th platoon) once operated from this site.
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Re: Jerry White revisits old battalion locations 2011

Postby Niner Alpha » Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:35 pm

Attached are the last pictures of Vinh Kim.

1: Bridge over the first canal...going toward the Mekong.
2-5: Road that we walked out each day toward the Mekong. I can't believe that we used to also walk this road quickly...all the way to the Mekong..without stopping. This seemed like a mile or so during the war; however, it is probably closer to 3 miles. This road now has businesses all along the road all the way to the intersection with the road that runs parallel to the Mekong (which runs from My Tho and also has businesses all along the road).
6-7: Command det alley. This was on the road toward the Mekong...just past where a PF compound was on the right..and before we reached the bridge (now new) over the second canal which contained a PF compound on each side of the road. The VC liked to place command dets in the high grass next to the road. We tried, of course, to avoid this area whenever possible.
8: There are no longer rice paddies in Vinh Kim. They have all been replaced with fruit trees, because they can make more money from fruit. This orchard is in front of our house which sits on what used to be a rice paddy just out of the village to the left. This rice paddy is where we suffered our first 3rd platoon fatality in Vinh Kim. "Doc" Aldridge tripped a boobytrap while crossing a small canal.

That's all from Vinh Kim.....tomorrow Ap Bac.



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Re: Jerry White revisits old battalion locations 2011

Postby Delta75 » Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:32 pm

Niner....I have added comments to the pictures in the photo album.
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Re: Jerry White revisits old battalion locations 2011

Postby Niner Alpha » Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:57 am

Robert,

Here are the pictures that I took at Ap Bac. Too bad that I had not read about the history of the Vietnam War before arriving in Vietnam. Of course, if I had, I would have known that we had no chance for victory with the Vietnamese political corruption and resulting poor armed forces.

If I had read the history, I would have known that Ap Bac was only a few miles north of the highway between My Tho and Cai Lay.....thus we passed it on the way to and from Fire Base Moore. Who knows, we probably operated at the site during our many eagle flights from Moore. For those who do not know, Ap Bac was fought 1/2/1963. Approximately 2,000 ARVN soldiers supported by 13 APCs, helicopters and artillery attacked a force of 285 entrenched VC. Lt Col John Paul Vann was the American advisor in command. The results were that the VC kicked ARVN butt 80 KIA/100 WIA. Three American adivisors were killed and 8 wounded. 5 helicopters were shot down. The VC losses were 18 KIA/39 WIA. The VC escaped to the northeast into the Plain of Reeds.

The museum at Ap Bac contains alot of relics and alot of verbiage in both English and Vietnamese. Most of the verbiage is correct...some is not. Best I not get into that since who knows who might be screening my emails. I would suggest a book "A Bright Shining Lie" by Neil Sheehan about Lt Col John Paul Vann. Probably the best of the many books that I have read about Vietnam. Ap Bac is when Vann questioned if we were supporting the right side...after seeing 285 VC willing to stand and fight and die....and 2,000 ARVN not. At this point, Vann felt that there was no way that the South could win the war without continous US military involvement.

You might note what looks like "billboards" in the rice fields. These are images of where the VC shot down 5 helicopters and distroyed 3 APCs.

It will be a few days before I have more pictures. I am now trying to plan a trip with my son that will cover Ben Luc, Chamberlain, Gettysburg and Tra Cu. I will cover Tan An and Can Giuoc when my wife and I go to visit friends in Can Duoc.

You will see pictures of several large rice paddies that will bring back memories of having to cross these muddy fields. My weight went from 175 lbs of muscle to 135 lbs in the 6 months at Fire Base Moore.

Robert....I will have to attach more pictures in another email....looks like ~13 is all that I can get in one email.

Jerry
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Re: Jerry White revisits old battalion locations 2011

Postby Niner Alpha » Fri Jan 21, 2011 12:46 pm

More Vinh Kim

Robert...I am having to hold off of my "firebase" searches for a few days...until a family wedding is over. While waiting one of my sons took me to a monument/park located where the "Vinh Kim" river (not it's real name) runs into the Mekong. Another bit of history that I was unaware of...apparently, several hundred years ago, the Vietnamese fought Thailand and Cambodian armies/navies at this location. The museum contains many plates, swords, spearheads, etc that were found on the river bottom, at the mouth of the Vinh Kim river....these apparently were from Thailand and Cambodian boats that were sank (in different battles, of course).

My son took me back to Vinh Kim via the north side of the river (we referred to as VC territory). The shot taken across the river...where the second canal west of Vinh Kim intersects the river...is where were we set up one day and the VC started shooting at us...I believe that the only thing that was hit was my M-16. After all the shooting was over..I noticed a hole in the front covers.

There is also a picture of the paved trail now on that side of the river......houses and businesses are now everywhere. I also took pictures of the bridge, the river and the market as I crossed the river.

Jerry
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Re: Jerry White revisits old battalion locations 2011

Postby Niner Alpha » Sun Jan 23, 2011 1:13 am

Jerry has made a comment under each duplicate copy of the photos in this string in the Album section. Take the link and click on a photo and go to the bottom of the screen to read the comment. Albums have been created for different areas now. All individual photos have personal comments by Jerry.

http://www.6thofthe31st.com/gallery/mai ... emId=19416

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