Vietnam 1968-1969

Vietnam 1968-1969
Danang

A Weatherman

Zach in the weather office with a goofy grin.

A Weatherman

The Weatherman shooting darts

A Weatherman

The Weatherman (looking cool with a cigarette)

A Weatherman

The White Elephant (NSA Danang)

A Weatherman

A View From Across The River

A Weatherman

The Triangle (On the way to Camp Ten Sha)

A Weatherman

YFU (Yard Freight Utility) 1610

A Weatherman

YFU 74


Here I am in the weather office in the White Elephant. This compound was the headquarters of the Naval Support Activity of Danang RVN. I was one of seven Navy weathermen in Vietnam. The story of how we wound up in Vietnam goes like this:

The Marine Corps was originally very much against the war in Vietnam. In fact the "Night of the Long Knives" where much of the top brass of the Marine Corps retired was the direct result of this. Not only the Marines but the CIA knew that a land war in Asia was about the dumbest thing that the United States could do. Anyhow after it all got going the Marines were not be denied their part of the glory and were mostly assigned to I Corps (the northern part of Vietnam). They needed supplying and that go the Navy involved. The part of the Navy that was 'In-Country' was referred to as the 'Brown Water Navy'. To do a proper job of supplying the Marines the Navy would transship supplies from the deep water ports up the coastline and into the small rivers. They needed inshore sea and surf forecasts to be able to plan this sort of activity. So the Navy asked the Air Force for this kind of forecasts and go a lot of dumb looks. So NSA Danang beefed up the Staff Weather Office. Staff Weather is the phrase that is applied to a flag's weatherman. Our job was to observe and forecasts the surf and seas along the coast of the northern part of Vietnam. We had a picture on the wall of an LST that had broached in the surf with the caption, "Don't let this happen!"

We worked "12-ON-12-OFF" for 15 days and took "24-OFF" then back to "12-ON-12-OFF" for another 15 days. I learned how to play cricket, plot and analyze upper air charts, take surf observations and became friends with all the kids in an orphanage that was located on China Beach. We had a Ford Bronco that we used for everything. When working nights I would, early in the morning drive the Bronco with the weather reports all around the peninsula before dropping it off for the day watch to take back across the river. During the day watches we took two surf observations a day on China Beach. We would cut through the R&R center, or a South Korean Marine compound or the orphanage. When going through the orphanage I would always slow down enough so that the kids could pile in the back. Once I did this when I had "The-Chief" along with me and I thought he was going to loose it, "Damn it Cox, one of kids could have a grenade!". Once when driving "The-Chief" to work one morning an empty beer can cam rolling out in the road, I swerved to run over it figuring it was the nice thing to do and "The-Chief" really went crazy. I finally said, "Chief if you are so worried about getting blown up why don't you take the boat to work." We could take a buss to a boat dock and then take a boat right to the White Elephant. After that ride "The-Chief" took the boat every day and I never had to drive him again.

After working in Danang for a few weeks I was sent to Cau Viet. I traveled on a YFU (Yard Freight Utility) boat. Harlan Farque took these pictures of me. Harland stayed in the Navy after his tour of duty and was, as was the custom, given his choice of duty station. He choose Fleet Weather London which was widely considered in the Naval Weather Service to be the best duty station in the world. He and Roxie, his wife, lived in London together during his tour. When I got out in '69 I traveled to England, France, Italy, Israel, an Switzerland. While in London I visited with Harlan and Roxie and got to ride on Harland's Triumph motorcycle. The muffler was not in good shape and we were idling at a stop light and this old lady was standing right beside us while Harland revved up the Triumph, she looked at us and exclaimed, "You noisy devils!". At which point the light turned green, Harland gave her the Bronx Cheer, and she started swinging with her umbrella. As we zoomed forward the only thing that went through my mind was, "She's going to miss Harland and hit me!"

After Evelyn and I were married and were living in Washington DC (1970) we drove down to Mount Olive to visit my family and were going to head on down to Rose Hill to visit Evelyn's mother. The phone rang and it Harlan wondering if we could put him and Roxie up for the night. His tour with the Navy was up and he and Roxie had flown to Dulles from London and had shipped the Triumph motorcycle on the plane and once it was unpacked they got on and were heading for their home in Sulfur Louisiana. They spent the night with us at Evelyn's mom's house in Rose Hill and then headed out for Louisiana the next day.

Some years later 1975 when Evelyn and I were on a trip out west the summer I graduated from UNCW we stopped in Sulfur and tried to look Harland up in the phone book. Well Farque is a very common name in those parts and we had no luck.

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This page was created Sunday, November 10th, 2002