Seabees from MCB-7 1967 to1969, By Jim Piccotti 10/2002
My name is Jim Piccotti. Let me tell you about myself. Iím 56 years old. I live in a little town in Pennsylvania called Olyphant. If you look at a map; it is in the upper right hand corner. Look for a town called Scranton. Olyphant is about 8 mi north of that. Iím married for 27 years. I have a daughter she is 19. She goes to Ithaca College in New York. She wants to be a reporter. When I got out of the service, I went to work as a cement finisher. I was doing this before I went into the service. I had to serve an apprenticeship before I became a finisher. I worked out of the union hall. I worked on shopping malls high rises anything like that mostly pouring floors. I got out in 1981 because there was little work around here.
Now I work for the Department of Defense. The place that I work at is called Tobyhanna Army Depot. Iím electronics Mechanic. I repair all kinds of weapons systems. Right now I repair survival radios.
Let me tell you about some of the terms that we used in Vietnam. Iím doing this because you will know what Iím talking about. I hope that I can remember some of them. The group that I was in was called MCB-7. MCB-7 stands for Mobile Construction Battalion. They called it #7. You will hear me mentioned MCB-7 over and over. The North Vietnamese Army was called the NVA. Shrapnel is a piece of metal flying by an explosion. Perimeter is the outer limits of a military position. The area beyond this belongs to the enemy. A gook is a derogatory term for an Oriental. C-rats are combat rations; canned meals for use in the field. Artillery is a big gun that looks like a canon on wheels, and can be moves around. Medavac is a medical evacuation helicopter. The DMZ is the dividing line between North and South Vietnam. The VC is the enemy in the South. Number 1 is the best. A PX was a post exchange or a military store. Iím sure that there were a lot more terms but I forgot most of them.
I went into the Navy in 1966. The Navy sent me to school for Heavy Equipment in Calf. Then they sent me to Davisville RI. I was in Davisville RI in public works. Then I got orders to MCB-7. I got into MCB-7 in 1967. I had two tours of duty in Vietnam. My first tour was at a place called Da Nang. I was a truck driver in Da Nang. Da Nang is about 125mi south of the DMZ. Da Nang was a pretty good place. At least we had a good place to sleep and got a hot meal every night. Our camp never got hit. The airport did. That was a few mi from our camp. The first 50 pictures are from Da Nang. The second 50 or so are from a place called Dong Ha. Iím trying to write down what some of these pictures are about. These pictures were taken over 35 years ago. Maybe 35 years from now IF someone looks at these pictures they will know what they are looking at. Most likely we wonít be around to tell them about these pictures. Iím sorry for all the mistakes in doing this. Iím trying my best.
Picture #1 is the main gate at Davisville Rhode Island.
Picture #2&3 these are the barracks at Davisville. Davisville is the main base at that time for MCB-7. I think that there were about 90 guys on each floor. There was one big room on each floor. So everyone sleep in one big room.
Picture # 4 is the front gate at a place called Camp Adenir Da Nang Vietnam. The Seabees would name the camp after the first Seabee killed there. This Seabee Adnenir wasnít from MCB-7. I think that he was killed around 1965. The guy in this picture I just canít remember his name.
Picture# 5 I like to know were they got that motorcycle. The guy driving it is a guy named Grey. I donít remember the name of the guy on the back.
Picture#6 in this picture you had to wash your mess gear after you eat. That is what these guys are doing. You had these big garbage filled cans with hot soapy water and this is how you washed you mesh gear.
Picture#7 this place is called a hut. This is were we sleep. I think that there were 12 guys in this hut. No running water any air. We had a few light bulbs for light and a bunk to sleep in. This is about the best the Seabee had.
Picture#8 this was the main camp for MCB-7 in Da Nang. I think that we had about 700 men in MCB-7.
Picture#9 was a hospital in Camp Adenir. We had a doctor, dentist, corpsman and dental technicians. If you get sick or hurt most likely you would go here. We lost one guy from MCB-7 at Camp Adneir. His name was James Lightfoot. He was killed in a rock blasting accidents. MCB-7 was blasting a rock ledge when a rock fragment hit him in the head.
Picture#10 this is inside of my hut. I think the guy on the left is Joe Lucuis. I donít know the guy on the right. He was not from this hut. You can see our mess gear hanging on the wall.
Picture #11 this is how we took the guys to the different job sites a lot of the times I drove this. Most of the guys didnít drive a government vehicle.
Picture# 12 this is in the inside of a trailer. You would put in as many guys as you can in this trailer. Most of the time you didnít have to drive them too far.
Picture #13 most of the time I drove a dump truck. We worked 12 hours a day 7 days a week. Maybe on Sunday you might get few hours off. Thatís a big maybe.
Picture# 14 this is where we parked our dump trucks. I donít know why we had to keep the beds on the dump trucks up at night. I think maybe to keep the rain water out of the beds of the trucks.
Picture#15 this guys name is Duane Anderson. He is a pretty good guy I have been trying to find him all these years but I canít find him.
Picture #16 this guys name is Francis Reck.
Picture#17 this is inside of my hut. The guy sitting down is getting a haircut. I think that his name is Richardson. The guy given the hair cut is Joe Lucuis. I donít know if Joe cut hair before he went into the service. He could cut hair pretty good. We had one barber for over 700 guys. So this is why Joe cut our hair.
Picture#18 this is the outside of my hut. The guy on the left is Bob Langill. His is a real good guy. I became pretty good friends with him. After a few years when we got out I lost contact with him. A few years ago I got his name off a Seabee list of guys that were in MCB-7 at one time. I forget how I got that list after so many years after we got out. We try to write as often as we can to each other. Bob was not a Seabee. He should have been. He takes more interest in the Seabees then the guys that joined the Seabees. I think that is pretty good. Bob is from the fleet. We had a lot of guys from the fleet in MCB-7. Bob was the guy that paid us. My pay never got lost because of him. We had guys that were cooks, guys that work in personnel, Intelligence, career counselors, supply just to mention a few. Most of these guys joined the Navy and thought that they were going to be on a ship. They were put in the Seabee. We couldnít do without them. To me these guys were just a Seabee as I was. They had to go threw the same trianing that I had to. We got very few days off while we were in Vietnam. One of these days that we got off was for your birthday. When it was Bobís birthday he came with me in my truck for the day. He could have slept all day if he wanted to. The guys in the fleet didnít get out of the camp too much. I consider Bob as being one of my best friends in the Seabee. I knew the guy in the middle but I just canít remember his name. The guy with the broom is Ellison Hunt. Where he is sweeping is called a bunker. When Da Nang got hit you would run out of your hut and get into this bunker. We had bunkers all over the place.
Picture#19 the guy on the left is Simon Rutherford. The guy on the right I think is Glen Edmunds.
Picture #20 this is how fast that you were told to go. If you got caught going faster then this you would get a speeding ticket. If you got a speeding ticket you would get extra duty. The MPs had radar. You might have to work in the mess hall or fill sand bags. The reason for the slow speed is because there were so many people on the road. Some of these places were worse then driving in New York City. It was very common to see people get killed on these roads. The Vietnamese would ride their bike on the same road. They were all over the place. They would hang onto the side of your truck so they didnít have to peddle. Some of them would hit a bad spot in the road and go under the truck and get killed. Mcb-7 killed a few of them. If it werenít your fault nothing would happen to you. If you killed a water buffalo you would be in big trouble. I never killed one. I hit a few. The Vietnamese use the water buffalo to plow their rice fields. The animal was worth more then a person. That is just how it was in Vietnam.
Pictures #21 I donít know who these guys are. The reason that I took this picture is because of the dog. You didnít see to many dogs in Vietnam. This dog is one of these guys pet. If it got off that rope and the Vietnamese got it they would eat it.
Picture #22 this place was called Marble Mountain. This place was about 1mi from our Seabee camp. We use to get our sand from here. Many years after I got out Vietnam I was watching the TV show 60 min. They went back to Vietnam to interview the enemy. As I was watching 60 min this picture of Marble Mountain comes up. The NVA and the VC which were the enemy had a under ground hospital in this mountain. They said that there were over 1,000 enemies in this mountain all the time. They had this all the time that the US was there. So as this picture was taken they were there. I was all over this mountain I didnít see anything.
Picture #23 this is another picture of that mountain.
Picture #24 this is our batch plant. A batch plant is where they made cement.
Picture #25 is another picture of this batch plant.
Picture #26 this is place called deepwater pears. The ships would come in here to unload their ships
Picture #27 those lights that you see are flares. When our troops think that there are enemy around they shoot these flares up. There is a parachute on the end of the flare so it will come down very slow. It might take 5 min to come down. It will stay lit as it is coming down. Then our guys will send another one up. Sometimes they do this all night. If you are close to one of these flares you can read the newspaper. That is how much light it gives out.
Picture #28 this place was called Sacred Heart Orphanage. All these kids didnít have any family. So they would come here. Mcb-7 tried to help them out. We built them a schoolhouse and if they needed any medical or dental work they got it.
Picture #29 this is how a lot of the people lived. You wonder how anyone could live like this. I donít know what the average age in Vietnam was but it wasnít old. The people just looked old.
Picture #30 just more of how the Vietnamese lived.
Picture # 31 this was a big PX that the US had in DaNang. This was a pretty nice place. You can get a hamburger or a cold soda. You even can order a new car from here. A lot of guys did just that. You would get it pretty cheap. When you got back to the US you would go where they made the car and pick it up. You didnít pay tax or have to go threw a dealer. You had to pay for the car when you pick it up. I couldnít do this because I was going to have another tour in Vietnam. You had to be in DaNang to do it, and I never got back there to do it.
Picture#32 this is inside this PX. I think that this PX was called freedom hill. It was like a small K-Mart. You couldnít buy a lot of things here, but you can get a few things.
Picture#33, 34, 35 this was a USO show. This is next to this PX. This was the best of the best USO shows in Vietnam. This was the Bob Hope Christmas show. There most have been 10,000 guys here. They were all over the place. Look at picture 35 the guy with the red hat on is Bob Hope. He had a lot of movie stars at this show. People like Miss World. Look again at picture 35 the girl in the white mini skirt is Raquel Welch. This was a free show for the GIs.
Picture#36, 37,38,39,40 and 41 this was one of many work sites that we worked on. This place was called Monkey Mountain. We had to up keep this road of two miles. This place was used for an aircraft control facilities and a missile site. You could see all around DaNang. This mountain was over 2200 feet above the South Chine Sea. They would patrol this place with dogs. Pictures 37 are the dogs they used.
Picture# 42 this was another work site. We had to get this job done fast. We even had to get cooks and many guys that were in the fleet. Like I said the guys that were in the fleet rate were just a Seabee as I was. Sometimes we used them as security on job site so we can do our work.
Picture# 43 this is were they would park the airplanes at the airport. We built things like this so when the airport got bombed maybe some of the planes wonít get hit.
Picture# 44 I think this guy was a Seabee. At one of are smaller PX was a Vietnamese village. These Vietnamse were trying to sell something to this Seabee. It was called the black market. You almost could get anything here.
Picture#45 I never saw a train in Vietnam but this bridge had train tracks.
Picture#46 this is how a lot of Vietnamese got around. They would go to the market with ducks or anything and put everything on top of this bus. People would sit all over the place.
Picture#47 some of the Vietnamese that had money would get around on a motorcycle. If a girl was on the back she would sit sidesaddle. Some of these girls would get knocked off when the guy would hit a bad spot in the road. Some would get run over by a truck that was driving behind them.
Picture#48 this was a US Prison of War camp. When the US got a NVA or a VC they would put them in here.
Picture #49 this was the plane that took us to Vietnam. It was called a C-141. They still use this type of plane today. I think this plane held about 100 guys. You would sit facing the back of the plane. So you will be flying back words. I donít know why they did that. The only time that you knew this is when the plane takes off or landed. I think that there are only 4 windows on this plane. A plane like this would bring the dead and wounded back to the US. We took off from RI and flew to Alaska then we flew to Japan and then to Vietnam. We had to fly to these places to get fuel. As soon as we got fuel we took off again. It took us 21 hours in the air to get to Viet Nam. I guess in all it took us a little over 24 hours to get there.
Picture #50 this is the day that we were going to Vietnam. We were waiting to get on the plane to go.
Picture#51 this is my second tour in Vietnam. The Seabee camp was called Camp Barns. This camp was only seven miles from the DMZ. The town was called Dong Ha. This place was something else. There was a lot of fighting all the time around here. You will see in some of the next 50 or so pictures.
Picture #52 this was one of our main roads in this camp. The building on the right is our club. In Da Nang we had a lot of sand. At Dong Ha were had a lot of red mud.
Picture #53 this is inside of the club. This was the Seabees birthday so we had a party. That lady that you see was a reporter. We called her Patches. She interview a few guys and had them on TV back home. I think that she was from Florida. She was pretty cool. She would go where the fighting was to get a story.
Picture#54 this was just before Christmas. One of the guys made this Christmas tree from wire. That is me in the crane. This is what I did on my second tour in Vietnam. I was a crane operator. This was a great job. I thought it was the best job in the Seabees. Even today I think that it was.
Picture#55 this was a USO show at Camp Barns. Bob Hope would never come to this place. At least we had some entertainment.
Picture#56 is our batch plant were we made cement.
Picture#57 Camp Barns is getting hit with Artillery. Our camp got hit many times. No one got hurt in this one.
Picture#58 Camp Barns was getting hit here. If you look close you can see a hut on fire. No one got hurt here.
Picture #59&60 this hut got hit and when it was all over a group of marines called explosive ordnance disposal team. This team looks for any explosives that didnít go off. They came to check this hut out. We had a great deal of explosives like hand grenade and rockets in these huts.
Picture#61 this was something called an ammo dump. This is were you would kept all kinds of explosives. The NVA got this place. This was next to Camp Barns. A lot of money went up in smoke here.
Picture#61&62. This was a sad day for the Seabees of MCB-7. Camp Barns got hit and two of our Seabee got killed here. The guyís names were named Richard Davis age 20 from New London Wisconsin and Richard Sprout age 23 from Duncannon Pennsylvania. Sometime in about March 2002 I was on the net. There is a site there called http://thewall-usa.com/. This site has the name of all that died in Vietnam. If you know someone that died there you can look up his or her name. When you get to this site and put this person name in. A window will come up and it will tell you a little about this person. Like were they are from and how and when they died. So I put in Richard Davis name in. So when the window came up on Richard there is another window there saying if you want to leave or read a message? So I click on this window. Richard Davis has a sister that was looking for someone that knew her brother. I knew her brother. So I wrote to her. Her name is Pam. I told her that I knew her brother and I was talking to him that morning before he got killed. I told Pam that I had pictures of how he got killed and the spot he was killed at. I ask Pam if she wanted to see these pictures and tell her what happen to her brother on that day. She wrote back to me and wanted to see these pictures and find out what happen. I wrote a letter to her. You brother was killed at Dong Ha at a Seabee camp called Camp Barns. The US had a very big combat base at Dong Ha. It had to be 4sq mi maybe even more with 10,000 guys at it. In this combat base there were many camps. There were army camps, marine camps, air force camps. Then there was MCB-7. There were over 700 men in MCB-7. In a Seabee battalion there is every type of construction person you can think of. We had a Doctor, Dentist, Chaplain, and Dental Technician, office people, cook and many others to make up this battalion.
In your letter you said that your brother was killed near the DMZ. Your brother was killed in Camp Barnes. It was a hot sunny day on Aug 26, 1968 at about 5:30pm that Camp Barnes started getting bomb with artillery from North Vietnam. Viet Nam is 12 hours a head of the US. North Vietnam was only 7 mi from Camp Barns. This artillery could reach Camp Barnes from North Vietnam. The NVA shot about 50 rounds into the Dong Ha combat base. About 30 of these rounds hit MCB-7 Camp Barnes. Like I said in my last letter one of these rounds hit a water tank near the mess hall. Rick and a guy named Rich Sprout were about 100 feet from this water tank. This water tank took a hit and I guess a piece of shrapnel hit them. You said that your brother bled to death. That could very easy have happen. This is the reason why. There were very few Seabee that work in Camp Barns in the daytime. Most Seabees work out on the roads or other job sites. I donít think that there is more then 75 Seabee in the camp doing the day. There would be cooks and guys that work in the office and mechanics like your brother. Guys like me if I would work in Camp Barnes one day a mouth it would be a lot. So when your brother got hit it took an awhile before they found him. If the camp got hit at 7 at night then the camp would have a lot of Seabees in it. Maybe they would have found him faster. We worked 12 hours a day 7 days a week. Most of the Seabees get back in camp after 6 pm. For some Seabees we stay at the job site. It took to long to get to and from the job site. I would stay at the job site for weeks. Sometimes it would be hard to be away from the main camp. When we were away from the main camp we slept in tents or just on the ground. We couldnít get a hot meal or take a shower. We ate C rate a lot. We couldnít get our mail and that was #1 for us. I just happen to be in Camp Barnes the day that your brother got killed. You brother worked the night shift if I remember right. I was talking to him that morning. He worked on my crane the night before. He used to work on smaller thing like jeeps or small trucks. That day two Seabee got killed youíre brother and Sprout.
Iím sending you 2 pictures. Picture #1 is that water tank. If you look close at the tank you can see small holes in it. Shrapnel made this. In that big square hole I guess they needed parts and they cut them out. Iím picking this water tank up with my crane and putting it into a dump truck. This was our main water supply and we had to replace it fast. I know picture #2 is very dark and hard to see. This is very sad. This is were your brother got killed. Your brother and Sprout were together. I wish that this picture was better. The sun was starting to set. I didnít have a flash on my camera. If you look up at the roof. You can see a hat on this hut. That hat is either your brotherís hat or Sprout. Tell today I donít know how it got up there. The only thing that I can think of is one of them got hit in the head. If you look at the bottom of this hut it is very hard to see. Until is a bunker there. Maybe they were trying to get there. I was about 100 yards from them. At first I couldnít get to a bunker. I was too far away from one. The rounds were coming in too fast and I just lay on the ground until I got a chance to get into one. Your poor brother didnít get that chance. I didnít know that Rick got killed tell sometime later. I knew that someone got hurt bad. You could see the medavacs come in. We were still getting hit as the medavacs were coming in. A few Seabees got wounded that day. At the time that I was at Camp Barnes 4 Seabees got killed. Your brother and Sprout and a guy named Rogar Schoener age 20 from New City and one named John Van Dusen age 19 from Johnson City New York. These two other guys were killed on Sept 20, 1968. It was listed that they got killed by the VC shooting into their bunker that was on the perimeter and it blew up. I still donít know how they did that. It had to be one in a million shot. I think that there was 3 Seabees in this bunker. The others got out. I was NOT in Camp Barnes when this happen.
Just to get off the subject for one min. I have a good friend by the name of Phil OíBrien. Phil was in MCB-7 at Camp Barns with me. I e-mail him all the time. He is a great guy. I called him popís. Today Phil is in his 70s. So when I was in MCB-7 this is what I called him. Today is Oct 2, 2002. Phil sent me an e-mail today. He said that he just received an e-mail from the Van Dusen family. This is what he said to me and what they said to him. Hi Jim. I got this today and I wrote back to them that I had a friend that might have known John Van Dusen. He was a UTCN.I can't find his picture in the cruise book. I was at the club over near that bunker at the time it blew up. Myself and some one else were sitting outside drinking a beer when one of them guy's came from the bunker and got a couple of six packs of soda. He had just gotten back to the bunker when it blew up. The only thing I remember is that he wore glasses. But I didn't know him by name. Let me know what you think. "POP"
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: (no subject)
Date: Wed, 2 Oct 2002 09:10:59 EDT
Good Morning Irish,
Betty & I were on the wall to post another remberence to John and saw yours.
Laura is his daughter, Cheryl & Christine are sisters.
Did you know John ? Were you serving with him ? We would like to hear from
you, but if not we will understand.
Bill & Betty Van Dusen.
I just received an e-mail from Bill & Betty Van Dusen. They said that they would see this CD. Bill & Betty are John parents. I didnít know that they were his parents. Iím just too happy to send them this CD.
Know going back to Pam. We had two Seabees that took there own lives. One guy hung himself the other guy shot himself. One of the guys was in the service over 8 years. The other guy was in a little over a year. This happen on two different days. I donít know their names or the days that they died. I donít know why they did this. A lot of Seabee got wounded. I donít know how many. I donít know if any died from their wounds later on. I donít think that they did. I might be wrong about that.
I used to write to my parents every day. It was very easy to write and mail a letter. You didnít need a stamp to mail a letter in Vietnam. All you had to do was write free in the upper right hand corner of the envelope. You could mail it at any camp. It was hard to receive mail. I never was in one place long enough to find me. At about 1975 I found all my letters that I sent at my parentís house. I ask my dad why did you keep all my letters. He said that if something happen to me he could read them and make believe that I was there. I didnít understand then what he meant. I do now. Your mom lost part of herself when she lost her son. We couldnít keep letters that was sent to us. The government said if the VC got they hand on the address they might mail a bomb home. I only kept a few.
You said that you were looking for a seaman that occupied you brotherís body back home. This is going to be very very hard to do. Between you and me maybe we can do it. I work with a lot of Vietnam Vets. I ask them what did they think. Most of these guys were in the army. They said that when Rick body came back to the US. They think he landed at Dover Del AFB. The guys were saying that someone from the Navy occupied the body back home. This Navy person was not a Seabee from MCB-7. My buddyís said that there were guys from all branches of the service at Dover and this was there job to occupy the body back home. If this is the case it is going to be very hard to find this guy. Iím not going to give up. Like I said between you and me we are going to try to find this guy. A buddy that works with me at Tobyhanna. This guy and I were in MCB-7 with your brother. He didnít know your brother or he wasnít in Camp Barnes when he died. He told me check with the funeral director that your brother was at. He had to sign papers when the body was turned over. Maybe he has a copy of his name. I will do anything that I can for you Pam. Iím very lucky to have known your brother and thank him for the freedom that I have today. May god bless him and all the other GI for the freedom that we have today. God bless you Pam and take care.
Then Pam wrote back to me that she got the name of the Seabee that took her brother home. This is what she said. I did as you suggested and called the funeral home. I was surprised that they had anything on him. But the young lady says that there was small piece of paper that said what flight he was coming in on and that also a CMSN Whalen. I am going to the wall next to see if he is listed I hope not. I believe his first name was also Richard. Thanks for any help. Pam
I still didnít find this guy. I tried every place that you can think of. I will just keep on trying.
Picture #64 I think that this guys name is Clark. I have no idea what he is doing.
Picture #65 this is just some of the heavy equipment that we had in MCB-7. You name it we had it. Mcb-7 printed a newspaper. It was called MCB-7 News. They printed this paper once a month I only have a few copies of this paper. In this one paper that I have it has some interesting personnel statistics. For instance, our youngest Seabee was 18 the oldest is 59. Two-thirds of MCB-7 was 22 or younger. While 5% were over 37. When I first went to Vietnam I was 20. Two thirds of the 700 men were bachelors. The one-third that were married had almost 300 children. Every state in the union is represented in MCB-7 as well as Philippines and Greece. By area the men from MCB-7 hail from the following sections of the U.S. New England15% MiddleAtlantic32% South15% Midwest30% and the West 7%. So this gives you some kind of a idea the men of MCB-7
Picture #66 if you were very lucky and pretty close maybe about 10 mi. the cooks will try to bring a hot meal out to the job site. This sure didnít happen to often. The job being a crane operator I wasnít in one place or close enough to get a hot meal. I eat mostly C-rats. I guess some of these C-rats were ok, but after awhile you got tied of eating the same old thing. When I got out of Vietnam my weight was about 130lb.I wish that I weighted that today. In this picture there are two guys that I remember. One of the guys is Dennis Pope and the other guy is Steve Purdy. I got Steveís name and phone off a list of Seabee l from mcb-7 a few years ago. I gave him a call. He is a pretty good guy. This was Steve third tour in Viet Nam. There were not many guys that had three tours. Steve is the guy just getting the food from this truck.
Picture#67 is the guyís from MCB-7 watching a USO show in Camp Barns.
Picture#68 is a Company party. Each company in 7 got a few hours off to have one. The officers and men of A-company had the party together. This is the company that I was in. The guy playing the guitar is an officer. I think that his name might be Kurtz Iím not sure on that. The guy behind him is a guy name Bruce Corbett the guy with the glasses on is George Petrigliano. The other guy I donít remember his name.
Picture #69 the guy with the hat on is the commanding officer his name was Jack Rickels. He was a pretty good guy. He was about 39 years old. This was taken at the company party. I canít remember the name of the other guy.
Picture# 70 is the same picture I guess I scanned it twice. It is too much trouble to delete this picture because it I have to change all the numbers of the rest of the pictures. The Seabees were great for taking pictures. Film wasnít easy to get. About the only film that I could get were for slides. Film for prints was very hard to get. If you wanted to get them develop you would have to send them home or buy this thing called prepaid develop envelopes.
Picture# 71 is some of the guys at the company party. The first guy I donít remember his name. The guy in the middle I think he name was Williams and the guy on the right his name was Jerry Dittmer. I wish that I could remember all the guysí names but it has been to long and maybe Iím just getting too old.
Picture# 72 this guys name was Ken Maxey.
Picture #73 this guys name was Ken Woodland. I donít remember what kind of lizard this was. It was very common to see lizard and snakes. A lot of times they would be under the huts. Remember the bunkers at my hurt in DaNang that you had to go outside of the hut to get in. Here at the basses at Dong Ha everyone had a trap door next to their bunk. Under the hut there were drenches going under the hut. You would keep this drape door open most of the time. So when the camp got hit you would drop down in this trench maybe seven feet down and get into a bunker. If you tried to go out the door like in DaNang you could get killed very easy. The trenches at Camp Barns were pretty dry. At lot of these other camp that I stayed at were full of water. A lot of these trenches had a lot of snakes and lizard. So when the camp got hit now youíre in there with the snakes and lizard. You couldnít shot them because everyone is in the trench. You had to hit them with your rifle. Sometime you have to go in at night and you canít see anything but you can fell them going by you. Sometimes when you were sleeping on the ground they were in the tent or your sleeping bag. I was happy when I was able to stay at Camp Barns. It was pretty good there. Some of these marinesí camps that I was at were very bad. These poor guys lived like dogs most of the time. The Seabees job was to try to make there live at little better. The marines had it very very hard at Dong Ha.
Picture #74 this is my buddy George Kaschak. George and I joined the Seabees together and stay together the whole time that we were in the Seabees. He is a pretty good guy. We are still together. We work together at the same place. George is a sheet metal worker. In this picture George is cleaning his dozer. He worked at a place called L Z Stud. This place was about 25 mi from Camp Barns. This was not a good place to be at. I think that there were about 40 guys that stayed here all the time. They had to live under ground all the time. There was a lot of fighting around there.
Picture #75 I joined the Seabees with these four guys. My buddy George is the third from the left. The other three guys were sent to different battalions.
Picture#76 the guy on the left is me. I wish that I could remember the guy in the middle. I would love to get in contact with him. The guy on the right is Steve Purdy. Steve and I were both crane operators. That is one of the crane that we used. We had some cranes that were on tracks like this one and some that we drove. Most of the time I ran the oneís that we drove.
Picture# 77 this is the day that MCB-7 gave some time off from work. It was the Seabees birthday. We were just having some fun. In this picture we were having a tug of war with a jeep. There was no place to go. There was no town to go to. So we made the best of it in camp.
Picture#78 Iíll try to explain this picture. This guy was a steel worker. I donít remember his name. That is soda that he has on that tray in his shirt he has cans of chips and pretzels and maybe jacks. The Seabees were great for something called comshaw. I donít even know how to spell it. Comshaw is something that you have and that someone else wants. Or they might have something that they have that you want. So you trade off. So this guy with the soda and chips we didnít pay for this. There was a small air force base across from were we were working. So these guys needed something that we had. So we just gave it to them. A big thing that we had was lumber. So we would steal a truckload of lumber and trade it. We never did it for money. We only did it to make life just a little bit better. One time at a place called Camp Carol we had this machine called a ditch digger. So this sergeant wanted a ditch dug around part of this camp. This machine could dig a ditch two feet wide and 8 feet deep. So I told this sergeant that I wanted a gal of cherry vanilla ice cream a pack of hot dogs a pair of boot and a few pairs of pants. These items were very hard to get back in MCB-7 main camp. I had to dig this after 12 hours of work on the job site. I put in about 10 to get it done. It took a few days but he got what he wanted and I got what I wanted. The Seabees were very famous doing this comshaw. It would be the first thing that we did when we got to a new camp. I had a lot of fun doing this. It sure made life just a little bit better. Sometimes we had to live just a dog.
Picture#79 this was at the A Company party that we had. I belong to this called A company. A company was the biggest company that we had. I would say that we had over 200 guys in this company. Most of the guys were equipment operators, truck drivers, mechanics, welders and a few machinery.
Picture #80 I was at this job site trying to pick up part of a bridge that we were replacing. We had to sleep here because it was to far awry from the main camp. You can see one of the tents in the back. We were supposed to wear this jacket that might stop a bullet or shrapnel. Most of the time we wonít wear it because it was so hot and always in the way. When I was at a job site I would not wear it, but when I drove from job site to job site I would.
Picture#81 I donít remember the names of these three guys. I know that they were steel workers.
Picture#82 I donít remember the name of this guy either.
Picture#83 these guys were building a retaining wall for a rock crusher.
Picture#84 and 85 this was the Seabees birthday we got a few hours off and had some fun. There was not much that we can do.
Picture# 86 this place was called LZ Stud. This was not a safe place to be at. This was were my buddy George lived. You had to live under ground. If you had a hut above the ground the VC would hit it whit a rocket. It think that there were about 40 guys that lived here.
Picture#87and 88 was called the rock pile. There was a lot of fighting that went on here. I surely thought driving down this road that I was going to get killed or captured. I was sure that something was going to happen to me. I always drove down this road by myself. I never had a shotgun rider with me. I never had a radio to call for help.
Sometimes I had to drive down this road for over 30mi. I had to drive very slowly. The road was so bad that most of the time I only could go about 10mi an hours. They wonít let me go in a convoy because I couldnít go as fast as a truck. The crane that I drove had the whole boom in front the crane. This made it very hard to steer the crane. I would pray the whole time that I drove down this road. I went down this road many times.
Picture#89 this was a gas truck that hit a land mine and it didnít blow the truck up. This guy was very luck. They had to get a tank to pull him out of here. That is gas coming out of that truck.
Picture#90and91 were people called Montagnard. These people were tribe people. You didnít work with these people. They didnít like the US troops or the VC or the NVA. They lived 150 years back in time.
Picture #92 and 93 the gooks were driving this truck when it hit a landmine. The US would sweep the roads for land mines but sometimes they would miss one. They miss this one. Iím pretty sure that everyone got killed in this truck. If you look at picture 93 at the top of the hill is the engine from the truck. A lot of US troops died from driving over or walking on a land mine.
Picture #94 this is a firefight between the US and the VC. The VC hit a convoy with mortar rounds and tried to stop them. I was between the two of them. I could hear the mortar round leave the tubs on the US side and the VC side. This would happen all the time when a convoy drove down this road. Maybe the VC thought that I was some kind of nut driving down this road all by myself. Sometimes I thought that I was. I was a very lucky guy. I guess that it wasnít my time to die. Like I said before I was sure that I was going to get killed here. It was not easy to live with that.
Picture#95sometimes the only way around fast if you were lucky to get a ride on a tank. That is what these guys were doing in this tank. Picking up guys along the road that wanted a ride. Not too many wanted to go with me because I went to slow.
Picture#96 I guess that there were a lot of VC or NVA here. There is not much left of this build. This was common to see around Dong Ha
Picture#97 this is one of about 5 different types of helicopters that the US used in Vietnam.
Picture#98 this is a Vietnamese women. They could care a great deal of weight. I bet this woman is not old. I tried caring a pole with two heavy bags on it. I sure didnít get too far. The bags were going all over the place. The women were better workers then the men.
Picture# 99 the US would hire these Vietnamese women and some old men to fill sand bags. That is what these women are doing and picking rocks. They would do this all day long. These people would work 10 hours a day 7 days a week. The US would pay them one dollar a day. To the Vietnamese this was a lot of money. A person like me got paid about $200.00 a mouth. I was what you call an E-4. If you got killed in Vietnam your parents or someone got $10,000.00 this is what we were worth back them. We sure didnít get paid much money back then. Today they get paid a lot better.
Picture#100 well that is me. We were building a bombproof build for a big communications system that the US had at Dong Ha. You can see my crane at the bottom.
Picture#101 at this work site we were building a fuel tank farm at a place called Quang Tri. Each tank held 10,000 gals of fuel. Iím the second guy from the left. These other guyís were steel workers. I canít remember their names. I used to work with so many guys. Like these guys I might work with them for three weeks and then not see them for a few months. I hope someday that some of these guys get on the net. The Seabees has a good web site on the net. If some of these know how to use a PC and sign in at this Seabee web site Iíll send them this CD. I think that the more guys that see this CD the more names I will get.
Picture#102 that is my crane that I drove most of the time. The guy on the left I think his first name was Larry I donít know his last name. The guy in the middle is Duane Anderson the guy on the right is Jerry Dittmer.
Picture103 this is the airport at Quang Tri. I wasnít here when this airport got hit. I guess that VC or the NVA hit these planes.
Picture#104 this is at that Quang Tri fuel farm. These guys were steel workers. I donít know their names.
Picture#105 picture is of my daughter and I. This was taken sometime in 2001
Picture#106 picture is of Bill and Betty Van Dusen and me. This was taken on Sept 2003.
I have a lot more pictures of MCB-7. I have to scan them over. I had all of them on this PC and the PC crash. I didnít have this burner at the time. So when I get time and scan them Iíll send you them. I think one of the happiest days of my life is when I left Vietnam for the last time. I felt like a little kid on the night before Christmas. It was also a sad day. When I got off the bus in Scranton Pa. Across the street from the bus station was a group of collage students protesting the war in Vietnam. There were hundreds of them. We heard about this in Vietnam but I never saw one. These kids were caring the America flag upside down and they were saying hell no we wonít go. Some of the guys were burning their draft cards. I had my uniform on. When they saw me they gave me the Tums down sign. They were saying to me youíre a baby killer. I was thinking about the four Seabee that were killed in MCB-7. My friends died for these AÖ.HÖ. I didnít even get home yet. One of the cops that was there ask me were do I live. I said just a few miles from here. He told me donít start any trouble and he took me home. So just in a matter of a few hours I went from one of the happiest times in my life to a very sad time in my life. I will never forget that. I think some of the America people treated the Viet Nam Vets like dogs. It seem that we never got any respect. Maybe the war was not right, but it wasnít right to cut us down. I learned one thing from all of this. Iím very lucky to be alive and have my health. If you have your freedom and have your health you got it all. May God Bless America and bless each one of you.
Love you all,
Jim Piccotti MCB-7
This is an update to this CD. This update is Nov 2003. I e-mail the Van Dusen all the time. I told the Bill and Betty Van Dusen were Iím from. They told me that they know the city that Iím from. Bill is from a town in up state NY called Ithaca New York. My daughter goes to school in this town. Betty is from a town in Pennsylvania called Tunkhannock. This town is only about 35 mi from my house. Bill said that he comes to Pennsylvania almost ever year to visit family. He said that if he comes here he wants to meet me. So on Sept 2003 I got the honor and privilege to meet them. That sure made my day. I spent about 4 hour talking to them. Bill is about 83 and Betty is 81. They are very sharp. I had a lot of movies and pictures of Camp Barns. I had a picture of the whole Camp Barns from the air. I showed Bill and Betty about were there son got killed. They never meet anyone from MCB-7. Phil and I are the only ones that they heard from. I ask Bill when their son got killed what did the Commander Jack Rickels tell them what happen. The Commander wrote them a letter and said that there were three guys in this bunker. I never knew that. Guys buy the name of Roger Fitgerald, Roger Schoner and John Van Dusen. Fitzgerald was the only one that made it out alive. Bill said that the Commander went to interview him. Fitzgerald told the Commander that it was small arms going in the bunker and blowing it up. Fitzgerald is the only one that knows what happen. Betty said that she heard from Roger Schoner mother a few times after there sons got killed. Betty said that Schoners mother got married again and that she never heard from her again. John Van Dusen was 19 years old when got killed. He was married and had a little girl. I ask them if he every saw his daughter. Bill said that John saw his daughter for just a very sort time. Betty is a Gold Star mother. A Gold Star mother is a group of mothers that lost a son in any war. She is an officer in this group. I guess that they help each other out with their loss of their sons. They help out a lot with VA hospitals and many other VA groups. Betty said that many mothers went back to Viet Nam to see were their sons got killed. I felt that showing Bill and Betty Van Dusen all these pictures and movies that they are at piece with themselves. They got to see what it was like for their son. They said that there son never talk much Viet Nam when he wrote. I sent Bill a copy of a logbook of MCB-7. A logbook is something that happens in MCB-7 on a certain day. Mostly about the fighting going around MCB-7 Camp Barns. Bill said that he had no idea that there was that much fighting going on. Bill said that his son never told him about the fighting. I know it had to be the hardest thing a parent had to do to bury their son. There is nothing harder for a parent to do. I guess that is it for know. I hope over time I will get to update this CD.
Update date Aug 2005. Ií am trying to update this CD a lot has happen sense I made this CD. Phil wrote to me and said that he received an e-mail from Laura Schoerner. This was sometime in May of 2004. Laura Schoener is the nice of Roger Schoener. Roger was killed with John Van Dusen when there bunker blow up. So I wrote to Laura and told her about this CD. So she wrote back to and this is part of what she said to me.
Thank you so much for writing to me. After hearing from Phil I wasn't expecting to hear from anyone else... it was such a wonderful surprise. I forwarded your e-mail to my father and I think that he is going to write to you also. I don't think that he has spoken to anyone that was in Vietnam with his brother so it may take him a while to write back. I have no idea what my father knows about his Roger's experience in the war because he has never talked about it with me and my three brothers. I would be very interested in hearing about what it was like over there and am extremely grateful that you took the time to write to me. Again- I think my father is going to write to you also.
Thank you so much,
So her father Steve wrote to me. Here are a few of his e-mails that he wrote to me.
My name is Steve Schoener. I am Laura's father. Thank you so much for taking the time to write to her. For all of these years I have done a very good job of blocking all of this out of my mind. Leave it to the young to wake you up. You see, in June of '68 my dad died and Roger should have been discharged as the oldest surviving son. It would have then been my turn to serve. A bunch of red tape and what do you know? I have a "Sole Surviving Son" deferment. Trying to support my mom and younger sister was not easy. I had to grow-up fast. I did not have any time to be the younger brother any more. I also had 2 friends that were killed over there as well. I feel that I have deprived my 4 children of knowing more about Roger and all of you heroes who served so gallantly. Last father's day the kids gave me a beautiful glass and wood case with Roger's flag, picture, and medals. It now hangson our living room wall.
Is there any way to contact Fitzgerald? Is there any way that I could get a copy of any pictures that you may have? It is so wonderful that you have tried to keep in touch over all of these years.
Thank You so much and God bless you.
From: Schoener, Steve
Sent: Thursday, May 27, 2004 3:04 PM
Jim, sorry it took so long to respond. I received the pictures over the weekend. Please don't feel bad that I did not look at them yet. To be honest I have not been able to bring myself to look at them yet. Maybe on Memorial day it would be fitting. I will keep you posted.
All my best
Friday, June 4, 2004 11:26 AM
"jimmy piccotti" <email@example.com>
RE: Write back when you get time
These are great pictures as were the CDs that you sent. We look at the several times. It was really nothing like I pictured. It sure wasn't the Hilton. It looks so desolate with no trees and no jungle. No place to hide. What was the purpose of the base? What was the mission? How long was MCB-7 there? I hope that you don't mind all of the questions. It's so nice to have someone to be able to ask.
Thank you for everything
Schoener, Steve <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Tuesday, June 8, 2004 3:32 PM
"jimmy piccotti" <email@example.com>
Who have been so wonderful. The log which lists what happened gave me chills. Everything just flashed in front of my eyes again. It is all so real and not just a dream. For so long I did not want to know anything. Now I want to know and I want to share it with others. God bless you for this and God bless Laura for taking the initiative. I will make you copies of the letters and get you his picture. I only have one real picture of Roger in uniform so I need to find a place that I can trust. I wish you all the best.
Thanks so much.
The log that Steve is talking about is what events that happen when we at Dong Ha. This log was in the year book that we get at the end of the tour. Something like a year book that you get in high school. This log told about all the fighting that was going on when we were at Dong Ha. Here is another e-mail that Steve sent to me.
So you can see by Steve e-mail that he knew very little about the Seabees and what it was like. I was very happy to be able to tell him what it was like for us in Vietnam.
I got onto to a site on the net that listed all the men that were in the Seabees that died in Vietnam. In all I think that there were about 140 men that died in Vietnam. They were listed in the groups that they were in when they were in Vietnam. I looked up MCB-7. MCB-7 had four tours in Vietnam. The four were at Phu Bai Vietnam, Da Nang Vietnam, Dong Ha Vietnam, and Chu Lai Vietnam. In all there were 10 Seabee from MCB-7 that died in Vietnam. These are the 10 men that died in Vietnam from MCB-7.
1. Stan C Campbell from Kalamazoo, MI Died at Phu Bai Vietnam on 8/25/66 Age 19
2. James E Lightfoot from Salineville,OH Died at Da Nang Vietnam on 9/08/67. Age 38
3. Richard L Davis from New London, WI Died at Da Nang Vietnam on 8/26/68. Age 23
4. Richard M Sprout from Duncannon, PA Died at Dong Ha Vietnam on 8l26l68. Age 20
5. John P Van Dusen from Johnson City, NY Died at Dong Ha Vietnam on 9/20/68 Age 19
6. Roger Schoener New York, New York Died at Dong Ha Vietnam on 9/20/68 Age 20
7. Jimmy L Grier from Houston, TX Died at Dong Ha Vietnam on 11/04/68. Age 21
8. Glen A Jackson 111 Lockport, IL Died at Cu Li Vietnam on 1/30/70. Age 20
9. Leonard M Ackerman Fraser, NM Died at Cu Li Vietnam on 3/20/70 Age 21
10. Charles R Townsend, Evington, FL Died at Cu Li Vietnam on 4/12/70. Age 28
There was a guy buy the name of Jimmy Grier when I was in Vietnam with him. This is the first time that I saw Jimmy Grier name. Jimmy Grier died at Camp Barns when I was there. I e-mail the few Seabees that I write to and ask them if they every heard of Jimmy Grier. No one had heard of him. He was not listed in the year book that we get at the end of our tour. I had no idea who and how he died. So I went to the Vietnam wall site again and put his name in. When it came up it was listed that he died from drowning or suffocated. That sure didnít give me any idea who he was. In this site you can post a message in there. So I posted a message saying that Jimmy was in MCB-7 if anyone wants to know what it was like to e-mail me. Some time in Aug 2004 a very close friend of the family by the name of Elaine wrote to me. Elaine said that Jimmy has a sister and brother. Elaine has a sister name Becky who is also a very close friend of the family. These four people didnít know how Jimmy died. Jimmy parents who are now dead told them that he died from strangulation. To them it looks like he was murdered. That is all these people knew for 35 years. Elaine told me when Jimmy first joined the service he found out that he was adopted. Jimmy never knew that he was adopted. I guess at this time in Jimmy life
this was hard for Jimmy to take. Jimmy arrived in Vietnam in Sept 1968 a short time latter he got a dear John letter from his girl friend. When Jimmy first got to Vietnam there were four Seabees that got killed at Camp Barns by then. The camp was getting bomb a lot and there was a lot of fighting out on the roads. With all this going on Jimmy got a nerves break down and was put in the hospital. When Elaine told me that he had a nerves break down I knew then what happen to Jimmy. When Jimmy got out of the hospital and back to Camp Barns he was put on guard duty at night at the front gate. On Nov 11 1968 Jimmy took his life. This was hard for me to tell his friends and family this. This was the first time that they ever heard this. A few weeks after I told them this Terry Jimmy sister started going over all the papers that her mother had. Terry found a letter from the Commanding Officer. This was in the letter that the Commander sent to his parents. The Commander said that Jimmy was good man and a Seabee, who did his job and did it will, as his many friends will affirm. Jimmy, how personal problems, which made his life most difficult and forced him, I would think, to misunderstand himself and those about him. To find this out after all these years had to be very hard on these four people. I feel that they are at peace they know now what happen to Jimmy. I only wish that I knew Jimmy and that I was his friend. I consider Jimmy a hero as any other man that died in Vietnam.
My friends Bill and Betty Van Dusen sent me an e-mail sometime in late July 2004. Betty told me that there is a group of Vietnam Vets Called The National Dusters, Quads and Searchlights Association. Please my dear friends take time and go to this web site. I went to goggle and put in Operation Gold Star. Look for something called National Dusters Quads Searchlights Association. Please take time and read about these men. Remember when I said that Betty is a member of a group called Gold Star Mothers. What this Vietnam group does is raise money and picks mothers from this Gold Star group that are able and willing to go to Vietnam. This Vietnam group goes to Vietnam with these ladies. They do this at there own expanse. They pick Betty Van Dusen to go to Vietnam. This group tries to bring these mothers as close to be were there sons got killed. So on Aug 15 2004 Betty Van Dusen left for Vietnam. She was gone for two weeks. She did get to Dong Ha and got to Camp Barns and walk on the very land that her son walk on and got killed on. These Vietnam vets took a lot of pictures when they were there with these Gold Star mothers. They put these pictures on a CD and sent it to Betty. Betty sent me a copy of this CD that these Vietnam Vets sent to her. I donít know what most of these pictures are about. There is no word file on this CD telling what these pictures are about. I hope sometime in 2005 that I can meet Betty Van Dusen. I called her up and ask her if I can video tape her as she tells me what it was like for her in Vietnam. She told me that it was ok with her. That is the CD to have. So when I meet with her again I will update this CD again, and I will be able to tell you what these pictures are about.