Updated: Jan 21, 2019
1969 Phu Cat Re-Visited
As we dis-mounted the winding-down C-130, we took in every little thing. “Well boys,” brother Teagan expounded, “This is home for the next 12 months, or 365 days, take your pick.
We flew North but I noticed very little change in the temperature. Hot as hell, sweating like goats, Hey,Hey,Hey! Welcome to Vietnam! (Can you see Yogi)?
As nine brand new Sentry Dog handlers entered the terminal building, I noticed and pointed it out to all, there is a little bar in the corner serving, hot dogs, hamburgers and ice cream, check this out later.
Met our driver and climbed aboard our transportation for the ride to our quarters. I only had Lackland AFB to compare anything to, so looking around this place looked like any other AFB. All the maintenance that goes into keeping all these aircraft high in the air would stagger a billionaire. But all these different buildings house shops to do all types of maintenance. Keeping airplanes in the air was not any of our concern, protecting those planes, crews and all base personnel was our only business.
As we moved beyond the flight line the base opened up to expose where the bull-collar airmen lived. I guess some imagination went into the creation of living quarters for the workforce, they were exactly alike, stark almost ugly, 2 story wood frame, tin roofs, screens and wooden slates formed the walls, second story had balconies that run the length of both sides of a very long barracks. We counted our lucky charms. Chow hall, swimming pool, bed with sheets, pillow and even a blanket, you’re in the Air Force now.
As we followed the one-stripper to our quarter’s, there started a commotion off to our left and at the top of stairs, guys were coming out gawking at us as if we were aliens. “Who are you? yelled, someone. “We be K9!” I think we all yelled. By now, there were men hanging off the stairs and balcony giving us new guys the once over. “How many handlers are you?” And again, we answered together, “Nine”!
“Who are these guys,” Joe ask the one-stripper. All he said was “K9!” That’s the barracks that houses all 80 K9 handles. By now they were pouring out of the building taking in the show of new arrivals. It was hard to keep a straight face in the face of all the excitement and attention coming from a group of air force so called professionals. They didn’t look very professional in fact some look drunk as a skunk.
Our 1 stripper tour guide assigned us beds, pointed in the direction of base laundry, the airman’s chow hall and as he left, informs us to meet the truck at 0200 hours for the ride to the kennels. Not wasting anytime are we!
Most of us started out for the chow hall right off. On the way we got plenty distracted, first it was an Olympic size swimming pool just outside our back door. What luck! Then this big ole A- frame building that turned out was a replica of the chapel at the Air Force Academy. It was very beautiful.
Never used that church much but I did become a practicing Catholic in that chapel on the hill. I had my first and last communion in that church, on that base in Vietnam. My god, what would my dear ole-maid Aunts, very hard-shell Baptist, think of Jimmie the Catholic. Well, they never found out!