I remember Tet 1968. I had just extended my tour and transferred to the 537th PSC from the 25th Inf Div. Within in a couple of days of arriving at Bien Hoa, all 'heck' broke lose.
Late 1967 while stationed at Cu Chi, I decided I'd try my hand at extending my tour for an assignment in Saigon. I remember filing all of the necesssary paperwork and finally receiving the necessary approval.
Late January of 1968, one of my friends and I made our way to Saigon. It was there I discovered my unit was not in Saigon, but actually located at Bien Hoa. You can imagine my disbelief. Later headed up Truman Key Blvd, we had to make a turn near the Mortuary. It was along the road there my friend and I had a surprise waiting on us. Some young boy ran out and lobbed something into the back of our quarter-ton truck. We both bailed out to wait the sound of a blast. After a few moments and no blast, we returned to the truck to find a piece of the local fruit in the back of the truck. We both had to smile at ourselves - as did the people on both sides of the street.
Anyway, I digress, we traveled on to find Bien Hoa Post. It was well out and North of Newport. There delivered to my new home, I set about setting up in my new bunk area. A few days later Tet'68 came.
Charlie (or in this case NVA regulars) apparently came through the small village of Bien Hoa in the night. They used bayonets and machetes on the women and children they found there. When they exited the other side of the village, they found themselves in a small valley between Long Binh, and Bien Hoa. There they were quickly surrounded by the 3rd Sqdn, 11th ACR. I understand Charlie was being shot to pieces. They became frantic to get out of the valley and broke through in at least two places. One along the SouthWest perimeter of Long Binh and the other along our Southern perimeter.
The Bien Hoa Post perimeter was manned by one of the 101st Airborne Brigades - the third brigade I believe. They were new to Vietnam. USARV had slit the 101st Division up and placed each brigade with more experienced units. The 101st was quickly over run by Charlie. I'm not aware of any casualties.
The only forces in the way of Charlie were the MPs and the 537th PSC (also the 520th PSC). We had been standing outside the immediate perimeter of our hooches, showers, and office buildings. Most of us had gotten tired from sitting in our trenches and were standing topside to see the action in the valley.
One of our people Specialist Steffes, was standing between me and the office buildings. He was hit by a large caliber round (50 caliber) and died fairly quickly. There was some discussion that it was a ricohet from our own forces.
Later Charlie was pinned in the Bien Hoa Jungle Training Center, just adjacent to our company. We were able to rest for the night.
Things seemed to be slowing returning to normal, until May 1968, when we experienced the second onslaught of Tet 1968. We were beginning to wonder if things would ever let up. I remember a lot of sleepless nights.
As it turns out, having to report to Bien Hoa rather than Saigon was a blessing in disguise. The 4th Trans Command Hotel I would have been quartered in was overrun by Charlie. The personnel in the hotel were not authorized to have firearms - only one or two security were available to defend the hotel.
...and even though I didn't end up in Saigon, there were some new benefits. At Bien Hoa, we had milk to drink and warm showers with in door plumbing.
Posted by Donald Patrick
Oct 13 2006 08:24:18:000PM