Memories from Tom Bush 67-68 with USNS Upshur

 

Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry

The Gunfighters

 

 

Memories

 

from

 Tom Bush

 

Company A 'Commo,' or Communications Group 67/68

 

1. Strawberry Ice Cream

I donít know where Top found it, but he came running into the commo hooch telling me to call the Old Man and ask him if he was near somewhere we could land a huey in a hurry. I radioed Captain Brennan and he said they were in a fairly secure area and we could get a chopper in as soon as they could set up. Top then secured a minuteman chopper and he and I and 5 duffel bags full of ice and 25 gallons of Strawberry Ice cream were on our way to his men in the field (I never figured out where he got the Ice Cream, let alone all the ice to keep it from freezing). After about a 20 minute flight we landed with our cargo in the middle of the boonies and proceeded to dish out Strawberry Ice Cream into everybodyís canteen cups. Even now after all these years I can still remember that being the best Ice Cream I ever Tasted, brain cramps and all.
 

    

2. The Long Boat Ride

 

Early October 1967 we arrived in Oakland California and got our first look at what would be our home for the next 21 days, the USNS Upshur, a.k.a. upchuck for the amount of seasickness among the group. I believe some guys were seasick for the entire trip. In typical military fashion we carried our duffel bags up the gang way gave our name rank and service number and requested permission to come aboard. Once onboard we were shown our deluxe living quarters 4 high bunks around the inside of the hull. Duffel bags were stacked in the middle of the floor and we were allowed access to them once a day when the floor cleaning detail moved them to clean under them. I was part of that group along with Don Kaiser and a few others, so we kept our bags on top so we had access to them at all times. This was silly duty but it beat Alan Allen and Gerry Plotkeís job of cleaning the pubic hairs off of the showers.

 

We took PT every morning on the deck of the ship after we threw back all the flying fish that had accumulated on the deck. After about 7 days the navy folks said we were using to much fresh water when we showered so we had to take salt water showers. Don Kaiser, Alan Allen and myself found the one shower that had fresh water and were able to turn it on some how and stayed pretty fresh for most of the trip.  I do remember the brown seasick bags that a lot of people had to use. I kept one in my pocket when I went to the Galley (navy talk for the mess hall) to eat if there were no seats by the guys I wanted to sit with I would pull out the bag and people would scatter. It worked out quite well.


On October 11 with crossed the international date line, there was a celebration for those crossing for the first time. Mess Sergeant Mahon was King Neptune he weighed about 300 lbs and was dressed in a grass skirt with a
crown and a fishing gig. He brought up a couple of land lubbers and harassed them all in good fun. A few days later we docked in Okinawa for a 12 hour stopover. We all headed out to the local bars and other venues for a little fun. Then back on the ship and back to the journey.

 

A few days later we arrived in Da Nang Harbor. We stayed there for 2 days we were not allowed off the ship. The second night we were loaded on to LSTís under the cover of darkness so the VC would not see how scared we were. We sailed south along the coast, on the inside of the vessel we were all laying or sitting on our duffel bags there were 25 watt bulbs every 15 feet so you really could not see to well.  After about what seemed forever the platoon sergeants came by and gave each of us 5 rounds of ammunition big deal. We all had thoughts of all the D-day movies we had seen.

 

About an hour later we were told to line up in formation as we were getting ready to disembark. Great I carried the guide-on so I would be the first one of the damn boat with that the boat stopped and the front grate went down and we marched in Chu Lai Vietnam to a greeting of a forty piece Army band and General Westmoreland there to greet us, so much for worrying about only having 5 bullets. That is pretty much how I remember it, I welcome any comments because that was one long boat ride.

Tom Bush
US 52-808-700


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