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  Page 75 (SHUFLY Moves North )    

CHAPTER 6

SHUFLY Moves North

Arrival at Da Nang-I Corps Tactical Zone-Military Situation, September 1962-Initial Helicopter Operations-Marine People-to-People Program-SHUFLY Operations in I Corps

 

 

Arrival at Da Nang

Da Nang retained many characteristics of an old French colonial port city when the Marines arrived there in mid-September 1962. With its thriving market place, its throngs of bicycles, and a noticeable dearth of automobile traffic, the city was certainly more Asian than European in appearance. Still, the former French presence was evident in the architecture of public buildings, electric and telephone lines, paved streets, built-up waterfront, and an airfield. Although the French influence seemed not to have disturbed the traditional Vietnamese culture, it had imparted a picturesque charm to South Vietnam's second largest city.

Virtually surrounded by the city itself, Da Nang's airfield was to serve as SHUFLY's new base of operations. Having been rebuilt as a military base by the French following World War II, the Da Nang facility was relatively modern. Understandably, it differed in many ways from the crude little airfield the Marines had left behind in the steamy Mekong Delta. The runway, for example, was considerably longer, having 8,000 feet of paved surface. The Da Nang base was also busier, having already been occupied by Vietnamese and U.S. Air Force units. Furthermore, it served the city as a commercial airport.

Scattered around the long north-south runway were numerous clusters of French-built masonry structures. A group of 50 of these yellow-walled buildings, located about one half mile west of the runway, had been designated as living quarters for the newly arrived Marines. Although the actual living spaces were somewhat crowded and in need of much repair, the indoor toilets, showers, ceiling fans, and fluorescent lights (none of which functioned properly) were welcomed by the men who

had experienced the discomforts of life in So0 Trang's 'tent city.' Once the Marines had moved in, their compound would include a chapel, medical and dental facilities, service clubs, a movie, a barber shop, a laundry, and a mess hall.

While many of the problems encountered initially by the Marines at Da Nang were similar to those that had greeted their predecessors at Soc Trang, there were also some new ones to be resolved. The two most imposing of these stemmed from the distance between the living compound and working areas. Located along the southeast side of the airstrip, the flight line and hangar were nearly three miles from the Marine quarters by road. Located still farther away, about a quarter mile south of the hangar, were the motor pool and communications facility. In addition to creating a new requirement for transportation, the distances between the various areas necessitated adjustments in the security arrangements which had been used at Soc Trang. Fortunately SHUFLY's first commander, Colonel Carey, had foreseen the requirement for transportation between the living area and the flight line during his visit to the Da Nang installation in April. The problem was solved by the purchase of three used American school buses which were already on hand when the Marines arrived from Soc Trang. The security situation proved somewhat more perplexing. Initally Colonel Ireland handled the problem in much the same manner as it had been at Soc Trang. A permanent sergeant-of-the-guard was detailed to supervise a security force composed of men from the MABS-16 sub unit and HMM-163. Guard posts were established around the helicopter flight line, the hangar, the TAFDS, the motor pool-communications area, and the billeting compound. But this arrangement, while

 

 

 

 

Page 75 (SHUFLY Moves North )