Ban Me Thuot 1965

Ban me Thuot !? That is what I thought when my platoon sergeant told me to pack because I was being transferred there tomorrow, and I would be the crewchief on the chopper that was being transferred there also. I was stationed at Pleiku at the time and had been there for 3 months into my second tour after only 6 months of stateside duty. I thought I must have screwed up big time somewhere, I had been to BMT in '64 as a crewchief with UTT Helicopter, we went to support the special forces for about 3 days and had stayed in the bungalow, and although kind of neat, it was not what I wanted for a full tour. I had also gone there in the early part of '65 as a gun ship crewchief to take their CO and operations sergeant on a recon flight, so I had no idea there was an aviation company there. I even wondered if I could wear a green beret. At Pleiku I was a fill-in crewchief, not having a ship of my own I had to fly in everyone else's when they had a day off for one reason or another, and if no one was off, I flew as a gunner. I never knew if I was going to be a gun or a slick. What I did know was that I lived in a wooden frame hooch with a tin roof that held 6 people, and gave lots of room. I also had cement sidewalks that led to a shower building that had flush toilets and hot showers. We also had a nice EM club, tennis court, hooch maids and steak and beer parties on a fairly regular basis. On the negative side, for the month of February we pretty much lived in bunkers with 50% alert each month due to the February 7th and 10th attacks, there was a lot of dust, and sometimes the mess hall ran out of food. But what the hell- it was a combat zone and except for some missions things weren't that bad. When I arrived at BMT I couldn't believe it. There was a company there called the 155th and also the 165th along with various support personal. I was to become the crewchief of the 165th's Stagecoach Wrecker which was the Huey B model that we flew down in. I was put up in a tent that had double bunks on each side with, I don't remember, but probably 20-30 men in the tent with no real room for personal things. The shower wasn't much as I remember and most of the time that I could get there, any hot water was gone. Everything was dirt, the choppers were spread out over the grass by the runway, and most maintaince was pulled outdoors. The mess hall was in a building and except for breakfast, the meals were acceptable and the cooks friendly and lenient in their feeding policy. Also if they were in there you could always get some coffee and a snack if they had it. I at first caused a lot of conversation around the area, because I carried a Thompson sub-machine gun with me all the time and wore a floppy bush hat when we were on the ground during missions ( a couple of things I learned on my first tour.) I remember being chewed out a couple of hundred times by RLO's of the 155th, and they did eventually take my Thompson away, but try as they might they never got my bush hat that I still wear to this day. It was a real shock to be at BMT but it turned out to be one hell of a unit that learned fast and became very capable flight crews. I really don't remember any names which makes me real mad at times, but I do remember that there was a closeness that hadn't been matched in my other units. From talking to other BMT veterans of later years that closeness seems to have stayed and the compound and living quarters sure got better A damn swimming pool I even though I have seen the pictures I still don't believe it ! Warren Smith Ccrewchief - Stagecoach Wrecker - 1965