Rocket City

Rocket City? When I arrived at 1st Aviation Brigade I requested the 192nd because my brother in law was the maintenance officer. I didn't know anything about aviation units or their locations and a year on the beach sounded pretty good to me. When I got to Btn, in Dong Ba Thin, my requested assignment was immediately approved. I spent the night in Alton's hooch getting aquatinted with the guys. The next morning I was summoned to the Battalion Commander's (Ltc. Patello) office. He put me at ease and said he needed an experienced X.O. In BMT. He understood my desire to serve with my brother in law and would not order me to go. I told him I’d go. I had never heard of "Rocket City". When I told the guys at the 192nd they were shocked that I would go. "They get Rocketed every night. They have more casualties than the rest of the battalion combined. That place is a hell hole. Red dirt and rockets. YOU REALLY SCREWED UP!!" This was all I heard all night as they set over drinks and seemed to be holding my wake a bit prematurely. The next morning I loaded my gear on a Huey and flew Into the interior of Viet Nam. My last tour had been spent as a tank platoon leader in the highlands, so I was familiar with the Mang Yang pass and the lush green hills and mountains that unfurled beneath me as we flew over them enroute to---ROCKET CITY? We approached over the plantation and landed in a cloud of red dirt. The red dust coated everything, and gave the world a distinct red hue. I reported to Major Luisi on the runway, where he had come to greet me. I noticed that the orderly room and company offices were in real buildings, not converted tent pads like at Dong Ba Thin. Not a single bomb crater was in evidence in the company area. People were walking around unarmed, and in soft caps. It was cool and the sun was not reflecting off white sand like focusing mirrors. The major got me processed in and the people treated me like a long lost brother. The Operations officer (Roland Jarvis) showed me to the hooch that he, the C.O. ,the Chaplain and I shared. I had a private room with a bed that had been built in and lined with PSP. Hell it would have withstood a nuclear attack. I could definitely sleep soundly. It was getting dark so I requested directions to the latrine. I found a concrete building with hot and cold running water, and real FLUSH toilets. It was right near the SWIMMING POOL. When I lay my head down that evening I remembered all I had been told and all I had seen. There was one over riding question running around in my mind like a Falcon in a racetrack pattern, “HOW IN THE HELL DO THESE GUYS KEEP EVERYONE BELIEVING THAT ROCKET CITY CRAP?” CHARLES E MARKHAM XO AND CO 1970