Monday, March 20, 2006

Chapter 7: We're Moved to FSB Stuart

After about a week or so at FSB Pershing, our company was reassigned to FSB Stuart to guard the bridge over a small river on Highway 1, one of the main highways in that area. FSB Stuart was just outside of the village of Trang Bang about 9 miles from Cu Chi.

STUART, FSB (or) FSB Stuart III [Hieu Thien map] - XT 499197
Stuart III: The fire support base at the Highway 1 bridge near Trang Bang. Stuart III is the FSB most commonly refered to as "Stuart." Also misspelled "FSB Stewart." 2/12th base late 1968 to early 1970.
TRANG BANG - vic XT4919
Trang Bang – pronounced just as it's spelled – was a market center for the surrounding coutryside. The 2/12th area of operations from late 1968 to February 1970.

No chopper ride this time, we had to hike about six miles to FSB Stuart. It was a particularly hot and humid day and some where along the way I passed out from heat exhaustion. I couldn’t be revived so they called in a medivac chopper to take me to the 12th Evacuation Hospital at Cu Chi to recover.

Being Carried on a Stretcher into the Hospital

I spent the night in the hospital receiving fluids by IV and the next morning was discharged from the hospital and sent over to HQ so I could get back to my unit. They put me on a supply truck with a couple of other guys and supplies for my unit. We were told that we were to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. The ride was uneventful but somewhat scary for me as I’d only been in country for about two weeks at this point and had never done anything like this before.

Riding in the Back of the Truck Looked Pretty Much Like This

When I got to FSB Stuart, I went over to the command bunker and reported in and then was sent over to the bunkers where my platoon was assigned. Here are a few shots of Stuart.

Fire Support Base Stuart Aerial View

Bridge Bunker Looking from the FSB Side of the Road
When the squad that normally manned this bunker went out on patrol during the day, this was the place everyone wanted to be assigned. They had this place fixed up with all kinds of great stuff.

This is a View of FSB Stuart Looking From The Other Side of the Bridge. The Bridge Bunker is on the Left

8 Inch Howitzers Artillery on Tank Like Tracks

Look at the soldier standing next to the gun. Now you can get an idea of actually how big these monsters are. There were two of these big guns in the center of the FSB and when they were fired, the noise was earth shaking, literally. So before they fired them, they called out a warning.

I left the command bunker, found my squad and caught some harmless kidding about not being able to make the hike, but that was to be expected. I ask them where I slept. They laughed and point over to what looks like a long rounded pile of sandbags. It was about four feet high, four feet wide and about eight feet long. There was a little opening at one end to crawl in to. I walk over, get down on my knees and look inside. It was great, well great compared to a bunker. There were some pieces of wood laid down for a floor, a stretcher to sleep on and a box for a small table at the head end. This was a lot better than sleeping on a mat on the floor of the bunker. I crawled back out and thanked them for the accommodations. It was so funny to see their faces when they all took a look inside. It seems that none of them actually looked inside and just assumed it was a shitty place to sleep. I had offers to pay me to switch but didn’t accept the offers.

The FSB was laid out in a large circle surrounded by bunkers, razor wire and mines. In the center were the command bunker, the mess tent, a latrine, showers and those 12-inch guns. During the day, there were also a few a few tanks. They stayed out in the surrounding rice paddies at night around the bridge to help guard it, but during the day they came inside the FSB for supplies, showers, meals etc.

Rush Hour Traffic on Highway 1

The road you see in the pictures was Highway 1. This view is very close to the exact view I had from my bunker. Highway 1 was the main road into Trang Bang and was loaded with traffic back and forth on the highway all day. There were always people trying to sell us things along the side of the road out in front of the FSB. You could buy pretty much whatever “luxuries” you needed that weren’t supplied to you. Liquor, marijuana filled cigarettes at $20 a carton (you supply the carton of regular cigarettes and they fill them with pot), pot at 50 cents an ounce, radios, ice and you could even get laid if you wanted. That would cost you 50 cents. The hooker would toss a mat down in the weeds. I never bought the services of a hooker, but I did buy a radio for $20. I still have the radio in the basement, but haven’t tried it for years so I don’t even know if it still works.

FSB Stuart was where I was assigned the rest of my time in Vietnam, which would only be about two more weeks at this point.


Anonymous said...

this is as far as I got - after stopping... Looking up stuff on google, finding pictures, and other stories etc etc... Every time I read i go off to la-la land and start searching for more on the particular subject. When I get a chance I want to send you some of the places I bookmarked. I only bookmarked the REALLY COOL places that have stories, pics etc... Some of which - I guess you found too cause the pics are the same...