Upon moving to the new barracks area in early 1968 (Possibly around January 6) the crew chiefs found themselves with a interesting problem. They did not have a bunker. Each shop seemed to take it upon themselves to build a bunker by the nearest exit for their particular areas. The crew chiefs barracks was directly behind the line shack and they all bunked in the same immediate area so they could be found if necessary. It seemed the crew chiefs were lacking any bunker building expertise. They knew about their A/C but found themselves completely lacking in bunker building skills. This was of great concern of their 1stSgt., 1stSgt. Stroud. 1st Sgt. Stroud came with a lot of ground pounding experience. He did not seem to understand how a Marine crew chief could not have bunker building skills. It's not clear if the crew chiefs lacked bunker building skills. It just may have been the time element involved being a crew chief. Generally a crew chief would rise from his bunk, if he had gotten to his bunk at all the night before and go flying just as it started to get light out. Generally it was just about dark when he returned from flying. Sometimes he may have been reminded that he was to put his bunker building skills to work and get his bunker built. The lack of motivation to build a bunker weighed heavily on the 1stSgt. At one point the crew chiefs had become quite distressed over the situation so they came up with a plan. A clip board was posted near their barracks door and in their spare time they could fill a sand bag or two and enter it on the sandbag log sheet. At times one would see the more ambitious crew chiefs fill 5 or 6 sand bags in the same day. It seemed this still did not show enough motivation for Top Stroud. Rumors from the 1st Sgt. office seemed to indicate stronger measures would be taken to motivate the crew chiefs. The crew chiefs understood fully the importance of a bunker but they always seemed to run into the time element. Just wasn't any time left to build a bunker. They needed a plan.
In this same time frame the squadron would haul cargo from Marble Mountain and drop it off at the end of their area where a few SeaBees had residence. There were maybe 8 or 10 SeaBees responsible for the cargo handling. They seemed to be a great bunch of guys. One of the 364 crews would smile and wave and once in awhile would wander down and shot the breeze with them. The SeaBees had a problem. They didn't have a club of there own and said they felt a little out of place at the e-club. One mentioned they wished they could get some beer. Ah, thought the crew chief, maybe I can help. After a collection (believe it to be 240P) he could set the wheels in motion. A few days later the crew chief managed a flight to Marble Mountain and proposed to his pilot the plight of the SeaBees. The pilot generously agreed to stop at Marble and pick up a pallet of beer (80 cases). That was the only quantity available. 80 cases or nothing. 80 cases it was. On return to the cargo terminal the pallet (believe it was Budweiser, Hey, no Ballentine, no way) was delivered to the SeaBees. The SeaBees were a bit wide eyed but the crew chief explained that you could only buy beer one pallet at a time. It's yours you paid for it. The crew chief assured the SeaBees they would be able to handle the situation. The Bees said, Hey, we owe you. The crew chief responded, no problem we have to take care of each other, right.
One day, the bunker situation weighed heavily on the crew chiefs mind. So in a spare moment he wandered down to the area where the SeaBees were. He asked if they possibly had a few scraps of marston matting they didn't want. The crew chief explain the bunker situation and how important it was to establish peace with the 1stSgt. The Bees said they would see if they could help out in some small way. Next day, Sunday, the crew chief heard a terrible noise right outside his barracks. Peering into the dim early morning light he saw a SeaBee sitting on top of a huge earth moving machine. Where do you want your bunker the Bee cried out. Right by the front door. The blade dropped on the huge machine and the earth started to move. In minutes a deep trench was right next to the barracks. Looking up the crew chief, now surrounded by his fellow crew chiefs, saw a huge fork lift carrying many huge timbers approaching the bunker site. The fork lift drove down in the trench and carefully dropped a timber, one at a time to cover the trench. Behind the forklift came another forklift with a large stack of marston matting. the marston matting was laid on top of the huge timbers. The large earth moving machine pushed earth on top of the marston matting. One hour, bunker complete. One of the Bees commented that we would return in the evening and get power run into the bunker. It's tough in a bunker without electric lights. And as all SeaBees are true to their word he returned later that evening and installed the lights.
The crew chiefs were elated. They all knew how happy the 1st Sgt. would be because they now had a bunker. It seems that Monday morning wasn't as happy as had been anticipated. It now seemed the 1stSgt. felt bad because the crew chiefs had the best bunker at Phu Bai. There was also great concern as to where the materials had come from. It seems no one had any particular recollection, but some how they just got there.
A Great lesson can be learned here. If you need a bunker built don't depend on a helicopter crew chief, better call in the Bees.
Top Stroud, if you are out their, now you can rest easy. Sorry this is posted anonymously. You can have your pick of 24 crew chiefs. We are still sworn to secrecy.
Only the webmaster knows who submitted this article and he also is sworn to secrecy. However, I do believe the statute of limitations may well have negated any further action.
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