185th Recon Airplane Co.

This page last updated Tuesday October 8, 2002.

Gia Nghia was the capitol of Quang Duc province located about 75 miles southwest of Ban Me Thout or about 125 miles due west of Cam Rahn Bay. It was a very pretty part of SouthVietnam, surrounded by hills and forest. On some mornings a light mist would nestle over the town (more like a village) and provide a peaceful view of contrast between the sun on the hills and the mist in the valleys. The village consisted of a mixture of different dwellings, from stucco type buildings to the huts of the indigenous Montagnard people. There was a central market of sorts where local food could be had as well as trinkets, tailor shops and the like. The airfield was located on a shaved top hill which reminded me of the mesas seen in Arizona. There was a hulk of an old C-47 pushed over one edge of the airstrip. It was used as a guardpost by the ARVN troops who provided airfield security. The 185th revetments and crew shack were located on the edge of the strip about 1/3rd along the length of the field. On the oppositie end of the field was a POL for helicopters, where gunships and slicks alike could refuel without having to return to their main base of operations. The field was dirt...not a bit of PSP anywhere except at the aircraft maintenance shed, which tended to make things a bit dusty all the time. It was great fun during runups to see the dust blow off the edge of the field when the engine was run to full RPM. (Doesn't take much to entertain a crewchief does it)?

The MACV compound was about a mile from the airfield on the opposite side of the village. It was built into the side of a hill and there was a cliff on the backside of the compound where an ARVN artillery battery was emplaced. I think the compound may have been an old French built installation. With the cliff behind the compound, visibility was limited on two sides of the compound, a fact that left me uncomfortable during my tour there. We could see the town and the airfield in "front" of us, and to the right was a long stretch of deforested valley. It was a relatively small compound with about 100 personnel from signal to intelligence, mess and SF advisors. The air section consisted of both Air Force FACS and Army Air Recon.

Typically the air sections worked from dawn to dusk. Night operations only occurred once that I can remember. The crewchiefs would load into the jeeps and convoy to the airstrip each morning, preflight the aircraft and then pickup the pilots if they weren't already there. We were very proud of our area and many days were spent improving the crewshack, painting the drums which were used to protect the aircraft from shrapnel or ground fire, and otherwise maintaining the aircraft in excellent condition and cleanliness. After a time of working 7 days a week we arranged to have rotating "days off" where a crewchief could just take a day and everyone else would cover his duties. We worked as a team too, helping each other refuel, reload, and perform maintenance. With the teamwork we were able to cover periodic maintenance in record times so that if a plane was scheduled for maintenance, it was generally out of service for no more than an hour or so. The days were all busy and frequently time passed so quickly that one day seemed to run to the next with hardly a pause.

A few of the guys with "nothing" to do but sit on the jeep and play with "Snoopy". Photo taken at Gia Nghia sometime around October of 1967. From left to right..."Frenchy" who was Czhek I think and still spoke with an accent, "Cheesemaker" from (Eau Claire, WI?), and "Pollock" (from Boston, MA), who was the real artist of the group. The guy kneeling and looking up I don't remember...he was an observer for MACV I think...memory fades...

My aircraft making a takeoff with someone else in the backseat....Tail# 14950

An Air Force C-123 bringing in supplies...

A photo of the guys at Gia Nghia. You'll notice some of them were crewchiefs for the Air Force FACs that flew out of the field....

The rest of the crew...

The best dog in the Central Highlands.....


Snoopy gets his own hooch with sandbags and all....

Snoopy was a good bud...

Relaxing on a Saturday afternoon with a going home party for two of the pilots...

Ready to head home...

There were a lot of interesting places around Gia Nghia. This is a foot bridge over a small creek about one mile from the outskirts of the town.

A village not too far from the bridge shown above...

Villagers gathered at the river to bathe and wash clothes. Note the little girl on the left of the photo giving a salute. ...

Slide Show
Part 1

Slide 1 - A view of the town from the MACV compound.
Slide 2 - Capt. Burnett with his 50 cal. swagger stick.
Slide 3 - A well placed rocket blasts one of our fine aircraft.
Slide 4 - Another view from the MACV compound. The airfield is at the top of the hill with the crewshack just left of center.
Slide 5 - Going home party. The plaque was a gift with copies of the cowling art on all four of our birds.
Slide 6 - An aerial view of Gia Nghia.
Slide 7 - A Bird Dog fly by on Christmas Day.
Slide 8 - F4s giving a Christmas buzz.
Slide 9 - Cowl emblem for aircraft from Gia Nghia platoon.
Slide 10 - Another cowl emblem.

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